Vertikal, the latest album by Swedish post metal maestros Cult Of Luna, was our pick for Ghost Cult’s album of the month. On behalf of the band drummer Thomas Hedlund was more than happy to shed some light on the COL’s latest opus, the fine art of songwriting, the lengthy recording sessions and the band’s relevance in the overall post metal movement.
Hi there and thank for doing this interview. Cult Of Luna is back on the road again after an absence of five years. Are you settling into the touring lifestyle and how is the tour going so far?
Our touring lifestyle is a very nice one, which evolves hanging out with my best friends in fun and interesting cities. So it’s quite easy to settling into. The tour has been amazing; so many fun and inspiring shows. We are amazed that people come out and show us this kind of support.
The band’s previous album, Eternal Kingdom, is often cited as Cult Of Luna’s finest work. Did you guys feel any pressure to come up with an equally good album or do you see both records as complete separate entities with no connection between them whatsoever?
Well, there’s obviously a connection since we are the ones making both albums. Also, we wanted to make an album that contrasted in some ways to the previous one. Both regarding overall theme, but also sound wise and when it comes to arrangements. We always try to do the best album we’ve ever made. If that wasn’t the goal, why should we even try.
Vertikal, CoL’s latest album, is loosely based on/inspired by Metropolis, one of the first science fiction films. What do you find so inspiring about that movie to use it as a source of inspiration for an entire album?
We had a bunch of different art to act as a point of direction for our creativity. Metropolis was among these. It deals with interesting subjects, such as a need for belonging; city versus man; people wanting a change etc. It feels relevant when looking at the world today.
What I really like about Vertikal is the cinematic quality of it, but at the same time it feels wonderfully cohesive and almost song-orientated, especially for post metal/core understandings. What is your view on this?
We always try to write songs, so I’m happy that you see our music that way. And we never think about where to fit in when it comes to subgenres. We simply make the music we want to.
The recording process of Vertikal was quite a drawn out affair. Can you explain what happened and why you did it that way?
We wanted to take our time, so it was a conscious decision. Also, we didn’t have a label at the time, so we felt no pressure whatsoever. And in addition to that, a few of us live in separate cities, so logistics played a part as well.
With eight members COL comes more across as an artistic collective like The Ocean Collective used to be, than a standard band consisting of four or five persons. Would this be a fair statement and what are the pros and cons of having so many people in a single entity?
Actually we’re seven, since Claes left the band. Sometimes it can be a pain to be that many, since everyone wants to make their opinion count. But for the most part, it’s a strength to have that much creative energy.
Cult Of Luna is often mentioned with Neurosis, Isis (RIP) and Pelican as one of leading creative forces within the greater post core/metal movement. Is this something you aware of or care about?
For me personally, I have no musical relationship to those bands at all. I’ve never listened to a whole album with any of them. And I’m not proud saying this, it’s just a fact. Some of the other guys in the band listen more to that kind of music. We are obviously humbled and honored to be mentioned together with some of the greats in our genre, but we don’t pay too much attention to it. We just do our thing.
The band is based in Umea, one of the most Northern cities in Sweden. How does the impressive natural landscape and the long and dark winters affect the music of Cult Of Luna and you as a person?
It’s difficult to say. But Umeå as a town has played a huge part for all of us, with its inspiring cultural climate. There are so many amazing people coming from this time, whether it’s clothing designers, film makers, dancers, choreographers, bands, artists etc. So it’s been a great town to make music in. When it comes to nature, I don’t know if it affects our sound.
Cult Of Luna is going to perform at Pelagic Fest in Berlin in early May, together with The Ocean Collective, Khoma and some other bands. What are your expectations?
I won’t be there, unfortunately, due to other commitments. But it sounds like it’s going to be great fun, no doubt!
Finally, what is next for the band and its members in terms of touring, side projects and a possible future Cult Of Luna album?
We’ll continue touring later this month. And hopefully go overseas to do some touring later this year. The summer we’ll do festivals. We haven’t even talked about a future album, but it’ll come when the time is right.