By Steve Newton
When your band is called Graveyard, it’s no surprise that you sometimes get pegged as yet another grinding death-metal act. According to Graveyard frontman Joakim Nilsson, it happens quite a bit.
“Yeah, we hear that a lot,” says the 37-year-old singer-guitarist, on the line from his home outside Gothenburg, Sweden. “But I think everybody has to just hear us once and that problem will go away in the future.”
Musically and lyrically, Graveyard is miles away from death metal—or any other form of extreme music. It’s a straightforward hard-rock band with hooks and melodies aplenty, and a healthy blues base. On the quartet’s fourth and latest album, Innocence & Decadence, that bluesy side is well represented by tunes like “Too Much Is Not Enough” and “Far Too Close”.
“The last five or six years the band has been listening a lot to the original guys,” notes Nilsson, “Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and everybody. And also the English groups—Fleetwood Mac and stuff like that. Fleetwood Mac is really big for us, I think, the early years with Peter Green. Everybody in the band really likes his stuff.”
There are also nods to bands like Free and other guitar-based ’70s acts in Graveyard’s riff-based approach. But its 2012 Lights Out album was not a tip of the hat to UFO, which released its own Lights Out album—and raging title track—back in ’77.
“There is an album by Entombed also that’s called Lights Out,” Nilsson explains. “But we didn’t think about it like that. I mean, when we discussed what we were gonna call the album, we felt like that was our hardest and most angry album so far. And also as we were working on the cover for the album we couldn’t really get a guy that worked for us, so we just used the black square on the album, and the title suited it pretty good.”
Lights Out was the final Graveyard disc to feature original bassist Rikard Edlund, who left the group last year. But it wasn’t a major problem replacing him in the lineup.
“It kinda solved itself,” says Nilsson. “I mean, when we started writing songs for the new album we asked our old friend [Truls Mörck], who was on the first album playing guitar, if he could just come to our house and play with us. Everything worked out really good when he was with us, and we asked him to stay and he wanted to.
“And also it feels good to have one of the original members back in the band,” he adds, “so we haven’t done that much to the lineup. Just one guy leaves and another guy comes back.”