January 23, 2023

Courtesy of our Spanish compadres at rockandrollarmy.com – aided and abetted by the nutters that comprise Märvel! – this article and interview was again originally provided by “Daniel From hell”

The King, The Vicar and Speedo, together with The Aviator on touring duties, had already started the fire with 2007’s Thunderblood Heart – but the battle against bland music raged on. Soon the warhawks would darken the skies but, before that, fights would be fought and won at a great cost. In 2009 Märvel released the one sided single A Pyrrhic Victory, with its enigmatic video (below). This monumental and complex song would fuel the band’s desire for touring, in which they would raze Germany (including visiting Hot Hagenbusch in Märl for the first, but not the last time). All this after having a release party at L’Orient in the city of five smells with Mr Andreas Tyrone Svensson on DJ-ing duties. Dregen will play a bigger part in the upcoming war…

Photo – David Einar. Who is the mysterious man?

Below is the original video for A Pyrrhic Victory! Who are these mysterious characters, the elephant and the horse? And why not also an elk? You can sate your curiosity in the next interview with the band that you will find below in this chapter….

A Pyrrhic Victory (2009)

Touring would not distract the masked warriors from the main task: the war against empty music. Empty of soul, empty of energy, empty of rock. The warship for that mission would be the aptly named Warhawks of War, the album made in the middle of “wartime” (waged against bland music!), with foes and adversity at the door. But out of that crucible the essence of Märvel finally took its own form, exploding with melody and high energy alike. If musically speaking, Thunderblood Heart saw the band on the uphill battle, breaking its own musical barriers, Warhawks of War had them on top of the mountain, stepping on the skulls of its foes. From the guitar-driven, emotion brimming opening of Hello!, to the heavy, scorching T.N.H., the overflowing elegance and feeling of  The Effort, or the band’s statement that is the Beaten Path, Warhawks of War is a distinctly unpyrrhic victory in the war for high energy rock’n’roll!

But Märvel were not alone in this fight. Allies Strängen and Dregen joined the fray, contributing lead guitars for T.N.H. and A Hobby That Got Out Of Hand respectively.  

Dregen (The Hellacopters, Backyard Babies, brewer of riffs and Riff): I met Märvel quite some time ago, when they released a 7” vinyl single with a cartoon inspired cover. I found out about the band through Björn Rallare, who was running the record label Killer Cobra Records. Björn also worked with me, doing graphic design for my debut solo-album. I remember going from Stockholm to their own studio in Linköping laying down my lead guitar (for A Hobby That Got Out of Hand). It was fun and smooth. 

More about Dregen in further chapters…

Pyrrhic Victory release party 2009

But not everything is electric guitars (or is it?). Milady Christel Valsinger of The Pusjkins fame also joined on backing vocals for Hello!, Blood Harmony and Tiger By The Tail. Alexander Vibeck and Joakim Kärling of La Fleur Fatale became part of the commando too, laying backing vocals for Whispering Eye, Good Times and A Hobby That Got Out Of Hand, together with percussion for Killer Porn Dungeon. Joakim would also co-produce the album with Märvel. The result? – a band not only holding their ground, but also advancing musically, conquering enemy positions. Total defeat and destruction of the adversary and absolute triumph for the band.

Result…Märvel 1, Lame Music 0!

Warhawks Of War is the high-energy rocker’s The Art Of War – and Märvel’s favourite recording for many fans. 

Photoshoot with Stefan in Marl 2011

Mats Engesten (smashing cover artist): Musically, Warhawks of War is my number one album. I like the way the band has developed their sound, but that one is my favourite. I have to say it is always a pleasure working with the band, drawing inspiration from their music and the Märvel guys always pay me on time, so I haven´t had the need to trap them in my Killer Porn Dungeon yet!!!

Peter Stjärnvind (Krux, Entombed, founding member of hard rockers Black Trip and most recently Splash Gorton Band): I first knew about Märvel when they released the “Warhawks Of War” album. I was blown away the first time I heard it!  Both the production and the songs gave me goosebumps and left me longing for more. Strängen did a really cool lead on “T.N.H.”! 


A battle had been won with this album, but the war continued on a global scale, and this confrontation required army back up. Fans all over the world rose and enlisted in the fight against bland music. Thus the Märvel Army was born. But how did this rock militia come into place? Märvel lore points out at Mr. Ben Soulseller lighting the fuse, but depending on who you ask, the troops have disparage historical recollections. 

Captain Poon (President Märvel Army Spain): My favorite album of the band would undoubtedly be “Warhawks Of War”, both for the large number of great songs hidden inside, and because for me it is special since it was while they toured this album that I met the band in person and could see them for the first time on stage.

Papa Bear (legendary manager): I think that the concoction of the Märvel Army has many fathers. It’s a brainchild of rock, you see, the rise of the Märvel Army came naturally as we saw that there were people out there, more dedicated to rock than others. These wonderful people soon came to be friends of ours, and it was just natural that those people, if they chose to accept the title, became Presidents in the name of rock n’ roll.

Märvel Army – Marl, Germany

Capitain Poon (Märvel Army Spain President): How did I become President of the Märvel Army Spain? The truth is that everything came about by chance and very naturally. At that time I ran a music blog in which I provided quite some coverage for the band.  I also spread the word in several magazines and fanzines and for that, Papa Bear told me that he had to thank me in some way.  I said that I would have to become the president of the fan club in Spain, something that seemed to him a good idea. That did not stop there, since with the help (if I remember correctly) of none other than Ben Soulseller, a member of the great German magazine Soulseller Mag, they decided to form the corresponding Armies all over the world.

There is a quote that I always say, I think it’s from Havelock Ellis: “There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it..” and while it’s true that if I had the worldwide Märvel Army at my command I would not fight any battle under any circumstances, I do not think that anything could stand in the way of a horde led by yours truly with all the Armies at my command.

Märvel Army Japan

Emil Skala (President of Märvel Army Sweden): I saw on facebook that Märvel had a president in Germany named Bolle, the Finnish one called Mikko and I thought “where’s the Swedish president?”. Then I called Mr Björn Rallare on the phone and demanded that I should be the next president of Märvel Army Sweden. In addition to being the president of Märvel Army Sweden I occasionally drive the tour bus when the band needs a driver.  The main thing with the position is that with great power comes great responsibility and I’m always talking to people about the greatness of Märvel and I’m constantly spreading the Märvel gospel.  

If I had the worldwide Märvel Army under my command I would send them out to conquer all the parks and public spaces and fill them with rock’n’roll. Compact record players that play “Warhawks of War” on every corner and bluetooth speakers with “Five Smell City” in all the shabby streets all over the world. That would be great. 

Ben Soulseller, Märvel Army Sweden president Emil and Märvel Army Japan president Nita

The worldwide Märvel Army counts with different chapters in each country, each with its own president. Starting with Germany, the Märvel Army has headquarters all over the globe: Japan, Finland, Sweden, France, Spain, UK, Brazil, Australia, México, USA… A committed legion of Märvel maniacs ready to take on the world by the power of high energy rock’n’roll!

Masked presidents everywhere, courtesy of Mast Engesten

With the Märvel Army behind them, the masked combo prepared the global invasion, and after reviewing the troops in the release party for the record, with admiral DJs Nicke Andersson and Strängen tending to the troops morale, the Warhawks Of War world domination tour commenced, laying waste to Germany, Spain and France and including historic combats like the High Energy Halloween or the End Of The Word Party in Helsinki with Michael Monroe and his band (where Dregen militated at the time).

Robert and Nicke, DJs of War – release party at Debaser, Stockholm

Märvel would tour the war machine of “Warhawks Of War” all over the world. However, Speedo’s legal affairs would still prevent him from touring, and The Aviator had parked his flying cap in the hangar. Maybe it was the time for Märvel to tour as a guitar-drums duo, in a White Stripes fashion? Since The King and The Vicar were not entangled in an incestuous marriage that was not really an option. What to do? Enter Ulrik Bostedt a.k.a. THE BURGHER, all bass, mask and elegant tuxedo. While his first recording with Märvel would come later (that’s a story for another chapter, kids and kiddettes), he had already joined Märvel’s live war apparatus earlier in 2011 and was ready for the “Warhawks Of War” world domination tour, which started in Germany and followed with Spain and France. 

Bombarding the Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid, 2011     The King and Dregen, Helsinki 2011 

Three hats in a row. Barcelona, 2011 High Energy Halloween, 2011 – president Nita

So… another bass player by the name of Ulrik Bostedt? That seemed to confuse the media at the time, leaving the blokes from Linköping no other option but to make the following public statement to clarify things once and for all: “There’s been a LOT of confusion regarding our bass player in the Swedish press lately. Some magazines write that we have two bass players, some write that we are a quintet. Let’s get everything clear: Märvel is a trio, but we do have five members. Three of those members play bass, but not at the same time. All bass players are named Ulrik Bostedt for legal reasons. Easy, yes?”. If anyone has any further doubt, once you join the band you may record, you may tour, or you may not, but you become Märvel forever. 

At this point, you might want to sample some Warhawks Of War…….


And now the interview: the band remembers life during wartime in the “Warhawks Of War” Interview

DFH: Before you released “Warhawks of War” you recorded the “Pyrrhic Victory” one-sided single. Why just one song? 7” records have two sides, you know, and the other side could have been easily filled with another song… 

The King: (laughs) We have always been lazy…I think we needed something to tour on and maybe we did not have more songs at the time. There are quite a few years between “Thunderblood Heart” and “Beaten Path”, the first single from “Warhawks of War”. We played a lot live but we didn’t record anything. I guess it maybe had to do with Speedo stepping out and Aviator coming in. 

The Vicar: Yeah, we were exactly doing that, touring but not recording. 

TK: We never considered recording with Aviator. I don’t know why.

TV: I don’t think he wanted to.

TK: Maybe not. And you, Vicar, were also moving to Stockholm. I don’t know. It just wasn’t a time when we recorded much. 

Speedo: For me it was more that due to legal matters that I cannot disclose, for confidentiality reasons, I didn’t really have time to be in the band but I didn’t want to quit the band because I really liked it. I don’t know if that was anything we even discussed. For me it first came down to the fact that I did not have time to tour and then on “Warhawks Of War”, I kind of felt that I did not have time to record either. I was not in the studio as much as I would have liked to be. I felt torn. So it was that kind of thing… it didn’t really work. 

TK: I think “A Pyrrhic Victory” was the result of Papa Bear pushing us forward, saying “there’s a company doing software amplifiers called Soft Tube, you can get a song in their commercials, do it, do it, do it, do it.” All we got to do is tour because that’s what bands do. “Well, what do we have?” “We have this one” “Let’s do a one sided single and a video”.

TV: I have a vague recollection that it was a good way of testing out working with Joakim Kärling (co-producer) as well, and a new studio. 

TK: Yes, true, true, true, true. I remember now, walking home with Kimmis one late night from Herrgårn (legendary rock club in Linköping) and he said “I have lots of ideas how I would record you guys if you want to try it out” And that song became the test. 

DFH: And why do you never play the song live?

TK: Well, we did a whole tour on it… 

DFH: I mean today. It is absent from your setlists.

TK: Because it was never really that good live. Just painful (to perform). 

DFH: The song is very good and fans like it very much. 

TV: To me it’s always been sad that we haven’t managed to retain it for live purposes because I really like it as well, and I think there’s something that hasn’t really clicked. 

TK: Maybe it would work now when we are more mature (laughs). 

SP: I remember we’ve played it live. I’ve played it a number of times, so we have tried it before. 

The cover for “A Pyrrhic Victory”

TK: You know, if you were at the release party, you got the CD version with a small elephant inside. 

DFH: Speaking of elephants, why the elephant and the horse in the video? 

TK: (laughs) because we had an elephant and a horse mask laying around. David Einar, our photographer at the time, had never filmed anything, so he wanted to try out to do a music video. He had an idea, we said “please go ahead” but we weren’t involved that much. I’m the guy sitting at the desk writing on the computer. That’s me. But other than that I don’t think we’re involved at all. 

DFH: The video is weird in an interesting sort of way. It’s certainly not just fun and games. Let’s say it’s a cool video. 

TK: It’s typical Björn humor, as we would say in Swedish. 

DFH:Whenever you come back to Spain, hopefully soon in 2023, you need to recover this song for your setlist. Just saying…. Anyway, when you record “Warhawks Of War” in 2011, you’ve been together almost 10 years already, so where is Märvel at that point as a band, at the time of recording the album? 

TK: To me a bit fragmented because for different personal reasons we didn’t see each other that much. I remember I programmed an internet forum where I could post demo ideas and you guys could comment on it. That was what was needed for us to keep working together, I think. Of course we did the basic tracks together then. But then I remember being alone in the studio a lot recording overdubs and guitars. 

TV: I might be mistaken, but I remember we did one week or maybe two weeks together, doing as much as we could, putting up the foundations mostly. 

TK: For some days we were there together, but I remember in the end I did the final sessions alone with Joakim. 

DFH:It’s really curious all this that you’re saying, because when listening to the whole album in one go, the general feeling that I get is that musically it is a very vital and very vibrant album. Very much uplifting, with lots of energy, and I do not mean high energy in terms of a musical style. It sounds very much as a fighting, not surrendering album, certainly not depressing in any manner. And not for the lyrics, but the impression it conveys musically. Anyway, that’s just what it sounds like to me.

TV: At least from my part of it, I agree with that as well. I think it’s the album where I played the best drumming out of all the albums we’ve done, the most powerful and technical. I feel that it shines through, gives it an extra push that is not just raw energy, it’s… a bit of sophisticated energy, and it’s been downhill from there (laughs). That’s what I take away from that album, personally. It is sort of a peak moment for me in terms of playing my instrument. 

TK: Yeah, I didn’t mean to say that it is a negative album or anything. I have a lot of fond memories of it and I have a good feeling about it as well. It’s just that it was a breaking point in some way, but I think also that it was a progression in terms of playing, and in terms of songwriting it was a big step forward, or at least in some direction. People prefer “Thunderblood Heart”, but I think we developed ourselves here. 

TV: And working with Joakim instead of Jörgen Wärnström it felt like we took another step also into setting ourselves in the center of the production even more, because we had been doing stuff with Jörgen before Märvel, so we sort of had a relationship in the studio with him going and doing the early stuff, which at least for me was a bit of a decision on our part and then him being the expert on everything else. But now I think we came into Joakim’s studio with very high sense of ourselves as a band and knowing exactly what we wanted to do and putting ourselves in the center that’s my recollection. 

Press photo 2011 by David Einar

SP. I think recording with Joakim was awesome and I don’t mean to sound like this was a depressing time or anything because that’s not what it was for me. When we recorded, that was cool. That was really, really good. That’s not it. But I felt like I should have been there more. 

TV: No, I understand, and I felt that as well. In the other recording sessions we came and went with how it worked with our jobs and so on, but this time around it was harder. 

SP: Maybe also it was a more advanced studio experience, there were more demanding songs and more work for you to do than before, King, and more ambitious recording, which meant it took longer maybe. 

TK: Yeah, in the first album, it was just the first solo that didn’t suck it was the one we kept. And here it was more like another one, another one, another one. Just raising the bar… 

TV: The thing also is that there was stuff happening within the group as we were moving on ourselves with our private lives. I moved to another city and got a new job…

SP: I have very fond memories from that recording. And by the way, I think the title is fantastic. I think that’s really, really good (laughs). 

DFH: Yep, I was going to ask you guys, what are the “Warhawks of War”?

TV: It’s as close to Spinal Tap as you can possibly get without crossing the line. 

TK: That was us trying to get as many “wars” as possible in the title. We got two. And then I remember when we did the release party, we were interviewed by the Swedish Telegram National News Service. And they asked, “what’s your plan now?” “We want to play at the Nobel prize fest” (laughs). It’s kind of fun because I still have the old forum where I put up the demos and the mixes and everything. I just read a comment from you, Speedo, that says “TNH, oi, oi, oi, oi, what a guitar dream. God, that’s a great song”. So fun to read all those comments… 

Join the Ärmy – Art by Mats Engesten

DFH:It’s very interesting hearing you guys saying that you pushed yourselves forward, particularly considering also the circumstances that made the recording more difficult, because for me “Warhawks Of War” is the album where the Märvel sound is defined and cemented. When all the stuff you have into your musical DNA falls into balance. The melody on one side and the high energy on the other, something powerful and smashing, but at the same time very melodic. All that which is Märvel and that has been evolving since day one. So for me the moment when the signature sound of Märvel is achieved is “Warhawks Of War”, and it is quite eye-catching that all this comes out of a complicated time for you guys to be recording. Anyway, it’s not a question, just an opinion, but I felt it needed to be said. 

TK: It’s cool to hear those things. I thought of something, you know, Aviator is good friends with Joakim, who recorded the album, and he always says that Joakim does everything really hard, even when he takes a piss, it’s hard. So he records drums, it’s really hard, guitars… everything is pumped to the max. I remember after we recorded the solo for “Hello!” and I sent it to you, Speedo, and you said “Oh my God, it’s like an ice bucket of guitars poured over my head”. 

SP: Yes, I was overwhelmed by guitars. It is really at the beginning of the song. Fantastic. First a riff and then just so much guitar. 

TK: Also there is this movie reference in the lyrics of “A Hobby That Got Out Of Hand”. “I was born ready”. Did you get it? It’s not easy.

DFH:It does ring a bell but I cannot say.

TK: It’s from “Smokey and The Bandit”.

DFH: Speaking of lyrics, I see two sorts of subject matters in the album (and I may be completely wrong here). One, there is a part where I see songs about let’s say, self-affirmation, making your own path, fight for your stuff, making your mark, and then I see a good number of other songs that for me follow deal with the different stages of a romantic relationship, first falling in love and winning that person over, then properly starting their relationship, getting to know the good and the bad about the other…. I don’t know if I am close to any ideas here. 

TK: Yeah, for sure. Some of the themes, sometimes are about the band, like “A Hobby That Got Out Of Hand”. “Beaten Path” is also trying to do your thing in some ways. That’s also about self-affirmation, “Good Times” was written about somebody that needed to get off his ass, get on with things. So yeah, it’s both personal and not. “TNH” came from a discussion Speedo and I had about old guys playing rock, no comment on that… So I don’t see it as a theme really. I think the theme is the energy of the album, like I know we talked about how we wanted to start a war against crappy music. That’s everywhere. And to me that was what we tried to achieve: a real punch in the face, but lyrically I don’t see it as a theme. It’s more the energy. That is the thing. But maybe you’re right anyway about the self-affirmation thing because it is also there. 

DFH: Dregen and Strängen came over to play some guitar in the album. How did that collaboration come into place? 

TK: We bumped into them every now and then. We had them in the “Thunderblood Heart” release party, we met them over the years. Maybe it was Papa Bear asking them in the end?

TV: I don’t remember but I remember us talking about that it would be nice to have some guest appearances on the album. We wanted to try something else, to have some other influence to come in and make a little mark and something a little bit different because we had not really tried that before. 

TK: I was there when Strängen recorded his solo but I was not there when Dregen did his. 

TV: I wasn’t on any of them unfortunately 

TK: It was very effortless. He just came in and did some takes, had a beer and returned home. I remember going in the taxi with him and asking him about recording “High Visibility”. That was a really nice moment for me to talk to him about that album. Really cool. ”High Visibility” was the reason we started to talk about forming a band because when I heard it I thought “wow, that’s the way to do rock music!”. At least for me that was the album that triggered it. 

DFH:You did this unboxing video for “Hello!” with the actor Johannes Brost. How did you do that? 

TK: (laughs) That was us trying to get away with not having to do videos. 

DFH:Then that was a success. 

TV: We thought “wouldn’t it be weird to ask somebody to do this? Yeah, let’s do that.” He was a really good actor who passed away a few years ago, but he was a bit out of the limelight at that time so it was pretty easy to approach him, and he was up for doing stuff like this. Just a year or two later he made his comeback as an actor. 

SP: Because of this, of course… 

DFH:The King together with Johannes Brost wearing a “Brost-mask”.

TK:  He had done a really weird commercial for MTV a couple of years before, and that was why we thought about him, I think. 

DFH:It’s a very cool video because he seems like he’s enjoying it a lot. He is just this regular guy sitting in his sofa and then he starts goofing around. It’s really fun.

But the big question is: are you gonna keep on playing till you breathe no more? 

SP: Sure. 

TK: (laughs) Of course. 

SP: With a couple of ten-year breaks for me.

TK: I know that it would feel really empty not to play music and I would miss a lot, so… You don’t want to turn into a tragic figure, but I guess we’re not there yet. 

DFH:You are T.N.H. anyway…

TK: (laughs) Yeah, we are “teenage”…

DFH:Out of curiosity, do you guys really have a secret killer porn dungeon anywhere? 

All: No. 

DFH:Like if you had one you were going to tell me…

TK: Have you seen the movie “Donnie Darko”? There’s somebody in that movie whose house burns down and it turns out he has a kiddy porn dungeon in his basement, that’s where it comes from. 

TV: But that would not work as a title to a song.

TK: (laughs) Not good.

DFH:How do you see Warhawks of War today? 

TV: I’m with you a little bit that it sort of cemented our sound and took it to the next level. We were searching quite a lot before, but the pieces were sort of falling in place here. I think it’s one of our best albums. 

Lego Märvel made by a member of Märvel Army Japan

DFH: And now, to sign off chapter 4, you can watch Johannes Brost (R.I.P.) enjoying “Hello!”

In the next chapter, Märvel will go to the deepest abyss…..