April 3, 2023

And Finally!… Once again courtesy of our Spanish compadres at rockandrollarmy.com, the main content of this article and interview is again originally provided by Daniel FromHell – still aided and abetted by the three masked amigos!

HAVE YOU SEEN THESE MEN? – IF NOT, DO IT! DO IT NOW!

It was 2022, and Märvel started to look back on 20 years of high energy rock ’n ’roll from the top of the mountain. In these times where bland music overflows the media and real rock ’n’ roll is in the underground, Märvel are still fighting the rock fight, not giving up. And to prove it, 2022 was the year Märvel released Graces Came With Malice – the band’s most personal record and (so far) their musical peak. 

Recorded and produced by the band at their own Solskensfabriken studio between October 2020 and October 2021, mixed by Robert Pehrsson at Studio Humbucker and mastered by Magnus Lindberg, Graces Came With Malice became a coloured vinyl reality in April 2022, inside a neat cover created by none other than Mr. Mats Engesten. The album was preceded by neither one, nor two, but five singles, each one of them accompanied by a live video shot inside a wooden cabin at some undisclosed location in the dark Swedish woods. The first single, released in September, was the dark and terrifying Slasher With A Broken Heart, followed by the cry of rebellion that is One Common Enemy; the crystalline melody of Lizard’s Tongue; the despair in Sound Of Life Slipping Away; and lastly, the outpour of high energy liberation that is Great Man – which you can listen to and witness here:

Graces Came With Malice is indeed an album of contrasts. For one part it is Märvel’s most complex and layered record, a clockwork mechanism behind the scenes. For another part, the songs resulting from all that intricate work are tremendously straightforward and catchy, easily grabbing the listener. It is an album that deals with anger, frustration and hurt, but deals also with light, love and healing that overcome the darkness. It is the record where Märvel sets the high energy dial at eleven with some of the band’s most ass-kicking tunes and, at the same time, contains the band’s most melodic and tender songs (the title track being the ultimate example). Graces Came With Malice is something way beyond anything Märvel has done before at all levels and yet still sounds undeniably Märvel. The band’s best record to date? For sure, and an album overflowing with high energy rock ’n’ roll both musically and emotionally. 

For each of the first two singles Märvel launched a contest: “We Wanna Know You (Just a Little Bit Better)” and “We Wanna Know You (Even Better)” where they asked fans to reinterpret and remix the songs, for which purpose they made the audio files, chords and lyrics available to whoever wanted to tamper with the songs. The worldwide response was overwhelming.

Slasher With A Broken Heart would be presented live for the first time in Märl, Germany on the 5th of November 2021 at Hot Hagenbusch with the first time live formation of The King, Speedo and The Charlatan (not the last time this formation would assemble). It sounded like this: 

The Graces Came With Malice release party took place on May 7th 2022 at Skylten in the band’s home town, Linköping. One hell of a party: the premiere of the video for “Hot Nite In Dallas” Märvel quiz, hosted by none other than Mr Rojfen Sjöberg of Reptile Tongue fame, Stockholm’s own Freedom opening the stage, and high energy rock’n’roll in spades. 

Here is the video for Hot Nite In Dallas. Can you guess the city where this was shot?

No? Then read more about it in the final interview at the end of this chapter. 

2022 was indeed a busy year for the band. August 5th and 6th were the dates announced for the celebration of 20 years of high energy rock ’n’ roll: Märvelfest! And where could this event take place if not in Five Smell City? Two full days of rock bands (including the long awaited reunion of The Pusjkins who performed a smoking version of Märvel’s “Now I Believe It”), more rock’n’roll quizzes (hosted among others by Mr Emil Skala, Märvel Army Sweden president) and each night, Märvel closing the festivities.

On Friday 5th, a repertoire covering the band’s songbook up to, and including “Warhawks of War”. On Saturday 6th, everything from “Hadal Zone Express” until today. Speedo, The Aviator and The Charlatan sharing the stage with The King, The Vicar and The Burgher. And Groupie Heaven too! Even Papa Bear took the stage for some warm remembrance. A unique Märvel extravaganza. 

King, Vicar, The Charlatan and Burgher at Märvelfest’s 2nd night

Here is a taste of the Friday gig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EvB2V_eelA

And here is a sample of the Saturday gig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1e_I4JErjg

But the party did not stop there. In November and after more than a decade of absence, Märvel finally returned to Spain for a round of five dates: Barcelona, Lleida, Zaragoza, Madrid and Toledo. The line up of The King, Speedo and The Charlatan was back on the stages one year after the Märl debut. On the final date of this blitzkrieg tour, Speedo would become The Eagle of Toledo.

Fly high, Eagle of Toledo…

Here is Märvel blowing up “Fringe Of Comfort” in Madrid… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8poAPEOhIh8

…and setting fire to “Since That Day” in Toledo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWAwRYkaGXQ

*****

And in case all that was not enough to commemorate these 20 years, the band also announced the Double Decade double LP compilation, one album full of greatest hits and another one packed with singles, rarities and two new songs coming out of the recording session for Graces Came With Malice (and which would have fit perfectly well within that album, if you ask me). Turn the Page, a luminous track with a chorus that sticks on you like superglue, and the stomping rocker that is Catch 22. Double Decade was released just last month, in February 2023.

Take a look at the very recent video for Catch 22:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-p1HLbV6N4

Twenty years gives enough room for many encounters: managers, producers, fellow musicians and artists. Even presidents! Friends that have contributed their yellow bricks to pave Märvel’s road and that have got something from the Linköping trio, even if only a heavy dose of high energy rock’n’roll. 

Mats Engesten (man of many record covers): I am open to do more covers in the future. Recently bought a Wacom digital drawing board so that opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Maybe a cover in an oil painting style? 

Papa Bear (the killer cobra behind Killer Cobra Records): There are so many Märvel memories that will accompany me to my grave! Like the bottle of whiskey they brought back from a tour I couldn’t go on, when I got it they had almost emptied it on the way home. I still have the bottle. The wonderful tours where we met so many amazing people. When The King spooned me in a tiny hotel room in London when we visited Scott Rowley of Classic Rock Magazine, or the trips to Cologne when the amazing Laura helped us out with the tour movie from 2009. Märvel, you taught me how to rock out with my cock out. And drink beer. For that I will always be grateful.

Papa Bear. Rocking out with his book out.

Fred Estby (man of death metal, producer of records that will Dismember you): You know what? There’s a lot of stuff I love about the Märvel guys, but what I love the most is that they’re very humble people. They’re very nice people, very friendly. And they also have the sickest sense of humour, which I love. Sometimes I get some really weird memes or stuff sent to me and I’m just cracking up instantly because we’ve had a lot of laughs and they are really funny guys, but not funny in that stand-up-comedy-guy kind of way. They have a very subtle sense of humour which catches you off guard, and I love that about them. They’re very, very, very humble and humorous people. 

Robert Pehrsson (man of many bands, mixer of records): Märvel and I, we do share a lot of influences. But I think we also share some thoughts about writing and crafting songs. Märvel writes great songs. They have strong arrangements, hooks, and choruses. So the focus is on writing and performing what is best for the song. This is always a good idea. Then they top it off with awesome playing and singing. I wish the best for the guys and hope more and more people will get to discover the music of Märvel. There are definitely hit songs on “Graces Came With Malice” and I hope people will pick up on them!

Chips Kiesby (Producer, Sator – Swedish punk rock legends): Märvel are a great live band. I’ve seen them many times. Check them out! You won’t be disappointed. They are doing pretty good on their own but I’d love to record them if we can get our schedules to match.  We’ll see what happens…

Capitain Poon a.k.a. Josu Zubeldia (Märvel Army Spain President and the heart and mind behind the gone but not forgotten rawk radio station El Behringer del Capi): The truth is that Märvel’s mere presence on stage gives them something special that many great bands would like for themselves. And I don’t mean their look, but how three guys fill a stage and how they get such a compact sound. Anyone who has seen them live will attest to what I say. In addition, their collection of hits is not something available to a lot of bands. I encourage anyone who reads these lines to become part of the Märvel Army Spain or any other country. On Facebook there are the different groups of each Army and it is very easy to join.

Peter Stjärnvind (Krux, Entombed, Black Trip and Splash Gorton Band): Märvel have definitely influenced me personally! They have opened doors to other ideas and influences than the more classic hard rock I’m coming from. By showing their skills in variation in the songwriting is the main thing that comes to mind! One thing that me and The King always have done is sending new song ideas to each other to get feedback and thoughts on the songs. That has really helped a lot when you’re not sure if the demos are good or not. The trust of showing new songs to one another and keeping it to ourselves is something I’ll take to the grave.  And there is nothing bad to say about Märvel. Impossible! Well, it could be shorter time between the releases then?! I always want more! I have nothing but love and respect for the guys in Märvel! They are really cool guys and very down to earth. Playing together is always great! And of course the beers after the gigs together with Märvel is never bad! 

Ben Soulseller (founder of Märvel Army – from the liner notes in “Double Decade”): How time flies. It’s been 20 years for Märvel, 16 years for me. Lots of great music, creativity and of course the friendship with Märvel, a group that never fulfils the lazy stereotypes of drug taking macho kind of bands hunting for drunk groupies. It’s just a gang of ordinary superheroes with very diverse musical influences, big hearts and a special sense of humour, that came together to create their very own interpretation of high energy rock’n’roll. When I look closely at these past years I see a steadily growing band and I’m not talking about the amount of bass players. I’m talking about expanding the songwriting, getting into soul, hard rock, metal and (power)pop but still managing to sound like themselves – the unmistakable sound of Märvel.

Märvelfest August 2022 with The Aviator guesting on lead bass

The Drippers (Gothenburg’s fine action rockers): We’ve also had the pleasure to play with them a couple of times, that’s really been memorable. Such a great bunch of guys, we could just sit around and talk about obscure KISS songs until the end of time if we could. There’s nothing like watching them play, seeing the sweat drip from the masks from the intensity of their High Energy rock ‘n’ roll. They truly are one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll acts out there. Hope to see you soon again motherfuckers!

Magnus Monroe (Freedom – Stockholm providers of liberating rock):  Märvel makes you want to play better. Not many bands do that. I will never forget seeing The King come out of the shower wearing a diamond covered towel and the room smelling like roses and Dubbeldusch. And remember, people: we have pictures of them unmasked and are willing to sell them for one million euros!!!

Emil Skala (Märvel Army Sweden president and quizmaster): Märvel is a special band in the world of rock ‘n’ roll. The consistency with their three piece power trio through the years. And the fact that they spread over such a big part of the rock ‘n’ roll spectrum with their great variety of songs.  They played at my 40th birthday party and I can’t thank them enough and after the party a lot of my friends said “Hey, these guys are really good” and I would say that that’s the main thing with Märvel – they are a superb band but people tend to not know that they exist. I for one will love them to the end! Rock on!

*****

So: 20 years… And what now? Many a rock band that has fought the good fight has bitten the dust during this 21st century, but come hell or high water Märvel are still there – never surrendering, still unchained, still evolving, never repeating themselves, never stopping. The masked men from Linköping have no intention of hanging up their masks. So we wait, we want yet another record that is a step beyond into new ways of creating and enjoying high energy rock’n’roll. That, and hopefully, more live shows.

****

Long may The King reign with his guitar;

Long may The Vicar preach with his drums;

Long may The Burgher do whatever burghers do (and keep on playing his thundering bass)…..

And here’s to another 20 years of masked High Energy Rock’n’Roll!

****

Go on, dive deep into Graces Came With Malice, at:
https://marveltheband.bandcamp.com/album/graces-came-with-malice

And now, the final interview: Graces Came With Malice and beyond….

*****

Daniel From Hell: When we spoke about the album back in 2022 just before it was released, you mentioned that it comes from a dark period in your life.

The King: That is true, but it’s also not the whole album and it’s also not for all of the band. It’s something that summarises the theme of some of the songs. It felt like closing the book on something, or that I wanted some kind of treatment for that. You also wonder whether you really want to put that name to the album because you will always be reminded of that thing, but it felt like it was a good way of getting rid of some demons. 

The Vicar: I thought that maybe you wanted to project your meaning of that song onto the album cover, making the album have that meaning and maybe taking it away from your thing, if that makes sense. 

TK: I also thought that people wouldn’t know about it, so it means something different for them from what it would mean for me. But I think it was the right thing to do, and I think the title fits well with the album. It also goes a lot into what we do, with things that have double meanings, and it is not written out what these things have to be, for them to become something with a meaning to someone else. 

DFH: Personally, I have never listened to an album where the music and the lyrics working together, convey emotions, so directly. There are a lot of things in there. You see the despair and the frustration and the sadness, but then the album overcomes all of that and liberates you and brings the love and the healing in a very close and touching way. To me all these emotions in the record resonate and mean something to me personally, into my own things. As you say, things have their own meaning for me, which is different from what they mean to you. I have not encountered another album that has done that for me at this level. 

TK: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much. If music can make you feel that it’s perfect. That’s all you can ask for. 

DFH: “Slasher With A Broken Heart” opens the record and was also the first single you released for this album. I just hope the song does not come from a personal experience, because having someone at home trying your clothes on when you are at work is certainly a very creepy experience. I believe when you released the single you mentioned that this came from a stalking episode that Agnetha Fältskog from ABBA suffered back in the 90s? 

TK: That was some kind of inspiration, yes. 

The Burgher: I know that we talked about that pretty early on at least as some kind of reference. 

TK: You can make the connection stronger or weaker. Maybe it wasn’t only that, but I think it was some kind of inspiration because I read something or saw a documentary about that Dutch man that stalked her and then became her boyfriend. But it’s just some kind of inspiration. The song doesn’t try to tell the story about that at all. It was more like, “he’s a stalker and he is nice”. 

DFH: The way the whole story and the images are laid out is very menacing, which I think is probably what you wanted to do, so mission accomplished. 

TK: It was a bit like trying to be personal about something that you don’t normally talk about, trying to make it human or something like that. 

DFH: It’s very clear to me that the order, the sequence of songs on the album is not casual at all. Why did you have this one as the opener? 

TB: We thought that it was a natural album starter. It’s always a bit of a process when you try to line up all your tracks for an album. I remember this was the easiest piece of the puzzle. The riff is catching on from the get go. 

Marl, November 2021. Photo by @thomas_a_aus_m

TV: We wanted it to begin like that. No intros or anything. Just going straight into the first verse. 

TK: For me, it’s like the song is starting the long climb up the hill instead of going in with a crash. Either you could have a song that explodes or something that starts building. With this one we try to get you into the mood, we try to drag you into the atmosphere. I still think it’s a good opener. I think we would choose the same if we did it again. 

DFH: Apart from very melodic songs, there is a lot of high energy in this record as anyone could expect, but there are a number of songs that are among your most intense, even aggressive, tunes. I am thinking about “One Common Enemy” and in particular “Great Man” which by the way is my favourite song of the album. 

TK: This is one of the tracks that we put strings into. 

DFH: What instruments are played in “Queen For A Day”?  

TK: It is the basic guitar-bass-drums foundation. And there is also a weird organ, a Silvertone, but there is not more than that there.

DFH: I hear lots of layers in this song and on the album and probably because of that I get the feeling that there are more weird instruments involved. 

TK: That thing you say about the layers is true. The original had a totally different vibe. During the production we tried to steer away a little bit from the more folky sound the original demo had. We tried to produce it to sound more like a Märvel song. One thing was adding a twin guitar for the hook to get some kind of Thin Lizzy vibe.  But people still hear through that. There was a guy at a gig referring to it as the “Astrid Lindgren” song.

TB: That’s fun to hear. 

TK: You can dress the pig up but it’s still a pig. He loved it, but it was obvious to him that it was a different kind of song. 

TV: It’s very direct but yeah, it’s kind of a 70s kiddish song. 

Märvelfest with Speedo on lead bass

TK: I think it turned out pretty cool. The title came from a KISS story surrounding the album “Rock And Roll Over”. They were supposed to have Ace Frehley singing on a song, his first vocal appearance, and Gene Simmons had written a song called “Queen For A Day” and that was never completed and it has never turned up as a demo or as a recorded song. It’s like the Holy Grail of KISS collectors. I was always pissed that I never get to hear the song, so I thought, “let’s write a song called “Queen For A Day” so we can at least have a song with that name” 

DFH:To me it sounds like some sort of renaissance or baroque song, something that could be played on a clavichord. 

TK: Something that Ritchie Blackmore could do…. 

DFH: It’s a really curious choice to end the record with. Particularly after “Hot Nite In Dallas”, which I know I have mentioned in the past, but it has such a ZZ Top vibe to me, particularly the drums which sounds like something out of the Eliminator era. A great cover and an amazing song.

TV: You’re spot on with what we were aiming for, but at the same time in the Moon Martin original the drumming is pretty held back as well. I’m doing the same thing that he’s doing. So it really comes from the original. But when we were doing it, it felt like an Eliminator kind of groove. I think we tried to push that. That’s because that’s a drum machine on the Eliminator, right? So I told Robert (Pehrsson) to just push up the tambourines and all that so that they became a bit rougher and in your face, sort of drum-machine style.

TK: And of course, we also talked a lot about Status Quo. 

DFH: The video for this song was shot in Gothenburg. Lots of guests appear as passengers in the taxi. Whose idea was it to do the night taxi driver thing? It’s really cool. 

TK: It was actually the three of us. 

TB: I remember that The Vicar and myself had a hard time fitting it into our schedules. I don’t know what came first. The necessity of finding a concept with either one of us, or none of us or with just The King or something like that, or the fact that we came up with this taxi idea, I can’t remember. 

TK: We had a creative meeting where we tried to come up with an idea that would work with minimal effort. And I think I was the only one that had time and was up for doing it. So we tried to make the idea work with just me. And then of course, we found Max Ljungberg and he was really “yeah, that sounds like a super cool idea. I know a guy who has a taxi” and of course we had him involved and Nicki Lowe, who works with The Sign Records, phoned some of his friends up. So he was kind of producing the movie and the three of us had the brainstorming session later coming up with characters and props and locations. It was pretty fun. I was a bit nervous that we wouldn’t get it together but in the end I think it turned out really beautiful. And we should thank Max and his team for that, because they were absolute professionals. Crazy-good guys! Working with them was really fun. I would like to do that again but with the whole band. 

DFH: You should do that as soon as possible. The video came out great. There is the comic part with all the weirdos coming in and out of the car, and the parts where you are driving the taxi through the streets of Gothenburg at night with this “Taxi Driver” urban feeling. So cool. 

Burning Barcelona!

TK: You know, driving this big ass taxi on a Friday evening in Gothenburg’s most crowded street, I had to make endless u-turns. It was a bit nerve wracking. So I tried to just… be cool. You have to turn for a long time to get the big machine around. It’s like steering a boat. It’s a special thing to drive but it’s fun. As to the passengers in the taxi, some people were planned and some just happened to be there. 

DFH: When you were releasing the different singles for “Graces Came With Malice”, you did a lot of things. Not only did you shoot these live videos in the wooden cabin but you also launched this “We Want to Know You” contest, for the fans to do their own reimagining of the singles, and you made the audio files and lyrics of the first two singles available to the people for this purpose. 

TB: That was a bit of a challenge and a risk. When you put something out like that, people are dedicated to spending their valuable time putting together something like this. We had high hopes but didn’t expect that much. I mean, for the “Slasher With A Broken Heart” contest we were overwhelmed with all the cool stuff that came in. 

TK: That was way beyond our hopes, I guess. Good turnout and really fun, because we had people from a lot of different places coming up with a lot of different ideas. 

DFH: In the overall, you look at this album and it is your most complex and most sophisticated album, musically speaking, and at the same time your most direct album, in terms of reaching the listener. The hard truth is that this entails that you’ve set the bar extremely high for your next album. In this respect, the question for you guys is what is the next thing that we can expect from you musically. Apart from “Double Decade” of course, which just came out. 

TV: We started talking about what we should do next, but there’s nothing concrete yet. We are trying to find an angle to a new project. Even if it turns out to be another Märvel album, we usually want something that, for ourselves, defines it as a new project. An element of new, like “we want to learn this, we want to build a studio, we want to do it this other way this time…”. Looking for something new. So we are starting those discussions now. 

DFH: Well, whatever you do, what you cannot tell me is that you’re going to retire now that you are at the top of your game. 

TV: That’s the new angle! (laughs) 

TK: Maybe that’s what we should do, but I can say that I don’t want to retire. There are songs. I guess that finding really the right angle and finding time is the thing. It’s become a lifestyle but I think it would feel really empty to us if we just hung up our masks and were just normal people (laughs). It’s something you need and you want. There’s been a lot of stuff lately, but we haven’t played that much. So I feel that I want to get together and play. That’s what I want to do, and see where we end up. 

DFH: Now that “Graces Came With Malice” is almost a year old, how do you reflect on it?

TV: I like it. I think it’s a great album and it’s us turning the knobs yet another round in terms of trying to find the essence of what we’re doing. It’s what you said, there’s more energy and maybe more layers than ever, but still the songs are more direct. There’s a lot of things that’s been scaled down in complexity that maybe you don’t notice in how we play and then maybe even more perfection to how the harmonies are worked out and stuff like that. 

TK: I think we all put more energy and love into it than before. Even though it always gets rushed in the end because you set the deadline and you think it will never happen and all of a sudden you are there. And of course, it was a crazy time with printing. We were done in September or October, we sent the master for printing by then, and it came out in April. I think it’s very solid and I still like it. It turned out good and it would be interesting to see where it would take us if we would continue that path. 

TB: I agree, it has been well received also and to me that’s such a blessing that we are allowed to keep evolving. People still appreciate the path that we’re walking on. We feel that we aren’t stomping on the same ground album after album, and we are allowed to try, or we allow ourselves to try new paths, try new stuff. And it’s just such a blessing that people don’t get tired of us. 

TK: But on the other hand, it’s inevitable when you keep going for this long that people say, “oh, it’s another album. It sounds like it always does”, but that’s not true. If you listen as spiritually as you do, then you will notice that we have a progression. But for some people, it’s, “oh, it’s just another album. They sound the same” 

DFH: I pity the fools… I know that you have shed the superhero skin quite a long time ago. But you’re still at it, come hell or high water and you do not take things for granted. You explore new things and strive to get better at what you do. That’s what I love about Märvel and what makes you high energy rock ’n’ roll superheroes.

Thanks to everyone that has joined us on this journey through Märvel’s music. We hope you have enjoyed it!

And if you have not listened to Double Decade yet, what the hell are you waiting for?!! 

https://marveltheband.bandcamp.com/album/double-decade