Two years and
1 album after enlisting in the ranks of Artillery, Michael Bastholm Dahl sat
down with me for a friendly chit-chat. At the time of the interview Artillery
were touring the UK for the first time in the company of Onslaught and other
bands of the Thrash genre.
How has this
tour with Onslaught been going?
Well, great. This is the first time Artillery has been to the UK and it’s really
great to be here. The audience has been great. We toured South America [with
Onslaught] just before this tour so we knew each other well and are quite
comfortable in each other’s company.
seems to have quite a fanbase in South America.....
Yes, we do.
about Artillery’s most recent studio-album...did you contribute any songs for
Yes, I wrote all of the lyrics apart from ‘Doctor Evil’ which was Morten’s song.
Did you feel
any pressure to safeguard Artillery’s legacy and keep longtime fans happy?
Yes. I mean I would be lying if I said I wasn’t under a little bit of pressure.
But I tried not to think too much about it. I knew that there was a lot of
legacy to live up to. I obviously went through all the old albums and tried to
find the right atmosphere, I tried to find the key to what Artillery is. Mainly
I just tried to forget myself in the process and let my mind go and be myself.
And they allowed me to be myself, so that was a great thing.
suggested, you had to listen carefully to the entire band’s back catalogue. When
doing this, in what ways did you find that the singing of Flemming Rönsdorf and
Søren Adamsen (Artillery’s previous singers) different from each other?
Well, one thing that became clear to me when I was listening to the old albums
with Flemming and the later albums with Søren is that they did certain things
that I knew that I had to decide whether I wanted to do them or not. The way
Flemming sings is strainful to your voice. Søren does other stuff too......so I
was thinking, yes, I have to do the best I can to deliver something that lives
up to their legacy and to what they have done in the past but with my own take
on it. So that’s what I tried to do.
actually 3 years old when Artillery released their 1st Demo......
remember when you first heard the band?
I was 10 years old and I heard ‘Don’t Believe’ [from 1990’s “By Inheritance”
album]. Since my early childhood I was a huge Metal fan so I was always
listening to the radio with tape deck, ready to press the ‘record’ button. And I
clearly remember hearing ‘Don’t Believe’ and that stuck in my mind. So to
actually be in the band now...that’s a little bit weird. [laughs] So
obviously I’m much younger [than the rest of the band] and it’s really
cool to try to bring some of my own perception of what I felt back then and what
I feel now into the band.
Artillery around the same time as drummer Josua Madsen. How do you get along
Really great. I think Josua had already played a few gigs with Artillery before
I came into the band but it was really nice to have him along because he had to
learn the songs and I had to as well. At the beginning he was giving me cues as
to where I should start to sing and finding the right rhythm and all that. So we
quite helped each other at the beginning. Artillery is an institution and we had
to be strong and not lose ourselves. I mean all of us are great friends,
including Josua and myself.
joining the band I believe you sang in a King Diamond tribute band with
Weeell yes, but it’s not the same Michael. However, yes, I did play in a King
Diamond cover band.
Oh, I thought
that was where you met Michael Stutzer....so how did you end up being part of
I think we were playing a small gig somewhere in Denmark. I have to mention here
that the whole King Diamond/Mercyful Fate thing was something I just did for
fun. I have another band, called Ripe, which I do serious stuff with. So at the
time we did that show Søren had decided that he wanted to leave the band. I must
have made a good impression at that gig because after that Artillery invited me
to try out with them.
Are you still
involved with Ripe?
researching this interview I managed to listen to some music you’ve done with
Ripe. Your singing reminded me of singers such as Mike Vescera, Mark Boals and
Goran Edman. I wonder if this is a casual co-incidence or if you do admire any
of these singers I’ve mentioned and the Neo-classical Metal genre…..
Well I don’t know. I mean I’m always looking for great singers to be inspired
by. I’m not trying to be any particular singer. I just do what I can do and
finding what I feel for. Singers like Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson and Rob
Halford...the great ones...but also singers like Mike Patton...I really like. I
like the classical training aspect because it gives you a lot of strength and
maybe that partly why I sound like I do.
that the lyrics to the last 3 Artillery albums have a prevailing emotion of
This got me
thinking…..do you try to put yourself in the shoes of the lyrics’ subjects when
singing the songs?
Yes. You have to try to give as much of yourself as possible. Sometimes when you
write lyrics you project something and you enhance it that way.
I think the whole thing of
suffering and pain is because the world these days is a very tough place to be
in and people are doing very terrible things to each other. So it’s not just
occasional pain but systematic pain and you know that from the Buddhist point of
view life is suffering but it doesn’t mean that you are suffering as
such. It’s just that you have to make the world the best possible place for
everyone to be in. And we should try to address these horrible things because
some people are having a bad time. So being aware might help you start to
be a better person.
How do Morten
and Michael differ from each other as guitarists?
Oh I think on stage it’s known that Michael is the crazy guy and Morten is the
more controlled one. I think that’s also how they are as persons because Michael
is very open and talks a lot while Morten is a little more quiet. And I think
you can hear all this in them as guitarists.
King Diamond, Artillery, even famed producer Flemming Rasmussen…..all the
biggest Danish Metal personalities seem to be from Copenhagen. What does
Copenhagen have that makes it so special?
I don’t know. It must be because it’s the capital...and it’s very close to
Sweden where there are many great musicians. But I don’t know why actually....I
think it’s something about the mentality because once in a while in Denmark
there’s a thriving scene. It thrives for 5 or 6 years and then diminishes again.
I think it’s very important that you keep the drive and the enthusiasm going.
And I think Copenhagen is big enough to do that.
Just a few
more straightforward questions left for you.....excluding “Legions”, which do
you consider to be Artillery’s best album and why?
[pauses...] To me the best album they did was “By Inheritance” because
it’s a very melodic album and it showed the band was going forward in many many
ways. The first two albums were really raw Thrash Metal and “By Inheritance”
was.....well, I wouldn’t say a ‘more commercial’ record.....or perhaps that’s
exactly what it is. To me it’s a good thing because it made it possible for
other people to hear Artillery as well. With “By Inheritance” Artillery showed
they can do a lot of stuff and not just play hard.
that you haven’t yet toured with would be on your wish list of touring mates?
Ah, that’s a really hard one. I mean I’ve always loved to tour with Iron Maiden
because they’re such a positive band. I admire them not only for their music but
also because they seem to me to be great persons. And Motörhead, I must say,
because I’m a huge Motörhead fan. [laughs]
Bastholm-Dahl, thank you for your time in answering my questions.
2014 Chris Galea
Watch the 2nd part of this interview by clicking the image below: