Power of Metal.dk Interview

Interview with Michael Bastholm Dahl, Artillery - July 201


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?

MBD: 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. 

Artillery seems to have quite a fanbase in South America..... 

MBD: Yes, we do. 

Let’s talk about Artillery’s most recent studio-album...did you contribute any songs for “Legions”? 

MBD: 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? 

MBD: 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. 

As you 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? 

MBD: 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. 

You were actually 3 years old when Artillery released their 1st Demo...... 

MBD: [laughs] 

Do you remember when you first heard the band?

MBD: 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. 

You joined Artillery around the same time as drummer Josua Madsen. How do you get along with him? 

MBD: 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. 

Before joining the band I believe you sang in a King Diamond tribute band with Michael... 

MBD: 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 Artillery? 

MBD: 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? 

MBD: Yes. 

While 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….. 

MBD: 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. 

I noticed that the lyrics to the last 3 Artillery albums have a prevailing emotion of ‘suffering’.

This got me thinking…..do you try to put yourself in the shoes of the lyrics’ subjects when singing the songs? 

MBD: 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? 

MBD: 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. 

Lars Ulrich, 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? 

MBD: 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? 

MBD: [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. 

Which bands that you haven’t yet toured with would be on your wish list of touring mates? 

MBD: 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] 

Michael Bastholm-Dahl, thank you for your time in answering my questions.

MBD: Thank you.

© 2014 Chris Galea

Watch the 2nd part of this interview by clicking the image below:

Artillery - Legions

Label: Metal Blade Records.

Link: www.artillery.dk.


Michael Bastholm Dahl - Vocals
Michael Stützer - Guitars
Morten Stützer - Guitars
Peter Thorslund - Bass
Josua Madsen - Drums

Legions (2013)
My Blood (2011)
When Death Comes (2009)
B.A.C.K. (1999)
By Inheritance (1990)
Terror Squad (1987)
Fear of Tomorrow (1985) 


Interviewed by Chris Galea