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Sweden's Left Hand Solution haven't released anything new since 2001, but the band hasn't ever officially ceased. Comrade Aleks investigates further, with the help of bassist Peter and ex-guitarist Jocke.

Interview with Left Hand Solution.
"Having formed in 1991, Swedish band Left Hand Solution could be considered as one of the first Doom bands with a female vocalist, though it's true to say their first demo, 'Dwell' was recorded with bassist Jörgen Fahlberg on vocals. However, Kicki Höijertz joined the crew in 1992, and when she left in 1994, Mariana Holmberg (later Frykman) took her place. Mariana's deep voice and the skills of Jocke Mårdstam (guitars), Peter Selin (bass) and Erik Barthold (drums, keyboards) led the band in recording the pure Traditional Doom work 'Fevered' in 1996. That was an excellent recording indeed, so it's a bit of a pity that on the next album, 'Light Shines Black' (2001), Left Hand Solution turned to a more Gothic-influenced sound. However, Metal Archives hints that the band's status is still active, so we're trying to investigate if that's true, with the help of Jocke Mårdstam and Peter Selin."

Left Hand Solution: Peter Selin (Bass), Erik Barthold (Drums), Mariana Frykman (Vocals), Jocke Mårdstam (Guitars).

Hail, Peter and Jocke! Thanks for your time! So, it was 27 years ago, how did the story of Left Hand Solution start for you?

Jocke: After several bands that just fell apart I decided to start a new band and play some kind of heavy metal, nothing extreme, just metal with focus on heavy sound and melodies. I knew Jörgen from before and we had been jamming old Misfits stuff back in 1987 and he could sing. He also played guitar in the cult punkband Totalitär, but they weren´t active at the time. I wanted a three piece band so I asked if he could sing and play the bass. I also asked Liljan, the bass player in the heavy-punk-band Charly & The Slaves who also were a big influence. They had just split up and Liljan really wanted to play drums, and he also wrote a lot of lyrics, so we got together and tried it out.

Jocke, the first demo you recorded as the band was 'Dwell', with Jörgen Fahlberg performing vocals. What formed Left Hand Solution's sound in this early period?

Jocke: Me and Jörgen were huge Samhain-freaks (Glenn Danzig´s band between Misfits and Danzig) We loved that horror, mystic and dark feeling they had, and we even ripped some Samhain riffs and played it a bit slower.

Jocke, in 1993 you gathered a completely new line-up, including Peter Selin (bass), Erik Barthold (drums) and vocalist Kicki Höijertz. How did it change your approach to Left Hand Solution? How did you decide to a invite woman in the band?

Jocke: When Jörgen left the band it was hard because he had a special voice and I loved the way he sang. I did not want a growler in the band and it became hard to find a replacement, so I got the idea to bring in a female vocalist. It could be cool, and also it could fit in with the kind of music that we played.

Peter, how did you get in the band? What kind of influences did you bring along?

Peter: I managed to sneak into their rehearsals just to hang out. After some months they might have figured out the purpose of me sitting on the floor when they were rehearsing.. So one day they asked me to join the band playing the bass since Jörgen wanted to concentrate on the vocals. At that time I hadn't much to impress these older rock stars with, but somehow I must have done it.

Left Hand Solution took part in the 'Metal North' split in 1993, what was that? Did appearance on such a release help you to break through? Did you feel yourself a part of local metal community?

Jocke: We were still an underground band in my opinion, but started to get lots of fan mail at the time. The local bands in the area were either glam metal or black/death metal - we were in between, so I don´t think we ever fit in with the local metal community. I think we were outsiders. But we did gigs with some local bands such as Neocori and Unholy that we liked and were friends with. Peter: Metal North was a compilation made by the record company Massproduktion who consisted of one guy and had its office in the same rock club as we had our rehearsal room. Every now and then he came in to listen for a while, and one day he asked if we wanted to record a couple of songs for an idea that he had. Four bands from our town (Sundsvall) and one band from Östersund (Celeborn whose drummer later joined Hellacopters).

On this recording I tried to string up my eight-string bass for the first time! Sound a bit weird... I felt as a part of the local metal community since I had lots of friends in other death/black metal bands. Tragically some of those friends/bands went too black and started to hate LHS even though we had been friends for years... I was more into crust punk and grindcore rather than black metal so I never really understood that it was all part of the black metal image. In the end of the -90's it all went back to normal again though.

Left Hand Solution - 'Shadowdance' (2003 Remaster):

You quickly recorded the demo 'Falling', and after that EP 'Shadowdance' appeared. How did you work on this material? Were you satisfied with the result?

Jocke: The Falling demo was recorded in a rehearsal spot, it was not a big pro studio. At the time we wanted an "in your face" type of sound with no effects, the result was a very dry sounding demo. Yeah we were satisfied with the result. We recorded it in 3 or 4 days including mixing.

This time you had a label behind you, did that change anything? How did you deal with promotion? How did you organize gigs?

Jocke: We got signed with a local record company, Massproduktion (Mats Hammerman), we were happy, he helped us a lot even though it is a very small company but we had, and still have, a great relationship. Mats also helped us with a license deal with Nuclear Blast records later on. We did our own promotion such as printing T-shirts, recording demo tapes and booking gigs and answering fan mail. At this time we could get ten letters per day from all around the world and we printed flyers that we included in the letters. Lots of work answering all that fan mail, that was for sure :-)

Peter: Massproduktion was (and still is) a very small local label and they helped us with the recording and the release of Shadowdance. We did promotion the way we knew through flyers that we spread with tapetrading and selling demotapes, and Massproduktion did promotion through sending CD:s and ads in magazines and fanzines. Some gigs came to us and some gigs we fought for!

Mariana Holmberg joined the band in 1995, what didn't work out with Kicki? By the way, is it difficult to have a woman in the band? : )

Jocke: Kicki moved to Stockholm, 400 km from Sundsvall were we were based, and it was difficult to rehearse and do gigs, so we decided to try out another vocalist, we found four girls and rehearsed with all of them. The last one out was Mariana and it was very clear that she was the one. It was great to have a new girl onboard, great for the chemistry and the balance in the band.

Together with Mariana you recorded debut full-length album 'Fevered', how did you write these songs? Did you have a concept for the album?

Peter: Erik wrote most of the songs and all the lyrics. Me and Jocke came up with some ideas and riffs, but Erik had tons of ideas and came to the rehearsals with finished songs. He is very talented and creative, and since the songs were that good we mostly just rehearsed them as they were.

How were your recording sessions organized this time? Was it more difficult than with Shadowdance?

Jocke: Well, Shadowdance was recorded in four days or something, this time we had a month in the studio together with producer Tomas Hedqvist (Misery Loves Co, Backyard Babies) and I think we spent a week just setting up the sound for the drums, guitar and bass. We worked seven days a week, from 10 o'clock in the morning 'till late midnight. So we spend a lot of time trying to get the feeling and the sound that we wanted. But it was fun and pretty easy cause we had plenty of time. Peter: Yes, it was more difficult cos this time we worked with a producer. He wanted us to sound like he wanted us to sound, and we wanted to sound like we wanted us to sound. In the end we managed to put out a pretty decent album...

Left Hand Solution - 'Illusion' (1996):

Did 'Fevered' make you famous, or did it at least draw the attention of new listeners?

Jocke: Did we get famous, no I don't think so, the album sold 10.000 copies in 40 different countries, pretty good for an underground band like LHS. I think that the record sounds good even today, 22 years later. And the most important thing is that we were happy with the result. Peter: Yes, I think it did. We recorded some really great songs and It's still attracting new listeners.

What did you feel when it was finally out?

Peter: Finally! Full of anticipation! I was kind of fed up with these songs and the lame sound though (in my opinion at that time). It felt awesome to have released a full length album though, but I wasn't that convinced until some years later.

Jocke, soon after that you left the band, what made you take this decision?

Jocke: It was a tough decision, but I came to a point in life when I realized that I had no education, no day job and we didn't make any money. I had to do something, so I cut my hair, got educated in the computer business, and in 1998 I was offered a job at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency, where I'm still working. But it was kind of sad, because everyone in the band is like family to me, and to this day still, we are very good friends and me and Jörgen were even invited on the Light Shines Black recording sessions. And even if I did quit I've played with the band several times - one show in 2000, one show 2004, two shows 2009 and one show 2013.

Live in 2000.

So, the band's next album, 'Light Shines Black' was recorded in 1999, but Massproduktion only released it in 2001. What was the reason for such delay?

Peter: I can't remember actually! I think money was involved though...

'Light Shines Black' sounds a bit more gothic and melodic. What kind of influences made you switch your style?

Peter: It just felt right at that moment. We had a new guitarist (Janne Wiklund) who was more into Slayer, Sepultura and Entombed but I don't think that had so much to do with the way our new songs turned out. Our main songwriter Erik is a genius on various instruments and the songs he wrote for this album reflected his way of life at that time. I was (and still am) more into punk / crust than doom / goth, even though Type O Negative were gods during that time I was also into bands like Driller Killer, Disfear, and Bathory. Still I wrote a couple of songs that ended up in the album.

Left Hand Solution - 'Missionary Man' (1999):

How did listeners react to these changes?

Peter: Some liked it and some didn't. Internet wasn't as big as it is today of course, so getting quick feedback was at a very different level. Now I haven't got any sales numbers for our records, but with Fevered we had a licensed deal with Nuclear Blast, but that deal wasn't for Light Shines Black.

The further story of Left Hand Solution is very blurred: what happened after this? Was the band disbanded?

Peter: Mariana moved down to Nyköping since she met her future husband Henke Frykman of Disfear (who tragically passed away from cancer in 2011). Since rehearsing wasn't the same without hearing Mariana's voice and our guitarist Janne obviously did have better things to do, we didn't rehearse as often as we should. That did of course have an effect on our live performance which really bothered me since I loved playing live, but the way we performed the last gigs was way below my expectations. That's why I decided to leave the band in 2002, leave what had been a huge part of my life for 10 years...

Robert Bergius from Darklands got the lineup complete again but no new songs were recorded even though Erik had a new album ready. They played shows at Summer Breeze and CBGB:s and there are a couple of live clips from a Canadian TV-show on YouTube, but in these clips Henrik Svensson is playing bass.

What's Left Hand Solution's current status?

Jocke: Good question cause the band never said it's over, we're done. Now and then we get together and play a show or something. But now the time has come to make a closure, and we've recently talked about doing something before we turn off the light forever. Exactly what's that is gonna be is too early to say, but we are going to do something in the near future. Something for all the fantastic people and fans out there who supported us through the years.

For more info please visit us on Facebook.

Peter: This year we have actually got together a couple of times talking about releasing some old/hard to find tracks on CD. We have also talked to the guy (Peter Forslund) that recorded the Falling demo, coz he found the old master tapes and made a remix that sounds awesome! Erik and Jocke have also moved next door to each other, and rumor has it that some new riffs might see the darkness of the Swedish Winter!

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Left Hand Solution bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-11-17 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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