Sevenstring.org Interview: Mårten Hagstrom of Meshuggah
<div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/meshuggah_logo.gif" alt="Mårten Hagstrom of Meshuggah" />
<b>Interview: Mårten Hagstrom of Meshuggah</b>
<font size="1"><i> By Allen Hunter</i></font>
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/hagstrom_1.JPG" alt="Mårten Hagstrom" />
<span class="ivorange">Sevenstring.org</span>: First off Mårten, Sevenstring.org would like to thank you very much for taking time out your busy schedule to answer some questions for all us 7-string nuts here. You have a lot of fans here, as well as those who are curious about Meshuggah's music.
<span class="ivred">Mårten Hagstrom</span>: That's awesome man. Hope I can give some intelligible answers though.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: What inspired you to pick up an extended range instrument?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: I Know back in the day when we used to play 6-strings Fredrik got a hold of a Ibanez Black/green Universe in 1990 and it became obvious right away that it really opened up the possibilities both playing wise, tone wise as well as for the writing process. We basically moved everything we were working on already to the 7th string and that was that.
As for the 8-string we had discussed using bass exclusively on some songs to get that really low tone that we were searching for but then we got in touch with Fredrik Nevborn and he presented us with the idea of making 8-strings for us to try out. We did and were blown away. The 7-string changed mostly the tone. The actual guitar playing/songwriting aspect was different on a 7 than a 6-string but when we got the 8's everything changed. it was like getting a new toolbox to use. There were only possibilities no drawbacks. In our opinion at least.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Your innovative use of polyrhthyms has earned Meshuggah a place in Metal as one of few bands to push the genre forward. What, in your opinion, do you think is next for future metal?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: I honestly have no idea. To me metal (or music in general actually) was always about finding a unique voice. You know, kind of being on the musical frontier or whatever - not from a technical point of view though, I'm talking form of expression. You have your trailblazers still but to me its hilarious to see that "metal" is going back to the costume party of the 80's where its more important to look and act than create. The bands that did it in the 80's were actually creating something of their own, something new back then. <img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/hagstrom_4.JPG" alt="Marten Hagstrom" />
50% of what's labeled metal now days is to my ears only, everyday, run-of-the-mill pop/schlager-music with added distorted guitars. The upside of that scenario is that a lot of bands/artists resent this "lets market Britney Spears music but coat it in a metal varnish" thing and refuse to comply. Maybe its worse that way here in Europe than anywhere else. I don't know. So the answer has to be that anything can happen I guess.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Did you pick up on any of the polyrhythmic stuff from the music of Bartok and Stravinsky?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: No, not in any conscious way at least. Although both are classical composers for which I have respect. But maybe they influenced someone who influenced us. There is a great synchro-mesh over the whole cross-breeding of musical ideas which doesn't only span musical "categories" but also time and musical periods and I don't think anyone can fully understand the mechanics of how that happens.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Has the creation of your last two releases been completely spontaneous, or have they been spawned in a deliberate quest for something original, seeing how they differ so much from your other material?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Yes and no. The deliberate effort was to take our music out of the ordinary song structure and use it in a more open and free form. No restrictions whatsoever. So in that sense the last releases have been spontaneous. But that's true for every album we've released in some sense. I think most of the time we don't aspire to do anything specific. Its just a matter of liking what you create. The most important thing to understand is that the less criteria you restrict yourselves with the more you can honestly make YOUR music and not someone else's ,i.e. what the label wants, the latest trend music, what gets you chicks and fame and other useless considerations that actually play a role in many bands perspective on what they are doing. Luckily many bands don't give a shit.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: What will the next Meshuggah-album sound like? Will it be a turn towards your more "traditional" material?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: You'll have to wait and see, heheh.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: What's the recording process like? Who records their parts first? Any tips for getting things to sound brutal and heavy when recording?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: It depends. When we finished the writing/demo process we lay down the drums first with or without a rough guitar track and then we start dubbing guitars. From there it depends on what type of song it is but its nothing out of the ordinary. Actually its been a little bit different for every album.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/hagstrom_2.JPG" alt="Marten Hagstrom" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Ok Marten, we're all gear nuts here - Can you give us a quick rundown on your custom 7 & 8 string Ibanez guitars?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Oh man, lets see. I've got an old black 'n green Ibanez Universe (got it 92/93) that I don't use anymore. It hangs in the studio more like a curiosity. Great guitar though. I got one standard scale black Ibanez Custom 7-string bolt-on neck called "MH" because its got my initials as a fretboard inlay. Another black Ibanez Custom but with Extended scale bolt-on(27 inch if I'm not mistaken) and one Ibanez Custom 27" scale neck-through. Its grey and the lid is Flame-maple I think. I have one Black/worn Nevborn Custom which is standard scale, neck-through. I also got a 7-string acoustic Ibanez. That's it for the 7's.
Now for the 8's. I've got 2 Black Ibanez custom 8's 30" Neck-through. One Ibanez Custom 8 with piezo, black bolt-on neck 30 ". And finally I have a Nevborn custom 8. Black (big surprise) 29" neck-through. Now I'm unsure of the respective wood selections but all guitars except for the Universe are fitted with Lundgren pick-ups.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: What kind of adjustments were required when moving to the longer scale eight strings?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Actually we didn't experience a lot of problems. Of course its more of a physical exercise to handle these weapons but their playability made the transition seem like a minor detail. The 8's were like the deluxe version of a great custom 7. The Bridge placing differs somewhat. But its all been about the search for the tone.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Did you have a difficult time getting standard guitar amps and cabs to handle the low F?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: No not really. I guess if we'd play power-chords all the time down on the F it might get us into trouble bit but we haven't run into any with the Line 6 Vetta II heads we use. Cabs work just fine as well.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: How do you get the regular bass sound to gel with the eight-strings, as it must be a nightmare to get three such low-tuned instruments to sound distinct in the studio?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Well,we've got that distorted bass sound (that a lot of people seem to not even hear in the mix sometimes,which I always found strange. To me that's like saying the bass is too loud on Metallica's "..and justice for all" ) that really opens up in the mids where the guitars are hollow. That also makes a tremendous difference as far as the attack goes. The bottom comes from everywhere so the bass only adds the super low.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Have you or Frederick ever tried a fanned-fret guitar? Are you interested in expanding the range even further - e.g. higher & lower or 9 strings?<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/hagstrom_3.JPG" alt="Marten Hagstrom" />
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: No,never tried 'em. And I really don't see us going lower. I think then it would be just for the sake of doing it and we try to never do things without the songs in mind. It wouldn't add much. But you never know.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Have you tried active pickups like the EMG 707, and if so, how do you feel they compare to the Lundgrens you use?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Haven't tried 'em on any of our guitars but I think they have a...plastic quality to them that I don't care for. Depends on what you're using them for. In a pop set-up I guess they'd work just fine. Or with crisp/clean chorus-laden shit it'd probably be a good choice but they sound way too flat IMO.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Can you tell us a little about your rig? What about the Line6 gear you've used over the years do you like that keeps you coming back?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: They just sound good. When the Vetta II's arrived we knew we were set. Sounds good,works well,lets us kill the cabs for live use,adaptability is awesome and they are excellent in a studio situation. What's not to like.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Do you have any favorite onstage memory? Funniest? Worst?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: Impossible question to answer. We've been in many a shitty situation live, as well as great ones, in our career but no one situation sticks out at either end of the spectrum right now.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: And finally Marten, one of the most burning questions we'd like to know: Do you think there's going to be a either a production model or limited edition Meshuggah signature Ibanez 8 string guitar coming soon?
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: I don't know. I guess it would be pretty cool if they would get one out though. My suggestion to those interested in a guitar like that is to E-mail the .... out of Ibanez and demand that they do. Its all about what people out there want to play.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>:: Thanks again Marten for taking the time to chat with us. We all wish you the best of luck, and always eagerly await the next release from Meshuggah!
<span class="ivred">MH</span>: My pleasure man! And thanks.
<img style="padding:5px;" align="middle" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/hagstrom_5.JPG" alt="Meshuggah" />
<img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/meshuggah/meshuggah_mainlogo.gif" alt="Mårten Hagstrom of Meshuggah" />
<a href="http://www.meshuggah.net" target="_BLANK"><span class="ivred">Meshuggah Official Website</span></a>