One of the first death metal acts seeing the light in Sweden is without any doubt NIHILIST. So David just went on and send some questions to Uffe Cederlund. Just let the cult talk...

Hello guys! I'm running with one of my best friends an underground fanzine Stygian Shadows and I have thought about to do a NIHILIST interview. Would you willingly answer my questions? This band belong to the history of death metal, one of the greatest death metal bands of all time.

How old were you when NIHILIST was established? By whom, when and how was the band formed? Which bands have had an effect on you? Did you know each other earlier?
Nicke formed NIHILIST back in the end of 87. We were a bunch of friend from all over Stockholm. We had a few bands going. I guess NIHILST was formed, cuz Nicke wanted a more Death Metal based band. We just got into the DEATH demos, REPULSION, INSANITY, MASTER, DEVASTATION, AUTOPSY, etc. The first time I met Nicke was, when me and L.G. had an add out for a bassplayer. We had a band called WITCHCRAFT going for a minute.
We were all around 14-17 years old.

To what did the name of the band refer? Were you rebels or nihilistics?
I'm pretty sure Nicke got the name from the Italian Hardcore band RAW POWER. They had a song called "Nihilist" and when he looked it up in the dictionary it also meant something cool, you know. I love that name! It fits a death metal band and it also sound abit punk.

How often did you rehearse? How were your rehearsals? Did you play own tunes or covers too?
Once week. NIHILIST rehearsed on the other side of town from where me and Nicke lived. Rehearsals where cool, but it was a fucking drag sitting on the subway over an hour just to get there, You know. In those days I mostly helped Nicke, Alex and Leffe out with guitar and vocals. I wasn't really in the band. We did a few covers, cuz we didn't have enough of our own. DEATH and S.O.D. mainly...

Who wroten the lyrics and the music? Who were the main songcomposers? What were all about it the lyrics?
It was Nicke who did everything. He is a fucking talented guy. Doing all this when he was like 15 years old, you know. But It is all natural for him! Some of the early lyrics were a bit political ("Sacrificed By Goverment"), but later turned more horror like.

As far as the line-up, when did it become complete? On which NIHILIST releases did play guitarist Leif "Leffe" Cuzner and singer Mattias? Why and when did they leave the band? Who replaced them?
Mattias never sang on a recording. When NIHILIST did the first tape me and L.G. helped out with guitars and vocals. Mattias was not a great singer (didn't even do a show). I guess the first real proper line-up was when L.G. joined and they got Johnny Hedlund on bass. Leffe and Alex played the guitars. I was not in the band at that time.

Lars Göran Petrov was also the drummer of MORBID. When did he join NIHILIST? Or was he in two bands at the same time? Did you play in several bands beside NIHILIST? How did he become singer?
MORBID had split-up at that time. Me and L.G. had some band called INFURIATION going (so many bands but same guys). L.G. was always the crazy drummer sort off. He just tried to sing on the first demo and it kind of worked. I think he became good on the second demo. That's when he found his darker voice.

In 1988 you recorded your first demo "Premature Autopsy". Tell us please detailed about this tape! Which songs were on them? Do you still remember about the recordings? Did you have already experiences, as far as to record a demo or to work in a studio?
It was recorded were we rehearsed with CORRUPT. A 8-track studio. There was supposed to be two more songs on it, but Nicke fucked up his hand the day before and he was in too much pain. It probably took like eight hours all in all. I had done the MORBID demo before but this was not really a real studio. "Sentenced To Death", "Supposed To Rot" and "Carnal Leftovers" are on it. I think the names of the others were called "Nighmare" and "Sacrificed By Goverment".

It was followed in 1989 by three materials, "Radiation Sickness" 7" and two demos, "Only Shreds Remain" respectively "Drowned". What can you say about these stuffs? Why did you record three materials within a year?
"Only Shreds Remain" was recorded in '88. I don't play on it. That's the first time NIHILIST were in the Sunlight Studio. Me and L.G. did MORBID's "Last Supper" tape there sometime before. After that "Only Shreds..." session Leffe decided to leave and I joined full time. Later on we did the "Drowned" tape which is not really good in my opinion... that 7" was released later after NIHILIST broke up just for fun putting something out. It was a friend of ours who payed for it all.

Was "Radiation Sickness" released on vinyl? Was it a 7"?
Nope, the only thing we released was the "Drowned" demo. All the other stuff are bootlegs!

In 1990 has came out a live-EP which was titled "Live NL". Where did you record this material and which songs were on it? Did you often give shows? Did you also play abroad or only in Sweden? How must we imagine the early NIHILIST shows?
That's an ENTOMBED EP. Bootlegged from one of our shows we did in holland in '90. Alex didn't do these shows, cuz he was in school... NIHILIST only played in Sweden a couple of times. It was real poor in the beginning... no people but some friends. The first show that actually pulled some people took place in the suburb were me and L.G. grow up. That show was with TIAMAT (seems to be with TREBLINKA at that time... - Leif) and DISMEMBER.

Did you shot at that time e. g. video clips?
Some shows are on VHS. I still have the first NIHILIST show ever.

In what kind of reception were they participated by the fans and by the fanzines? I think so, you have stired up the standing water of the underground haven't you?
Everybody liked NIHILIST. The more Hardcore people and the death metal people in the scene. There was a lot of people sending tapes, zines, etc. It was a cool time!

Did you became popular or known in the underground scene? Did your demos and EPs draw the fans attention to the band?
I'd say that there was a lot of cool people who helped NIHILIST out from all over. It was the underground scene NIHILIST came from and that's how the name was spread.

As far as the sound of your stuff, were they recorded in the Sunlight studio? Why did the studio and Tomas Skogsberg become that popular? Is/was he a good guy, did he help you much?
He was just a weird guy with his studio. He had no clue whatsoever about what was going on he just liked us, cuz we were so dedicated to music. He grew with us as we grew with him. It was not like we sat down and created a sound. It was more like... AH, this might work out.

The sound is/was a "chainsaw" one with the brutal, distorted and deep-tuned guitars and bass. Which band did use this sound first? Did it become the famous, well-known Sunlight sound, does it?
I don't know really. I guess Leffe was getting there. It's just something we were lucky to find. It sounded like nothing before and brutal.

What do you think, why didn't NIHILIST get offers from several record labels? Were you too brutal for them?
Nuclear Blast and Peaceville wanted to do an album. We didn't really understand why... then we broke up to get rid of Johnny (bass) and formed ENTOMBED. That's when Dig from Earache called us up and wanted to do an album with NIHILIST. We told him that we had a new band and sent him the "But Life Goes On" demo, that's it. I think it was Shane from NAPALM DEATH that convinced Dig to sign us.

How was the Swedish underground scene at that time? Which bands were active? Did you take part in the tape trading? Did you change demos with each other? Tell us please detailed about it!
The scene was ours. It was our escape from the boring day to day life. It felt like we were a part of something cool. We hung out with DISMEMBER, TIAMAT, GRAVE, etc. We were all trading. It was fucking cool!

In your opinion, why have had death metal a strong background in Sweden? Why did become Sweden the centre of death metal?
We were just a bunch of dedicaded kids. Music was the thing for us. Everybody formed their band and wanted to be a part of it. It was cool for everybody. That thing died like the year after.

While in the middle of the '80ies thrash metal was very popular in the underground until then became death metal popular at the late '80ies/early '90ies. In your opinion why did thrash go out of fashion? Did the fans wanted a more brutal music than thrash metal?
That's why we liked it. It was harder and more underground. It felt like it belonged to us. We were a part of creating something. The Thrash thing got boring as it always get when the labels got involved. Too many releases, etc. The same thing happened with Death Metal later. It never got really big. The labels put out every fucking band in the world wanting to make money. That's when you know that something is dying...

Who was/were the grandfather(s) of death metal?
Chuck from DEATH (R.I.P.). I don't like the albums exept the first one but still... I'd say it's him!!

Why and when did NIHILIST split-up? Were there personal and musical differences within the band?
Nicke could not deal with Johnny anymore and it also felt like it was mostly me and him that were 100%. We wanted to be serious, you know. Johnny did a lot of promotion so we thought we should take another name. The split kind of got to everybody involved and when ENTOMBED was born everything was more serious.

At the late '90ies became the melodic Gothenburg style very popular, a lot of bands have appeared like IN FLAMES, AT THE GATES, DARK TRANQUILLITY etc. What was the reason of it? Are/were there always a competition between the Gothenburg and Stockholm bands?
I'm not really into that stuff. For me it's too melodic in the wrong way. The only band I liked was ATG. They did something cool and fresh. I've known Tompa since '87. He was always struggeling to find peolple to play with. I guess I lost interest when these bands came out.

In this year a "Compilation" album was released by Threeman Recordings? Whose idea was to release this material? Do the present death metal fans know NIHILIST? Have they ever heard about the band? I consider it a very good one.
Huh, I don't know. A lot of people have asked for it and we've seen some bootlegs around. It's something for the people who are interested.

Are all of your songs on the album? Are there unreleased tracks or covers? Didn't you think about
to release rather a DVD?
Yeah, I guess all the songs are on there. DVD with what?

Didn't you think about to reform NIHILIST? If you would get a request from a promoter or from an organizer to play live on a great festival would you give a gig? Would you go perhaps on tour?
It would be hard to reform NIHILIST since we are NIHILIST. We are the same band in some way. There has been so many years and I know we sound a lot different now. Some guys have left and joined. All in all we are the same kids as back then.

In Sweden is/was always a strong death metal scene, there are very much cool bands. Which ones do you like? What do you think about the present death metal scene? What would you say about the present scene compared to the late '80ies/early '90ies one?
I don't like anybody, sorry. It's me. I just don't think that anybody got the right mentally. I don't know anything about death metal later than around '91. For me it was all in that scene in the late 80ies. If people think they are playing death metal, fine! I still think we are death metal 100%. At least we still have the same mentality that we've always had. It's not about playing as fast as possible or tune down your guitar to z. It's all in the head and this is how I am.

Last year a ton of cool death metal releases were released , like GOD AMONG INSECTS, RIBSPREADER, GRAVE, UNLEASHED, DISMEMBER, VOMITORY, VISCERAL BLEEDING etc. Which records did you like? What would you say about it?
Hmmmm, I honestly think most band keep on repeating themself. I would not do that. I like all these bands but it's nothing I would listen to at home.

What is the essence of death metal in your opinion? What is the importance of death metal?
Feel free to do what you want to do. Belive in yourself. Keep on playing even if everybody hates you. The words death metal are just words... Music is what its all about. It's just that it's cool to call it something if someone ask you what kind of music you play. All in all it's brutal and heavy music. Call it whatever. The immportance for me was that I knew that I pretty much were alone listening to this heavy music. It was only for the invited. Death metal isn't supposed to be big! It's something for us weirder people.

If it would be a death metal hall of fame which bands would you vote in it and why?

Thanks a lot for your answers, I wish you all the best and luck. NIHILIST rules!!!

Interview: David Laszlo (May 2005)

more infos about NIHILIST