MESHUGGAH Interview with Marten Hagstrom
By Greg Nalbandian
SW: I was told that "Meshuggah" means "crazy", is that correct?
MH: Yeah, that's correct. Actually, it's Yiddish for crazy. And the way it came up was, way back, we were sittin' around flipping through an American slang dictionary for one reason or another. And we came across that name as being used in certain American Jewish communities. I think we thought that it fit the description of the music and it was pretty odd.
SW: So would you classify your music as being "odd"?
MH: I'd say it's aggressive and it's metal. Some people think it's very complex and some people think it's very over the top. But, it's still metal and it's still aggressive.
SW: Who are some of your current favorite bands?
MH: The whole band is listening a lot to a Chicago based band called Trans Am. I've only heard their album "Future World," I haven't heard anything else by them. We listen a lot to Square Pusher, who is kind of an ambient...no, ambient is not the right word but, it's sorta like Aphex Twin. We're into a lot of different music. Most of the time, what really blows our mind, is often times stuff outside of metal. We kind of like to cross boundaries when we listen to music.
SW: Has your family been supportive of the band and your music?
MH: Well yeah, basically. I mean, growing up as a young kid and first starting out...of course you get warned that you need to look out for your education and get a job and stuff like that. I think that all of our parents, when they realized that everybody in the band was in this for the long run, they kind of accepted it and started supporting it. And now that we're doing okay, they're happy.
SW: Was it hard starting out as an underground metal musician in Sweden?
MH: Well, yeah. I think it's hard on pretty much every band that starts out in the underground. Having to struggle through the band tours, the shitty venues, never getting paid, nobody listens to your music and stuff like that. But, at the same time, it's hard to compare us to American bands because in Sweden, the climate, when it comes to being a band, is quite different actually. So, I'd say that we had an easier, earlier route than most bands have. Because, we grew up in cities and small towns where you could rehearse for free. And, we had a good start to our musical careers. I think we can attribute that, a lot, to living in Sweden actually.
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