Wormwood is a Swedish metal band that released their third full-length album, “Arkivet”, in August last year. Their musical style is more rich and with some varied influences to be classified only as a Melodic Black Metal band. I had the pleasure to interview Tobias Rydsheim, who plays lead guitar and is also the songwriter in Wormwood, in order to know a bit more about the band and also about himself.
Hi Tobias, thank you for your time doing this interview. How do you feel now that the band is playing live gigs again, and how proud are you about “Arkivet”?
Tobias: Hi! Thanks for having me.
To be able to perform live on stage again feels like getting a huge part of the life back again. Even if we’re not a band with the tightest tour schedule possible – Life lacked something during the pandemic.
Arkivet, you know, of course I’m proud about it. It has been a while since it was released. So the personal hype is kinda over, and my focus is to make something better.
But yes, I’m more or less proud of most things I’ve been involved in for various reasons.
For those who are not familiar with the band, can you tell who are the other members in Wormwood?
Tobias: Well, we’re a bunch of dudes who share an interest in Rock music:
Nine – Vocals
Jerry Engström – Guitar
Oskar Tornborg- Bass/Vocals
Tatu Kerttula- Drums
We have all been active musicians in the underground for most parts of our lives. And now we are Wormwood.
When was the band formed, and who were with you at that starting point?
Tobias: The first seed was planted in 2013, it was me and a few other guys that are out of the picture by now.
Along came Nine (vocals) and we started to call the band Wormwood.
In 2014 we released an EP and started to play live.
It’s only me and Nine left since that era.
Well, Jerry joined during the end of the EP recordings.
It wasn’t until then we started to function as a real band.
How would you describe the style or the music that Wormwood plays?
Tobias: Hmm, I’ve heard and seen every description of our music. I don’t really care too much about the labeling stuff, so I rather say Wormwood is a Rock band.
But to be more specific, it’s some kind of melodic Metal containing influences from Black Metal, classic Rock, atmosphere, Folk and yeah, whatever. We play Rock. That’s it!
Despite all the drama and apocalyptic messages in your lyrics, the music in “Arkivet” is not sad or depressing, it has something uplifting and bright… at least this is my impression. Is this a way of saying that there’s hope and beauty even in the darkest times?
Tobias: I enjoy hearing what people think and feel when they hear our music. When different people make the music “their own”. I don’t really wanna be there to say what’s “right and wrong”.
But I think it’s pointless to express darker sides of life with just darkness.
Then it’s just dark with no comparison.
To make things real dark, a contrast is needed. Then the darker elements will be pitch black.
Can you tell us which are your guitar playing routines? Do you practice every day? And with the other band members, can you do physical rehearsals often?
Tobias: I have never been a shredder who practiced X-amount of hours a week.
But I have always been into songwriting.
I use my guitar as a tool to express emotion rather than looking at it as sports equipment, a board to show off with.
That’s also cool, but not my kind of thing.
I get my fair amount of practice when I write songs and rehearse I guess.
All the members in the band live pretty spread out from each other.
Back in the days we all lived in Stockholm City. Nowadays, just two of us live in Stockholm.
We still rehearse there, and try to rehearse at least once a week when it’s gig season.
How has been the recent incorporation of Tatu (drums) in the band? From what I’ve listened to through some videos, he fits the band perfectly!
Tobias: He fits perfectly fine in Wormwood. It feels natural from the first audition with him.
He is also a very technical drummer that has got -til this day- many unused skills in his arsenal that we probably will use for the next record.
Which are the future plans for Wormwood? Are you working on new music maybe?
Tobias: Well, to release more music, do more shows and grow by the time of having fun.
I already got new songs in the making. A few of them are considered to be more or less finished demos.
To be honest, I’m more excited to record new material than being able to gig again. Haha, am I allowed to say that after a 2 year long pandemic?
Now, going a bit back in time… At what age did you start playing guitar? And when did you realize you wanted to play your own music?
Tobias: Hmm, I think I was around 8 when my mom applied me to a kids guitar course.
I started my first band around that age and I used to try to learn myself when I was even younger.
To be in a band and write/record songs has always been very natural for me. The drive has been inside of me for as long as I can remember. I have been in/started a lot of (Punk/Rock/Metal/Folk) bands over the years.
As a young metalhead, which bands were you listening to in your teens? Are you still listening to them?
Tobias: I was very young when I began to appreciate music.
I was instantly hooked on Maiden, Kiss, Alice Cooper, etc, and I instantly got the urge to create my own music.
In my early teens I came in contact with more extreme Metal. At the same time I was also very much into Punk and Grunge.
I am bad at name dropping, but yes, most bands that I discovered as a kid/teen are bands I still listen to and follow to some level.
Unfortunately I’ve been pretty uninterested in discovering new bands for many years now. I don’t have time to be a consumer when the time to create is limited.
Is there any musician that you consider a big influence in your musical style?
Tobias: Naaw, not really. At least not by active choice. I am aware of the fact that many followers of Wormwood expect me to answer – Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits). I get the comparison a lot, because we often play calm melodic parts in our songs, and somehow it gives people Dire Straits-vibes.
But my style of guitar playing has already evolved before I gave Mark’s guitar playing attention with my “guitarist ear”.
I really like him though, so it’s not a bad thing.
But I’m sure I’ve got many subconscious heroes that influenced me in one way or another.
How is your creative process when you write your music and lyrics? And which are your sources of inspiration?
Tobias: It differs. I have no blueprint on how to do it.
Often I get some kind of abstract feeling that I wanna capture. Something that I’ve seen, felt or experienced in one way or another.
And then I’m trying to compose that feeling into a song.
It’s like writing a story or painting a picture, but I use the guitar instead.
Most lyrics are written by Nine, but I’m responsible for quite a few lyrics myself.
I mainly stick to writing lyrics in Swedish. I can’t really express myself in the way I want in English without being cliché.
How do you see the underground Metal scene nowadays?
Tobias: I think the underground is doing OK in general.
I worry a little about the younger generations though. It seems like the youth aren’t interested in forming Rock/Metal bands nowadays. I hope that it will change further on.
Do you listen to some “modern Metal bands”, or are you more into the classic ones? Can you name some of your favorite bands?
Tobias: I guess I’m more of a “song listener” than a “band listener” when it comes to more modern stuff. It’s mostly for educational reasons. It might sound boring. But that’s me, right now in life.
I enjoy listening to the production, styles and sounds.
Sometimes I feel like listening to Brutal Slam Death Metal, and then I put on a random list online without paying attention to what band it is. Other days I wanna listen to 80’s Rock, and so on.
But mostly I enjoy watching live performances on YouTube with random bands from whatever genre.
My standard answer about favorite bands is Kiss and Iron Maiden, it doesn’t mean that I listen to them everyday. But I always come back to them once in a while.
I now understand that I suck being a fanboy, haha!
Any “musical guilty pleasure” that you can confess?
Tobias: I don’t feel guilty for liking “wrong music”.
The Metal community in the early 00’s were very conservative where I grew up, and still are to some extent. At that time it was important to listen to the “true” and obscure bands. Stupid.
But ok, outside of the Metal realm I like Country, I learned that many metalheads dislike Country, especially in the US.
I also enjoy 90’s Punk/Skate Punk (not to be confused with Pop Punk), when I mention that, many metalheads look at me weird.
What does Metal music mean to you in your life?
Tobias: It means a lot. It’s a big part of my identity as a human being. Not only Metal, but being a musician.
Rock oriented music in different forms will always be my no.1 art form as a creator.
Many thanks for your answers, Tobias, is there anything more you want to add?
Tobias: Thank you very much!
I hope to see you all somewhere down the road in a near future.
Interview by Sílvia
Check out Tobias’ skills and Wormwood music in the video below. Feel free to listen and support the band if you enjoy what you hear.
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