Deathstars' Whiplasher preaches Deathglam prior to Australian tour

A little while ago I had the opportunity to talk to Andreas “Whiplasher Bernadotte” Bergh of Deathstars fame about deathglam, humour, girls, and touring Australia.

Deathstars' Night Electric Night received really good press worldwide, but it's not something that these guys even attempt to keep up with.

'Actually it's just impossible to try to really think about that. I don't do that,' Whiplasher said. 'But of course it's interesting to know their general opinions so to speak, but it's not like I'm going around checking on these things. But ah, it's got a great response and – we're worth it, so,' he chuckled, 'what else is new?'

Having interviewed these guys before – albeit by email – I knew a bit about what to expect from Deathstars; and what I knew a lot about before I started was these guys' dry sense of humour.

For some journalists, getting a statement like the one above may put them off; without any context it looks arrogant or a bit too self-congratulatory. In the context of the band's take on things, it's just good fun.

In fact, you'd be hard pressed to take absolutely everything these guys say seriously. You'll see why a little bit later on.

The band is touring pretty hard at the moment – taking in Australia on their way – and the cycle isn't likely to let up until late in November. It may not surprise you to find out what Whiplasher told me they absolutely have to take with them when they go on the road: clothes.

'What do I bring?' he asked, stopping to think. 'Err. I just bring as much sexy clothes as I can. And I think music and so on is important. For me and Skinny [Disco] (Jonas Kangur), we are, like, brothers in arms when we are touring, so we sit down and decide on some things that we must have as amusement,' Whiplasher went on. 'But except from that, no not really. Nothing really special. Stuff like Cat [Casino] (Eric Backman) when he has, like, two kilos of make-up and fifty mirrors and stuff,' he said, laughing.

When I leapt into the void left by that comment and asked an inane question about those mirrors, this is the reply that I got:

'He just likes looking at himself, so he brings a lot of mirrors.'

Unlike some bands, Deathstars don't tend to write much when they're on the road, because they find that it's a bit too chaotic when they're on tour.

'We try to,' Whiplasher said. 'But usually we tend to wait until we're at home, actually. Everything has their own place,' he explained, 'and I think that, for us, writing music, we do that best when we are not on tour.'

Normally it's Nightmare (Emil Nodveidt) who writes all of the music and composes it, before handing it across to Whiplasher for the vocal arrangements and lyrics and so on.

'That's the way that we have been working since me and him were, like, fifteen years old, so it's a very natural kind of process,' he explained. 'We know each other so well.'

Winning the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards in 2007 came as a bit of a surprise to Deathstars; but at the same time Whiplasher is realistic about how the bands are nominated and voted for, and didn't really appear terribly interested in the Awards' indication of a band's success. He was, in fact, a little bit dismissive of the whole affair.

'It was just like in that forum at Metal Hammer and I think that a lot of people are directly, just, like, total metalheads. Like we used to be when we were younger – and that they voted for a band that is very very different for that genre. But I also think that because we worked really hard and we toured like idiots, so it was a lot of work, and so it felt like some kind of really nice gesture to get that award,' he explained; hastening to add: 'But I can't really say that stuff like that is really important.

If you look around the web – and really, this article is probably no exception to the rule – the notion that a very dark sense of humour characterises Deathstars abounds. I ran this past Whiplasher and he told me that it's very important to them to keep the light-hearted elements in what they do, because it's essentially who they are.

'If we would be totally serious about everything, all the time it would be so not us. I leave that to the black metal bands,' he said coyly. 'But on one hand you have that really, you know, the very very dark and serious stuff in the songs; and then it's also the more, like, total other side of the band, which is the live band and the more “party band” image that people have of us. But for us it's just how we are,' he went on. 'You can even see it in the name and the “deathglam”. On the one hand you have the death and the seriousness but then also the glamour, you know? You can even see it in the name Deathstars. So it's like a thread through everything we do.'

Perhaps in keeping with this, it's no surprise that these guys have a very diverse fan base.

'Mainly females though,' Whiplasher was quick to point out with a chuckle. 'Yeah, yeah it's very very different from a lot of bands in rock or in metal. I mean, the bands that we used to play in, before Deathstars [Swordmaster, Dissection] were just guys coming to look at their Hell's Angels and so on, but with Deathstars we noticed that it was more and more girls. There's even more girls than guys, I think mostly,' he explained. 'So it's like, as we've said before, it's like a Backstreet Boys from Hell in one aspect. All the girls like it,' he said, as I could hear him grinning down the phone. 'And we like the girls, so together we do something that we both like.'

Whiplasher told me that this type of gender balance is similar worldwide at Deathstars shows. He clarified the point that there are a lot of guys there too, but that the numbers of girls is striking. But, what they find is that it is different when they are touring with other bands. 

'It's a pretty big difference, how many from the better gender, how many more there are at our shows actually. It's interesting,' he emphasised. 'We enjoy it.'

And of course, they're incredibly excited about coming to Australia for the first time this month.

'Very excited about it,' Whiplasher said, 'because it's always nice to somewhere that you haven't been, to preach deathglam, and that's an important thing that we want more people to grasp. But I think everyone is really passionate about going there,' he clarified. 'Finally. I know people have been... We get a lot of offers from the whole world but usually it takes us quite a long time. It has been quite a long time with Australia.'

Whiplasher said that he'll be coming to Australia before the tour starts, and they'll be staying a few days after, just on holidays.

Is there anything in particular he's looking to do on his days off?

'Party!' he laughed. 'And, no, but I have some friends living in Australia; I'm going to hang out with them and... I don't know. I'm gonna do touristy stuff I think. And eat at fancy restaurants, and just enjoy the stay.'

At the time when I spoke with Whiplasher the weather was absolute shit: cold, raining, windy. I told him it would be nice if the weather picked up; and it was here that he told me that one thing the band has learned is that they have bad luck wherever they go.

'I'm sure the weather will be terrible when I get there. That's, you know, the thing about this band. It's always bad luck, whatever we do, it's just chaos. But we have reconsidered that! It's like, what used to be bad luck, it's the only thing that we rely on. Any occasion it's bad luck, so it's kind of a friend of ours now.'

Australian fans can look forward to a the set list that will draw on every album, and that will be absolutely jammed with songs. But in terms of the show itself, Whiplasher said that even though they play a basic rock show – that is, that the it's just the band on stage – they like to keep it that way because the music sounds so big.

'On the one hand you have this very big-sounding music, but on the other hand it's a simple set-up because it should be straight-forward rock as well, you know? It's the clash between those two things that makes it so interesting.'