Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake Explains Why You Might Not See the Band Revisiting ‘Chaosphere’ Songs Live
Within their chat, Haake reflected on the making of the album and how it marked a shift in their approach. He also comments on his favorite songs in revisiting the album and why you might not see the material from the album played live.
The drummer also weighs in on Rolling Stone saluting Fredkir Thordendal in their recent greatest guitarist list and what it means for them to have fans such as Wolfgang Van Halen, Mike Kroeger and Robert Trujillo amongst their peers.
Check out the chat in full below:
It's Full Metal Jackie and on the show with us this week is Meshuggah's Tomas Haake. Thanks so much for being on the show. We're celebrating the 25th anniversary of the band's third studio album Chaosphere with a newly remastered release. Tomas, revisiting an album after some time away can bring up a flood of memories. What most stands out to you from that period in which you were creating and supporting the Chaosphere album. How was that time for you personally in the band?
It's a while ago now for sure. but it doesn't seem like 25 years ago, obviously, it feels like it was maybe 10, 12 years ago. But there we go. Basically, when we wrote that album, we really kind of set out and wanted it to be like kind of chaotic and frantic and that was kind of the mindset that we went into, I remember when we were kind of creating the material for that album and I think we kind of did that.
It's still an album that we're very proud of. Even though we don't really play anything off that album anymore, it's almost like it's a style of our style of our music. It's like we don't have it in our bodies anymore. I don't as a drummer, a lot of that stuff, I can't play it anymore. It's just like too much. (laughs) It's like too hectic and too technical in a lot of ways and with our bodies getting older, it's not always easy to kind of go back and play things that you kind of lost touch with, if you will.
I mean it's not that we play a completely different style of music today, but we definitely calmed down a lot and things that we do play that are more kind of in the vein of that album it's still way more playable if you will. It's kind of a little easier to get to grips with.
Other than that, I just remember the actual studio session were recorded that one at the same place as we recorded Destroy Erase Improve with Daniel Bergstrand in Uppsala, an hour north of Stockholm, and it was just one of those kind of a crazy periods. We bought a car just to be able to drive around there. We didn't really have cars back then. We all just you know took the subway or buses to get where we were going. So, I remember we got we bought an old Mercedes diesel car. I remember I was driving around in that and we rented an apartment from these students because it was kind of during some kind of break, so I know it's a big university city so we were able to rent an apartment from two people that kind of went home for a few weeks and weren't in school so other than that, man, it's I don't remember that much to be honest.
Meshuggah, "New Millennium Cyanide Christ"
Reflecting on the Chaosphere album for its 25th anniversary, Tomas this album is notable for a bit of a shift in style away from some of the early thrashier influences to something more technical and groove centric in nature. Can you speak to that shift? Was it something that seemed to come about naturally for the band or was there more of a conscious decision before starting the record that you wanted to take things more in this direction? And what sparked this shift?
Yeah, in a lot of ways, I would say it kind of came natural. I mean, Destroy Erase Improve was definitely also different if you compare the albums.The first album you were mentioning, that was very kind of rooted in thrash metal and metal influences, Bay Area influences and stuff like that was more audible and we wanted to kind of make our mark as being something that's uniquely sounding like us.
So this I think it was kind of a natural step just towards that from Destroy Erase Improve but the material I would say was more worked through and more thought over than some of this stuff on Destroy Erase Improve, which was some of the that stuff was basically stuff that we came up with in the studio for Destroy Erase Improve, whereas Chaosphere was very kind of mapped out and all the songs were definitely made beforehand and kind of scrutinized and turned inside out and kind of played around with a lot before we kind of decided on the exact versions of the songs that were gonna end up on the album.
But we did also at the same time have a specific talk and the intention was to definitely have something that was more frantic and just kind of more over the top than Destroy Erase Improve and that's kind of how we set out going about the process of that album.
So, it's like a little both. It's natural yes but also like something that we really kind of spoke about it that we want this to be very aggro, very kind of over the top, and that's kind of the mindset we were in.
Tomas, and I realized this may change on any given day. But as you revisit this album, which songs from Chaosphere are most enjoyable for you to play and why did these songs mean something special to you?
I mean, to be fully honest, there's not much stuff on that album that isn't in any way shape or form enjoyable for me to play and I haven't played really anything off of it for a long time. I wouldn't say that "Neurotica" towards the end a few years ago when we were still playing some of those tracks or if it was for the maybe for the 25th anniversary of the band in 2014, I think we played "Neurotica" on that run and that was kind of cool.
I really dig that song and it's nowadays we play to a click track and stuff so we were able to really kind of take it down and so it's actually singable for us because there a lot of lyrics in a short amount of time. So, that one kind of stands out, but then you have obviously a "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" which we made that spoofy video for that a lot of metal fans have seen I guess over the years and that song, of course, was trademark Meshuggah for many years and we always played it. But that's another one that's really it's actually really difficult for me to play it these days.
I don't have fully that kind of control over my feet anymore so there's a lot of tracks on that album that we probably never see the light of day again as far as like us playing it live. So, we'll see and even though now we have a U.S. tour and even though this 25th anniversary of Chaosphere coincides with that, we have no plans of playing any of that stuff for it for the tour so if people I think we're going out to promote the Chaosphere reissue. That's not really the case.
Meshuggah, "Neurotica" (25th Anniversary Remaster)
Tomas, recently your bandmate Fredrik [Thordendal] was one of the two extreme metal guitarists selected as part of Rolling Stone's all-encompassing 250 best guitarist feature. Given that your style of metal doesn't often frequently gets spotlighted in the mainstream media, how do you feel when accolades like this come up? Do you pay attention when lists are shouting out the playing of the band and your individual members come up?
I mean obviously, that's humbling and it's really cool and like you said, even though we're not kind of in the in the mainstream eye. I guess at this point, we've still we've been around for a long time. So, with that longevity, comes almost like a cult following, if you will. Cult is a weird word to use, but you know what I mean.
I agree that he is a fantastic guitar player. It's amazing and I think we're all very happy that we found each other and we're able to do this together and for so many years still. So, yeah, all kudos to Fredrik, man. He knows how to play that guitar. I don't know what to say other than that, you know?
Tomas, we've got a busy end of the year for you. Obviously these dates with In Flames and Whitechapel. That's a great bill, what are your thoughts on your tourmates? And what should we look for from Meshuggah getting into 2024?
We're just as long as we can and are able, we will just keep on traveling and keep on playing. We really don't have any other plans. We don't have any plans to hang up the coat. But as long as we feel like it's still fun and enjoyable and we can make a decent living off of it as well, that's always a crucial aspect of things as well. So, we're doing good man and '24 is already pretty, pretty full.
We have a European tour in March coming up. We do a bunch of shows in the summertime, and then most likely come back to the U.S. again in the fall next year. That's not set yet, but we're looking into different options there. We have other parts of the world that we haven't hit yet on this album, like South America and Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. So, it's difficult though, because we're not like any other band really.
So it's not easy, we don't always get like good offers from some parts of the world that we would love to go to that we still haven't been to, like Southeast Asia and Japan. We have been to a few couple times. But it's kind of hard for us to make a make a decent kind of appearance. And we always travel with the whole light gear and a lot of stuff. So, it's also a shipping thing. It's a bit of a nightmare to get stuff, for example, down to Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia because basically, for it to work financially, we have to send it on boats. So, it takes a long time. If you put all your gear on a boat, it takes like a month for it to get down to Australia and things like that, that also kind of come into play but as far as playing, whether we go there or not, within the next year, we don't know but we will do something so most likely obviously Europe and U.S. are the easiest markets for us to tour. So, if the Southeast Asia, Australia or South America doesn't happen. We'll probably come back to the U.S. again.
I know you've been asked about Wolfgang Van Halen who has continually shared his love for Meshuggah and even had your music as part of his wedding. Nickelback's Mike Kroeger has also publicly shared his love. What does it mean to you when your fellow peers show their appreciation? And do you have a favorite moment of interacting with another musician over their fondness for what you do?
That's always something we are deeply grateful for. It's humbling and last time we played in L.A., Robert Trujillo was there and he's always loved our stuff as a band as well. He's always given us accolades and still hung out with him a little bit after the show, that's always really cool.
I know Mike Kroeger and the drummer of Nickelback [Daniel Adair] are fans and then the last time I saw Nickelback here in Stockholm, and the drummer was wearing like the Destroy Erase Improve T-shirt for the show. So, we're grateful for anything like that and we do appreciate it and it's something that you never get like jaded about. I's always like you really feel it. That's awesome.
Wolfgang, for sure, I've probably only seen a little a few things that where he has mentioned us but I know that I do recognize the thing that they played Meshuggah on his wedding, so that's kind of I don't know, maybe that's a little much, but you gotta love it, right?
Meshuggah's 25th anniversary of Chaosphere this newly remastered release. It's out there, check it out. Tomas, thank you so much. It's always great to catch up with you and you know, looking forward to hopefully seeing you guys in '24.
Thank you so much, Jackie and like always the pleasure is all mine, man.
Thanks to Meshuggah's Tomas Haake for the interview. The band's 25th anniversary edition of Chaosphere can be picked up here. You can stay up to date with the band's touring and other activities through their website, Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify platforms. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff