Hypocrisy – Worship and DevotionSunday, 21st November 2021
With a history spanning 30 years at this point, Hypocrisy stand as a veteran force within death metal. Masters of being able to craft aggressive, full-on death metal with copious melodies and memorable moments, it’s been a long wait for a new album from them. With Peter Tagtgren being a very busy person within the scene, sometimes it takes a bit for a new Hypocrisy album. But Worship is now in sight, 8 years from End of Disclosure, and it brings all of the many shades of Hypocrisy with it in the most glorious manner possible. We reached out to chat with Tagtgren to get his thoughts on all things Worship, a look back at Abducted, how he came to do vocals for the band, and more!
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been 8 years since End of Disclosure. You have been busy with many other things, what made the time right to come back to writing for the band?
Peter Tagtgren: I don’t know, I wasn’t really inspired and I didn’t want to write because I had to. I just had to wait until I felt the right moment came. In 2018, we started to collect ideas. I was so busy with everything else, so I was a little burnt out as well. It was a little better to not just to squeeze out an album when it wasn’t 100%. I felt like now was the time, since I was inspired and wanted to do it. That’s always very important.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel makes Worship stand out as a Hypocrisy album?
Tagtgren: The variety of the songs. The catchiness – it sounds like Hypocrisy, that’s for sure. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I wanted it to sound like a good Hypocrisy album with good Hypocrisy songs. That was my main focus, really.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you say about the artwork? I love the fact that the old upside-down cross logo is being used in the way that it is.
Tagtgren: I came up with it in a hotel in LA actually. I just had this idea of getting these pyramids as a monument for these crosses that I wanted to have as spaceships. It’s not really crosses for me, it’s more of a symbol for Hypocrisy. It’s been with us for 30 years and we still love it. You can use it in so many ways. I had this on a napkin and was doing the pyramids and some flying crosses, and I wanted to use this old ELO or Boston thing where they used their logo as a spaceship in the ‘70s. Nowadays, it’s all about worshipping. For me, this cover is really about the lyrics of the first song, and how in my theories, they always planted us here. The same thing with the Mayan people. They became really smart and then suddenly, they disappeared. Now with humanity doing so many stupid things, I think they are going to come back and erase us for being stupid and fucking up the planet [laughs]. It was just a cool idea that I gave to Blake at Nuclear Blast and he added a few ideas himself. All of a sudden he had this cover and it was perfect I thought.
Dead Rhetoric: You had two nice videos for Pain and now you have another great one with “Chemical Whore.” Could you discuss what you were trying to show in the video?
Tagtgren: That’s the director’s view of my lyrics I guess. I let her have freedom on it, and I guess when she read the lyrics, she was this in front of her. It was really cool, because I think we are all a bunch of chemical whores. We always take pills for uppers, lowers, headaches, or whatever. We keep going and the pharmaceuticals are so happy. It’s not a political thing, it’s just reality.
Dead Rhetoric: Hypocrisy has had a very distinct sound that you can often hear in the melodies. Is there a feature that you end up identifying with when writing songs and saying, “This is a Hypocrisy song.”
Tagtgren: It all depends on what kind of song it is. If it’s a thrashy song like “Another Day,” then yeah definitely, it goes before I even start riffing. But most of the songs I do, before I figure out a riff or a melody or anything, I know if it is going to be a Pain song or a Hypocrisy song. I usually set my head straight first, and then I start to write melodies or riffs in my head. Everything is based on rhythm. That’s how I get my riffs and melodies out. I am a drummer from the beginning, so I’m not really a guitar player I’m a songwriter, and I have to play guitar [laughs] because that’s the way it is nowadays.
When I started Hypocrisy I tried to sing and it sucked. I met up with Masse [Broberg] with some mutual friends, and he could growl and I couldn’t, so I said he got the job. When he decided to throw in the towel at the beginning of a tour with Cannibal Corpse and Fear Factory, I just had to step up to the microphone. We had printed thousands of tour shirts and we still had like 4-5 weeks on tour and we were sitting there wondering what the fuck we would do. So I stepped up and started practicing while we were playing in front of an audience.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s crazy to hear, because I have always thought of you as one of the stronger vocalists in the genre, being able to go with lows/mids/cleans too.
Tagtgren: A lot of gigs and a lot of practicing I guess [laughs]. That’s why we did the mini-album, Inferior Devotees, because I wanted to see what it sounded like. Towards the end of that tour, it felt pretty comfortable to sing, but I still didn’t know how it sounded. So I took away his vocals on “Inferior Devotees” and put in mine and did a few more songs too just to see what the hell was going on. And to see how the crowd was thinking, which got the thumbs up and so we started working on The Fourth Dimension. It’s all a coincidence really, except the music.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been 25 years since Abducted was released. What do you recall about that moment of time for the band? I know it was pivotal at the time.
Tagtgren: For the first time we went to a different studio with The Fourth Dimension, because we had the budget and we could do it. Whatever happened, at least we could say we went into one of those fancy studios. It was a big mistake, if you listen to the sound and everything. So when we did Abducted, I think we recorded it three times. The first time, it didn’t sound too good because I had just bought my studio and I was really a rookie. It was 1995, so I had a year to really practice since The Fourth Dimension, and it didn’t sound good. Some of the songs sounded really bad. We threw away half of the songs and wrote new 4-5 new songs, and we recorded again and it still wasn’t good. We trashed that and took away a few songs, and we rerecorded a few more times until the songs and sound were there. It was a challenge, but at least I learned a lot in the studio as a producer, in terms of tweaking the sound. We were the guinea pigs I guess [laughs] for my new studio at the time.
Dead Rhetoric: I was just curious about a few older songs that stood out to me. Could you talk about “Reversed Reflections,” “Blooddrenched,” and “Adjusting the Sun.”
Tagtgren: Those days it was just a process to write riffs and put them together, and write really deep and weird lyrics. Just getting to a different element. That actually started on The Fourth Dimension. I started fantasizing about leaving the third dimension and moving over to the fourth or fifth. Nowadays everybody talks about this stuff. About why they can block us out so we can’t see them and that stuff. I don’t want to sit about that but, I was totally into it. There was a lot of fantasy and ‘what if’ with these things – going crazy with lyrics and trying to stick to death metal lyrics.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that there are any underappreciated albums in the Hypocrisy catalog that you wish people would pay more attention to?
Tagtgren: Nah. I think in time, the albums get what they deserve. I’ve never really been pissed if something doesn’t come out as successfully as I want, because what I have learned is to not have any expectations about anything. When I hear people talking about the new album and they say which songs stand out for them, I’m like, “Ok, that’s not my pick [laughs].” So I really don’t know what people want. It was the same for Pain at the beginning of 2000 and trying to release singles. I had no clue which one would be a hit. We tried one and it didn’t hit, so we tried a different one, and that did hit. I always was confused by this, and it’s the same thing with Hypocrisy albums and songs. People tend to like what I don’t like. The ones I think are my least favorite – but maybe you have so many emotions in it that you don’t see clearly.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s been the most rewarding part of being in the metal community for such a long time?
Tagtgren: To still be around and appreciated. To see that when we release a Hypocrisy album, it feels like the Earth is shaking. People pay attention and it’s very flattering. In the past, we had to shove it down people’s ears and throats to pay attention even if they didn’t like it. To try to grow for 30 years is tricky. The best part of it was that we didn’t peak. Once you peak, you fall as well. I’m really happy that we could stay on a flat line, slowly going up.
Dead Rhetoric: What was the best piece of advice you were given about music growing up?
Tagtgren: Oh shit, I don’t know. We have just been learning by doing for 30 years. There was a lot of advice in the ‘90s and 2000s but we didn’t really follow it [laughs], we followed ourselves instead. I would say that a common thing is to follow your heart and write what you want to hear. If you don’t like it, how will you convince someone else to hear it?
Dead Rhetoric: At this point in your career, is there anything that you really want to accomplish, or are you more happy to be involved and doing your thing?
Tagtgren: I’m pretty happy with how things are. I’m happy I’m not a superstar or anything like that. I’m really happy with the situation. I do this because I have a passion for writing music.
Dead Rhetoric: As you were mentioning before with how we are wrecking the planet, what concerns you about the world at the moment?
Tagtgren: My big concern is all of the freaks going out with the climate changes that have no clue what they are talking about. They aren’t scientists, they are from the government to scare people. There’s no truth, and it’s just a pitch for governments to make extra money off of the taxes. If you tax an environmental problem, then the problem is gone! But it’s not! It doesn’t matter how much money you pay in taxes, the problem will still be there. So what are you going to do about the problem? So we invent electric cars. Great! But what do you do when you don’t have enough electricity to charge all the cars? These cars are not really eco-friendly either, if you think about how you develop batteries and the materials you need for it. You kill a lot of things around it.
When you put up these propellers everywhere, with these huge concrete foundations – all of these windmills stand for like what, 1%? Why not just stick with nuclear? Today you can make it very safe. It’s not the ‘50s and ‘60s when they were guessing. Unfortunately, it’s the best we have right now outside of rivers and dams, but we don’t have enough of that sadly. So for me, it’s a big scare tactic to get a lot of money from people who don’t know better. I don’t want to be a politically correct person when it comes to the environment, but some things are so fucking stupid. People just buy it, and they give them reduced prices for electric cars. It was the same thing with gas and diesel. Diesel was being pushed before, then they put a shit ton of taxes on it, as well as the diesel cars. So the next step was electric cars, and they give you money back for getting one. Now they are taking that away again. So people are going to play a lot of money in taxes for these cars. It’s an evil thing.
Dead Rhetoric: When we talked earlier this year for Pain you discussed some supergroup project you were involved with – has that come to the surface yet?
Tagtgren: It’s still a little bit early. They don’t want to do that and Hypocrisy at the same time. They’d like to let Hypocrisy pan out a little bit first and then we will see. I am just a producer and songwriter for it, but it’s really cool. I really like it. We will see if it opens up this year or at the beginning of next year. Hopefully, because it’s cool music and not like anything else I have done before. It’s softer but it’s cool.
Dead Rhetoric: So do you have any plans to hit the road with any band soon?
Tagtgren: The plan is that we are going to announce some tour dates, but I’m not sure when. The plan is to come back to the States in April or May. That’s what we are working on right now. We want to go out everywhere with this album, but we have to wait and see what is going on with all these restrictions. They opened up to big crowds in America, and it’s a matter of sitting and waiting to see if things are going to peak, or will they level out. If it peaks again, maybe things will close down again but I really hope that doesn’t happen. Hopefully it will fall down a bit.