The last time we heard from the Swedish retro doom rockers Witchcraft was via their excellently appropriate Roky Erickson cover this past Halloween. Actually, as fitting as that would’ve been (witches, ghouls, Gremlins Have Pictures’s “Sweet Honey Pie”), it’s not entirely true: I listen to the quartet’s third (and in my opinion, best) album The Alchemist quite a bit, so technically the last time “we” heard from them was yesterday. (Speaking of The Alchemist, you’ll find its “Hey Doctor” in MP3 form after the jump.)
The one other time QYDJ ventured into Sweden was for a discussion with postal worker/Dungen guitarist Reine Fiske. He didn’t like his day job very much. The same can be said for Witchcraft bassist Ola Henriksson, who spends down time between tours, way down in the ground as a miner. What’s interesting is how he claims it’s “top secret.” Are the Swedes working on a bomb we don’t know about? Or maybe he’s turning lead into gold.
STEREOGUM: How long have you worked in the mine?
OLA HENRIKSSON: I’ve worked there several times but this last time I worked for almost a year.
STEREOGUM: So you work in stretches between touring? Or, how do you decide to come and go?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Well, if I need to get a job between touring I contact places where I’ve worked before, that’s usually the easiest way.
STEREOGUM: What do you do exactly? Maybe explain the tools. Or the way things are extracted. Is it mechanized? Are you chiseling by hand? What’s the uniform like?
OLA HENRIKSSON: I can’t tell you. I wore pants, helmet, boots and a jacket. I didn’t chisel, but I worked by hand.
STEREOGUM: Can you explain a bit more what you did by hand?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Sorry but that’s classified, heavy lifting though.
STEREOGUM: What kind of mine is it?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Don’t know really.
STEREOGUM: Really? What are you removing?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Haha, secret materials.
STEREOGUM: Do you have any other friends or family working there?
OLA HENRIKSSON: My brother worked there too. Not anymore though.
STEREOGUM: There were those stories in the news last year about mines collapsing and trapping miners. I imagine that’s a big freaky for someone who actually has to go into one for a living.
OLA HENRIKSSON: There are inspections going on all the time and they told me that it was safer than the subway in Stockholm. I think they lied.
STEREOGUM: Have you seen any accidents happen? Folks getting hurt?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Well almost. A guy stood three feet from a falling 20 kilo screw.
STEREOGUM: I’ve read enough Zola to know working in a mine is bad for your lungs. Have you had any adverse health conditions due to your job?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Well it’s dusty and cold down there so I’m sure it’s not good for you, however I don’t feel sick. This guy that has worked there for 20 years had way too high levels of radiation in his body.
STEREOGUM: Where’s the radiation coming from?
OLA HENRIKSSON: From the rock.
STEREOGUM: Ah, thought I could’ve gotten you with that one. You recently quit. Do you miss it?
OLA HENRIKSSON: No not at all, for many reasons.
STEREOGUM: What are a couple reasons?
OLA HENRIKSSON: My boss was an asshole and I hate not seeing the sun for more than a couple of hours a day.
STEREOGUM: What other sorts of jobs have you had?
OLA HENRIKSSON: Teacher, forklift driver, receptionist … a lot of different jobs.
STEREOGUM: What did you teach?
OLA HENRIKSSON: I was a teacher for junior high school kids in a lot of different subjects — music, sports, math, English and biology.
STEREOGUM: Are you done for good with day jobs? Has the band taken off enough for you to do that full-time?
OLA HENRIKSSON: At the moment I’m not working, but I might need a few hours of work per week in a couple of months. We make some money, but not enough.
Note: Drummer Fredrik Jansson also has a day job: He works as a nurse/attendant. But, like Ola, he was tight-lipped about the whole thing. Though I doubt it’s “top secret.”
Note: “Hey Doctor” talks about radiation. Though it’s the cancer-killing kind.
The Alchemist is out on Candlelight.
[Photo L-R: Ola Henriksson (bass, miner), John Hoyles (guitar), Magnus Pelander (vocals/guitar), Fredrik Jansson (drums)]