The Great Deceiver | Interview with Tomas Lindberg

After a long absence, leading many to believe The Great Deceiver no longer were among the living, the Swedes return with a new record deal with Deathwish Inc. and new album brilliantly entitled “Life is Wasted on the Living”.
Although, the association with a label historically linked to Hardcore and names like Converge, Integrity and Terror might raise a few suspicious eyebrows given that The Great Deceiver are comprised of former members of such varying bands as At the Gates, The Grotesque and Diabolique, vocalist Tomas Lindberg reassures the Hardcore element was present within The Great Deceiver’s sound from the very beginning.

“Well, the three core members of the band go back a long time, in the eighties we did a Hardcore/Death-Metal ‘zine and we have always considered us 50% Hardcore, 50% Metal. The later At the Gates stuff has, in my opinion strong hints towards Hardcore/Punk and I was at the time of At the Gates also involved in several Punk/Hardcore projects. To cut a long story short, we have always been Hardcore; it is just that people have a different perception than you of yourself; you are always remembered for the work that sold the most, in this case At the Gates.”

Sure, Tomas Lindberg is better known for his work with At the Gates, the seminal Death-Metal act widely regarded as the godfathers of the New Wave Of Swedish Death-Metal, but whereas his former band was deeply rooted in the harder end of the extreme Metal spectrum, The Great Deceiver leans towards a more Noise/Hardcore direction, in the vein of artists like Neurosis and Godflesh.
I wonder if the Swedish collective are making a conscious attempt to do something different from all past ventures, or is it basically, the four of you jamming in the rehearsal room without taking in account what has been done in the past, which bands might be associated with you?

“It is a conscious decision to always be 100% totally true and honest to ourselves, which most of the times means going against the grain musically, but it’s really just, as you said, us jamming and coming up with a good mix of our current favourite stuff… one of our goals is that you should still be able to recognise us and that it’s The Great Deceiver that you are listening to... so the crazy Killing Joke/Voivod guitars are still there.”

So, which artists outside the metal-spectrum can be called as influences?

“We listen to so much stuff, god... the guitar thing mostly come from bands like Godflesh, Joy Division, Chrome, Loop, Wire, Killing Joke, Head of David, Swans, Swervedriver, Unwound, Sonic Youth etc...”

Throughout these ten or so years, The Great Deceiver have progressed and developed their sound, getting a harsher and more straightforward vibe, witnessed on the works the band have released so far through such diverse labels as Trustkill, Peaceville and just recently Deathwish Inc.
Do you feel the fact The Great Deceiver is associated with such distinct labels is positive or does it give a confused image of the band?

“Well, I know that people expect a certain kind of band on a certain kind of label, and that a label today works more like a brand than anything else... it is interesting how that have put our band in so different perspectives during the years... I guess we were a really weird band for most of the Peaceville audience, I guess we are more in tune with the people who usually buy Deathwish stuff, guys and girls into true hardcore with a meaning and difference.”

So, how would you describe your sound to someone that hasn't heard The Great Deceiver yet?

“That is a tough one, I guess somewhere along the lines of; dark, restless and furious hardcore with crazy-ass guitars and pissed off vocals, I don’t really know... when you start to think about it, I guess we might be at least a little bit special, hehe...”

Regarding the new album, what inspired the title?

“Its inspired by the quote from Bernard Shaw (renowned Irish author), "youth is wasted on the young", we just took it a bit further... it’s a bit misanthropic in one way , but you could also view it a bit like "seize the day", as well, which puts it in a more inspiring light, I guess and hope.”

“Life is Wasted on the Living” is the follow-up to their underrated and strangely unnoticed second album “Terra Incognito”, which was released by legendary UK label Peaceville back in 2004. Between the recordings of these two releases there’s a gap of almost three years and considering the low profile in the touring department there’s a curiosity to discover if the new record was a difficult one to assemble, to nail down the desired results.

“As usual with most The Great Deceiver stuff it was quite easy to write as we don’t really have any limits to our sound, so we just go for it and see where we end up... basically we never tried to be different it all depends on what we are into at the moment.”

Once you get to the studio, is all the music already composed or is there room for improvisation and experimentation?

“We’re always really prepared and rehearsed, most of the stuff is already written, but this also leaves a lot of room for trying out new stuff in the studio... you can never really know exactly where we’ll end up, which I think is really great.”

Inevitably, Scratch the Surface had to bring up the recently announced reunion tour of At the Gates. Fans will have a rare opportunity to witness live a band that helped create the music scene as we known it and consequently spawned a whole new generation of bands from various scopes. Without At the Gates there wouldn’t be a Soilwork, a Killswitch Engage, a Shadows Fall or a Darkest Hour.
Back then, when the band was at the peak of their career were you aware of the waves At the Gates unique sound was creating, the impact it had in the music industry?

“Nope! Not at all, we had the same ideals as we have in The Great Deceiver today; honest, direct energy has to come from the heart. I guess we were just ahead of our time, I recognise the same kind of people among The Great Deceiver fans today as I did with At the Gates fans back in the day though; people looking for something unique and true.”

How does the At the Gates reunion tour affects The Great Deceiver's future plans?

“The ATG thing doesn't really affect The Great Deceiver in any real way...we have scheduled it carefully around all the other projects that the guys are involved in. Maybe it will just give us a bit more attention.”

After the demise of At the Gates, Tomas has been on constant demand, frequently being asked to share his vocal skills with numerous of bands and projects and so far he accepted the invitation of groups like Disfear, The Crown, Lock-Up and Nightrage, between many others.
With all this activity throughout the years, sharing tour bus, stages, dressing rooms and hotel rooms what has been the strangest moment, where you just look around and scream "what the fuck's going on?"

“This is a constant factor of being in a band I guess, it’s all a bit fucked up all the time. I try to surround myself with good people, people with the same ideals as myself, my idea is to try to have fun no matter what, which most of the time means not giving a fuck what other people might think of the stuff you are creating and the goals you are setting up for yourself.”