TOMAS HAAKE is open to releasing official MESHUGGAH book
In a new interview with Australia’s “Scars And Guitars” podcast, MESHUGGAH drummer Tomas Haake was asked about the possibility of him and his bandmates writing an official book about their journey so far. He responded: “Oh, man. Yeah. That’s a good idea, actually. Someone actually asked Mårten [Hagström, MESHUGGAH guitarist] about this a few years back, and Mårten’s initial kind of response was, ‘No. Why would we? We never did anything? There’s nothing to write about.’ And then his close friend who’s really intimately familiar with what we’ve actually done over the last 20 years or so, 30 years, he looked at Mårten, like, ‘What the hell are you talking about? You’ve got this thing. You have that thing. All these different things.’ And Mårten was, like, ‘Yeah, right. Maybe there is a bunch of weird shit that’s funny that we could write about.’ And especially if you throw some extra salt on it too, like they all do, like MÖTLEY CRÜE, I’m sure it’s a little bit — a heap of extra salt you put in there to kind of make everything a little… turn it up a peg or two just to make it even worse. I guess. We’ll see. But I think that also… it kind of ties in with how you’re kind of a people’s band, you’re not kind of seeing yourself as something spectacular in any way, shape or form, really; we’re just kind of a few guys that got lucky. But that kind of maybe ties into this too. I don’t think any one of us feels like, ‘What do you mean? Why would anyone wanna be interested in reading about us?'”
Last month, Haake opened up about the skin condition on his hands that caused the postponement of MESHUGGAH’s U.S. tour, originally planned for early 2022. Speaking to Metal Injection, he said: “I had this problem. It started two years ago. In January of 2020, I started getting eczema on the inside of my hands. Obviously, ‘perfect’ for a drummer — I mean, it’s ‘perfect’ for anyone, ‘cause we all need our hands to function for just day-to-day life. So it’s not just about an annoying thing to play drums and to have this condition; it’s annoying for everything you do. And I’m probably one of the few people on earth that did not put alcohol [hand sanitizer] on my hands at all once during the whole pandemic thing, because I basically couldn’t; I would have probably fainted. ‘Cause I used to have all these cracks and stuff in my hands because of this skin condition. But it’s actually, yes, it’s getting better, and — knock on wood — over the last week it’s been getting a lot better. And hopefully it’s going the right way.”
Haake went on to discuss in detail the treatment that he has been receiving in his battle with hand eczema, saying: “I talked to a nutritionist, actually. ‘Cause I’ve been to all the… I don’t know how many doctors and places I’ve been to since this started, and we’ve done all the tests that you can do as far as contact eczema and on your back, all those patches and stuff like that — I did that twice. And I went to a psoriasis place — they thought initially that it was psoriasis related — so I had 30 sessions of UV light kind of sessions for my hands. Nothing helped; nothing had done anything. So a buddy of mine, a drummer buddy here in Stockholm, suggested I talk to this guy that he knew who is a nutritionist for one of the soccer teams here in Stockholm. And so I called him up and we spoke, like, probably about an hour and a half and I described how it all started and what kind of life I live and all that stuff. And he basically told me, ‘Start eating Q10, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), because I think there might be something there. You’re not producing this stuff enough, and that will have an effect.’ ‘Cause I also started losing my hair and stuff like that way faster than I had been. So I figured this is connected. And I’ve known, or felt, all along that this was not contact allergy related at all, because I tried everything. I used these cotton gloves for months on end. As soon as I was touching anything, like as far as keyboard mouse, anything that you would come in touch with on a daily basis, I was using gloves and it didn’t do any difference either. So my belief was always more that it’s internal something. And actually after now — this is day number five or six of taking Q10, and it’s way, way better. So, knock on wood, but if it keeps going like this, it’s definitely going the right way, for sure.”
Asked how he first realized something was wrong, Haake said: “I remember we were at a hotel in Venice Beach [California] right after the NAMM show of 2020, and we were watching movies in bed and I was holding this tablet of mine that had like a foldout thing, so I was holding that for a few hours. And the day after, it actually started. It started like a contact eczema right in those points where I’d been holding this tablet. So it just started on my two index fingers and my thumbs. But over time, it changed into something else and it started spreading all over my hands and stuff. So it went from maybe it started because of something going on with my immune system or something — maybe it started as a contact eczema; that was the triggering thing — but then it was something else that made it not go away but turn into this monster inside my hands.”
According to Haake, what made his skin condition especially “scary” was the fact that it meant that “apart from when we rehearsed for the [upcoming MESHUGGAH] album, which would have been maybe a month that we rehearsed before the album and then actually recording the album, I haven’t really played any drums at all since August 2019. Because to play, I have to really severely tape all my fingers and thumbs and I have to put both hands into gloves and then use grip tape on both sticks,” he explained. “And I have been using a stickwrap thing on the right stick and a glove on my right hand for a bunch of years, but that’s more to relax my arm and not use so much force to kind of hold on to the stick. I started doing that more for kind of ergonomic reasons than anything else. But this now turned into something I have to really, really, really tape everything up. The scary part is it’s one thing to do that when you’re in rehearsal and you can just [say], ‘Stop, stop stop. I’ve gotta retape this.’ And the same in this studio — you can take whatever time you need. But to go out and play live for an hour and a half, obviously, it’s not gonna work. You can’t just stop the show and tape up your hands. So, of course, it’s been kind of scary… I really [tried] to remain positive and not just go dark over the whole thing. And I didn’t. I really kind of just — not ‘shrugged’ it off is the wrong word, because I did go to see a lot of different people and dermatologists and doctors and stuff.”
Haake also criticized the level of basic services he received from the health care professionals in his home country of Sweden, saying he required more specialized medical measures than what was available through primary care.
“The problem — it’s a little annoying — is that general care [in Sweden], when you go to a hospital and stuff, unless you really pay a shit-ton of money to go see people that will care about you properly because you pay them to care about you, regular care at a hospital, they won’t really look at everything that you tell them,” he said. “They have their certain way of, like, ‘Yeah, but we do these tests like this because this is how we do them. We go through this test.’ I tell them, ‘We don’t have to do that because I know it’s not that.’ ‘Yeah, but we do it like this,’ and you have to either accept that or you have to go somewhere else and pay your way for every little thing. And just like in the U.S., if you go that route — you can here — but just like in the States, it would be insanely expensive. But it is a little annoying that they don’t really look at it holistically. It was not really much interest or talks about the kind of life I live, what I eat, what I could be missing, if there’s something that’s missing and stuff like that. Yeah, that’s a little annoying sometimes in this case. And if nothing else, it’s what made it take two years before I talked to the right person about this. At least that’s how it feels now, because right off the bat, he was, like, ‘This is internal. I promise you it’s internal. You’re lacking something that makes… You don’t have the repairing. The firefighters are gone. They’re not going to your hands to repair it. And that’s usually then something internally.'”
The follow-up to 2016’s “The Violent Sleep Of Reason” was recorded at Sweetspot Studios in Halmstad, Sweden; mixed by Rickard Bengtsson and Staffan Karlsson; and mastered by multiple Grammy Award winner Vlado Meller (METALLICA, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SYSTEM OF A DOWN). Visionary artist Luminokaya once again created the stunning cover artwork.
Full of surprises and yet instantly recognizable as the work of metal’s most idiosyncratic force, “Immutable” redefines and redesigns the MESHUGGAH sound across more than an hour of the most stimulating and absorbing music the band has ever made. Despite the challenges of the last couple of years, the progressive principles that have always informed their artistic efforts remain as cherished as ever. As we spiral towards a dystopian future, MESHUGGAH still stand alone.
For guitarist Mårten Hagström, the task of embarking on another unprecedented tech-metal odyssey was impossible to resist.
“The title fits perfectly for where we are as a band,” Mårten concludes. “We’re older now. Most of us are in our fifties now, and we’ve settled into who we are. Even though we’ve been experimenting all along, I also think we’ve been the same since day one. The way we approach things and why we still make new albums, and why we still sound the way we do, it’s immutable. Humanity is immutable, too. We commit the same mistakes over and over. And we are immutable. We do what we do, and we don’t change.”
The most inventive and creative metal band of the last 30 years and one of the most widely revered, MESHUGGAH has been standard bearers for forward-thinking creativity in heavy music throughout their illustrious careers. Over the course of more than 30 years and eight studio albums, Sweden’s widely worshipped progressive mavens have consistently redefined what it means to be heavy, while exhibiting a ferocious intelligence that belies the crushing weight of their riffs. From the ground-breaking savagery of 1995’s “Destroy Erase Improve” to the psychedelic tech-splorations of “CatchyThirtyThree”, and on to the streamlined grotesquery of “ObZen” and “Koloss”, MESHUGGAH has always been way ahead of the game and plainly without peer.
In October 2020, MESHUGGAH drummer Tomas Haake confirmed to Knotfest.com‘s “Mosh Talks With Beez” that the band had spent much of the downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic working on fresh material.
Regarding the musical direction of the new MESHUGGAH songs, Tomas said: “Of course, we have a certain framework that we still wanna sound like MESHUGGAH, we wanna have that signature sound, we want people to be able to — even if they haven’t heard the song before — in the best-case scenario, it’s, like, ‘Oh, that’s gotta be MESHUGGAH,’ even if it’s a brand new thing. So hopefully that’s something we’re aiming at. But with that said, as far as the music goes, we try to do kind of the opposite of what AC/DC has been doing for 40 years. So we’re not trying to write the same album over and over. And whether we succeed with that or not, that’s more up to our fans and other people, but that’s definitely the aim. We try our best to kind of find new grips within the framework of what we’re supposed to be, I guess. ‘Cause we don’t wanna really step out of that either. We’re not looking to be another band all of a sudden or something that we haven’t been or that is not true to kind of what we’re doing.”
“Immutable” track listing:
01. Broken Cog
02. The Abysmal Eye
03. Light The Shortening Fuse
05. Ligature Marks
06. God He Sees In Mirrors
07. They Move Below
09. Black Cathedral
10. I Am That Thirst
11. The Faultless
12. Armies Of The Preposterous
13. Past Tense
Jens Kidman – Vocals
Mårten Hagström – Guitars
Dick Lövgren – Bass
Fredrik Thordendal – Guitars
Tomas Haake – Drums