Interview with Aphyxion lead guitarist Jonas Haagensen

Danish stalwarts Aphyxion are set to unleash their furious debut record, "Earth Entangled", on September 1st via Mighty Music. The group's debut, produced by the famed Jacob Hansen (Volbeat), shows years of maturity and experience that defies their average age of 21. Metal Hammer has featured the band's single, "The New Breed", as a featured track of the week and Bands of Tomorrow has hailed Aphyxion as the new kings of the Danish metal scene. Maximum Metal was granted the opportunity to speak with guitarist Jonas Haagensen about the band's beginnings, where they are headed and why the country that created Legos is so damn heavy.

MM - Tell us a little bit of how the band met and what was the ultimate goals early on for Aphyxion?

We've all known each other since we started in school, and when we were around twelve years old our interest in music started to grow. We all kinda started listening to stuff like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, like anyone else, and then stuff got more and more aggressive. We started out playing cover songs and then we slowly started to write our own songs. Around the end of 2007 we decided to call the band "Aphyxion" and we've been playing ever since without any line-up changes. The ultimate goal was of course to get our music out there and play a lot of shows wherever we could. That's still our goal today.

MM - What's amazing to me is that you all have played over 100 shows already and none of you are yet to hit 20. How did that come about?

All of us, except our drummer Jakob, turned 20 this spring. So we only have one guy under 20 now. We really put a lot of effort in booking. We started out playing for nothing. And I mean NOTHING. We just took all the gigs we could get. Sometimes we played for three people, sometimes we were lucky and played for a full house. All this hard work has really paid off.

"When we played Wacken and we're the youngest band ever to play there. It was the biggest thing ever."

MM - How old were you all when you played Wacken and what was that experience like both as a musician and a spectator?

We were 17 years old when we played Wacken and we're the youngest band ever to play there. It was the biggest thing ever. Also the first time for us to go to a festival outside of Denmark. It's an experience we'll never forget even though we think we played and looked like shit when we see the videos from the show. It was still totally mind blowing and it really gave us a push we needed to move forward as a band. Just the fact that we got backstage and in the VIP area almost made us cry. **laughs** Motorhead played Wacken in 2011 and that concert was just great. There was so many people that they had to close the gates to the main scene area. And of course, Lemmy. 'Nough said! Besides that, our top-list includes performances by Ozzy, As I Lay Dying, The Haunted, Kvelertak, Trivium etc.

MM - So I have to say that "Earth Entangled" is one kick ass record from start to finish. Tell us a little bit about the genesis of the album. Who handled the song writing duties for it and how would you define the album by genre?

Thank you. We really appreciate it. It means a lot to us that people like our music. We really put a lot of hard work into this album so we're glad it's not a 100% waste! Well, we started writing this baby in late 2010-ish. We went through a lot with the Wacken gig and was playing a lot of shows so we always got interrupted in the songwriting. That's why it took so long for us to write songs for a full-length album. All songs are mainly written by me, while all lyrics and vocals are written by our singer Michael (Vahl). We always go through the songs together as a band and everyone always has some ideas here and there. Before we started tracking drums we went through all songs together with Jacob Hansen to get his point of view on it. It really gave the songs the last push they needed. Jacob is the man, such a professional and experienced producer.

MM - Yeah, the album was produced by Jacob Hansen, a name well known in Denmark and throughout the metal world. Why was he chosen, how did you guys get involved with him? What was it like working with such an experienced producer in the legendary "Hansen Studios"?

We have always been looking up to Jacob and he has always been the guy we wanted to work with. We live in the same town as him, and I work in his studio. It's just perfect. Besides using him as a producer he's also our mentor. He has helped us with so many things. As I said before - Jacob is the man!

MM - Bands of Tomorrow just wrote a piece on your live performance and hailed the band as "the new kings of the Danish metal scene". Metal Hammer featured "The New Breed" as a featured track of the week. Hell your video for that song has almost 7,000 views. These are huge accomplishments for a band with one album at such a young age. How does that make you feel? What do you attribute this success to?

Well, words can't even describe how it makes us feel. It's really exciting to finally have some new stuff to show people. And it's been received better than we ever could have expected! We couldn't have done this without the help from all our fans, people who've been helping us and giving us advice over the years, Jacob Hansen and, of course, our label, Mighty Music. They've really been thinking about some things we never would have thought about on our own.

MM - What sort of fan response have you all had to the album? Has the response been more, less or right on par with what you all have expected?

The fan response has been way better than we ever would have expected. There's so much good activity on all our webpages, more than we've ever had. Our video has been shared more than we've ever imagined. Everything is just overwhelming. We're so excited about all this and the album isn't even out yet! (9/1/14 release date)

MM - "Earth Entangled" is released by Mighty Music. Why did you guys choose that label and are you pretty happy with the support thus far?

Yes! Well, Mighty Music just gave us what we wanted. We're more than happy with support. They've really been good at helping promote this album and they have opened a lot of gates to a lot of new stuff for us. Besides all that all the guys at the label are nice and really helpful!

MM - Heavy metal has really seen a large increase in its popularity globally. Denmark is a considered a hotbed for heavy metal with mammoth bands like Volbeat, Mnemic, Mercenary and even the legendary Mercyful Fate. Why is metal so dominant in Denmark? Why does a lot of aggressive heavy music come out of that country? What causes that?

Hmm, I think maybe it's because we got into it so early. Mercyful Fate were so dominating on the worldwide metal scene so early and the Danish producer, Flemming Rasmussen, produced the first Metallica albums. Maybe we also were lucky having such good acts as the ones you mentioned. Volbeat has really done something right. You cannot have anything else than respect for that band! Even though Denmark is a very small country, we have a very huge underground scene. So many bands boiling, making very good music. The bands are always working with each other instead of against each other. We all know each other. We're all friends.

MM - Out the many shows that you guys have already logged, does any one particular show stand out as being unforgettable or just downright bad? What was your favorite live performance of the band thus far?

Well, we have both good and bad memories. Everything can't be good all the time. We once played a show, long time ago, where no one showed up. We arrived at the venue, made everything work, sound checked and was ready. Doors opened, no one arrived. One hour later we started jamming random songs on the stage with the other band. That was it. Then we packed our stuff and went home. *laughs*

MM - New album next year? How will that album compare to this debut?

The songwriting has begun. Nothing done yet, and we don't know anything yet. We might hit the studio next year some time but we'll make sure everyone knows when the time comes. Hopefully the next album will be another step up both musically and as a band. Just by making ‘Earth Entangled' we've all learned so much about making music. It's always hard to make the second album better but we will definitely do whatever we can to fulfill that.

--Greg Watson


Jonas HaagensenGreg Watson8/29/2014

Greg Watson11/3/2016
Earth Entangled
Greg Watson7/8/2014

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