Hardcore Swedes play party politics

Adept, with Rob, centre. Photo: Andy Hayball

Silence The World
March 22, 2013
Panic & Action Records

Swedish post-hardcore band Adept put plenty of politics into their punk, but never forget how to party, wherever they are in the world. Green Left’s Mat Ward spoke to vocalist Robert Ljung about their new album, the melodic metalcore masterpiece Silence The World.


In "Dead Planet", you sing: "Consuming the things that we don't need / Evolving into our own greed / The need to have it all / In life and in death / But all that is left / Is a hole in the world." You tour the world with your band and see many different cultures and countries. Please tell us how you think Sweden compares with other countries in its attitude towards consuming and sustainability.

I would love to say that Swedes have more "green" thinking in general. But that is very partisan from my side. I do recognise that consuming is a big part of every society in wealthy countries, and the greater the consuming, the greater the injustice will become in the poorer parts in the world. I would love it if we could stop and think about what we are buying, where it comes from, what the effects are and so on. But people’s thoughts are often, “Why should I care? What can I do as one person?” Sad, really.

Tell us the meaning of your lyric, "If this is life - Silence The World" on "Forever And A Day".

It's a fairly negative statement, really. If we keep tolerating the actions that take place in this world, then what's the use of anything? If this is how it's supposed to be, then I don't want to have any part of it.

On "Forever And A Day" you also make a call to "Arm the masses / We need to break free from these chains." What hope do you think armed citizens would have against a government’s army?

It's more about arming the masses with hope. To break free from this mindless and violent behaviour that is spreading around. To think for yourself and arm yourself with knowledge is the best thing to bring down corruption and injustice.

You turn up at music festivals days before you are due to play just so you can party and you place a great emphasis on having a good time with your fans. What sort of feedback do you get from them about your more politically conscious lyrics and does it give you hope?

We don't really have a lot a political fans - or maybe we do, but we rarely have the chance to speak to them about anything more than guitar-riffs, breakdowns and so on - which is perfectly fine. We are in this for music, not politics. However, one thing doesn’t mean that the other one isn’t as important. We love that people are reading our lyrics and taking time to reflect over them.

Your singing style must be pretty punishing on your vocal cords. How do you stop yourself from losing your voice?

It's all about how many shows you have in a row, really. Going out for a week or two isn't that punishing on the vocal cords, but being out a month with very little rest can have its effect on the voice. Usually, I get really sore and have problems since the throat is messed up. Usually I drink loads of tea, and try not to speak as much as I usually would like to, to save the voice. It's not so rock and roll, but touring more and more, I've noticed that partying each and every night isn't really helping me out.

You sing in English presumably because you wish to reach a wider audience. Do you find that limiting and do you ever wish you could sing in Swedish and reach as wide an audience?

I would love to sing in Swedish. I can handle the language better than English and have more depth in the lyrics. If we could reach the same range of people singing in Swedish, I would love to give it a try. But I think it would be hard to maintain an interest in the band when a vast majority of the listeners wouldn’t have a clue as to what we are singing about, which I hope people are interested in. However, Swedish is a beautiful language, and maybe someday we will add some in our songs.

Nearly every country in the world makes the study of a second language compulsory in schooling, but not Australia. Have you met any Australian Swedish-language speakers and if so, were they any good?

In Sweden we have three languages that are compulsory. English is the second language and then you choose a third - most being French, German or Spanish. I think it's a great thing, learning a different language, and it sure helps out touring the planet and coming to places where English isn't helping out. A handful of German sentences can really help out. We haven’t met any Australian that speaks Swedish yet, but we have an Australian friend who is learning Swedish at the moment and is moving here within the next couple of weeks. We will teach her all the wrong words.

You refer to yourself as “Vikings” and nautical themes crop up again and again in the band's lyrics, imagery and merchandise. Tell us about that.

Coming from the frozen European north - which is amazingly beautiful at times, combined with pitch black landscape at other times - we like to “audiolize” it with the music and write about in the lyrics. The Viking thing is just something that people think about Scandinavians, so we just put more fuel on those preconceived fires. At the same time, it is a pretty wicked theme.

Because so many people are tattooed these days, it's hard to be tattooed and still look individual, but I think you - complete with your facial tattoos - manage it. Spoof news website The Daily Mash claims scientists have found the most middle class tattoo, but says: "Face tattoos remain completely fucking mental." Would you agree?

Ha ha, thanks man. Well, I mean, a face tattoo is a pretty big step from a tribal on your arm, you know? I think it's a beautiful thing, as long as you don’t ruin your facial lines. Having tattoos on the side of your face doesn’t change the natural lines - which is something I don't want to change. But yeah, its pretty fucking mental.

Your guitarist Jerry has woken up with his anus tattooed a few times after he has passed out on tour. On that note, what's your least favourite tattoo?

I've done a couple of tattoos during the years and the early ones weren't that thought out. But that's the beauty of tattoos, it’s about the memories. It's like showing scars and talking about when you were a kid and fell from the roof or something. It's not always about having the coolest, cleanest colours - it's about the story behind it. But to answer the question - a Soulfly tattoo on my leg. Ha ha.

Are you planning to tour Australia?

We are planning on coming to Australia and we've been doing so for a long time. Finally, I think we have something sorted out for this year.