#JhonnyBergman (#ManMachineIndustry) #Interview

11 min read

Man Machine Industry is a Swedish band that are delivering nowadays high octane Thrash / Heavy Metal, old school style. For those who are not familiar with MMI, their music is honest, aggressive and loaded with hard n’heavy guitar work. It’s highly addictive, and oh beware your neck, don’t say I didn’t warn you! This band has recently released “Eschaton II. – Judgment Day”, the second EP of a trilogy, and here’s Jhonny Bergman to talk about the concept, their music and other things.

Hi Jhonny, many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How happy are you with the recently released new EP?

J. Bergman: Hey there, I must say I am VERY happy with it. At first, I was a bit worried that I had chosen the best songs for the first EP in the trilogy but now, after the release party I had a few weeks ago, my nerves are calm, haha.

Can you tell us something about the concept of the “Eschaton…” trilogy? How did you come up with the idea? What do lyrics talk about?

J. Bergman: Well, back in 2019 I released an album called “Doomsday Clock” and we were just about to go on the road promoting it when the pandemic hit. We did the release party, a gig at Skogsröjet Festival in Sweden and two shows with NERVOSA, then the world went on lockdown.

So, what to do?! Write music of coz. I wrote and recorded the music for about 22 MMI songs during this time and when I presented the idea of a trilogy of mini albums/EPs to the record-label and added some cool merchandise in a package they bought the idea hook line and sinker.

The theme of the trilogy is “the end of the world” within different scenarios. Not all the songs carry the theme, but the cover art and most songs do. The lyrics vary from Egyptian Gods of wrath ending the world to futuristic sci-fi inspired stuff to the reflection of present-day conspiracies and wars. It may not be something new under the sun, but the theme fits the music well and makes the cover art look amazing.

Where do you find your main inspiration when composing your music? How is your creative process?

J. Bergman: I get inspired by listening to other bands. Mainly I get influenced by heavy rock from the 70s, heavy metal and thrash metal from the 80s which triggers my will to write. I can get an emotional feeling when listening to a song and then I want to try to replicate that feeling, not the song but the emotion it gives me, in my own way in hope that someone else will catch on to that feeling my song is supposed to deliver. Some kind of “pass it along” motive, I guess.

Most of the time I just hit the click track with a tempo I find nice and then I riff away on the guitars and build the song around those riffs. I play all instruments on most of my albums, but I always start with the guitars, coz those are most fun, I think.

From there I take the songs to my rehearsal and try out different drum beats and grooves for it. I track it down, take it to the studio and tweek and move the beats around until I’m satisfied, Then I go back to the rehearsal to track it properly and nail it.

Back to the studio again, start on the bass, then I start tracking the real guitars and along the process vocal melodies are building up in my head. Finally, I write and record the vocals at the same time. Go back and forth till I’m happy with it all.

How much of J. Bergman is in Man Machine Industry? And who are the other members in the band?

J. Bergman: Man Machine Industry is a solo project 100%. I write about 95% of all the songs. Sometimes my friend and mentor, producer/singer, Erik Mårtensson (ECLIPSE) writes vocal melodies for me coz I really LOVE the way he does it. I’m not as melodic as him in my writing so the contrasts become just amazing, I think.

I play all the instruments on the albums myself, but I like to have guest musicians doin’ some appearances here and there.

I’ve had Dave Hill (DEMON), Sabrina Khilstrand (ICE AGE), Jens Westin (CORRODED), Patrik Wirén (MISERY LOVES CO), Ronnie Nyman (NIGHTRAGE), Gustaf Jorde (DEFLESHED) and on the new track “R.I.P” one I have mr David White from Bay Area thrashers HEATHEN singing a duet with me. Sometimes I must pinch myself coz I can’t believe these awesome guys are singing my songs, ha-ha. It’s a privilege for sure.

On stage I have been very lucky to have played with such talented guys as my live band. Guitarist, Mattias Johansson, have played with MMI for, like, 8 years or something. Drummer Nicoholas Podolski has been with me for years as well. Fantastic musicians. Bass players have come and gone but they have all been awesome to work with.

Are you going to hit some stages soon?

J. Bergman: Nothing planned at the moment. Maybe we’ll do some one-off shows in Sweden but nothing major like a tour. The plan is to wait until the final and third album of the trilogy is out in 2024 and maybe do a Euro tour then and some festivals. Really get into the live things of it all again. It’s been hard getting good shows after the pandemic. We did a short run with DEATH ANGEL through Scandinavia in August. That was great though.

MMI has been around since the year 2000 if I’m not wrong, and has released several full-length albums, and some EPs. How would you say your musical evolution has been over the years?

J. Bergman: Ha-ha, wow, It’s been a wild ride. The very first MMI album is called “Mention” and is an all industrial synth album. It had no real drums, only machines and samples and got more in common with Front Line Assembly and KMFDM than the thrashy heavy metal it is today. But that’s the great thing about having a solo-project. Your devotion is to yourself, not to what other members and record labels think. Not even fans (sorry, ha-ha). I can just write the kind of music I want for the time being, no obligations.

I come from the world of hard and heavy rock in the 70s, started out as a drummer in the mid 70s. Went on to heavy metal with the NWOBHM era in the early 80s, followed by thrash metal. Then I started playing guitar and singing mid 80s and formed my first thrash band in ‘88 as a guitarist and singer. Went back to drums playing in ROSICRUCIAN (Black Marc Rec) in ‘93-95, Continued as a drummer in SLAPDASH (Nuclear Blast Rec) ‘96-98. Somewhere there I started to shift my musical taste a bit.

Most metal bands wanted to sound the same, thrash metal had lost its edge, nu-metal and grunge was the thing and I moved on to aggressive industrialized music such as FLA, Ministry, NIN and found inspiration there to learn recording process and programing. So I started building my own home studio and stuff. Then MMI was born as “Me Myself and I” later changing the name to Man Machine Industry. But only the first album was in that style. Later I slowly found my way back to metal and today it’s more or less plain thrashy heavy metal with aggression and melody.

Do you remember when was the first time you thought “I want to play my own music”? And, do you think you’ve reached where you wanted, regarding this?

J. Bergman: As soon as I had learned how to play guitar I wrote my first song, back in 1984, called “Metal Brain”. It was recorded on the first ever demo me and my pal Ken Stone were tracking back then. From there on I wanted to do my own thing, follow my own heart, plant my own musical notes and watch them grow. With that being said, I love writing with other musicians as well. But it’s a totally different process and feeling. There is nothing better than writing an album by yourself, watching it grow and then see the result with cover art and all and say… I MADE THIS!

I believe I reached my goal already when I composed that first song back in ‘84. I did it for me, and if others like what I do, great, awesome. If they don’t, fine. I won’t stop writing. I love the process too much…. and I get very cranky if I don’t get that creativity flowing. Just ask my wife, ha-ha.

If I ask you about the bands that have influenced you the most, your answer would be…

J. Bergman: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Ac/Dc in the mid/late 70s. Saxon, Maiden and Venom in the early 80s, Megadeth, Metallica in the mid 80s, Testament, Exodus in the late 80s… and so on. There are three bands I never get tired of listening to and they’re the three first giants there.

Which genres/bands are your favorites when you listen to music? Do you listen to more classic or modern stuff?

J. Bergman: Like you probably have guessed already, mostly classic stuff from 1968 till maybe 1995 gets me going. But I do find some new bands from time to time that I like. However, I do follow all my old heroes and think most of them still release kick ass albums. Saxon, Priest, Testament, Megadeth, Exodus and others are still releasing awesome material I think.

As a metalhead yourself, which is the most impressive show you’ve ever attended?

J. Bergman: My first arena show was SAXON back in 1983 and that show is still a heartwarming memory of mine.

The latest show that really got me into a hard core band was ROTTING CHRIST when we played the same festival as them about 4-5 years ago.

I always try to see Saxon live when they visit Stockholm coz they always deliver 100% and the audience is on fire at their shows, singing along and having fun… including me. I see myself as a fan first, musician second, producer/songwriter third.

I’m still the guy you find front row. If I play at a festival with heroes of mine, I refuse to stand on the side of the stage watching their backs with crappy stagesound. I go down into the crowd coz I want to see my idols sweat and see them perform.

How do you see the underground Metal scene in present days?

J. Bergman: In Sweden it’s mostly about Death Metal and has been so for ages. But something has shifted with the young generation. They are more into thrash and classic heavy metal which is awesome I think, coz thrash hardly stood a chance over here coz Death Metal was partly invented here in the early 90s by Entombed and such, which is great, but I was always more into thrash. I’m gonna namedrop a few new bands coz I think they deserve it: Eradikated, Xion, Eternal Evil are three bands with… well… kids, ha-ha. But they do their thing awesome and I wish them nothing but the best. Make thrash great again! 😉

What’s your opinion about the nowadays music industry?

J. Bergman: Well, it is what it is, and it’s no way to change it. But it is totally impossible to finance a new album or recording on streaming payment. And now we are seeing more and more bands from USA stop touring Europe coz they can’t afford it. So, in the long run, I’m sad to say that it will be harder and harder for bands to get paid enough to tour and make albums. Then again, maybe things will change, and music gets back its value again… someday… somewhere… on another planet, ha-ha.

I am SO glad I have GMR Music behind my stuff. It’s a small indie label but we have worked together since 2010 and when they call it quits, I believe I will as well… maybe, ha-ha.

What would you say to youngsters who want to start a band?

J. Bergman: Don’t… HAHAHA, nah, just kidding. You must be prepared to work hard, learn to do as much as you possibly can to save money and do not lose control of what is rightfully yours. It’s expensive as fuck to create and play music. Don’t party it all away, save your money for the right moment when you might get a chance to buy in on a tour or something that can help you move forward… but most of all… have lots and lots of FUN with music!

What does Metal music mean to you in your life?

J. Bergman: Freedom. I have a saying tattooed on my arm that says “METAL- Music is freedom and freedom is mine to do what you want with”. For me it’s an escape as well as a paradise. I love playing covers, I love making my own albums, I love listening to it, I love going to shows and festivals. It relaxes me as well as gives me energy and a feeling of wellbeing but most… I feel free when using it.

What’s the thing (or things) that mainly moves you or motivates you, in general?

J. Bergman: Like mentioned before, the creativity, the process of building music from the ground floor up. All the way from that first idea for a riff to a whole album with cover art and merch to go with it. Amazing.

It seems that humanity is in a race towards its self-destruction. And killing our planet too. How things could be changed, in your opinion?

J. Bergman: I don’t know how old you are but… I’m sure we are all fucked, ha-ha. Sorry. Maybe not in mine or your lifetime, but if not nature free itself from humanity, we sure will self-destruct eventually. How to change it?! Do we deserve it? I don’t think so to be honest, but hey, lets have fun while we are here, right? Haha.

Many thanks for your time, Jhonny, wishing the best for you and your band. Is there anything you want to add or say to Blessed Altar Zine readers?

J. Bergman: Thanks for having me in your zine, been great questions. Take care now.

“Eschaton II. Judgment Day” out on CD now. “Eschaton III” out 2024.

Interview by Sílvia

Be sure you don’t miss Man Machine Industry’s new EP and be ready to enjoy their highly energetic yet melodic songs. You can check their previous music too. Support the underground.

Man Machine Industry

Label (GMR Music Group)
Official site

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