Exclusive interview for Russian Gothic Page and RockCity Magazine (by Stanislav Ivanoff).
Hailing from Swedish town Helsingborg, Covenant has charted new electro paths, which have set higher standards in electronic/EBM music worldwide. Considered to be among the top of their class alongside Front 242 and Front Line Assembly, Covenant perfectly combines the best elements of proven electronic wizardry with today's experimental dance explosion, forging a fresh and unique style. They started in the middle of the eighties as some sort of an electronic big band with various members and finally established the current line-up consisting of Eskil Simonsson (vocals and music), Joakim Montelius (samples and lyrics) and Clas Nachmanson (keyboards and performance) some time in the early 1990's. As many other newcomers in the music scene they entered with a demo tape 'Dreams of a Cryotank' released in 1991. Also they appeared on one of the compilations from Memento Materia label, which was to be the company that they finally would sign a deal with. Even in those early days they proved to be very strong and original live band. Their shows are full of pure energy. Forceful dancers in plastic outfits wrapped in a sea of smoke and pulsating lights make it impossible for the audience to restrain itself, instead of joining Covenant on their musical journey. The real breakthrough was made in 1994 with the release of their debut album 'Dreams of a Cryotank'. It brought a wealth of attention from the Swedish press and became hailed as an instant classic of electronic underground. However it would be better to ask one of the Covenant's member to reveal the past and present of the band. I had a lucky chance to talk with Joakim Montelius in a small interval of his dense concert tour:
"We released our first album 'Dreams of a Cryotank' in 1994 and rather immediately made a name in Sweden. In 1995 'Figurehead EP' came out, we toured with Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Lassigue Bendthaus in Sweden and got a license deal with the German label Off-Beat. Album number two, 'Sequencer', was released in 1996 and we toured Europe with Haujobb and Steril. Later that year the 'Stalker' single came out and went straight to the top on several European lists together with enormous club attention. The American label 21st Circuitry licensed us in the States and in 1997 we made major tours in both Europe and America as headliners, supported Rammstein in Sweden and played at most of the big European festivals. 'Europa', our third album preceded by the 'Final Man' single, was out in late 1998 and was followed by another extensive tour in Scandinavia, Western Europe and USA/Canada. This album placed us at the absolute top level of the new generation of dark/electro bands, reinforced by the 'Euro EP' single. Early 1999 we toured Germany as support act for Project Pitchfork and the rest of this year we have spent in the studio working on the fourth full-length 'United States of Mind', except for festival gigs such as the German Wave Gothic Treffen and Zillo Festival, Roskilde Festival in Denmark and some shows in France, England, Belgium and Sweden. Currently we have the first single from the new album out. It's called 'Tour de Force' and I hope you'll all enjoy it! The album is out in February next year and I hope the tour takes us to Russia."
- Speaking about the tours. You often play live. It's known that each of your performances is very original, and the things you play on show are often heavily reworked and differ from the album versions. Do live performances and stage shows have any special meaning for you?
"We love playing live! It's the reward for the hard, strenuous work in the studio. Playing live is a way to interact with our audience, to communicate and meet the real people that we create our music for. Covenant is about communication, brotherhood and energy and that is what our live shows are like."
- And what bands did you like most of all to share the stage with?
"Project Pitchfork and Apoptygma Berzerk are our favourite touring partners. Gary Numan, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, Einsturzende Neubauten, Lassigue Bendthaus and Front 242 are old heroes of ours that we really enjoyed playing with. And VNV Nation are good friends who made a really good job supporting us in Germany on the 'Europa' tour. But the audience and fans wherever we go are always the best partners to share the stage with ;-)"
- For a present day you are the most well known and respected representatives of Swedish dark-electronic scene. Is this movement developed in your area? Have you any other worthy bands?
"We have for example Seven Trees, Project X and few other good new-comers. The scene is rather large considering our small population but most of the bands are simply not good enough to gain an international following. But I'm sure that people make unexpected things in their homes that we will hear of sooner or later."
- Do you know about the existence of Norwegian black metal band "Covenant"? They have recently changed their name to "The Kovenant", obviously in order to avoid any confusion between you and them. Have you already had any of such confusions?
"When we released 'Europa' last year the Norwegian band also released 'Nexus Polaris' and we had some confusion especially in Germany and the USA. Our labels had a talk and they had to change their name. We had known about each other for several years but none of us thought it would be a problem, but it was best for both bands and our fans that we avoid future problems like that."
- What does Covenant do at present and what are your plans for the nearest future?
"We are right now finishing our fourth album, 'United States of Mind', in our studio. After that we'll prepare for the world tour in March-April, record another single and conquer the rest of the world. I hope Russia will join the Covenant brotherhood!"
(c) 1999 Russian Gothic Project
Design by Chthon (c) 1999