I met J. (JB) Bergman about 7 years ago through MySpace. After some time of conversations I ended up helping him design some web page designs on MySpace and we became friends as well as clients. Fast forward a few years, MySpace has all but died, but we remained friends and have kept in touch as regularly as we could both leading different lives. JB, is one of the hardest working musicians I know and has several projects that he is currently working with including TRIA, Reignsaw, panNSar, Filth Hound Four and MMI, not to mention Killing Machine Productions…his music production company that he also has founded. When I first decided to start Don’t Let the Music Stop, JB was the first musician that I talked to about the idea to get his opinion. He was also the first musician to give me an quote that I was able to put into an image that still has the most views of any one that I have released at this point.
Man.Machine.Industry is JB’s primary project and has it’s fourth full length album, “Box of Horrors”, was just released this past Friday, with the song, “Let it Burn”, as the first single off of the album. When I first heard “Let It Burn” I knew that we were all in for something special. And, after an advanced listen to the album, I have to say that I truly think this is the best MMI album yet. It is a well written, played, and produced tour de force that I would highly recommend to anyone who is in to melodic metal. You can purchase the album directly from Killing Machine Productions
With all that JB has going on currently, I was excited that he obliged my request for an interview. Truth be told since we are friends, he has been a supporter of my mission since before it was launched, and because he truly believes in helping those that need it; I was sure he would take a few minutes to help out. But I was still ecstatic that he agreed given his busy schedule. Here is what he had to say about Man.Machine.Industry, Box of Horrors, bullying, and speaking out for those who may not be able to themselves:
Thanks for talking with me, JB. Long before we became friends I was a fan. I started listening to MMI when the Mention album was released and I stumbled across a few songs you had given out free on your website. Since that album the band and the sound has changed with each release. Going from a more darkwave electronic sound, to NIN inspired industrial rock, to industrialized metal, to a more thrash oriented metal. Should we expect even more of an evolution in sound this time around?
Hi Randy and thanks for having me. That’s all true. MMI has changed over the years and maybe it always will. I always plan a direction when I start the process of writing an album but the end result rarely comes out the way I thought in the beginning. But that´s not a bad thing I think. It seems like the music takes on its own life in the process and I just follow the flow. However, in 2014, I wrote/recorded the EP, “The Cross”, for MMI and believe this new album is a continuing on that journey. The industrial vibes are more laid back and I have worked with more strings, piano and other instruments along sides with the raw distorted guitar riffs. This, along with me being a better vocalist today, has given the album a more melodic touch than before. The album’s sound is closer to classic heavy metal than anything I’ve produced earlier. It´s a great album I think. It´s heavy, brutal at some points, melodic and at the same time catchy here and there.
And what about the new line up for this album? It seems as if you went with a more veteran crew for the current line up after having a, shall I say, a much younger line up for “Lean Back, Relax and Watch the World Burn” (2012). Was this a conscious choice or was it more organic in nature?
These guys have played with me since 2014 when we did a five week tour in Sweden with a band called Raubtier. The guitar player, Mattias Johansson, is an old friend of mine whom I have wanted to share stage with for many years and I´m real glad he finally joined in. Anders Sevebo, bass, I met in 2014 at a Queensryche concert and we hit it off from get go. We dig much of the same kind of bands from the “old days”, haha, and he grew to be somewhat of a right hand man in the band. He is the one I call when we need to get stuff done outside writing music in the band. The drummer, Nicholas Podolski, is the youngest of us and a great drummer. He is not really a metal head as the rest of us but loves to play it and he does it great! The line up feels strong and I believe we will rock out for a few more years at least, and I think everything fell into place already on the first tour in 2014. We work very well together.
I would say that you definitely work well together. How is it working with a more veteran crew this time? Do you feel that it has helped with the way the album has turned out?
Actually I play all the instruments on the album. Drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals. MMI has always been my solo project, and I have had friends and musicians helping me out playing live shows but most instruments on all albums are played by me. On the new album Mattias wrote and played the guitar solo on “Too Close To The Sun” and Anders plays bass on the single “Let It Burn”. I have a few more guests on the album as well, Anders Plassgard (who also designed the cover art) plays keyboards on the title track and Karin Westerberg Kindgren plays piano on the ballad, “Heading For Nowhere”, and of course my wife, Malin B. Gardskar, is doing some female voices on the album as she have done on the two albums before “Box Of Horrors”. I have never “bragged” about the fact that I play most instruments on the albums and have let people think what they wanted. I don’t play everything on an album ‘coz I´m ego, it´s just that I love the process of building music from start to finish. I love it more than standing on stage actually. So, It´s only for the love of it…that it.
Artwork by Anders Plassgard
Speaking about loving music, soon after the release of Box of Horrors, you guys are heading out with one of your favorite bands, Prong, for a tour of Europe. Congratulations on landing this tour. How did this tour come about?
Oh yeah! I have loved PRONG since they released the “Beg To Differ” album back in 1991 so this is a true honor for me to join them on this tour. We will hit nine countries and play sixteen shows and it´s gonna be an explosive tour package for sure! I emailed Jason (bass) asking if they needed a support act for their European tour, he sent me the e-mail to their booking agency, they and Prong listened to our stuff and got back to me and said, “We like what we hear, Lets make this happen”, and here we are a few months later going on the road through Europe together. I think the bill is a perfect match, and Steak Number Eight are with us as, well who bring a more stoner sound to the bill.
Stepping away from the new album and going back to the beginning: When you first started MMI as your own project after the split up of Slapdash (which you have admitted previously a wasted opportunity), MMI was originally “Me Myself and I” and later changed because you felt it was too self centered. Now, couple that with the fact that “Mention” itself was a very dark album with themes of betrayal (“Care, Trust, Love, Lust”), hate, and even suicide ( “I Die Here and Now”). I have always wondered how personal that album was to you? And was it a release of sort to get things out after such a bad time in your life musically.
My aim when I wrote “Mention” was to write only for myself. When I embarked my late 30’s I saw all my friends finding the woman of their dreams, moving away, getting married, having children and all that and I felt like I did not fit in anywhere ‘coz I did not want the family life and this kind of triggered lots of old demons in me. Old emotions of not fitting in as a bullied kid through nine years of school, an abusive stepfather for a couple years did not make anything better as a kid. It´s the darkest and most personal music I have ever written and I don’t think I will ever be able to write like that again. And I don’t want to either ‘coz it truly was a dark place to be at.
Don’t get me wrong, through all the hellish things I’ve been through as a kid I would not have had it any other way ‘coz today I am very proud of who I am. If I hadn’t been through these things I would not have spent every day after school banging the shit out of the drum kit learning how to be a good drummer. I found strength in music, especially heavy metal, instead of friends.
My mom and I have always been close. We have a very strong bond between us. She is a biker lady riding a chopper motorcycle and has always been a “black sheep” of the norm. She has always supported me in my musical quest ever since I was seven years old and started playing drums at home hour after hour. Music has always been my closest friend until I met my wife. Now I have two friends, haha. From time to time I get e-mails and PM´s at Facebook and such from fans who think my songs gives them purpose and strength to fight on through daily life. I guess my past shows in some way, in the music or the lyrics, and they recognize the struggle and gives them some kind of hope and strength to fight on no matter what.
Along that line, I have heard and read other artist say that writing music can be an escape or even a therapy to get out those dark things that haunt us all. What are your thoughts on music as an escape or therapy?
For me it´s perfect. When I write and record I totally lose track of time and everything around me. I can write for twelve hours straight and then my wife comes into the studio and asks, “Have you eaten yet?”. I totally go into a zone. It´s not always like that, but often, so yes, It´s a perfect therapy for me at least.
Knowing you for as long as I have I have had the pleasure of reading some of your rants on the environment, animal cruelty, religion, bullying, politics, etc. You are very outspoken on your thoughts and especially speaking up for those who can not, or are too afraid to, speak for themselves. Without diving too deeply, or getting too personal…Is there a particular reason that you feel that you may need to speak for those who may not be able to through your music or personally?
To be honest I don’t like the way humans have evolved the last few years. Their hate has gotten stronger, their ego bigger, their way of looking down on people and not respecting people who don’t think or act like you or the norm has increased. I think it is partly ‘coz of the way politicians act nowadays but also social media has somehow numbed people from what it is to feel for someone else. TV, games, music, movies… no, that’s not the problem. That’s just a bullshit myth. Social media, media, and politics…it all comes down to one word: Respect. Most people don’t know how to give it or how to earn it, and that’s a sad thing to see.
If you could say one thing to someone who is going through a tough time currently, what would that be? (this is what I will use to do another image with to promote the article)
You think that it won’t ever work out or that things will never change. The thing is that everything changes, and things always work out. Maybe not the way you planned it to, but it will work itself out eventually because things change and you can’t stop it. That’s the beauty of life. Life changes everything!
I am putting together a playlist of songs from all genres that artists who I have interviewed have chosen the songs from songs that have inspired them. Could you please give me a song or two that I could add to the playlist?
Killing Joke – The Raven King
Judas Priest – Victims of Changes
Black Sabbath – Die Young
I would like to thank JB for taking time out of his very busy schedule to talk with us. Make sure you check out all of his bands at the links below.
Photo by Linus Pettersson
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