There are only a few young bands who can gain as many followers with their demo as the Swedes Century have managed to do. Two days before the release of their debut album The Conquest of Time, we present you an interview with Staffan Tengnér, who is responsible for vocals, guitar and bass in the studio. Have fun reading!
André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?
Staffan: We’re currently recovering from pretty heavy jet lag after just coming home from our first US tour, but other than that we’re doing pretty well!
André: Have you already bought an album that was released this year?
Staffan: Yes, I bought Danava’s new record Nothing But Nothing when we toured with them. It’s great, definitely check it out!
André: Which bands have influenced you the most?
Staffan: Iron Maiden and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. But also the Scandinavian bands from the 80’s like Mercyful Fate, Mindless Sinner, Heavy Load and Gotham City.
André: In December 2020 you released your demo, which immediately won a lot of fans in the underground. How do you look back on this release and the feedback?
Staffan: It was overwhelming! I released our demo without any marketing, but when we woke up the next day all 100 cassettes were sold out and we had offers from several labels. Very grateful for all the people who have kept reaching out and supporting us since then.
André: On 21 April your debut record will be released: The Conquest of Time. First, please tell us something about the artwork. Who is responsible for it?
Staffan: I’ve made all Century covers and shirts myself. I wanted to keep it consistent with the previous releases but for this one I also wanted to evoke something historic to fit the band name and album title. I draw everything by hand I try to keep the digital editing to a minimum.
André: Which artwork of metal albums did you particularly appreciate in the past? I am a big fan of Adam Burke.
Staffan: It’s almost impossible to pick favourites! Derek Riggs and his classic artwork for Iron Maiden was what got me interested in metal to begin with, so they are the first to come to mind as an influence. However, when I make artwork myself, I usually stick with a rawer, less colorful style. I love the homemade covers that bands made for demos or small underground releases back in the day. There’s something about that DIY aesthetic that really fits heavy metal.
André: Which song on The Conquest of Time would you classify as a Century signature track?
Staffan: Probably “The Fighting Eagle”. It was our first official single and it seems to have caught on pretty well. It’s short and to the point but manages to capture our sound.
André: How does the songwriting work in your band?
Staffan: We both write songs for the band, sometimes I’ve written all the riffs, like in “The Fighting Eagle”, sometimes Leo writes them all, like in “Shadow of the Hunter”. Most of the time we usually end up collaborating and completing each other’s ideas though. Since we rehearse in our studio, we usually record demo versions of our new songs. We begin by tracking guitars and drums live, then we add vocals, lead guitar and bass. We’ve already made several pre-production demos like this for the second album.
André: What is the significance of the lyrics for you? Is it especially important to you to tell the listeners an interesting story?
Staffan: It really depends on the song. Some lyrics on the album have specific personal meanings, others are about movies or books, while some are just about being stuck at work while longing for freedom and heavy metal. I’m still just learning how to express myself through lyrics though.
André: You played at Keep it True Rising in Würzburg in 2021. How did you experience this evening? And what do you like about Germany in general?
Staffan: It was pretty wild. It was our first ever show and I had never sung on stage before. Unfortunately, our live guitarist Isak was hospitalized the day before we left, so we had to rethink and perform as a trio, which was never the plan. I’m still disappointed in my own performance that night, but we did the best that we could under the circumstances. People seemed to like it though and I’m still glad we got to play our first show at such a big venue with other great bands. We watched both Triumph of Death and Candlemass from the back of the stage later that night, so everything ended well.
André: What’s your favourite festival? Where would you like to play with Century in the future?
Staffan: In Sweden, it’s probably Muskelrock. However, we just played Hell’s Heroes in Houston, Texas which was amazing. I’d love to go back there, regardless of if I’m playing or not!
André: On our blog, we focus on metal with epic elements. How would you define the term “epic“ regarding music?
Staffan: I think it’s generally used to describe a heroic, dramatic or adventurous feeling. Especially for longer tracks that take time to tell a story, think “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. These elements are obviously important to heavy metal, but I don’t ever think I’ve used the words to describe our music.
André: Last question: Let’s assume time travel would be possible. In which era would you most like to live, at least temporarily?
Staffan: I’d like to go forward in time to our next tour, so I don’t have to go to my day job.
André: Staffan, thank you very much for the interview. I wish you all the best with Century – and I am sure that you will win a lot of new fans in the underground with your debut album!