HALLO SPACEBOY – Dead KosmonautHALLO SPACEBOY – Dead Kosmonaut

Dead Kosmonaut, whose debut album ‘Expect Nothing’ comes out on TPL Records on 24 Match, is the brainchild of Mattias Reinholdsson, a native of Virserum, Sweden, who now lives in Stockholm. A man with a lengthy interest in metal, a few minutes with him reveals that he came to music early, “digging especially The Beatles’ records in my mum’s collection. In 1983 metal came into my life; Iron Maiden, Saxon and MSG. I started to play a bit of guitar a few years later and more or less from day one started to write songs because,” he laughs, “I was crap at trying to learn my favourite songs; I didn’t have the skill or the patience. I started playing in bands when I was around fifteen and soon ended up in a band with Per Broddesson [ex-Wolverine and Year Of the Goat] who is on this album. We then joined forces with Henrik Johansson – who plays drums on this album – when we started Book Of Hours, and did one album with Per in the line-up, called ‘Art To The Blind’, and after he’d left we recorded another that’s yet to see the light of day. By the time we started Book of Hours I’d switched to bass and was heavily inspired by Steve Harris, John Wetton’s King Crimson era and Jan-Erik Liljeström of Swedish band Anekdoten, the name Book of Hours coming from one of their songs. I really got off on that distorted, lead bass idea, where bass and guitar is more equal in balance and mix.

“Since I was a kid and discovered metal I’d dreamed of playing that sort of music,” he continues, “but the bands that I listened to and found inspirational – the likes of Iron Maiden, Dio-era Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Judas Priest – all had stellar songwriting skills, and I always felt I came up short trying to emulate that. So it took a while before I became confident enough to really give it a go. Around 2005 I finally thought I had a few decent ideas to record. I had a few players I wanted to work with but back then pretty much none of them fancied the idea of joining yet ‘another’ band, so I called in a few favours and did as much I could myself. Back then the project was called Astrakaan, but was later changed to Domkraft. Both names were subsequently ‘stolen’ so I had to come up with a new one. Dead Kosmonaut is the name of a side project, so I nicked it from myself!” (There is also a song of the same name, incidentally, which “deals with dark thoughts and what it could be like ‘living’ as a zombie. I hope to feature the song on a possible next album.”)


‘Expect Nothing’ is an expressive album with a metal heart and progressive, doomy and melodic tendencies – probably a bit like Mattias himself – and certainly isn’t a rush-job, having been slowly cooking for over ten years. “The oldest recordings on the album are from that first session in 2005/6,” Mattias confirms. “Many of Henrik’s drum tracks were recorded then, some bass and rhythm guitars too. ‘Grey Hole’, ‘Craving Mad’ and ‘Time Is The Wound’ originate from back then. The recording has been an ongoing process ever since. Working as a project though has been both a blessing and a curse. If I’d had a band I would have had people to turn to which perhaps might have made things easier, but on the other hand I had the opportunity to use different people for different approaches. Working with Fredrich Rönnholm on two songs meant I could benefit from his more Ian Paice style of drumming, for example. And I did realise early in the process that I needed a vocalist. To make an album take that step from good to great you can’t have an ‘average voice’ such as mine. But finding one…” He trails off. “That took a while and was one of the main factors for things taking so long. Eventually I did find Pelle [Gustafsson], but from his initial ‘yes’ to a complete vocal recording took a year. But we got there, and I’m so happy we did.”

One of the more remarkable things about ‘Expect Nothing’ is that despite its lengthy gestation it hangs together beautifully as a cohesive body of work. “It was important to me to make a proper album,” nods Mattias, “a proper album with dynamics and different sorts of songs and styles within the hard rock/heavy metal genre. Through the years I have found many good bands make mediocre albums because they don’t really think of the ‘flow’ of an album. It’s about creating a journey from beginning to end; just writing the ‘best songs’ sometimes is not enough. At least, not in my book,” he adds. “Early in the process I thought about what type of songs I needed to give the album that journey. I needed an acoustic track such as ‘House Of Lead’, for example; and I needed a song like ‘Concrete Sky’ for the album’s second track: to have an upbeat opening song that grabs your attention is important ,but to me it’s imperative to have a second track that makes you go ‘what now?’. I learned this from Iron Maiden – to have a song like ‘Remember Tomorrow’ as the second track on their debut is genius. Same with ‘Children Of The Damned’ on ‘The Number Of The Beast’. “And, I think Fredrik Folkare did a great mix. Despite the album being recorded over so many years, in different places, with ten different musicians and with me engineering most of it Fredrik still makes it sound homogenic and as ‘one’. For the average listener that probably won’t be that apparent, but I know how the album was made and I cannot stop being impressed by Fredrik’s work.”

Alongside the Unleashed guitarist appears another famous name from the Swedish scene. “My personal highlight is probably having Johan Längqvist singing one of my songs [album closer ‘Grey Hole’],” says Mattias. “He sang on that first, classic, Candlemass album ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’ and that album is one of my absolute favourites and something I’ve lived with since the late Eighties.”

With the album done ‘n’ dusted, what started as a project is blossoming into a band. “I do want to play live and we have a slot at Muskelrock in Sweden this summer. So I have a line-up for that with me on bass, Per and Fredrik on guitar, Henrik on drums and Pelle singing lead. I wish I could keep that line-up for future gigs and recordings, but the reality is that most of them are busy with other – some more high-profile – established bands. But I plan to keep asking those guys to play and record stuff for Dead Kosmonaut, if only to keep things fun and interesting for them. I also like to be in control,” he laughs. “Band democracy can take the fun out of things a bit!”


As is customary, to wrap things up I ask Mattias to reveal two pieces of trivia that the average fan wouldn’t know about him. He laughs again. “I don’t actually expect anyone to really know anything about me to start off with! But I guess most people don’t know that this Mattias Reinholdsson is the same Mattias Reinholdsson that’s a member of [the rather oddball] Chris Dale’s Sack Trick. And,” he adds, warming to the theme, “the fonts used for the album sleeve are the same as on Iron Maiden’s ‘Piece Of Mind’. It took the graphic designer a bit of detective work to find them, but small things like that are important to me. Like you, I love trivial things like that.”

© John Tucker March 2017