The Haunted are of that increasingly rare breed in metal: they're a band who actually try to extend themselves with each new album they create, challenging their audience at the same time. Too many metal bands play it safe and stay well within the confines of their tried and true sound, if only for fear of backlash from narrow minded and change-averse fans (especially in this day and age of 'keyboard cowboys' on blogs and fan forums). Not this Swedish heavy music institution. Their latest album Unseen is a marked departure and evolution from, well, pretty much everything they've done before, and frontman Pete Dolving is quick to agree.
"I think there would be something wrong if we didn't (change and evolve)," the amiable and enthusiastic singer muses. "Maybe if we were in some amphetamine-driven stasis, we wouldn't evolve how we do things at all. We try to have a good time… and we try to learn as we go along."
So does Pete feel that it's simply a case of there being a strong sense of adventure within his band? He laughs, before responding, noting, "Well I'll say this," he grins, "we may not look like the adventurous types when you hang around us, because we are dreadfully boring! But for five dreadfully boring dudes, we sure get around.
"I don't know, we have toured the world in the most weird settings imaginable. And we love that," he nods, "and I guess that if that's adventurous, then we're really fuckin' adventurous. You'd think that with us doing the music we're doing, and trying to evolve, then maybe that's adventurous… but I don't know!" the singer smiles.
"It's just wanting to explore, and find something closer to what we want to express," he continues. "We started making metal - and this type of music - because there's a certain core, a certain feeling there, and we want to get to that feeling, that's what we're aiming for. With the whole touring and traveling thing, that's a part of that. We're trying to see the world; it all goes together as one, really."
As one would expect, the band have copped a big serve, especially on the 'net, from conservative critics and fans who may have perceived their latest record to be something of a 'sell-out' or a similarly ridiculous label they want to slap on the band. But Pete and the band take such nonsense with an appropriate grain of salt.
"We don't give a shit, man," he states emphatically, laughing heartily, "but sure, we read 'em," he says of the band's critics. "Not all of them, 'cos that can't be done. But, it's fun. It's good entertainment. One of the things, when you start out, all starry eyed, you're 15 years old and there's a vision. You're like (mimicking a naïve teenager) 'I'm gonna play rock, and people are gonna listen to my music and they're gonna rock out ! And it's gonna be cool!' And then you get to 40 years old, and you realize that anyone who's meant to understand, will misunderstand! And anyone who can have an opinion are gonna have an opinion on it.
"We've been turned inside out, upside down and squeezed for 20 years," he shrugs. "We've been going since we were teenagers… and if someone has an opinion or an idea about what we do, then you go, man, you work that. Try to turn into something purposeful and something meaningful, if it'll help you with your life, what do I know?
"That's not going to change the fact that we try to make music that we enjoy," he says, "and hopefully other people can enjoy it too. As far as what we do, and as far as our live performance is concerned, we kick ass, man: end of story," he states emphatically. "That's our job, and we love that. And our fans enjoy it, and it's pretty simple, really!"
Pete himself had a sabbatical from the band between 1998 and 2003, and while it's been eight years since his return, in many ways it only seems like yesterday that the metal world was hearing the news that Pete Dolving had returned to The Haunted fold, especially in the context of what has become a truly epic career in metal. And Pete agrees. "Yeah!" he laughs uproariously again, "even today, it doesn't feel like I wasn't in the band. That was just a very brief thing.
"You don't think about it," he states, regarding the length of time the band have been together. "We're just starting to realise that that's a fact. It's more like that. We have done this for a long time, we're becoming something of an institution. But the funny thing is we're still an underground band. It would be really nice to get out of the underground!" he grins.
"But that's probably not gonna happen; we will continue to be the love of a few diligent and very caring people, who love what we're doing. And you know, we love 'em back," he nods. "It's kind of comfortable that way, 'cos we can keep track of them and they can keep track of us. It's manageable!" he laughs.
And does he feel that The Haunted, with an existing legacy that already spans decade, can carry on that flame for another 15 to 20 years? "Oh, fuck yeah!" Pete emphasises, "no problem. We've been doing it for this long… we'll keep bringin' it man."
The Haunted's many Australian fans can rejoice, as the band bring their unique brand of Swedish metal to the Aussie masses for the fifth time in the coming weeks.
THE HAUNTED hit Melbourne with the force of a tornado this week, when they trample The Hi-Fi on Saturday May 28. They're joined by luminaries The Omen, Scar The Surface and Subjektive. Get your tickets from thehifi.com.au, and you can check out the VIP ticket packages at redanttouring.com.au. Their latest album, Unseen , is out now through Century Media/EMI.