AT THE GATES Guitarist Says Swedish Government Helped Extreme Metal Exist In The 90s
The Swedish Government provides artists with stipends and grants to continue their work without being dead broke. In 2018, Swedish Arts Grants Committee exists and provides information on their site about grants and programs they offer. In the 90s, the government was also aiding creative types and giving bands like At The Gates rehearsal space and music lessons.
Guitarist Martin Larsson, who has played with the band on and off between 1993, tells Heavy New York that the Swedish government are one of the unsung heroes in the development of the extreme metal scene back then.
"Honestly, there weren't a lot of metal bands in Gothenburg back then [when At the Gates started in 1990]. What we do now, making a decent living out of playing metal, it wasn't even imaginable in the '90s. It was just like a weird concept.
"What really helped back then was the municipal help with rehearsal rooms and music lessons. I think that's often forgotten when you talk about the Swedish metal [scene], or whatever you call it – we had a lot of help from the state."
At the time, a lot of the guys in the classic Swedish metal bands we all love now were in their late teens or early 20s. So I'm sure having a helping hand was basically the "make or break" point in the death metal scene.
Sweden is known for supporting musicians fervently, with music lessons being a big part of general education. Access to music schools was provided by various local municipalities. The Swedish Arts Council also provided a sort of "social welfare" for young musicians, allocating roughly SEK 1 billion (USD 151 million, EUR 116 million), in the form of grants.