top of page

FRONTVIEWS - An interview with the frontman.



“Our debut single ’NIGGER’ changed our lives…”

Finally there is an interview with the person whose picture stands on our homepage of this thing called Frontrow Events & Bookings Belgium vzw... The person who was an influence thoughout my whole life since 1994 until now... Living in the amazing city called Stockholm, lived the dream for several years and travelled the world with his band Clawfinger. Long before Frontrow even existed, we, which is me and my Clawhead brother Yves Janssens, managed to put together an almost sold out show to end an European Tour, in Lier, and it was amazing... It was the unofficial start... We are writing 2003...May I present... Mr Zak Tell.

Hi Zak, after all these years I finally have the honour to do an interview with you... It isn’t always easy to do an interview with someone who you look up to, nevertheless I will try to ask some good questions, and not those crazy topics who are always discussed in that backstage area after one of your gigs hahaha...

Dude, you are free to ask me whatever you want for whatever reason you feel necessary and I promise you I will answer the questions just the way I want to, hopefully that includes me actually answering some of your questions so that you understand what the fuck I’m talking about. As for looking up to me well thank’s man but I’m just a music loving, beer drinking dude like yourself and so many others out there!

Before I forget,HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Thanks man... Half a century...

Tell me, how is life with Covid in Stockholm?

Well life with Covid is what it is although compared to a lot of countries Sweden has been pretty laidback when it comes to the whole lockdown thing. I still travel to work everyday through town, spending almost an hour each way on public transport but I keep my distance as do most other people. I’m not paranoid about it but of course I find it worrying and of course we’re spending more time at home and big crowds are a NO NO. I still visit my local pub and hang out with basically the same bunch of people, the hard part is knowing we can’t really travel, play gigs or do anything spontaneous that involves places where people gather in large numbers.

You being sort of a teacher now, makes you some kind of an expert in taking caution when it comes to taking enough safety rules with all those kids at school... How are the rules being followed up ?

Well a teacher I am not but I do work at a school, I run a Recreation Room and a Junior Club after school for the 4th and 5th graders. Of course hand sanitizer is available throughout the school, all the breaks are spent outdoors except for the one class at the time who has Recreation room on their schedule and we keep our distance. That sounds great doesn’t it but the truth is kids do NOT keep their distance, they are very physical, like to hang out in large groups and quickly forget what they’ve been told to keep their distance so it’s a struggle to constantly remind them, that’s why we’re there though I guess, to reinforce those rules. I never thought I would end up being one of those boring crowns up but at now 50 years old I guess that was sort of unavoidable. Anyway, to answer the question I think everyone is doing reasonably well when it comes to following the guidelines but shit man we’re all struggling.


These past months I found my way back to some old school Clawfinger albums and , as you know, I have always been a big fan of your way of writing... Listening, picturing, trying to understand... You are a master in writing your lyrics from your own point of view... I guess being a songwriter and a critical person with a meaning you would have some ideas to write off some Covid-frustrations in some new lyrics...

Thank you man, it’s still strange to this day to hear people say that because I have never really tried to be anything other than what I am, my lyrics have always just been thoughts straight from my head put onto paper, sometimes they’ve been worked through, rewritten, been left to grow and mature and sometimes they’ve just come straight away without going trough any filters whatsoever. I don’t have a trick or a certain way of going about it but of course I have thoughts that wander around in my head and of course there are topics that I feel are necessary to talk about and that I want to get out of my system. Covid is definitely a lyric worthy topic, the hard part is always where to start, once I’m going things usually start coming naturally but even getting started to sometimes be a painful process. Maybe one day there will be a lyric and a song about covid but to be honest I can’t really think of a good way to write about it at the moment that would be interesting.

Clawfinger was founded at Rosenlund Hospital in Stockholm, where you guys met working, with all the same interest, music. The song 'Rosegrove' tells a story about that working period... It isn’t easy to find a decent bandname, but as far as I am concerned there will never be another band which name matches so perfectly with the music they bring... Who gets the credits for the name?

I honestly can’t remember but I think at the end of the day Bård was probably the one who came up with the name, we spent a good many days randomly going through names, we visited libraries, wrote names on pieces of paper, put them in a jar and randomly pulled them out of the jar, without any success. Ginmill was one suggestion, Day Of The Dog another and I know there were many more but most of them have slipped my mind. When Bård mentioned Clawfinger we thought it sounded ok and Bård managed to convince us that we would get used to it so we thought fuck it, let’s just go with Clawfinger, problem solved.


Two years ago you went on tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of your First album “Deaf Dumb Blind”... With a Belgian SOLD OUT show in Sint-Niklaas...

It was the confirmation people didn’t forget Clawfinger and the album is still hot, regarding the way all the songs were sang in full force from the audience... 

Did that give you guys the confidence to have a celebration for the following album “Use Your Brain” too, even if it will be more than 25 years because of this totally fucked up year?

Well Covid has put a stop to EVERYTHING gig related at the moment so it’s not something that’s really even been talked about. We played around with the idea when we were on the DDB 25th anniversary tour because it all felt so good and we were buzzing but I really don’t know if it will actually happen. There is always something very special about a Debut album that deserves a little more attention and celebration than the other albums but I’m not sure there’s any point in doing the same thing with every released album, still you never know so let’s just wait and see what the future has in store for us. Having said that, reliving the DDB album has been really fun and it was heartwarming to see that so many people still love it and hold it in such high regards 25 years after it was released, it made us feel very special and we love our fans for that.


Seven albums, lots of fantastic tours, shared the stage with all the biggest bands, played amazing venues and festivals... I guess asking you what the greatest and most remembering moments are, should be too obvious, but I will do this anyway... Because I have been travelling along since 1994... The first festival tour, the biggest stage, the craziest show... You also won some contests too... Tell us...

Too many to mention Tommy but the first show that comes to mind is when we played the green tent at The Roskilde festival in Denmark, I remember it mostly because I stepped on my microphone chord so it fell out of the microphone socket just before I was about to start singing “Get It” which was the song we always opened with in the old days, I panicked but luckily I managed to put it back in just as I started singing the first words. I also remember the time when we had a big band fight just before a show in Venice, we all entered the stage angry and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to break the stage by jumping as hard as I could on it, in the end I succeeded and found myself standing with only my head sticking up from above the stage and my feet on the floor below it. Beyond that there are so many memories from, gigs, travels, contests and afterparties, some of which you have certainly been a part of of yourself. It’s impossible to choose from everything great and mind-blowing that has happened but damn do we have a large bank of experiences to pull memories from.


What was the hardest time and decisions you had to make in Clawfinger which effected that immediate future at that moment?

Ugh, there have been so many strange situations, managers who were assholes, record companies without a clue, miserable tours, conflicts within the band for a number of different reasons, it’s simply impossible to pin point one specific thing. Being in a band is like a marriage where divorce is not really an option, you can almost stop existing, you can disagree, you can think your done but at the end of the day we have something unique that binds us together and that we will never get to experience anywhere else. I really don’t know what else to say and the fact that we still get to live the band dream from time to time is such a bonus at this point and at this age, I cherish it. Having said that I have to say I enjoy NOT having it as my main source of income and not having to say yes to everything if I don’t feel like it.

Is there one album or song(s) which, for you musically and lyrically, comes the closest to what Clawfinger is about?

I have to say that I’m pretty proud of almost everything we’ve done, we’ve always been honest and we’ve never tried to fit in where we don’t, that basically means that I’m proud of our legacy as a whole. Having said that 'Nigger' was our first single and it changed our lives forever so maybe that’s the one? Then again 'Do What I Say' has sort of become our end of show anthem and I personally love the groove and message of 'Two Sides', damn this was hard to answer.


This past summer there were several Clawshows planned, are they being postponed to the next summer on the same festivals? Or can we expect some new songs and, just maybe, a new album?

Well although the gigs have been postponed I personally still work full time so it’s not as if I all of a sudden have nothing to do. Most of us work with other stuff but we are all desperately missing doing live shows, even if we don’t play very often not being able to play at all makes you realize how much you miss it. As for a new album well I wouldn’t count on it but stranger things have happened in the world so we’ll see. If nothing else then I’m sure there might be a single or two at some point but that’s not a promise!

As you know Frontrow Events & Bookings Belgium has about five tribute bands which we work with... Also our friend Yves is a singer in a coverband and sings a Clawfinger song... But finding a full Clawfinger Tribute band will not be easy because of the complexity and crazy musical arrangments of Jocke and Bård ...

Well I’m not sure our songs are any harder to play than other bands songs so I think maybe the reason there aren’t many Clawfinger tribute bands that I know of might simply be because we’re not quite big enough for it to be worthwhile, we simply don’t have a big enough audience to make it worth it for a band to do. Or maybe we’re simply just too unique and special and impossible to duplicate, I mean who could possibly match our complexity and crazy musical arrangements?

Your dedicated Clawheads already made a pact to get together again on one of your shows after all this craziness is over and we can enjoy our “normal” life again... We promise some mayhem!!!

Looking forward to it man, intense gigs followed by sleepless nights with crates of beer and you guys while listening to music and talking shit, I mean what’s not to like right?

Thanks Zak for giving us the interview...

Stay safe and take care... Say HI to all of our friends!

No problem, take care, be cool be yourself and keep on keeping on! One love/Zak

After this interview a new Belgian show is released!!! Clawfinger will be playing Trix at sunday november 14, 2021!!!

bottom of page