Pain Of Salvation


20 Juin 2017



Interview Daniel Gildenlöw (face to face)

Hello Daniel, how are you? Welcome to the south of France, have you been here before?

Not here exactly, but I love the south of France. As you know we have a drummer from the south of France, but he never liked the heat. I was worried about this when he joined the band initially. I asked him many times: How can you move from the south of France to Sweden? Have you really thought about it? And he always replied that he didn’t like the heat. And the funniest thing is that the first time he came to Sweden, I think it was for the audition, we had something like 32 or 33 degrees in the shade so he was really disappointed.

So let’s start with this weekend. I saw you on the Altar stage at the Hellfest. How did this go from the stage?

It was nice. After all those years, you get to a point where you are not nervous anymore to go onstage. I usually say you should always be a little bit nervous otherwise something is wrong and you will probably not deliver a good show. But anyways, this time it was a bit more tense than usual, because it was the first show where Johan was back. And actually the second time ever that the five of us played together. We had a bit of a hard time to get the schedules of all the band members to align. We have been rehearsing, two of us, then three of us, another three of us, and then we had one single rehearsal with all five of us. And I believe that there is one or two songs we had never played all together at the same time. Which is normally not how it should work. That was scary, but it was a wonderful experience. It was sort of a crash course for Johan who was back after five years and when he is back the first show is in front of thousands of crazy people at Hellfest. It was a good welcome I think.

It was not your first time in Hellfest. I remember seeing you on the Mainstage a few years ago. Was this better?

It’s a difficult balance I would say. The bad thing about being on the Mainstage is that you get a worst time slot. So you cannot have a light show, you don’t know if you have your fans there or not. But on the other hand, the benefit of being on a Mainstage is that you get a lot of people hanging there. Most people check what’s in the smaller stage and end up watching whatever is on the Mainstage, even if you don’t really like it. It’s just a good hangout area. In the end I was really happy about the slot that we had. We filled the tent, and there were people outside watching. We heard from the organizers that they received a lot of very good feedback, including from folks who had never heard of us before.

What were the biggest changes at Hellfest between now and then?

They clearly worked a lot on the decorations. Just look at the VIP area this year. There were skeletons, and everything, we were totally impressed. I told Daniel, our keyboardist, you know it’s not really the style I would use to decorate my home, but when you do something all the way, something with full passion, it becomes so overpowering and impressive. The entire area is just wonderful, kind of Mad Max meets Burning Man Festival. A weird combination of everything and I just loved it.

Did you notice that during your song Ashes, the fire animation started at the back of your room, and we could see the flames illuminating the whole tent?

Oh yeah. Perfect timing. It was very impressive, because we had already all those faces, in front of us, very supportive, great audience, so we were already in such a good mood, with a great social temperature in the band, with the return of Johan. And then in the middle of that you have all this fire going on.

I might be a little biased but you were the highlight of my Hellfest this year, and a friend of mine I took along with me told me the same thing. Fantastic energy, fantastic sound, perfect setlist. Hats off!

I appreciate hearing that, thanks.

Traditionally there has not been many prog metal bands at Hellfest, do you know why this is?

I have no idea. But I think, and this is the only downside of the festival, that I felt it was a little narrower in terms of styles. And it’s a weakness and a strength of course. There wasn’t a lot of weird and surprising bands this year I think. The most surprising one we saw has to be these guys from Ultra Vomit. We really enjoyed that. Gustaf noticed that they even had a huge backdrop with their name spelled wrong. This was just perfect. What a laugh!

Did you get a chance to see good concerts while you were there?

Prophets of Rage I think was great. It was impossible to stand still at this show. I was standing by the mixing desk area, and at mid show the crowd there was crazy. They had a great show, and such a great balance between a healthy social rage but at the same time, when they talk and communicate they focus on unity, on standing together. And I love this combination, because that’s where I am as a person.

I noticed that Sweden was very well represented if you think about it : Evergrey, Avatar, Sabaton, Soilwork, and some others I’m sure... How do you explain this?

I have a standard answer to that question: it’s impossible for Swedish bands to become famous in Sweden so we have to travel to other countries and play our music there.

Let’s talk about the band now. And before we hit the hard questions, I wanted to know how things go with Léo up in the north after ten years. Big change for a guy from the south of France?

Yes. I think he had a few years were he had to adapt to the darkness, it’s also a colder social climate.

I remember your videos about the casting for a new drummer, and you were debriefing about Leo, saying that it would force you to speak English with him, is he speaking Swedish now?

Oh yes, he speaks very good Swedish now. Now when I look at some videos where we speak English to each other, I’m surprised, but yes that happened a while back. But not anymore, we speak Swedish now among members of the band.

Anyway you and Léo seem very close, that's nice to see this on stage. At some point in time you were the only two members left and we felt the existence of the band was at risk. Was it really?

I feel that way every time the band goes through a lineup change. Every time I ask myself if I have the energy to start all over. Only in the past few months I have changed attitude a bit and told myself: Fuck it, I’m not going to let things that don’t work in the band end this band. I carried it all the way here, so now I’ll just have to carry on, whatever the cost.

So when I saw you in Lyon, Ragnar was on the guitar. Today, only a few weeks later, Johan is back after a five years break. First of all, what made Johan reconsider his decision to leave the band five years ago? Or was it you begging for him to come back?

We needed a new guitarist. I don’t want people to think that Johan wanted to come back in the band and so we fired Ragnar. It was nothing like that. It was all about things not working well in the band. It was a very hard decision. And there will always going be a very sad feeling for me, that things went that way. It sounded so good from the start. But that’s how things are sometimes.

Like in divorces, we read contradictory statements from you and Ragnar about what happened…

Well I have not said what happened because I didn’t want to expose other people's private lives…

But in my report from Lyon, you can check, I wrote that everyone seemed to enjoy the show except Ragnar who looked pretty sad. Kind of a premonition, right?

I don’t think it was related. I don’t even think it was sadness exposed. I remember asking him about that at the beginning in the band. But it’s just the way he wanted to look. He was coming from a different music image tradition I guess, a little bit darker.

Did you know that Johan wanted to come back in the band?

Not really. But we have playing together outside Pain Of Salvation, for quite a while. Also with old drummer Johan and really old guitarist Daniel. We had a great time, having dinner together and then we go out and play together and make new songs. So I asked him and hoped that he would accept. He is in a completely different situation than he was five years ago. His kids are older for example. You can ask him, but he said that sometimes you have decisions that are difficult to make, and once you make this decision, there is still a part of you that regrets that decision.

Is your relationship with Ragnar still difficult, and does this have an impact on the material written with him? I’m thinking of the songs from the latest album to which he contributed and even "Meaningless" which he wrote with his band.

Yes I read that some fans wanted us not to play "Meaningless" anymore, but this is a weird way of reasoning for me. First of all the song is a good song. And if we stopped playing it because he is not in the band, other people would think we are assholes because we are depriving him of his royalties money by not playing it. We had a bit of a discussion but we decided to keep it and play it, it’s a good song, people like it and Ragnar will get royalties when we play it. Although it seems like he has written somewhere that he didn’t, which is not true, but that’s up to him…

How did you handle the parts that Ragnar was singing, especially the very high ones?

We are so spoiled in this band, we have so many singers who can sing very high parts. Léo is probably the one with the highest range of all. He’s got a higher range than me or Ragnar. So we split up some of those parts. For example the last verse of Beyond The Pale, which was recently sung by Ragnar. It’s actually quite nice we should have done that earlier, because it now sounds like a discussion among ourselves. So really everything worked out really nicely.

Anyway, I hope things will get sorted out over time between you two. But for sure PoS lineup seems stronger than ever, isn’t it?

It feels that way, yes. As I said earlier the temperature of the band is so much better now. For the long run that’s a very important thing. The band is like a family.

Ok, so what’s on the roadmap for this perfect lineup in the coming months?

We have a few more shows. Then at the end of this mini tour, I have a meeting with our booking agent to discuss what we do for the fall. And then we have to think about a new album. Before that I’d like to plan a trip to South America, because they want us so badly there. It’s actually funny. Whatever you write on your Facebook, it could be something like “I love cheese”, then you get a comment like: "Come to Brazil and love cheese!". It’s funny, they are very good at letting you know they want you. So we need to get there. Also we have a few countries which we could not make for routing issues during this European tour, and we have a good fan base there, so we have to add those too.

Thanks Daniel, I’ll leave you the last words for our loyal readers…

We love this country, and we love to bring Léo back home so he can tour us around like yesterday in Toulouse, he showed us a bit of the area where he studied drums.