08 Février 2023


Blaster Of Muppets

Interview Björn, Bastian, Sven, Simon and Rasmus

Hi and thanks for answering the following questions for Aux Portes du Metal. So, how does it feel to finally be back on the (European) road after the pandemic? I believe this is your first European tour since 2019, right?

Björn : It’s the first full European tour, yes. It’s a weird feeling and at the same time it feels like we just pick up right where we left… Something has changed but it’s kinda hard to point exactly at what it is. It’s a little bit of a different feeling.

This pandemic had various effects on all of us. Do you feel you’re the same person you were before it happened? What has changed in your life since then?

Björn : On a personal level, things have changed for sure. I’ve changed a bit, you know… three years with a lot of time to think and get some perspective on things.Rasmus : Yes, there’s another life besides this one and even though I really enjoy touring, I appreciate life outside of the road a little bit more now. That being said, I was also longing to get back out there on the road of course…Simon : Personally, I couldn’t wait to be back on the road, I really missed it so I’m happier now. Hopefully, it will be even better next year. Bastian : The first thing we did after the pandemic was festivals and at that time I felt like I had a completely new appreciation for this because we had been longing for it. It was a good thing, I guess, to have a break to appreciate our activities a bit more… There were routines that took place during this break that I’m battling now, like for example, when we walk on stage, it’s usually bedtime for me! (laughs)Björn : I think I connect with the crowd in a different way. It’s easier now. It’s more relaxed in a way, it’s like “Good to see you again!”… like seeing an old friend.

I was wondering, is it okay to talk about David Andersson or is the topic too sensitive and you’d rather no talk too much about him?

Björn : Of course, no problem.

So, when David started to work with the band, Soilwork had a difficult task ahead – in terms of writing – as Peter Wichers was not part of the band anymore. Four albums, an EP (and six albums with The Night Flight Orchestra later), how would you qualify his influence on the band?

Björn : He played a very big role for sure. Peter jumped off the band, for the first time, some time after “Stabbing The Drama” and we tried different guitarists, David was one of them. That was our first introduction to him. Unfortunately, at the time, not all of us agreed to pick him for the spot. But then, later on, Peter jumped off a second time and then he came in again and I think he brought of lot of different and interesting things to the table musically and that’s what turned into “The Living Infinite”. The communication worked better, I guess. It felt more like a unit. He had his way, his own musical expression but at the same time, the music still sounded very much like Soilwork. It was a new era that started right there, a sort of Soilwork 2.0… and that double album was crucial for us to go through. Making a double album was a bit of a crazy idea when you think about it but it was a challenge and something really special happened then and it continued for quite some time.

Björn, you wrote a lot of songs with David, what did you learn in the process? Did that collaboration make you more confident as a writer (it seems you wrote more songs on your own on “Övergivenheten”)?

Björn : Yeah, he really inspired me to pick up the guitar again actually… not that I had ever been a fantastic guitar player by any means but he made me want to pick it up again, he was really encouraging and I learned a lot in the process. The biggest challenge I guess was when we made “The Living Infinite” because it really broadened our sound, it became bigger, there were so many more possibilities all of a sudden… It really opened new doors. And David was definitely the main person behind that. It was super inspiring and it made me work differently, as far as the guitars but also the vocals or arrangements are concerned.

Of course, Soilwork existed long before David came so I suppose his leaving would not prevent from existing… But could the same thing be said about The Night Flight Orchestra? Did you think for a moment it could be the end of this adventure you had started with him?

Björn : Of course, I gave it a lot of thinking. David had been super creative and involved in the Night Flight Orchestra, we started this band together and he wrote so many things… you know, he could write like three songs a day! But in the end, he was not so involved in other things with the band and he didn’t play with the band very much, it got really frustrating… he was in a really bad condition and we wanted to move on. It was tough. I asked before he passed away and got his blessing, not that I needed to have his blessing but it felt good because we had started this thing together and I had learnt a lot from him. So he said “Of course, you should continue” and I think he’s still very present in the songwriting somehow and we’re just having too much fun not to continue. It’s what he would have wanted for the band as well. Losing David, of course, was tough. I thought “is there a point in continuing without him?”… It was not easy.

I remember reading in an interview that David had written a lot of material for your last record (like thirty of them)… will this material see the light of day in the future?

Björn : I don’t know…Bastian : Because Övergivenheten’s quite a long album, we ended cutting two songs off the album… so we have two songs that are complete, so to speak, but I don’t know if we will release them. Maybe at one point. We have not decided what to with them so far.

Do you have someone in mind to replace him as a permanent second guitar player in the band?

Bastian : Yes, we have actually. We have Simon over here who’s been playing most shows with us since the release of Verkligheten. He has been doing a great job and now is the time to announce something on this tour… So here it is, I guess (laughs). He’s a lovely Swedish guy (laughs)…Simon : Thank you darling…Rasmus : … with a magnificent beard.

Now, about your last record : it seems you’ve outdone yourself once again. Few bands have this quality: it feels like you’re still progressing, improving after all these years instead of losing the spark or just stagnating… Do you think you’re about to enter your comfort zone and stay in it anytime soon?

Rasmus : Well, isn’t that our comfort zone, right there? Doing crazy stuff…Björn : Yeah, it is absolutely. Rasmus : Yes, “Hey guys, let’s do the album we did two years ago, it was cool…”, this just doesn’t exist in this band.Björn : We feel comfortable doing this and by now, we’ve also realized that many of our fans have enjoyed developing with the band and they expect some surprises.

“The Living Infinite” celebrates its ten years anniversary this year. Ten years later, what are your thoughts on this bold double album and how it holds the test of time?

Björn : I can’t believe it’s been ten years already, that’s just insane. I think it holds the test of time quite well, there’s some really good songwriting in there and a very special atmosphere too. It’s also super diverse. It’s a huge experiment. I can’t believe we have actually pulled it off. How did we do that? To me, it’s a milestone. It sort of went under the radar though… I mean, it got really good reviews but I felt that people kinda missed it somehow… I don’t know why. It feels like it’s become more of a cult/classic album ten years later, that’s the feeling I get. At the time, I was really like “this is it, this is THE album” and I’m still very proud of it. I was so proud, I was like “this is gonna change metal forever” (laughs)… But people didn’t really come out to give it a listen so I remember I was a little bit disappointed. I’m still kind of blown away that it didn’t have more impact at the time…

And, right after that record, you released your first live album… since you’ve had lots of strong records (and a huge quantity of great songs) since then, don’t you think it would be time for a second live recording?

Björn : Well, I don’t know… Personally, I’m not a very big fan of live albums when it comes to extreme metal, not that we’re that extreme… I mean, it could be cool, I guess… But it’s something I would go for when I listen to an extreme metal band, I just don’t really listen to their live albums. I really enjoy classic heavy metal live recordings, like Saxon, things like that, it’s a totally different story… But when it comes to extreme metal, I don’t know… The ones that really sound good are actually super processed and that’s not what I want either. The fans deserve it, of course, but it has to start with us. I don’t know how the rest of the band feels about that… Maybe it’s due to our experience with the last one because I don’t think it turned out that great.Sven : Yes, it’s okay... We could do better. It was our first one…Simon : Coming from the outside, I really enjoyed it.Sven : Well, yes, but from the inside, we’re always much more critical…

Björn, your singing has improved over the years, and on Övergivenheten, you raised the bar to quite impressive heights. Is it a lot of work or something that comes quite naturally? Do you feel you’ve reached the peak of your capacities at this time or do you think you can continue to improve?

Björn : Well, I sing very often, I sing everyday! As you know, I’ve been doing a bit of session works here and there, some guest vocals, different genres, some Night Flight Orchestra as well, I kept my pipes warm, got outside my comfort zone… That’s what David brought as well, you know. He wrote a lot of vocal lines for his songs, some got changed but some didn’t… and some of those of lines, I wouldn’t have written them, it would have been completely different. And that made me grow as a singer as well. I hope I haven’t reached my peak, maybe I’m a late bloomer (laughs) because it took some time for me to be satisfied with my singing. Some people really appreciate my early works, my singing on “A Predator’s Portrait” for example but I can’t barely listen to them. I mean, I love “A Predator’s Portrait” but the clean vocals… But I wasn’t very confident at the time. I feel I get better every year I’m singing, I don’t know how long it’s gonna last so let me knock on something (he knocks on the wooden table)… So far, so good… I’m very grateful that my voice is still improving. I guess my voice can take a beating because I’ve done so much touring and it’s used to all kinds of conditions, climates and temperatures. There was a time when I was drinking all night and still singing but I don’t do that anymore so I guess I am taking care of my voice a little bit better. But I don’t really have special rituals. I like trying new things, I practice a lot and I think it made my vocals stronger.

Rasmus, you’ve become the official bass player for Soilwork last year but you have also replaced David on the guitar on the recent tour with NFO… I heard that NFO recently had a studio session, did you participate in the writing, what did you bring to the table as a guitar player?

Rasmus : I guess when you’re in the studio, working on songs, everybody brings something to the table. I have my way of playing the guitar, I don’t play exactly as David did so I brought my own personality. It was a massive experience for me… I actually shit myself before that session (laughs), it was a big deal.Björn : It was amazing. You played exactly what I heard in my mind, it was just great. So cool.

Because some of the songs in Soilwork have been more melodic lately and sounded like “hits”, some people have said that it was surely due to some influence from your other band, NFO. Is that how you feel? Do you think that both bands influence each other?

Björn : No, not really. I mean, for me, it’s completely different. I think the only thing that happened was that it started to cross over a little bit with David songwriting. For me, when I write songs, I’m wearing two different hats. Of course, there’s a sense of melody that will cross over from time to time but Soilwork has always been very melodic whether it’s been with the guitars, the vocals… that existed way before Night Flight Orchestra. It’s true that David wasn’t always wearing two different hats and sometimes when he wrote a riff or something, it could be used for both bands… and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But I’ve always wanted these two bands to be very different because I have these two great things being like opposites and I really want it to stay that way.

What’s next for this band, NFO and possible other projects?

Bastian : Well, this year, we have this tour, some festivals… we want to take this album to different territories. We’re working on doing some Swedish dates in the fall and hopefully some UK dates also. It’s a bit hard to schedule with all these records being released every week, all the tours that have been postponed… this post-pandemic situation makes scheduling a bit difficult.Rasmus : We really want as many people as possible to listen to “Övergivenheten” and people to hear it live as well, that’s the priority. We love playing the new songs live. They’re working out really well live.

The question you would have liked me to ask but I couldn’t come up with :

Rasmus : I would have liked you ask about Björn guitar playing because I think it’s fantastic…Simon : yeah, I recorded him… you know the Donna Cannone album where he plays the guitar and I agree.Björn : Well, thank you (smiles). Another fun project…

What is it exactly? I’m afraid I missed that…

Björn : It’s a band I have together with my wife. It’s more punk, rock… there’s a little bit of The Cult in there too. And I play the guitar for a change… you should check it out, it’s a fun album.Simon : It was recorded in my studio, we did everything there. It was cool.

Last word to conclude this interview, anything you want to say, here’s your chance :

Björn : Well, thanks to all our loyal fans for sticking with us. We talked about it a little bit earlier, you know, the fact that they accept that we don’t put out the same album twice, that’s a great thing and we really appreciate that. So, thank you.

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