Pain of Salvation

Interview date

Décembre 2009


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Daniel Gildenlöw

You're touring, you haven't got a new album yet but a new EP. Why a new EP and how would you describe it?

It's step one to the new "Road Salt" concept (new album to be released later in 2010), it gives a good idea about where we're heading, musically and soundwise. I'm really happy about it. I've always liked the smaller formats (singles and EPs) though they've never been really appreciated from a marketing point of view because they pretty much cost the same amount of money to produce but they don't give the same money back. So I was happy that, during that shitty year of 2009 (with SPV crashing and the loss of the whole US tour), I had some free time and the possibility of making this EP.

How did the tour with Dream Theater go?

It was just a few gigs in Australia but it was nice, we had never been there before. The only problem is that they have 45° in the shade, and once we got back here, it was -2°... thus the coughing. Everyone's ill anyway... Just a few gigs and we're back home for Christmas.

What can you tell us about the new album at this point? Is Linoleum a good clue about what we should expect or will it be something completely different?

It's pretty much a good clue. Of course, these are just four songs... so there will be surprises, we like to go all over the place and explore music in every direction.

Should we expect more "in your face" songs (with up-tempos such as "America" for example) or will it be in the same quiet way as "Linoleum"?

We have a couple of up-tempo songs but, to me, intensity was never about speed. It's a completely different thing. I think that the song "Linoleum" is one of the most intense songs we've ever written.

A few years ago, you were hired as a guest musician on the second Transatlantic tour. The Band has now reunited and is planning a tour, will you be part of it this time?

It all depends on my schedule for the year, that's all I can say right now... (laughing)

OK, but were you contacted by the musicians?

Yes, I've been in touch with them... But that's really all I can tell you for the moment (mysteriously).

Different things happened around the release of "Scarsick", among them, the departure of two very important members of the band (the drummer Johan Langell and your own brother Kristoffer). I imagine it's particularly hard when family is concerned. How did it work out?

The thing with my brother is that he was moving to Holland, we gave him three years to sort that situation out. At one point, he said that it would only be temporary but he couldn't really come back and he couldn't come to the rehearsals as much as we wanted him to... So, in the end, we had to tell him that it didn't work out. It was hard. Had it been anyone else than my brother, it would have been a much sooner decision. But of course, when it's your family, you want to make it work as long as possible.

How did it affect Pain of Salvation music wise?

From a musical point of view Johan (Langell) was a big loss, not only because he's a very good drummer but also because he had been there since the beginning of Pain of Salvation. We started playing music together when he was 14 and I was 16. When he left, he was the only one who had been in the band for such a long period of time. So that was a big loss and I really had to consider whether to move on or not.

Did you really think about putting an end to Pain of Salvation?

Yes I did, seriously. It was not "Well, in that case, maybe there's no point in having a band at all" (with a childish voice), it was more the feeling that... OK, maybe that's it then. Maybe this is as far as we go as a band. Time for something new now. The new concept is pretty much evolving around that. Your whole life is like you're walking an endless road, it seems endless, and you're passing all these crossroads and when people who've walked with you for a long time say: "Well, this is as far as I go", I think it is just sane to pause for a while and look where you are and ask yourself what you should do now. I had to ask myself if I had the energy to go on, rise up again or to go back the road I came... Well, one of the conclusions of "Road Salt" is that the only lesson I have left to learn is how to give up because I don't really know how to.

That leads to my next question. How do you manage to combine Pain of Salvation and your personal life, your family life?

It's really hard. I'm still trying to maintain a balance and that's what makes it so hard. I meet a lot of musicians who don't have that kind of problems because they don't try to make a balance, they spend all the time they want, making music and such, and then, they're gonna have to face the consequences one day when their kid will say they never knew their daddy or whatever... And I don't want that. You have to deal with it constantly. I think any "music widow" (as they are so nicely called) has huge problems being left at home while the musicians are away. I try to picture myself in the same situation and it wouldn't be easy: staying at home for 2 months while my wife would go on tour and meet lots of young boys who would die to get close to her, while I'd stay at home, taking care of the kids, doing the laundry, cooking. I have a huge imagination but it's almost like I can't picture that!

You've already released two DVDs, are there any plans for another one?

Not really, as we've released "The Second Death of Pain of Salvation" earlier this year. I think you have to be careful not to release dvds too often. Well, they have to bring something new. I like working on it because it really provides an opportunity to work with graphics, sound and motion in a way that CDs will never provide. From a creative point of view, I thought it was really fun to work on the dvds, especially on the menus, the extra material and stuff. We'll see what happens in the future... when it feels like there's a necessity for making a new DVD.

Are you a big DVD consumer yourself?

Not music DVDs, no. I used to flatter myself that I didn't have any music DVDs but actually, I've got quite a few now, with time.

Which ones?

Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel... I have the Beatles movies... I don't know...

Obviously, lyrics play an important part in your music. They are serious and deep. Don't you sometimes feel tired of writing about serious stuff and wouldn't you like writing about dragons, magic elves and princesses to rescue?

(Smiling) I think I will never ever have the desire to sing about dragons...

Come on, man... Dragons!!!

Yeah, I know... and swords!! What's wrong with swords?? (laughs) Naaaaahhh. I mean, humour on the other hand, I've always used even if people don't always understand it. "America" for example is a track full of humour in my opinion.

Did this track cause you any problems with American fans (it criticizes the US quite frankly)?

It's OK but there were some very angry Americans contacting us and threatening us at some point... One of them was really angry and said that he was really annoyed that we made personal remarks and that... I had ugly teeth ! Laughs Wait a minute, I'm criticizing your government and you find that to be personally offensive and then, you say I've got ugly teeth? Really strange.

Talking about lyrics, what comes first, music or lyrics?

It all depends. They usually go hand in hand... One thing will trigger the other... Sometimes, I have like a catch phrase I use when I create a song... but it depends.

Most of the time, the themes you deal with are very dark. Is it very hard to do some Metal music and deal with light topics? Does it always have to be about pain or sorrow?

I don't know... It's sort of a catharsis I guess. I've always been more interested in dealing with things that are difficult to deal with in other ways... and then it just becomes a way of expressing your inner emotions. I wouldn't know how to write about liking flowers so much... (laughs)

If you could create a new band with your favourite musicians ever, what would it be?

The guys from the Beatles, maybe... and then, I'd probably take myself out of the equation !

It's been done before, I think.

What?? Someone did that already? Laughs... It's an impossible question because in the end, you can take five extremely interesting musicians and put them together, and nothing interesting comes out of it. It's so hard to know when the magic's gonna happen. So, I'd pick people I like hanging around with, I guess. Then something fun or interesting could come out of it.

What bands do you listen to, these days?

The Beatles.


Yeah! (Laughs) I also listen to a lot of Kiss because my son's really into it. I like the Von Hertzen Brothers, a Finnish band, it's the latest band that I've really come to like. There are not so many new bands that really attract me these days.

And what are the bands that annoy you?

Well, I'm not sure... it's hard... typical prog metal bands (and then he mimes and makes sounds), I can't hear it.

Silly questions to end this interview, what if you were... a book? What book would it be?

I'd like to be The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy... it's pretty huge but it's sort of smart, too.

What if you were... a movie?

I love "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but I wouldn't like to be this movie... (Long pause)... You know I'd like to say: "because then, every girl would be watching me"!

Errr... Dirty Dancing, in the 80's?

Great ! That's the one ! Dirty Dancing, because then, every girl would be watching me.

What if you were... some food or a drink?

I'd like to be a fresh orange juice. You know, it's fresh, it's hard to come by and people really like you!

Anything you'd like to say to the French Fans? A Final word?

Well, with the coughing and all I hope that they will forgive me for tonight's vocals. The French audience is always nice, it's always great to come here.