» M. Winterwild - Axenstar
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Interview conducted December 15 2014
Interview published December 24 2014

Swedish outfit Axenstar released its 6th record, When Dreams Are Forgotten, on November 28th. Metal Covenant therefore hooked up with bass player and vocalist Magnus Winterwild to see things a little through his own perspective and also to talk about the band's future, live activities and things surrounding the band in general.

Tobbe: So how have things been in the last couple of weeks since the album was released? Everything good?

Magnus: Yes, absolutely. We're excited to see some sales figures, but we have gotten quite a few great reviews anyway.

Tobbe: Yes, it's quite a strong album in fact, so it comes as no surprise to me.

Magnus: It's always fun to get good reviews, because you never know what people will think, you know.

Tobbe: Since you're not a really well-known band, how would you personally describe your music?

Magnus: Oh, that's really hard to say. The band has more or less always been considered a power metal band, at least in the beginning thus. I don't know really. Usually you just wanna say that it's metal and then people can make their own assessments of the music. It's pretty melodic anyway and the music is harder than the vocals, so to speak. With different vocals, perhaps we could be labeled as a different type of band.

Tobbe: To someone who has never listened to an Axenstar record before, what can he or she expect out of the new album?

Magnus: Mostly melodies and speed, I would say. The melodies direct our music anyway. We try to make it neat around the melodies with the instrumental stuff as well and we try to make it a little tougher sometimes, so it won't come out too mellow in the end.

Tobbe: As I said earlier, you're not really a well-known band yet, so what is your actual goal with this new release? I mean, what are your thoughts within the band, like how far can we get with this record?

Magnus: We haven't really been talking about goals. Since things have turned out as they have, with releases in 2011 [Aftermath] and before that, in 2006 [The Final Requiem], we feel like we want to get going and release more records and hopefully get out and play more, which we haven't been doing in these years actually. That's our goal really. I mean, we do this because we think it's such great fun. We really have no ambitions to become millionaires doing this and we do it because we're passionate about it and especially to be able to play live, which is the most fun of all.

Tobbe: What is the biggest difference between the new record, Where Dreams Are Forgotten, and your earlier work? I mean, how has the band developed in comparison to perhaps your two latest albums?

Magnus: Well, this time, the whole band has really been involved in the songwriting process and the arrangements. It has really just come out better. I'm probably still able to write really good songs, but when you get many different angels of incidence and different opinions, it certainly comes out better and the songs feel more solid, you know.

Tobbe: Do you ever think about coming out with originality and to find your own thing, although there are so many bands out there, so it's really hard to come up with something really unique? Or do you just go with what feels natural?

Magnus: It's a little of both. We wanna play what we think sounds good, but we also have to try to adapt a little. With a few songs on this record, we have tried to reconnect to perhaps our earlier records and especially our two first records. Most people know us through our first two records and we changed our style a bit and it became less power metal on the following records, so now we tried to think about it and meet the needs of the old fans. You can't do it too much though, because you still have to write and play what you think is good. You can't really just change to what someone expects.

Tobbe: You mentioned your first two records, which were released over a decade ago. What really was the reason to why you couldn't keep up the pace, since you actually were starting to build something back then?

Magnus: You tell me. I don't know actually. In 2003, when we released our second record, Far From Heaven, it felt like we were a little all over the place. We were on compilation albums and whatever, but then I really don't know, but perhaps in was the whole music industry itself that changed a bit and nonetheless the interest faded away somehow. I don't know if we didn't take the chance when we had the opportunity or what it was, but it felt like things were starting to roll, but they didn't. It's also a question of luck and to be at right place at the right time and to get the right contacts as well.

Tobbe: Nevertheless, you also have to give it everything you've got, but people work and there's all kinds of things that you have to keep in mind.

Magnus: Yes, definitely. Everyone in the band has always worked and there's families and other things that must be taken into account.

Tobbe: So how do you combine your daily life with the band's needs?

Magnus: The band actually has bigger needs than what we are able to meet somehow. Especially today, when you have to do so much work on your own too. You have to be seen all the time and you have to market yourself and we don't prioritize the band as much as we probably should do. That's the way it is. You have a life outside the band. We're not 19 or 20 anymore and play music all the time, but we are a little older.

Tobbe: You mentioned something about being seen. You have already released 5 records prior to this one. What will you do at this point to be seen more and to reach a greater audience?

Magnus: It's tough really. We have contacted a number of festivals and venues, so we will see how it pans out next year, but a lot of the marketing is on Facebook, no matter how boring it seems to be. But it disappears really quickly there. The stream, you know.

Tobbe: There are a lot of metal festivals in Sweden in these days, like one every weekend, and you mentioned that you have contacted some venues also, so if you look forward a little, will there actually be a number of gigs in the coming months?

Magnus: We certainly hope so. We have hired a guy who has been working here in Västerås earlier. He has some contacts and we hope that he can bring home a couple of gigs.

Tobbe: Would you consider a slot as a supporting act? Do you have room for that in your lives at this point?

Magnus: That would really be the ultimate case to us now. It's fun to play your own gigs, but to reach more people, a tour as a supporting act would absolutely be the best choice.

Tobbe: I was thinking of supporting a band in Europe. Do you have the time and space in your schedules to be away from home for about a month or 5-6 weeks?

Magnus: Well, it's something we have to consider, but I think everyone wants this anyway. It requires people taking time off work, babysitting, etc. We definitely have the ambitions and it would be a lot of fun.

Tobbe: That's life. You really have to take a lot of things into account and just like you said, you're not 20 years old anymore, when you were able to just pack your bags and leave.

Magnus: Yes, exactly. You could sleep on a floor somewhere and it didn't matter really. Nowadays you want a bed to sleep in and also some comfort, you know.

Tobbe: Let's go back to the album. We haven't finished that part yet. This is actually a rather simple question. Besides that the album title is a line in the last song, Sweet Farewell, why did you decide to name the new album Where Dreams Are Forgotten?

Magnus: Well, we went back and forth about the title and we got a little stuck actually, so we took a look at the lyrics to see if we could find something suitable. I don't actually know why we decided to go for that title, but I think it more or less was a coincidence. It was something that we all could agree on.

Tobbe: So it definitely had no deeper meaning behind it?

Magnus: No, but I wish we had given it a lot of thought.

Tobbe: It there something on this record that you're really proud of, like one thing that you hold close to your heart?

Magnus: Nothing individual really. I think that the record feels a little thought-out and it feels strong in comparison to our other records. Earlier I have always had something that I'm not fully satisfied with, but on this one, I haven't come to that point really.

Tobbe: Do you guys talk about or feel any pressure to improve with each release?

Magnus: It's not really something we talk about, but it's just an ambition we all have, hopefully. The feeling around this record is very positive. The reviews are good and everyone in the band is satisfied with the outcome and it will be fun to start to write new material later to come out even stronger. This was the first time that we recorded with this lineup in the studio, so we now know what it will be like the next time and what we shouldn't do and we will try to learn by our mistakes.

Tobbe: This is a rather tricky question. If someone has never heard your music, why should that someone choose to buy an Axenstar record in favor of some other band's record in today's tough competition?

Magnus: Yes, that's a good question. If you like melodies and relatively fast music, I would say that we are an excellent choice. We have quality, if I may say so myself.

Tobbe: Illegal downloading is a subject that's always infected. If you look through your band's point of view, do you think that you actually might gain from illegal downloading or do you think it's all negative?

Magnus: When Pirate Bay and such likes started to pop up, I absolutely believe that we suffered from it. We had pretty good sales figures on the first records, but then the numbers started to fall really. I think it's due to our band's size. People didn't want to spend their money on us and rather spent money on a Metallica record or an AC/DC record, you know. That's the way it is, but we have reached a lot more people through the internet too, so it's really hard to answer your question. But I think the whole situation is miserable really, that you don't get paid for what you do, but it's nothing that I can stop anyway.

Tobbe: If you look forward 2-3 years, where is Axenstar at that point?

Magnus: I actually don't know what the other guys think. But anyway, my plan is to release another record in maybe 2016, so that we are able to keep up the interest, because it disappears quickly if you don't release something new. That's the way I see it anyway and we also have to play more gigs. However not for free, because we think that's a pest too and it doesn't benefit anyone.

Tobbe: If you look even further, like 10 years from now. Will you still keep going?

Magnus: We will keep going, I believe, because this is such a great interest and such a big part of our lives. In what scale I don't know, because 10 years is a long time and to have the strength to do it, things must really pan out.

Tobbe: Even if the timing of this question is poorly chosen, with your new album just released, would you personally be willing to join a bigger band if there was an opportunity?

Magnus: Yes, absolutely, if the band was the right one. Well, or, actually I don't really know.

Tobbe: It's definitely a delicate question.

Magnus: Yes, exactly. It would be great fun if somebody asked me anyway. You would have to reflect on a few things and see what it would really mean. If it would be a bigger band, it would mean longer tours and it would definitely affect your life big-time.

Tobbe: If one of your guitarists would receive an offer, would you tell them to just give it a shot?

Magnus: I would not be able to stop them. I mean, if they want to go for it, do so. There is no gain in being grumpy and tell them that they can't leave, since the great atmosphere in the band would be gone from that moment.

Tobbe: Yes, it would be quite difficult to work as a team if that happened.

Magnus: Yes, exactly.

Tobbe: All right. That was all. Those last questions were a little tricky.

Magnus: Yes, they were, and it's something which I haven't thought about either.

See also: review of the album Where Dreams Are Forgotten

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