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Falconer has their own way of blending power metal and folk music but they strayed some from their path when they changed their vocalist and not everyone was pleased with their decision. However, in time for their fifth album, Northwind, the original vocalist has returned to the delight of many and the sound also marks a change back to their early days. We took the opportunity to ask the main man in the band, songwriter and guitarist Stefan Weinerhall, what lied behind the recent changes and how he feel about their new release.

Thomas: Northwind is your fifth album, and everything I have read so far has been positive, it must be a satisfying feeling for you so far?

  • Stefan: Yes of course it is. Currently I'm searching the net in order to see new reviews.

Northwind is about to be released and you have said that it is your most thought through album, how will that reflect in the music?

  • Stefan: I think that you can hear that in the arrangements and all keyboard orchestrations. Not that there's a lot of keyboards but the ones we have are not just the usual boring layers but they actually do something. There are also more details in the music, more things to discover as you listen to it over time.

Thomas: The return of vocalist Mathias Blad is obviously the hottest topic concerning Northwind, what made you bring him back again in favour of Kristoffer Göbel? And is he back on long-term conditions or just for Northwind and then you will se how things work out?

  • Stefan: He is back permanently in the band. As I started writing for the new album which were in the true and only style for us I got Mathias' voice in my head since I knew he did that stuff like no one else. The only way to make the material fair was to get him back otherwise it wouldn't reach 100%.

Thomas: And Mathias is not the only thing that sees a return, you also return to include more of the folk inspired tunes. By the time of Grime Vs Grandeur you seemed very pleased by the musical direction you went in then but now it is back to the roots again. Was it that you missed this kind of metal or was it giving in to the pressure of critics since many fans was not so pleased with your then new direction?

  • Stefan: Well of course you listen to what the fans say, but just to do as they want mean that someone else is ruling over your hobby. So we didn't do it until we wanted it ourselves, of course we knew that it wouldn't be a dangerous step to make though. I still think that "Grime…" was a very good album but after a while I started to feel that it didn't feel as close to heart as the other albums. Folk inspired metal has always been my style even back in Mithotyn.

Thomas: Firing Kristoffer Göbel, was that a decision of professional matters rather then a personal one considering that you musically changed back to the old direction?

  • Stefan: We had tried to adapt the music to the voice of Kristoffer for G.vs.G and I think we succeeded, but that didn't feel right musically and on top of that we knew that if we were to bring the folk music back no one did it better than Mathias. To get the best possible result of doing the old style again we had to have Mathias back.

Thomas: Since I can imagine many are curious about Northwind, can you compare Northwind to any other Falconer album? Is there any of your earlier albums that you think lies closer to Northwind, lyrically as well as musically then the others?

  • Stefan: I would say that to describe it easily it sounds like "Chapters From A Vale Forlorn" but more thought through, professional and richer in layers. We have grown in all kind of ways and all that we have used for this album. We couldn't have done this album 4 years ago. The lyrics are pretty much the same style as before I would think.

The cover of the album has a grim and cool look to it, who did it and did you have any conceptual plans on how it should look like?

  • Stefan: The painter is Jan Meininghaus once again. Although it hasn't any deeper meaning I feel that the title sum up all the songs and the atmosphere of the album in a very good way. We have used quite strange and poetic titles in the past but this time a very easy and short one felt right.

Thomas: When I interviewed you prior to the release of Grime VS. Grandeur, you said that you had considered another producer than Andy La Rocque but that he managed to win you over again. Where did you record Northwind and who produced the album? What lied behind the decisions this time?

  • Stefan: I looked at the possible pros and cons to change studio and came to the conclusion that Andy is the right guy to work with. He know our music and love it, we love his skills, we know the studio so well that we can actually work there ourselves from time to time so I would say that Los Angered is the only studio for us.

Thomas: Home Of The Knave - anti-American? Seems there has been some turbulence in the Falconer forum considering this one? How do you feel about stirring up emotions with your songs and what is the song really about?

  • Stefan: Ha ha. Yes, that was actually part of the reason I did that song. I wanted to cause some turmoil and see how they would react. The song is about George Bush, a hillbilly that has too much power and manage to fool a part of the American population in believing that they have to invade Iraq in the name of freedom when the actual reason is more financial.

Thomas: You made a new song that sounds very much like a traditional, Himmel Så Trind, and you had me fooled until I found out it were actually written by you. And there is also a certain text-line that gives the song away from not actually being old, what was the thought behind this song?

  • Stefan: I came up with the music for it first as usual and I thought it sounded so traditional that it really needed a Swedish lyric to do it fair. That's a bit harder than writing in English but when I started it became very traditional to just to fit the music. That line you mention was just there to wreck all feelings of the traditional style and show everyone that we don't take ourselves that seriously.

Thomas: Since you are responsible for most of the songs in Falconer, if not all, how much do the others have to say? How much input do they have in the songs concerning vocal lines, guitar parts and etc.

  • Stefan: They don't oppose that much. I have everything done when I present it and then there might be some small changes to the drum patterns, solo rhythm parts etc. There are always some adapting to the songs but not really much. I can't say that it because of me but just that maybe the songs don't need any change.

Thomas: Where do you begin when you write songs? Do you start with a theme or direction of the songs, and does the lyric or music comes first?

  • Stefan: I just do the music, something that sounds good is fine by me. When that's done I start to write a lyric to it. I'm not trying to fit any special concept to each song like: the music need this or that lyric. Of course a ballad or a folk song need to fit to the music/lyric. Usually I don't do a complete songs but just parts and when I have a bunch I try to fit them together or do things to make them glue together in a good way.

Thomas: The past of Falconer live shows has not exactly been that frequent, how are the touring plans for the future right now - any plans made so far?

  • Stefan: There won't be any tours anymore. Like we did many with Kriss? Mathias has a schedule that don't allow him to be away whenever a tour shows its face. After having been able to play much live for a few years I now know that I prefer superb albums and less live instead of the other way around. Live for us will be summer festivals and occasional single shows.

Thomas: Since Mathias is back, will you exclude the two previous albums from your live set? Or are there any songs from those that you feel could be even better with Mathias behind the microphone?

  • Stefan: Child Of The Wild is one of those songs I think we can have in the set. When you have 5 albums and know which are the favourite tacks it could be hard to included songs from all albums. 1 or 2 songs we'll try to represent. Some of the songs, especially from G.vs.G doesn't really fit us nor Mathias voice. A good example of that is The Return for example.

Thomas: You guys in the band live in different places, I guess that rules out regular rehearsals? And how long before recording do you get together to start getting things together?

  • Stefan: Mostly it's me, Magnus and Karsten who rehearse regularly. Jimmy comes up now and then and Mathias might join in on a couple of rehearsals before we record. He's got his things on paper and Jimmy really just have to rehearse his solos since I put down the majority of all guitars excluding the solos. We use to rehearse once a week and the weeks just before entering the studio it get 2 times a week maybe 3 the week closest.

Thomas: And to round this off I would only like to say a big thank you for taking the time to share this with us, and if there is anything more you would like to add or share with the readers of Metal Covenant, feel free to use this last space as you like…

  • Stefan: I hope that we can see you all sometime on a festival or something. Everyone, hope you manage to get your hands on the first edition of the album which contains a lot of bonus stuff. Cheers to you all.

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