Prior to the gig at Klubben in Stockholm
on the 11th of October 2005, Metalcovenant took the time to catch up with
Sweden's hardest working metal-man - Björn "Speed"
Stridh of Soilwork.
Covenant: This is your first own tour in Europe, and right away
you managed to sell out Klubben. How does it feel?
Björn: Firstly, it's amazing that we managed
to do this with all the competition this week; Nevermore and Nile
have both played here in the last few days, and Arch Enemy is coming
up. We actually sold out without any posters or such, which is incredible.
On the same day the posters finally arrived, there weren't any tickets
Metal Covenant: How would you like to describe
your latest album, Stabbing The Drama? How does it compare to your previous
Björn: It's always easy to look at the
album we did prior to STD. Personally, I feel that we might have lost
a little intensity on Figure Number Five, but we've got it back now.
It feels stronger and more hard-hitting in a way, but we've also kept
the good melodies that we had on the last record. This might sound
like a cliché, but I think STD mixes old and new Soilwork.
That's the way it feels to me.
Metal Covenant: You've released two singles
from the album, "Stabbing The Drama" and "Nerve",
and they have both been played a lot on the radio here in Stockholm. You've
most likely got many new fans this year, since the venue is sold out tonight.
Do you believe that you will look back on 2005 as the year when Soilwork
got their big breakthrough?
Björn: Certainly in some countries, yes.
It seems like something of a break is going on in Finland, for example,
and possibly in Sweden too. STD did well on the Swedish charts, and
we're not the only ones who've been doing well. You can tell by all
the kids that come to the concerts that a new generation is starting
to discover metal, which is a development I really like.
Covenant: You spent the whole summer of 2005 on Ozzfest in America.
Tell us about it!
Björn: Ozzfest felt a bit like Groundhog
Day, (the 1993 comedy starring Bill Murray) when you wake up
to the same day all the time. All the concerts were held outside the
cities, mostly. They had these big amphitheatres were Black Sabbath
and Iron Maiden played, then the smaller stage where we played was
found on the parking lot, sort of. All these amphitheatres had the
same sponsor so it looked the same every time. We shared the stage
with Arch Enemy, The Haunted and almost all of the American bands,
with a rotating schedule. Some days we played as early as 9:15 AM.
We were always done for the day at around 1:00 PM, so there wasn't
much to do afterwards. But it was also a very fun experience, I must
Metal Covenant: Before Ozzfest you did
a tour in America this spring, and after this tour you are going back
across the Atlantic, making it your third visit this year. At the same
time there have been many disappointed European fans complaining about
this tour being so tiny in comparison.
Björn: I do understand that some fans
might feel that we've let them down. But at the same time, you have
to understand how the scene works. America is so much different than
Europe. You have to tour much more in the States to build a hype.
In Europe, there's always much more intense when the album's been
released and you go out and present it to everyone. After that, the
album doesn't sell that much more in Europe. In America, on the other
hand, you can tour as much as maybe two years if you want, and still
sell records. But sure, the fans are right to complain that this European
tour is too short. It had a lot to do with timing, and also some misunderstandings
between the band and the management. But hopefully we'll be able to
repay the fans with a longer tour in the beginning of next year instead.
Metal Covenant: Some think that the big
Swedish metal bands, like the four of you who went to Ozzfest, have been
modifying your sound slightly, to suit the American market better. What's
your comment to that?
Björn: That's difficult to say for me,
since I can't really listen to the music as a fan. Even though we've
been touring a lot in the US, but we've never really sat down and
said to ourselves, "Hey, let's try to break the American market,
let's make American music!". It's quite the opposite. There's
been way to much with the trend in America lately, with all the metal
core-bands. To me, 90% of them are pure garbage. Killswitch Engage
are probably the only ones I really like. Soilwork have, and will
always have, many influences from everything we like in heavy metal.
It doesn't really matter if it then sounds American or European.
Covenant: Let's talk a bit about your other projects. Just a few
days ago, the third album with Terror 2000 (which consists of members
from Soilwork, Darkane and Construcdead) was released. How would you describe
Björn: It's probably as if the members
of Soilwork, Darkane and Construcdead all went to kindergarten together.
As much as I like to write deep lyrics in Soilwork, sometime I just
want to go crazy, you know? With Terror 2000 I can write stuff that
is normally taboo in the metal society. We had a real blast when we
made this album and we're really proud of it. We make fun of everyone
and everything, including ourselves.
Metal Covenant: Then there is the upcoming
project Coldseed, together with Savage Circus (and ex-Blind Guardian)
drummer Thomen Stauch. Can we expect an album soon, and how will it sound?
Björn: The album will be released pretty
soon, I hope. When we formed Coldseed, we were curious how it would
sound if you mixed Soilwork with Blind Guardian. It's fun to work
with other musicians and see what you can come up with. This particular
material is pretty diverse, on one hand is sounds like German industrial
metal, like Rammstein. But it also has a thrash feel to it, and also
some shades of Paradise Lost. The songs are really nice.
Metal Covenant: One has to ask himself
how you find the time?
Björn: I don't. I will probably get burnt
out if I don't de-escalate. I've made a New Year's resolution already,
that I won't work as much during 2006. I will only do stuff that are
close to my heart, like Terror 2000. I will also go down to Italy
in December, to do the vocals on the upcoming album with Disarmonia
Mundi (a band Speed joined recently, making it his fourth). After
that, I do have to slow down. I love all this, but in the end I have
to take care of my health.
Covenant: What do you like to do on the little spare time that
- Björn: I'm
a restless person, really. It's hard for me to just take it easy. I
just want to do stuff all the time, like go out and see friends, watch
movies and I also try to go out and run if I can, even if it's boring.
It feels good afterwards, though.
Metal Covenant: How will you balance the
set list for the forthcoming gig? There will be lots of new fans that
discovered you this year, but also old-school fans who want to hear the
classics. How will you make room for everything?
will try to make as many as possible happy, that's why we play songs
from all of our six albums so far. And tracks from STD won't necessarily
dominate the set list, we actually play just as many from Natural
Metal Covenant: Most well-known metal bands
today have released at least one live-DVD. When will Soilwork do the same?
plan is to release something next year, which is definitely about
time. We want to make it special too, not just taking a plain concert
and putting it on the DVD, but also filling it with extras for the
fans, like videos and other kinds of bonus material. That's what I
like the most and I hope the fans feel the same.
Covenant: Soilwork is probably THE most productive metal band
in Sweden. For example, during the four years between 2000 and 2003 you
released four albums. This should mean that the next Soilwork-album isn't
too far away??
actually feel that we released Figure Number Five too early; we could
have toured a lot more on Natural Born Chaos. But it wasn't until
much later that that record became such a cult-album, especially in
America. We haven't really started working on any new melodies yet,
as far as I know. But I think that at the earliest we will start recording
the next album in the end of 2006, and release it the following year.
Metal Covenant: Finally, is there one question
you've never been asked, but you wish you had?
I often get the question which the best metal album of
all time is, but I've never been asked which my top-five non-metal
(Speed then starts pondering about which
albums to choose. When he can't decide, he asks if he can go and get
his iPod, which is located in another room. He then comes back and
thinks a bit more, until he's finally ready to present his top-five,
in non-chronological order.. )
Speed's top-five of non-metal albums of all
1) Seal - Seal II
2) Rush - Grace Under Pressure
3) Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4) New Model Army - Impurity
5) Social Distortion - White Light, White Heat
The interview is over, but Speed stays put a while to talk
a while longer. He's obviously a big music fan, and wants to tell us about
a few bands before he goes. For example, he enjoys Japanese music, something
he picked up due to his wife Nanami being from Japan. He especially likes
Hikaru Utada ("Japan's answer to Britney Spears!", according
to Speed) and a kamikaze thrash-band called Terror Squad, which he played
with during a tour with Terror 2000 in the Far East.
Read about the
following concert here: Soilwork
live at Klubben 2005 10 11