Interview conducted June 11 2022
Interview published August 3 2022
Mikael Stanne: "In Flames fans are of course happy
to see that Daniel, Peter, Niclas and Jeppe are back."
The Halo Effect is putting out its
debut album Days Of The Lost on August 12th through Nuclear Blast. Metal
Covenant met up with vocalist Mikael Stanne
and bass player Peter Iwers at Sweden Rock
to talk about the band's initial steps, the soon to be released first
CD, and, yes, of course, also about the unavoidable parallels to In Flames.
Mikael Stanne - vocals
Peter Iwers - bass
Daniel Svensson - drums
Niclas "Nicke" Engelin - guitar
Jesper "Jeppe" Strömblad - guitar
Tobbe: It's been a while now since you guys
announced this band last year, but I must admit that it caught me by surprise.
Mikael: You know, when we started talking about
putting this band together, it was more like, "Why not? We have
plenty of time. We're old buddies. Let's do it!". And then we realized
that maybe we should keep it a secret, because it would be great to
just suddenly break the news without anyone knowing about it. So that
became a thing. Initially we were thinking about playing some demos
to a couple of buddies, but then we decided to keep it a secret.
It was not so important to keep it a secret,
but it was important to do this promotion push. That was exciting, because,
I mean, how often do you get to do that? We had all the experience,
all the backup, record company, songs, record done, so we could just
wait, and then just push it out. So it was very special and different,
and something that I've never experienced before.
And neither had I. It of course became news, although we didn't think
about it in that way in the beginning. But we wanted to play together.
And so we waited for two years. We were playing, and recorded the album,
and let's go, but then, wait a minute, pandemic. So we wait for 24 months,
and then we go. I can't believe it.
Tobbe: When you meet up with people you
know, but maybe haven't seen for a while, it doesn't take long before
you're back on track again. Did it work this way also musically to you
Peter: We have played so much together in different
constellations, even though Mikael and I haven't played together. But
he has played with Jeppe
Yes, but that was a long time ago. [Laughs] (Peter:)
and that's just how it was. It fitted like a glove, you know.
(Mikael:) And that was what was important. Partly
I wanted to play with Niclas, because, well, we have never played together,
and we love the same kind of music and so. So when he presented the
idea, like, "Hey! Let's just start a band." and Peter told
me, "I think Daniel and Jeppe are onboard as well.", I just
couldn't turn it down. And I wanted to hear Daniel and Peter playing
together, because they are so awesome. And I wanted to hear Jeppe play.
So, it was really a no-brainer. I just can't miss this.
(Peter:) I clearly remember that I called you.
I got to hear that Nicke had already talked to Jeppe. I was on my way
home from Bryggeriet, where we had a meeting, like, "Shouldn't
we just do this?". So I called Mikael and, "This seems awesome!".
It was so great, and we have known each other for a 100 years, you know.
(Mikael:) So it becomes pretty easy, you know.
But at the same time, it's of course a bit messy to put together a new
band and everything. But at that point everything was calm and quiet.
In the beginning we just did demos. It was in '19. But in the beginning
of 2020, like, "Okay. You can't go anywhere and you can't travel.".
had a lot of plans that just got scratched. So, all of a sudden, "Okay,
we're recording an album." and all of a sudden we were in the studio
for 8 months. It would never have happened otherwise. Simple as that.
Tobbe: The unpleasant question that I just
have to ask. Jeppe's stint in most bands he's been part of is usually
pretty short. So, my question is: Will Jeppe stay in this band?
Peter: That's our plan. Absolutely. That's why
we do this, to play together as 5 cool friends, you know. So, absolutely.
He will. We cover his back, to a 100 percent. (Mikael:)
But we don't know for sure, of course. Sure, he has his problems, but
we do everything so that he will be able to be with us. And today he
crushed. He was awesome. It was fantastic. It was like a dream to me.
I haven't played with him on a stage since '93, so it was about time
we did this. It was absolutely wonderful.
Tobbe: And another unavoidable matter, since
you're all ex-In Flames members. Many fans to that band, up to maybe 10
years ago, might see this as a punch in the face to Anders [Fridén]
and Björn [Gelotte].
Peter: Well, they can think what they want. But
we've done this because we like each other and to create music together.
(Mikael:) Of course that was something
that we considered, how it would be perceived. I talked to Anders and
Björn about this and told them, "You do realize that this
is not about that? This is something we do only because we're friends.".
So this is something else.
(Peter:) It's easy to understand that people
want to draw parallels between us, but there is no such thing in reality.
(Mikael:) I want to believe that this can
stand on its own two feet and people will dig this for what it is. In
Flames fans are of course happy to see that Daniel, Peter, Niclas and
Jeppe are back. And it's the same for me. But I think people are down
with this, you know. And I love In Flames. I saw their show yesterday.
It was so great. I was crying tears of joy. It was amazing.
I get it. Everyone just kind of must compare stuff. And we must create
lists and stuff like that, and, like, "No, the third album is better
than the second!". We just do that. But you can keep it on a healthy
level. And that's what I've experienced since we started this. I was
a little anxious about that, but I have experienced now that people
are really cool. (Peter:) To a 100 percent.
I have nothing to add.
Tobbe: In Flames played songs from pretty
much their whole career, and especially when taking into account that
they played 5 in a row there with a song from each of the 5 first records.
Peter: In Flames is a really great band. You
are most welcome to write that. But we are also a really great band.
But we are 2 different bands.
Tobbe: Bands like this one, where members
come from, kind of like, here and there, and from other bands, tend to
fold after 1 or 2 records. Tell me why this won't happen with The Halo
Mikael: Well, that's difficult to answer, because
we don't know. But our plan is to continue, because it's great and we
already have a lot of material to the next album. But sure, I will tour
a lot with Dark Tranquillity too. We just have to find a good balance
(Peter:) We're gonna go on tour, but of course
Mikael's main focus is decisive. So we will go out playing, but when
we come to a specific city, we might just come that time. And then the
next time after the next record. Depending on what the situation looks
like. We won't tour ourselves to death. We will go out playing, and
people shall notice our presence. That's the idea.
Tobbe: You told me that you started working
on the record a long time ago. But this buildup, where the first single
was out in November, and then 9 damn months later the album will be out.
That is a long, long time.
Mikael: Yes, and we apologize for that. I think
that sucks. I don't like that at all. I'm the kind of fan who wants
to hear one song and then buy the album. But the situation with vinyl
is what it is. I guess that you know this, but it's difficult now to
press vinyl because it's so damn packed.
I and Niclas are super collectors, and nerds, and so they asked us,
"Can we release the album earlier, but no vinyl?" and we were
like, "Nooo, we can't.". Maybe that seems ridiculous. And
Nuclear Blast wants to make a big thing out of it, and now the album
is released more than a year after it was done. That's really tough,
actually. And yes, it sucks to just release a single every other month
and everything. But it is like it is, you know.
Tobbe: As we speak, 4 singles are out. Would
you say that the other songs on the album follow these 4 tracks, or will
there be any surprises as people get to hear the entire album?
Peter: No, I would say that it's well-balanced.
We pretty much followed the recommendation from Jens [Prüter],
who is the record company guy, like, "I would want to see these
ones.". (Mikael:) Sure, these 4 songs
are very immediate and to the point and so, while some of the songs
from the album have a little bit different sound and some other cool
stuff is happening. So there is much more to dig out, you know. So these
4 songs aren't just the best, but the entire album, I think, is cohesive.
Tobbe: And you have a guest performer, Matt
Heafy. How come he got to be on the album?
Mikael: Well, we have known Matt for a long time.
Through touring and so, you know. He's super cool and awesome. We were
thinking about having a guest or not, but that song [Last Of Our Kind]
Jesper wrote, and it's very old school Gothenburg. So we were talking
about, "Are we gonna do this to 100 percent and have an intro and
stuff?". We wanted Jesper Jarold actually, who made the intros
to At The Gates' first and second record, just to get the connection
to, you know, the Gothenburg stuff. But that wasn't possible.
So we were thinking, like, "What about having
Tompa [Lindberg] at guest vocals?", which would have been cool.
I remember, maybe in '93, '94
No, probably in '95 or '96, we were
rehearsing. Dark Tranquillity, Dissection, In Flames and At The Gates
were rehearsing at the same place at Masthuggstorget. Well, every band
Matt texted me, or sent me a mail, or whatever you did back then, like,
[whispers] "Can you record one of those bands from outside the
door? I really want to hear this.". Okay, I exaggerate a little
bit, because this is not entirely true. [Matt is in fact born
in 1986 and would have been just a kid when this supposedly took place,
so we can definitely rule out his presence in this story.]
But he's a real fan, and therefore I came to
think about him, like, "It would be great if he could make an appearance
on a song, that is so attached to what we did in, like, '93.".
A super fan and an awesome guy. So that's why this happened.
Tobbe: I can also hear one or two melodies
or harmonies that are similar to what Amon Amarth does.
Peter: Well, it's nice that they are inspired
by us. No, I'm only kidding. But the thing is, no one was thinking about
how it would sound. Nicke pulled ideas out of us all, and we just went
for it, and the result became what it is because of the way we play.
Kind of like that.
Tobbe: Were there stuff that you had to
scratch because it was too similar to something else or something that
you had done before?
Peter: No, actually not. We wrote almost 20
songs, and, well, 10 of them got on the album now. It's not like the
other songs were left out because they were less good, but we chose
the ones that we felt for the most at the moment.
(Mikael:) So very little got thrown away. Everything
felt fine, because there is nothing before, nothing after, and we can
just focus on what it is, you know. So when we talked about the music,
like, "Let's keep it like 1 record, and don't look at what we've
done before.", like you always do, and like I'm used to doing.
Tobbe: Now you've made me eager to hear
those other songs as well.
Peter: Well, there are 20, 23, 24 songs.
The number of songs is increasing.
Peter: Well, I guess that we have, like, 7 or
8 songs that are done.
Tobbe: On this first record you have of
course combined your own different experiences, and you've been buddies
and everything, but what will happen on a second or a third record as
you all of a sudden start to get some different ideas instead?
Mikael: Many fistfights, and violence. No. (Peter:)
[Laughs] Yes, I agree with Mikael. (Mikael:)
No. But of course, it's much easier. The first album is always the easiest
one. The second record is more difficult. But we are well on our way.
We have many songs already.
(Peter:) But the thing is, what was cool about
this record is that everybody tweaked around with stuff a little bit
here and a little bit there. Nicke has written a big part of the songs,
but if Daniel or Mikael wanted to do something, it was no big deal.
And this is the way we will think about it in
the future as well. We'll take it as it comes. It will be awesome. There
are no egos, and there aren't any, "No, this is my song!",
but the best is what counts.
Tobbe: What do you think or feel when people
say that this sounds like in Flames with Stanne on vocals?
Mikael: Well, that's nothing strange, you know.
It's just natural. I know exactly how I personally am as a fan, with
new lineups or whatever. But it doesn't sound like In Flames, and it
doesn't sound like In Flames with me. It sounds like something else.
But of course, if you don't keep track of everything to a 100 percent,
well, you know, then maybe it does, and that's fine, because it is us
and it is I. So it's not strange at all. You know, I can't get angry
(Peter:) Yes, we can't be angry. We have played
in a band before, and Mikael has played with Dark Tranquillity, and
now we're doing this because it's fun. If people want to think a specific
way, then that's okay.
also: an interview
with Niclas Engelin a few months later