The dressing room of the Underworld is not the best place to hang out, but it proved to be the ideal place to interview Soilwork, minutes before appearing in front of one of the most energetic British crowds I have ever seen in my life. Peter Wichers (Guitar), Speed (Vocals) and Ola Frenning (Guitars) talk about their album "Figure Number Five" and explain how you can compose music in your sleep!
Itís been almost a year since the release of "Figure Number Five". In retrospect, how satisfied are you with the album? Is there anything that you would change if given the chance?
Peter: Of course you will think of changes in cases like this when the album was released so long ago, but looking back I still feel quite satisfied with the final product and the way it was released.
What was the reaction of the music press and of your fans towards the album?
Peter: The reaction was overwelming since the very beginning. It was received a lot better than we expected also because we changed our style a bit for this record. I believe though that only good things came out of the reaction of the press and our fanbase. This is our best-selling album so far and we have also received the best possible reviews. Of course you will have die-hard fans who believe that we should be playing as we did in the first two records, but we like to change our style, otherwise we would become really bored. We need to challenge ourselves with every new record.
Some of your old fans believe that the band has chosen a "softer/milder" direction with the last two releases, still songs like "Figure Number Five" display some of the hardest vocals and riffs in the bandís career. How do you explain such a controversy?
Peter: I really donít know. I think that we needed a song like that for the record (Figure Number Five). Some may say that the material of this album is softer but we really wanted to write such an "in your face" song. Itís definitely one of the heaviest songs of the album and a cool one too.
One of the most interesting stories about this album was the way it was recorded. Why did you use three different studios?
Peter: When the recording period was approaching we found out that we had a time limit, so we had to use different studios in order to make the album on time. We recorded the guitars and keyboards in Helsinboerg, Bass and vocals in Gotemborg and Drums in Upsala with Daniel Bergstrand. This is something I always wanted to do, to take the best out of every studio. We did that with this album, but I donít think that weíll ever do it again Ė things were too hectic.
The production of "Figure Number Five" was made by you guys. Are you satisfied with the result, and if yes, are we to expect you guys to handle the productions of your future releases?
Peter: We contacted Devin Townshend (Strapping Young Lad) to see if he was available and wanted to help us out, but he was doing two albums at the same time so we thought that we might as well produce it ourselves. The label, especially in America, was a bit worried. The would prefer Devin to make the production, but I think that we proved them that we were able to make the production ourselves. We didít know how to tweak all the knobs, but we knew how we wanted the album to sound. Maybe in the future we will be co-producing our albums with someone else, I donít really know. Itís always good to have a producer because itís an opinion outside the band, so if we sometimes disagree between ourselves we can have a third-party to give us a different view.
One of my favourite songs of the album is "Departure Plan", not the most typical Soilwork song but a masterpiece as far as Iím concerned. What inspired you to write such a song?
Ola: I donít really know to be honest with you. I wrote that song three or four years ago when I was not even in Soilwork. When we begun writing new matterial for "Figure Number Five" I just played it to the guys to see how they liked it. They all said that they liked it so we made it part of the album. What inspired me to write this song? Many different things inspire me to write music.
"Figure Number Five" has some of the most interesting lyrics the band ever wrote. Would you care to explain the story behind the album?
Speed: In general the lyrics talk about all these people who are the fifth wheel of society, all these people who never get the chance to express their own opinions, they are the victims of society.
Soilwork are well known workoholics. There are rumours that you compose songs even when youíre asleep! Are we to expect a new album from the band in 2004?
Peter: (laughs). I agree that we are workoholics. We are pretty restless even when weíre back home. Donít get me wrong, we would like to take a break, but we also want to write as much music as possible. When weíre not touring, we are writing music for our next record. After Australia and Japan, we will take a break and start writing music for our next album which will probably be recorded next fall.
"Rejection Role" is the bandís first ever video in which we have the participation from members of In Flames. How would you describe the experience of making a video? Do you think that itís an extra weapon in the bandís Ďarsenalí?
Peter: We actually have one more video for "As We Speak" from our previous release (you got me there mate). Having a video is a really good thing. Making one is really boring, but itís very useful in order to reach a different crowd. If you manage to play your video in the right channels, you have the best promotion you could ever wish for. That and the radio are the best way for every band to promote their music. Magazines do reach a lot of people, but I think that TV is the best way.
Your first album "Steelbath Suicide" was released seven years ago. Since then there have been many changes in the band, both in terms of musical direction and line up. Do you feel that all these changes were in the bandís best interest, and how satisfied are you with what Soilwork have achieved so far?
Peter: I am very happy with the way things turned out.We did have plenty of line-up changes, but every time a change took place, something good was happening for the band. New members are source of inspiration. When you have to write music with someone who plays different than what you're used to, you get motivated and inspired and thatís really good. The only bad thing was that we had really bad luck in the last six months with two different drummers that weíve tried, but otherwise weíre really happy.
Which is the main source of inspiration for the band?
Peter: I think that we get pretty much inspired by each other. I donít really want to name any bands that we like in order to start comparing us with them. We used to do it in the past, right now things are working much more natural - we donít need to listen to other bandís albums anymore in order to get inspired.
The last time I saw the band was in Greece while supporting Nevermore and Annihilator. How does it make you feel knowing that you have shared the same stage with such important bands?
Peter: Itís a shame that we havenít toured Greece in such a long time. I remember that the response we got from the audience was really good. Itís quite a long drive to get to Greece when youíre on tour (laughs) (authorís comment: same old story!!!). We had a really good time being on tour with Nevermore and Annihilator. The tour was quite long and we had plenty of chances to learn new things from these bands.
I once read an interview Rob Halford gave in the Greek Metal Hammer where he mentioned Soilwork as one of his favourite Metal bands. How important is it for you guys that a living legend like Rob Halford is a fan of your music? Are we to expect him to participate in any of the bandís future releases?
Speed: That came as a big surprise to us all actually. I met Rob in Malmo (Sweden), and he said that he liked Soilwork very much. I gave him a copy of our latest album to listen to before the show, and he even started promoting our music while he was on stage! Iím so happy, I think that itís amazing! I love the idea of being able to share vocals to a song with him.
What do you think about the Goteborg scene nowadays? Does it still exist? I am asking because some of the main representatives like In Flames, Arch Enemy and Dark Tranquillity managed to establish their own sound.
Peter: As you said quite correctly, most of these bands have established by now their own sound. It was more like the beginning of the 90ís that these bands sounded the same. We are not really part of the Goteborg scene, weíre from Helsinborg and weíre more concentrating of whatís happening down there.
You didnít get offended by the fact that I said that youíre a Goteborg based band, are you (laughs)?
Peter and Co: No, no (laughs). It has happened so many times in the past (laughs). It doesnít really matter where you live, even if you live in Stockholm, if you sound like a Goteborg band you will be classified as such. Itís like living in Nottingham and being called a Londoner. We feel really proud of where we come from.
Imagine that Rotting Christ are Greeks and people used to refer to them as a Norwegian Black Metal band. Thatís even worse, donít you agree?
Peter and Co: (Laughs) I guess so (laughs).
Where do you see the band ten years from now?
Peter: No idea what so ever. Call me in ten years time and weíll discuss about it.
You will probably have recorded ten albums by then if you continue composing at the same pace (laughs).
Peter and Co: Probably yes (laughs).
If you had to persuade someone to buy your new album, which would have been your main argument and why?
Ola: Our Image!!!
You should then add tons of make up my friend (laughs)
Peter and Co: (laughs). I would tell him that weíre better than the rest of the bands. I believe in our music so much and I think that what weíre doing is quite unique. Itís really difficult to claim that youíre better than all the others, but thatís how it is. I would tell them to buy our albums and check us out.
If it was up to me, I would tell them to come and see you playing live!
Who decided to name the band Soilwork and why did you choose that name?
Peter: Itís more like a word puzzle, Soil and Work. We heard people making different comments about the bandís name, but it simply represents everything that starts from scratch. We believe that if you work hard you get something in return, so the name totally represents what we are Ė a hard-working band.
A message to your fans?
Peter: We are so grateful for being where we are right now. A big thank you to everyone who buys our records. Keep buying our music and we will continue making records, thatís a promise.
Thank you guys.
Interview © 2004