By Andrew Bansal
Swedish heavy metal band Soilwork are ready to release their ninth studio album and first ever dual-disc release ‘The Living Infinite’ on March 1st in Europe and March 5th in North America via Nuclear Blast Records. This is also the band’s first album since guitarist Peter Wichers left the band for a second time. To coincide with the release, Soilwork will embark on an extensive North American tour with support from Jeff Loomis, Blackguard, The Browning and Wretched. A few days ago, I spoke to vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid to discuss the making of this album, amongst other things. Read the conversation below, check out the amazing music video for the song ‘Rise Above The Sentiment’ via the YouTube clip embedded within, and visit the band online using the links at the bottom.
The new album is coming out soon. First of all, what’s the reason for doing a double album this time?
Well, we wanted to do something unique, something that stands out. I think we needed a new challenge in the band, specially after everything that happened around Peter coming back to the band and then leaving again, and basically instead of just throwing out another album of 10 or 12 songs, we wanted to do something bigger. It’s our ninth album and we wanted to turn it into something massive. David Andersson on lead guitar was part of the reason, as he was very much inspired to do a double album right from the beginning. Everyone in the band felt intrigued in a positive way. While coming up with the songs we didn’t want to compromise in any way, and we didn’t want to end up in a scenario where the first disc ends up being really awesome and then it goes downhill from there (laughs). So soon after we started writing, we really felt this is sounding great and we wouldn’t divert from the plan. Every member of the band has contributed musically and lyrically, and I think that’s what we needed in order to make a double album interesting, and not get boring half way through.
Absolutely! So, it must have been different from usual albums because there’s more material to write and record. In terms of the entire process, how much longer did it take for you to do this album as compared to the previous ones?
Actually it didn’t take that much longer. It took us around eight months to write everything. We were able to keep the flow going because there was a lot of inspiration. I think it was important for each member to prove to themselves and to our fans that there are other amazing song writers in the band. There was so much talk about Peter and how his departure was going to affect the band. People basically thought this is going to be another ‘Sworn To A Great Divide’. Things are really different now, and I think we’ve grown a lot as songwriters as well and I think you can really hear it. There’s a lot of passion behind this album.
As you mentioned, David Andersson is making his recording debut with this album, but he’s been with the band as a touring member for a while. It must have been very comfortable for you to have him as the permanent replacement rather than hiring a new guy.
Yeah, exactly. It felt really natural, and as you said, we know him for quite a while. I think we’ve done two North America tours and one Japan/Australia tour, so we know him since 2006. That definitely helped. He’s always been a fan of the band, and I think he has the right mindset. I don’t think he had to force himself in any way to adapt to Soilwork. It came out really natural for him. He brought some elements that I feel have been lost in this band for a while. The melancholy in the melodies is definitely back, and it’s something that he brought to the table. I guess I have that kind of mindset too because I also ended up writing a couple of songs on guitar for the album, and that was a new challenge for me as well.
Right, and as you were saying, the musicianship of some of the other members is also coming through. You’ve been with the band pretty much from the beginning, so you’re probably the right person to answer this: Is this more of a combined band effort by Soilwork than ever before?
Absolutely, and that’s pretty cool because it’s definitely a unique thing nowadays. Usually you have main songwriters in the band, just like we used to have. They make contracts saying that only this person can write the songs, and stuff like that. But I feel really good that we’ve been able to combine to create this double album together and it still sounds like Soilwork. It’s really diverse, and it makes sense as a double album.
You were also mentioning that the melancholy is back in the sound. The previous album ‘The Panic Broadcast’ was very catchy and compact in terms of its song structures, in my opinion. Is this new album different in that aspect, or is it along the same path?
We feel that on Panic Broadcast we were hinting at something that was going to come later on, and I feel with this album everything has fallen into the right place. Panic Broadcast was a hint, kind of like a teaser of what was going to come later. It was a really good album, but I feel the new album is making more sense.
The album comes out everywhere in the first week of March, and soon after that you’ll be touring the US for an extensive run of dates. That must be a good feeling because in the recent past I think you had to cancel a whole US tour, so it’s been a while since you’ve toured the US.
Yeah, that’s true. It became really frustrating with Peter being unable to stay away from family, so we ended up not touring half as much as we should have done for Panic Broadcast. Of course we wanted to support him, you know, and wanted him to be with his family, but at the same time we wanted to tour and didn’t have a touring guitarist. Thankfully, David Andersson stepped in again on some tours. He got called in with a pretty short notice and he’s also a doctor, so it was pretty hard to plan everything. But now we know exactly what’s going on and he’s a permanent member of the band, so he’s definitely looking forward to go out on this tour with us.
When you do this tour, obviously it’s going to focus on the new album, but since you missed out on some touring on the previous cycle, will there also be songs from that album?
Absolutely. For the North American tour, we have to pick the new songs and have to decide how many. The album is coming out around the same time as the tour, so people are not going to be that familiar with the new album. So I’m thinking may be we’ll end up doing this as a promotional tour with four or five songs from The Living Infinite and definitely a few from Panic Broadcast as well. But it’s going to be really hard to put together a set, for sure.
You’ve also been confirmed for some summer festivals, including the Tuska Open Air in Finland. You’re going there after nine years which is a long time between appearing at the same festival. In European festivals, the lineups keep getting bigger and bigger, so I think you’ll be pretty amazed at what this Tuska festival has done in nine years.
Yeah, of course! There are so many great festivals out there, and they seem to be doing pretty good. Even the ones in Scandinavia are picking up really well. I think it has to do with the new generation growing up. They are just crazy about festival and there are a lot of festivals that bring the big names. It’s beautiful.
Final question I have for you is, I saw something recently about a fan video contest, where you are asking fans to submit a music video for one of the songs, which is good in two ways. You get the fans involved and you get a free music video!
Yeah, definitely. It was just a matter of, it’s kind of hard for us to gather every member together for a video as we are spread out all over the world. We’ve had an animated video before, so we came up with the idea this time that may be it would be cool to interact with fans and have the competition. Plus, the winner is going to get a lot of cool things as well. So I think it’s a really cool thing to do.
Related: ‘The Living Infinite’ album review