Soilwork

Entretien avec David Andersson - le 17 mai 2020

98
Tabris

Une interview de




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Tabris : The plan this year was to concentrate mainly on The Night Flight Orchestra - apart from the release of the excellent Aeromantic, a major tour was planned, but the circumstances we are facing have changed the situation completely. On the Soilwork's side, a few dates were also scheduled, as well as the finalization of The Feverish Trinity. How do you feel about these unforeseen events? What can we expect in the next few months, what are you working on now?  

David Andersson : We managed to do 10 dates on our NFO Euro tour, all of which were great, but then the borders started closing down so we had to cancel the remainder of the tour and go home. At the same time, almost all of us got sick when we got home, so we probably would have had to cancel it anyway. I was sick as a dog for almost a month, and since I work in healthcare, I’ve tested myself and I have Covid-19 antibodies, so I have experienced it.

We had a very busy summer festival schedule with both Soilwork and NFO, and now that it’s all cancelled, I see this as an opportunity to be more creative and release new material with both bands. I guess that people are consuming more music on the internet these days, and I want to try to keep both bands busy and release new content as long as the pandemic is ongoing, and hopefully after that, too. I think that this thing will bring some permanent changes to the music industry and the way bands promote themselves.

Tabris : I'm like a lover trying to find my way in the dark. To date, the last part of The Feverish Trinity that will be released imminent is still a complete mystery, but the expectation implies a high degree of intensity. Tell me what you've got in mind for us, in concrete terms. What's the last part of the triptych? What are we gonna get in our faces?

David Andersson : It’s a song called "Death Diviner", it’s probably the softest track of the three, but at the same time very intense. And the video will bring the whole thing to its conclusion

Tabris : I have read all kinds of comments about the reception of the first two components, "Feverish" and "Desperado". For some, it's a return to the « Soilwork sound » (but can we define it?), for others, it's a complete turnaround. We can deduce that Soilwork now confuses everyone about its current identity, and that's very interesting and encourages even more curiosity. As with The Night Flight Orchestra, it seems that your goal is always to create something new, something that didn't exist before, a surprise. What's your feeling about that? How do you perceive the evolution of Soilwork and how do you want to pursue it in the future?

David Andersson : Personally, I wouldn’t know how to define the « Soilwork sound », I think that from the start, before I was in the band, they evolved and changed with every album in a way that most metal bands don’t, and that was a huge reason for me to want to become a member of the band myself. And I think that personality-wise and creativity-wise, this is the best line-up we’ve had since I joined the band in 2012; everyone is really open-minded and willing to experiment and try out new things. I’ve written the words and music for all three songs. And as a songwriter, you make a lot of unconscious or subconscious decisions, you don’t think about « The Soilwork Sound », you just write something that reflects where you are in your own life creatively and emotionally. And I guess that the idea of doing non-album singles that still have a common thing inspired me to do something different musically and visually, and I’ve been very much involved in the creation of the videos as well, along with the director René U Valdes. And the rest of the band seems to have enjoyed it too, we had a great time during the sessions and there are a lot of elements in those songs that you don’t normally hear in metal music, although it’s still very much metal, at least tom e. But what do I know?

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Tabris : At the end of 2019, you toured in Australia, Finland and Japan. What was the live feedback on the latest compositions there? And on "Feverish", of course? And how does it inspires you for future gigs?

David Andersson : The live reception of the songs from Verkligheten as well as "Feverish" has been fantastic, and that’s really encouraging. It feels as if we have a new generation of fans who are into us because of our recent releases, which is fantastic, and a lot of our old fans seems to enjoy it as well. The whole point for me being in a band is to create new things and keep evolving. We get a lot of offers to play tours and festivals doing old albums in their entirety, which is quite popular these days, but I would never do it. Since Björn is the only original member of Soilwork, it would be like watching a cover band. I have a really hard time accepting the fact that a lot of music fans these days only want to hear familiar sounds, and that tribute bands can sell out arenas when there are so much new and exciting music being made in all kinds of genres. I spend a lot of time seeking out new artists and bands, and this is a golden era when it comes to diversity and creativity in musicmaking. But instead of supporting all the new and amazing music that’s being made, a lot of people chose to pay lots of money to watch a fucking Pink Floyd tribute band in an arena. I guess it’s just a part of the general dumbing down of our society. I’m a big fan of science fiction books, and a lot of them take place in a utopic future where humanity has evolved beyond our imagination. But with people voting for Trump and actually believing in « The Plandemic », it feels like we’re regressing, and in a hundred years we’ll probably be walking on all fours and communicate by grunting and farting.

But apart from that, once we get to play live again with Soilwork, we have discussed adding new elements to our live show. It’s always been very basic, but we all feel that it’s time to do something new and different, so you’ll just have to wait and see.

Tabris : To get into the details of the release of the last component. A Trinity... Are you playing with theological concepts, or is it rather the artistic vision of a Triptych, this type of sustained work, carefully refined, that exudes the culmination of a precise idea in a particularly eloquent way?

David Andersson : Yes, even though I’m not a fan of organized religion, there are still very intriguing concepts in religion, and when creating this trilogy, it sounded more interesting to call it a trinity. So I guess "Death Diviner" is The Unholy Ghost.
 
Tabris : The Feverish Trinity is presented as a celebration of the Babylonian Goddesses of Death who made the world a more feverish and exciting place. Can you tell us more about this image? What is their story and what they represent in this musical offering?

David Andersson : I love to create fictional parallel worlds, and this is one of them. I’m fascinated by the strong influence had over people in our less enlightened past (though I’m more surprised and scared the way it still influences us these days), and I just came up with this fictional concept of how it had actually altered  our biological evolution, and the Death Goddesses still being aroung influencing us. And perhaps altering the course of our future.

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Tabris : At first hearing, these two pieces, "Feverish" and "Desperado", are very percussive, abrasive, fierce, but if you listen carefully, there is a particular density, very polished sonorities, they are enriched by this impression that « external » elements are invited. The music is less immediately accessible than it seems. Can you tell us more about the musical writing and what inspired it?

David Andersson : Yes, writing these songs I was for some reason drawn to have a percussive quality, and a sort of brutal simplicity. I sort of imagined what it would sound like if mid 70’s Alice Cooper or Kiss would attempt to play melodic death metal, with a bit of theatrical horror. Another one of those fictional worlds, I guess. And I think René has captured that atmosphere beautifully in the videos as well.

Tabris : Soilwork's latest albums are conceptual (I'm not commenting on the previous offerings, because you weren't involved in their writing process). The last one, Verkligheten, has for theme the idea of escaping from reality, an idea that is also present with NFO. Is this what also colours this Trinity, and is it an idea that you want to push further in the future?

David Andersson : I think that the concept of The Feverish Trinity is more about communicating with your inner demons and either act on their impulses or coming to peace with them. And how you struggle with that inner conflict when you’re always conscious of the inevitability of death. Is « Do What Thou Wilt » the answer? Is every woman and man a star? Or are we just vessels for our DNA, so that a bunch of amino acids can proliferate mindlessly until the end of time, and we should just be thankful that we can tag along on their proliferative quest and be sentient beings for a bunch of decades?

Tabris : Do you think we can really escape from the world?

David Andersson : I guess it’s different for everyone. Some people seem to be perfectly content with the world as it is. But for those of us who aren’t, I think there are lots of ways to escape momentarily, or at least create the illusion of escape. I’m not a very spiritual person, but my escape is when I can let go of my selfcritical self, and allow my subconscious in to create things like music, words and alternate realities. For me, those moments usually occur right before or after sleep, or after the intake of mind-altering substances.

Tabris : As for the lyrics. Your writing is always so eloquent on both sides. With NFO, we dive into sensuality. With Soilwork, the vision is broader, but also, much more abstract. How do you conceive the lyrics of Soilwork? What ideas do you put into them? Is it freer in some way than NFO which is, despite all oppositions, a melancholic lover?

David Andersson : The challenge with writing lyrics for Soilwork is to try and have it sound metal, but at the same time avoiding the obvious clichés. Since I joined the band, me and Björn have always had some sort of concept for every album, which also makes it challenging, but at the same time more interesting. Setting up a framework or boundaries that you’re forced to work within sometimes make you more creative. And a lot of the Soilwork songs I write are kind of love songs too, or at least songs about relations, just with another kind of imagery. After all, the human psyche and the way it interacts with other sentient beings are what interests me the mosts.

Tabris : Each of the three compositions of the Trinity is accompanied by a video (the last one still to be discovered). Can you also tell us more about the choice that was made? We know that you're moving more and more towards cinematographic visions to the detriment of performances. Who are these two women who let themselves go, even violently, and this black shadow who observes them with a strange smile on her lips or who starts to burn? Why this old-school aesthetic rather than a contemporary vision, which tends to confuse some?

David Andersson : Like I said earlier, my musical inspiration for The Feverish Trinity was to try and create something with a slight 70’s glam hard rock touch, and I wanted the videos to reflect that, and I think René did a great job, making it feel as if you get a glimpse of Sweden in the mid-70’s. Doing this thing where you’re not tied up to an actual album context also allows you to experiment a bit more. The actual content of the videos are up to the viewer to interpret any way they want, but we’ll release more content that explains some of the thoughts behind The Feverish Trinity soon.

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Tabris : Soilwork's visuals have also changed, it is more and more borrowed from femininity, a femininity illustrated as combative and not as an object. I'm thinking of the composition of this very beautiful hybrid for "Stalfagel" by VisualAmnesia, or the one for "Desperado" by Giorgia Carteri. Personally, I always enjoy seeing this kind of touches associated with metal, it offers to break with a lot of absurd clichés. But it seems to me that it also represents very well your personal paw and your state of mind, doesn't it?

David Andersson : I guess it’s all my idea, both with Soilwork and the NFO, but no one has protested so far. There are many reasons behind it. First of all, it amazes me and disgusts me that there are still so many bands out there having this macho alpha male image, without realizing how ridiculous it makes them seem. So it’s a counterreaction to all that.

I’m also very much a supporter of feminism, although I don’t like mixing music and politics. But wanting men and women to have equal rights is not really a political thing, it’s something that any thinking person should just agree on. So this is just an artistical way to express that. It’s also interesting to use imagery not usually used in metal videos, and picturing women being dangerous and very much in control of things, just like the space opera concept behind the NFO albums.

It’s also the inevitable fact, that even if you play in a rock band and you’re allowed to act as a teenager a lot of the time, you still age. And personally, I don’t get anything out of watching a video with bunch of middle-aged men miming and pretending to play their instruments while trying to look cool and sexy. So it feels refreshing to do something different, which I also think illustrates the spirit behind the music so much better.

Tabris : Fans are very clinging to their habits, and in a creative process, there is always risk taking. What are the things you dread when you create for Soilwork? And what are your expectations so far?

David Andersson : If you create something, you obviously want people to like it. At least I do. I love writing songs, I love recording in the studio, I love playing shows. It’s what I’ve dreamed about doing since I was 4-5 years old and discovered my Mom’s Beatles albums, and I still consider myself extremely lucky to be able to do all of the above and actually being in a position where you’re able to get so many people to listen to what you create. But at the same time, you’re always putting a part of yourself out there, open for everyone to ridicule and dismiss you. When I was a teenager playing in my first bands, just presenting a song to the other band members made me nervous. But after a while you grow quite a thick skin. And you also can be a bit more objective about your own work. If I wrote a song that was a total disaster, first of all the other bandmembers would let me know right away. For every song that gets released, there are at least one or two more that aren’t good enough to pass the Soilwork jury. So I know that what we’re doing is good, but then it might not be up to everyone’s taste. There will always be people saying that Soilwork hasn’t done anything worth listening to since Steelbath Suicide. It’s fine. I don’t need their opinions. If I was one of them, I would stop spending so much time on the internet so much and instead just stay in my parents’ basement drinking beer and listening to Steelbath Suicide.

Tabris : When the borders of our covid-19-fed countries are opened again, what will Soilwork's first destination be? We all want to know which of our tickets will remain valid.

David Andersson : I have no idea. I think most of our festival appearances are rescheduled for next summer, but no one can say whether everything will be back to normal even by then. No matter what, we’ll stay productive, and if we can’t do live shows, we’ll do other stuff.

Tabris : Any last words for our readers? And as always, don't restrain yourself from being feverish.

David Andersson : I hope you’ll all enjoy The Feverish Trinity, and that it will help you to escape this dreary world if only for a while.








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