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Interview With Olof Wikstrand (Enforcer)

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Last Updated on 05:30 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Two days before Enforcer hits the stage of Kyttaro in Athens, we grabbed the opportunity and talked with frontman Olof Wikstrand mainly about their new release ‘Live By Fire’, and many other (we hope) interesting things.

It’s been a great year for Enforcer; your fourth studio album and your first live one… Is the Enforcer machine unstoppable or something?

It seems like so… It’s been a good year for us. We’ve been very creative, we’ve been very busy playing lots of shows, doing the live album, DVD, EP etc.

You are starting in 2016 an American tour. It’s not your first time in America, right?

It’s our second time in the U.S. and the first in Canada.

I want to ask you about “Live by Fire”. It actually closes a chapter of your career. Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to release it before “From Beyond”?

The thing is that we didn’t want this release to interfere with the release of “From Beyond”. We wanted to release “From Beyond” in 2105, as early as we could. We couldn’t release both albums at the same time so “Live by Fire” had to wait.

So it had nothing to do with Nuclear Blast…

No… We never intended to make this an official release. We recorded the shows more for a bootleg kind of stuff, but then we figured out that there was a way of packaging it and marketing it and putting it together to the album that it is right now. So, it was something that came later…

“Live by Fire” is one of the best live albums I have heard for years…

Thank you very much… Νot so many bands release live albums nowadays, so, we figured it was something up to us.

…and heavy metal history is full of great live albums. Which are your top three?

Ah, this is really, really hard… I don’t listen to many live albums myself…

Many record collectors don’t collect live albums… So, was the album some kind of “best of”?

Well, this not something we want to make money on… We do it because it’s fun and it’s nice to get something different out, after doing four full-length albums in a row. But you don’t make any money, you don’t really sell this the same way like anything else. It’s more for the die-hard fans.

“From Beyond” is your top seller right now, as far as I know…

I think so. I have no numbers yet, but I know that the first week we were on the German charts, so, I guess that’s a good sign…

Which is your personal favorite album from your whole career?

“From Beyond” by far… I’m really happy with it!

I believe that, apart from your debut album, the other three are perfect… If you do five perfect records in a row you will be in the pantheon of metal bands… Is that hard to accomplish?

We’ve been very careful with everything that we’ve done. We never want to release something that we are not perfectly satisfied with.

How easy is it to write new material and not copy yourself?

To be honest with you that is something that, at least I, find harder and harder all the time. Personally, I have less and less ideas, but the good thing is that in the beginning of our career I was the one who wrote most of the songs, most of the lyrics, most of the song concepts, most of the song ideas and lately -especially in “From Beyond- it’s something that we share doing. When I get uninspired, then we have the other guys who can cover up for it. So, now we are writing all together, all the members of the band, which is a really good thing. So, yes, I find it harder and harder to write songs, because we’ve been writing four full-length albums, approximately ten songs each, and it is really hard to keep your style and still do something new and fresh and not copy yourself. I understand why bands generally get worse and worse after a few records, because you can’t copy yourself, you always have to look for inspiration in something different and to develop yourself, otherwise you just do worse songs and albums.

Do you believe that the fact that you have too many projects is good or bad for your inspiration? Do you feel that you lose your energy or do you get new images?

No it’s not bad. For example, when we talk about the other projects, when Tobias started Terminal, at that time I didn’t even know he could write such songs. He never wrote any song for Enforcer before. And then we thought that this was incredible, because we knew that he could write songs, but he never put any effort into writing songs for the band. Not everyone can do that. So, when we saw that he could write this kind of songs, we brought this attitude of Terminal into Enforcer, the attitude that Tobias has when he writes this kind of songs…the more melancholic vibe, the more majestic kind of ideas, which actually made a lot of the sound of “From Beyond”. Even more on the EΡ, which is really full of this kind of stuff.

You listen to this kind of music, too…

Well, yeah, but I did never really see the connection between using it in Enforcer and listening to it myself. It was like a mind-opener, as well.

Which is your favorite project? Black Trip, C.C. Company, Terminal, your brother’s band is also great…

Ha, ha, that is quite a question! It’s pretty easy, I’d say Terminal is the one, because it’s more close to what I do. If I could share number one, I would say Jona’s AOR project. I think we’ll be bringing more of that in Enforcer’s next album, actually.

How many songs will we hear from “From Beyond” in Athens? We asked our readers what questions they would like us to ask and a lot of them wanted to know what the setlist will be…

We haven’t really decided what setlist to do yet. We’ll probably use the setlist that we did before on this tour and add only a couple of songs, I don’t know which yet. We have played live all the songs from “From Beyond” except “Banshee” and “Hungry They Will Come”.

Too bad, “Banshee” is one of my favorite. We want to hear “Running In Menace”, too.

Yes, that’s what many people say, but the chances of hearing it are unfortunately very, very low. It is one song that I don’t feel very connected with, any more. I love the song, actually, but looking back on it, I think we could have done it so much better, if we would have focused more and spent a little more time on it. It had great potential, but I would like to have worked a little more with it to make it something that I can stand for myself. It’s much about the lyrics, as well, that I really don’t feel connected.

I believe you’re overreacting because it’s a great song!

Well, have you heard the demo version?

Yes, I have…

Well, I would say that this is a much better version of the song, because it is more raw. When we recorded it we sort of destroyed it instead of making it better! I love the demo version!

Well, let’s talk about the new songs. We already spoke in our last interview about “Stellar Plains”, but not for “Speak the Tongue of Heathen”. Is it your own composition?

The structure of the song is based on a Terminal composition, but then we arranged it and put some other elements to it. For example, Jonas wrote the intro, I did the solo part and the outro. It’s like a cooperation between us.

Do you believe that this marks a new direction in your songwriting? Will it be more epic?

It looks like so, but we will see… As I said, “From Beyond” was very inspired by Terminal. I believe we will take a little bit more of that, we have some ideas, some very rough ideas about the next album, like doing an epic, eastern, Russian sounding ballad…we will see how that turns out… We don’t want to lock ourselves to any corner with the songwriting. We will take more of Jona’s AOR feelings, vibes, but without losing the aggression.

Which part of the planet do you believe or do you know that Enforcer is more popular? Is it Japan?

We are a band that is quite lucky, because we don’t have a big following anywhere but we have a small following everywhere. That gives us the possibility to play everywhere on the planet we like and see at least a few Enforcer fans. We played in Singapore and Thailand, a couple of weeks ago and we had 150 fans there…not too much, but it’s funny to come to so far places and see people with your shirts, coming with your discography and wanting to take pictures and stuff…That’s pretty amazing! We’re not big anywhere, but it’s a great growing ground for becoming big.

You are in a big label, you are popular in the underground and the speed metal fans, even some black metal fans love you! Still, you’re not playing in big summer festivals as headliners. When do you think that will happen?

I don’t think that will ever happen. We would have to change our sound a lot, to be a more commercial and successful band. We are working really hard, we will continue working as hard as we can, but I don’t think that we’ll get there, unless we change our sound, because people within the music business don’t really take us seriously .They laugh at us and think that we are a fun, old school project. For me there’s no such thing as old school metal. Either it’s metal -and that is we do- or it’s not metal, like all the shit bands that people say are metal today!

You have made a weird, for me, selection of a song to cover from Frigid Bich. I heard the original and I think that your version is much better. Who selected this song?

It was my selection. I heard this song for the first time three years ago… Nikos Papakostas from Convixion showed it to me, honestly, and when I heard it I instantly thought: “Holy shit, this is a song that I could have done”! This song is totally like an Enforcer song! Since that, when we were building this Ep, instead of doing just another fast Enforcer song that would be so obvious, we decided to record a cover, because it’s so much Enforcer! The original version is a great song, it’s an old demo song, purely produced and sounding, but I saw the potential in the song and I wanted to lift up the song, to take it where it belongs to be. Not that I’m saying that it’s bad. I love the recordings sounding that way, but I heard how weak this made it sound. For me it’s the worst thing I know, doing covers just to record someone else’s song that is already perfectly produced and recorded, without really adding something. I like taking these unknown songs that I feel have a good potential and redo them  with a good production, get up the vibe and do something about the actual song instead of just doing an Iron Maiden song that’s already perfectly produced, perfectly played and there’s nothing to add.

My personal favorite cover is “You Can Be” by Nagazaki…

There you go with the same example… a really poor sounding recording, but something that we could put a lot of our effort into.

Is there any chance to release a cover album, like Metallica did?

Actually we talked about it, we have it in our minds – when we’re going to release a cover album plus a couple of new recordings, but we won’t release it in Europe and America, we will release it in Asia.

What is your favorite Enforcer cover?

The Frigid Bich is the one that I’m most happy with, because I felt that it’s a song that we could put so much of ourselves into it. It feels like our own song.

One last question, will your new studio album be in about a year from now or something?

I hope so. That’s the plan, at least…but, you know, you can run into obstacles any time. That’s the rough plan, to have it recorded in the summer. Most likely it will be released in January, February or March, first half of 2017. We will know more when we are at the process of collecting material. Right now we are writing riffs on our own, coming up with ideas and then we’ll gather -when we get back from the tour I think- and see how much material we actually have.

So, the next time we will listen to Olof will be in Convixion’s album with Mr.Papakostas?

I was supposed to do some guest vocals, but you know what it’s like…we’ve been talking about it every time I’ve been in Greece a lot privately as well this year. Every time we were like: “let’s go to the studio”…and then we started to drink beer and get drunk instead.

Probably Greg should put a leash on you…

Well, I don’t know if that’s any better… (laughs)! See you in Kyttaro on 19th of December!!!

 

Giorgos Tsekas
Giorgos Tsekas
"Κάποτε Όταν Θα ‘χουμε Καιρό... Θα Σκεφτούμε Πάνω Στις Ιδέες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Στοχαστών, Θα Θαυμάσουμε Τους Πίνακες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Ζωγράφων, Θα Γελάσουμε Με Όλους Τους Χωρατατζήδες, Θα Φλερτάρουμε Όλες Τις Γυναίκες, Θα Διδάξουμε Όλους Τους Ανθρώπους" Μπ. Μπρεχτ

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