Soen is a band that has almost undisputedly won the heart of prog fans ever since their first release came out. Easily proving their worth as way more that just a supergroup, the talented musicians have been crafting intricate and highly intellectual musical landcapes since 2011. Their new album ‘Lotus’ came out in the beginning of the year and demonstrated another foray into novel sounds and ideas. I had the chance to interview legendary drummer Martin Lopez – formerly of both Amon Amarth and Opeth, and currently founding member of Soen – via Skype just a week before their appearance in Athens on September 5th:
First of all, congratulations on the new album, we loved listening to it, you guys are definitely one of the most innovative bands on the scene right now.
You guys are 4 albums in as Soen, what would you say are the biggest differences in the writing and recording process since ‘Cognitive’?
There are a lot of differences, but the writing has always followed the same idea that we have as a band. With a new guitar player in the band, and Lars who came in really late in the ‘Decay’ album but joined properly on this one, we have a lot of new people to help in the writing of the album. We also have 2 new producers, who helped a lot sound-wise on this album, helping us reach the vision that we’ve had since we started the band – but only actually realized and got a hold of with ‘Lotus’.
That’s awesome. Since the music is very personal and serious, do creative differences arise often, and how do you handle them?
I don’t think we have any creative differences with this lineup. We all have the same goal. Also, musically we’re very broad, so it’s all good as long as the party is good. What we all try to avoid that’s happened to us in the past is trying to do stuff because it’s cool, or it reflects a certain image. We just try to make good music, and I think everyone is on the same page when it comes to that.
Soen has never shied away from writing lyrics on themes of society or introspection. What is your opinion on the debate of ‘art for the sake of art’ vs. ‘art with a purpose’?
I don’t really want to get into a debate like that, I don’t find any importance in creating a debate like that. I think art is for everyone, and even if there’s a lot of art that I truly despise, I accept it because people should be able to express themselves the way they like. And when it comes to us yeah, we have a band that has certain social values, because I think it’s just common sense. We care about certain things and feel that we need to address whatever problems we see happening, so we try to get that through with our lyrics. If somebody asks us in an interview what we feel about that we’ll answer, because we have nothing to hide and we don’t have any agendas. We’re just normal musicians, who – as a part of society – see and feel things.
In that spirit, there seems to be a lot of intense lyrical content on ‘Lotus’. Is there an overarching theme to the album?
Not really. We mostly focus on individual songs. You have a 2 year period between albums and for the most part in these 2 years you’ll go through something that will reflect on the lyrics of the album. You just might write more about a certain thing because it’s what is happening to you and it needs to be addressed at that time. But we don’t start an album thinking what the album is going to be about.
That great. As you mentioned, you guys have a new member in the band, Cody. How was the integration of a new member at this point?
Would you like to ask Cody that?
Absolutely! Cody how is the integration with band going being the new guy in the club? How are you feeling?
Cody: I’m feeling good! The transition was seamless, really. They’re all great guys, so it’s easy to feel part of the family right away. So they’ve gladly embraced me and my style. So yes, it’s been very smooth.
You guys are an important progressive band in the scene. What’s your opinion on progressive music these days?
Cody: I mean the thing I like is it’s such a broad genre. There’s so many progressive bands and they all have their own flavor and try to do their own things. I think it’s very much alive and well, I mean for us anyway, while doing these tours there seems to be a certain hype about it.
Incidentally, do you guys view the typical model of “record deal – release album – tour – repeat” as a viable option for new bands in 2019 in light of the rise of DIY / indie bands on the scene?
Martin: I honestly don’t know much about the way the indie band are doing things. (Laughs) We only know this way and I do think it’s kinda working for us. But I’ll say it is good for smaller bands that it’s easier to be discovered today with Youtube, Spotify and all that. At the end of the day it’s a good thing.
You’ll be arriving in Greece in about a week. What can we expect from the show, what’s your mentality when crafting a live performance?
You can expect great sound – if the venue PA is any good, good lights and just five musicians doing the absolute best they can. We try to give people the human touch they need, so no backing tracks and playback. Also I expect lots of emotion, since I remember from the shows I’ve done before that the Greek audience is one of the best in the world, it’s something we’ve been looking forward to for a very very long time. It’s going to be fun!
I’m sure the people are going to love reading that! That’s about all I have to ask, so congratulations again on the new album and we can’t wait to see you guys live. If there’s any last thing you want to say to the fans reading, feel free to close of the interview.
Just hope everyone comes to the show and share a good moment with us!