The tenth full length of the melodic death metal veterans Soilwork, The Ride Majestic, is right outside our doorstep and the band seems more focused than ever. We got in touch in the band and had a conversation about the record, their attitude and their art in general.
Greetings! We talked again not so long ago, during the release of your live album “At the Heart of Helsinki”… How are you doing since then?
Great, thanks! Last time we talked we still worked on finalizing the recording of The Ride Majestic, and it was quite intense. So it’s great that it’s finally about to be released.
By now, your latest record “The Ride Majestic” is coming closer and closer to being released at the end of August. What changed since “The Living Infinite”?
Well, first of all we have a new bass player, Markus Wibom, since Ola Flink left the band before the recordings of the latest album. There are no hard feelings involved whatsoever, he just wanted to something else in life. Markus is an old friend of the band and an amazing musician, and we’ve done quite a few shows during the spring and summer, and it feels really great, and he’s a great addition to the band. Other than that, we’ve tried to retain the same feeling that we had on The Living Infinite, where we’re more open for experimentation and doing stuff beyond normal song structures, and hopefully do something original within the melodic death framework that hasn’t really been done before.
Throughout the years, Soilwork have grown more clean and melodic in their sound and I think the new album is taking this characteristic even further. While being rich in sound, how would you deal with part of the metal audience complaining about that fact?
I can absolutely understand people who loved Steelbath Suicide being critical and complaining about all the clean singing and melodic stuff. At the same time, with all the lineup changes and Björn developing into a fantastic clean vocalist, it’s kind of hard not to use and take advantage of everything we’re able to do. I’m a big fan of lots of 90’s death metal, and it would be fantastic to do something like that, but at the same time it would be a bit contrived to try and sound like a bunch of angry teenagers, when we’re in fact a bunch of middle-aged guys, most of us with lots of musical education, and we’re able to play pretty much any style of music. So I think that what we’re doing now is way more honest than it would have been if we’d tried to recreate something from the early days of Soilwork’s career to please the old school fans.
Do you think Soilwork evolve and expand with every release or you’d rather say that you have found your own style which fits the band and your fans, so you’re trying to work neatly around it?
We try to evolve and expand with every release. At the same time we’re trying to keep things recognisable, so that it hopefully feels like a natural development for people who’ve listened to our earlier stuff.
Could you elaborate on some of the topics discussed in the lyrics of “The Ride Majestic”?
This record is mostly about death, about losing your loved ones and fearing losing the ones you have left. It’s also about looking back on the life the ones we’ve lost have lead, and how they’re all pretty majestic in hindsight. This record is very much a tribute to the ones that are no longer with us, and a painfully close description of the anxiety we all have to live with before it’s our turn to pass to the other side.
What does the album title refer to and how is it connected to the artistic front cover?
How your life is hopefully a majestic ride when you look back at it after it’s all over, and the cover reflects upon that, what it feels like when your soul is in limbo wondering where to go next.
After no less than ten records, is it hard to come up with new musical ideas?
The short answer is no. We’re all very diverse in our musical tastes, and we all do other things on the side, like mine and Björn’s classic rock band The Night Flight Orchestra. So when it’s time to do a new Soilwork album, we usually all have lots of ideas.
Who writes the instrumentation of Soilwork’s tracks? Or is it a collaboration of all the members?
For this record, me and Björn wrote something like six or seven songs each, Sylvain did two and Dirk wrote one song. Once we had the basic idea, we all collaborated on the arrangements.
How long did it take for the composing and recording process of “The Ride Majestic” to be completed?
We started writing around Oct-Nov last fall, and we recorded the album between Feb-Apr this year.
I looked for any guest appearances in the album but didn’t find any. In case I did a poor research, are there any musicians you invited for the recordings? If not, why so?
Nathan Biggs from Sonic Syndicate appears on one song and Björn’s old friend Pascal Poulsen does some guest vocals as well. My old friend Hanna Carlsson played some cello as well, just like on the last record.
If someone had to choose only one track off your new record, which one would you advise him to pick? One that you think depicts best the sound of Soilwork in 2015.
Enemies in Fidelity or Father and Son, Watching the World Going Down.
As metal was meant to be a music of opposition to all things well established, do you think huge popularity corrupts a band ideologically and musically?
I don’t know, since I’ve never achieved it myself. But if you’re a musician and songwriter, everything you experience will affect the music you write and produce. If Soilwork would’ve been able to sell out stadiums, I bet our music would’ve been different, since we’d have written it with a stadium crowd in mind.
Are there any dreams you have as a band (i.e working with musicians, live shows…) that you have not accomplished yet?
Being able to sell out stadiums. And having a private jet to travel between stadiums.
Thanks, any last comments are yours!
While answering those questions I’ve been listening to Aladdin Sane and Hunky Dory by David Bowie, and I really like the way those records are trying to describe the future. From a 70’s perspective, we’re living in the future right now, and it’s nowhere as exciting as people hoped for back then. Personally, I’d really like to make a metal record that tried to sound like music from the future, envisioned by someone living in the 70’s. Or, in the words of David Bowie, «Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use».