Text: Ivana Kupková, Pavel Eder
Photos: Nathan James Biggs archive
SONIC SYNDICATE released their third studio album last autumn. Former singer Roland Johansson was replaced by young and talented native of the UK Shrewsbury, NATHAN JAMES BIGGS, who currently lives in Falkenberg, Sweden. We interviewed Nathan after the end of their long tour called We Rule the Night.
How did you get started singing? When did you realize that singing was something you wanted to pursue?
I was in a band at school and we were doing stuff like White Zombie and Marilyn Manson covers as well as our own stuff. Then as well as the dark stuff I would occasionally throw in some singing and the guys were like "You have a great voice, maybe we should do that more often" and it just kind of built from there.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Unfortunately I don't. I find stuff like that very hard to learn. But I've got Robin trying to teach me guitar a little now. I plan to be doing Zakke Wylde solos by the next album.
Did you play any instruments when you were a little boy?
During school I played the violin. All my friends were either playing guitar or something but my mum insisted there was no future in that.
Many musicians were influenced by bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pantera. Which band put most influence on you? Which band or album has changed rock/metal scene according to your opinion?
You just said it! Pantera! They flipped the scene upside down in a lot of ways. Sure bands were doing heavy stuff before but they injected some groove which hadn't come about since Sabbath and then customized it with thrash. They never limited themselves and did ballad tracks like Cemetary Gates too. I don't think bands today would dare to break outside their own genres if Pantera wasn't there. Plus they captivated audiences with their personality, and attitude. Vulgar Videos are the most raw documentation of a metal band behind the scenes that has ever existed. We try to implement some of this into our own Sonic TV episodes.
What kind of music are you listening to in your car at the moment?
I'm in a weird place right now. I havn't been inspired by a lot of heavy records. The last ones that really shook me were Parkways Drive – Deep Blue and Bring Me The Horizon – Suicide Season, both of them are brutal as hell! Other than its been the new album's by Linkin Park and Deftones as they are some of my favorite bands. I really like Eminem's Recovery> album too.
You had a bit of a punk look in one of your older music videos with your former band. Was it a part of your lifestyle?
Not really. I just got bored and shaved off all my hair into a mohawk. Then I got pissed off with having to maintain that and shaved it all off.
You've been a member of Sonic Syndicate for a while. How did you find out that they were looking for a new singer? I heard a rumour that Nuclear Blast first chose you and afterwards you met the band, is that true?
Kind of. Nuclear Blast were looking for a new singer for the band. They advertised the world over and had people from the USA, Spain, Sweden and all over the place coming in for auditions. The band heard my old band and really liked what they heard and flew me in. We clicked instantly and the old songs sounded rejuvinated and new ideas started flowing.
Please, tell me about your feelings, when you first appeared in front of a huge crowd.
I had played some big UK festivals with my old band but thats different to an indoor show when you know there are thousands of people under one roof. There is this weird-insane kind of adrenaline that pumps through all your veins when you get up on that stage and I'm addicted to it. I love being energetic live and I want to involve the audience as much as possible.
Would you consider playing in a small venue for approx 50 people?
Of course. Small shows can be some of the most intimate and fun. But we rarely get chance to play shows like that because obviously you want to make as many fans happy as possible when you don't visit their country as often as you would like to.
We've seen your show three times and we've always had a good time, because the shows were pretty cool and had excellent drive. Do your prepare for each show? You're like a Tsunami on stage, so far! Where do you get the energy?
I really don't know. I can be dead on my feet from sheer exaustion from playing the live shows on tour. But as soon as I walk out on stage it just happens. Its kind of crazy. I don't know how it works but I love it.
Your first Europe headline tour, We Rule The Night, was last year. What were some surprises, both good and bad, that you encoutered?
Well of course Rich left, that was tricky but Christoffer our touring second vocalist has blown me away with his voice and performance. Other than that its been incredible. The fans are behind us all the way every step. Its been great to hit some countries we played before and just see how much we have grown by the sheer amount of people there. Czech, Germany, Holland, and now even in the UK we are exploding. It really is amazing and I am thankful to everyone who has made this possible especially our fans. You guys rule!
The playlist for the shows included songs from your new album and from the older ones, as well. Which song from the old albums do you like the most and why?
Flashback is a classic and I love the pace and speed of Aftermath.
We've noticed that you had a new guy instead of Richard at Prague's concert, Christoffer. This guy went on the whole tour as well. Will he become a stable member of Sonic Syndicate?
He is awesome. I love Christoffer to bits and we have great chemistry on and off stage. We don't know whats going to happen regarding that yet though.
You met director Patric Ulleaus when shooting your music videos. What was it like to work with him? Do you enjoy shooting music videos?
Karin, Robin and I love shooting the vids. We have such a laugh its unreal and Pat is great to film with. He gets the job done and you know its gonna look cool. John on the other hand hates filming music videos which makes it even funnier to watch him have to do take after, take when he is sitting their with him hands bleeding from hitting the drums so hard!
Have your parents ever seen any Sonic Syndicate's live show?
Yeah my folks have attended a few shows now. They never really understood it was a real job to me and just thought it was a phase and I would grow out of it. I think since seeing the size of some of the venues and the fact we've toured everywhere from Russia to Japan and places its really sunk in now and they are very proud. Finally!
What are your personal plans for the future and what is your outlook for Sonic Syndicate this year?
Just to keep doing what we're doing. I'm already getting the itch to start writing again and we have already announced dates for tours this year before the festival season which is always great for us.
Nathan, do you have any messages for Czech fans?
Thank you all so much for your continued support. The show in prague was one of the most incredible of the tour and you dudes are wild! We can't wait to come back and I'm sure its going to be even crazier. We're playing a huge arena show with this amazing motocross event called Extreme Freestylers on June 18th in Prague! Now that is going to blow your mind! So we'll see you there!