Text: Eva Houšková
Photos: The Quill archive, Jiří Rogl
Long five years since the last album In Triumph (2006), the Swedish stoner rock group THE QUILL are releasing the 6th studio album Full Circle. The new album is not the only news in the band – the new member is Magnus 'Magz' Arnar, who replaced former singer Magnus Ekwall at the microphone. It was clear – considering the indisputable vocal quality of his predecessor – that he will not be in easy position. Guitarist Christian Carlsson, bass guitarist Robert Triches and drummer Jolle Atlagic have chosen well – at Full Circle Magz proves that he is not any 'copy' but full-featured high-quality original. Currently, The Quill should have been on European tour including Sweden, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Unfortunately, this tour was postponed, but I have asked bass guitarist ROBERT TRICHES some questions at least...
Now you've played a lot of gigs – how does it go off? And what about the fans – do they accept your new line-up?
It took us a couple of shows to get into playing live again. Mind you, it's been quite a few years since the Quill played live. (Our last show with Magnus Ekwall was in 2008.) But it's incredible how fast the band has once again become the well-oiled live machine that we're known for. The only difference is that we are even better now, I think! We've been well received, and the fans are very impressed with Magz, both voice-wise, but also his charisma and stage presence has left people stunned! Of course, there will always be those that think that The Quill with Ekwall was much better, and there's really not much to say about that. We totally respect those views. But that was then, now is now, and in our eyes we've never been as good a band as we are these days.
Riotgod and Astral Doors, your compatriots, will be on tour with you. Why them? Was it your own choice?
Sadly the tour that was supposed to take place in October was postponed due to problems for a few promotors. It was our record label that suggested to make a tour together with Riotgod and Astral Doors, and in our opinion it is a very good combination. And then of course, we know most of the members in Riotgod since our tour with Monster Magnet in 2004. It will be a happy reunion – whenever it happens!
Where and how did you find your new frontman Magz?
Actually, it was Chris and Jolle that first found him on Myspace. Magz was then the singer of a band based in Stockholm, Groundmower, and when we first contacted him, he was a bit flattered I think. But he had just got his second child and simply couldn't find the time to join The Quill at that point. But when we contacted him again a year and a half later, the situation was different.
Magz had a chance to assimilate with the new songs during recording of Full Circle. What about the ones form previous albums, how does it suit him?
Magz is an outstanding singer. There is no song that he can't sing. And he sings the earlier Quill-songs very, very good. His voice is full and powerful, and that's how it always should have sounded like, I think…
Magnus Ekwall used to write most lyrics. Who does it nowadays?
The whole band has contributed with lyrics on Full Circle. Writing lyrics is tricky business, and we have scrapped a lot of lyricmaterial. But we feel happy with the result.
And how about composing?
Same there, actually. Many of the songs are based in riffs that Jolle and Chris jammed out, but we've also put a lot of work together in arranging and writing melodies and everybody has contributed with that.
I interpret to myself that the title of your new album Full Circle is a symbolic expression of the circle closed down with Magz's arrival. Do you agree?
Yup! Absolutely. As I said earlier – in my opinion the Quill has never been a better band – in every way.
Besides that you have a new label as well. Did Metalville offer you better conditions than SPV?
Well, the deal with SPV was for three records, and the last one we did with them was In Triumph 2006. By that time the whole situation for the music industry was very much different than it was when we signed the deal and the record company simply wasn't interested in prolonging the deal due to the economic situation that internet downloading had brought. Mind you, we were not alone in that situation! Almost all the record companies shrunk the number of bands and only kept the ones that they knew they could make money from. The Quill has always had a die hard, faithful fanbase, but we've never been any record company's cash cow… Anyway, when we wanted to release Full Circle, we sent out a threetrack demo and immediately got some offers – all from realatively small record companies. Metalville was the one that caught our interest, and not only because of the economic conditions but mostly because that it's people that really like good music. With Metalville we can reach the CEO with a simple phonecall in seconds and discuss things on an even level, as with a fellow musician. With SPV it was another story…
You started to work on the new songs last year. How did they originate?
A few of the songs were written wholly by Jolle and Chris, a few are based on riffs that we jammed out together, a few are based on Jolles and Chris riffs and a couple are based on my riffs. Magz came in pretty late in the writing progress, but has contributed with arranging and of course with lyrics. In the future I think that he will be a significant songwriter in the band, he has that quality.
It is known that in the meantime Jolle played drums with Hanoi Rocks – what did the other members do?
Well … musicwise I didn't do much at all, really. Honestly I was pretty fed up with the whole thing after the Magnus (E.) situation… Chris kept on writing and playing, but not in any organised form.
Your music has often been compared to various bands (e.g. Soundgarden) but I think you sound simply like ... The Quill. Your strong melodies have always been your undeniable asset. This remains the same but the new album is, after all, a little bit different than the old ones. Is this an indication of direction which you want follow now?
Well, the new songs are both more straight forward and more varied than the old ones. Of course, now we have all contributed to both lyrics and melodies, and that used to be Magnus Ekwall's domain. But we also wanted to write good rock'n'roll songs this time and to stay out of the endless jams and the meant-to-please-other-musicians-themes. And since the bands members nowadays are geographically spread out around Sweden, we simply couldn't just sit in the studio and grind for seven hours every night, we had to work more effective.
I think that Nordic music scene in general – whether rock, metal or its various sorts – is very specific and successful. How would you explain it?
Hehe, that is a question that pops up a lot… I don't know the answer. Maybe it's because we've been consuming US and UK culture for so long. Maybe it's because of the public music schools. Or maybe it's something in the water... Hehe...
And what are your next plans?
To get out and play as many gigs for as many people as possible! The postponed tour was a downer, of course, but we have a solid plan for this winter and spring. My advice to anyone intersted in The Quill is to keep the ear to the ground in the nearest future. We're gonna be heard of!
Thank you for the interview and I'm looking forward to your gig probably in Dresden!
Im sure we'll meet soon Eva, even though I don't know now when we're coming to Dresden. Hopefully we can visit the Czech Republic soon. We really, really miss Prague!