Text: Ivana Kupková
Photos: Hannah Verbeuren - www.hannahvphotography.com
There's no need to introduce SOILWORK. This Swedish band belongs among the elite of melodic deathmetal scene by right for many years. Their last album The Panic Broadcast is really good, Peter Wichers' comeback is more than obvious. I have inteviewed the frontman BJÖRN 'SPEED' STRID not only about mentioned album.
I know that you used to play hockey. Why you changed a hockey stick for a microphone and started singing?
Well, things started to get too serious in hockey, it was not about fun anymore, so much politics got involved and then I joined a band and got into music business.
When we talk about hockey – do you know any of the Czech hockey players? Do you know the number 68?
It's Jaromir Jagr, right? And the next Czech hockey players – Elias, Plekanec...
And now back to the music – you founded the band called Inferior Breed with Peter Wichers in 1995. In 1996, you changed the name to Soilwork. How did you meet Peter and who had the idea to start a band?
We met in high school, back then I had long hair and was dressing only in black and one day he came up to me asking if I was listening to metal. And I said: Yes I do! He said: I'm about to start a band, do you wanna sing? I said: Well, I'm a guitar player but what the hell, let's try! That's how it came together.
The album A Predator's Portrait, which was released in 2001, brought Soilwork to the forefront of the melodic death metal scene. How are your personal feelings about this album in ten years' interval? It is a bit different from it's successors…
Yes it was, we took a huge step with that album, I added clean singing and it was a great step for me since I really wanted to take my vocals to a new level. I mean just like everyone else developed I wanted to have a challenge too, it's important! Some people think we chose to add clean vocals to gain commercial success, we did it to gain confidence and get challenged. After all that album was very unique when it came out, it defintely inspired a lot of bands, especially in the American scene, just like Natural Born Chaos did.
Which song from the old albums do you like the most and why?
Bastard Chain for example is a masterpiece, it has everything! Melody, intensity, groove, great solos…
Devin Townsend has worked with you in the past on some stuff and the album Sworn To A Great Divide was supported by him. Have you ever played with Devin on the one stage?
No, never, but we did jam together in the studio and doing vox together, it was great fun!
Your last album was recored in North Carolina. Why this place and how long did it take to record this album?
We chose to rent a house in NC because we wanted to have somewhat of a 'home feeling' and not feeling like we're in a studio all day. Peter lives in NC and had some connections there so it seemed like a great idea – and it was! Great fun and relaxed feeling overall. It took us six weeks.
The Panic Broadcast is really great recording. It is obvious that you have been enjoying yourselves a lot, especially in a song Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter. Why is this song musically so different than the other songs on the album, is it because of its title?
Not sure, it came out very spontaneously, it's a great album starter.
And now, please, tell us something about guys in the band – who is the greatest joker and who the greatest nail-biter? And what can make you personally angry?
Flink the bass player is a one man show, he's like a monkey on stage and offstage he always says funny stuff, sometimes he's not even aware of it! The nail-biter would be Sven the keyboard player, he's a big thinker and weighs every word before he says it. I get really angry when I see ignorance, people taking things for granted and arrogance I hate! People who parasite off other people I really hate too.
Who was your hero in your childhood and who is it nowadays?
As a kid it was Wayne Gretzky, now ... hmmm ... well, I gotta say my dad, he has really worked his way from nothing up and he's still not rich but have always been a great fundament in the family.
You have the second project called The Night Flight Orchestra. This band represents classic rock. How often do you play the shows and how do you manage it?
No shows yet, we're recording an album in jan/feb, sooo exciting!!!
When listening to the song California Morning, I get the idea, that The Night Flight Orchestra is 'some kind of offset' for Soilwork's extreme manifestation. Is that idea right?
Indeed it is, totally different and represents another side of me. Soilwork is still me but I'm a musical chameleon.
A lot of people in a metal world take their hat off to Soilwork not just because of music, but because of human, as well. And I have to confirm. What the starting musicians should follow according to you?
Very cool to hear, thank you, we're real people. New bands should play as many live shows as possible to get live experience and get a booking agent before getting a label. And make sure they don't sign a shitty label contract, try to promote your band as much as you can yourself first.
You played at Brutal Assault this year. When will you come to Prague again? And do you have any messages for your Czech fans?
Well, we're working on an Euro-tour right now, I really hope it includes Czech... I miss it, we had a blast last time. Just recommend our Czech fans to like Soilwork on facebook, I add personal messages there every week.