Rise And Shine
Twenty years? Twenty fucking years! I had no idea that the band was celebrating their anniversary today, this very afternoon, when I had an impulse to dig up all four full-length studio albums and crank them up louder than my neighbours would have liked. Here I am, grinning from ear to ear, dreaming of them lifting the roof off a local venue…
That sentiment was true of November 2013, when I originally prepared this interview. Almost another decade has passed since then. But I still dig the Swedes regularly. Furthermore, there are now five albums to enjoy. If you missed “In The Shadow” LP (circa 2017) copies are still available via Artefacts at Pariah Child! Now back to the main event…
So how did celebratory gig go in The Liffey, Jocke? The lowdown please including the setlist, atmosphere and any other memories of the evening if that special patent beer did not wipe you out altogether…
Well, we tried to gather as many ol’ members as possible, there been some as you might know… Ha! Ha! But as we had a really short time to get it all together we had not the opportunity to have everybody. That said, original guitarist Fredrik Gleisner and his predecessor Fredrik Finnander showed up and played on some tunes. Actually this was the first time I’ve seen the band play. Eric our second drummer drove all the way from Amsterdam where he lives nowadays to play on two songs. He also provided our beer. He runs a brewery in Amsterdam. The beer was no kidding one of the greatest tasting beers I ever had. The atmosphere was really good at the Liffey (yeah Irish sports pub, those are very popular in Stockholm) even had a friend from Berlin coming for the gig. Dennis, our ex-bassist, was absolutely pissed and made a fool out of himself… Again. Ha! Ha!
The Setlist: “Break the Chains of Time” (current line-up) “My Day of Tomorrow” (Finander instead of Daniel) “I’m Sinking” (Finnader and Gleisner on guitar instead of me and Daniel) “Danish Denim” (current line-up) “Childhood in the Shadow of the Bomb” (current line-up) “Bring me the Fire” (current line-up) “Roadflower” (Eric on drums, Tomas Bergstrand should have played guitar instead of Daniel but was ill and couldn’t do it) “My Sacrifice” (Finnander instead of Daniel on guitar) “I Don’t Belong” (Dennis on bass instead of Jens) “Time is Running Away” (Gleisner on guitar instead of Daniel, I played until the end of the first guitar solo part then Finnander took over).
Would it be fair to say that this birthday bash was as much about looking forward to another ten or even twenty years together as it was about celebrating how far you have come?
Hmm, it is hard to say. At the moment we are very inspired to go on with new songs and gigs. Me personally, I’m not very fond of rehearsing old songs, you know. I don’t mind playing them live but at the rehearsal I like to have something new to try out to stay out of boredom. Twenty years sounds very loooooooooooong, but another ten should not be impossible. As we never had any success with the band (at least not in the commercial way) we have never really gone backwards. We’ve been on the same underground level since our first record really. With maybe a slight touch of progress. If we have had some success then gone back to being not successful one might have been disappointed. Now we’ve been disappointed for twenty years and can’t tell the difference! Ha! Ha! Ha!!!
Well, I think you have written consistently strong yet quite diverse material across your respective records over considerable gaps in time. What do you think it is that makes the Knutsson / Leidi song writing partnership special?
You mean the Lennon / McCartney of Swedish Flowerpowermetal? Ha! Ha! Well first the songs aren’t always written the same way. Sometimes we actually do them together. Sometime one does the music and one the lyrics. Sometimes one of us has a quite clear idea of a song and the other one contribute with some new parts. Some songs are written by just one of us. If you for some reason think we agree and do not have fights over songs, arrangements, lyrics and even lay out of record covers you are wrong. We argue all the time. But sometimes we are very consistent. As I play guitar (Josa can play guitar as well but you know what I mean) I tend to come up with more riffs of course. But actually I am very fond of songs that Josa made with quite simple riffing and arrangement. About the diversity of our music I think it we have a broad musical interest. I personally listen to almost all kinds of music. During periods when I write music I try to listen to non-metal music. I do not want to copy things from similar bands by mistake (happens anyway) and I think other music can give you some cool ideas. Another thing about the diversity is that we actually sometimes put the live set list together to suit the audience. If we just play a regular rock club we might do faster and shorter rocking tunes than if we play on a dedicated doom festival for example.
And no other changes in personnel lately, I hope?
Well, you got a hint in the first question. Dennis who came along already for the first demo left the band the autumn of 2012. Let me put it this way, I really like Dennis but he likes beer more than likes me… and music! Ha! Ha! He made some really bad gigs and finally we couldn’t have him any longer. Now we have Jens Sidegård who we’ve known for a long time. He is also a beer drinker! Ha! Ha!
Tell me about your frame of mind when writing “Empty Hand” as the lyrical tone of the record seems to be more downbeat and frustrated than usual yet still inherently defiant. What have been the biggest challenges you faced along the road? And what inspires you to keep plugging away?
Oh dear, is it really that way? Well actually, for me, that record is so long behind me. You know some songs were made close after the “Roadflower” record which was recorded in 1999, which should give some perspective. Right now, I’m not really focusing on our new record “In the Shadow” and I have my sight on writing songs for the album after. That’s how I am. About the gloomy “Empty Hand” I will have to check the lyrics. Hang on a minute… Okay, I see what you mean! I can’t guarantee that the new one is much brighter! Ha! Ha! As you might understand, we do not write nonsense lyrics. We write about our lives and how we feel. I wouldn’t say we are cynical but I do think it has to do a bit with our northern heritage. We are quite fortunate in many ways but we are a bit melancholy you know. Long dark winters with only the famous bottle to find comfort in.
It’s great to see the band back on vinyl! Given that you tend to keep to 40-45 minutes I wondered if you write records with the format in mind?
Yes, no doubt about it! I do not like the CD era when all bands did 70 minute records with 30 minutes of shit.
The shape of the opening half of the album is rather interesting with the slow burning title track and slower “Empty Words” then building up pace “In The Arms of Death” and through the downright infectious “I Don’t Belong” before the ‘80s Metal explosion of “Somebody Else‘s Share”… How much time do you deliberate on running order? And what do you think makes a good record great?
I/we are really accurate when putting the record together. We think A and B side and how we want to build the flow through the record.”Ghosts of the Past” had a quite different opening. But actually, as we will not sell millions of records anyway, we don’t have to think in the traditional way when it comes to the order of the songs. We can afford to be arty farty!
How come “Somebody Else’s Share” and “Harmony and Noise” were not included on the last album given that they were written way back then? Do you think they did not fit the mood or had you simply too much material to include it all?
A bit of both and we did not nail the songs on that recording. We also got the feeling we could do them better. I had a fantastic rehearsal shitty recording of “Someone Else’s Share” and the one we did during the “Ghosts of the Past” recording felt lame to that one. The “Empty Hand” version is more gutsy.
What is your favourite song on the latest record? Why?
Hard to say actually… I like them all. I love to play “Someone Else’s Share”, “In the Arms of Death”, “I Don’t Belong” and “King Cliff”, that doesn’t make ‘em the best but they are fun to play. We got some real killer ones on the forthcoming album which I am really excited about too.
I really enjoy the sequence of the closing three tunes too although find the end comes too soon (in a good way)! Fortunately, you vowed after the release of “Empty Hand” that there would not be another five or six years until the next album. Apart from the Venom single I missed, how has the new material been brewing? Any speculative release dates or label plans?
We recorded during Easter 2013. We’ve been in contact with some labels and with a bit of luck the record will be out really soon. A guy is working on the final mix at the moment and I am working on the cover. The record will be called “In the Shadow” this time around.
Freedoom Records needs to be reborn! Any chance of another string of classy singles on coloured wax? And some more cartoon portraits by Oskar Kristiansen?
I have resurrected Freedoom Records and released a 7” with Atlantic Tide a couple of months ago. By the way, did you know Oskar played guitar on the very first Rise and Shine rehearsal? I played bass and came up with the riff for “I’m Sinkin”…
I really want to see the band play! Am I gonna have to travel to your home town or can you be lured to Belfast?
We will come to Belfast if there’s an opportunity!
Is touring important? I appreciate it is expensive and the band is to some extent dependent on opportunities. But I had at least half-hoped Doom Shall Rise, if not Roadburn, would have offered you a slot ten years ago after your then drummer, Eric Nordin, passed me the “Break the Chains of Time” EP in the Chapel back in 2003! (See my enthusiastic review in #1…)
So do we but I don’t think we are hip enough, at least not for Roadburn.
Me neither! But there are a handful of old promotional videos available for streaming on YouTube, which I assume were on your homemade video back in the mid ‘90s. Have you ever considered transferring that material for a DVD edition, with more good quality live footage and any other archive material of interest?
There are loads of shit music films from the ‘90s. I worked with stuff like that and could borrow cameras. I think material will be on YouTube in a near future. Both new and old material…
There are also two or three songs from the first two demos that never made it on to the singles or albums that I need to hear as well as the excellent exclusive cuts “Man’s Best Friend” and “Into The Fog” that everybody should here. Again, will you be compiling this rare studio material in any shape or form?
If someone would be interested in releasing it we would. There’s a whole album recorded as well. The record was never released for different reasons. Most of the songs (if not all) have been released on other records. But I am a bit worried that if I listen to it now it may sound too bad.
Okay, clearly you still love the old bands you always did. But what about your contemporaries? Do you still feel a kinship with peers inside and beyond Sweden from back then or these days?
I can only speak for myself. With some bands I keep in touch. Like the ex-Terra Firma guys, ex-Norrsken, Grand Magus and so on. I have a bit problem with some of the new bands. Some of them don’t seem to have the heart in what they are doing. In Sweden for some reason a couple of years ago everyone loved Pentagram. The same suckers never heard of Trouble, come on give me a fuckin’ break! And to get back to an earlier question, I would not be able to live with myself if I for some reason accidently copied one of those new bands. That’s another good reason to not listen to them.
To what extent do you think it is more or less difficult for a band to make an impact nowadays? Are we surrounded by too much cynicism and apathy with swathes of music at our fingertips?
I of course listen to music on the net. If something is good and is released on a vinyl I might even buy it. For some reason, I think if let us say I should start another band now it would be easier to sell it nowadays with the fortunes of internet, Spotify and YouTube. With a band that’s been in the shadow for twenty years it seems to be a disadvantage with the same fuckin’ shit! Ha! Ha!!!
Well, regardless, the phoenix has risen again. I hope the ethos of “Too Much, Too Fast, Too Loud” carries you on for many years to come! I’m waiting for my invite to the next Deadringer party…
Thanks! See you in Belfast or Stockholm soon…
Danny Angus (December 2013)
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