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Sweden has been fertile ground for the cultivation of brilliant metal acts for the past decade. At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames have all helped shape what is widely known as the Gothenburg sound. Many others have come and gone with little impact on the genre. Soilwork, however, have made their mark. The buzz began in 1998 with 'Steelbath Suicide'. The debut was then followed by the highly acclaimed 'The Chainheart Machine' in the year 2000. Now, after much growth and touring, Soilwork have released their most mature and personal album to date: 'A Predator's Portrait'. Just as In Flames and Dark Tranquillity have found their own sounds, so too have Soilwork. Although, like those who have come before, Soilwork speaks Swedish metal, it is abundantly clear that they have a unique voice. In this interview, vocalist Bjorn "Speed" Strid brings us up to. . . well. . . speed.

METAL UPDATE: 'Steelbath Suicide' got you guys a name for yourselves whereas 'The Chainheart Machine' put you guys at the forefront of the Gothenburg scene. Did you feel much pressure in writing this new album?

BJORN STRID: Yeah, a little bit. We are on a new label, Nuclear Blast. We've gotten a very good response, especially from the US, for 'The Chainheart Machine.' I guess it depends very much on the label too. We had Century Media in the US and Listenable Records in Europe. Listenable Records does not have that good distribution and we received a much better response from the US. We felt some pressure, yes.

MU: How did the deal with Nuclear Blast come about? I would have thought Century Media might have secured the deal when they already had US distribution of 'The Chainheart Machine'?

BS: Well, the contract with Listenable Records ran out. We signed for two albums with Listenable records. After that we started to send some CDs to different labels like Music For Nations, Metal Blade, Century Media, Nuclear Blast. Both Century Media and Nuclear Blast were interested, but Nuclear Blast gave us a better deal so we signed with them.

MU: I find that on this newest album you have established your own sound more so than in the past. Would you agree with this?

BS: Yes. I think so too. This is pretty personal I think - the sound of the new one. A very personal sound compared with the other Gothenburg-ish sounding bands from Sweden.

MU: That always takes time to develop your own techniques and everything.

BS: Yeah, exactly.

MU: 'A Predator's Portrait' shows the first use of clean vocals. Did you always have this ability?


BS: I don't think so because I have developed a lot. I know that I could sing, but I've used a song coach to increase my capability with the clean vocals for like a half year. I've developed very much. We thought it turned out really good.

MU: Definitely. It sounds real polished and just came out of nowhere. Did you reach a point musically where you thought that this was the time to add clean vocals?

BS: Yeah. We felt like that. Often the choruses are very powerful and I think it is even more powerful if you put some clean vocals to it.

MU: Yeah, it is more effective.

BS: Yeah, I think so. And the song gets more dynamic so that's pretty cool - the contrast with the harsh vocals and the clean vocals.

MU: How did you end up hooking up with Mikael from Opeth on this new record?

BU: Well, Opeth recorded their album at the same time at Studio Fredman. Studio Fredman consists of two studios. One night we were hanging out with those guys drinking a lot of beers and talked about, "Why don't you put some backing vocals on some of the songs?" So the next day we tried to put some cool vocals from Mikael on the last song "A Predator's Portrait" and it worked out really cool I think. But it's only on that song. I have heard that people thought he is singing on all the songs, but he isn't.

MU: In fact, I couldn't even pinpoint his vocals over yours on that song. It is really hard to tell.

BS: Pretty similar vocals.

MU: Yeah, definitely. That's a good thing. Being one of the two founding members, do you and Peter write most of the music and lyrics?

BS: I am writing the lyrics and doing some of the riffs but it is mostly Peter doing the music with Ola, the other guitarist, his uncle.

MU: What inspires you to write the songs for Soilwork in a lyrical sense?

BS: Psychology. That is where the inspiration comes from. More or less psychotic or neurotic people. Sick matters and stuff. Tales of different types of individuals.

MU: I noticed that in Soilwork, the keyboards don't generally jump right out at you like in some bands. What role do the keyboards usually play in the band?

BS: We like to use the keyboards to make the sound more atmospheric and powerful. Not in the same way as in Children of Bodom, like leads and stuff. We have them in the background.

MU: Not quite as flashy.

BS: No. Exactly.

MU: He must also do the samples?

BS: Yeah.

MU: Carlos designed the artwork for this new album?

BS: Yeah, we are very satisfied with the cover.

MU: It looks real good.

BS: Yeah. I think so too. He is very good.

MU: And he is into that? You think you will probably use him in the future?

BS: Yeah, absolutely. He is actually doing some covers for Nuclear Blast.

MU: Did he go to school for design?

BS: No, actually not.

MU: He just does it on his own time?

BS: Yeah, just sitting many hours in front of the computer.

MU: What side projects are you guys currently involved with?

BS: You know Terror 2000?

MU: I have heard of them.

BS: It is released on Pavement. It is like a mix between Sodom, Kreator and Dark Angel with some of the Priest album Painkiller. It is a cool album. Straightforward metal.

MU: Who is in that band from Soilwork?

BS: It is me and Henry from Soilwork (the drummer). And then we have Klas from Darkane and another guy named Nicki from the same city here. He hasn't been with a signed band, but he is a good friend of mine. So you should check that album out. It is pretty cool. It is very aggressive and less melodic than Soilwork. We wanted to be more straightforward.


MU: Is there anything else besides that one?

BS: Henry is also involved with another project with Klas from Darkane called Defaced. I think they will be released through Pavement too.

MU: OK. What type of music is that?

BS: It's like a mix between Machine Head and Slayer. In the thrash vein. It isn't that similar to Terror 2000.

MU: Most of you guys are fairly young with the exception of Ola, the guitarist. Do you guys have any conflicts between the band and school or work with touring and all that?

BS: It is very hard to combine tours and working when you don't earn that much money on your music. That is our agreement. - to live on our music. We are going on tour right now.

MU: With Annihilator and Nevermore?

BS: Yeah, exactly. For five weeks.

MU: If you do work, you either have to have (A): A great employer that will understand or (B): You just have to deal with temporary jobs at all times. Do what you have to do to make the music work.

BS: It is very hard to combine those two.

MU: What else do you guys do outside of the band?

BS: Peter is arguing with his girlfriend, and I am boxing. Carl is sitting in front of his computer and on Napster all of the time. We're very much into music so in our free time we will listen to music or write music and stuff like that.

MU: Basically live and breathe it like most of us. What is it like being in a band with Peter's uncle since he is so much older? Does everyone get along with him?

BS: He is just like an 18 year old. He is like us.

MU: That is a good thing because sometimes with a 10 year age gap it can get a little hectic sometimes. I was surprised to read that you guys were into the Deftones and Stuck Mojo, although I don't think it was you, personally.

BS: No. Ola is very much into Stuck Mojo and also Peter. I think they like their riffing. I think they are pretty cool. I am not that into rap vocals, but it is pretty cool in a way. Deftones is OK too I think.

MU: What bands are you into lately?

BS: I like the new Children of Bodom, and Vader 'Litany' is a killer album. There's many albums. Defleshed is pretty cool, and, of course, In Flames. Halford 'Resurrection.'

MU: Speaking of. . . I read the story about you guys meeting Halford and the fact that he is indeed a Soilwork fan.

BS: Yeah, that is fucking incredible.

MU: He gave you guys a good word on your album during one of their performances when you saw them?

BS: Yeah, I saw them in Malmo, here in the south of Sweden. On stage before the last song - I think it was "Riding on the Wind" or something like that. He was just pointing at me and said, "Hey Speed, what's up?" I was like, "Shit." And he said to the audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the singer of Soilwork." My knees started shaking, man. He started to do promotion for the new album cause he got a tape from me before the show. The first thing he did was get the band in front of the stereo to listen to the whole album. And he said on the stage, "He's a fucking blast." Then he said, "Hey Speed, I'll see you after the show." So I met him after the show. We sat down and talked for like a half an hour and stuff. He wanted to get us over to the US to do a club tour or something. He said that he was very inspired by my voice and my variety of singing. I was like, "What the fuck is he saying, man?" So that's incredible. That's a dream come true because he is my biggest idol. Now he is a fan of my voice, so that's. . . I can't find the words man.

MU: That's great. So, aside from impressing metal legends and touring with Nevermore and Annihilator, what plans does the band have for the release of the new album?

BS: Well, hopefully we will play some of the summer festivals. We are going to play at the Wacken Open Air, hopefully Dynamo because that would be a dream come true, hopefully the Milwaukee Metal Festival and write new songs. I guess we have to write the songs on the road for the new album because we are going to record in October. That's pretty tough.

MU: The pressure is on.


review of Soilwork 'A Predator's Portrait'






Interview: Scott McCooe [ ]
Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]

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