Sweden is responsible for a great deal of the current metal movement,
which has been incorporating the melodies brought about by bands like
Iron Maiden into the harsher styles of death metal. At the Gates, Dark
Tranquility and In Flames got the ball rolling, and Soilwork, despite
a late entrance, earned themselves respect alongside the originators.
Although they seemed like a product of their influences from the
start, the band slowly constructed a unique entity that they could
call their own. Their perseverance and vision has made them one of the
more successful metal acts today. Metal Update had a chat with
guitarist Peter Wichers about guitar solos, religion, and the
accusations of selling out.
Interview with Peter Wichers of Soilwork on 2/07/05.
Metal Update: To begin with I would like to wish you a Happy Birthday and thank you for calling.
Peter Wichers: Thank you, man.
MU: I read an interview in which a member of Soilwork called Angela Gossow a "fat bitch".
PW: Haven't heard about that one. She's definitely not fat, if anything she's a skinny bitch.
MU: From what I heard, the new album has more of a mixture of the old Soilwork.
PW: Not really, actually. More blast beats, yes, but not really solos. It's kind of a mixture of the stuff we have done previously and the old albums. There is a lot more heavy stuff on the new album. That would bounce off the fact though we've been through a lot of shit since 'Figure
Number Five.' We were in a bad spot and you tend to write more aggressive stuff when you are a little depressed. That and I think the vocals on the new album are just amazing.
MU: The last few albums fell under a lot of criticism, with screams of sellout and similar things. What are your thoughts on that?
PW: I don't pay attention to that stuff. I don't write music to please everybody, I write music to please myself first. We like what we do so we don't give a shit if people think we are sellouts. We know who we are and that's all that matters. I don't get how people can play the exact thing every time. As a musician that just gets boring, you need to explore new territory.
MU: Do a lot of the members have side projects?
PW: A lot of the band members have side projects, and they have fun with that. As long as they know the main thing is Soilwork, that's all that matters. We are very open-minded with that.
MU: I noticed Soilwork has had a lot of ex-members.
PW: A lot of people don't like touring, they don't feel comfortable being on the road for such a long time. You know, being on the road for a long time and coming home with very little money. There have been various reasons such as family issues, but its something you have to respect.
MU: What's going on with the drummer situation?
PW: The drummer we got playing on the album is in a band called Scarve from France and he's amazing. He's not a permanent member, but a very good friend of ours. We've had a lot of problems with drummers as you know, but we want to be careful about hiring someone full time. A lot of people see the musical side but there's a lot more to that, especially being on tour. The smallest one can become the biggest one. It's kind of like a family or a company and everything needs to work, especially because of copyrights.
MU: Speaking of family, how does yours support you?
PW: I actually just got married. I met my wife on tour. We don't have any kids yet. She just wants me to be happy and have fun. The whole band is basically the same.
MU: Do you think chaos exists?
PW: I definitely think chaos exists, I mean look at what happened in Columbus Ohio, 9/11. Won't forget that. Bombs going off in Madrid, we are facing chaos every day. Back in the day it wasn't the Muslims, it was the Christian people, so I think chaos is something we have to learn to live with.
MU: So you think religion has a negative effect on society?
PW: That's a very touchy subject, but I think so. I'm Agnostic, you know, so it's hard for me to say. I think for the things we cannot answer, religion was founded because of that reason. People need to have an answer and if they can't have an answer they turn to something else.
MU: Do you think it's a fear of the unknown?
PW: Probably, I would say so. I'm not going to get really deep, but if you start to think about the universe, what's outside the universe? There is nothing outside the universe. Once you start thinking in those terms you start going crazy. Some people have to have an explanation. What created Earth, was it the Big Bang or was it God? People are entitled to their opinions, but I think that's one of the reasons religion was founded.
MU: Do you think people should just live their lives and not worry about all that stuff?
PW: I think people should make up their own opinion on what they think is real, not let themselves be manipulated by other people who preach at them. They should listen to what those people say, but still form your own opinion on what's real or not. A lot of people, I think, lack that ability.
MU: You mentioned 9/11 previously, how come this affected you so much?
PW: We were doing pre-production for 'Natural Born Chaos' when that happened. That was the scariest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. That definitely affected everyone in the world. There are a lot of Swedes in America too. I think the world got very cautious after that, but at the same time I still think we are learning to live with the fact its something we can encounter every day, but it's something we can't think about every second.
MU: Do you think people are a little too worried about this?
PW: Yeah, I got friends who called me up saying World War 3 is about to start. I understand being in America when that happened, of course you get really scared. When you show your fear like that though, the terrorists get what they want. You can't let them stop you from flying or something like that, because they do win then. It's something that should always be remembered, but we've got to go on with our lives.
MU: Do things like this affect your lyrics?
PW: I think so. We try to put ordinary things into our music, things we can relate to. That's one of the reasons why I don't like black metal. I like some of the music, but the things they say, I don't even know if they know what they're talking about. Seven gates to hell, it's like believing in Star Wars, like Darth Vader is a real person. We like to keep it real when it comes to the lyrics.
MU: I heard a rumor your live show is pre-recorded.
PW: Yeah, we decided after we saw Ashlee Simpson, it was something we wanted to do. (laughs) If you come to the show, you will hear we are out of tune sometimes. That's probably a good thing though cause people think we sound so good it's almost on tape.
MU: Why did you decide to take Dark Tranquility and Hypocrisy on tour?
PW: Hypocrisy are very close friends, we did the first tour of the States with them. Dark Tranquility, we did a show in Japan and we're good friends with them. The opening band is Mnemic. They are very good. I like their stuff a lot. I think it's a cool tour.
MU: I heard your keyboardist is into Abba. Any other odd things you and the other members are into?
PW: I think that would be Bjorn our singer. The keyboardist is into a lot of electronica stuff like Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails. Bjorn is the same. We listen to a lot of things. You know, the stuff your parents listened to that you hated, yet later listened to? That's kind of what its like with Abba, because they are Swedes and stuff. We try to be very open-minded when it comes to music, to be able to write more openly. I listen to a lot of different guitar stuff too. Dire Straits, Zakk Wylde and Dimebag, who is a major influence on me. He's the reason I play the music I do.
MU: So his death had a huge impact on you?
PW: Oh my god, one of the biggest ones. It was more likely he would have died from a heart attack or something like that, but getting up there and getting shot. We were all very shocked. I don't understand, I don't understand. Seriously, I don't understand how someone can do something like that to a person like that. I just felt empty when it happened. We have played some of the same clubs, and you stop to think about it. Is there someone out there in the crowd with a gun? He was one of the biggest guitar players for quite some time. When people see him in a small club like that they get this fanatical feeling. It's the only explanation I can come up with. We will probably dedicate a few songs each show on tour.
MU: As a guitar player, what is more important to you, riffs or solos?
PW: I'm going to say riffs. If you have horrible songs, a good solo doesn't make up for it. If you have an awesome song with a half-ass solo, you can get away with it.
MU: Do you think solos are thrown in a lot of times?
PW: Oh yeah. I like when it's very tasteful, when they take the time to make it a good part for a solo. Instead, some bands just play as fast as you can for thirty seconds. I used to be very into it, not anymore. We used to be like that. We had to have two solos, each a minute long. Now they are shortened. It needs to be tasteful.
MU: What is the meaning behind your logo?
PW: Well the name Soilwork originates from kind of like to work-hustle. We started off from scratch, it's kind of like making something grow when you plant something. We are kind of the same way, we grew up from the soil. I think the logo reflects who we are, hard workers.
MU: Do you have any tour plans after the one coming up?
PW: Well we've got a few festivals in Europe, and there might be the possibility of us doing Ozzfest in the States.
MU: Are you guys still on Nuclear Blast?
PW: We just signed a new three-album deal with them, so I think they obviously treat us very well.
MU: Thank you for doing this interview, and you have a good birthday. I'll drink a beer for you.
Review of Soilwork - 'Stabbing the Drama'
Review of Soilwork - 'Figure Number Five'
Review of Soilwork - 'Natural Born Chaos'
Review of Soilwork - 'A Predator's Portrait'
Interview with Bjorn "Speed" Strid - February 13, 2001
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