CyHra – Friendship & DedicationSunday, 22nd October 2017
Dead Rhetoric: I think that one thing the album has going for it is that personal connection. Not all metal bands do that. There’s a lot of fantasy and violent stuff. There’s not a ton of bands that will provide a personal connection with the lyrics.
Jake E: Right – I would consider it a pretty brave way to do it actually. I’m used to writing lyrics about bigger things. Connecting a lot of different and hard words into meanings that could be transformed into whatever you want. But to make a bigger picture. Here we scaled it down and completely ripped our skin off and showed everyone our heart like, “Here it is, stab it if you want.” What I mean by brave, is that it could have hurt us though, for real, because feelings like that are nothing to play with. It was actually hard on us to write these things and open us up this way. It’s like you are showing your neck to a hyena or something.
Dead Rhetoric: What drew you to record the vocals in New York? Did you have a specific purpose in mind?
Jake E: We were discussing it in the beginning, and I told Jesper, that if possible and if he would agree to it, I wanted to do this album the best that I can. I have a family, I have a daughter. I love them more than life. My kid is everything to me. But if I would have recorded the vocals in Sweden, I’m the type of person who thinks like, “I have to pick up my daughter from kindergarten,” so at 2PM I would already start thinking about having to pick her up in three hours. That would have affected the outcome of my performance. I wanted to go somewhere where we could sit down and focus on what we were going to do.
Strömblad: We wanted a full focus on the vocals. But it didn’t have to be New York. We were talking about going somewhere that basically, wasn’t Sweden. We had talked about the Canary Islands, and a bunch of different places.
Jake E: What’s cool with New York is that it’s actually the city that never sleeps. Some days we were up at 10 and recorded for like 5-6 hours and then we had the whole night off to do whatever we wanted. Usually we went to bed and watched Netflix because we were so tired. But somedays we got up, had a whole day in New York, came home at 9PM and then we started recording. So we could just do what we wanted to do. We had Jacob Hansen with us, and we were there for like three weeks. We had all the time we needed. There were some songs that we started to record and then we stopped and went to a different song. Then a week later we would go back to it and redid some things. It was really good. I really want to do that again if possible.
Strömblad: Yeah, that should be the thing to do. I think I had the best gig of all. I had already laid down my tracks. I completely trust Jacob and Jake; I was just sitting on the roof and drinking coffee and chain-smoking – just enjoying the weather. Sometimes I’d get a message to come down to give my thoughts on something. I’d approve, and I’d go back up to the roof. So I didn’t need to do much.
Jake E: It was actually a vacation for you.
Strömblad: Pretty much, but I wanted to be there. I’m not a control freak at all, but if there was any questions or question marks when it came to the songs, I was there as a sounding board to discuss things with Jake.
Jake E: So it was really good. Being in New York in the spring was fantastic. The weather was perfect and I think we had like one or two rainy days.
Strömblad: Being there again in the late summer was great too.
Jake E: Yeah, we were just there to do promotion. I love that city. It’s fantastic. The people are all so nice. Now we’ve been there so much, it feels like a second home almost.
Strömblad: It’s a home away from home.
Jake E: Our dirty, expense home away from home [laughs}!
Dead Rhetoric: One thing in listening to the album that I wanted to talk about – you go from this ballad-y “Inside a Lullaby” to “Dead to Me,” where there’s a more gruff, spoken vocal part. What was the vibe that you were shooting for with that song?
Jake E: That was probably the song that we changed the most. We have different cuts about how we wanted it to be.
Strömblad: It was supposed to be some kind of an intro actually, but it ended up being a full song. The format of the song is different, I think. It’s not like the rest of them because it’s like two pieces actually. There’s the verse and the chorus. That’s it. But in the end, it’s very powerful song when the chorus kicks in. But that’s my opinion. What do you think about the song?
Dead Rhetoric: The first time I heard it, I was taken aback a little bit, because the vocals that are spoken are a bit more assertive than the rest of the album. But now I really like it – I like the transition between the spoken parts to the more traditional sounding chorus. As much as I hate to bring up the old bands, I do hear that older, In Flames vibe from the acoustic guitar.
Jake E: I was actually forcing Jesper to play acoustic. The first week in, I told him that one thing we had to have on the album was his acoustic guitar, because that was something that I fell in love with 20 years ago. It doesn’t say that it sounds like In Flames, but it sounds like Jesper playing guitar.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, that’s the better way of putting it!
Strömblad: In “Closure,” there’s also acoustic guitar. That’s actually what I call the “Lisa Riff.” It’s been in my back pocket for years. It was supposed to be written for a different Swedish artist, but it was never used. It was for Lisa Miskovsky – she actually sang on the In Flames album Come Clarity. Finally I found a place where it fit.
Jake E: “Closure” is actually one of my favorite songs on the album. Our A&R at the label, he said it was the best song he ever heard.
Strömblad: That was a good thing to hear!
Dead Rhetoric: Oh, I’m right there with you. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album. That soaring chorus is phenomenal.
Jake E: I love the lyrical content – “I was a child from the stars that got lost in the dark.” It’s like a t-shirt print already there [laughs]. The song “Holding Your Breath” is the hardest song I’ve ever written. I don’t understand why I forced myself to do it actually.
Strömblad: It was meant to be a duet with a female vocalist. But the woman we wanted, we couldn’t get her.
Jake E: So I did it myself instead.
Strömblad: I was listening to some Amaranthe and there’s no doubt that this is absolutely the best work that Jake has ever done, vocally. He demonstrates the spectrum of his vocals, from low pitch to high pitch. It’s amazing.
Jake E: That was something that I really wanted to show off on this album. As I’ve said in a few interviews, I felt that in Amaranthe I was superfluous in a way. On the last two albums, I felt like a back-up singer all of a sudden. I wanted to show that I could sing a little bit.
Dead Rhetoric: ‘A little bit’ – there’s an understatement right there [laughs]. Finally, with a new band, you undoubtedly have some touring plans. What else is in the pipeline at the moment?
Jake E: Right now, we are playing our first show in Helsinki on October 27. Then we are starting to book some festivals for next year. We have some really good shows coming up that are not official yet, and we are working on a European tour and a US tour.
Strömblad: Everything depends on how the record is received.
Jake E: There must be fans, because without the fans, we are nothing. It would help us if people like what we are trying to achieve.
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