Soilwork – A Taste of the AtlanticWednesday, 16th December 2020
After releasing several singles over the course of the earlier part of 2020, Soilwork announced that they would be putting together an EP with said tracks and two additional ones. With the title track, the band has crafted their lengthiest and most progressive number to date. Something that is sure to thrill fans as they explore some new elements while keeping it sounding like Soilwork. Given the busy nature of both Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra, we took the opportunity to chat with guitarist David Andersson, who caught us up with the activities for both acts with plenty of details.
Dead Rhetoric: What was your inspiration for the title track, knowing this is the longest Soilwork song that has been written?
David Andersson: I’ve had this idea for quite some time, to do an epic Soilwork song. I listened to all kinds of music growing up – epics like “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis and things like that. I always felt it would be interesting to do something like that with Soilwork, because no one expects us to release something like that. So I didn’t have any specific inspiration other than really wanting to see if I could do it. To get away with writing an epic song like this one, that is really progressive and involving a lot of influences, and make it still come across as something metal in the end [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: And to make it sound like Soilwork too, which I feel was quite an accomplishment.
Andersson: Thank you. In growing up listening to different types of music, and still doing so, I’ve often felt like Soilwork is a band that is a bit underestimated. People aren’t really aware of what we are capable of as a band. So it’s interesting to share this other side – we aren’t your typical metalheads and as we grow older…I think less of music in terms of genres or ‘good music/bad music.’
With this line-up, with our latest drummer Bastian [Thusgaard], there is a really great, creative atmosphere in the band. When I wrote these songs for the EP, everyone was really into it. It probably wouldn’t have been possible to do it 7-8 years ago, but these days we have a more open climate in the band. we are able to discuss things very openly and everyone is always up for trying out new things and stretching the boundaries even further.
Dead Rhetoric: How important is the connection between yourself and Bjorn [Strid] with the vision for the band as well as The Night Flight Orchestra?
Andersson: It’s always important. We are the main songwriters in both bands and I guess it’s not like we are constantly discussing divisions. We sort of take turns. For this EP, I wrote all of the music and lyrics for the five songs and it was my idea to begin with. No one else was coming up with stuff, so I just continued. Everyone is fine with that, like with Bjorn, next time he’ll probably put up a new theme or something. With The Night Flight Orchestra, we released a song of his a few months ago, and we’ll release another song of his tomorrow [“Paper Moon”] that is more Christmas-related. That’s kind of exciting – it’s a Christmas/holiday surprise.
The two of us always have to agree on themes and stuff like that, especially when it comes to full-length releases. I think it’s kind of 50/50, either I have an idea and we develop it together, or he has an idea. But we are the ones who are most involved in that thematic aspect, both visually and lyrically. He needs to be comfortable singing my lyrics, and my lyrics need to fit in with his lyrics, especially when you make an album. We know each other really well, so we don’t fight much over that sort of stuff. His ideas are usually great and he usually likes my ideas too. It’s pretty smooth sailing!
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the concepts behind the EP as a whole?
Andersson: There wasn’t really a concept to begin with. After releasing Verkligheten, we had a great creative atmosphere in the band. We had a great time recording it, and I felt it would be a shame to wait a few years before releasing something new. Even if we were kind of busy with Night Flight, I still wanted to maintain the momentum of Soilwork. So I wrote “Feverish” and everyone seemed to like it, so we released it as a standalone single. Then I wrote “Desperado” and “Death Diviner,” so we recorded those three and then me and René [Valdes], our video director, came up with a concept for making the videos, as well as a storyline that runs through the three videos. We wrote the “Feverish” trilogy and that was that.
Then the pandemic hit, and there was a big change of plans. We realized that we would not be able to tour for the foreseeable future, I just kept on writing. I thought this might be my chance to do that epic song. So I wrote “The Nothingness and The Devil,” the fourth track, and then I wrote the epic one, “A Whisp on the Atlantic.” When you write, it is like your subconscious is doing things that you are unnaturally aware of, so I realized in hindsight that there was a theme throughout those five songs, culminating with “A Whisp on the Atlantic” and starting with “Feverish.” It was going through various stages of human emotion and development, and it could either end with ascending or descending [laughs] and I hope that it ends with ascension.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been in the band for over 10 years now, what do you think defines Soilwork at this point the band’s career?
Andersson: It’s always difficult when you are on the inside, so I don’t know really. I’m not sure what the general perception of the band is, but what we are trying to do – when I joined the band [full-time] after Peter Wichers left, I had known them for six years already since I had been a session guitarist for them on and off, and Bjorn and I had already started The Night Flight Orchestra at that point. So when I joined the band, they knew I was a songwriter. What we have been trying to do is to keep the spirit of Soilwork, whatever that is, and try to evolve as a band with every album and try new and interesting stuff within the metal context. Our goal, at least with Bjorn and myself talking, is that we want to make music that hasn’t been done before. You can’t really pinpoint a genre – you have some surprise elements in there.
Of course, you can still call us melodic death metal, but at the same time, it’s something of a mutation in that and something that involves bringing in various influences and doing things in new ways, but still keeping it accessible. One of my favorite songs is “Strawberry Fields Forever” by The Beatles. That’s probably John Lennon’s best song on guitar. If you try to play it, it’s extremely smart in the way the harmony and the chords. Or like “Life on Mars” by David Bowie – there’s a lot of really interesting stuff happening harmonically and instrumentally, but at the same time, it sounds really obvious. That’s what we try to achieve. We make things that are interesting if you are into that sort of thing, but still accessible so if you are just a person who likes rock or metal music, you can enjoy it. I still love catchy melodies and choruses, but have that experimental edge underneath the surface that can evolve and mutate. There’s something new and fresh with each release we put out there.
Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned some of this already with quarantine and releasing music with both Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra. But do you feel its important do keep doing this, just to keep everyone aware of the band?
Andersson: The main reason we are doing it is because it’s fun. I really enjoy the creative process and writing songs/lyrics, and doing concepts for press releases and videos. So that’s the main reason we are doing it, but of course we want to remind the people who like our music that we are here, to keep up our appearance. Please don’t forget us [laughs].
The world as a whole hasn’t been in this situation since the last pandemic back in the 1920s. So we are trying to make the most of it. Since we all like writing and recording stuff, we like to try to keep entertaining our fans even if we can’t be playing live shows. No one knows when we will be going back to touring and playing shows. We aren’t even sure if we will ever be able to do it the way we did. The whole live scene will probably have some permanent changes. Even in Sweden, we haven’t had lockdowns, but we are limited to gatherings in groups of 8. Going to that to a packed, sweaty rock club without A/C and having 700 drunk people sweating on each other [laughs] and coughing on each other, it’s a very big step to take. I don’t see how we will get there any time soon.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s interesting to hear your take on all this, knowing your background as a doctor, and knowing that we are going to probably be stuck like this for a while.
Andersson: We are having a second wave in Sweden right now. It was pretty good towards the end of the summer but it’s getting worse again. It’s not as bad as it was back in the spring, but at the hospital I work in, half of our ward is a COVID ward. I’m a COVID doctor as well. It’s humbling, and you see all those people on social media thinking that they know the truth about stuff, and they aren’t even working in health care themselves. It’s a really complex question, and I would never try to provide an answer to anything, since I don’t have a clue and even the foremost experts in the field don’t have a clue either. It’s going to be a few years before we know who did the right thing. Hopefully we will be more prepared in the future for something like this happening again, as they probably will.
Dead Rhetoric: Aeromantic came out at the beginning of the year. Do you feel that Night Flight still has room to expand in that ‘70s/’80s vibes? Do you feel the sound is starting to really take hold that you were shooting for?
Andersson: The whole reason to continue writing music is that quest for the perfect song [laughs] and the day I write that song I will probably quit. But I haven’t done it yet [laughs]. We are actually almost finished with recording a new album with Night Flight, so it will be released in the first half of next year. Right now, just with Soilwork, we are always trying to do new and interesting stuff. We don’t want to confine ourselves to a specific sound, so it’s about doing whatever feels good and makes us happy and enthusiastic. We want to bring in surprises here and there. So it’s not like we are aiming for a specific sound, it’s more that we are aiming for a really good bunch of songs that will surprise them but still make them feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Dead Rhetoric: That’s a perfect description for The Night Flight Orchestra [laughs]! I don’t know of another band out that that gives that same fuzzy and fun vibe.
Andersson: Thank you! We want to sound like a party with a slightly melancholic undercurrent [laughs]. Like you are at the best party of your life, but you are very much aware that it is going to end [laughs]. But at least you experienced the perfect party. That Scandinavian, Abba, melancholic thing. The dancing queen will die one day [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that you gain personally, from being involved with both Soilwork and Night Flight?
Andersson: Probably because I have a day job as a doctor, music doesn’t feel like work, even if I’m a professional songwriter. It’s what I do when I want to have fun. Like I said, I love all kinds of music, and having both options with The Night Flight Orchestra, where we can play whatever we want, and Soilwork has a whole different feeling and mindset when you play metal music. It’s always a huge challenge to come up with new and interesting guitar riffs, and trying to stay in the metal context. Sometimes you feel like every metal guitar riff has been written already, but then you discover that it hasn’t [laughs] and it’s always a great feeling.
Dead Rhetoric: I know that everything is up the air right now, and you mentioned some things for both bands, but I wanted to do a quick wrap up for what’s happening with Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra for 2021.
Andersson: The only things we do know is that we are going to release a new album with The Night Flight Orchestra somewhere before the summer, and we are actually entering the studio with Soilwork in January to record some new stuff. We hope to release a new Soilwork album after the summer. Obviously we have a lot of postponed tours and festivals. We want them to happen, but we can’t really rely on anything right now. So I know we will keep releasing new music. Hopefully we will get to play some live shows eventually but we will see. We will stay busy creating and releasing things – you can’t wait for a possible tour to happen. We will be there for all of those who like our music, and they will be getting new stuff on a pretty continuous basis.