Soilwork’s Peter Wichers

Friday, 29th March 2013

We’re quite accustomed to seeing lead singers leave at the most inopportune of times, but when Soilwork lead guitarist/principle songwriter/founding member Peter Wichers quit the band in late 2005, more than a few were stunned. After all, Wichers had guided the band from its halcyon melodic Swedish death metal days to borderline-stardom with 2002’s Natural Born Chaos. Yet, the grind of touring had worn Wichers down, prompting him to step down to focus on studio and production work and even a total relocation to the United States. 

Wichers would go on to the be the figurehead behind the Nuclear Blast All Stars Compilation, Out of the Dark and produce and write songs for Nevermore singer Warrel Dane’s first solo outing, Praises To the War Machine last year. He was settled in, thriving in his Nashville confines, building his studio and client base, so it was with even greater surprise that Wichers decided to jump back into the fray to rejoin Soilwork for the completion of the touring cycle behind 2007’s Sworn To the Great Divide. 

Now on tour with Darkane, Warbringer, and Swallow the Sun, Wichers sat down with Blistering on the band’s very cozy tour bus to talk about the man’s return and a gaggle of other worthy topics. Here’s how it went down… How does it feel to be back doing everything again?

Peter Wichers: It feels cool. We did one tour before this one and the personal chemistry has been fantastic. The first time we rehearsed when I came back, it felt great. Have you done any double-takes now that Ola [Frenning, ex-Soilwork lead guitarist; Wichers’ uncle as well] is not here?

Wichers: [pauses] I don’t think it about much, to be honest. Sylvain [Coudret, ex-Scarve] is a fanstastic guitar players as far as it comes to proficiency, there’s nothing he can’t play and he’s really an amazing guitar player. It sounds great when we play together; I have a lot to learn. It’s going to be interesting writing new songs. We’re going to finish this tour, take a long break, then start writing, and we haven’t started bouncing ideas [around]. We’re all stoked about what’s going to come out of the new collaboration with Sylvain and the direction we’re going to take. Do you have any preliminary thoughts as to what direction the new songs will take?

Wichers: We’re going to try and go back to the older stuff. Maybe Chainheart Machine mixed with Natural Born Chaos, that’s where our mindset is at. There’s nothing wrong with Sworn To A Great Divide, the only problem for me, is the performance aspect like having someone like Dirk [Verbeuren, drums]…it’s a safe record. I think it has some great songs, but I feel some of the material is safe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I think as far as we’re going to go for the next one, it will probably be more technical. I just noticed you don’t have much of a Swedish accent. Is that what living in Nashville will do to you?

Wichers: [laughs] We’ve been all over the place since we moved here four years ago. We’re in-between North Carolina and Tennessee because that’s where my in-laws are, then we moved to LA for about a year and then we’ve been in Nashville ever since. I love living here. There’s are rough times, but I have a great family and a lot friends here and I don’t necessarily agree with everything that’s going on here, but if I went around and complained about how things in Sweden are so much better than they are here, my wife would be pissed [laughs]. Is your studio work on hold right now?

Wichers: I have a mix with me on the road. I’ve starting mixing two days and luckily we have Internet, so I’ll take my [Pro-Tools] rig into the bunk and mix. Any specific criteria you’re going for when producing/mixing?

Wichers: I would love to go outside the metal realm. I think doing one music style narrows it down to one thing and you might get better at what you do by focusing on one single thing, but I want to do everything. Honestly, living in Nashville, I usually go to the jam nights and check out the amazing players. Along those lines, are you looking to write more songs for artists? The work you did on the Warrel Dane album was pretty solid.

Wichers: Thank you. It’s fun because you don’t have to write in a certain mold. In Soilwork, even though every record sounds different, you can only go so far before the fans give up on the band. Doing the Nuclear Blast record, it was a lot of fun. I got a chance to write for a lot of different metal styles. Warrel was more…my approach was that I didn’t want it to sound like Nevermore. I told him if he were to do a solo record, his vocals were to be the main focus, not the guitars. He was happy he had so much space to sing over with that record. You’ve been on Nuclear Blast since A Predator’s Portrait. Is there still this high level of comfort knowing you’re one of their priority acts?

Wichers: It’s nice. Obviously you don’t agree on everything with the label. At the same time, we’ve grown with Nuclear Blast and feel they’re a good label. This next one is going to be the last one with them, so we’ll see what happens. When you were away, did you miss it?

Wichers: The itch for me would be the performance aspect. The thing I like the least is the waiting [part]. So that’s what I said when I came back, I want to bring my pre-production on the road. Now, things are different. A lot of us are married, so we can’t possibly tour as much as we did before. This is a long haul, this tour. For the next record, we’re going to tour, but there were a lot of tours for Soilwork where management forced tours on us and they didn’t pay off and you end up throwing away money. We’ll do what Meshuggah did. They’ll do two tours, take a break, and I think everyone is on the same page with that. We all want to do this, but not like we did for Stabbing the Drama. That was nine months of touring and I was done. I needed a break and I wanted to get more into production. Did you follow the band?

Wichers: Not really and I know that sounds surprising. I talked with Bjorn [aka singer “Speed Strid] from time to time, but I wanted to focus on the things I needed to do, but of course I got to hear from them.

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