The Unguided – Moving Past SyndicationTuesday, 4th February 2014
Dead Rhetoric: The video you shot for “Inception” feels a bit more high budget than the usual “guys playing in the garage” variety. Could you elaborate on what is going on, story-wise, in the video?
Sjunnesson: Yes, that video was an expensive affair, certainly the most expensive video we’ve done to date in our career. But really worth it, since it was a lot of fun! The story, with all the sketches and also the acting dives right into the concept of the lyrics. This album is a semi-concept album with seven songs having the same theme to them. What’s going on in the video is mostly from the lyrics in “Inception,” but also “Unguided Entity.” It’s a really fictional, nerdy and dreamy story, but it’s like a diary of what’s been going on in my life the last decade; written in a more metaphoric and encrypted way.
Anyway, the video is mostly based on this city under siege by machines were they wiped out bigger part of the population. The female survivor has been captured by the machines, to be examined and kept prisoner for further experiments. But with a little help by a trusty soldier in the 616-army, she manages to escape and overpower her captors. There’s more to her than meets the eye, and that will be elaborated on in future albums. But she will be bad news for the machines, and the key to the salvation of the world.
Dead Rhetoric: In an interesting bit of promotion, you have been sharing quotes about Fragile Immortality from some in the music community (including Tobi Wright, members of Sabaton, Vicious Rumors, Deadlock, etc) on your Facebook page lately. Where did this idea stem from?
Sjunnesson: That’s entirely Napalm’s idea, even if we’ve done that quote thing a bit before. We’ve been using our contacts in the business to get a few words from important people on the album and then Napalm makes it pretty like that, and posts it on their Facebook. Really effective!
Dead Rhetoric: Hansi Kursch contributed some vocals to the song “Deathwalker.” Given the different musical landscapes of The Unguided and Blind Guardian, how did this collaboration come to be?
Sjunnesson: To be fair, I guess I’m responsible for that single-handedly. I’ve always been a huge Hansi and Blind Guardian fan, and to get the opportunity to do a duet with him has always been a dream of mine. So with this album, my dream has come true! Even if we play the music we do, I’ve personally always been a bit of a power metal fan, and that’s what piloted me into the metal universe initially. I got my hands on Hansi’s mail a couple of years ago and asked him about the whole guest vocal thing, which he humbly agreed on, but it was not until around 2012 we got the song ready for it. The rest of the guys are not huge power metal fans like myself, but they knew it meant a lot to me so of course they were equally excited over this.
Dead Rhetoric: The Unguided’s artwork has mostly been handled by Kuang Hong. Do you feel the sci-fi/fantasy covers give the band more of an individual identity?
Sjunnesson: I’ve always been a huge fan of artwork, and when I saw Kaung Hong’s work back in the days for the first time, I could never shake the feeling of how good it would be as illustrations for the band. It was never possible in Sonic Syndicate, since it was basically the label and management deciding upon the artwork, and they wanted something a bit more mainstream. But in this band, anything is possible. I contacted Kaung Hong and asked if he was interested and now he’s been doing so much art for us it’s unbelievable. He really makes this story and concept come alive and I think we make up for a great team with his art and our music.
It certainly gives a touch of our own identity, and you should not always judge the book of its cover. In a lot of the interviews I’ve done, people that weren’t aware of us thought, by just looking at the artwork, that the music would be way different than what they later experienced on the album. I enjoy that fact; there’s no one thinking outside the box anymore. Everyone just wants to align after the current standard, and I believe that’s boring.
Dead Rhetoric: In a galloping song like “Defector DCXVI,” how to you manage to draw the line between keeping things melodic with an underlying aggression?
Sjunnesson: That song certainly is a bit unique on the album. We have not been doing that whole galloping thing too much in our career, and as I said earlier, this album being a bit more experimental. This song was made to happen on this very album! I think that one has a bit of playful feeling to it, whilst wrestling with the more dark and vengeful lyrics. It came out really good and I think it’s going to be a bit of a fan favorite once the album comes out. There’s always a neat balance to what we do. There could be this mellow, clean vocal oriented part and the next thing you know is some heavy ass guitar with screams all over the place. Even if it’s been done in the melodic metal genre for ages, that’s the dynamic we’ve included in our songs for many years now and we have grown to be experts on it, this song and this album is no exception to that method.
Dead Rhetoric: One draw of the band has been (at least personally speaking) Roland’s clean vocal approach. He’s got a unique voice in his delivery, does he take any vocal lessons or is it just innate ability?
Sjunnesson: I don’t think he has had any vocal lessons, if he did it must have been ages ago, since I have known the guy for almost a decade now and he’s never done any of that stuff. I’d guess he’s self-taught and he indeed has a very unique voice, I’m a huge fan of his vocals and it’s always a pleasure working with him in the studio.
Dead Rhetoric: There have been a number of remixes of songs you’ve recorded, and there are also a few on the limited edition of Fragile Immortality. Will this be a tradition we can look forward to with any singles in the future?
Sjunnesson: We really like to try new things and the remixes have been really appreciated, especially that “Phoenix Down” one. Even if we are metal heads all the way into the marrow, I think it’s cool to have a little fun sometimes. I, for one, am certainly looking forward to more remix collaborations in the future.
Dead Rhetoric: With a release so early in the year, what can we expect from The Unguided for the rest of 2014?
Sjunnesson: Once the album is out, we’ll hit the road for a Scandinavian tour. Once that’s done; festival season will start and we hope to make appearances at a lot of awesome festivals in Europe. We are also hoping to do a short Europe tour once festival season is over, but that’s not set in stone yet. In whatever way you view it; it’s going to be a busy year! By the end of the year, we also hope to begin work on the third The Unguided album.
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