Metal Wani's Jake Patton recently conducted an interview with frontman Björn "Speed" Strid of Swedish metallers SOILWORK about the band's forthcoming studio album, "Verkligheten". You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On still releasing studio albums over two decades since SOILWORK's formation:
Björn: "I didn't really predict that. I was just glad to get a record deal back in '98 and releasing the first record. I didn't really have any plans. It's crazy to think about it. It's like half of my life I've been doing this. That's pretty insane. I don't know…I'm just really proud that we're able to put out such interesting records still that sort of stick out in the metal world, which is really hard in the end. Yeah, it gives you perspective. I just turned 40, too."
On what the "Verkligheten" album title represents:
Björn: "I think David [Andersson, guitar] came up with the idea a couple of years ago. He said, 'We should totally name it 'Verkligheten'.' At the time, it seemed sort of weird, but it sort of marinated for a couple of years, then it picked up again, especially with this record that has so much Swedish melancholy written all over it, especially with the melodies. It seemed like the perfect title. I guess, lyrically, when I write lyrics, they're usually very socially realistic and when David writes lyrics, they're usually full of escapism and escaping reality and at the same time, I sort of want everything to be as normal as possible. The older you get, the more you have to face reality, so, I guess it's a very fitting title in the end."
On whether he is concerned about the four-year gap between studio albums for SOILWORK, with their most recent effort, "The Ride Majestic", coming in 2015:
Björn: "Not really. I mean, we never want to release an album as an excuse to tour. I think there's too much of that already out there. It's very sort of emotionally driven. We did so much touring for 'The Ride Majestic' and I think that's the main reason in the end why it took so long. We did three North American tours; we did two European tours; we did South America, Australia, Japan and we did all the festivals. It left us pretty drained in the end. I guess we needed some time off and then we sort of slowly approached the songwriting process carefully and you never know what's going to happen, how the songwriting is going to go, but it came to us. There was a constant flow of inspiration present. We were honestly very happy to feel that. It was pretty easy to write this record and it's hard to say why, but, we had gone through a lot in the last years, both as a band and the personal level, so I think that also sparked this album in a way."
On how different "Verkligheten" sounds in comparison to other SOILWORK studio albums:
Björn: "I mean, it's hard to sort of realize these things when you're so deep into it. To me, it all makes sense. Maybe some people will be, like, 'Oh, what is this?' And they get really surprised, but that's what we always wanted to do. We always aim to surprise ourselves and our fans and I think that's why we make so much sense today. We're not trying to recreate albums, we keep on developing, but there's always a theme running through our songwriting, especially this new one, I think it's a really good summary of our career. It might be a cliché, but it really feels like that. I think it would even be a great introduction to someone who hasn't heard SOILWORK if they got this album, then they could go back from there."
On the songwriting process for "Verkligheten":
Björn: "There's some amazing guitar [work] on there. It was actually me and David who wrote the whole record, so it's been interesting for me to sort of, pick up the guitar again. I mean, I already did that for 'The Living Infinite' and I also wrote some songs on 'The Ride Majestic' and the new one, it's only been me and David, which was not planned at all. Normally, Sven [Karlsson, keyboards] and Sylvan [Coudret, guitar] would write some songs as well, but they didn't come up with anything, so it ended up being just me and David. It's been really interesting for me to write a song from scratch instead of getting a demo, then adding the lyrics and the vocals. So, it's about building it up from the ground up. Yeah, I mean, it's been a challenge for me to play all these riffs, at least for the demos. I didn't record any guitars on the actual album, but I wrote the songs. David is a fantastic guitarist, he can play whatever he wants. For me, I'm really good at realizing ideas I have in my head into my fingers, even though I wouldn't be able to do a play-through, so to speak. It's kind of hard to match David's guitar work, too. He has all the technical abilities in the world whereas I sort of have to really practice for each and every riff to realize what I have in my head."
On the involvement of new drummer Bastian Thusgaard, who replaced Dirk Verbeuren when he left for MEGADETH in 2016:
Björn: "We always write demos with programmed drums, but we always want to leave it open for interpretation. He added a lot of stuff in the studio as well. I also think it has to do with the fact Bastian has done so much touring with us already. When he stepped in for Dirk, when Dirk was leaving for MEGADETH to fill in for one month to begin with, then Dave Mustaine, he popped the big question, he became a permanent member. At that time, Bastian was already touring with us, so it was a pretty smooth transition. I think that's really, really good that we got to play together live before approaching a new album. I think you can definitely hear on the new album as well. He's a solid drummer. He can play really extreme stuff, but also a classic, good old Phil Rudd [AC/DC] rock stomp."
"Verkligheten" will be released on January 11, 2019 via Nuclear Blast. The first-edition digipack, as well as the vinyl versions, will also contain the exclusive "Underworld" EP, containing four more songs. The digipack version will also feature special artwork with lavish foil print.