Predators For Pain
CoC interviews Bjorn Strid of Soilwork
by: Adrian Bromley
It is nice to talk to a musician every now and then who just seems to be totally excited about the new disc, even if he has already done ten interviews that day prior to yours. Case in point: Soilwork singer Bjorn "Speed" Strid. He's proud of his band's new disc, the solid and ultra-dexterous _A Predator's Portrait_ (their Nuclear Blast debut), and he wants to talk about it -- and with a lot of enthusiasm to boot.

"The biggest change about Soilwork's sound on this record is that it is very melodic, but still very fast and intense. I think there is a lot more atmosphere within our music right now, and we are also working in the clean vocals", beams Strid down the line trying to throw in a lot of his thoughts when asked about the makeup and direction of the band's third offering to the metal world. "I think I am very proud that we made an attempt to use clean vocals more on this record. And why not? Why not ask the other guys in the band to try and find new scales and ideas to do with their guitar sounds? It is hard to stay happy and within your area of musicianship without wanting to explore other options. You just feel the need to expand and try new things and we did just that. I decided to use a sound coach to help me get a lot out of my clean vocals and I think the end result is pretty good. I'm very happy with the way we used those vocal styles to make the choruses very powerful."

Along with the other members in the band -- guitarists Ola Frenning and Peter Wiches, bassist Ola Flink, keyboardist Carlos Del Olmo Holmberg and drummer Henry Ranta --, Strid notes that the band really hasn't made an attempt to change their sound over the years. They just let it evolve, allowing the music of today's Soilwork to sound a bit different from their two previous opuses, 1998's _Steel Bath Suicide_ [CoC #34] and 1999's deadly _The Chainheart Machine_ [CoC #42]. Strid comments, "This record is a very personal one. I think this record has a more personal sound, though there are similarities between this record and the last one. This record is a lot more atmospheric, dynamic sounding and varied opposed to the last record, due to the use of clean and harsh vocals. I think that is really only the most notable change. We're growing and it shows."

About the studio work, Strid says, "Most of the lyrics and ideas for the album were pretty much known going into the studio, but there are things that happen spontaneously in the studio, and they help guide it into another direction sometimes. Once you are in the studio and you have some of the songs down, other ideas come into your mind and you act on them."

On the topic of the final product, knowing well what the ideas for this disc were when heading into the studio, is Strid happy with the final result? Does he think the band were able to capture their ideas on the new material?

"I think this disc was supposed to be a certain way in our heads and on paper, but the final result is much different and much better than expected. When studio work starts, everything you play and work on sounds like shit and it is up to you to mix the ideas and get it to flow together. It is your job as musicians to help make all the pieces come together and turn into something worth showing off to the metal fans."

"It is hard sometimes to get a certain sound or idea down on record", he adds. "That easily explains why some bands spend long periods of time working in the studio." For anyone familiar with the music of Soilwork, the fast-paced guitar riffs and supersonic vocal cries bring out a truly hypnotic pattern, speeding up at a second's notice. It is fast and furious. How does Strid keep up with the guitar riffs?

"I don't know how it all works, but it does..." He pauses. "The way I bring my vocals into the band, they compliment the style and sound quite well. As for keeping up, it takes practice. When both my vocals and the band's momentum get going, it is powerful stuff."

"A lot of the songs on the record are very important to me. I love the way the songs are and just the sound they deliver. They are great songs. I am very fond of the songs "Like the Average Stalker", "Needlefeast" and "Structure Divine". Those songs really make a statement for Soilwork."

Does Strid still listen to the other records they have put out?

"Yeah", he notes. "I still like to listen to those records and I am very proud of what we did with those recordings. I am glad that we did what we did with those discs and it's great to see how everything for the band up to this point -- with the music we are creating -- is all coming from a natural development."

Another thing I ask Strid is how the band is dealing with the success they have been receiving lately. The band's new disc has a lot of hype behind it and Nuclear Blast is pushing the album real hard. Is the pressure on their end? Are they nervous about it all?

"Seeing that this is our first disc for Nuclear Blast, of course we are nervous, but we are proud of what we have with this album. The label has done a great job and it seems like we are a high priority, so there is also some pressure. I think we are just glad to be in this position with a great label backing us and a solid disc to play and tour with."

Looking at the album cover and reading the song titles (even taking note of the album title), it is quite obvious this is a dark record. Why so dark and gloomy? Is the world really that bad? What inspires these ideas for the Soilwork material?

"I'm not a very destructive person", he starts. "But these are just tales that I sing about and come up with. Songs and ideas inspired by violent and neurotic people with sick minds. I read up a lot on the subject of psychology and the human behavior -- maybe that is where it all comes from?"

He finishes, "I think we all need to explore ideas within our music. I have decided to go this route with this record. Who knows? It may be a different idea next record. We'll have to wait and see, won't we?"

(article submitted 13/3/2001)


ALBUMS
2/22/2005 J Smit 7 Soilwork - Stabbing the Drama
5/11/2003 P Azevedo 5.5 Soilwork - Figure Number Five
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 5 Soilwork - Natural Born Chaos
3/13/2001 C Flaaten 8.5 Soilwork - A Predator's Portrait
8/12/1999 D Rocher 9 Soilwork - Chainheart Machine
10/1/1998 D Rocher 9 Soilwork - Steel Bath Suicide
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