Opening this CD was one of those times when you love the artwork then when you hear the first notes you just know you're going to love the music. I immediately called for an interview. Upon further examination you find that the lyrics are very compelling and the musicianship stellar, to say the least. I love those double guitar riffs. Jester came back from a successful tour of Europe and Japan with the flu, but Anders is in better shape and talks from his home in Sweden.
Q&A with Anders Friden (formally with Dark Tranquility and Ceremonal Oath) on the day of the eclipse (February 26) where Mercury and Jupiter were both conjunct with the Sun. Several other planets were lined up in a straight line across the sky, forming a huge three-dimensional cross with the position of the earth and the moon. This will not happen again for hundreds of years.
Sheila Rene': Are you a very spiritual person?
Anders Friden: No, not really.
SR: We've got some real interesting stuff going on today with the
AF: Yeah, yeah. Whoa, that's heavy.
SR: I think you gave your old members of five years Johan Larsson and
Glenn Ljugstrom a great send off in the booklet. Good show.
AF: Of course when you lose members it's always sad, but we have two new guys who are really, really into the band. We've known them for a long, long time and they're 100% into the music. The other guys didn't want to give that much. They couldn't with the families and job situation. We went out as friends.
SR: Your songs really fit in with what's going on in the universe
today. Songs such as "Dialogue With The Stars," "World Within The
Margin," "Morphing Into Primal, "Food For The Gods, Episode 666" and
"Gyroscope." A coincidence.
AF: (laughing) Yeah, it is strange.
SR: Are all these samples coming from you?
SR: You and Peter came up with the concept here.
AF: Yeah, I read the papers and see what's going on. I try to watch the news as much as I can. We take that information and twist it a little bit to make it more interesting. But, it's mainly about us as a family unit. We take a step out of ourselves and look at how fast everything is happening...really fast with all these computerized things. We're lending our brains to the machine instead of taking care of ourselves.
SR: "Episode 666" tell me about this song. Wonderful writing.
AF: We're the same as we were 2000 years ago. Morphing is something we have to take control over. We haven't learned that much. We should be further along in our development.
SR: The Whoracle artwork is the first thing you notice. Is there a
poster of this?
AF: Yeah, I'll send you one.
SR: Did you give Andre Marshall any ideas of what you wanted?
AF: We gave him some details but it has to come from him to make it special. We wanted it to be his. To work with him is an honor since we've known about his work since we were kids.
SR: Is he famous in Sweden?
AF: He's not that famous but he has done artwork for other bands. When I held his artwork and listened to the music it was great. To have him one day work with us is a dream come true.
SR: "The Jester Race" out in the summer of '96 seems to be the pivotal
album to now.
AF: Yeah, I would say that. It's where we found our own sound. We got a big step when we changed labels. More people heard that album than any others. That helped a lot. Nuclear Blast is doing a great job to get it out to the stores. I would love it if everyone could hear the album.
SR: Are any of those earlier albums, the tribute to Metallica on Black
Sun and the Iron Maiden tribute still available?
AF: It's available but not that easy to find. They're available as imports.
SR: Are you planning a tour soon?
AF: Hopefully, hopefully. We're just back from Europe and Japan. It feels like we should come to America now. We get a lot of e-mail from our fans to tour, and, of course we hope it'll happen soon.
SR: Just a short time ago you were still in the Top 10 on CMJ. It's
being heard. The end of January you were at #6 on the Loud chart.
AF: We aren't hearing much about what the album is doing over here.
SR: How are your ears?
AF: We wear ear plugs. Otherwise, soon enough you go deaf.
SR: What are your goals now that you've been touring a while?
AF: Now that we've been out meeting fans, it gives us a very good feeling. We don't hang out backstage, we go out front at the shows and meet people. Everyone has a different opinion about things. North American is our next target.
SR: You sound like you're in the next room rather than across the world.
AF: This is the first of the interviews I've done that sounds like it's next door.
SR: What is the translation of track one, "Jotun?"
AF: It comes from Norway. It means giant. They have a mountain of the giants over there and we just wrote about it.
SR: I love the double guitar bands so much.
AF: It's certainly a mark of this band.
SR: "The Hive" talks about how we should be so much more as a race by
now. Did you help Bjorn and Jesper on the writing?
AF: Music wise we all work together. We're a democratic band. It may take one week, one month or one year on a song. When it's good, it's good. You have to really feel what you're writing about or it gets boring.
SR: Is Fredrick Norstrom a famous producer in Sweden?
AF: He has worked with a lot of bands and certainly made a name for himself. I work in Studio Fredman myself. We are opening a second studio soon and I'll be half owner in that project. He's a friend and he knows the sound we want to capture. We record at home and it makes a difference when you can go home after a session evenings and come back the next day refreshed and ready to work.
SR: Have you ever had vocal lessons?
AF: No, but I'm thinking about it. It's boring when every song sounds the same. I try to keep it fresh.
SR: Are you comfortable with being labeled death metal? I personally
think that is only a small part of your sound.
AF: As long as people listen they can call it what they will. Reviewers often try to label it so the listener can get an idea of the sound. I don't mind. Everything we do is heavy metal in the end.
SR: Talk to me about "Whoracle?"
AF: The word is derived from whore and oracle. It's like you and me in a room. We talk about environment and I try to be the person doing the right thing all the time. You tell me how you're doing it. When you take the easy way out you're like a whore.
SR: All these songs were written for this album?
AF: Yes, only for this album.
SR: Are you writing for the next one?
AF: Actually we're going to start recording in a couple of weeks. We're anxious to experiment a little more with the next album.
SR: Jesper is really a great player and it sounds as if he and Peter
have played with each other for years.
AF: Yes, he is very good and he has never taken any lessons. He's self-taught. Jesper has a great feeling for what he's doing. He's a musical genius. He's a good guy to have in your band.
SR: Give me a message to take to your fans around the world.
AF: I would love everyone to scream really loud about us touring America. We really want to come over to the U.S. We want to meet the people and play for all of them. There are a lot of things buried in this album so it should be listened to with earphones to get the best idea of it. Crack open your favorite beverage and party with us.
SR: Is the Internet helping with your fanbase?
AF: Of course, we have a friend who's working with us on our site. Yohan handled the web stuff before he left. It's helping a little bit.
SR: You sound as if you're really more into the personal meeting as
opposed to the machine or Internet thing.
AF: That's correct. We'd be stupid if we didn't take advantage of the vastness of the medium. We have to keep up with the times. I'd rather be talking to you in person.
SR: Thanks for the call. I love this album. I'll see you on the road.
AF: I have to say thank you as well. If I can please anyone with our music that's brilliant. Hopefully, you'll hear us soon. Everyone should meditate to help bring us over there.