Soilwork - Swedish, not squeamish...or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the band!

By Thrash-head

A band like Soilwork you really can’t help but love. They do what all good bands do, which is they create good music that people want to hear and all the while they progress and gradually reinvent themselves along the way. Also, just like all good bands, they have a lot of open-minded fans and a lot of close-minded ones. The open-minded ones here the new stuff and think “hey awesome; they got a new album out.” The close-minded fans sing a different that’s more like “well shit, this isn’t something they’ve already done so I hate it!”

Oh well, we know what always happens to people like that. They remain stubborn throughout their lives, join the republican party, and gradually their life goes down the toilet...all because they didn’t like Soilwork’s new stuff. Fine by me, since to me they just don’t realize what they are missing out on. Soilwork is to Swedish metal what Tool is to art/math-rock. They are an incredibly innovative band that garnered a really good fanbase right off the bat, and have been slowly but surely experimenting and reinventing themselves ever since, although whenever you hear something new you can ALWAYS tell that it’s Soilwork. That is the beauty of this band...

Wormwood Chronicles: Before I wax eloquent about the new album, why don’t you tell me what exactly you did differently this time around?

Peter Wichers: Well, changed producers, first of all, and also when we wrote the album, we wrote it very spontaneously. It was not like we were spending so much time on the writing of the music and we actually didn’t set any barriers for what we could bring onto the album and not, so that is probably the reason why the album is kinda dynamic in that way. It has some songs that are very extreme and some songs that are a lot softer. I think that’s probably one of the things we did very differently on this one.

WC: One of the things I noticed when I listened is that while there still are guitar solos on the album it seems to be that there’s a lack of any long solos like on previous CDs. Is there any reason why; did you guys just decide to keep them to a minimum?

PW: Actually that question has been asked a lot. I think one of the reasons is that we write a song and then once we’re done we go “oh, there’s not really a guitar solo in this one. Should we put one in there just to add a guitar solo or just keep it the way it is?” And most of the times, the songs were kinda complete already. There was no real place [for a solo]; it would be too obvious if we put a guitar solo somewhere in there, just like “ make an extra riff just so that we can get a guitar solo in there.” It kind of ruins the perfection of the song.

WC: One other thing that people are going to notice about this album is that there is a different drummer on it. What happened with Henry that he decided to quit?

PW: Well, I can’t go into real detail because him and I are still close as friends, but the official thing was that he wanted to focus more on his private life and he didn’t really enjoy touring as much as [the rest of us]. There was more and more touring going on and he didn’t really like that. At that time, the financial [situation] wasn’t really that well off. We’d come back from tour and not know how much money we had. We didn’t even know if we had the money to pay for rent and stuff like that. You have to kinda have the personality to deal with that, and he didn’t really have that. He chose not to continue and to me it was a really great loss. But he’s still doing drums and we might do something in the future. We have been talking about it.

WC: Is there any details yet about this new project?

PW: I don’t know yet. All I can say is...the vocals will probably be a little more different than in Soilwork. Probably more melodic vocals than in Soilwork. I’m not really sure; I’m just starting to write stuff right now. I’ll let you guys know. But Henry’s moving over to the states because he married a girl from Chicago, and I already live in the states now, so we’ll probably jam when he gets over

WC: Yeah, he’ll be living around my area.

PW: Oh, up there in Illinois?

WC: Yeah, I’m in Rockford, about 80 miles to the west.

PW: Oh, ok...

WC: Well, I was going to get to this later but since you brought it up...why’d you move to the states?

PW: Um...met the woman of my dreams and got married. That’s probably why...

WC: Well right, she from the states or didja meet her elsewhere and just both decided to move to the states.

PW: (laughing) That’s like a family story and I have to tell it here. Well, we were touring in Europe and she was a Spanish major studying abroad in Spain and I met her there. We exchanged e-mails, and I hooked up with her on our U.S. tour in Atlanta, and then we totally fell in love and I proposed to her the year after, and we decided it’d be easier for me if I moved over here. I mean, I’m always traveling anyways, I can always fly in for rehearsals and she can keep her job and stuff like that. It was just the best thing for us to do, and I love it. I’m in North Carolina, it’s kinda far from you.

WC: You sound like you’re adjusting well. I don’t hear any accent in your voice at all.

PW: Well, I never really had that; I don’t know why. I’ve been speaking so much English for like the past 15 years, so...I don’t really like to have an accent. It actually gets me out of a lot of...y’know a lot of people get surprised when I tell them at the grocery store or at a bar where I’m from and they’re like “no shit, there’s no accent!”

WC: Do you know any details about Speed’s project with Thomen Stauch from Blind Guardian?

PW: All I know is that he’s there right now; he’s recording the vocals as we speak. He’s in Hamburg and I haven’t heard anything. I’m sure he’ll bring it over when we start the tour. I’m pretty stoked to hear it. He said it’s totally different from Blind Guardian, it’s more like American metal, like something extreme and maybe like Disturbed and the like. I know it’s going to be all melodic vocals but I know Bjorn [Speed’s real first name – Thrash-head] can pull it off. Especially on the new album. (I have learned that the Speed/Stauch project will be called Savage Circus...not to be confused with Soul Sirkus, the Neal Schon/Jeff Scott-Soto band--Know-it-all Mality)

WC: Yeah, it seems like with every album he just gets more versatile and more versatile...

PW: He’s definitely awesome. When we first started out, we were just like 17, both me and him. But he really grew as a musician and his voice just keeps getting stronger, and I really think he has an awesome voice.

WC: Getting back to the drummer situation, what happened with Richard?

PW: We did Korea, Japan, and Australia, and then we did a tour of the U.S. On the second U.S. tour we found out it wasn’t really clicking personal chemistry-wise. It’s not a major thing, but if it doesn’t really work out personal chemistry-wise; if you can’t really communicate or if there’s a lot of misconceptions and you can’t really work, because when you’re on a tour bus you live so close to each other that the slightest problem could become the biggest problem. That’s probably what happened. Essentially, he moved to Australia just a few days ago and he’s going to start a career as a recording engineer down there, going to school stuff like that. We’ll probably see him. We’re still really good friends; we ended our relationship on good terms.

WC: Reason why I was asking about that is because there was the thing with him leaving to join Chimaira [which didn’t work out due to visa problems. Now Chimaira is working with Kevin Talley, formerly of Dying Fetus and Misery Index]. Was there ever any sort of beef with Chimaira over that whole incident?

PW: Uh, well, I’m good friends with most of the guys in Chimaira and I don’t really have a whole lot of bad things to say about ‘em. The only thing that kind of hurt me a little bit is that we kinda knew he was going to take the spot in Chimaira because Andols quit on that tour. The only thing that we didn’t want to surface was the fact that we were a band without a drummer. Because we had our upcoming headlining tour in Europe and that was bad publicity for us, so I asked them if they could keep quiet about it until we had talked [to Dirk Virbeuren, of Scarve] to see if he could do it or not. But they went on the internet saying he was a permanent member of Chimaira before we had even announced that he had quit Soilwork. So that was the only thing that was kinda hurtful, but I’m not pissed, it’s all gone now. We’re still friends; I talk to Chris and Matt [Spicuzza and DeVries, electronics and guitar respectively] of Chimaira all the time, so it’s no problem.

WC: What is the story with Dirk now, because I’m always hearing how he doesn’t know if he’ll stay with the band or not. What is his status with Soilwork right now?

PW: Well, we’ve offered him the spot, and if he wants it he can have it. He’s been playing with Scarve for over ten years now and they’re finally starting to take off, and that bands been kinda like his baby. It’s up to him if he wants to do it or not. He’s willing to compromise with us and do a lot of shows that we have coming up. He’s an awesome drummer and an awesome personality and the door is open but more than that I really can’t say. I know it wouldn’t be a problem for us to find another drummer; absolutely not! But as I said before the personal chemistry just has to click or it just doesn’t work, no matter how good the drummer is.

WC: As far as recording goes, it used to be that for a while when someone thought of Fredman studios they thought of you guys as having the quintessential Fredman sound. Now you’ve been using other studios. Any particular reason why you’re not using Fredman anymore?

PW: I think that a change...’cause we did all our albums with Fredman for a while and after a while you just get tired of using the same producer and mixer all the time. It’s not that we think it’s a bad sound, it’s just that we kinda know what we get from Studio Fredman. It’s not anything new. We wanted something with a totally different approach to it. I mean, like the drums at Studio Fredman are a lot more acoustic-sounding and stuff like that. It’s just a matter of changing things around a little bit and changing your sound so that not all of your albums sound the same.

WC: Was that also the reason why Devin Townsend produced “Natural Born Chaos”?

PW: Yeah, definitely. That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the studio, when Devin worked with us. We wanted to be on this album to, but he didn’t really have time. I’ve talked to him since and we’ll see if he can do the next one maybe. He’s just an awesome person and he’s a genius in my opinion. He really knows how to push somebody and get someone to play at the top of their ability. I think he’s really good with that.

WC: You guys are kinda known for helping out other bands too, like Construcdead. Is it just sorta a thing were someone passes along a demo and you fall in love with it and you want to help them out, or is it like long term buddies?

PW: We get a lot of demo tapes and we try to listen to as many as possible. Different people in the band; y’know, some people really like to listen to the demos, so they usually get all the CDs. If you’re touring with us or you meet up with us and we click or we have a beer or something like that. I mean if there’s a good connection then we really like to help people. We’re not egotistic] and we really like to help people. I’ve hooked so many people up with guitar endorsements you wouldn’t even believe it, just because they are good friends and stuff like that.

WC: Speaking of which, any chance of a Caparison Signature model?

PW: We’re talking about it now actually. I got offered ESP in the states and I said “well, I’m actually very satisfied with Caparison right now, so I’ll stick with that.” We’ll see; that would be an honor, but I’ll probably talk about it next time.

WC: Well, this last thing is kind of a thing that me and my headbanger friend’s have been discussing for about a year now, and therefore this is kind of a question/suggestion.

PW: Go ahead.

WC: Are there any plans for a live DVD or a live CD because myself and most of my friends all tend to agree that would be the most awesome thing to hear from you guys at this point?

PW: Well actually, I just got a DVD camera and the guys have one in Sweden so I’m sure we’ll shoot a lot of footage, so that is a strong possibility. Put some little stories, videotape the crowds; just a fun thing to do.

WC: Well, you guys certainly have enough material now...have you ever thought about a live CD?

PW: We have actually, but it’s just...we dunno where we’d want it happen. I mean, sometimes we record the shows in Japan but then we go back to listen to it and we’re like “Shit! That’s sounds off!” and we’re just like “god, I dunno if we even wanna use this.” Truth be told you gotta tape more than one show to hear the best out of everything, so we’ll see. It’ll probably definitely happen somehow.

WC: Well, that’s all I have, thanks for taking the time, and anything else you wanna say?

PW: Just go check out the album. I went to Best Buy yesterday and they were already sold out. So definitely go out and get it.

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