Björn ‘Speed’ Strid : “It is all us. There is a precious connection between David and me and we know each other very well. It has not been an easy album to make. It has been pretty tough, pretty chaotic, but also very empowering to record it in the end. So I am glad the album is out. We put so much effort into this album and I think you can hear that.”
De tijd haalt ons in. Dit interview had Lords of Metal met zanger Björn ‘Speed’ Strid – een vrolijke en positieve gesprekspartner – in functie van het nieuwe Soilwork album ‘Övergivenheten’ begin augustus. Daarna werd in mijn leven ook alles overhoop gegooid en liep ik enige vertraging op. En kijk, gitarist David Anderssn – over wie ik terecht bezorgd was – is inmiddels overleden. Het nieuwe album hakt er dus zwaar in omdat hij zijn ziel en zaligheid er nog één keer in stak. We willen het volledige gesprek met Strid authentiek publiceren, maar luister vooral aandachtig naar ‘Övergivenheten’. Wij doen dat nu ook met een ander gevoel, aangezien we meerdere keren praatten met David Andersson en hem leerden kennen als rustige, intelligente prater en weldoend mens in de zorgsector.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 5 oktober 2022
The new album ‘Övergivenheten’ surprises me. It really has a wide range of different influences all over. How come?
Yeah. It is definitely a diverse album. It has influences all over the place. It is hard to say exactly why it happened that way, but I think there was a lot of inspiration. It is also a fact that the main song-writers – which is basically me and David (Andersson, guitars) – we have been on different planets a little bit. He has been going through a really dark time in his life – and he still is – and meanwhile I am in a very good place in my life. Me and David are very close and we tried to channel all this into music, while we are on different planets. That’s not been easy, but I think it also created a kind of magic and also the contrasts you can hear on the album. It is quite dark and melancholic, but also very uplifting and powering. There’s some classic thrash and heavy metal influences in there which we had in the beginning of our career, but it is also quite progressive I would say. We had quite a playful approach in writing this album. I mean, David never stops writing and I came in quite late into the whole writing process. To be honest with you, during covid-19 I needed some distance from everything. I needed a break and once I started writing for a new album, I even wondered: oh wow, I wonder if I can go back being that person again. It almost made me worried. What if I lost it, because I got to know that other person in me a bit better during covid-19? It was the first time in twenty years that I actually stopped. I never really got the time to know that other person fully, because we have been doing this really intense. How did all these things affect me after all and I think that is when you realize you can digest all those years somehow. So when I opened up the door and started writing songs, really beautiful things came out, especially melodically. I wrote some of the best melodies I have written in my life I feel and I could really connect to the melodies and really express what I had experienced the latest years through the music and that was very interesting. So maybe that is why I feel the album has so much precious and it feels very sincere. I think it is a very good representation of where the band is right now, even though it is very diverse. That is fine and I think sometimes in metal it is almost like you are supposed to be in this sphere where you are not supposed to take any steps outside of that sphere. I think it is okay to have different music styles on the same album. Of course it is all metal, but you know what I mean. If you have pop music, there can be different genres on one album, so why can’t we do that in the metal genre? I think it makes sense.
You are right!
As long as it doesn’t sound forced, you know. It is all us. There is a precious connection between David and me and we know each other very well. It has not been an easy album to make. It has been pretty tough, pretty chaotic, but also very empowering to record it in the end. So I am glad the album is out. We put so much effort into this album and I think you can hear that.
Can we say that David takes care of the rather dark lyrics and you are responsible for the uplifting things?
Yes, but I am touching on some dark topics as well, but I must say that it felt almost like a responsibility to balance things out. I always wanted Soilwork to be empowering and uplifting. That has been very important to me through the years, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t touch on dark topics. I think it is very important that we open up that door, but I also felt that I wanted to inspire David as well. Lifting him up in any way I can.
Lyrics do not only focus on personal experiences, but also on the environment. What can you tell about that?
Look out and look around is quite important for me as well, because you can easily be sort of ‘consumed by your own thoughts and feelings’. There have been times through the years when I felt that I was afraid to repeat myself and just feeling that same old teenager angst that I had when I was twenty and singing about when being 22. It is really hard to write a good lyric. And I think David is a better lyricist in general. I am better at expressing my emotions through melodies. That’s how I speak. It is an interesting situation. There is something so chaotic about the album, but somehow it feels controlled. Some people say that it sounds a bit like The Night Flight Orchestra, some of the songs. Somehow I get what they are saying, but for us it is a very different outlet. What inspired us, maybe, subconsciously, is the fact that we have different music styles on the same album with TNFO and maybe we brought that with us to Soilwork as well. I think that is why Soilwork is still relevant in the metal scene today, because we managed to break the mould and constantly evolve as a band. I think we are very brave. But then again, it is not as if we are suddenly playing jazz or opera, but still we manage to evolve. That is something we are proud of. Not many bands from that era have managed to do that. I mean, we started in the mid/late nineties and only a few bands are able to evolve and remain relevant and the fan base expects a surprise on each and every album. That is something that they have grown to love.
I am sure the album will be loved by the fan base, always a challenge too.
Yes for sure, but at the same time you can definitely recognize us, you know. But the element of surprises is very present indeed.
What is the connection between ‘Overgivenheten’ – which means the abandonment – and previous album ‘’?
It is quite a powerful title and quite dark. Sometimes you have to… In my case I had some things to abandon in order to get to a good place. I know it sounds hard, but sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes it is hard to be strong, even though you love the person and you want to be there, but it can become so destructive. A tough balance. We really wanted to find another Swedish word which is very powerful and where people can relate to. I think it connects well with the melodies running through this album.
There is also a beautiful French song called ‘Nous Sommes La Guerre’. What can you tell about that?
The song is written by David and I think he means the war within himself, where he is referring to. I know for sure that it has nothing to do with the ongoing war in Ukraine, because he wrote it before. That song definitely sticks out and that main melody is bigger than life itself (chuckles).
Did you see each other often?
Yes and no. We talked a little bit about it, because when he started writing lyrics for this one – I already told you that he actually never stops writing – but all the lyrics were very dark. I knew he was in a difficult time, so the stuff that came out was always dark and sometimes destructive and that made me very worried. That’s where I feel that I needed to step in and I did talk to him. I expressed to him that I cannot deal with it. I cannot deal with all these dark things, I feel powerless and the only thing that I could do was go and find strength within myself and try to write something that was empowering and uplifting. He never asked for my help, but that is what people have to do: help each other. It was really tough to make this album for him as well, so I hope that it can be a guiding star for him as well and uplift him in the end.
You have a new bass player, Rasmus Ehrnborn. What can you tell about him?
He has definitely been a social genius, he is really the glue in the band. He glues everyone together and emotionally a very intelligent person. A good friend. He has been touring with the band for quite a while, but I guess we wanted to take our time, because we had such bad luck with bass players. But pretty much from the get-go we knew: this is the guy. He added some really great things on the bass in the band as well. On the previous album, it was mostly David who played the bass. David is a very good bass player as well, but Rasmus is a real bass player. He gave our music even more depth I think. When you listen to the album, it is a journey on itself, listening to his bass playing. He is a great asset to the band.
Are you going to tour?
Yes, definitely. Normally we would have a full European tour lined up right after the album is released, but there is so much traffic now. I have heard there are four times more shows and events than usual this summer if you compare it to 2019. There is so much going on and everything is booked, so we just felt we cannot compete with this. People cannot afford going to a show every day of the week. So we plan to do that full EU tour in the beginning of next year instead. Hopefully things have slowed down a little bit by then.