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Daniel Änghede: “Driving your car in the desert of the US with seventies classic rock on the radio, that is the vibe I get from our album, although it is way much darker

Een nieuwe vertakking heeft plaats gevonden in de grote Crippled Black Phoenix stamboom, en wat voor een! Zes ex-leden zijn nu verenigd in Venus Principle waarvan het debuutalbum ‘Stand In Your Light’ een pakkende brok muziek is die zowel rock- als metal liefhebbers zal aanspreken. De muzikanten wonen verspreid over Zweden en het Verenigd Koninkrijk, maar wij verkozen de nabij Gothenburg wonende zanger/gitarist Daniel Änghede om een gemoedelijk gesprek mee te doen op een warme zomermiddag.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 20 juni 2022

For a change, let me start with my quote about your album: ‘listening to music gives us pleasure, but some records are really touching and that is the case with Venus Principle’.
Wow, that’s very nice. We were a bit nervous about what people would think of it. It has been a long time since we wrote the songs and we were almost ready with the record for one year and a half I think, but everything got delayed with the pandemic, but it seems like people are enjoying it, which is good.

Indeed, it was already in autumn 2019 that you all left Crippled Black Phoenix…
We had already been talking about doing a project together before we left CBP, so it wasn’t a way to replace it, but we kind of felt that we wanted to do something together. So that is how the idea started, but when people started leaving, it was like a natural step to just pick it up and start working with it really.

Who turned out to be the main composers for ‘Stand In Your Light’?
I would say it is Jonas (Stålhammar – guitars, keyboards – Vera) and me and also Daisy (Chapman – vocals, piano – Vera) was very productive for a couple of months and we wrote the album very quick. It took like two or three months and then we had everything written. It felt very natural, so we were just sending files to each other. I wrote the first song and I had no idea what they were thinking of it, because we had not really talked about what kind of music we would do. So I just wrote something that I thought was nice and they loved it. That kind of kick-started everything.

That’s interesting. Which song was it?
‘All These Words’, the third song.

So beautiful! It reminded me of Mark Lanegan. He could have sung it.
Oh nice! I love his stuff, so that’s a great compliment.

‘Rebel Drones’ is a very important song for you I think, because it does not only start your career by being the first track on the debut album, but it is fascinating that you made a video for exactly the longest track…
(chuckles) Yeah I don’t know how that happened. I think the label wanted us to choose three songs which could be potential singles and they suggested that one. I don’t know if the band is really thinking if that is a good start, but it just happened naturally and we decided to go for it. Any of these songs I think could work as the first single.

Yes and there is a lot of diversity on the album…
Oh cool! It feels like it works really good and we haven’t even met up everyone in the band. I haven’t seen Daisy since 2016 I think. They recorded Daisy’s parts in England: the drums and some of the keyboards and Daisy’s vocals and we recorded our stuff here in Sweden. It is interesting that it is possible to do an album without getting together.

That’s the technical side of the world these days, indeed…
It is also nice. That meant that when I received the drum parts, I could instantly start with the vocals and I recorded my vocals in my home studio. It felt very organic and I could just record when I felt like, that was nice.

Did you put straight some guidelines for lyrics or is it coming from the heart?
It is just coming straight from the heart. There were no guidelines or whatsoever. For me personally I was going through a very dark time in my life when that album was written, so I think those lyrics were pretty much like a therapy for me. It was a perfect distraction to make that album and it helped me a lot, because I was going through a divorce and I just left CBP and I thought I would loose my other project, the one I had with my ex-wife. So it was a lot of changes in my life, it was dark, but that is in the past now.

It is good to have an outlet then…
Yes, so if the lyrics are a bit dark, that is why.

Did you write all of the lyrics?
No. I would say that I wrote half of the songs and Daisy wrote the other half. Sometimes I would start with a song and she would add vocals later on and then she would write her lyrics for those parts. It was a little bit like that.

When I listen to the music it feels like a journey to another world sometimes. Do you consider music as a kind of escapism?
Definitely. I would say it is. Personally when I write music, it feels like I am channelling. I cannot remember how I did it. Hours pass by and suddenly I have a song. I have no idea how that song happened. It just happens naturally. It is strange how it works.

It is not exact science of course, it is all about emotions…
I don’t think I would be able to write on demand, it all comes very natural. Everyone has their own taste, but the music that is on the radio these days it feels very soulless to me. The songs seem to come out of a factory. Let us use a vocoder for this, autotune on the vocals, it is like they are following this formula, which I find very uninspired.

And frightening, because it is almost near to robots…
Yeah and I think we are also close to soon the music will be written by robots.

What surprised me is that you also seem to have a kind of influence from bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema.

I don’t hear it, but it is in the info sheet…
That must be the record label. I don’t hear that at all in the music. I mean, I like all those bands. I see this album more as a little bit classic rock, maybe a bit darker, but I hear it more like the late seventies America, like driving your car in the desert and playing this album. That is the vibe I am getting from it.

I experienced that as well. Other bands I thought of were The Walkabouts and Low and aforementioned Mark Lanegan…
I listen a lot to music, so I guess there are a lot of things coming through as well, without me noticing it. I like My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, so maybe there are some influences as well.

How did you get into music in your youth?
I started playing violin when I was seven in school, but I did not really like it. When I had my first electric guitar, I think I was eight or nine. I am born to be music pretty much. My parents told me when I was two years old and we were out in the forest, I would find like a cut down tree, like a tree stomp that had the rings on it and I just looked for a wooden stick and pretended it was a turntable. It has been with me since I could pretty much talk. I started my first band when I was ten I think. Some of the people I started my first band with, we still play together today, that is cool.

Sweden has always been supportive for music, you even have a lively country scene…
I don’t know how it is these days, but back in the day, we had a lot of opportunities to have rehearsal space, there were teachers after school where we could go for help starting your rock band. There’s always been a lot of support for that.

Sounds like paradise! No wonder that so many bands come from Scandinavia!
Yeah maybe, that could be one of the reasons why actually and the fact that we can choose from early age in school to have instrument lessons and stuff like that.

Is there a lot of difference between working with Crippled Black Phoenix and Venus Principle?
I would say the biggest difference is that there is no more drama. We were so fed up with everything that was going on behind the scenes in Crippled Black Phoenix, that is why we left. We loved playing the music and we loved the live shows. Even recording the albums with Crippled Black Phoenix was always a fun process, but it is difficult to work with a certain member in the band.

Yeah Justin Greaves is the boss of course…
Yeah, a complicated person. I think the main difference now is that it feels like we are more free and we can also contribute more. I think it was very hard to get some of your ideas across in CBP, mostly because he wrote the music – which is fine – he is a very good song-writer and he has ambition, which is perfectly fine, but I think that all of us wanted to be more creative and now we can do that without anyone telling us what to do.

It is nice that you all click together from the same ex-band…
It also explains what kind of went wrong in CBP, because most of us have been in CBP and we are all good friends, but none of us is talking to Justin anymore.

That says enough…
That’s how it goes, but I have no regrets. I loved being in CBP. It was something I spent many years in and most of the time dedicating to. I learned a lot about myself as well, being in CBP. I am proud that I could stand it for so many years, because there were people in my time in the band that came and went, a lot of conflicts and stuff, but I was always managing to keep myself out of the conflict, until it wasn’t possible anymore, because It started to affect me personally. I started to have panic attacks and stuff before the tours and there was so much drama behind the scenes that I just couldn’t do it to myself anymore. .

That is already severe, then it is time to move indeed… How did you end up at Prophecy Productions, one of my favourite labels by the way?
Yes, I also liked that record label and I had a couple of records from them before. I think it was our manager. He thought it would be a good fit and he sent some of the demos to Prophecy. They loved it from the first song pretty much, so they were one of the labels that really, really wanted to sign us. We decided to give it a go. I think they are having a very nice and interesting mix of different music as well, because I don’t think we would fit on a pure metal label. It is good to be able to kind of do your own thing.

Are you coming to Prophecy Fest?
Unfortunately we cannot do it this year for logistic reasons and also, Jonas is playing a show with At The Gates the day after, so it wasn’t possible, but we really wanted to. I played there once with CBP in that place and it is such a fantastic venue. Hopefully next year. We are really looking forward to start playing live with Venus Principle. It is going to be amazing I think.

You haven’t played with them until now?
No, we even haven’t rehearsed yet (laughs) Once we get our first show confirmed, it is going to be a lot of work, but it is going to be fun as well. We know that we play good together, because we all played together in CBP for so many years. It is just going to be a different thing. It is going to be interesting.

Can you tell something about the guests, because we have two guys on slide guitar and one on saxophone…
Two of them were people that Jonas knew, because we kind of wanted slide guitars on the album. Surely me, I love slide guitars and he knew two people who could do it, so we just invited them and they were present. The first one was on one of my songs ‘Shut It Down’ or ‘Kindle The Fire’. I really wanted slide guitar on it. Jonas just sent the song to someone he knew and it came back as a version with slide guitars and that was amazing. With the saxophone player, that was also someone that Jonas knew and he came to the studio when we were recording the guitars and he just blew our minds with his solo. So good!

Are you planning more video clips?
At the moment we only have the one for ‘Rebel Drones’. I don’t know. It is quite expensive to do, because we have to do it in two different countries. So we have two teams doing it. It took a lot of the budget to do the video, so I think it will stay with this one, unless some miracles happen, but it turned out really good I think. Was it easy to get into the album or did it take a lot of try’s?

No, from the first spin it came over as quite accessible, why?
Some people have mentioned it is too long and it is a lot to take in, which I can understand, but for us, we just could not cut any songs. In the beginning there were talks that we would save some songs for the next album, but it did not feel right because the songs were written in a certain mood and I think it is better to just release it when it is written. The next album will probably sound different. We are not going to have the same energy as we have on this one. I think it is natural to just release it the way it was supposed to be.

That’s right and you should not change things because people cannot focus a long time anymore…
Exactly. So we have to fight for the art. We never thought this band would be popular. It was just for our personal pleasure anyway. When people like it, it is a really nice bonus, but it is not our goal, we had made the album anyway. I always get very interested in long albums. When a band releases a double album, I say ‘Yes! Finally!’ I like short albums sometimes too, but I find it more interesting when you get like the full package.

You have also worked with Heike Langhans from Draconian?
That was my ex-wife (laughs) We had our project together called Ison and it is very close to my heart, so I thought that this project was over when she left me, but I decided to keep going with it. I played some bass in Draconian as well, I played bass on the latest album.

But now she left Draconian I think, the former singer is coming back…
Yes, I spoke briefly to Anders, the vocalist, a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what happened, but he told me that he had to tell me some gossips (laughs).  So we will see.

It felt like a relief to read that Venus Principle is not a one time project…
No. That is not the plan. We are already planning writing the next album, so… I really look forward to it. It is going to be interesting to see how the next one will differ from the first one. Now we know what we can do together, so I think that is going to open up for more experimentation.

What are the plans for playing live?
We are currently talking to someone who used to book CBP back in the day. We are discussing if he is going to do bookings for us and also we had a request for a festival next year which is going to be amazing if that happens. It is not confirmed yet, but we are really hoping that it is going to be confirmed. The next plan is definitely to start playing live. That is our main goal now. Maybe open up for a bigger band on a European tour.

I hope to hear a lot of new music from you in the near future…
Definitely. We are going to release more.