Interview with Soilwork vocalist, 
Björn "Speed" Strid

Interviewed By EvilG

soilwork


  Listen to the interview in MP3 format 
(20mins long, 4.6 MB download)


First of all I wondered why your nick name is "Speed", is it because youīre always on 11 or something?

(Laughs) Yeah, exactly. No, itīs actually you know my school days when I was like 13 or 14 and I liked everything that was fast.

Musically you mean?

Yeah exactly. So I donīt know. You pronounce my second name Strid... "Speed Strid" so.. (ed. note: sounds like Streed).

"Speed Strid" Ok. (laughs) Does it still apply today that you prefer the faster music?

Yeah, Sometimes yes but I like different types of music but I still like very fast music.

Your newest album A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT to me represents an excellent  progression for SOILWORK. I was wondering what elements would you say that the band has most improved upon since the first release?

Well the PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT album isnīt as fast as THE CHAINHEART MACHINE or STEELBATH SUICIDE but itīs still very intense. I think itīs more, you know, atmospheric and dynamic and the biggest change is with the clean vocals. I guess our sound is a little bit more melodic right now. The music is more atmospheric with the clean vocals. I think we have developed our own sound so I think there is a SOILWORK sound actually.

 

In my opinion, I think the best improvement was the decision to include the clean vocals. I was wondering if you were hesitant at first to include these clean vocals and is this something that we will hear from now on in SOILWORK?

Well, Iīm still using, I used a sound (singing) coach half a year before we recorded the PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT album. Iīm still using a sound coach, so I guess there will be a little bit more of those clean vocals but we will always have those screaming vocals too, because thatīs what SOILWORK is about too.

 

I was wondering if you always knew how to sing clean or is this something that you have been working on and only felt comfortable to show to everyone with this album?

You know, I always dreamt of singing like Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio and guys like that but we tried it out for fun when we recorded the bonus track for Japan on CHAINHEART MACHINE. That was "Shadow Child" which is on the new album too like a recycled version. I think it turned out pretty good so we decided to use more of those clean vocals.

 

Have all the reactions to this been positive or have some people said "Uh oh, youīre going to sell out now because youīre going to sing clean" or something?

We havenīt heard much about that but we, I received fantastic response from the fans and people all over the world. They like the new style. They think that the sound is more varied and rich...so they like it.

 

Yeah, I agree. Can you explain to me what you meant by the title: A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT?

Itīs like a gallery of thoughts from you know more or less psychotic or neurotic people. Itīs like a concept album. I was reading psychology before recording the PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT, so I was very inspired by psychology. Itīs very much about serial killers and stuff like that so itīs pretty much inspired by stuff like that.


A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT (2001)


THE CHAINHEART MACHINE (2000)


STEELBATH SUICIDE (1998)

Could you tell me what songs on the album probably have a deeper or more personal meaning to you that you could tell me about?

Well we have "Structure Divine". Thatīs about a man who is balancing between sanity and insanity and he just canīt choose which side. And Iīm singing on the chorus "Yeah, I think Iīm losing it, Iīm losing it right now, Iīm losing it". He thinks heīs getting sane but on the other hand he is getting more insane actually. So thatīs one of the songs that I could tell you about.

 

Perhaps one of my favorite tracks is "Shadow Child" can you give me a brief rundown on that one?

Well, itīs about a youngster who, heīs like a guiding star to his friends. Heīs actually leading them straight to hell. Heīs a real psycho kid.

 

Ok, a couple questions now pertaining to the recent changes in the band related to your keyboard position. I read on your website that Sven Karlsson is announced as your new keyboard player. I was wondering how heīs working out and where did you originally find him?

Well we got in contact with Nick Hogenson of THE FORSAKEN. You know FORSAKEN? [Right] He used to play with the guy Sven in the band called EMBRACED and we knew he was a good keyboard player and when Carlos jumped off the band we tried to find somebody, a good musician and that was a great guy too. Heīs actually playing in EVERGREY and a band called MITHOTYN too. We actually contacted him right before the Japanese tour and asked him if he wanted to go with us there just to play those two gigs in Japan and he said "hell yeah!" So and then it worked out really well so we asked him if he wanted to be a full time member. He said "yes". Of course he has a very tough schedule with both EVERGREY and MITHOTYN but I think he will work it out some way. Thatīs great. Heīs a really nice guy and a great musician.

 

Cool. So besides those bands like what is his musical background and where does he come from in terms of influences and how do you think that might have an impact say on the SOILWORK sound for the next album?

Well as I said he has played with the band EMBRACED. Have you heard of EMBRACED?

Yeah, theyīre from Sweden, right?

Yeah, from Malmo. I donīt know much about his background actually but he likes different types of Metal. Heīs listening to all from Classical music to Black Metal. Heīs a good songwriter too, so maybe he will do some good things for SOILWORK. Give his personal touch to the band and give us a little more richer sound maybe also.

 

Will you put the keyboards a little more in the front maybe or are you happy to maintain the keyboard levels that were on A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT?

I think we will still keep them in the background. We intend to let the keyboards make the sound more atmospheric and you know dynamic.

So there wonīt be no big STRATOVARIUS like keyboard solos? (laughs)

(laughs) No, I donīt think so.

Did you ever consider not replacing Carlos and just going with the guitar sound only?

Well, we were discussing about using DAT live but we were discussing it then and we came to the conclusion that it looks better with a keyboard player live. Itīs more of a live feeling when you have a full time keyboard player live too. So we decided to pick out and find a good keyboard player so and then we found Sven, heīs really good.

 

I was wondering if your departed keyboardist Carlos will be contributing any artwork for future releases?

Heīs actually working on the new SOILWORK cover. Heīs great in doing artwork I think [Yeah, definitely] and hopefully he will do a great cover for the next album. Thereīs a big interest for Carlos artworks actually. He has a pretty tough schedule you know because thereīs very many labels that want his artwork.

 

Is that basically his career now - doing the artwork?

Yeah, yeah it is so. I am glad for him.

 

Back to the early days I was wondering what, if anything, do you feel that you owe to the band ARCH ENEMY for helping to get your name out in the beginning?

Well, Mike helped us a lot in the beginning because there were some labels interested both War Music and Listenable Records but we called them for like 5 times a week "oh, do you want us to sign?" or "whatīs happening?" and nothing happened. Then Mike, he sent another demo with some words of recommendation to them and then suddenly they wanted to sign us immediately. Laurent of Listenable Records wanted to put out the album immediately so he was the first one so we signed with Listenable.

They're from France right?

Yeah, so we are very grateful for what Mike (Amott) has done for us of course.

 

I was wondering what your feelings are on the often overused tag that people refer to as the "Gothenburg sound". I was wondering how you feel about that tag, do you think you fit in under it or that you define it or have you moved beyond that sound?

Well, I think there used to be like a Gothenburg sound, many of the bands sound similar but nowadays I think most of the bands have developed their own sound I guess because DARK TRANQUILLITY have their own sound now. IN FLAMES of course have their own sound and I think SOILWORK has a personal sound too. I think there used to be a Gothenburg sound but now itīs more varied among the bands.

 

So you wouldnīt say thereīs a band out there now who you could point a finger at and say these guys have the Gothenburg sound? You think most of them have progressed beyond that?

Not that much. There are still bands who are doing the old stuff, the old Gothenburg style but I respect those bands but we want to take it one step further.

 

I was hoping you could tell me a little bit about another band youīre in, TERROR 2000, and how you would say it differs from what you do with SOILWORK?

Well I think melody is the main part in SOILWORK. Thatīs very important in SOILWORK and I wanted to do something very straightforward and fast so I decided to call Claus from DARKANE up and asked him if he wanted to do something really fast and straightforward, not too technical just fast. Heīs a big fan of KREATOR and SODOM, SLAYER so yeah, he said "hell yeah, why not!" Then I talked to Henry about it and heīs also a big fan of Thrash. Then also a friend of mine Nick joined the band on guitar too so we started to write some material and we sent some tapes around to some labels. We found a label who was interested. We wrote the whole album in 2 months and got into the studio to record "Slaughterhouse Supremacy". Weīre also working on new material for the next TERROR 2000 which is going to be recorded in the beginning of September.

 

Is that going to be around the same time of recording for the new SOILWORK because I read that recordings were supposed to begin in the Fall sometime?

Weīre going to record the new SOILWORK in the middle of October. Pretty close, huh? [Yeah] Tough schedule.

 

How much of the new SOILWORK is written?

Oh, about five or six songs.

Do you have any titles announced yet or any album title?

Uh, not yet actually. We are working on it.

I also wanted to mention I read that you sang on DARKANEīs demo. Was the plan only to sing on the demo or were you originally going to do the album as well?

We were actually talking about doing the whole album but I felt that DARKANEīs sound isnīt my type of thing really. Theyīre great musicians but I like it a little bit more melodic actually, more catchy. I decided to jump off the band and go for SOILWORK full time instead, one hundred percent.

 

Lots of bands these days, including yourself, have been using Frederik Nordstrom to produce and record at his Studio Fredman. I was wondering what does Frederik offer or add to the sound of SOILWORK?

Heīs a great producer he often can come up with some cool ideas with the synthesizers sort of stuff like that. We feel very comfortable working with him. Heīs a very nice guy, very professional so I think he has the best guitar sound in Sweden actually. Itīs great recording with him. Itīs big fun.

So I assume for the next album youīll also use him?

Yeah.

 

You have about five to six new Soilwork songs written...I just wanted to see if I could pry a little bit more information out of you related to your next release [Ok] and what we can expect maybe or changes?

A little bit more clean vocals maybe but still the screamy vocals. The new material is, you know the song 'Needlefeast' in the vein of a little bit of 'Needlefeast' and also 'The Analyst'. Itīs pretty heavy. Itīs not as fast as the other albums but very intense still because we realize you donīt have to play fast to have an intense sound. Itīs very intense and still very melodic and very atmospheric so I think it will be a great album.

 

Do you think SOILWORK would ever record a ballad or a slow song with all clean vocals maybe not a "love ballad" kind of thing?

I donīt think so. Well, not only clean vocals I think. I donīt know, we have to see. Maybe, you never know. (both laugh)

 

I already mentioned to you about playing the Milwaukee Metalfest. I also had heard that you were originally going to be doing a tour starting off with the metalfest. I heard that also fell through so Iīm wondering is there any other plans for any other dates in North American this summer?

Well, not yet because after the Milwaukee Metalfest we are working on new material. As I said we are going into the studio in the middle of October and I guess we have to wait until Spring. I have heard thereīs pretty big interest for SOILWORK in the US and also Canada so hopefully we will do a full tour in the Spring. I hope so.

 

Yeah, so this will be your first time playing in North America [Yeah] do you have any expectations of what kind of reaction you think youīre going to get?

Well weīre very much looking forward to meet the fans. Thereīs a lot of fans posting on the forum, SOILWORK website. So very much looking forward to meet the American audience.

 

Yeah, Iīve seen your forum there earlier I was just checking out your site and I also noticed you have something there where you are letting a fan recommend a song title. [Yeah, exactly] How long is that going to be running for and is that something we can let people know about or are you going to pick the title soon?

I think I will let the fans know in two weeks or something like that. [Right, cool] Iīm checking through all the song titles, there is a A LOT of song titles (laughs).

Yeah, there is one guy posted like about 20 or something! (laughs)

Yeah, thatīs fantastic!

So thereīs some pretty good ones there I assume?

Yeah I think I will find some cool stuff.

 

Thatīs pretty much everything I wanted to ask you about. Is there any other news related to SOILWORK that you would like me to let people know about?

I donīt think so...weīre pretty much focused on Wacken Open Air in Germany right now.

 

Yeah, I gotta get to that some year, next summer maybe.

And also of course the Milwaukee Metalfest. [Yeah, cool] Are you going there?

Milwaukee? No, I went to the New Jersey Metalfest actually which you were originally listed as for  playing at and then when you were pulled I was like "fuck!". (both laughing) That happens a lot of times, bands get scheduled, especially in the US it seems hard to get solid dates set in stone...but maybe next year.

Yeah, hopefully I think we will get to both the US and Canada after the next release. I think so. There are a lot of promoters who want to book us Iīve heard.

Well, good luck with the upcoming shows and with the recording of your new album, Iīll be looking forward to it.

Thank you.


Transcription kindly provided by Skyklad from
The Metal Gospel!!!!!!!

Thanks to Nuclear Blast for the interview opportunity!

Visit the official Soilwork webpage at
www.soilwork.com

Search for and read CD Reviews for all of
Soilwork's albums HERE.


Đ2001 Metal Rules!!

Return to top of page

All rights reserved and contents Đ1995-2001.
Keeping the Metal Faith Since 1995.

This page last updated on:
Saturday, November 17, 2001