Interview with Olof from Dragonland
Dragonland has recently released their new album STARFALL and I had the privilege to ask guitar player Olof M?rck questions about the new album and about what the band isup to after the release.
Interview By Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Century media for the promo pictures of the band.
Thanks to Jenny at Bleech Box Promotion for the help with this interview.
Would you please tell ourreaders a bit about Dragonland?
Nicklas Magnusson (Guitars) and Jonas Hedigert (Vocals) formed the band in summer of ?99, and soon after recorded a demo which lead to a contract with Greek label Black Lotus. In may 2001 the debut album “The Battle Of The Ivory Plains was released, followed by the sequel, “Holy War” in may the year after. Today , we are six Swedes who give our very own interpretation of the melodic/power metal genre, by infusing a wide array of different elements and influences into our music
Where in Sweden to you guys live?
We all live in the metal capitol Gothenburg except for bassist Christer Pedersen, who lives in Kungsbacka, a small town next to Gothenburg.
You have released two albums before this one “THE BATTLE OF IVORY PLAINS” from ?01 and “HOLY WAR” in ?02, how did the press received those two albums?
I would say the they were very well received, scoring high in many magazines, and I don?t think I have seen one negative review of them yet.
How did the fans receive them and how many copies have they sold?
Despite lacking distribution and promotion our music found it?s way to the fans of power metal, and the response has been really cool so far, considering us being on such a small label before. I would say that they have sold 30 000- 35 000 altogether, and they are completely sold out today, very few copies exist in rotation and there is no license as of now to print new ones.
Have you done any live shows so far?
We have had the problem of vocalist Jonas Heidgert also
playing the drums before, so thus we were more concentrated on our album material before. Though we have done some gigs locally when Jesse Lindskog joined the band in 2002, and we also headlined a very successful tour in Japan in 2003.
What does Dragonland mean, and does the name mean anything special to you?
Before it was just to put emphasis on the fantasy themed lyrics on the two first albums, Dragonland was also the name of the place were these stories took place. Today it still fits well, I like to think about Dragonland as a place where anything can happen musically and lyrically, unpredictable, as we want our music to be.
Have you always had the same line-up or have you had some member changes?
Before the first album, and before I joined the band, Daniel Kvist (Sacrilege, Nightshade) played guitars, and as previously mentioned, drummer Jesse Lindskog joined in 2002.
According to the info provided, all the members in Dragonland are experienced musicians. What bands have you previously been involved in?
Most of us have a history as death metal musicians, and we have been involved in bands like Prophanity, Nightshade, The Returning etc. many of us picked up our instruments due to the Gothenburg melodic death metal wave in the mid 90?s, something that can be picked up in our music for the keen ear.
Why did you leave your previous label? And why did you choose to sign on for Century Media?
Our previous label did some good work for us in the past, but they were a small label with limited means of distribution and promotion, and as the new songs were taking shape we knew we wanted a larger faction to partake in the process of spreading our music.
How do you think the co-operation has worked with Century so far? What?s the difference between them and your previous label?
Our cooperation with Century Media has been perfect so far, the communication, unlike before is very well, and everything is being handled very professionally, something quite uncommon in this business, so we are indeed very happy.
It has taken you a year to write material to this album, is that true?
The writing process actually spans over two and a half years, but on the last year of that period we worked full time with the songs, something clearly heard in the very detailed arrangements; the massive amount of work we put into this album will only be evident by listening to the music carefully and patiently; our music is intended for people who wants music to grow upon them, instead of a product that gets old within a week.
When did you write the songs to “STARFALL”?
Mainly between May 2003 and July 2004, our minds were bustling with creativity upon arriving home from the Japan tour. Some basic outlines of the new album was conceived from may 2002 to may 2003 too.
Who has written the music and lyrics on the album?
The main songwriters are myself, Elias and Nicklas, and the lyrics are mainly written by Jonas and me.
Are the lyrics about anything special?
The lyrics on this album, as with the music, are subject to a pretty large diversity, with lyrical themes spanning from self-biographical to a Viking story and everything in between. Some songs have a clear story that is being told, but some lyrics are deeper, and require patience to unlock the meaning of.
The song “THE BOOK OF SHADOWS PART 1,2 and 3 are about 11 minutes long, what?s the song about and why have you chose to chop it up into several parts?
The Book Of Shadows is a story told in three chapters, being an adventurous epic with a movie script like feel to enhance what?s going on in the music. It starts out in Oxford, Great Britain in the late 19th century with the finding of an ancient tome, known as The Book Of Shadows. The stories and secrets it contains eventually leads to sojourns to Egypt, and the terrible findings unleashed there, once again springs to life in the last part, which is set in modern day USA. The story I wrote for it is archaically momentous, containing more writing than both previous albums lyrics combined.
The part in the middle that sounds like folk music “THE SHORES OF OUR LAND” why have you featured that song? It falls a bit out of the frame compared to the rest of the material.
Some may call it out of frame, I prefer to call it diverse; if it falls outside of the general conception about us, then I feel we have succeeded. We included it because we loved the idea of a Viking themed song, and the middle section with the large feast going on was one of the most fun parts to record; it was not conceived without intoxication of course
Who is singing the female part on that song?
A very talented girl by the name of Johanna Andersson, whose baffling vocals chords graciously elevated the poignancy of the part of the female in The Shores Of Our Land. She has also previously been heard on Dark Tranquillity?s Projector album.
Why did you pick Evergrey?s studio in Gothenburg Sweden Division One to record the album?
After trying out both studio Fredman and Los Angered studious we felt that our search for the ultimate studio had not yet come to an end. So upon hearing about the completion of the Division One studio, we felt we had to check it out, and it seemed to fit our ambitions and visions perfectly, something thoroughly confirmed by the result.
How was it to work with Tom S. Englund?
His idea of the sound of a metal album fit us perfectly, as did it enhance the many prog elements in our music. He was smooth to work with, very professional and understanding, so it made our quest significantly easier.
Have Tom S. Englund and Arnold Lindberg produced “STARFALL”?
Indeed they both have, with Arnold Lindbergh being responsible for both engineering and producing, as well as mixing. Arnold was in many senses an ideal producer, and his combined efforts with Tom suited us very well.
It says that Tom S. Englund and Henrik Danhage from Evergrey along with Arnold Lindberg are guests on the album, on which song(s) are they featured?
Tom?s backing vocals can be heard in most songs actually, but his more prominent participations can be found in the Shores Of Our Land on guest vocals, and on Calling My Name in the shape of a guest guitar solo. Henrik Danhage?s input can be heard as the second last guitar solo on, once again, The Shores Of Our Land.
Why the name “STARFALL” does it mean anything special to you?
It features a cyclopean amount of meaning for me, and when reading the lyrics, the most obvious and direct meaning is a part of The Book Of Shadows trilogy. It is also the name of the title track, and the meaning to be found in it there, is again the subject of patience to unlock.
The cover of the album reflects your music really well I think, who has done the cover and who decided to use exactly that cover for the album?
A very talented guy who goes by the pseudonym ToxicAngel, who has previously commissioned work for Children Of Bodom and Sonata Arctica.
The cover concept is based upon The Book Of Shadows story, and is an illustration of a specific moment featured in that.
How has media greeted “STARFALL”? Have you read any reviews of the album yet?
Some reviews have been overwhelming, some has been “just” positive, but no really negative critique has revealed itself yet. Some critics has publicly made fools of themselves by stating that our music is deeply fantasy themed and so on, when there is none of those elements to be found on Starfall. I highly welcome constructive criticism, but I take the reviews of this album with a pinch of salt, since no reviewer can listen to the album a couple of times and assume he is even close to
unveil the capricious and multi layered carven detailing which we have spent a year of our life developing.
Are there any plans on going out on tour? If so when and where?
No plans are set in stone yet, though I both hope and assume that a tour will follow the release of this album, time will tell.
The info provided describes your music as melodic metal combined with power metal. I would rather describe your music as very, very melodic power metal…but how would you describe your music?
Very very melodic, yes, you are indeed correct in a sense. Melody is what makes up the foundations of music, and it also where we have put the emphasis on our work. We have left no melodies to coincidence, as most vocal lines on this album has been written before other parts of the music, just writing vocal lines over guitar riffs often result in boring and uninteresting melodies; so our way of working with melodies is sure to give our music very melodic characteristics, so I agree with your description. However, I would add multi-layered, diverse, powerful and genre traversing to that description.
Are there any plans on when the next album is going to be released?
Writing of our next project will probably be commenced later this year, or early 2005, with at least a year of intense writing following that. Early 2006 for next album release is a realistic guess.
Are you satisfied with “STARFALL” or would you have done anything different when you look back on it?
Since we recorded a full demo of the album while writing the songs we had a concrete image of how the album would sound before we entered the studio, and nothing has been left to coincidence. Minor lacking of individual musical performances are always a small nuisance, but overall I am very satisfied with it.
Do you have any favorite track on the album?
It is hard to mention as specific favorite as all songs were pretty much a result of putting an equal amount of time into them. There is of course the obvious exception of the Trilogy, which I would say is what I am most proud of.
How do you comment this phrase taken from the info provided: “This album will not only appeal to fans of power metal genre, but everyone who loves powerful music”?
Since there are many elements and even whole songs that cannot be put into the sphere of what power metal traditionally is, I think the phrase speaks for itself. Take the last part of the Trilogy for example; not one single power metal element can be found in it, but it is merely a powerful composition. People?s lust to categorize music can sometimes be somewhat uncanny for me, since we did not write this album with a specific genre in mind. Listeners are of course free to make whatever assumptions they may regarding the genre of our music, but narrow minded thinking is not probable to enhance the musical experience for those individuals.
2004 is soon ending and what are your plans for ’05?
Hopefully touring, and definitely a lot of composing. Our concept for the next album is so far just that; but so far our ambition is to further traverse previous musical boundaries during the next year, and in that regard it is bound to be an interesting one.
Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of metal-rules.com?
I sincerely hope you will give our new album Starfall a chance, and even more so hope you will like it! To our fans reading this, seeya on the road!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
And thank you for the interview!