Scar Symmetry drummer Henrik Ohlsson
Interview by Megan Hughes
Photos courtesy of Nuclear Blast
Considering how many side projects all of you are involved with, how do you prevent spreading yourselves too thin musically? Being in so many bands, do you ever feel burned out or does it re-energize you?
Personally I get re-energized by working on other projects and bands, and it`s also a great opportunity to embrace a different role in a band-situation. In Scar Symmetry I`m the drummer and the lyricist but in Altered Aeon, for example, I`m the composer which opens a totally new portal for me to express myself. And also playing different styles of music with different bands is also very enlightening in a creative sense. I`m sure everyone in Scar Symmetry agrees with me on that one.
If you had to commit to only one band, would it be Scar Symmetry?
If I had to commit to only one band I would feel a bit imprisoned musically, even if Scar Symmetry turns out to be the “main band” I would still have little projects going on here and there.
How much do you practice your instrument on average?
It`s a bit different from period to period. When something is happening, like a tour or what have you, I play every day for approx. 1-2 hours or so. If nothing`s going on I may spend time composing and playing when I feel like it, about 6-8 hours spread out on one week. But it`s rarely “practice” per se, for me, it`s mostly playing songs and fooling around with whatever I feel like.
Who’s your favorite drummer?
My fave drummer is probably Snowy Shaw. Or Sean Reinert, or some other excellent musician. It varies from day to day. But my choice today is Snowy Shaw.
How many of you are married and have kids, if any? Does music run in the family?
I have two kids but I`m not married even though I live with the mother of my children. Kenneth has two kids as well. Music is not running in the family, we`ll see what happens when my kids get a little older. I have high hopes…
What do you think separates Scar Symmetry from the melodic death metal pack?
I think we are different because we are not seeing ourselves as a melodic death metal band, we were sort of put into that category by other people and embraced just because it was the most convenient thing to do. We do all kinds of stuff in our music and you find a lot of 80`s metal influences aswell as modern metal mixed with prog and death metal. Everything a metal head ca n possibly like. We try to create the kind of music we would want to listen to, melodic death metal or not.
What direction is the new album taking so far?
From the material I`ve been working with so far lyrically it sounds like a natural progression from “Pitch Black Progress”. I know it it`s a cliché to say that but it`s truly what I feel. I don`t want to say too much about it either because that would spoil any eventual surprise when it actually comes out.
Is the writing process collaborative?
We mostly write our parts individually, even though there are times when we write together. Most of the time though, we write at our individual homes and present what we got to the others when we`re done.
How do you guys manage to record such amazing albums over a short span of time when some bands take years between releases?
Hard to answer! We`ve just written the best material we could and we`ve worked in short but very explosive periods where we go from zero songs to 6 or 7 songs during a few days. Then it is up to the listener to decide whether it`s amazing or not and we`ve been very fortunate to experience a lot of positive feedback from the metal scene. I can`t speak for other bands and how they go about creating their stuff, though.
After two albums, do you feel like the band has found its own niche or are you still trying to find your voice? (i.e. Will we hear more experimenting on the next album?)
I think we sort of set our standard on “Symmetric in Design” and then we`ve evolved from that album. I`m not sure it`s good to find one`s niche and sit back and work from the same perspective all the time, so in that aspect we haven`t found our voice and never will. Music is a constant display of where you are at the time and that`s probably why bands ev olve whether the fans want it or not.
What have you been listening to recently?
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Decapitated – “Organic Hallucinations”
Dragonforce – “Inhuman Rampage”
In your opinion, who is dominating the metal scene right now?
I don`t know. Lordi?
What’s your biggest weakness musically?
The fact that we don`t make a lot of money doing this which means we can`t concentrate fully on music. But that`s only my personal opinion.
If you could create a new sub genre of metal, what would it be and which musicians would you want to work with?
Cosmic metal. With Paul Stanley, Trey Azagthogh, Paul Masvidal and Steve DiGiorgio plus me, myself and I. Now that`s a cosmically bizarre line-up!
Per once said in an interview that Scar Symmetry started off as a “drunk project.” Would you say it’s the best drunken decision you’ve ever made?
Ha ha, what is for sure is that we never expected something like this to come out of this project. It`s all been a total surprise in many ways. Probably one of the best drunken decisions ever made but then again you make a lot of good decisions when you’re drunk, as long as you don`t sober up and start
What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming North American tour
with Dark Tranquillity, The Haunted and Into Eternity?
Seeing the States, I`ve been dreaming about that place since I was a kid. Now I get to see what it REALLY looks like! It will be a trip to remember for the rest of my life.
Who would you like Scar Symmetry to tour with next?
King Diamond, perhaps?
Any last comments to the fans?
Thanks for all the support we`ve received from the American fans and hope to see you all in real life!
Thanks to Loana dP Valencia at Nuclear Blast USA for arranging the interview!