Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview, and to Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band
At the end of November last year Harmony unleashed their third album THEATRE OF REDEMPTION. The album is jammed with melodic metal and since I really got hooked by what I heard, I thought I should give band leader/guitarist Markus Sigfridsson a call. We hooked up and I had a lot of questions for Sigfridsson; we handled topics like the band’s past albums and why it has taken Harmony so long to follow up CHAPTER II: THE AFTERMATH from 2008. THEATRE OF REDEMPTION was mixed by the legendary Fredrik Nordström so I simply had to ask how it was to work with him. Parts of Harmony are also involved in the band Darkwater and I asked how the members handle being in two acts at once.
Hi Markus, thanks for taking time with Metal-Rules.com and me today. Let’s begin the interview by talking about the brand new Harmony album THEATRE OF REDEMPTION which was released at the end of last year. How long did it take to write and record the album?
No problem, nice to meet you. It’s been five or six years since our last album and the songs were written during that time, so some songs are that old while some songs are quite new. The recording process went on and on during late-2012 to mid-2014.
Who writes the material and what are the lyrics about this time?
Me and Tobias write all music and lyrics, including vocal lines. When we write lyrics we generally try to write lyrics that the listener can relate to or make their own interpretations of; they may or may not be personal.
Where do you find inspiration to write lyrics?
For me personally, things that go on in the world but I try not go too deep and complex. Also, other music, books and stuff like that inspires me.
In 2008 the band released two albums, a re-issue of the debut album DREAMING AWAKE and the studio album CHAPTER II: THE AFTERMATH. What has the band been up to since 2008 and today?
We’ve been busy with our personal lives, some of us have houses and families and that takes time. Our other band Darkwater takes some time too, and we all have full time jobs so it’s not see easy to find the time. We also released an EP before Chapter II: Aftermath called End of My Road with two new tracks. I released my second 7days album in 2011 as well.
Most of the fans liked it, some were more skeptical. Actually I wasn’t very happy at first with the result of this song; it was the song I liked the least on the album. However the label and others thought differently, so this song became the first single on the album.
The Window of My Soul [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
The video has about 30,000 hits on YouTube and on your Facebook , how does that feel? Congratulations 🙂
Thanks, it feels good.
The band also posted a video on YouTube titled “New album line-up presentation”. Do you think that YouTube is a good way of interact with fans? Do you get a lot of feedback from fans on the videos you post?
YouTube is an important channel for us, social media as a whole is probably the most effective way to reach new fans these days.
Former singer Henrik Båth left the band, what was the reason for his departure and how did the fans react?
It was a mutual decision and we parted as friends. Henrik wanted to focus on Darkwater, which Tobias and I still are a part of.
Was it hard to find a new singer? Did you search a long time to find Daniel Heiman who is the new vocalist?
We had a few auditions before we decided to go with Daniel, but Daniel was our first choice and also a natural choice since he was a guest singer on the song “Inner Peace” on our previous album.
He is not a solid member, just a guest singer by his own choice.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final version of the album?
The songs that did not make it to the album have just been released on an EP called REMEMBRANCE.
Inhale [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
Where does the title THEATRE OF REDEMPTION come from? Does the title have any special meaning to you and the band?
The meaning of that song title and the meaning of that song is that I think that the whole world is like a stage. There is so much going on in the world with wars and geopolitics and it’s all like a big propaganda game. You need someone or something to trust through all of this, and that’s what the song is about.
I actually did it myself, and I’m pretty happy with it. It suits the band and goes in line with previous covers.
During the making of the album did you and the band experience any pressure on delivering anything extraordinary this time?
Yes, in a way, since it’s been so long since the last album. That’s also why we decided to re-record some songs from the first album, also released on the EP REMEMBRANCE.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Harmony plays?
Melodic metal. A friend described it like this; “too clever to be power metal .. too melodic and structured to be prog.”. That’s how we hope to be.
I have to congratulate you and the band to the very positive reviews the album got. Do you and the band care about what critics have to say about your work?
Yes and no. If all reviews were bad we would care, but as long as most of them are good, that’s good enough. It’s impossible to have everyone to like you.
Yes, we get better reviews outside of Sweden for some reason.
Son of the Morning [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
The album is pretty long and clocks in on about 50 minutes, was it your intention to make the album so long?
No, we decided to not make it too long this time actually, we wanted to make it to fit on vinyl, which we’ve also released.
The album is released on vinyl in 500 copies, why so few copies?
It’s about as many as we expect to sell.
I think they are the same, it’s just the order of the songs that is different to fit the A and B side format.
Are there any limited items that follows the vinyl?
No, it’s just vinyl in itself with a lyric insert.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album? Many of bands and artists consider their latest album as their best one do you think so too?
Yes, I think it’s our best although I know not everyone would agree. Maybe in a couple of years we will think differently.
Lyric videos are just to get them out on YouTube and other video sites in a more interesting way than just a still picture, I guess. The response have been really good!
Are there any plans on shooting “proper” videos to any of the new songs?
We planned to, but for different reasons we haven’t been able to make it although we really want to…
Did you have a release party for the album? If so when and where?
No, it was sadly not possible.
Studio, production & mixing
Is it correct that you used several studios to record the album? Why? And where was the main part of the album recorded?
It’s the most effective way for us, both financially and geographically since we live in different places. All instruments were recorded in different studios actually.
How does the band prepare before you go into the studio? Do you all rehearse together or do you send demos to the members to learn from or?
We send demos and ideas to each other. Me and Tobias work close with the arranging etc.
You produced the album; what’s it like to produce your own band? Isn’t hard to stay objective? What do you think is your strongest features as producer?
I think we are pretty good at not overdoing things and keeping the music and the songs varied.
What’s the hardest part of being a producer?
Choosing the right tracks for the album, I think; and to be honest to yourself. We really like to produce ourselves though.
Do you have your own studio?
Yes, I have my own DAW in my home.
The mixing was done by the famous Fredrik Nordström in Studio Fredman, was any of the other members part of the mixing process?
Fredman mixed the album and sent test mixes to us which we responded to. Then Tobias and I went to the studio on the last mixing day and we worked together to finalize the mix.
How was it to work with Nordström?
It’s really good, and funny. They are great guys and listen to what we want, but they also know how to get it right and to steer it in the right direction.
Thomas Plec Johansson was in charge of the mastering, how was it to work with him?
I joined Thomas for the mastering, it was great fun. He’s a great guy and did an amazing job.
Label and management
Was it hard for the band to land a record deal?
Actually, no. When we did our first demo in 2001 the market was still alive and we got a few different labels to choose between.
You signed a deal with Massacre Records in 2002, how come you chose to ink a deal with them?
They had the best deal for us back then. In hindsight we’re not sure it was the best decision though.
They choose to not release a second album with us so we were free to go.
You’re now signed to Ulterium Records; are you happy with the work the label have put into the band and the album so far?
Yes, working with a smaller label, although they seem to growing, is definitely better for us. Since it’s close to our home town we can meet, which makes it a lot easier to communicate. We are really happy with it.
And what’s the main difference in between working with MR and Ulterium Records?
The communication is much easier now than before with MR.
UR re-released your debut album DREAMING AWAKE, was it anything special featured on the re-release?
Hmm, no, don’t think so. It’s just a re-release since the old one sold out.
Is it possible to buy the older albums from Harmony today?
Yes, from the Ulteriumn Records website.
Is it possible to download your albums legally anywhere?
No, no chance 😉
Sorry, just had to. They are available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.
UR is releasing the album in Europe and the US, but who distributes the album to the rest of the world?
In Japan/ASIA it’s KING RECORDS.
UR is working together with the promotion agency Connecting Music, are you satisfied with their co-operation?
Yes we think they have done a good job making the album available to the press. We don’t have any complaints.
Is the band currently working with any booking agency?
Not at the moment.
How come you wanted to form a band? And was it hard to find members?
Me and Tobias have been friends since we were kids and we’ve shared the interest for the same kind of music for a long time, and we’ve played together since we were teens. It wasn’t until I got my own computer-based home studio around 2000 that we decided to do something more “serious” with our interest. I started to noodle around with some song ideas and he heard them and suggested that he could improve the drums on the songs. And that´s how it started, we started to write songs and arrange them together. Our vision has always kind of “let see what happens”, we have never had any great visions, we are more happy that people seem to enjoy our music. We were kind of surprised that our first demo, with the first songs we ever wrote got us a record deal with Massacre Records. Magnus and Henrik joined for the recordings of the first demo in 2001 since I knew them from school.
Was it a given from the start that Harmony was going to play this kind of music?
Yes, we were very much into bands like Helloween, Europe and Malmsteen back then.
Me personally, to name a few, in my younger years Yngwie, Helloween and Candlemass. And then later on Kamelot and Symphony X, and nowadays a lot of older music from the 70’s like Rainbow, Scorpions and Deep Purple. Hopefully these bands influence the music in a good way. Sometimes it may be obvious but sometimes these influences can help create something completely new and different.
Where does the band name Harmony come from?
Tobias came up with the name Harmony, we thought it was a good name that suited our view of music and life
The band recorded a demo back in 2001 what do you think of it today?
Well, we did not really know what we were doing. We just went for it, so with that in mind I think it’s pretty cool. Haven’t listened to it for many years…
The reviews were really good in general. I remember how great fun it was to Google for reviews for your first album, and read them since they were mostly really good. Nowadays we don’t care so much, although they are still good.
Did you do a lot of touring after the debut was released?
We played some shows in Europa and Scandinavia; can’t say that we did any heavy touring though.
After that we didn’t hear of Harmony until 2008, what happened?
Basically we were working on the Darkwater album. We all have different things in our lives that takes up time. And since we all have full time jobs beside our music it takes this much time.
Daniel only joined for one track. Andreas Passmark, wholives in Stockholm, decided to leave since Harmony is placed in a town too far from Stockholm.
You, Henrik, Tobias and Magnus also got the band Darkwater together how active is that band today?
Yes, we are currently working on our third album, and are about to enter the studio.
You also suffered the loss of both bass player and keyboard player back in 2008, how did that effect the band and did you ever think of putting the band to rest?
No we didn’t think about ending Harmony. Harmony has always been the brainchild of me and Tobias, so this has never been a big issue. We just continued in the same fashion.
Yes we did, it’s always been me and Tobias writing the music so we just continued to do that.
Two companions from Tobias’ other band, Empire 21, joined forces with Harmony and those were Rapahel Darfas and John Svensson. Was it the obvious thing for them to help out Harmony?
Yes, it felt natural, and they were really happy we asked them.
Do you consider the current line-up as a solid one?
As for bass and keyboard, yes. When it comes to Daniel we will have to wait and see.
Do you see any problems in the fact that the members are involved in other acts besides Harmony?
No, not at all.
Why is Heiman listed in the bio as guest vocalist?
He is a guest vocalist, he doesn’t want to be limited to any band, he wants to be free to do what he wants, which we respect.
How come the band doesn’t have a proper website? Do you rely on Facebook instead of having a website?
Yes, it’s good enough for now.
Is the band active on other social forums besides Facebook?
No, but our label has it’s channels on different social medias where we can be found.
I know you had a contest on Facebook, what was the contest about?
We made a small contest where fans could send us photos posing with our new album. We received some good and some funny submissions and picked a winner from Italy.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
To come play live, and when the next album will be released. There are also some questions about guitar tabs.
Are there any plans on heading out on tour or do any shows now that the album is out?
We would love to, but at the moment it looks difficult.
Does the band have any festival shows booked for 2015?
Are there any interest for the band shown in USA?
The interest from the US has been quite good and we get messages quite often from fans there asking us to come over and play etc.
Are you happy with what Harmony have achieved so far and what are the plans for the band in 2015?
Yes we feel happy about what we did accomplish with the band so far. We just released a new EP called REMEMBRANCE and after this I think we will start writing songs from the next Harmony album.
Does the fans have to wait long for the next Harmony album to come out?
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered Harmony yet?
Well, just check us out on YouTube and Facebook. I think we make music that really grows the more you listen to us, you can find something new in the details every time you listen. At least that’s what many fans tell us, so give it a try 🙂
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy THEATRE OF REDEMPTION?
Let’s see. 🙂
1.The songs are interesting and diverse
2.Daniel Heiman has done an incredible vocal performance
3.The production is very good
Well, thanks again for taking the time doing the interview. I wish you and the band all the best and I have to say that I really enjoyed listen to THEATRE OF REDEMPTION! Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans?
We hope the readers will like the album, and also check out the EP REMEMBRANCE. And thank you for doing this interview with us Anders!