Singer Henrik Båth – Darkwater
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview
Thanks to Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band
Swedish progressive/melodic metal band Darkwater is back with a brand new album. It’s taken the band 9 years to follow up WHERE THE STORIES END, and since I love the bands music I felt obligated to have a chat with singer Henrik Båth to hear what the members have been up to and why it’s taken so long to release HUMAN. So if you’re a fan of the band or a fan of progressive/melodic metal make sure to check out this interview. Enjoy.
Hi Henrik, nice to talk with you this time, are you ready to kick off the interview?
Hi, I sure am, thanks for having me 🙂
The album WHERE STORIES END came out 9 years ago. After such a long time, do you recall what response you received from fans and media on the album?
From what I can recall we got great response from both media and fans. I remember there were a lot of discussions going on amongst the listeners because the album was a little more song oriented than our first one. Some people welcomed that and some didn’t. That’s the way it usually is I guess, can’t please everyone. But overall we got great a response.
You performed at ProgPower USA, ProgPower Europe, and Brainstorm Festival in The Netherlands, but did you do any other touring on the album?
We played some shows here in Scandinavia as well. I guess we’ve never been a band that play a lot of live shows, we have always prioritized our private lives to playing live and at the time some of us also started families so that was a big reason why we didn’t get out that much.
When did you begin to write material to HUMAN?
We actually started writing the album back in 2013 or something but then we all had other priorities for a while so things got delayed. Big time haha.
Who does what in the band when it comes to the material and lyrics?
Me, Magnus, and Markus are the ones who write everything. We usually come up with ideas for three songs each and then we work on them together. Me and Markus wrote the lyrics on WSE, but on HUMAN Magnus wrote for two songs as well.
What have you been up to in between the albums?
Yes it has definitely been a while. The main reason why everything has taken so long is because some of us put our focus on our families. Me and my wife had two kids and I needed to prioritize that so the music had to wait for a while. I really didn’t want to split my focus between my kids and the new album, and I wanted to be as present as possible while they were young. I also put a lot of time on building our house and at the same time of course having a regular day job, so to find the time for a new album was rather difficult. I did a couple of other projects though, Waken Eyes and Universal Mind Project, but it was easier to find time for those since I wasn’t involved in the writing process so much and only had to record vocals and I did that during quite a long period of time for those albums. It was rather difficult to get everything to work at the time, work, family and kids and recording. So I really wanted to wait until I knew I had the time that was necessary for writing and recording the new Darkwater album.
I read that your bass player Simon Andersson has been sick, is he better? I hope it’s not anything serious?
Yes he has been fighting cancer for a few years, and it’s been coming back like four times I think. So it has been very serious. He actually recorded all the bass for the album just before he went into his last three month-long treatment. He went through some extremely serious treatment during that time and gladly it seems to have worked. He has been cleared from the cancer and hopefully it doesn’t come back again, but he’s been through some serious years that’s for sure.
In the bio it can be read: “the lyrics of the album welcomes you into a world of you and me, how we affect the world around us and struggles we deal with as humans”. What are your comments on those words? Is the album a concept album?
It’s not a concept album in the regular sense where the songs have a connection lyrically, but every song is about how we are as humans in this world, and the struggles we need to deal with. It can be struggles within ourselves or struggles we deal with on a more social level and in the society itself.
Do you think the band has developed or changed anything musically if you compare HUMAN to previous albums?
The only thing we’ve done differently this time is that we’ve worked together a lot more when we wrote and arranged the songs. So I guess that is one thing we’ve changed. Other than that I cannot say that we’ve done anything differently.
HUMAN is almost 80 minutes long, was it your intention of making such a long album?
No, it was never our intention. We don´t think about the song length when we write a song, we just focus on trying to make the song as good as it possibly can be. Whether it ends up being a three minute song or a ten minute song doesn’t really matter. So I guess it was just a coincidence that the album turned out to be so long, we didn’t think of it until all songs were written.
The longest songs are “Reflection Of Mind” (12 min) and “Turning Pages” (10 min) what are they about?
“Reflection of a Mind” is about mental illness, a person with delusions. It can of course be interpreted in other ways as well and that is the way we like to write our lyrics. The listeners should be able to interpret the lyrics in a way that fits their own life and be able to find a personal meaning to it.
“Turning Pages” is about the coldness in the world that has spread through out the society, and that we need to break that pattern and find our way back to a more harmonic and peaceful world.
The video to the single “Alive pt 2” has been clicked 170,000 times since it arrived at the beginning of January, congrats, are you happy with those numbers?
Thank you, yes that is amazing, we didn’t expect that it would have such huge impact on people that it obviously has. We have received so many messages from people thanking us for making that song and video. There are a lot of people out there who are struggling and if this song can help just a few of them to get the strength they need to keep fighting it´s been worth the hard work.
Alive (Pt. II) [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Is it correct HUMAN was recorded at the beginning of 2018? how long did all the studio work take?
Yes we started the recordings in the beginning of 2018 and I think we finished them in June or something. So it took a few months. That might seem like quite a long time but since we all have our own home studios we record when we feel like it or when we actually find the time for it. So it´s not like we go into the studio for a few weeks and record everything, we do it during a longer period of time. I also came up with all the background vocal arrangements during the recording sessions, and that can sometimes take a while.
Jacob Hansen produced/mixed and mastered the album, how was it to work with him?
It was great working with Jacob, unfortunately we never had the opportunity to sit down together with him in his studio, so we just sent all our files over to him and let him do his work. Since we always produce everything ourselves and we knew more or less how we wanted it to sound we didn’t need to be there, we trusted Jacob one hundred percent that he knew what he was doing, and we were right. The mixes he came up with were amazing, how he managed to get that clear, heavy but still very atmospheric sound is beyond me, he is a real pro. And he really has an ear for the details in the music, and I find that very important.
Did any members take part in the mixing process?
We were all took part. Jacob kept us updated all the time and sent us every mix for every song and asked about our thoughts about them and he was so easy to work with and always made the changes we asked for right away. So he really made us part of the whole thing.
Why didn’t you work with Fredrik Nordström this time?
We wanted to try something new this time and also even if Studio Fredman has done some amazing mixes for many bands we felt that it perhaps wasn’t the best match for us.
Up close and personal
For how long have you been singing, and are you self taught or schooled?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, I’ve heard old cassette tapes my parents have from where I’m just a few years old singing some children songs. But I started singing more seriously when I joined my first band at around 13 years old I think.
I’m self taught, but have during these last few years been reading up on a lot of vocal training stuff and how the voice actually works. I guess you sooner or later need to learn how to sing correctly so you don’t have to blow out your voice all the time haha.
You got an amazing voice, who inspired you to start to sing?
Thank you, I don’t know actually who inspired me since I’ve always been singing. Some of the singers I really liked listening to when I grew up were David Coverdale, Göran Edman, Joey Tempest, Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto. I’ve always enjoyed listening to bands with great singers with great voices.
Do you play any instruments as well?
Yes, I play guitar in Darkwater as well. Since I work as a music teacher I’ve had to learn piano, bass and drums as well. I can’t say that I’m very good at those instruments but I know just enough to be able to teach the kids at school anyway, haha.
Besides Darkwater you’re also involved in Universal Mind Project, how come you joined forces with them? Are you still with them?
Yes, I participated on the first album with UMP. Michael Alexander, who is the founder of the band, asked me if I wanted to record vocals for one song together with Charlie Dominici, and I of course said yes. It was an honor to do a song together with Dream Theater’s first vocalist. So from the beginning I was only supposed to do one song but Michael liked it so much that he wanted me on the whole album. I’m not a part of UMP any longer. I quit because they wanted to work hard on the second album and I felt I didn’t have the time at the moment. This was at the same time we started working hard on our new Darkwater album and that has always been my priority.
Personally, I discovered you through the band Waken Eyes, are you still a part of that band?
Yes, but we don’t know when we will be able to do a follow up. I know that Tom is working on some new songs but with busy musicians like Marco Minnemann and Mike Lepond it’s not always easy to find the time for a new album.
…more about Darkwater
Do you think older fans of the band are going to appreciate HUMAN as much as they did with the previous album?
Yes I do, or at least I hope so. We haven’t changed that much in how we sound or how we write so they should be able to enjoy this one. And what I’ve heard so far people really seem to be enjoying it.
A New Beginning [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
The album has gotten great reviews in media, was that expected? Do you care what critics have to say about your work?
It’s never expected, but we felt like we’ve done something quite good with this album so we certainly hoped they were going to like it. I can’t say that I personally care about what they say about the music because people have different taste, and not everyone is going to love what we do. I think that is something I have learned as I’ve grown older, I probably cared a lot more when I was younger and didn’t have the confidence in my writing.
The album is released in Europe and USA in March, any plans on touring or performing live?
We certainly want to get and play as much as possible, we have no tour planned but we’re in contact with some festivals so I hope we will get out there later this year.
In Front Of You [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
Why doesn’t the band have a proper website? It seems you only have a Facebook page; are you active on Twitter or YouTube?
Good question, and we actually talked about this recently. We had a website earlier but decided to close it because at that moment it felt like everyone used Facebook so we focused on that instead. It felt unnecessary to update two sites with the same information, but nowadays I know there are people who don’t use Facebook so we will probably have a website up soon.
Though I must say I really like Facebook, it’s the only good social media that lets you have a good connection with your listeners and fans. It’s so easy to talk to each other and I like that.
We don’t use Twitter or YouTube as a band but we’ve been active on Instagram the last year or so.
I could ask you a lot more but the time is up, thanks a lot for taking the time answering the questions and I wish you and the band all the best in the future, finally do you have anything to say to the readers and fans out there?
My pleasure, thanks for having me. I just want to say that I know there has been a lot of people waiting for this album and I’m very grateful for the patience and support we’ve had during these years, it has really driven us to do our best. And we cannot wait to get out and meet you all, thank you.
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