Axenstar Singer/bass player Magnus Winterwild
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Timo Hoffmann at Raw It Down Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Raw It Down Records for the promo pictures of the band.
It has taken time for the Swedish band Axenstar to make a new album, it’s been five years since the previous album WHERE DREAMS ARE FORGOTTEN come out in 2014. Now the band got a new album out which was released at the beginning of the summer here in Europe. I had the pleasure to once again talk to singer/bass player Magnus Winterwild about what happened in the band since we last spoke, amongst a lot of things the band got a deal with a new label in the new started Ram It Down Records. The band also got a new drummer as well and have once again worked with legendary producer Pelle Saether in his Studio Underground. The new album is called END ALL HOPE and is available on cd, vinyl and as download. If you like power metal in the veins of Sonata Artica, Nocturnal Rites, Stratovarious and Iron Savior you have to check this out this Swedish act… enjoy.
Hi Magnus, thanks for taking the time talking to me and Metal-Rules.com today, how are you?
Hi, I’m fine thanks, really excited about our new release!
Last time we spoke, Axenstar just released the album WHERE DREAMS ARE FORGOTTEN and it was back in 2014. Why has it taken you so long to release a new disc?
Well, first we lost our drummer to studies, he left to study drums in the US, Los Angeles to be more exact and then we’ve been busy writing/recording the new tracks for the new album “End Of All Hope”. Sometimes things take a bit longer time than you think…
What have the members been up to in between the albums?
Not much haha, no, but if I’m serious we all have regular jobs and lives beside the band and you need to focus on that once in a while as well.
From what I read, the band only performed about three times live since the release of the previous album, is that correct? And if so, why so few shows?
We only did a few shows, yes, but with no drummer we weren’t able to do more shows, unfortunately.
Would you have liked to do more live shows or maybe a tour?
Yes of course, one big reason we do this is for the opportunity to play live for our fans, being on stage is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
What did media and more important what did the fans think of it?
We got some good reviews and sold quite a lot of records so I think it was appreciated. You always get both good and bad reviews but you can’t read them all and you definitely can’t believe everything you read.
Where in the world does Axenstar got its biggest fanbase?
Oh, it’s hard to say but I think we’re quite popular in both South America and the southern parts of Europe.
The new album END OF ALL HOPE
There’s an update on your website that dates from the end of April 2017 that you were making the new album, how long into the process were you back then?
I believe we had about half of the songs completed and we thought that the rest would be easy to write, but they weren’t…
You should never do those kinds of updates if you’re not sure you can deliver on time, we have learnt that now.
When did you start to write material to END OF ALL HOPE?
I’m not sure, we’ve written off and on for some time so it’s hard to say but I guess we already had some ideas right after the release of “Where dreams are forgotten”.
What’s the songwriting process like in the band, do you write all of the stuff or does all members pitch in ideas? Last time you said that Klovegård writes music and you the lyrics, is it the same this time around?
This album was pretty much the same process, I would say that Jens had most of the ideas and then me and him put the tracks together in our rehearsal studio. It’s a process we think works fine for us.
King Of Fools (official audio)
Were there any songs written that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
As a matter of fact, there will be at least one new single release this fall/winter, there were a couple of songs that we wanted to hold on to, so stay tuned for updates.
END OF ALL HOPE contains 10 songs and clocks in on about 50 minutes which feels good I think, was it your intention of putting exactly 10 tracks on the album or did you go with the flow?
It wasn’t our plan or intention but since we had the chance to release this new album on vinyl we needed to make sure the songs would fit on both sides of the record so that’s why we ended up with those 10 songs.
What are the two longest songs “A Moment In Time” (6.41) and “Of Pain And Misery” (6.32) about?
Loss more or less in both cases, “A Moment In Time” is about a relationship that turns out bad, starting with that great feeling you have when you fall in love but then it suddenly stops when you are being left alone and you don’t really know why. “Of Pain and Misery” deals with loss in a different aspect, when someone close to you is taken away from you due to sickness and you would do anything to turn back time and get another chance.
The bio states the band plays power metal but last time we spoke you said you play fast melodic metal, do you stick to that today?
Well it’s always hard to say which genre you belong to, I would say that the band started out as a power metal band but has since then evolved to melodic and sometimes a bit progressive metal. I guess as long as we belong to the metal genre I don’t care that much which “label” people want to put on us.
Honor And Victory (official audio)
Do you think the band have changed or developed anything music-wise if you compare the previous album with END OF ALL HOPE, if so in what way?
No not really, I think we stay true to our sound and on some songs we really tried to get the old Axenstar feeling and sound back and I think we really succeeded in that and the fans seem to love the album so it’s all good.
Once again you chose Felipe Machado Franco to do the cover art work to the album which this time has got a pretty dark atmosphere, are you happy with his work?
Yes, we’re really satisfied with his work, I think he understands what we want and he’s really good, so why change?
Was he given free hands to create a cover to the album?
No not completely, we had an idea of what we wanted and he came up with some sketches and from that we worked our way to the final result, a lot of e-mails back and forth let me tell you!
How did the band chose to name the album END OF ALL HOPE? What’s the story behind the name?
Well when we got the final cover artwork from Felipe we thought that the name suggestions we had didn’t quite suit the artwork so we decided to come up with a better name and in the end we agreed on “End of all Hope” but it wasn’t that easy.
The bio states that – END OF ALL HOPE is definitely among the bands finest hour and arguably even your best so far, what do you think of those words?
I guess that’s what you think every time you release a new album but this time it’s actually spot on, I really believe that this one of our strongest releases so far, we’re really happy with how the songs turned out and the production is flawless.
Adam Lindberg, the bands former drummer left the band last year, why did he leave and was his departure expected?
As I wrote earlier, he moved to the US to study drums, he had talked about it for some time so we knew that he was going to leave but just not when.
How did new drummer Hampus Fasth end up in the band, are you old friends?
We didn’t know him from before, we made an add on our facebook page and he was one of the guys that we felt could fit as our drummer and he certainly do, he’s a great drummer.
Have Fasth been active in other bands prior to Axenstar?
Yes he was a member in the metal core band Below Red Skies.
Did the arrival of a new member have any impact on the material and the music?
No not really, the album was already recorded when he joined, Jocke played all the drums on the recording. But Hampus will surely put his touch on the songs when we play live.
Do you think older fans of the band is going to like END OF ALL HOPE?
Yes definitely, there are some really old school Axenstar tracks as well as new more modern progressive tracks, I think our old fans will be very happy with this release.
Last time you said that WHERE DREAMS ARE FORGOTTEN was your best album yet, do you feel the same with END OF ALL HOPE?
Yeah as I mentioned before the latest album is always the best haha!
Sonata Arctica, Nocturnal Rites, Stratovarius and Iron Savior are bands that are mentioned as influences in the bio, is that correct?
Absolutely, at least for me I must add, I guess the “new” guys have a lot of other influences as well as they have been in different types of bands in the past.
Which other bands do you consider as having influenced Axenstar?
I think that you will be influenced by all music you hear in one way or the other, maybe not consciously but somewhere back in your mind you register everything and that will eventually influence you in your music.
From the reviews of the album I read END OF ALL HOPE is greeted very successfully, how does that feel and do you care what the critics are writing about the band?
Yeah we have gotten some great reviews and that is of course always really nice to read, makes you feel even prouder of the album.
And you can’t avoid getting bad reviews but as long as you don’t pay any attention to them it’s ok. That is one thing that I’ve learned over the years not to be affected of all the shit some reviewers write sometimes they don’t even mention the music and it makes me wonder if they take their job seriously.
Studio and Production
END OF ALL HOPE was recorded in Axenstar Studio and Studio Undergound, which parts was recorded in which studio?
We actually recorded everything except the drums ourselves then we booked the studio to record the drums and start mixing the album.
Is it Pelle Saether that produced the album or anyone else?
Yes, Pelle produced the album together with the band, it felt natural to work with him again since we have done it that way for almost 20 years now.
In other words you built your own studio, who came up with that idea?
I would say it was my idea, you don’t need that much stuff these days to record an album by yourself, it felt like a step in the right direction for us but I’ve spent numerous hours watching youtube videos with recording tips and instructions and I still don’t know that much haha.
Saether took care of the mixing, how come you wanted to work with him again? And would you like to work with any other producer but Saether in the future?
As I wrote earlier, we’ve worked with him for some years and it feels natural, who knows what the future will bring, we might work with him again.
Fraser Edwards took care of the mastering, which bands have he worked with before?
Well we got to know Fraser back in 2011 when we toured the UK and had Frasers band Ascension as support, then he started his own studio and we wanted to see what he could do with the mastering as we know he’s a fan of the band. And I think it turned out great, he was very open to our (read mine) ideas and the album got that last extra push in the sound.
The previous album was recorded at 3 weeks, how long took it to record END OF ALL HOPE?
Really don’t know, we recorded the drums in a couple of days and mixing a week maybe, before that we spent a lot of hours in our own studio recording and trying out different riffs and drumbeats.
Label and Management
Why did you end your co-operation with Inner Wound Recordings?
Well by the time we had finished the recording and mixing the timing was really bad for Inner Wound with all of their other releases so we started looking for a new label.
For how long was the band without a record deal?
Some months I guess, we got in contact with Ram It Down Records quite early on so we weren’t that worried.
The band has been working with Arise Records, Massacre Records and IWR, what are your opinions regarding record labels in general?
Well we’ve learnt that it differs a lot in how the labels treat the bands and how much attention and support you get, and these days I guess the importance of a label is much less than it was 20 years ago. If you have the knowledge and energy you can take care of your own release and everything around it since almost all promotion is done digitally.
Last time you said that the previous album wasn’t released outside Europe and North America, is it today?
I don’t know actually.
How come the previous album wasn’t released on vinyl?
It was all a matter of money, we could have had a vinyl edition of Where dreams are forgotten but at the time we couldn’t afford it.
Ram It Down Records is the new home of Axenstar, how come you inked a deal with them?
It was a really good offer and of course the fact that we knew Timo Hoffman made us sign with them.
Which other bands are signed to Ram It Down Records?
Saint Daemon, Torian, Merging Flare, Eternitys End to name a few, it’s a label that is on the rise.
Are you happy with the work the label have put into Axenstar so far and what’s the biggest differences between them and the other labels the band worked with?
Yeah they’ve been really great and we couldn’t be happier with them.
Well as I mentioned before there’s a lot of differences how the labels treat the bands but I don’t like to point any fingers.
END OF ALL HOPE is besides being released as CD and download also being released as vinyl, is it correct it’s going to be released in 300 copies where 180 are clear red versions?
Yes CD, download and Vinyl, actually all 300 copies will be clear red, so make sure you get your copy since it’s a limited hand-numbered release.
Are the members in the band fans of the vinyl format?
I can only speak for myself but I absolutely love the fact that I will have my own vinyl release, since it’s always been a dream of mine.
Why is the album only released in 300 vinyl-copies?
Why not??… hahahaha, we simply wanted a limited release, 300 hand-numbered copies.
Are there many fans that buy albums through your website/shop?
There are a lot of fans that want signed albums or merch and that’s the only way to order it I guess.
FAR FROM HEAVEN and THE INQUISITION is sold out on the website, any plans on press new copies?
Not at the moment but we have thought about it many times, maybe we will do it in the future as I know a lot of people would love that.
Why isn’t it possible to buy all of your albums but not FAR FROM HEAVEN on your bandcamp site?
I believe you can buy all of the five first albums on bandcamp actually so I think you need to check again. 😉
Many bands are releasing biographies, alcohol and meet and greet, do you see a future for Axenstar in any of those genres?
No not really, that’s not our thing I guess, it would be fun though to have an Axenstar beer but we’ll see if we get around to it some day.
What’s your opinion regarding the meet and greet phenomenon that has been rising during the later years where fans are charged huge amount of cash to meet their idols?
Well I guess I understand both sides, the artists need to get as much money as possible since there is this problem with the illegal downloading and I certainly understand the fans that they think it’s too expensive but the day the fans stop paying for the meet and greet it will cease to exist.
Any plans on re-releasing the old album in the near future?
No not at the moment.
Last time the band didn’t work with any management, what’s the status today?
No management this time either haha.
Past and Present
The bands website looks really great but it’s not updated, why not, and who runs it?
I guess I’m responsible for not updating it in the way it should, I need to be better at it, thanks for pointing that out… haha
Is the band active on twitter and other social forums? Is that a good way of keeping tracks of other bands and keep in contact with fans?
We have concentrated on Facebook and Instagram and we try to keep our fans updated with Axenstar news as much as possible.
Are you happy with the 4500 likes the band got on its Facebook or do you want to gain more fans?
Of course we’re really happy for every single one of the likes we got on Facebook and would certainly want 100 times more but we need to put more focus on that if we want any change.
Tell us about the release party the band threw in Västerås at the end of April, did you perform live and was that the first Axenstar live show with new drummer Fasth?
We had a great night with a lot of fans and friends and it was the first show with Hampus behind the drums so it was a special night!
The Unholy (official music video)
The band is opening for Secret Rule in Stockholm at the end of May, are you excited?
Yeah we’re really excited about that, Secret Rule is a great band and it’s going to be nice to share the stage with them.
Does the band have any shows planned for the summer so far?
Not at the moment.
What’s the status regarding the Asian market? Any interest for Axenstar over there?
I think we have always had a big fanbase in Japan so the interest in the band is no question about, hoping we can do some shows over there some day.
Do you think fans have to wait as long for the next album as they did for END OF ALL HOPE?
I hope not! We have a couple of new ideas already so we will work hard to have a new album ready as soon as possible.
Last time I asked you if you were happy with what the band had achieved so far and you said yes, is that answer still valid today?
Yes absolutely, I’m really happy for every release and show we have done so far and I think we have a lot more to give.
What would you like to say to the ones who still haven’t heard the music of Axenstar yet, could you give them three reasons why they should buy END OF ALL HOPE?
If you’re a fan of metal with heavy guitars, great melodies, power and speed, you should definitely check out the new Axenstar album End of all Hope!
What’s the plan for Axenstar for the rest of the year?
Doing as many live shows as possible and start writing new material for the next album.
We all can only hope that there’s still a lot more to come from them – could be read in the bio, what are your respond to that?
I can only agree, I hope so too!
Any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers..
Support your local metal scene and listen to Axenstar at least once a day!
Finally once again a warm thank you for making this interview possible, I wish you and the rest of the band all the best in the future.
Thanks so much nice to talk to you to.