Interview by Kieron Hayes
Interview with Amy Lee Carlson of Sölicitör
Hey and thank you for your time! Please state your name and position in the band.
ALC: Hey! This is Amy Lee Carlson, and I am the vocalist and front woman of Sölicitör.
Okay, so right away I have to ask: where did the band’s name come from? The umlauts are a classic metal staple, but what was the inspiration behind “Sölicitör” as a name?
ALC: Ha, this question – we chose this name, quite frankly, because we were out of ideas. It’s easy to spell, it’s graphically pleasing, and nobody else has ever used it in any combination that we’re aware of. It gives you no clue as to what we sound like – although I do like that some people in YouTube comments have attributed it to “Laying down the law” – like in the European sense. I get a kick out of that.
You’re quite a new band, having formed in 2018, though I can see most of you have been or are in other bands too. How did you guys all meet up?
ALC: Well, Matt and I were formerly in Substratum. Pat, Damon and Johan were in a band called Hexengeist. We’ve all known each other from the scene in Seattle for a number of years and our bands had played together previously. After both bands dissolved around October of 2018, Matt and I discussed continuing on – he and Johann had been jamming in a prog band on the side and we got Pat and Damon on board, within a month we had our first real practice. February 2019 we released a 2 song demo and the rest has gotten us here now.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to play it yourself? Were any artists a particular inspiration?
ALC: Pretty early on I had an obsession with music and performing. I’d sing along to the oldies station on the radio, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, The Yard Birds, The Animals and the like. They had a late night local garage rock show that played local bands from the 60s surf era. Eventually I found the rock stations and figured out that I really liked Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Ted Nugent, Cream, Pantera, Metallica, Twisted Sister, all those radio hits. In middle school, I had a band that played a cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones for our talent show – but I listened to a lot of genres growing up. My dad was an overnight DJ on the local Classical station back in the 70s. He and I would sit and listen to “The Swing Years” on Saturday nights, a radio show dedicated to early jazz and swing bands from around the United States, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller. Eventually my father bought me a Mitchell acoustic guitar at the age of 16, and I started to teach myself a few chords, I got bored with punk riffs and power chords and learned how to finger pick folk tunes. I toured solo as a folk musician for a number of years before turning my sights on my true passion – Heavy Metal.
Spectral Devastation has a delightfully old-school style to it, that trademark controlled chaos of speed metal. It puts me in mind of Omen, Liege Lord and Satan. What bands or albums do you think most influenced your sound?
ALC: We appreciate that! Liege Lord is a HUGE influence for us, (we had a chance to meet them in Chicago at Legions of Metal and they’re really nice guys) alongside “Rust in Peace” era Megadeth, Mercyful Fate, Chastain, “Painkiller” era Judas Priest.
It also seems to have classic speed metal topics as the lyrical focus. Are there any specific inspirations for some tracks, like particular events, fiction, etc?
ALC: Speed! Steel! Vengeance! Well, we set out to carve a space for ourselves within this genre and sometimes that means you have to cover the basics. We don’t care to be called a thrash band, we’re reluctant to be called a NWOTHM band, although I don’t know what else to call this resurgence in metal from the underground – my lyrics could probably be deemed derivative at times – but for me, heavy metal, speed metal, is about going fast, hard and mean – because you carry the passion in your heart and you fight for your place in this world against all odds. Beyond that, I look forward to whatever inspirations come next because we’re not here to reinvent the wheel. We’re already taking what we’ve learned from this album, what we liked or didn’t like, and discussing the direction of the next release.
Do you have a favourite track from the album? “Night Vision” is a personal favourite of mine, I love the gentle opening that erupts and then never lets up. “The Red Queen” too, it feels like a great number to ride into battle to!
ALC: I think I’m torn between “Betrayer” and “Grip of The Fist” – the vocal harmonies I achieved in Betrayer were like none I’ve ever laid down before, and I’m very proud of how that song turned out. Most of my lyrics were finished in studio. “Grip of The Fist” started as a silly rhyme in the margins of my notebook and became a banshee’s warning of a tyrant’s doom – Perhaps it is a foreshadowing of what’s to come…
What was the method for making Spectral Devastation? Does anyone in the band do a lion’s share of the writing, or is it more of a group process?
ALC: Matthew writes the majority of the riffs. Pat has a very good balance not just in his harmonies but in lead writing – the two of them swap and duel with ease. Johann and Damon bring the thunder, and I feel like we all have a very good say in how the direction of things go. We make quite the team in that respect.
We had a very tight deadline and amazingly, stuck to it – not without it’s agonizing moments or frustrations, we kind of all wanted to die. I didn’t have the majority of the lyrics ready until we hit the studio, and we finished writing and arranging several of the songs as we recorded. So, for us to pull this off as we did, feels really astonishing.
Who did the artwork for the album? Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist, photographer, producer, etc?
ALC: Lauren Gornik of Gornik Illustration created the cover art – she had approached us shortly after the release of the EP, and we were very pleased to work with her. Annick Giroux created the layout at the request of Gates of Hell. I’m proud to know so many women are behind this release.
I look forward to collaborating with Lauren again in the future, she has a very wide range of inspirations and skills in both illustration and graphic design. I recommend her, absolutely. I have had my eyes recently on the art of Broue Master Visual Decay – Matt and I are vintage horror movie nerds, it’s right up our alley. I also got a chance to work with Burney (Batdog) on the Substratum/Skelator 10″ release through Unholy Anarchy Records, and I’d love to work with him again some day.
Obviously the coronavirus is having a big impact on gigs and touring at the moment. Have plans had to change due to that? Do you expect your summer festivals to go ahead?
ALC: At this point in time, it’s hard to say. All of our spring schedule through the end of May has been cancelled or postponed, and I fear our summer plans are soon to be on the chopping block. Our fingers are crossed for our tour in June, but it’s too uncertain at the moment. It’s agonizing. However, the support we’ve received from friends and fans around the world has been really uplifting, and I know when we’re all able to get together again, we’re gonna burn up some road.
Following on from that, once things do eventually return to (relative) normality, is there anywhere you’d particularly like to tour or play? I see you have some shows in Germany lined up for August, will that be Sölicitör’s first time playing in Europe?
ALC: We’re very much looking forward to Keep It True in Germany – it will be our first time playing Europe. As disappointed as we are to have had to change our plans, we know that we’ll get there sooner or later. I can’t wait to unleash this hunger and fire upon that stage.
Is it difficult balancing out being in a band with a ‘normal’ working life?
ALC: Define “normal” haha – I’ve been a bouncer in nightclubs and venues for 14 years, a bartender for almost a decade. I was a karaoke host for a while. Anything to do with music or night life or living on the fringe. Underground performances, big stages, festivals, small bars, I’ve worked it all in the pursuit of the freedom, ability and networking skills it takes to perform in front of hundreds of people at a time. We’ve all made our sacrifices to be a part of this band. It was our intention from the start to take this as far as we can, and we won’t stop until that happens.
Do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to a label to be recognised in today’s society?
ALC: NO, absolutely not. BUT that depends on the level of recognition you’re seeking – and that won’t come without talent AND a healthy attitude. You won’t get anywhere no matter how good you are if you’re a fucking asshole (or an idiot) – but it takes a certain brand of asshole to get where you want to be. You have to be relentless in pursuing your goals, while also willing to work with people who can (and want) to help you get there. There’s no time for drama. There’s no time for negativity. Be humble, be gracious, but take no prisoners. Matt and I ask ourselves how the hell we got here, how did we get so lucky? We worked our fucking asses off and we didn’t burn our bridges along the way. We’ve spent years sacrificing our time and energy to be in projects that went nowhere, or projects that could-have-been – and when we started this band we made it very clear that we were not going to repeat the same mistakes. We’ve done more in the last year than we could have ever hoped to achieve, and this is just the beginning. But we earned it, hard and fair.
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
ALC: Do what you want! It’s your music. It’s your passion. Do whatever the hell you want. I do like the idea of setting a base price per album or track and letting fans pay more if they want to or can. You need to cover your shipping, your packaging expenses, (if you’re selling physical items) but ultimately if you want to share your music for free, go for it. The wonderful thing about streaming on Bandcamp for example, is that you can set it to just that. YouTube and channels like NWOTHM Full Albums have done wonders for exposing little known bands to a HUGE online audience. Anderson does a fantastic job of directing people towards each band’s social media pages and discographies. His album previews and streaming videos have allowed bands and fans to connect around the globe. I think of it as a modern day tape trade.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
ALC: I still listen to a lot of jazz and old blues, 60s garage bands, 70s disco and UK82 hardcore punk – Whatever suits my mood really.
As far as newer bands go, Time Rift out of Portland is bringing sexy back to rock n’ roll – Roadrash from Vancouver BC is speeding at you 666 mph, Natur has a very solid recent release, Devil Master’s brand of metalpunk madness is spooky as fuck, and I’m really excited to see that Skelator just unveiled a new logo…
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
ALC: Motorcycles, leather work, metalsmithing, coffee, gardening, and snuggling with my cat while I read a good article in a science magazine.
And lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
ALC: Stay sharp, stay clean! Keep it fast, keep it nasty, KEEP IT MEAN!