Interview with Jens Broman (vocals) and Mattias Svensson (guitar)
Interview by Kat Knite
Congratulations on the release of your brand new album, Charlatans! I have to say, I found it really impressive, and it drew me in quite a bit. The progressions, rhythms, tones, production… and the sheer talent of all members – I really enjoyed this one. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world after restarting the band in 2019?
JB: It feels terrific! We have been working on and off with this record during the past 4 years. These pandemic times have in a way created time for contemplation and focus, that I think I´ve been missing for the last couple of years. We are very proud of what we have created and are so eager to hear people’s reactions. We have until now received very good reactions from both fans and magazines
How did it feel to finally come back together after being apart, and have the music flow out the way it did? This must have been a very rewarding experience. Could you please tell us some of the best parts of creating the album?
JB: Yes, it’s been very rewarding to put layer upon layer with guitars, keyboards and vocal harmonies. I (Jens) recorded my vocals together with my childhood friend Björn “Speed” Strid in his little shed, ha ha. We had such a great time during the two 3 days sessions we did together. It is so rewarding working together with one of my dearest friends, creating music together. Björn’s got at least 20,000 hours in singing and he can guide you to up your game with at least 10 percent.
It’s so great to see musicians starting to have more performance opportunities now. Do you plan to go on any kind of tour to promote the album?
JB: We would love to do a tour but nothing is decided yet. We are in contact with a couple of booking agencies. Most of the established bands are out now on the road and most of the summer festivals are already booked. I guess we have to wait until the summer 2023, ha ha ha ha
Charlatans blends together sounds of classic metal with “a twist towards progressive soundscapes”. Do you think it’s important for a band to evolve and grow with the times they live in? Which newer bands do you draw inspiration from? Are there any local artists/bands currently making waves that you really enjoy, and why?
JB: Yes, we think it’s important to evolve and grow for every album, just as it’s important to grow as a person. We think it is a very natural progression. We love Mastodon but we draw most of our inspiration from the classic bands, such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Pantera. We also love Mastodon, if that is a more modern band, ha ha ha. I mean they mix all of the classic metal into a blender and something even more amazing comes out. Their progression from album to album is also amazing, it feels like they always find new ways to challenge themselves.
How do you feel the industry, particularly in metal, has changed since 2001 when the band dropped the debut album, Domination Commence?
MS: A lot now focus on social media and the band trying to build a following on different platforms. Labels almost only sign bands that have built themselves up a bit. We suck at that thing. We love music. Writing, recording, playing live and so on. The administrative side of our band is better left off to someone else’s handling in our case.
What do you think it takes to “make it” in today’s metal scene?
JB: Commitment and a genuine urge to create music that are not in the focus to appeal to the masses. To have a sound and the ability to communicate with your music.
Given the years of experience you have with music, what is your number one tip for young musicians trying to pave their way?
JB: As always you have to be 100 percent committed to your art and music. You have to sacrifice a lot of other things and be very good at handling your social media. The guys and I are not that good on social media like the younger musicians but, I guess bring in someone that is good on social media and marketing, ha ha ha. But of course you have to write good songs, as well.
Make the music you love and I bet that there are people around the world that will love your music. Internet and social media can give unestablished bands a great opportunity to be heard around the world. That has totally changed from when we started out.
Did you have any doubts about starting work on a new record, given the uncertainty of our times and difficulty of making money in music with the lack of touring opportunities (on top of other factors, such as streaming services taking over as the main source for listeners)?
JB: Nope, we create music first and foremost so that we can enjoy it. If other people like it as well we are even more satisfied. All the guys have ordinary jobs to pay the bills.
I’ve read that your songwriting process came very naturally – can you elaborate more for us on what your process is like? Are you always inspired to write and collaborate? Who takes the lead in arranging the songs? Do you face any challenges in this respect and if so, how do you deal with them?
MS: The song writing process is basically the same as it always has been for me. Always a riff or a melody line first and then the song evolves from there. Charlatans is written by me and Jens and we found a solid ground in respect for the other’s input. Meaning, that even though I write the music he has my trust in doing his vocal lines and lyrics. There’s always an ongoing discussion on ideas but it’s a creative and positive process to get the most out of the ideas. In the past I could have a strong opinion on vocal lines but now I leave that up to Jens. He’s a singer and I’m not. I trust him on what he’s going to come up with since we’re very synced on what we want.
What is the most important thing you have learned during your time together as a band?
JB: You can be a slumber for 14 years but then people’s life changes and stars align and suddenly you’re back and can create really good music together.
Do you feel most alive when playing music, whether it be in a studio or in front of people? What else in life fuels and inspires you to create this beautiful form of art?
MS: Of course playing live is a spark. But other than that I would say that music brings the opportunity to express yourself. And if you do it in a way that others can relate to then that’s an energizer and the goal is completed.
Do you intend to stay together and continue writing albums now that Charlatans is out? I’m sure your fans would love to see it.
JB: Yes, of course we will stay together. The phenomenal response of this album has whetted our appetite to write new songs, for sure. I’m sure it won’t take 14 years until we release a new album.
How do you hope to make people feel when they listen to the songs on Charlatans?
JB: We hope that they will feel and a natural progression from our back catalog but also that we have evolved as musicians and in our song writing. I hope the lyrics will give some comfort and similar references for us that live in this strange period of history in this mad world.
Finally, I wanted to ask – Who designed such striking artwork for the album cover? What is the concept and meaning behind it?
JB: It was our good old friend Carlos Del Olmo Holmberg. He’s a very talented artist. He has done a bunch of different artwork for other artists such as Soilwork and Darkane. Mattias came up with the tornado idea, we wanted people to be sucked up in a tornado, the faces represent the Charlatans of the world.
Thank you so much for your time, it’s very much appreciated. Wishing you all the best and hoping to see in concert one day soon. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
JB: Be nice and stay metal!
If you haven’t done so yet, check out Charlatans. It’s worth a spin!