The modern metal band Sonic Syndicate from Sweden, has just released their self-titled fifth album on Nuclear Blast and the first album as a quartet. We asked longtime member and guitarist Robin Sjunnesson some questions about the new formation in the band as well as their new album
Hallo. First of I would like to congratulate you on your forthcoming self-titled album. Could you start out by introducing yourself and tell us what part in the band you have?
I'm Robin Sjunnesson and I play guitar in the band. Sonic Syndicate has been around since the first album release in 2005. There was some different school projects and other bands that were eventually joined together and form what today is Sonic Syndicate. We've often been called "the touring rats" and I guess it explains a lot of what kind of band we are. Since '06-07, we've constantly been on the road or in the studio. There was never really a home except the touring bus or the airplanes, and I guess we started to live "our dream" in a pretty early stage. We were new to the music industry, but still everything just went the right way. Pretty early in our career, we got the chance to tour and open for big bands like Megadeth, Nightwish, In Flames etc. and also even bring our tour over to the USA, Russia and Asia. I'm really happy and honored for what we've been doing since the start.
Why did you choose to do a self-titled album now? Does it have any special meaning?
We were scrolling through all our lyrics, for this new album, to see if we could find any words or sentences that could sum up the album as a whole. Nothing was as strong as our name, so thats one of the reasons. We're been away for a couple of years, so this is also a way for us to say "We're back, This is Us, This is Sonic Syndicate". This is definitely the album that I'm the most proud of, since we went on a break for a couple of years and then pulled it back together. A pretty cool side note is that when we decided to call the album "Sonic Syndicate", we asked our fans at our Facebook page what they would like us to call the new album, and it's pretty awesome that most of them actually said "Self-titled".
When did you start working on this album, how long did the process take from the first step to the final product? Was it hard to write new material for this record or did it come naturally for you?
We're a band who always keeps writting, you know. It doesn't matter if we're in the tour bus, on an airplane or in the dressing room, we always write new music. I guess it was early 2013 we started to write this album, and I remember that "Before you finally break" was the first song that we wrote. That song pretty much set the standard for what way we wanted the new album to turn out. I had some guitar riffs and went back to the same city as we originally come from, went into a studio with John (drummer) and Karin (bass) to record some pre-productions. After that, I went to Helsinki where Nathan (Vocals) lives nowadays and we had this cabin in the middle of the woods which we turned into our own pre-production studio. We recorded and wrote lyrics for about 2 weeks, and then later on I went back to Barcelona, where I lived during 2013. It was pretty cool to write this album in 3 different countries for the time being, and it worked really well.
This is the first album without Richard and Roger Sjunnesson, how has this affected the songwriting process and the material overall?
I guess it has affected the song writting pretty much, but just in a positive way. Especially guitar wise. I'm the only guitar player in SOSY now, which means that I have all the freedom in the world and doesn't have to think about any borders I can't cross when it comes to too advanced or too heavy, or whatever. I started to enjoy playing guitar again, which I thought was getting a bit boring a few years back. A lot of people, journalists, reviews and other bands has said that this is the best album we've ever done. I'm not saying that they are correct, that's up to the listenere, but I do belive them.
Where did you record the album, and who produced it? How did the cooperation go between the band and the producer?
Producer for this album was Roberto Lahgi (In Flames, Hardcore Superstar, etc) and he's been doing some work for us before. He used to mix our albums, but this time we wanted to have him with us from the start. It's really important that the band and the producer have the same vision of the album that you're making, and Roberto got it right from the start. It worked really well, and we went back to the same studio we were on our last album "We Rule the Night" called "Bohus Sound". A lot of big bands have recorded there. ABBA for one.
Are you trying to express something through your music?
I guess we want to express our feelings with our music and lyrics. On this album we are a little bit more angry, a bit frustrated and that just shows of the album. It is darker and more aggressive. Nathan writes the lyrics and he's pretty honest and all the lyrics are real-life stories. We don't write about dragons and computer games, it's about the reality. Lyrics always bring their story to the song, but I also see the music as storytelling, with all the different emotions being brought through with the melodies and the atmosphere. I guess thats why a lot of songs are longer than they usually are in Sonic Syndicate. Some songs are over 6min long, and that's just because we had more to tell this time around.
Since the release has just been released, how has the response from the press been?
Amazing, truly amazing. If I just pass a store, I can see us on the front of a magazine and stuff like that. I've read a couple of reviews already and they have been 8-9 points out of 10. People really seems to love the new album, and I'm stoked to release it. Our fans have only heard our two new singles "Black Hole Halo" and "Before you finally break", and the response have been awesome. This feels really good
Talking about “Before You Finally Break”, it features Björn 'Speed' Strid from Soilwork, why did you choose to work with Speed, and did the song come out as you planned?
As I earlier said, "Before you Finally break" was the first song to be written for this new album. When it was half-way done, we felt that we wanted to have more vocals in it than it had in that time. We had mentioned before that we wanted to have a guest for the album, and it was no doubt when we said Björn Strid. SOSY and Soilwork have been touring together in the past and we've become good friends during the years. So it was no question about it when we asked Björn. He enjoyed and it just made the song turn out really awesome. The fact is that Björn is one of the best vocalists out there and he has been a big inspiration for Nathan, and Soilwork overall for SoSy.
Who did the artwork and what is the idea behind it?
Same guy who've done most of our stuff, Gustavo Sazes. On the cover, you can see four people standing in front of a ruined and abandon city and they stand there, survived it all just because they were together. I guess thats a bit of the metaphore for the band and wo we are as persons.
How would you compare the material on this release to your previous material, on your latest album “We Rule the Night” from 2010?
Way different, like all the other Sonic albums. We're a band that wouldn't repeat ourselves. Personally, I can't fucking stand bands putting out the same record year after year, it gets boring after awhile, you know. So if you take our first album "Eden Fire" and compare it with our 2nd "Only Inhuman", there's a big gap when it comes to the style and sound, right. We wanted to keep that same gap between all the albums we're making, so since "We Rule the Night" was a little bit more rock and friendlier, we wanted the new album to be the completely opposite. The new album is the darkest we've ever done, and even if there is a song or two on the new album which aren't dark, then the lyrics are, you know.
What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to, and what kind new music do you listen to these days?
I grew up listening to two different genres, and that is 80s hair Metal and Black Metal. Thats a pretty weird mix, right. Alice Cooper is my idol and have been since I was 4 years old and my older brother showed me a VHS when Cooper chops of his head on stage. Apperantly, I said "I wanna be like him when I grow up" and I guess that my dream of becoming a musician started at an early stage. Today I'm listening to all sort of things, not only metal and I think thats important to get inspired by all kinds of things in music. Newer bands that I like are Memphis May Fire and stuff like that.
Have any of these bands been source of inspiration for the album?
No, not really. The biggest inspiration for this album was to meet up and see each other again after all these years. We're feel pretty confident when we write music and we've been doing it for so many years that we've found other ways to get inspired. For me, a big inspiration was just to move to Spain and see the culture and the people. It sounds pretty cliché, but I enjoyed doing that "Moving abroad to write a new album" thing.
In your time as musicians, what is your biggest musical achievement so far and what has been your biggest experience through the years?
Our goal with the band was to release albums and be on tour, and we did that in a pretty early stage. So that's a big achievement for us. If we are gonna talk big things, I would say that playing in front of 30-40 thousands of people on festivals, selling out venues on tour and our last album went Gold are stuff that we never thought we would. So thats pretty awesome
Could we expect any European tour and maybe see the band in action here in Denmark any time soon?
We got the summer festivals coming up now starting next week, and then we're out on the first part of a europe tour. Nothing in Denmark have been confirmed, but we usually always come to Copenhagen. I bet we will be back pretty soon when we get the Scandinavian tour dates booked.
What would be the ultimate tour, festival or show for you to play at?
We've never been to Australia, so it would be truly amazing to play "Soundwave Festival". A little dream that I have at the moment, is to do a tour in Mexico and South America. Talking about tours, I think it would be awesome to do a Swedish line-up tour with Sonic Syndicate, Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork and In Flames. That would be badass.
That’s all we’ve get this time, do you have anything that you'd like to add or say?
New album out this 4th July, and it's gonna be amazing, man. You all should definitely check it out! Our new video "Before you finally Break" is spinning now, so check that out as well. Catch us on tour when "The Diabolical Tour of Art" hits Denmark, for helvede!
We would like to say thanks a lot for your time. And we wish all you guys all the luck in the future whatever it might bring.
- Band/Kunstner: Sonic Syndicate
- Interview med: Robin Sjunnesson (Guitar)
- Interview dato: Mandag, 07 Juli 2014
- Samarbejdspartner: Nuclear Blast Records