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Sonic Syndicate: Cheers from Darth Vader

A busy year for Sonic Syndicate from Sweden. This very young act reached the top of European Metal scene in record time. And it seems they are constantly touring since the release of their second album “Only Inhuman”. So STALKER was pretty lucky to catch Karin (bass) and Robin (guitars) during their pit-stop in Helsinki, Finland, for a chat...

Hello! How´s it going?
Robin: Cool-cool, just a bit freezing, but cool!

How´s the tour going so far, now you´re close to the end of it…
Karin: Yeah, just 4 more shows left...
Robin: And it´s been really awesome, everyday something new and exciting, fun everyday!
Karin: Only once the driver was a bit weird, the first day he scratched the side of the bus with something, and another time I woke up ´cos the whole bus was shaking and the window was completely broke, ´cos apparently he hit the traffic light with the side of the bus.
Robin: …then the heating broke too…
Karin: Now we´ve a new bus and it´s much nicer.

What about playing on stage, any funny accident there?
Robin: We´ve just been talking about it and nothing at all has gone wrong, nothing!

Tell us about how you´ve scored the record deal, about the competition with Nuclear Blast.
Karin: Well, we´ve heard that there´s this competition going on and you can send them like a demo, a few songs or something, so we´d thought we´d give it a try. We just sent me three songs we had, that´s all.
Robin: We just recorded 3 new songs and sent them, we were so surprised we´ve heard something, we didn´t expect anything at all.
Karin: It´s really a dream come true, such a huge label and so many bands that we all listen to it, it´s just perfect!

Your music on the other hand, sounds more American-influenced, yet you´re at the major European label…
Robin: I think we´re a lot more commercial than many other bands on the same label, and I know that they love us and they push us very hard, so I don´t know, but maybe they want a band like this.

What kind of music style would you identify yourself with?
Karin: We don´t really want to put ourselves into anything, because then you kind of have to stay in that frame and we don´t want to do that.
Robin: Of course bands like In Flames inspire us a lot, so I´ve heard that we´re a mix of Gothenburg metal, like In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Soilwork and so on, and then bands in more American hardcore-metalcore style, like Killswitch Engage, those are the bands we´re listening to the most, so you can compare, a mixture between Swedish and American metal.

How´s the writing process for the album, who wrote what and how did it go?
Robin: Well, Roger made most the music…
Karin: And Richard writes all the lyrics, but we all put our stuff into it, when we´re in the rehearsal room, we all have a say. But Roger does all the main stuff.

How does he write, do you know? What inspires him?
Karin: It´s very personal stuff…
Robin: Yeah, what comes around, goes around kind of thing, from his ex-girlfriend to his new girlfriend, to his friends who died, then his job, anything that´s in his head, so it´s very personal lyrics, he doesn´t want to say which song is about, he wants the audience…
Karin: …right, the audience to figure out what´s it about. If I don´t know the song and I hear it, I´ll relate to it with my own life-story kind of, because otherwise you take away the magic of it.
Robin: That´s exactly what I´ve meant.

Is there much pressure in being the only girl in the band?
Karin: I can get angry very easily, it´s my most annoying trait and the guys know that. But for me it´s easy to be around them…
Robin: And we don´t treat her any different, like this is a girl so we should behave differently, or something, she´s one in the band and she´s to accept.
Karin: We´re like a family, they´re my brothers, and we spend so much time together, so…

In your online gallery, the most viewed pictures are photographs of Karin, how do you guys feel about that?
Karin: (laughs)
Robin: Well, of course! If a photographer takes 100 photos, 98 are of her! And hopefully I´m in one there somewhere, in the background
Karin: (laughs) And the drummer never gets anything!
Robin: It´s not usual that a girl plays in the heavy band like that, or? No…
Karin: At one show there were those 3 guys with my name printed on their shirts!

What kind of musical background do you have?
Karin: I´ve been doing something with music my whole life, although I´ve never been in a band before. I learned to play guitar at school for 3 years and I took singing lessons, and then my mother used to play bass before, so I´ve learned myself to play bass too.
Robin: We went to the same school, we´ve had the same teachers, so… Because in Sweden you can choose what kind of school you go to, if it´s more music-oriented or whatever, so we chose that. I´ve learned to play guitar, like 4-5 years ago and I´m self-taught, I´ve never been to any teaching.

And now you´re touring with such big famous bands, how has this been for your own professional experience?
Robin: Everyday is just amazing and we´re all the time learning something new!
Karin: Like things to do on stage… To be like more organized, on time. At first we were so nervous… I wonder what they think about us! I´m not so nervous anymore…
Robin: After all these months, not anymore.
Karin: Now we´re more excited than nervous.

What do you aside from the band?
Robin: Nothing! I just dropped out of school, so nothing at all, now I´ll go home and wait for the next tour.
Karin: And I quit my job, I called my boss and said I´m touring, so I told him to call me when he needs. I am a personal assistant to handicapped and sick people.

What kind of plans you have for the rest of the year?
Robin: We´ll continue the tour, with Amon Amarth, Decapiated… This tour is a dream come true for us,
Karin: ...and so fast!
Robin: We only have a day free for Christmas and then we´re leaving to Germany.
Karin: And we´ve already started writing some new material…
Robin: We´re going back to studio in March, and in the summer all the festivals…

Do you mind being commercial, usually it´s not the best adjective for alternative music…
Robin: We´re doing the music we love and we listen to it so if it´s commercial – fine. But we love to be on the radio and on TV.
Karin: It´s not like we plan it, like this song has to be like that… We write the music we love.

Are there any disappointments so far in this real musician´s lifestyle, it´s all happening so fast for you…
Karin: No, we´re getting a lot more than we ever wanted. And it´s all so much better than we thought.
Robin: We worked really hard for this band, so now the hard work is all coming back.

What else would you dream of?
Karin: Touring as much as possible!
Robin: Actually it would be great to record some songs with Max Martin,
Karin: I was just going to say! Just for the hell of it…
Robin: He´s done Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and bands like this, he´s a very good producer, so that would be cool and see how it works…
Karin: But for the new album we´re very hopeful to work with the same producer who worked with uson the first record, we really got along well and really understood each other´s opinions.

What about performing live, what songs are the best and worst?
Karin: Flashback is mine, everyone´s just getting crazy!
Robin: I like to jump up and down, move all the time, so songs like Denied also, when everyone sings along!

Has anyone ever forgotten lyrics on stage?
Karin: (laughs) Yes! And then he makes up some words, or just screams something and we all try to look cool, like it´s suppose to be like that.
Robin: But we always start to laugh when something´s not right, we just turn our back and look at the drummer, so we can laugh! And then go back and headbang, like we´re so cool!
Karin: Oh, I just have to say this. On the first show of this tour at the end, Richard wanted to say “I want to thank you all” in Brighton, in England, but instead he said “I want to fuck you all!” and it was the first show on this tour!
Robin: But the funny thing was that he didn´t even realize what he just said, like “I wanna fuck you all for coming here tonight!”
Karin: (laughs) We had fun at least!

Do you play any practical jokes on stage?
Karin: Once the singer of Dark Tranquility dressed up as Darth Vader from Star Wars...
Robin: ...and he came to say that he´s the father of the three brothers in this band, like “I´m your father”
Karin: I couldn´t stop laughing the whole show after that and we should look all metal, but I was just laughing every time I looked at the boys, so I had to be with my back to the audience most of the time. We didn´t know at all that he was going to do that. And it wasn´t on stage, but in Hamburg, we went to a strip club and the guys paid a man a lapdance for me.
Robin: Our manager said we should do something for Karin, she sat there alone…
Karin: …and I thought I will just watch the guys…
Robin: …we picked up one that was dressed like a sailor, he went to her…
Karin: He asked if I was the only girl at that table and I was like: “..yeah…” and then he put me up on the table and spinned me around and I got to undress him, as we were standing on the table… That was really funny, he looked very gay and covered in oil, he was so muscular too…
Robin: I was so excited!!! Yeah…

Do your parents come to see your shows?
Karin: My parents came to Budapest actually, ´cos they wanted to have a weekend away, so they decided to come and see me! We had so much fun partying, we were partying with the other bands afterwards, and they loved Soilwork! They´ve never heard them before and then saw them live.
Robin: And we didn´t know they´d come and then I came from the tour bus and saw them and was like “what are YOU doing here?!”
Karin: They had so much fun! (laughs)

What was the strangest thing you had to sign?
Karin: We give a lot of autographs, after the show we´re always at the merch´ stand to meet people and so on… I never told you this, but I got to sign a pair of boobs!
Robin: (very disappointed) what?!?!?! How did I miss that?!
Karin: It was in Germany, in Substage club, it was so small…
Robin: You didn´t tell me (still very disappointed)
Karin: But you got to sign a check…
Robin: Yeah, how lucky am I…
(all laughs)
Karin: But yeah, a lot of clothes, shoes, and such things…
Robin: She´s the only girl in the band and she got all the boobs.

Do you think you personally changed since this success came?
Robin: Not at all all. We´re the same guys, really. We answer all messages on Myspace and so on. We´re very down-to-earth.

Author: Marina Sidyakina, transl. Cornelia Wickel, photos: Julia Sheremetyeva
Date: 2007-11-29

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