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It´s Soilwork´s tenth anniversary year, and things couldn´t be better! „Ozzfest“, sold-out concerts, and their actual output "Stabbing The Drama" opened a new chapter in their history. Vocalist Björn „Speed“ Strid reveals to STALKER necessary evils and entertainer´s secrets.
Can you describe the band-members?
Keyboardplayer Sven Karlsson stays up very long, goes to sleep at four in the morning, playing poker all night, he wakes up around four so he never really sees he light of day. He is like a sleepy turtle sometimes, walks very slow and looks very sleepy.
Then we have Ola Flink, our Bass-player, a great performer on stage, he is doing some really funny moves that the world has never seen, always wearing funny clothes and shocks you with some new ugly sunglasses or shoes. Guitarist Peter Wichers, a very talkative social person, he sounds like American although he was born in Sweden.
Ola Frenning (git), the oldest guy in the band, started to behave like old man, because he is 39 and everybody else is like 25. You can see the difference sometimes and he is really into gambling as well; he is always scratching his beard, talking on the phone, sending SMS or playing poker on his computer.
Dirk Verbeuren drums is also very much of a laptop guy, making his own lounge music on the computer for ten hours straight, so focused, a really cool guy.
And how about you?
Björn: I´m a very restless person, at home and on tours, I cannot really sit down, especially like during the day, waiting for shows. I always walk around and talk to people, I drink too much sometimes. I have a fantastic wife who can deal with this. Usually we try to do some trips, go together to see underground Death Metal-shows - that is pretty much what we do. I´m a shy person when I am not on stage, so I´m not much of a big talker with new people, you know. Interviews are a thing you get used to, it happens every day on tour...
Did the marriage change your life?
Björn: Not really. There are certain things that change, naturally, but it´s always up to yourself what you make it into. Some people are really like „OK I´m gonna leave all my friends behind, I´m married, I´m gonna change my life“. But I´m not like that. My wife knew that from the beginning as well, and she is the same. So it´s like being girlfriend and boyfriend with some kind of confirmation.
How was the Ozzfest for you?
Björn: A totally new experience, a touring festival, like Wacken but on tour instead. It was sometimes a lot of fun, but also pretty boring sometimes, like „Groundhog Day“, same thing every day, waking up all over again and being on a Heavy Metal parking lot. It was usually located outside the city in those amphi-theaters and there was a parking lot where this second stage was - same thing every day, you´re finished around one o´clock lunch time and then you just sit there, and you have booze, what do you do - you drink and try to have fun. On the other hand it was the first tour in the States when we saw a lot: Grand Canyon, Sun Records in Memphis, Las Vegas ... some of the people in the band liked to poker, but I don´t like cards or games at all. I decided to do some other stuff , we just sat down and partied and went to the old part of the city. There´s a lot to do in Las Vegas except gambling.
You have a weird tour story to share?
Björn: I almost got caught by the police for drinking in a car, together with Steve DiGeorgio from Testament. We were sitting and listening to the new Sadus album in his car, drinking booze when police came by: „Pull down the window. What are you doing, Sir?“ „I´m just drinking milk“; I had a White Russian, and just lied spontaneously. „OK let me smell that“, he did, and „o-oh you´re in deep fucking trouble“... He took my ID, started calling people, took Steve´s things as well, came back: „We are not sure what we are going to do with you guys, we might take you to prison.“ He asked if there´s any more booze in the car, I said I didn´t know, finally he said „if I see you on this parking lot again you go to prison, I can assure you.“ It was good he didn´t check the car because Steve had a lot more booze there - and then we would have been in real big trouble.
This year you celebrate your tenth band-anniversary. Yet from some of your earlier statements I got the impression that you´re a bit disappointed about the Metal business?
Björn: Well, in the beginning it was all about fun, actually I quit playing hockey. I was a quite successful player, always in the junior national team. I quit because it became too serious, it was no fun anymore. That´s why I changed to playing Metal, we got a record deal - and after all, whether you like it or not, there´s gonna be business you have to take care of, the necessary evil. But it´s just a matter of shutting it down and focusing on the music as often as you can. There´s always a big mess, it doesn´t matter which label or management or band - communication is always the biggest problem, and of course everything is about money. Not for us as a band, we enjoy playing music, but we don´t wanna be ripped of, and there a lot of people who want to rip you off , so you got to keep your eyes open.
So what´s your advice for newcomers?
Björn: Don´t sign for too many records, and don´t sign too fast either. Just wait a while, look for labels, check with people who have a record deal what you should look for - don´t let the label change anything, stay focused on what you want yourselves.
You have more melodic vocals on your new CD, how were the reactions to the changes so far?
Björn: Mostly amazing, and people could see it coming in a way. The development is pretty natural to me, I didn´t want to get stuck in just doing scream vocals, which is still a very important part of Soilwork, but I want to develop as a singer, just like the other guys in the band develop.
You had some voice training, too?
Björn: In the beginning when I decided to try melodic vocals I used a vocal coach for a while, for a kind of confirmation „hey I can sing“... And that was probably just what I needed, because I always liked to sing, even as a little kid. So I started to practise to a lot of different kinds of music, and I felt it was going better and better. Touring as well helps you a lot, you learn to deal with your own voice.
Opera singers use all kinds of stuff of medicines, you have that, too?
Björn: That´s funny because the guy over there (points at the ill CONSTRUCDEAD-singer ) wanted to have my spray, something called „Entertainer´s Secret“, you can order it only from the States. Bon Jovi is using it as well, it actually works, not in the long run but for the night it gives you a nice feeling. I drink a little bit of tea with honey and lemon and use that spray, that´s it. But I also heard about methods like ice-cream to onion juice; haven´t tried that yet - and I´m not sure if I want to ...