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Sideburn – Sweden made Stoner/Doom with blue notes

With so many great bands coming out of Scandinavia alone, it´s easy to miss out on some pearls. This is my excuse for not having written about them earlier. The quartet of Sideburn got their fourth album “IV Monument” out and really impresses with their rocking Stoner Rock/Doom Metal spiced with sweet blue notes. Hailing from Sweden, Morgan and Jani from Sideburn gave us some time to introduce themselves to you.

Could you please introduce the band – who are you, how did you meet each other and how did the band come together?
Morgan: I placed an add in various music stores in ´98 and found Jani, we found Martin through mutual friends- I think it was in 2002-, and Fredrik joined in 2010 after we´ve played together in cover band for a while.
So this is the Sideburn line-up:
Morgan Zocek: Guitar
Jani Kataja: Lead vocals/Guitar
Martin Karlsson: Bass
Fredrik Haake: Drums and Cymbals

Congratulations to your new album “IV Monument.” Did it meet your expectations, are you satisfied?
Morgan: We are very proud of it; we have taken everything to a new level. We have had so many fantastic reviews on it (and they keep coming) and the response from fans and friends has been brilliant.
It´s also been a joy to work with Jonas Edler, who owns the B.A.S. studio in Stockholm; we recorded the album and he´s been like the fifth member during the time of recording from February to August in 2012.

How would you define the style of your music and what are your influences?
Jani: My influences are mainly early hard rock music, like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Grand Funk Railroad, and Led Zeppelin. The list can be made very long if you want. I´m also very influenced by old soul music and bands like Ten Years After, Cream, The Yardbirds, Free and The Faces.
Morgan: I should define our music as classic timeless hard rock with influences from Doom/Blues/Progressive and a little bit of stoner, mostly the old material. About my main influences, I have to mention Black Sabbath -mostly the Tony Martin and Dio years nowadays-, Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Led Zeppelin, Symphony X, Y. J. Malmsteen´s Rising Force, early Europe, Dream Theater, Scorpions... the list goes on.

As all of you had their solo in a way on “IV Monument” – is this a trademark of Sideburn? Can you describe for me how a song is done? Is it all team work?
Morgan: Sideburn´s trademark is to not have a trademark; if it´s good it´s good. We just go with what feels right. Mostly it´s Jani and I, who work on riffs, melodies, and stuff at home. Then we´ll bring it to the other guys at rehearsal and they can add on their ideas and we´ll work on the arrangements together.

As this is already your fourth release and I haven´t heard the predecessors – can you compare “IV Monument” to your previous albums?
Morgan: It´s more of everything; the heavier parts are the heaviest ever, the proggier parts are proggier and so on. I also think it´s a little bit more modern sounding regarding the production.

The production of the album is pretty rough and unpolished in your face. Who did the mastering?
Morgan: Mats Lindfors did the mastering and he is one of the most merited mastering guys in Sweden. He did the mastering in Cutting Room, Stockholm.

What are the lyrics about?
Jani: Some of the lyrics are quite private. Others, like "Tomorrows Dream" and "The Saviour" are about me trying to understand why people are so fascinated by old stories, so they make religion out of them. Most of the lyrics have a strong connection to my everyday life, like reflections over politics, relations between people, love, confusion and hopes and beliefs in a better society and world. There are also lyrics that let you deep into my mind...

As for your band name, I have to confess that when I heard “Sideburn,” I expected something more in the likes of Rock´n Roll / Rockabilly. What is the story behind the name?
Morgan: I read something about a band called "The Flaming Sideburns" and just shortened the name, and there you have it. (smiles)

Jani, as your name sounds very Finnish, are you from Finland? If so: Do you live now in Stockholm, or do you commute between Finland and Sweden?
My parents are from Finland; they moved Sweden in the beginning of 1970. I was born a couple years later in Stockholm. I speak both Finnish and Swedish, although my Finnish is a bit old school. I still live in Stockholm but I try to visit my relatives in Finland at least once every year.

Did you play in other bands before, or are you still having band projects beside Sideburn?
Jani: Before I joined Sideburn, I had a band called Sideburns, together with Magnus Jernström (Mangrove) among others. It was a really strange coincidence that Morgan had a band with a similar name... In 1997 Sideburns split up and I was looking for a new band and found an ad in a music store. That ad was from Sideburn. They were looking for a singer and a bass player; I wanted to be the bass player but ended up doing both things. In 2006 Magnus Jernström and I reunited and started Mangrove together with former Sideburn drummer Fredrik Broqvist. The band is still active.
Morgan: I have had some offers, but nothing that has been totally satisfying musically, so I just play in an Ozzy Osbourne cover band called “Ozzy the Coverband” (smirks) outside of Sideburn.

What are you doing when you´re not making music, do you have day jobs and/or hobbies?
Jani: I´m a superintendent for a recreation centre for kids. I´m a happy father of three kids and try to keep music as my main hobby, although it´s turning more into running a business.
Morgan: I work halftime with intellectually challenged people; otherwise, I like to be with my family and hang with friends, watch movies, cook, work out; I don´t like too much spare time, therefore I do a lot of promotion for the band when I´m off work.

If you could change the music business, what would you change?
Morgan: More cash to the musicians! (laughs)

What´s the biggest dream for you, concerning the music?
Morgan: To tour more outside of Scandinavia, but I think we´re on our way to do that now.

Is there a chance to see how the songs work live this year outside of Sweden?
Morgan: We´re going on tour to Germany, at least two times this year, and we are also planning to go to Spain and Italy in the later half of 2013.

What are your near future plans for Sideburn?
Morgan: To promote the hell out of the new album. Play a lot of shows and begin to jam on new stuff and see what we can come up with…

Thank you for the interview.

Check out their song “Diamonds” from the album “IV Monument” for free on YouTube.

You can find the band on their Facebook-page.

Author: Samira Alinto, photos: Sideburn
Date: 2013-03-01

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