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Sometimes it happens so fast. Whereas other bands, after releasing a successful debut album, retreat into their rehearsal rooms to create new songs, and while months and years pass by, other bands manage to produce a follow up in very short time that keeps the standard or reaches even further. The Swedes Scar Symmetry didn´t hesitate to have “Pitch Black Progress” following their debut “Symmetric In Design” after only one year; an album which is bigger, more melodious and even better. Guitarist Per Nilsson confirms our impression.
The band was founded 2004 by singer Christian Älvestam (Incapacity), guitarist Jonas Kjellgren (Carnal Forge), drummer Henrik Ohlsson (Theory in Practice), bassist Kenneth Seil and interviewpartner Per Nilsson (Altered Aeon), already in 2005 they released their debut Symmetric in Design, which impressed fans and critics with modern Melodic Death and excellent vocal changes from aggressive to very melodic parts. Only twelve months later Scar Symmetry offer with Pitch Black Progress an equally exciting output that raises the question, how the band manages to create high quality in such a short time.
Per´s comment: We went a long road in very short time. The reason why we can work so fast is the fact that everything is so comfortable in and around the band. Jonas and I wrote the whole stuff in just a few weeks, then we sent the material to our singer, and he worked on the vocal lines etc. Christian works extremely fast. I can compose a song at home and record it as demo version. If I work all night I might be able to finish a song and send it to Christian afterwards. He calls me two hours later and says: Check your e-mails, I sent you the vocals. He recorded it on his computer and a song is finished. Our drummer writes the lyrics, and he also works very fast. (laughs)
So are Scar Symmetry just like ther songs also very fast in their private lives? (laughs)You could say that, we are extremely fast. But the recording process might last a while. But I think that our songs would not be better if we took more time.
Like many successful bands you ended up at Nuclear Blast and signed a long term contract with the company from Donzdorf.
Nuclear Blast was impressed by the reviews of the first album so thez bought us out of our contract with the Swedish label Cold Records. A long term contract is of course a big chance for our band. Therefore we haven´t pondered long over signing for so many albums.We couldn´t get to a bigger label, unless we´d go to a Major label. A label has to be interested in a band, because it also has to invest money. If we had signed for just two or three cd´s it would be different, then they had not invested so much money in our band.
As you now get to be known to the public with Blast, please describe every band member.
Oh, that´s difficult. Christian is the best singer. (laughs) The album shows that indeed. Jonas isn´t only a fantastic guitarist, he is also a great producer. Henrik is an impressive drummer, who is always excercizing, and he also writes good lzrics Kenneth is the most charming who gets most of the ladies. Not so many people know that. (laughs) He is very famous in his hometown. And I, I am just a very good guy. (laughs) Oh...
Scar Symmetry are a good example for a band that perfectly goes well together despite regional distances, and manages to write exciting songs, thanks to data exchange via internet.
We are very happy to have internet and to be able to work at home on our computers. This is very important for us before going to a studio. For the first album we rehearsed twice before, and our singer could not even be with us. For the new album we have not been rehearsing even once.
It´s surprising that despite of the distances and duties with other bands you sound like people being very close to each other.
Yes, it doesn´t sound as if we hate each other (laughs) The band was found bz Jonas who also owns the Black Lounge-Studio, where we recorded both albums. He put the band together. Jonas played in many Death Metal bands and wanted to do some more with melodies. He knew all of us because we recorded with our bands in his studio. He knew that he had to play with us, because we are great guys and it will work out. Pitch Black Progress is Symmetric In Design just a stage further, more of everything, more progressive stuff.
So it would be the logical development that Scar Symmetry release their third album next spring, which will contain again some more of everything, right?
I haven´t thought about that yet! But if I consider the differences between the albums I hope that there will be a natural development. And just like you I think that the next album will be released 2007. Let´s see how much time we have because we also go on tour and play festivals. I would prefer to record in autumn. The first album we recorded in August 2004 and Pitch Black Progress in August last year. If we again go to studio in August or September, a release in April 2007 would be possible.
So August is THE month for the band.
yes, it´s a good month because we all have our summer vacation.
For the tours and festivals the band has to change their way of working and put in more rehearsals.
We haven´t played live that often, and just in Sweden. Before that we just rehearsed a few times. Before the tour we will meet for a few days and rehearse, that should be enough. Of course everybody has to rehearse alreade at home, in order to remember everything.
One of your trademarks are your intelligent lyrics, what´s behind them?
Yes, they are special. Pitch Black Progress has a concept, every song features a theme from George Orwell. Henrik tried to fill every song with the atmosphere fo the books, yet in updated versions. The titletrack and Mind Machine for example deal with a dark future, where a small group dominates the masses by controlling all the media. For that they installed microchips into human bodies and everybody is connected in a network, which controls emotions and feelings.
Is it difficult to record such big dark themes in Swedish summer, because it is exceptionally beautiful?
The most difficult fact is, that in August the weather in Sweden is at it´s best, and Jonas Studio is located in an old church, where we are locked up while outside the sun shines and we would like to go to the beach and drink beer, but we have to do this music (laughs)
There is no keyboarder mentioned in the Line Up although the massive keyboard use.
The Keyboard are played by Jonas and me, live we use a sample because we don´t need a sixth band member. It would be more difficult with rehearsals, and we had to teach all the keyboard parts to someone. On the albums we use so many keyboards and synthesizers and software for all those, we would need a keyboarder who takes a lot of equipment on stage, and we had no more room. (laughs) For the recordings we also didn´t want a keyboarder, because we wanted to do it ourselves. The keyboards are too essential for our sound.
How about the necessary distance, if the band also produces their own albums?
We produce at Jonas´ place because we know it and it is the cheapest solution for us, different to recording at Fredman or in the Abyss studios. With the budget we had we could have recorded for three weeks which would not have been enough for us. Therefore it is better to record at Jonas´, therefore both cd´s sound much better than after recording in one of Sweden´s big studios.
Above all the details the voice of Christian Älvestam dominates the band, he sounds extremely warm and emotional in clear passages, yet generates a lot of power in aggressive parts.
His voice and different vocals might be the reason why we sound like this. I played this album to a friend of mine, and he said that Scar Symmetry unites everything that you love Metal music for. It has a lot to do with Christian´s voice, he can generate those deep grunts but also those high pitched Metal screams, and his clear vocals have a very warm and soft quality; he could also do these high falsetto screams, but we haven´t used those yet. (laughs) Let´s see what happens.
As we talk with an insider now: Everybody thinks that in Elk country all the people listen Death Metal and only long haired guys populate cities and villages, but reality looks quite different. The radio plays pop, and Metal fans cannot be spotted very often
You are right, the Death Metal scene is quite big, and In Flames and Soilwork have success and many fans, but they are not played on radio or TV. I don´t know why because every kid in Sweden likes In Flames and Iron Maiden, but those don´t get airplay. Instead we have a lot of crappy bands and one-hit wonders who play many shows and also gain much more media attention. I don´t know why. The Death Metal country is a legend.(laughs)
Perhaps Scar Symmetry can change that...
I hope so. (laughs)