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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Olof Wikstrand Enforcer – Interview
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Founded 2004 in the secluded town of Arvika, Sweden, Enforcer have established themselves as the leaders of the new generation metal bands: devoted to the roots of real metal in any conceivable way, whether it's spirit, sound or authenticity. After unleashing their debut "Into The Night" in 2008, a sophomore attempt "Diamonds" in 2009 and their relentless and energy-driven touring onslaughts, Enforcer found their destined path with the 2013 album "Death By Fire". 2015 sees the release of the fourth record, entitled "From Beyond" and so we caught up with vocalist/guitarist and founding member Olof Wikstrand to chat about the band's latest release.



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Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us today! So you got a new album "From Beyond" and I was listening to a preview of the album and it's traditional heavy metal which is what you guys have been going for. What can you tell me about this album?

Olof: Well if you're familiar with the band since before, I think we wanted to do something that was in line with our last record "Death By Fire" which we felt incredibily satisfied within our ways. We wanted to develop the sound a bit further, make the heavier songs heavier and the faster songs faster and just develop the sounds in every possible direction. At the same time we can't do the same album all the time so that's sort of what we wanted to do and we succeeded quite well with that. We really decided how we wanted things before we even started to write songs so we had a very determined plan all the way through.

Andrew: How difficult is it to stick to a certain sound that you want to go for but to also not repeat what you have done before?

Olof: The most important thing as a musician whatsoever I think is to not limit yourself and to not put a label on yourself, that we are heavy metal or we are thrash metal or whatever. Most bands who do that tend to lose themselves and are playing too much from the book, it doesn't make the sound interesting. I think you always have to be open for developments and I would say that we for example, our aim is not to copy any old 80's bands but let them inspire us and then do our own thing from it. Just push everything to the limit and take it one step further. I used to say that we would proceed where things went wrong in the middle of the 80's and we take things further. We don't take the thrash poser bullshit, we do the real thing but at the same time we develop a genre and that's the entire idea, never limit ourselves. Andrew: So I guess in a way you are saying you are not really repeating what's already done, you're taking things to the next step. Olof: Yeah there's no reason to copy things that have already been made, at least that's how I feel. I understand that people with less knowledge about heavy metal in general feels that this is some tribute band or copy band but that just shows their ignorance about the music. I think really that would push this entire thing a few levels up at least if you compare us to what we are originally inspired by. Andrew: Now I had read that you had produced, mixed and mastered the whole album yourselves. What was the reason you wanted to do that? Why didn't you want to get in a producer and sound engineer and all that kind of thing?

Olof: Well basically because we wanted to have total control over the production, the entire thing. And it's really hard to explain to someone how you want things and you only get maybe 99% of what you wanted on a good day and that's not enough for us. We want everything to be 100% like the way we want it to be and also because really I don't think there is any producers or sound engineers of today that really can pull through the sound and type of production that we want to have. I think that most modern records have a really lousy sound, I'm really not a fan of this loudness war. Brickwall, limiting and shit like that. Music in my eyes is about delivering an atmosphere or a feeling or an emotion and if you take away the dynamics and the reverberation and room tones and shit like that, then you make it too sterile and you sort of lose all feeling. We can't really work on that, we tried to have some people mixing our previous albums like a couple of people who had references and anyway it turned out it sounded like a modern metal record and that's nothing like what we aim for. So we just decided, 'OK let's do it ourselves!' There's noone on the entire planet who can do this anymore so we do it ourselves. In the end both me and Jonas (Wikstrand, drums) work with this kind of shit so it's a lot of work but in the end worth it.

Andrew: Yeah it is a lot of work because obviously your not only writing and recording but also doing everything else as well. So I guess would you say it's your proudest album you have ever done?

Olof: Yeah shit man, the past 2 records has been like our babies. We spent so much time on it and I would say that when we look back on this, that "Far Beyond" is going to be the thing that we are most proud of after.

Andrew: You were talking about getting the right sound for the band and especially as you mentioned the loud wars and that kind of thing, how important do you think is it to getting a really good sound on an album as opposed to having a raw sound or an unclean sound?

Olof: I think it's important because music is about emotions in the end. I think you can't deliver that kind of atmosphere and emotions with too sterile of a sound. It can be raw of course but that doesn't necessarily have to be good, we wanted to aim for a timelessly good sound. We don't want to get stuck in an 80's sound or shit like that, we want a good sound where it could of been recorded in 1975 or it could of been recorded in 1985 or 1995 or 2015.

Andrew: It's funny you mention that because I have found over the years where there was a certain time, maybe the 80's and early 90's where records did sound probably the best and it's just sort of slipped down.

Olof: Yeah that I really agree with you and I think that things have gotten so fucking ridiculous that in 10-15 years you will look back on 2010-2015 and laugh at how they made the records.

Andrew: Yeah I totally agree with that. I don't know what it is but there is something about how records just don't sound as good anymore.

Olof: And it's wierd actually but it's about dynamics, there is no dynamics. Everything is just equally as loud, you can stand it for just 2 seconds and just gotta have dynamics and room tones and reverberation and the color of the sound. And no metal bands use that, it's dry as a desert.

Andrew: So what kind of thing do you go for, do you stick to traditional analogue or are you into the digital stuff?

Olof: No I think this is mostly a question about attitude and not equipment you use. We record digitally because it's by far the easiest way, quickest way and things are so good nowadays that you can't hear any difference. Even if you wanted to sound like it's from a tape then there is ways of doing that too.

Andrew: OK so take us back to the beginning of when the band first started. Tell us a little bit about why you wanted to start a band and who were your biggest influences as well.

Olof: The start of the idea of the band had been going for a really long time but it wasn't until 2005-ish that I sort of actually made something of it. I had some idea for some song ideas and stuff like that so I recorded myself playing all the instruments and then put it online and the interest grew and eventually I was asked to play some shows. Then I asked Adam (Zaars, former guitarist) and Jonas to jump in and that's sort of how the band started. Inspirations, I don't know. I was always a fan of real metal so I just take that and do my own thing.

Andrew: Was there any particular guitarist or singer that captured your attention when you were growing up?

Olof: In the beginning we were much influenced...let's say we had one foot in the total thrash or speed metal like Exciter and stuff like that and the other foot was more in the Swedish 80's metal scene. Bands like Zone Zero, Mindless Sinner, Gotham City, Neptune...stuff like that. And we sort of mixed that together and that made a very raw version of Swedish heavy metal, that was the idea from the beginning. Then we found our own way by just pushing things further.

Andrew: So how is the Swedish metal scene at the moment? Do you like what's going on there?

Olof: In Sweden it's really ridiculous, there is absolutely no scene for heavy metal or real metal. It's really wierd, some other countries for example has a way more healthy scene like Belgium, Poland, Portugal, Greece and some parts of Germany but Sweden no. I think Sweden is too stuck up, either you have the tiny waves from the death metal or black metal scene in the early 90's which still people are too narrow minded about. But then you also have like 90's power metal and shit like that, like Sabaton for exmaple. They are huge here for some wierd reason, sounding like a mixture of some music and power metal. But I don't know.

Andrew: OK well going back to your influences, we have a question we like to ask everyone and it's always nteresting to see what answers everyone comes up with. If you could be the witness of a recording of any classic album in history, what would it be?

Olof: I would probably say "Ride The Lightning" by Metallica because not only does it have the greatest songs but it also has a very interesting sound and how everything was recorded and put together would be very interesting to see.

Andrew: And that album was recorded in Denmark as well. And last question, a bit more personal, what is the meaning of life?

Olof: Haha I don't know. I would say my meaning of life is to play music.

Andrew: Is music your whole life or do you have other interests outside of music as well?

Olof: Compared to music, other sort of interests are not really mentionable. I like the outside, some sports but it's nothing worth mentioning.

Andrew: Nothing like music though.

Olof: No.

Andrew: Music is such a powerful thing and a very universal thing as well so no matter what country you are from, music speaks to you. It's a great thing I think.

Olof: Yeah that's true!

Andrew: Well it's been a pleasure talking to you and I hope one day you can come to Australia and do a tour over here as we would love to see you here.

Olof: Yeah we have some rough plans. I'm in touch with some guys who are trying to bring us over for some time now so hopefully we can get it going quite soon if we find a good occasion.

Andrew: Yeah definitely so thanks again!

Olof: Thank you very much!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on March 17th 2015