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Bjorn Strid Soilwork - Interview
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Bjorn Strid Soilwork

Even though visionary Swedish metallers Soilwork are still heavily supporting their most recent masterpiece, "The Ride Majestic", the sextet compiled a must have for every fan out there. The special collection of rarities under the monicker "Death Resonance" is nothing like your average best-of output, it delivers two brand new tracks as well as rarely released songs of the past 11 years, going back until their opus magnum, "Stabbing The Drama". We talk to frontman Bjorn "Speed" Strid about the latest release as well as the recent departure of drummer Dirk Verbeuren and what the future holds for Soilwork.



Steve: So how's things in the Soilwork camp besides the interviews and everything else that's happening?

Bjorn: Well we've had a little bit of a break in July and we have a bunch of stuff coming up. We have some festivals left to do in Europe and we're also doing a few dates in the UK with Arch Enemy, and after that we're going to do South America and then also North America. So it's a pretty busy schedule and yeah, we're not really slowing down are we so it's looking pretty good, it feels good.

Steve: Excellent! I suppose linked into that, is there any chance you guys are heading our way again?

Bjorn: Well it might take a while because we were there in February so I would love to but I don't think we will make it there until we have a new album out. I would be surprised but I wouldn't mind, it would be awesome actually. We'll work on it!

Steve: So what would you say is your favorite track of the new "Death Resonance" album?

Bjorn: Well it's a compilation with lost tracks from 2005 and forward so there's a couple of old tracks that I was very fond of back then that I haven't really heard since we recorded them. So it's kind of nice to get to hear those tracks again. We have "Martyr" and " Wherever Thorns May Grow", those might be some of my favorites from back in the day and I really enjoy the new tracks as well, "Death Resonance" and "Helsinki". I think they are really cool tracks that really could of made it on "The Ride Majestic" but it didn't seem to really fit in with the flow of the album but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad tracks. I think they may even give you a little taste of our music in the future.

Steve: So was it basically sitting in the vault as it were and you guys decided to bring it out? What was the thinking behind releasing the rarities shall we say, or the old tracks?

Bjorn: I think it started with us releasing "Beyond The Infinite" which was an EP exclusively released in Japan and it contained left over tracks from the recording sessions of "The Living Infinite" and I guess we pissed off the rest of the world [laughs] because people really seemed to enjoy that album when it spread to Youtube and whatnot. So that's how it started, that we should release this to the rest of the world. People really seemed to like it and plus we had some lost tracks in the vault and 2 new tracks that didn't make it on "The Ride Majestic", so that's how the idea came together. But it was really important to us that it was going to have an album feel and an album flow even though it has some songs from 2005 and forward. I think we managed to get that feel on the album, we remixed and remastered most of the tracks and I think it's showcasing the development as musicians and songwriters as well. It will definitely take you on a little bit of a journey which sort of makes sense.

Steve: From a listeners perspective and a fans perspective, it certainly gives a snapshot of Soilwork and where they are heading to. Would that be a succinct assumption?

Bjorn: Yes I would agree with that for sure. I think it's also interesting for us to listen to some of those tracks we haven't heard since they were recorded so to listen to that and moving forward, you learn from your mistakes. Not saying those songs were mistakes but I also think it's kind of healthy for us to listen to some of those songs and even also be inspired.

Steve: Given that you guys have been around for so long and you've got quite an expansive back catalogue, what keeps you excited in metal today? Are there any vocalists out there now that you think this guy is pushing the envelope or do you have any favorite?

Bjorn: Good question. There's so many bands today and so many labels who are putting stuff out and it's impossible to keep up with everything. Quite frankly I usually don't like most of the stuff that's coming out today in the metal genre but whenever I find something, I promote the hell out of it. For example I love Tribulations "The Children Of The Night", I thought that was a fantastic album where it was a new way of expressing death or black metal. It was really cool and I've seen them live as well, fantastic live act. And then we have an Icelandic band, Solstafir and I really enjoy what they do as well, none of these bands are brand new but they are releasing some really interesting stuff. But me not saying there's so many good bands out there and there's probably so many that I don't even know about and I haven't heard and I'm not trying to sound bitter but where I am right now, I don't get that much out of listening to new stuff in the metal genre but there's probably a bunch that I would enjoy.

Steve: So jumping over a little bit, with Dirk (Verbeuren, ex-drummer) leaving Soilwork, did that come out of left field? How do you feel about Dirk leaving the band and jumping camps as it were?

Bjorn: Well I wasn't surprised in the end. He got the call on our North American tour that we did in April and he was asked to fill in for Chris Adler (Lamb Of God) for a month in Europe for the festivals with Megadeth and that was obviously very exciting for Dirk and Dirk recommended a drummer which was his drum student and sort of prodigy if you will, to fill in for Dirk in Soilwork during the summer. We tried Bastian Thusgaard and he filled in and he did really well and then when I got the chance to see Megadeth with Dirk behind the drums at the Sweden Rock Festival, I knew that Dave Mustaine was going to 'pop the big question' so to speak because it sounded absolutely fantastic so I kind of expected him to ask the question and I understand that Dirk said yes. Of course that's a great opportunity for him and of course it put us in a little bit of a sticky situation but at least we're already out touring and we had Bastian filling in and he was doing really well. So in the end it became a pretty smooth transition I would say.

Steve: I guess reading in the media, for the average punter it kind of came out of left field but then again, it's interesting to get your perspective on how it goes.

Bjorn: Of course, yeah.

Photo: Soilwork live in Perth 2016 by Molotov Enterprises And Photography

Steve: On the live front given that you have such a large back catalogue with so much to choose from, how do you guys go about on a nightly basis to choose the setlist? Do you mix it up or do you have a band vote or pull it out of a hat [laughs]. What's your method?

Bjorn: [laughs] Yeah it's definitely tough. I mean we have six different opinions in the band but we usually have a new album out when we're touring, we try to promote that album and maybe do 3 or 4 new songs at least and then it's just a mix between the rest of the back catalogue really. It is important for us to have just about every album represented in the setlist and we've definitely developed our sound so it's kind of interesting when you put it together and you will have a very dynamic show. We have so many albums so it is interesting and we try to mix it up a little bit but it's one of those things that's going to be easier with Bastian because Bastian lives in Denmark which is right across the bridge, it takes him 14 minutes to get here and now we can actually rehearse again. Dirk was living in L.A. for 10 years so it's kind of hard to do any spontaneous jam sessions on like a Tuesday night, so now it's definitely easier so maybe we will be able to try out some songs that we've never done live or haven't done in 10-15 years. So I think that's going to be interesting for us, we might have some interesting stuff coming up for our shows in the future.

Steve: So have you started writing some new material or are you just kinda letting this one sink in and then move forward?

Bjorn: We still have so much touring left to do for "The Ride Majestic" but I think we might slowly get into writing mode maybe sometime in the fall, who knows? But we're not going to address it or push it but we're not going to release a new album until maybe the very end of next year and before that, also going to be working on my other band The Night Flight Orchestra together with David (Andersson, guitars) from Soilwork as well who's in that band playing guitar and Sharlee D'Angelo from Arch Enemy. The Night Flight Orchestra is basically late 70's/early 80's inspired classic rock, we just recently signed with Nuclear Blast so that album is going to come out in the spring of 2017 so we're going to be working on that in the fall as well. I think it's also good to have a little bit of a break from Soilwork at times and do some other stuff and then get back to it, we'll see what's going to happen but there will be something coming out from us for sure.

Steve: Awesome, definitely looking forward to it! I guess finally do you have a message for the Australian fans that you would like to get out there?

Bjorn: Well we've been lucky enough to tour Australia 6 times and we were there in February and we had a great time as always. It might take a while but I just want to thank our Australian fans for being so loyal and we love coming back and playing for you guys so thank you so much for all the support through the years. Please be patient with us because we might not be able to come to Australia before we have a new album out again.

Steve: Well it's been really great to speak to you this afternoon, thank you so much for your time and we definitely hope to catch you guys some time in the future.

Bjorn: Yes I hope so too and really nice talking to you.

Interview by Steve Monaghan on August 11th 2016