EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SOILWORK GUITARIST OLA FRENNING
MetalSucks recently sat down with guitarist Ola Frenning (above, right) of Swedish metal kings Soilwork mere hours before their sold out show at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom with Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Devildriver. Frenning talks about the tour, the band’s new album Sworn to a Great Divide (read our review), self-producing for the first time, the sudden exit of guitarist and songwriter Peter Wichers from the band, future touring plans and more. Read the full transcript after the jump.
How’s the tour going so far?
Well, so far, so good. We just made two shows…. So far it’s still in the beginning, trying to get settled with all of the stuff. But it’s great so far.
You guys have probably gone out with a bunch of these bands before, right?
I think Killswitch… that’s the only band that we’ve toured with, a couple of times.
Is the tour running smoothly? Usually the first days there are technical glitches and stuff like that while everything is still worked out.
There’s a lot of technical problems now, you know, like the time is running out, or the door opens and they didn’t fix everything on stage and with the sound, but I hope it’s gonna get better.
How does it feel to be back on the road again after taking a break for so long to record the new album?
It’s fun, definitely. We were waiting for this. We had a long, long break while we were writing the songs and recording the album and so on. We just made one European tour, and this is actually the first tour promoting the new album.
Speaking of the new album Sworn to a Great Divide, how do you feel about that album as it stacks up against past Soilwork?
I’m very satisfied and happy with the album, definitely. We chose to record it back home, in our hometown so to say. All the previous albums we always went away to a studio some place else, and we had X amount of weeks that we were working. This time we just took it a little bit easy, and we produced a little bit more by ourselves. We also tried to have a little bit more dirty sound on this album, compared to the other ones. Stabbing [Stabbing the Drama, 2005] was a little bit polished, that deep heavy sound and so on, and we just tried to get a little bit closer, down to earth sound. That’s a little bit different compared to the others.
How was it producing yourselves? You also produced with Peter from Darkane, right?
Yeah. It was a tough job. I don’t know if I am gonna do it again! I guess a little… at least I will try to do it. But, um… we learned that we need a lot of time, a lot of breaks. You can’t record the album, and the day after start to do the mix. So we need to have weeks, or months… a couple of weeks off before we start to mix it, because you’re so into it and you hear the wrong things.
Did you mix it yourselves too?
Yeah, we mixed it and produced it.
Except of course for Bjorn who did his vocals with Devin Townsend. He prefers to work with Devin, who of course did the Natural Born Chaos album?
Devin is doing a great job with Bjorn. He really gets the best out of him. We were talking about Devin before we started this album. Everyone could chose what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it and so on… at that time we were actually out on tour with Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, and Darkane, on the US tour. So, they started to discuss and all of a sudden they decided that ok, they’ll do the vocals together.
What was the writing process like for this album? Obviously you guys replaced a guitarist [Peter Wichers] who was also a big writer for the band, so what was it like writing without him in the band? Was it a challenge?
Eh, a little bit maybe… but we knew that everybody in the band can write music, and everybody wrote music. If you look at our early albums, the whole band was more involved. I guess it came a little bit naturally that Peter started to write more and more, because Peter, you know, he’s a fast songwriter and a good songwriter of course. So it was a little bit of a struggle in the beginning, but after we made the first song and we felt that ‘wow, this is kind of cool,’ and “Exile” was one of the first we made. And then we felt that there was a little more confidence… continuity… and also, this time the whole band was more involved.
Do you guys write together in your rehearsal space, or in the studio?
Well, we write at home. It’s so easy today to sit with Q Base or whatever so it could be that we came up with an idea and we sent to the other guys… and then they said ‘this thing is cool, this thing, and double that, so we worked a little bit like that.
What do you do to keep busy on the road with all the down time?
Well, you saw in the dressing room… it’s a lot of Internet of course. But a day like this it’s so easy, you just walk around. Downtown and so on. So that’s what it is, we walk around a little, and yeah, that’s pretty much it. We’ve been in New York a couple of times now, so it’s always fun to be here, always something new to see.
After this do you guys have any touring plans? Going back to Europe?
Yes. Let’s see… we’re going back in January. We have these big ferries that go between Sweden and Finland. They have this boat close-up… it’s kind of a big rock magazine… they’re gonna have a festival there with a lot of metal bands on it. Then we’re gonna do a small tour of Finland and Estonia. After that we will go to Japan also in Janaury. I think headlining, it’s not 100%. And I think we will be back here in the US in March. And then probably back in Europe for the summer festivals.
Actually we went to Download Festival two years and you guys cancelled. What happened?
Yeah! I got sick, I mean there was something with the heart. I got a little worried. It was ok, there was nothing wrong, but I was so distressed. That was actually the end of all the touring, Peter left the band, and we didn’t at that time have any tour manager, we didn’t have any management, so I pretty much took care of everything like all of the connections with email and blah, blah, blah… it just became too much.
So are you the main contact guy in the band now?
Well, depends…. We have a little bit different people handling different things. We try to be as democractic as possible.
How is going with Daniel [Antonsson – new guitarist] in the band?
Good, very good. We tried him out for two tours and a few festivals. We also tried out other guitar players, but we found that Daniel was definitely the best guy for the band.
How did you decide him vs. other people?
Playing-wise, all of the guitar players were pretty much equal, but Daniel was also a friend of mine since earlier so it was an easy choice to pick one that we know and connect with. Playing-wise, and on a social level as well.
Of course that’s very important. Well, any last words?
Check out the new album! You’ll like it!
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[Visit Soilwork’s official website]