Soilwork Interview with Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid

Soilwork are going from strength to strength. With the new album ‘The Ride Majestic’ and a successful US tour as support of Soulfly the band embarks on an intensive European tour before they go into their well-deserved Christmas break. I talked with Bjőrn ‘Speed’ Strid about their upcoming tours in Europe and Australia and how things are for a metal band after the terror attacks in Paris. Here is what he had to say.

Marc: Your new album ‘The Ride Majestic’ is out now for about three months. With the distance of three months, what is your view on the new album?

Bjőrn: I’m still really proud of it. We went through a really rough patch recording it. We had four family members passing away during the actual recording. It all happened within a month. It affected us in the way we were approaching our performance on that album. It made it all more real. Lyrically we were dealing with a lot of existential questions. It was already pretty serious at the time and then all these tragic events took place. So it really put a spin on the whole thing. It was really tough. In the end it felt like the biggest comfort. The music became the comfort coming out of the studio and hearing it mixed and seeing the responses. It is really fantastic, it feels great. Now it’s just a matter of taking it to the stage and celebrating it. After everything we’ve gone through it might be a very serious album but we still want to bring a rock show on stage as usual and celebrate the whole thing. We tried it out just recently. We just came home from North America where we had a tour as direct support for Soulfly. We had 45 minutes and we decided to focus on the latest album. We performed five songs of the album. They transitioned very well live. It was a great kick playing it live. I have a really good feeling about the album still. It feels like we could just play every song of that album. That’s definitely good times.

Marc: I’m sorry to hear about all these tragic events. My condolences to you and all the other band members.

Bjőrn: Thank you.

Marc: I think ‘The Ride Majestic’ is one of your most intense albums. After you had the opportunity to play a 45-minute set in North America it’s on for you to headline shows. How will the set change from the US tour?

Bjőrn: Now it’s going to be 1 hour 20 minutes. We’ll try to mix it up with our back catalogue. It’s always hard when you have ten albums to choose from. It’s quite a task to pick a set list. It’s impossible to make everybody happy but I think we mix it up a little bit. We will still play at least five songs from the new album. I think it’s going to be a really good mix.

I would lie if I’d say that I’m not worried.

Marc: Have there been any considerations at any time to change your touring plans due to the recent events in Paris?

Bjőrn: We have been talking about it. There are a few bands cancelling their tours in Europe. We live in scary times. It’s hard to ignore. On this tour we’ll have nine shows in France. I would lie if I’d say that I’m not worried. I’m definitely going to look over my shoulder while performing. But the show must go on. We could cancel the tour now and it might as well happen next year. Then we might as well stop touring completely and I don’t wanna do that. I’d don’t wanna let them win. That’s what we’ve been talking about. There will be a high security level on that tour, especially in France. It’s a weird feeling. And I think everybody feels the same way. It’s just a matter of continuing the show. I don’t know what else to do. It might as well happen in two years.

It’s kind of hard to find the budget to fly everybody on just to do jam sessions.

Marc: Your new album received a lot of great reviews. It’s your tenth album and you’re getting close to releasing albums for 20 years. How do you work together as a band after all these years? Has it changed over the years?

Bjőrn: It changed in the mid-2000s. That’s when Peter moved to the stage. Before that we did a lot rehearsing in Sweden. That all changed then. I guess we learned how to live with it, to bounce ideas back and forth via email. At the time it was pretty rough but now we’re so used to it. We are spread out all over the world basically, so we can’t do spontaneous jam session on Tuesday night if you will. It doesn’t work like that anymore. We usually get together before entering the studio and also before tours. We know each other so well and spent so much together on stage so that we can communicate quite well via email or Skype to go through ideas and send them back and forth. There is a great communication musically. That’s definitely a good thing but we would love to be able to jam as well. It’s kind of hard to find the budget to fly everybody on just to do jam sessions. Dirk lives in LA and a bunch of us live in Sweden and France. It’s hard to find time for jam sessions but that would be awesome. But I think we are doing quite well working together like that.

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Marc: You are going to kick off 2016 with a tour in Australia. What can your Australian fans expect from the tour down under?

Bjőrn: Coming off the North American tour I can tell you that we’ve never been that consistent live. It is an absolute fire every night. After the tour we thought ‘Wow, we’ve never been that consistent. Every night.’ We were delivering such an intense show. You can definitely expect that. And as I said before the new songs transition really well. I think that if people like listening to the new album it’s going to be an even bigger experience live. It’s gonna be a really good set list.

Marc: What’s going to happen after the Australian shows?

Bjőrn: It’s either going to be something in North America or some more touring in Europe. We also have a bunch of festivals in the summer. They are getting confirmed as we speak. We don’t have anything confirmed right now but there definitely will be something.

Marc: You are a very experienced musician. You have released ten albums with Soilwork. What do you do on a day when one of you albums is released? Do you have a routine?

Bjőrn: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I don’t think I do anything special. In the back of my mind I definitely know the release date. It’s such a nerve-wrecking day in a sense.  As much as I am confident in the album that I just recorded with the guys it’s still nerve-wrecking. But then there are so many reviews leading up to the release date. Of course reviews affect me but not as they used to. We know the album is strong. I don’t care what people say. It’s a great album. I felt so confident. I could only hope that other people hear what I hear in it. I don’t really celebrate the release, maybe if it is a weekend I hang around with some friends and have a couple of drinks. Nothing special. I don’t really have any routines.

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