Swedish metaller Soilwork are in the country in sport of their eleventh album Verkligheten which is out through Nuclear Blast Records. New drummer Bastian Thusgaard has added a new dynamic to the band taking them sonically to places they had not been before. Front man Björn “Speed” Strid speaks to Hi Fi Way about their return to Australia and the tour.

Great to be talking to you. It must be exciting to be heading back for another whirlwind Australian tour.
Yeah, yeah. mean, it was supposed to happen at the beginning of the year, but there were some circumstances beyond our control that we couldn’t really pull it off, but yeah, I’m glad we could reschedule and obviously very excited to be back. It’s been awhile.

It must be great also being able to tour with a relatively brand new album as well?
I think it’s definitely an album that I think it sounds really good live. We’ve played most of the songs live and the crowd really seems to like it. So yeah, can’t wait to bring it to Australia.

Have there had been any early crowd favourites emerging from the album?
I think The Nurturing Glance is one of them and Arrival too, are both working out really well. What else do we have? I mean, I would say especially Stalfagel is definitely a crowd favourite. We did a European tour together with Amorphis at the beginning of the year. We normally end our shows with Stabbing the Drama. There’s no way around it, we actually had to exchange Stabbing the Drama for Stalfagel. That’s an encore instead, which was probably the first time that happened because we noticed how much of the crowd loved that song even more than Stabbing. So it was actually very refreshing.

With Soilwork coming up with an album every couple of years, did you find that you’re under a little bit of pressure given that the timing kind of slipped out to four years, or just trying to fit Night Flight Orchestra in there as well has made things a bit of a juggle?
It’s been an interesting two years. Night Flight has been doing incredibly well here in Europe. We didn’t know what to expect with the Night Flight Orchestra, but people really seem to love it. There’s been a lot of demand for us playing live as well, so it’s been pretty hard at times to juggle. Both bands are very close to my heart, so as far as the transition, being the front man for both bands has been fairly easy, but schedule wise, it’s been pretty crazy. We’ve had some time off. We just wrapped up the previous Night Flight record when we started writing the new Soilwork album and somehow that transition was pretty easy.

I just re-stringed my guitar and started writing Soilwork stuff instead. I was worried at first but it came naturally and there was a constant flow of inspiration. It worked out really well at the end, but I would say for the future I think it would be good if we can try to separate the two bands and not do everything at the same time because that was the case this summer. I’m still resting up from the summer because it’s been really intense. There was thirty three shows in total. If we were traveling around on the tour bus the whole time, it would have been fairly easy, but we didn’t. It’s the summer festivals, so you fly back and forth every weekend. So it’s pretty tough.

Do you find it easy to make that transition between both bands?
It’s two different mindsets, and at the same time, it is fairly easy to separate it. I expected the transition to be a lot harder, but it’s not because Soilwork just comes very naturally and Night Flight is this new and exciting thing. I think that the transition is smooth and it’s something that I’ve been waiting to do for a very long time. What we do with Night Flight Orchestra is very liberating in many ways. As much as I love metal and Soilwork, Night Flight Orchestra, there’s really no limit to what you can do. The music is a whole different genre. It holds so many influences, and there’s not really any right or wrongs, at least in my book, with the Night Flight Orchestra. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. When it’s something that you think is fun, that you’re excited about, I think it makes it a lot easier.

Did you approach this album any differently than what you have done in the previous ten albums?
Not really. We have a formula at this point. Personally, for me it was a bit different because this time. For two months I was writing Soilwork songs from nine to five. I know that sounds boring and predictable. I always used to write songs whenever I had an idea. That’s when I decided to record, but this time around, it’s like “Okay, I’m going to take two months and I’m going to write Soilwork songs every day nine to five” kind of deal. That being said, it was not like I was pushing myself because if one day I didn’t really have any inspiration, I’d just let it be, and then got back to it, but it works incredibly well for me.

It just felt good to have a routine, and I think that’s something that comes with age. The older you get, the more routine you need. It works so much better. I finished up all the songs that I wrote, which I think in total was eight, and I think five or six ended up on the actual album. I was very happy about them and still am. It came together easily and I think we found a new formula with this album. I think we managed to develop the band’s sound, especially in the last three albums. I think it really sticks out too in the metal scene. I think that it’s something that we’ve always managed to do, sort of reinvent ourselves, but you can still hear the trademark Soilwork sound as well. I don’t think the overall approach to writing the album and recording it was that much different.

I love the album artwork. What was the inspiration behind that, and was that something that the band did themselves?
Our artwork director Valnoir is fantastic. He came up with some basic ideas and this was the first cover that he came up with for the album. All of us instantly agreed that “Wow, this is something that really sticks out, and it really captures the vibe in our sound right now.” Also with the title. Verkligheten means reality in Swedish. So we instantly fell in love with it. I don’t think that this has ever happened before. There’s always so many opinions, you know! We have artwork directors coming up with I don’t know how many covers before we make up our mind, but this time it was just like bam, right away. This is something that is perfect. So we’re happy about it.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Soilwork on the following dates, tickets from Hardline Media

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