Soilwork - Interview
Soilwork have to be the hardest working metal band around. After just completing their latest opus "A Predator's Portrait" they have thrown themselves head first into writing a new album due to be recorded in October 2001. I was lucky enough see one of the few shows they have played this year at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. I caught up with Peter Wichers when they came offstage and this is what he had for us:
Well here we are at the Wacken, are there any bands playing here this weekend that you are interested in watching?
Oh yeah, I'd love to see Nevermore, and I've never actually seen In Flames live, so I'm really looking forward to seeing that show and then catching up with the guys after the show for a few drinks. We've toured with Nevermore before so we know them quite well. You should see the guitar player, he plays a show and makes like no mistakes on stage, I mean how the fuck can you play like that? [laughs] You can't do a whole show without any mistakes, you always fuck up somewhere. We had a few fuck ups on stage today, but I think the most important part of playing festival shows is movement and having fun, that's what people want to see.
From the looks on your faces during the show, you looked surprised at the amount of people who had come to watch you play...
Yeah! Before we came down here we were thinking "oh shit, we have to drive for ages, and sleep in a tent, oh fuck, no one's going to watch us" But when we arrived everyone was yelling "Soilwork! Soilwork!" in the crowd and we were totally blown away. After the show our label manager came up to us and said (in an exaggerated German accent) "We did not expect so many people to come and watch your show". [laughs]
How would you describe a Soilwork live show?
Well its very intense, its always intense....we wouldn't have it any other way. We always throw in some unexpected stuff onstage. We've never been all about being brutal and that shit, I've always thought that its ok for people to see that you are having fun on stage as well and I think that's the essense of Soilwork live show. We always try to get the crowds going and I think Bjorn (Strid) is doing a great job at that right now...
...I have to agree with you there man, he is one of if not the best front man I have ever seen, he was incredible...
...yeah?...that's fucking cool. He's totally honest when he goes up on stage, he never pretends to be anybody or anything that he's not. I think rather than getting carried away, he gets drawn into the energy of the show and usually screams even more [laughs]
...he looked liked he was really enjoying himself and after each song when he thanked the crowd, he looked like he really meant it...
...oh yeah, I hate that shit. Like when you go to a Bob Dylan show or something, he play for like one and a half hours and then its just like "thank you" and he'll walk off stage. Give me my money and I'm off.
You've just come back from a short promotional tour of Japan, can you let us in on any interesting experiences there? Any drunken experiences perhaps?
[laughs] Drunken experiences??? Oh my God, that's too rough to tell!!!!
[laughs]. We always have a great time when we are in Japan. There's a club called "Rock Rock" in Osaka were we play, the place is so small. All the famous guys have played there, like Steve Vai and Judas Priest, and you can only fit like 100 people in there! I think Keanu Reeves played there with his band...
...whoever they are! [laughs]...
...[laughs] I've never even heard them. Everyone's played there like Bon Jovi and Devin Townsend...and it's like a standard pub.
Do you guys get a good crowds reaction there?
The first time we were there was about one and a half years ago with Dark Tranquillity, and because there were two bands playing there the crowd were not as pumped as this last time when it was just us who were playing. The place was totally packed, it was too much. After the show we were all like "this is the best thing that's ever happened!!!" [laughs]
So you took your now new keyboard player Sven with you?
Yeah, that was like his trial run. We had become very good friends with him before the tour so when we asked him if he would like to join and he said yes we were really happy about that. Technically he is amazing. He's like a full piano player so I think with his talent we can really take the keyboard parts to a new level with the next album. We are going to give him a lot of space to do what he wants.
The words been flying around that you are already deep in the writing process for a new Soilwork album, How much have you completed?...and what are we in for?
Five songs right now. What can I say? Its like a development of "A Predator's Portrait". There's still a lot of elements from that album, but we are taking them one step further. It's perhaps not as fast as some of the songs we have done but with this one we are focusing on doing a more powerful music. We feel that we are going to get a very good crowd reaction to the new material. Don't get me wrong, its not going to be Helloween or anything like that! [laughs]. It's still going to be Soilwork with the extreme vocals and all that. I feel that we are now able to break boundaries we have had before with this new album and do whatever we want. The musicality in the band now is so good that we have no limits now. Our creativity is the only limit now.
Are there any ideas for a theme for the new album?
We are actually working on that very hard right now. I can tell you that we are going to go for something very simple for the front cover. Something very eye catching, "Predator's Portrait" had a cool cover, but it was very complicated. I think "The Chainheart Machine" had a great cover, so we are looking at doing something more in that direction.
Are you planning on recording at Studio Fredman again?
It's a secret!!! I can't really say anything right now, but you are in for a big surprise and you won't be dissapointed.
When did you start playing guitar?
Really seriously? Um, I think I had just turned 16. I had played before that but it was like bang bang then put it away for a year or something. But it was when I 16 I really got into it. It would have been about 1 year before we recorded "Steelbath" that I started practicing solo's and stuff like that. That is the most boring thing that I ever did with guitar. I read so many interviews with Dimebag Darrell and Van Halen and they always used to say "The only thing you have to do is sit down and practise" and I was like "ahhh fuck! There has to be a better way!!!" [laughs]
Did you grow up in a musical family?
Actually no. Not at all. My father played the clarinet when he was a kid and my grandfather played the Citra. But it really wasn't a music family at all. Something my family is good with is if we have an interest, we usually really get into it and become very good at it. But most of them get bored and then quit, but I said to myself that I am not going to do that, we have gone a long way, but we still have so much more to do! I feel that if you really put your mind to it, that hopefully someday I can live off it.
That brings me to my next question of what is the deal with having two of the greatest metal guitarists in the one family? What's the secret? Was Ola always into metal?
I think it was Ola who got me into playing guitars. He never really used to play metal, I mean he's 35 years old, so he's been through a lot of music! [laughs]. I know he was really into old stuff like Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, but then in the 80's he was more into Kansas and stuff like that. He always liked hard rock and in the beginning of the 90's he started playing that again, that's when I started playing guitar. I was practicing like hell and he was always like "yeah, yeah" [laughs]. When Soilwork started he was like "oh yeah, this is ok". He couldn't admit it cause he was my uncle [laughs]. After we recorded "Steelbath" we were looking for a new guitarist so I asked him if he would like to join. Since then I think he's developed a lot, you can hear a difference in his solo's since "The Chainheart Machine". It's a great thing to have him in the band. He does a great job.
You both play Caparison guitars. I'd never come across that brand before, how did you get involved with them?
I do a lot of promotion for a Swedish guitarist named Mattias IA Eklundh and he is actually endorsed by Caparison Guitars. They are hand made guitars from Japan. I was really interested in those guitars, so when we went to Japan the first time I asked Mattias if he could email them to ask them to come and see us play to try and get myself an endorsement. So they showed up and said to me "if you play well you can have the guitar"...I was like "oh, ok". So we played, they liked it, signed a couple of papers and that was it. Now it's like if I want a new guitar, I just email him and tell him what I want, and he's like "yeah. No worries. You'll get it in 3 months". It's great [laughs] So with that taken care of it's a really big help financially for me, because you know how much audio costs. Mattias is an unbelievable guitarist, if you are into guitar playing, this guy is really worth a listen. He actually uses a dildo to play on the guitar!!! [laughs] He said "anything with an engine will work", it's like if you take a remote control and put it to a microphone it makes this weird sound. He just does the same thing with the dildo. It's like the power drill that Van Halen uses. You know in the song 'Machinegun Majesty' there is a machine noise? Well that's the dildo. It was so fucking funny when he brought that into the studio...
...maybe this is just a cover for the real reason he has it! [laughs]...
...[laughs] Well it's just a small finger dildo, I don't know if he uses it. I didn't smell it so I can't be sure! [laughs]
Some of the other members of Soilwork are involved with solo projects, do you have any interest in doing anything else?
That question has come up a lot, people tell me that I should be starting something else along with Soilwork, but I feel that right now, because we do put out albums very close together, I have enough to do. But even after we finish an album I still have so much inspiration that I just sit down in front of my computer and record every idea that comes into my head...
...so your saying you probably have a whole backlog of unbelievable songs just sitting on your computer?...
...no not really, there is a lot of shit there as well! [laughs]. If I do like riff I'll keep it, but usually I'll listen to it the next day and think "oh god, that sucks" and just drag it straight into the trash.
I've noticed that you have had many requests on your website to play in my home country of Australia, are you interested in making the trip?
Oh yeah, definitely. The problem is we could never afford to come down there ourselves, so what we need to do is have a promoter bring us out. I heard Nevermore are planning a tour, so we would really love to come with them, we'll see what happens I guess.
Thank you very much for your time man, its been an honor for me to meet my favorite guitarist!!
Stop that! [laughs]. I'm just like everyone else man, thank you for taking the time out to interview me! It's been cool.
A Whisp Of The Atlantic
The Ride Majestic
Beyond The Infinite
The Living Infinite
Let This River Flow
The Panic Broadcast
The Sledgehammer Files: The Best of Soilwork 1998-2008
Sworn To A Great Divide
Stabbing The Drama
Figure Number Five
The Early Chapters
Natural Born Chaos
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