||The last studio album "Remedy
Lane" was released in 2002. What has happened since then?
We were very busy with the whole "Be"-stuff. In September 2003
we did a live performance of "Be" for three weeks in Sweden.
Then we did the "12:5" acoustic album which originally also was
a live performance. You think that it only takes a short amount of time,
like you write the music and then you do a live performance, and then you
have the music already done when you do the album. But it actually takes
even longer, because you rehearse everything for the live shows first, and
then you do the live shows, and then it is like starting all over again
for the album, so it is like doing two albums. We are now at the end of
the mixing and producing part of "Be", so it will probably be
released in September.
What were these "Be"-shows like? Were
there many people from outside Sweden attending the shows?
Basically it was a Swedish audience. During the week-days we did shows for
schools in the area, and also public shows. But especially on the
week-ends we also had people from all around the globe, which was really
cool. It was almost like a musical, we acted a little bit more on stage
than we do in a normal live performance. The stage was very deep and not
so wide, so I think between me and Johan, the drummer, were like 20 or 30
meters depth. The whole stage was built in different levels, so it was
like going down a big staircase when coming from the back of the stage. We
produced it in the same place where we recorded the "Ashes"
video, and it was also this place where we played as a band in "Jesus
Christ Superstar" in 2001/2002. So we knew the place, and it does not
hold a lot of people, I think like 500 people every show. It was basically
full every night which was really nice. The only odd thing was that we had
a pool of water in front of the stage which I thought was a really good
idea when we planned everything. I wore sort of a costume, and by the end
of the show, we placed the jacket of that suit in the water, so in one of
the final songs I went into the water, took the jacket out, put it on and
kept singing. The only thing was that the water was freezing cold which I
had not thought of in advance. During the nights it was really chilly, it
was an old industrial hall, so no heating at all. The school shows that we
did were at 10 o'clock in the morning, so we had to get up at 7 o'clock in
order to get dressed, put on the make up, get all those microphones and
transmitters and stuff ready, and it was still like you were half asleep
because we did a night show the evening before. 10 o'clock is not a
musical hour, it is like waking up, going there, being very tired, singing
which you don't feel like at all, and then go into a pool of freezing
water. It was interesting...
At the beginning of a specific song I put on this suit and some sunglasses,
and at the end of the song I raised a champagne glass. In the lyrics I
made a lot of different toasts. There were a lot of international guys
coming to the week-end shows, and they usually saw both shows on Friday
and Saturday. After the first show, all of those guys met and introduced
themselves to each other. On Saturday, they went to Stockholm together
during the day, and all of them bought sunglasses and champagne glasses.
So for the second show on Saturday, all of them came very early and took
the front seats. And in this song, all of them put on their sunglasses and
raised the champagne glasses. That was really cool!
What can you tell me about the upcoming album
First of all we have a concept for a band and a nine-peace orchestra which
is probably one of the biggest differences to the other albums. Musically
the album is very wide. It opens up with almost like a mechanical loop
thing, and then you have kind of a metal song, but without singing, and
then you have like a folk music song, and then you have a classical piano
piece, and then we go back to hardrock and nu metal kind of things. It
really flows through all of these different musical moods, but it really
makes up a whole.
It is concept album, isn't it?
Yes, as usual. We worked with this music institution that was also
supporting us for the "12:5" album. They have an orchestra in
their organisation which is really good, and we started working together
with them. The first idea was actually to do "The Perfect Element
Part II", but that was just turning out too big. Especially in Sweden
we don't have the same popularity as in the rest of Europe or the rest of
the world. Which means, if you really want to do a live performance of TPE
II, you have to do TPE I, too, because it would be really odd to make a
live show with the second part of a concept which would be like getting
into the middle of a film. That would have been 2/12 hours show, and they
did not have the courage and the financial capabilities to make this kind
of project. So then we decided to do a shorter thing. This concept is like
a modern tale, it twists a few aspects of the human whereabouts and
howabouts. It is like seeing the creation of the world and of men, and in
the end we create a god that will create us in the beginning. That is the
basic idea. And then I had this other idea of a business man who spends
all his money to become immortal, and when he finally succeeds, there is
no-one left. The message of that is that there is no use in having it all
when you are alone. From that it grew and grew into this really complex
social-political concept which takes place in the beginning of nothing and
then transcends into a far away future. Pain of Salvation topics and
concepts are always about how you relate to yourself and the things in the
world around you. There is no point in explaining the whole concept - it
is kind of large.
What happened to the idea of "The Perfect
Element Part II"? Will you ever do this album?
Yes, we will. Sometimes we say it was just a joke, just to shock other
people. But there will be a Part Two. We thought about doing it for this
album, but then we did "Be" instead. At this point we even
discuss to do another in-between album, because we just did that
orchestral kind of album, and TPE II is supposed to be kind of orchestral
in a way - that would be too much the same.
Your live shows in Sweden took place last year in
September. Why did it take so long to release the album?
We used the orchestra from the live tracks, so was is a big procedure
trying to fit all the orchestra stuff together with the recorded stuff
from the studio. I was also involved in some other tours and projects
before and during the studio recordings. We had to record the drums in a
different studio, and then we took all those huge files from a computer
and put everything together again. I have my own studio now, which was a
problem, too, because I bought the most expensive Macintosh just to be on
the safe side, but the computer just broke down. I love computers and I
hate them, I love the things you can do with them, but they are so stupid!
It was a fabrication error, so I had to wait for them to fix it which took
like four weeks. During that time I did not have a working studio, and it
was terrible to see four weeks just passing by. This was the most
difficult project that we did compared to all the other albums, and it was
also the first album I did in my own studio. It just took a lot of time
getting everything together.
What does your label think about releasing the
album later then originally expected?
We wanted to release it earlier, because business is just working faster
and faster. If you did like two albums a year, it would be the best thing.
But Pain of Salvation material is so complex all the time. You have a
concept which is so much information and so many parts that have to fit
together. Then you have many other people involved. And working with an
orchestra is really complex, because all of a sudden you have 9 musicians
and different ways of communicating. Luckily we are all musically educated
so we can use music sheets without problems, we can talk the same language.
But even so it is very difficult. Some of the rhythms are really complex,
usually not the ones that sound complex, and you have to try to explain
them because you want everyone to have the right understanding of a
special passage of the music. Within the band, explaining things is easy,
but not with the orchestra. So it took us almost a year from the live
performance to the release of the album, which is good, because that makes
the live performances even more special and unique for those who saw it.
When we started working on this project, I would have loved to have the
live shows in February or March, but it was stressed down because
September was a very good time to do the show. I think it was good to have
this time to digest the material because quite a lot of stuff was changed
after the life performances. A lot of the lyrics were rewritten. It would
be interesting to have a DVD with the live performances in addition to the
CD so that people could notice the differences.
What are your plans for the "Be" album
- are you doing a headliner tour?
After we did the "Remedy Lane" tour in Europe together with
Dream Theater, it was our main goal to do a headliner tour with the next
album. But then we did "Be" which was not what we expected at
that point, and which makes it a bit more difficult. It don't want to do
the Metallica thing, having the band on one side and then the orchestra
just filling up. The music is really written for the orchestra and the
band together. At some points, the orchestra is really leading the way,
you can have a part with the flutes as the most important instrument, and
then you have the oboe, and all of a sudden you have a string quartet, and
then you have the band... So if you take away the orchestra in a live show
it does not make sense anymore because you would take away an important
part of the music. So now we don't really know what to do. One thing would
be to go on tour with a small orchestra, but that is expensive. If you do
a tour only with the band, you already lose a lot of money, even if you
have a full house with 2000 people which is the top, because usually in
small countries you maybe have 200 or 300 people. Just the costs for being
on tour with a tour bus - moving all the stuff, so many people need to get
paid like sound engineers, light engineers, roadies, the bus driver and so
on. You really need to have a lot of people coming to the show if you
don't want to lose money. And if you have an orchestra - they are used to
getting paid to play, and this is usually a lot, which means it would cost
a lot of money to bring out an orchestra on a European tour, especially
when you have never done a headliner tour before. You are not sure how
many people would come to the shows. So we either would have to rearrange
the songs for the live shows, or use a lot of samples from the keyboards,
or have the orchestra on a backtrack, which I would have difficulties with
because it is feels like cheating in a way.
A few weeks ago you released an acoustic live
album called "12:5". What was the original idea - doing a live
show, doing an album, or did it go hand in hand?
Basically it went hand in hand. We have a rehearsal room in an old mental
institution, a very big house. On the basement level they made a new stage
for the local bands and asked us to perform for the opening of the stage.
We thought it would be easier to do some unplugged stuff. We really
enjoyed doing that, we played a few old songs unplugged, also some new
stuff and jammed around a bit. There was this guy who works for a music
institution in our home town. He asked us if we wanted to do a show on the
radio, and we decided to record it for an album. But it was really weird,
because our bass player Christopher, my brother, lives in Holland since he
is married to a Dutch woman, which means that for the rehearsals he came
like one or two days before we did the gig. We have this brickwork-section
which is like a lot of material in different keys since we just put a lot
of stuff together, and he had to learn that in one or two days...
I was a bit disappointed that you did not play
some heavier songs in an acoustic version or anything from the album
"One Hour by the Concrete Lake".
When we started looking at the material, we thought we had songs from
every album, but then we realised that we left out "Concrete
Lake". We only had a very short time to prepare the show. When I sat
down to prepare the material, I thought it would not be interesting, at
least for me, to play the songs as usual and just play them unplugged. So
I started to work with the material and basically just went with the flow.
I never really thought about picking stuff from every album. Probably from
the perspective of a fan or a listener, you pay attention to which song is
from which album. I tend to forget that, it is more like that song is that
song, and I don't really think about what album you should take or not
take songs from.
What was the idea behind not giving the songs the
real name, but roman numbers? It was a little bit like a riddle when
listening to that album?
When we worked with the brickwork parts, we called them "collection
one and two". When I started looking at the parts I had chosen, it
was like a sort of conceptual flow, it went from one point to another,
like a journey. So I wanted to have one part of this flow, and then a few
songs in the middle like an intermezzo, just stopping and thinking about
what you just heard, and then go back to the second part. I was working on
"Be" at that point, and the whole concept of "brickwork"
is very prominent on that album. So I was probably into that way of
thinking, it was like a lot of different small pieces that make the first
chapter and so on. It was also very difficult sometimes to use the
original names. For some passages you have the rhythm section from one
song, and then the harmony and the melody from another song, and then you
have new lyrics for that. We had to report all those songs to the Swedish
equivalent of the German GEMA. Of course they needed the original titles,
so we had to break them down into percentages, like this is 70 % from this
song and 30 % from that song, so we could call it like the first one. We
had like four discussions over the phone about that subject: "Can you
explain this once again? Is this this song, and that is from that album,
right? But they are the lyrics from that album?" They were tired!
What are your main influences when writing music?
I think I can be very influenced by a small passage in a song that I just
heard once. It is not necessarily the music that I listen to the most that
influences me the most.
I read in another interview that you don't listen
to any prog metal bands at all.
That is probably one of the music styles that I listen to the least. The
music taste in the band is very wide, it ranges from really soft music all
the way to very hard music. For me the ideas behind the music are more
interesting. There can be this band that really sucks, but they can make
this one really good song, and that song I take to my heart. I tend to be
influenced by songs rather then artists. There is probably something good
in every music style and every band.
I heard you take a lot of inspiration for the
lyrics from the studies you do.
Yes, I do. I have a stack of books by the bedside, probably like 40 books,
so that I can read and underline stuff. I also have a scanning pen to scan
everything that is interesting and then just load it into the computer.
And I have this pile of paper where I try to collect the most interesting
stuff. Every time you do an album, you have other people from outside the
band involved. You try to give them a picture about what the album is
about, so that they have the right attitude and understanding for the
album. So for example, I sent one of these people involved in the
"Be" album about 200 pages only on electromagnetic fields, a
subject I studied a lot for this album.
How much attention do you pay to your web site?
It is not regularly updated, and also the newsletters come very rarely.
Yes, this is embarrassing. The thing is, I started doing all this myself,
which was the first big mistake. Since the "Remedy Lane" album
it is nearly impossible to spend enough time on our web site. I really
tried to updated the homepage two or three months ago. I wanted to change
it into a database driven homepage, but then you have to learn everything
about how databases work. So I started doing that, but then all the "Be"-shows
and also the tour I did with the Flower Kings came between. It is really
annoying when people send you e-mails saying we should update the homepage.
Usually people don't know that I do this, either. So first they send an
e-mail to the webmaster which is directed to me, and then they send an
e-mail to me saying they just sent an e-mail to the webmaster. We look for
a solution, and try to find someone else to do the updates.
I heard there is a very good Italian web site.
Probably, there is an Italian fanclub. Also the Dutch homepage is really
Maybe you should put all of these pages together?
We try to do that. We have like 10 or 15 different fanclubs in different
countries. And all these fanclubs want an annual CD or another special,
which is kind of usual in the music scene, that the fanclubs will have
such a CD with extra material. That means we would have to do another 15
albums per year apart from the ordinary album. So we try to get all of the
fanclubs under one roof. All of them have 2 or 3 very skilled people. The
web designer of the Italian fanclub is very good, and they also have a
Pain of Salvation cover band. They had a fanclub show in Milan, and the
band is called "Spirit of the Land" which is the name of the
fanclub as well. It was awesome to stand in the audience and just look at
your own material on stage. But it was also strange somehow: For some of
the solos, we don't play the same thing on stage as we do on CD, and it
was interesting to see the guitarist playing exactly the same solos as on
the album. So that was like "Wow, so that is what I was doing..."
What do you think about this festival supporting
Swedish bands only?
I have never heard about it before. I think it is a good thing, and it is
a pity that it is not more promoted. Maybe it is, and I am the only one
who has never heard about it. It usually turns out that way if you have a
metal festival, only metal people will hear about it. That is our problem,
too, because we are in the prog metal genre which means only prog metal
fans will hear about us. But it is my experience that people from almost
every kind of music are able to appreciate our material. I remember
playing on a festival in our hometown a few years ago. They had everything
from Pop to Punk, from local bands to a few bigger ones, and therefore the
people visiting the festival were very mixed. So if you consider the stuff
we sing about, and then imagine about ten skinheads standing in the front
row and being exited about our music, that was strange. I thought: "You
guys have no clue!" Afterwards this old lady, probably like 90 or 190
- she was really old! - came up just like: "I really liked your music.
It was really good." I thanked her, and she went on: "Well, I
usually don't like that kind of music, you know, Rock, but this was really
good." I did not know whether I should be flattered or worried.
Regarding "Remedy Lane", even my father liked it. So it seems to
be possible for people with almost every musical direction to appreciate
To return to the subject of information channels: A certain amount of
people probably get to hear about a festival like this because they make
promotion in a certain type of music magazine. We don't have too many of
those anymore in Sweden. It could be well-known, but not to me. But it is
good that it exists. Because one thing is fore sure: Swedish music is not
very well known here in Sweden. I probably learn about every Swedish band
when I'm on tour abroad. So you need all these Dutch, German, Italian or
Brazilian people, whatever, to tell you about Swedish bands that you never
heard of in the Swedish press. We get more and more trend-orientated in
Sweden. It is a very narrow selection by the media, the more you have
commercials and market-orientated radio and TV. If you have a radio
station, this radio station makes most of the money out of the commercials,
so it is very important for you to have a lot of listeners. And the best
way to have a lot of listeners is just to play hit music, and then you get
more money from the commercials. The more market-orientated everything
becomes, the more narrow the selection is. It should be the opposite way.
You are the only prog metal band on this festival.
What do you expect from the audience?
I have no idea. We were warned by a guy in our hometown. There was a
tradition especially in the northern part of Sweden. You know, when you
are 15 years old, it is possible to drive a moped, but it is not legal to
drive a car. But if you shorten the car and have some device in the motor
that you can only drive maximum 30 km per hour, you can also drive it when
you're only 15 years old. It is like driving a car, but very slowly. You
need to have a warning triangle on the back of the car "here drives
someone without a driver's licence". That was really popular in the
North of Sweden. That whole kind of mentality is almost dead because it is
kind of a hillbilly tradition. Usually when you drive one of those
vehicles you also drink some kind of home-made liquor, just like a
hillbilly redneck kind of feeling. So we were warned that this place would
be like that, but it does not look like only home-made liquor and "Jeppatraktor"
(phonetic). It even seems to be a nice, really calm audience. We hope that
they will not throw anything on stage because we don't play death metal.
Actually, we will play some very interesting stuff tonight. I am a little
stressed, my voice took a lot of damage, and also with spring come a lot
of allergies. So just to be on the safe side, two days ago we just created
this new song where we switch instruments. Johan, the drummer, and Johan,
the guitar player, will do the singing and I will do the drums. And there
will be a bit more death metal or at least a bit hardcore. Maybe that will
be more appreciated than the other stuff, I don't know.
In which countries do you have your biggest
Japan was good for the first albums, and then we had Holland coming. They
probably have a better live scene than we have here in Sweden. I noticed
that people tend to have it easier to get into our music live than by
listening to an album. Then all of a sudden France exploded, it was like
from nothing to the attention of radio and TV channels, everything. And
then Greece and Italy exploded at the same time. Concerning Germany, even
considering we sell a lot of albums, and that there are so many people
living in Germany, if you look at the percentage, that is one of the worst
places for us in Europe - and we have a German record label... We probably
played more in Germany than in other European countries, but we never
really seem to hit it off in Germany. As a band you don't really notice,
because when you get to a place to play live, there are still a lot of
people who appreciate your music. But it is like with Japan and the USA:
When you have a country with a lot of people, it is easier to sell out a
few shows, because there are more people to pick from. In Sweden with only
8 million people, you need to have kind of a big amount of the market
before you actually sell out a concert. If you sell 40.000 albums in
Sweden, you get a golden album, and platinum is 80.000. Looking at the
European market, that is not really that much.