Interview with Pontus "Evan" Hagberg and Linus "Lee" Wester!
Embark on a sonic journey with Symphony Of Sweden's latest album, "Haunted", as the band pushes the boundaries of hard rock music with their electrifying sound and captivating themes. Fresh off the press, the album promises to captivate audiences worldwide with its bold evolution in style and unwavering passion. In an exclusive interview, band members Lee and Evan share insights into the creative process and the compelling narrative behind their newest masterpiece. Dive into the heart of rock with Symphony Of Sweden and experience the haunting melodies that define their signature sound.
-Your brand new album, "Haunted" has just been released. How would you describe the evolution of your sound and themes in this upcoming album compared to your previous works?
Lee: -Giving it more and more. No easy answer, just working, trying to figure out what to do as the song develops.
Evan: -It is a natural evolution from "Saints Of Yesterday", our second album. Our debut album, "Inner Demons" had obviously some tracks where you could clearly hear that we were trying out some different paths in our sound identity. But with "Saints Of Yesterday" I think we felt safer in our sound ID and more homogeneous over all tracks, so we just kept going and tried to improve from that. Same but better basically.
-The pre-released tracks from "Haunted" - "Lay Them Down," "Just Let It Bleed," "Get Out Of My Mind," "Down And Counting, "Bad Thoughts," "That Night," and "EXIT" - have already captured attention. How do these songs set the tone for the overall album?
Evan: -Yes, for sure, the tone is of course already there in our previously released tracks as well. But the album includes an additional 5 tracks and a majestic ballad to round out the album - and of course the album title track, "Haunted" to kick it off in the best way possible! In between there will be some surprises as well!
Lee: -Hit upon hit! (laughs) We are really damn proud of this album, every single song is really catchy and powerful, and you want to hear them again and again.
-As we previously discussed "Haunted" follows "Saints Of Yesterday." How has your creative process evolved between these two albums in the past two years, and what new elements or experiments can listeners anticipate?
Lee: -For me, it's always the story. I wanna tell in the lyrics and try to find an amazing melody to put it on. So my work is the same as it has been.
Evan: -The biggest change from "Saints Of Yesterday" is that we started to work with a new guitarist, Henrik Bodin-Sköld who turned out to be a great guy in every aspect, socially, technically, and creatively! Other than that, we have worked in a similar way as before, just trying to improve slightly on every little detail in the process. Lyrics, vocals, mixing, composing, you name it!
-Lee, you've previously mentioned the pressure of surpassing the success of tracks like "Giants" and "She's In My Head." How did this influence the songwriting and production process for "Haunted," and do you feel you've achieved that next level?
Lee: -I mean those songs are big and I'm really proud of them. I always give my best when writing a song and it depends on which way the song takes me when I write it. I think "Haunted" is maybe a bit more "modern" sounding, but I don't know. Let's leave it for the listeners!
-How did your latest release, "EXIT" contribute to the overall narrative of "Haunted"?
Evan: -With "EXIT" we felt we may have found the next level production-wise. So, we re-mixed some of the album tracks very late in the album process, and we hopefully raised the bar for the album overall, starting when producing "EXIT".
Lee: -More passion. More doubt and frustration in life is probably the best explanation I can give.
-With the release of "Haunted", how do you envision the album fitting into the current landscape of hard rock and metal music?
Lee: -Oh, hard question. I don't look at other bands when I'm writing, I wanna tell my story and not try to sound like anyone else.
But I do think it's time for more of the world to hear the sound of SOS.
Evan: -I think we have found our own niche in the rather crowded landscape of rock and metal. Lee's voice is kind of special with his raspy, powerful, and also capable of singing very high notes. That is unique in itself, and when we combine it with a touch of soundtrack/orchestral vibes here and there I believe over time people will recognize and be able to tell that "this must be Symphony Of Sweden" after listening to one of our songs for just 5-10 seconds.
-The diversity in styles is apparent in your pre-released tracks. Can you elaborate on the creative decisions behind blending different elements, and how does it contribute to the overall atmosphere of "Haunted"?
Evan: -For an album, I really like to think of it as a whole and not just the 12 recently produced tracks released together. After making the first 5-6 songs, we then start to look at what we need to make the album an exciting journey with different interesting and varying episodes along the way. Now, with our third album, we have realized we tend to start every album with an uptempo track and finish with a majestic ballad. With that said, you can imagine that we really hate those shuffle-play features in streaming services! When making an album, we plan the songs to play in a certain order to get the best experience when listening to it, then shuffle-play comes in and ruins that. (laughs)
-Lee, you've mentioned that "Madness" from the previous album was a departure from your usual dynamics. Are there similar surprises or experiments in "Haunted"?
Lee: -Hm, yeah, 2 songs on the album really set it apart from my "usual" story I want to tell. There's more frustration in the world and society of today, fake people, leaders, etc.
The biggest FU one of them is "Even if Solo" - I love that one, it is always on my gym list to hype me up. And then "Show Me Love", that one has more of a hopeful vibe to it, even though the world is what it is. We still want love.
-The album is released on February 7th. In the midst of this excitement, can you share any memorable moments or challenges you faced during the creation of "Haunted"?
Evan: -We had a slow start as Lee lost his voice for a pretty long period of time. Like a year basically. But the funny thing after he recovered he now sings better, stronger, and higher than ever!
Lee: -Good times in the studio with Evan. More of my own thoughts and stories I got to tell. Really awesome!
-Looking ahead, what's next for Symphony Of Sweden after the release of "Haunted"? Any teasers or insights into your future musical endeavors?
Lee: -I just want to do this full-time. My purpose and life is this. And I hate that I still can't do it full-time. So we are gonna work and work.
Evan: -We are definitely looking for options to come out and play live. So if any of you, Festival Promoters are reading this, hey! We can come and play and blow your socks off! Other than that, we really look forward to seeing and hearing what our fans think about "Haunted"!