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Sonic Syndicate - Upholding the Swedish Tradition

Discussion in 'Metal Interviews' started by circus_brimstone, Oct 17, 2005.

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    Jul 5, 2003
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    [IMGLEFT][/IMGLEFT]By Jason Jordan

    Sweden, it appears, has the metal goods. Thankfully, they aren’t averse to exporting their music, which is great for fanatics of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal. Speaking of, the young sextet known as Sonic Syndicate has a lot to offer in the way of idiosyncrasies. For instance, three of the six members have the last name of Sjunnesson, their vocalist Richard has a healthy affinity for Dark Tranquillity, and their talent reaches far beyond what their ages (17 to 22) may indicate. I spoke with Richard Sjunnesson about a number of topics.

    You hail from Sweden, which is deeply entwined with metal. Have you thought about your country’s glorious past during your musical career? Is it inspirational to you?

    That depends how far in the past you actually mean. But of course bands like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, and Soilwork have always been inspiring to listen to, and they sure have been spinning in the stereo for years now. I guess Sweden has a nice metal scene going, compared to a lot of other countries, and it actually has had one for some decades. That fact will impact the music you play in some way or another.

    Much along the same lines, please describe the current metal scene in Sweden (or your city specifically), because as an American, I would figure the atmospheres to be completely different.

    I think we are facing a change in European music and American music. All European bands want to sound more American and all American bands want to sound more European, so eventually we will swap genres. At the moment, there are really a lot of crossovers and they are increasingly changing to one side or another. Don’t know if this is good or bad, but both sides have different ways of writing music and both have their skills and inability. However, it’s quite interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing where everything will end up. So the music scene in our town is, at the moment, very inspired by the American scene, to answer your question, and it’s nice with a bit of atmosphere change really.

    While Sonic Syndicate isn’t exactly inexperienced – citing the Fallen Angels era – I haven’t seen much press up until the release of Eden Fire on Pivotal Rockordings. What do you think your lack of exposure, till now, can be attributed to?

    The Fallen Angels things were demos, and the only promotion we got was when we were doing it ourselves. Of course things turn out different when you got a record and a management label backing the band and debut up. And the fact that the record label is half run by a Canadian grizzly bear farmer also helps out a lot (Go Leevan!). We’re pretty well known in underground circles, here in Sweden, since we have done a lot of gigs around the country during the Fallen Angels era.


    With bands such as Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, and In Flames being from Sweden, you most likely know you’ll be compared to them on a fairly consistent basis. Would you say it’s flattering to get compared to the Gothenburg/melodeath forefathers? Or, do you find it kind of disparaging?

    Well I like all three bands and I listen to them all, just in different moods. Soilwork and In Flames I can pretty much listen to any hour of the day, at least their latest albums. But, you get more out of Dark Tranquillity’s music if you’re kind of in a bad mood, since they are very melancholic at times. Of course it is flattering to be compared to those giants, but we want to hear that we are doing our own thing and walking down our own path really.

    Tell us why and how you began singing. Did you choose idols to emulate at first? What tips would you include for those who desire to become singers, growlers, screamers, et cetera?

    I started my singing in the year of the new millennium. Pretty sure I was 16 years old. Didn’t really know anything about music, except the bands I listened to, nor could I take any tones. But my classmate was setting up a new band, and he insisted having me behind the mic. I pressed on the clean singing until the spring of 2002 (covering the important technique to sing with your stomach, which really helped out to develop my growling), and started to practice my screaming voice the summer of 2002 after my biggest influences Mikael Stanne in Dark Tranquillity and Dani Filth in Cradle of Filth (which really were the two bands I listened to the most at that point). In the fall of 2002, we set off with Fallen Angels and, as we had decided, we wanted a rawer sound to this project than we had in our previous bands. The screaming fit in very well. Ultimately, Fallen Angels became Sonic Syndicate and here I am. The biggest difference in my voice lately may be that I have listened to American hardcore, and this had some impact on my voice as well. But I just think I cover more vocal range now than I did before.

    Some advice I can give to people, who want to try this, is to start pretty soft and practice a lot and often. As your vocal chords get more used to it, just press on because it will get more solid all the time and can take the “abuse” longer without losing your voice or getting hoarse. However, you shouldn’t overload your vocal chords too much, even if it sounds more harsh and raw singing with the throat. Get the power from the stomach and just use your throat as a filter.


    From all angles, Eden Fire is a classy release, especially if one judges it solely on its professionalism and aesthetics. Since I haven’t seen the topic discussed before – in depth – can you explicate as to why the album’s songs are separated under three headings?

    We have many reasons to split up Eden Fire into three chapters (from both good and bad points-of-view). The main reason is that all songs on the album are from different epochs of the band, and are very different musically and lyrically. The first 3 songs are more hardcore/melodic metal. Songs 4-7 are melodic metal leaning more to death metal somewhat and songs 8-10 are melodic metal with some power metal elements really.

    The first 3 songs are the newest ones. Lyric-wise they pretty much follow a rather down-to-earth theme that is all about events in my life.

    The “Extinction” songs came from the Extinction demo (No shit?) that Fallen Angels released in 2004. It’s a collection of four songs that are tied together to an epic sin/war story. Lyrically, it’s based on the Revelations chapter in the Bible spiced up with a fictional approach.

    The material from “Black Lotus” was Fallen Angels’s first studio-recorded demo and the lyrical material had the same thread running through all the songs.

    So, mixing all those songs just wouldn’t make sense even if we rearranged everything musically to fit in more with each other. However, it’s hard to tell while in the studio which songs will turn out better, but as we already had the song list ready, we didn’t have the option to put all the best songs during the first part of the album, which was kind of annoying.


    What do you find most difficult about the composition process? Also, considering the fact that Sonic Syndicate contains very young members, do you think you receive less respect due to your age?

    There is nothing difficult about our composition process. We have developed a really good and simple way to make our songs, and it’s mainly about trust in each other. I mean, we have pretty much handed over all the composing to Roger (or lately Robin and Roger have actually cooperated somewhat, but that will not show until the next album), because we know he will come up with good songs, he is a great musician, and the band have faith in me composing vocal arrangements and lyrics. In my opinion, you need a core in the band, and of course a few sheep that have the ability to just do their parts in the band and don’t interfere too much in the composition process. If two or three songs work out, from the same perspective, and others try to add their opinions, it will eventually end up messy and not very stylish or clean. Our way is very fast and productive, and everyone is fine with it and knows their roles, so there’s no need to change. Of course it’s not a dictatorship, but since everyone pretty much has the same feeling of what is good, we usually don’t have problems.

    And our ages have never been a problem. We have earned our respect through the stage and the music. Even if promoters, bookers, or whoever doubt us because of our age, they seldom get disappointed after seeing Sonic Syndicate in action.

    Obviously there are all kinds of music fans. Some prefer to listen to just the music, others like to casually peruse the liner notes, and still others delve into albums as if they’re textbooks. Which type of fan are you, and which method would you suggest using in regards to Eden Fire?

    I’m the type of music listener that will totally destroy any kind of music, since I analyze it way too much, especially the lyrics and vocals: that’s what I do in Sonic Syndicate. When I get a new album, I often try reading through the lyrics and getting inside the skin of the writer, and see what effects the words have when combined with the music. Regarding the Eden Fire lyrics, I would really encourage listeners to read the lyrics, because I have spent loads of time on them and they all have hidden messages in them, if you read between the lines. I always try to make my arrangements dynamic. That goes for both lyrics and vocals.

    Is any support for the new record planned? Where have tours taken you before and where would you like to go in the future?

    Everything is still being planned at the moment. We have a lot of gigs here in Sweden, but we eventually will sort out a tour to support the album. We definitely want to come to meet the U.S. fans for example.


    Sonic Syndicate recently unleashed their debut LP. What’s the band’s next major achievement going to be?

    You mean after we conquer the world? Haha, no, for the moment we are focusing on our stage performance, but we have already done a few new songs so we are probably aiming at a new album late next year. Actually, the producer for Eden Fire has already asked us to hop into the studio, with the new material, so everything will run smooth when we eventually start recording the new album for real!

    Thanks a lot Richard. Appreciate the cooperation, and good luck with the band!

    UltimateMetal’s Review of Sonic Syndicate – Eden Fire
    Official Sonic Syndicate Website
    Official Pivotal Rockordings Website

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