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woensdag 14 oktober 2009
Skyfire: Back with a Vengeance

Interview with Andreas Edlund of Skyfire by Vera in October 2009

With new singer Joakim Karlsson and progressive-based Andromeda guitarist Johan Reinholdz, Swedish melodic death metallers Skyfire are back with a new album after five years’ hiatus. ‘Esoteric’ really blows my mind with its heaviness, fetching melodies and wealthy orchestral arrangements. This is harsh, yet progressive! We contacted the band and founding member Andreas Edlund (guitars, keyboards and orchestral arrangements) explains their long road to resurrection.

Welcome back, guys! We had to wait a long time, but ‘Esoteric’ is amazing! Are you happy with how it finally turned out?
Thanks a lot Vera, nice to hear you like it.
We are very satisfied about the outcome of this album. Of course there are some things we could make different, but overall we are happy about how it all turned out.

How does it feel to be back?
Well, as you know it’s been a while since we released anything or played live, so it feels very good right now. Hopefully ‘Esoteric’ will get us on some tours in 2010.

Well, because this is our first interview for this magazine, let’s start with a bit of digging in the past. The band was founded in 1995 by Martin Hanner and you, Andreas Edlund. How old were you then and can you tell something about those first experiences with the band? How do you look back at those days?
Actually it was founded by me and Martin, but also our former drummer Tobias Björk. We were about 16-17 years old, and we started to rehearse and write music at the local school of music in Höör. A lot of feed-back ringing guitars and grind, but we pretty much started to write Skyfire songs right a way.

Who were the bands/musicians that inspired you to start playing in a band?
For me it was guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, and some other brilliant guitar players that made me try to play the guitar. And after I’ve been playing for a year or something I started to play in a band. As I remember we played some Metallica songs, but also some songs by Jackyl. I guess we wrote some own stuff too, but unfortunately we didn’t record anything.....or fortunately, it all depends....

For the first two records you could work with producer supreme Tommy Tägtgren. What were at that time the important things the band achieved?
Tommy Tägtgren rules. He knows how to have fun while recording, so I guess that is what we achieved and he learned us. I remember when we recorded ‘Mind Revolution’. We had only written 2 songs when we entered the studio that we had booked for 2 weeks. In the beginning we were thinking things like “we are f****d” or “how stupid can we be?”. So me and Martin had to write the rest of the songs during the nights, and then Joakim recorded drums daytime. So if we had recorded in any other studio I guess we would have been kicked out, but Tommy was patient with us.

I remember in 2003 you played in Belgium (Biebob club) but I think things did not run smooth that day. Wasn’t there someone ill or replaced?
I remember that gig, and you are right, it didn’t sound good at all. Our sound engineer got the flue, so our tour manager had to do the sound. But that wasn’t the reason for our poor performance, actually we were quite inexperienced at the time.

Can you tell a bit more about the tour with Thyrfing, Ancient Rites and Blood Red Throne?
A nice little tour with a lot fun. We just had a great time with all the bands. Actually the Greek gods from Septic Flesh, and the crazy Irish Primordial were on the same tour.

Why did you change record label after that?
We felt that a label should be able to answer simple questions asked in e-mails, and also be able to pay bands their earned royalties. But we were only signed for 2 albums so we left that label for Arise Records.

Then the page is blank for me, to be honest. You signed at Arise Records and released ‘Spectral’ in 2004. How do you look back at that album? Can you tell a bit more about it since I never heard it?
I think that ‘Spectral’ is a great album that didn’t really get the promotion it deserved. It is not that orchestral as ‘Esoteric’, but just as progressive and heavy.

But it was followed by a tour with Dark Moor and a show at Busan Rock Festival. Any fine (or bad) memories on those experiences?
I think we went to Busan before the tour in Spain.... Anyway I will always remember the gigs in Korea. Before the Busan-show, we had only played in front of 300 people, and in Busan we played in front of 15.000 crazy Korean people. We had a great time in Korea and would love to get back.
The tour in Spain together with Dark Moor was also great. We made our first live shows together with Johan on that tour.

Then comes the hiatus. What were the reasons for five years absence? What did you do in the meantime?
Chilling and trying to find ourselves hehe. No, but to be honest we did record some songs (a whole album) that never got released. I don’t really know why, because it has some really good songs. Anyway, since there was no label wanting to release it, we moved on.

How did you come in contact with Pivotal Rockordings?
I am not sure really, but I think they contacted us. It’s been a while now and I got a non stick memory (laughs)

I read that it took two and a half year to write this album. Wow, that’s a long time…how come?
That’s right, this album took a while to write. The main reason for this was that we wanted to make it as good as we could. But we also had some hard-drive crashes and other computer failures that made us rewrite some of the songs. Actually the failures were not only a bad thing, because it gave us time to change some parts and it also gave us some new ideas for the orchestral scores.

Of course you had to look for a new singer and a new guitarist. Can you tell a bit more about the background of Joakim Karlsson (vocals) and Johan Reinholdz (guitars)?
Well, Joakim also sings in a band called Mark:Black ( It was Martin who “found” him when they played live in Växjö, Sweden. As you know Joakim has got a killer voice, and it turned out that he was very cool guy too.
Both me and Martin have always known Johan. We were all born and raised in this village called Höör. Back then everyone knew each other, and since we were the only metal-kids around we started to hang out. Johan also plays in the progressive-metal band named Andromeda ( Actually Johan is the best guitar-player I know, and I am very happy to play with him.

Did they take part in the writing process for this album?
Not very much in the actual writing of the music, but the lyrics are all Joakim’s.
There is no reason why me and Martin writes the music, it has just turned out that way.

In the meantime you have your own studio, that’s an advantage to work at ease without suffering for huge bills of course. Did you build it yourself? Do you work with other bands too there? Can you tell us about your feelings when working this way, compared to the past?
Yeah, we have and that’s a great advantage when we are writing and rehearsing. It is a very primitive studio and not high-tech at all. We have built it ourselves, and at first it was located in my parents’ basement before we moved it to Gothenburg. We don’t allow any other bands in the Powernest studio.....unless they are willing to pay a lot for it :)

What about the lyrical themes on the album? I see they are mainly written by new force Joakim…
That’s right, Joakim wrote the lyrics for this album, and I guess he is the one who should answer this question. If I should answer, you’ll get one answer, and you probably get different answers from Joakim, so I just don’t. I think it’s up to the listeners to make their own interpretation.

Your music has always had progressive turns and switches but remains heavy (that’s what I like!), but this time orchestral arrangements have increased I think. Did you work with someone to do that? (I see Martin and you were in charge, but maybe you took another studio or someone outside the band)
Both me and Martin like the orchestral-writing a lot so we didn’t use anyone outside the band for this. It’s too much fun to do. I like writing for piano, strings, horns, choirs, because it sometimes makes the songs complete in a way, and often the orchestral parts sets the “feel” to a song. But of course we wouldn’t say no if there was a good composer who wanted to work with us.

Well, the mix was definitely in the hands of an extern force: no less a person than Jonas Kjellgren. How did you end up with him and what did he finally add to the record?
It was our label who first suggested to work with him, and after we had talked to him about it, we decided that he was the man for the job. He is very cool and easy going and damn good producer. He made ‘Esoteric’ sound very modern, even though it still sounds like Skyfire.

I can imagine you are eager to bring the new material on the road. Are there any tour plans?
Yep, we will make a small tour in England this November, and after that hopefully some gigs in Sweden. In 2010 there will be some tours and gigs, but I will not mention anything until it’s all definitely set.

The artwork is beautiful! Maybe a few words on that topic…
There isn’t much to say other than it presents the epic feel of the album. Pär Olofsson who made the artwork did an awesome job.

You live in Höör, Sweden; never heard of that place. Where is it and I think it is far from the cities or not?
Höör is located in the very south of Sweden, in a county called Skåne. It’s just a small but very nice village, not very far from Malmö. Actually we don’t live there anymore. I live in Gothenburg, Joakim (drummer) lives in Västerås, Martin and Joakim lives in Växjö, and Johan lives in Malmö. So the distances between us make it kind of difficult to rehearse, but we manage anyway.

If there are other plans you would like to mention, please go ahead…
Not for the moment, but make sure to check out our MySpace regularly for news.

To occlude: until now my favourites are ‘Darkness Descending’ and the lengthy ‘The Legacy Of The Defeated’. Can you tell something more about those two tracks?
Well, “Darkness Descending” is one of the darker songs on the album. A lot of minor chords following each other with melodies containing only a couple of notes, but there is always something going on. A very easy song to get into, and also to play :)
‘The Legacy Of the Defeated’ is a fast and very driven song that contains all the elements you should expect of a Skyfire-song. Blast beats, melodies, choirs, catchy chorus, and a damn good solo by Johan.

I hope to see you in Belgium or the Netherlands soon!
We do too! :) Thanks a lot Vera and take care.

Geplaatst door Vera op woensdag 14 oktober 2009 - 11:15:12
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