Power of Metal.dk Interview


Interview with Gottfrid ┼hman - In Solitude, May 2014


SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL

In Solitude have a sort of polygamous relationship with music, with a style that treads the fine line between introspection and fury. Not only has this not dissuaded Metal fans but the critical acclaim that embraced third album “Sister”, released last year, provided the band’s status with a significant boost.

 

Intrigued by all this, I jumped at an opportunity get to know In Solitude better. After introducing myself to the members I sat down with bass player Gottfrid ┼hman. The occasion: a Black Metal tour headlined by Behemoth and Cradle Of Filth. The location: the top deck of the band’s cosy touring bus.

 

This is not the first time that you’ve been on the road with Behemoth, right? 

Gottfrid: We were touring with them in 2012, together with Watain and Devil’s Blood. That was a good tour. We didn’t have much chance to see each other but I think Behemoth are good people. 

That was when you were touring the States, I believe...

Gottfrid: Yes.

Towards the end of last year you toured the U.S.A. again. How did that go in comparison to In Solitude’s previous Stateside visit?

Gottfrid: You know I think we could see more people coming to see us. We were pretty fresh on the [1st] Behemoth tour and the album had just come out. But it was good.

Let’s speak about “Sister”, the most recent album from In Solitude, which has been getting some very positive feedback. Apart from the music, how was the band mentality and songwriting different from the run-up to the previous 2 albums?

Gottfrid: I think we were a bit more selective. Sometime you might start with a song because you think it has good riffs. For example with “The World. The Flesh. The Devil” [2011 album], a song might have taken several months to write. This time, as soon as a song took longer than a couple of weeks, we felt we should leave it be and start from the beginning again, always taking things that felt fresh, new, impulsive. Otherwise little has changed and it’s very much similar to how we approached our other 2 albums.

“Sister” starts with an acoustic track – was there any specific reason why you decided to do that?

Gottfrid: No, not really. It was not planned to have an acoustic track on the album. It was just this song that I wrote…I think it is the oldest one on the album. It was just a great song, that’s all. The mood was perfect for opening the album, you get the feeling that something is going on.

…the calm before the storm? 

Gottfrid: Yes, exactly. 

I also noticed that in that song, the music pretty much overshadows the vocals in the mix. Was that effect something you had planned when you were writing the song? 

Gottfrid: Actually the song had been there for a year or so but it was when we did all the vocals in the studio on the spot that a lot of stuff came that way, almost like improvising. In a way the vocal melody was working more like an instrument. I think it was good to keep it low to have that acoustic feel where you can hear every single instrument very clearly. It was a good move…I think. 

From one album to the next it seems that In Solitude increasingly sidelined the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) element of the band’s music in favour of a Gothic sound. At least that’s the impression I have had. This got me thinking…..what drives the direction of In Solitude’s music? 

Gottfrid: I don’t know. I think we always had the same ideal view of what music should be like. And that is that music can be pretty much anything. It’s never been a choice to move away from the NWOBHM or even start in another direction. The reason that we sounded like that was that in a way it was Iron Maiden who thought us how to play, along with many other bands. It’s just that when we were young, that’s what we were playing at our rehearsal place. That’s how we got to play Rock music – it was through bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and many others.  

And I think with time you start to develop your own personality, which I think is just a natural thing. So I can’t say we’ve ever made a decision to play that kind of music or even to step away from it. Besides, at the time, I don’t think we were even good enough musicians to be able to use our instruments to express our own feelings. So instead we used elements of music from the music we liked.

 

I think that’s something many bands tend to neglect…..how to use their instruments to express personal feelings rather than simply playing a solo or constructing a song based on a pre-determined structure. 

Gottfrid: Yes, as well as being able to think how the music sounds as a unit. A band like Swans has been very inspiring in that regards and also other bands who were more into creating music as a soundscape experience. It’s always been inspiring for us how they play like a mass, like a unit, how their sound sort of becomes one mass. 

Back to the subject of live performances…..you’re currently on the bill of a Black Metal tour with Behemoth, Cradle Of Filth, Inquisition and Svattjern. In Solitude’s link with Black Metal is perhaps the least obvious from all these bands so I was wondering, haven’t you been finding it particularly challenging to get the crowd going? 

Gottfrid: Here [London], it’s very hard to tell but the good thing with this package is that we’ll be exposing our music to people who have probably never heard us before. I think that a lot of people who listen to In Solitude don’t listen to Cradle Of Filth and Behemoth. So the good thing is that we’ll meet hundreds of new people every night, people who maybe never have heard of this band. 

You’ve also toured with bands pertaining to very different music genres, such as Pentagram. Incidentally I’ve heard that Bobby Liebling is quite a fan of In Solitude’s music... 

Gottfrid: Yes, we had toured together for a number of weeks. 

But for some reason you had been omitted from the UK dates of that tour. 

Gottfrid: It was in April of 2011, I think. I remember they did give us some options without us on that tour. 

And how did you feel playing for a Doom Metal crowd? 

Gottfrid: It was quite a long time ago – in fact I think we hadn’t yet released “The World. The Flesh. The Devil” [In Solitude’s 2nd album]. So I can’t really remember the details of that tour. I do remember that we had had a very good time though. 

For me the lyrics of In Solitude are one of the highlights of the band’s albums. Somehow Satan/the devil often crops up within them and I was wondering from where the band’s fascination with Satan comes from….. 

Gottfrid: Well, Rock music has always had an attachment with Satanic imagery and we got exposed to Rock music since an early age. After a while, of course, you realise that the music has a lot more to it than that. With regards to your question…..it’s hard to say…..I guess we have Rock music in general to thank for that. [grins] Rock music is a good advertisement for Satan, especially for a 12-year-old. 

Would you say Satan is used by In Solitude as a metaphor or as a direct invocation? 

Gottfrid: It’s a lot of things. It’s everything that you’ve mentioned and much much more. But when it comes to In Solitude’s music I can’t really say. I mean I read the lyrics as anyone else does and I can’t do it in any other way because they come directly from Pelle [Pelle ┼hman – In Solitude’s vocalist and Gottfrid’s younger brother]. Yes, I think the lyrics have a very special role in our band because it has become Pelle’s exclusive domain and no-one of us would even think of coming up with his own lyrics. That’s entirely his area and where he can do exactly what he wants. I also think that he’s the best lyricist on today’s scene so I gladly leave him the burden of writing the band’s lyrics.

 

I agree that he’s a talented lyricist. The quality of Pelle’s English is excellent.

Gottfrid: Yes, he has a beautiful language. 

The city you come from seems to be a hotbed for Metal bands, especially bands with an extreme musical disposition. Being one of In Solitude’s founding members, what was it like to develop your roots in the Swedish city of Uppsala?

Gottfrid: Well, first of all I don’t think there are that many bands from Uppsala that achieved some success. Maybe there were 5 or 6 bands that were really really good. Of course I still think that they are the best Metal bands of today.

However I do understand why it may be seen as fascinating. I think when we were 12 or 13, we never had good Metal bands to look up to. We never had bands from Uppsala who had made a career with their music. There were some bands from our town who were successful, such as Misery Loves Company, but we weren’t really into that kind of music. I think a lot of people formed bands because they became restless. Now that there are bands from our area that are successful nowadays I don’t really see many young people playing in bands. And I think that’s because they have been fed a lot of good music from the town so there’s not such a big need for them to start to play extreme music at the moment. But of course I think this is all a cycle and eventually new bands will pop up. 

So what you’re saying basically is that Metal fans need to feel the hunger, they need to starve to be able to produce music? 

Gottfrid: Yes, in fact we didn’t have any Metal or Rock shows to go to so we had to put up our own shows. And our friends at Uppsala did the same to the extent that at one point there was stuff going on every week.

I’ve heard rumours that one or more members of In Solitude is/are member/s of Ghost. Is there any truth in this rumour? 

Gottfrid: No. Actually we toured together many times. I would have thought people would have forgotten about that rumour… 

Through this brief interview we’ve made reference to a wide range of Metal genres. Where does In Solitude lie in contemporary music? 

Gottfrid: Hopefully nowhere. [laughs] 

It’s….I don’t want to be anywhere. I really just want to play and the best thing is being able to do it with bands you like. Putting ourselves in any particular scene is very hard but from the outset we’ve always made it clear to people that we don’t like being categorised. Yes, in a way it’s a convenient thing because it opens up more doors for us. I mean we’re not even restricted to Metal music. For example I’d love to tour with a band like Swans but I know for a fact that Michael Gira doesn’t like Metal very much so probably that will never happen. 

What other bands would you like to tour with? 

Gottfrid: I would like to tour with Aluk Todolo – it’s a band from France which plays a sort of Kraut Rock, a bit like Nowe and Cam but kind of with a Black Metal approach with distorted and delayed guitars. They have a dark imagery and they’re really cool. 

Well, Gottfrid, those were the questions I had prepared for you. Is there anything you’d like to add? 

Gottfrid: Not really. Except that I hope that people will come to see us when we’ll be out on tour for the rest of the year. We’ll be doing some headlining shows and I think people will get something else out of watching us headlining compared to playing support on a tour like this.

 

ę 2014 (Chris Galea)


In Solitude - Sister

Label: Metal Blade Records

Link: www.insolitudeofficial.com.

Pelle ‘Hornper’ ┼hman – lead vocals
Niklas Lindstr÷m - guitars
Henrik Palm - guitars
Gottfrid ┼hman – bass
Uno Bruniusson - drums

Discography
Sister
  (2013 – Metal Blade Records)
The World. The Flesh. The Devil
(2011 – Metal Blade Records)
In Solitude
(2008 – Pure Steel Records [CD]/High Roller Records [vinyl])


 

Interviewed by Chris Galea