Interview with Daniel Gildenlöw & Fredrik Hermansson, Pain of Salvation (March 10th 2007)

Before the concert at The Rock on March 10th, Benny from and Frederik “Evilsyde” from met with Daniel Gildenlow and Fredrik Hermansson from Pain of Salvation.

Benny: The name Pain of Salvation: How did you come up with that, and what does it mean to you?

I came up with that in 1990 or 1991. I know we played the first show as Pain Of Salvation back in 1991. I formed the band when I was 11 and I called it “Reality”. When you’re 15 or 16, you don’t want to have a band name that you came up with when you were 11 – you get tired of it. I wanted something different – something that would make people think a little bit. So during math lessons I was writing band names up and down papers, and “Pain of Salvation” was one of the names I decided not to go with, because it was too long, and people wouldn’t remember it. But I couldn’t forget it. It just kept popping up all the time, so in the end I decided to go with that.

For me it’s just kind of a yin/yang thing, I guess. It’s been said so many times by so many different people: There is a long way to Heaven but a short way to Hell. Sometimes you have to go through stuff, or take a rougher strip of land to get where you want to go. And in the end it might be worth the trouble. I guess that kind of defines Pain of Salvation as a band pretty much. We’ve never been making it easy for ourselves. We try to change the world instead of changing ourselves, ha ha. 

Evilsyde: You used to be five members in the band, but now there are only four of you. What’s it like having a “touring bassist” with you?
The idea is that we are going to have a fifth member of course, but it was kind of nice being four people too – it’s easier when you take photos. The more people you are, the bigger the risk of one making a stupid face, ha ha.

I guess that we will have to say that Simon, who is following us on the tour, has a very good chance of becoming new bass player of the band, because he has really proved himself worthy in any possible way.

We have decided not to make a decision until we get home after the tour. Even if we know what we’re going to decide, we still mustn’t decide. It’s a principle. 

Benny: The song “Disco Queen” on your new album is pretty for from what you usually do. What made you do a song like that?
It always comes up, ha ha. On all of our albums there are songs that stick out. The musical ceiling is high in the band. I don’t think that there is really anything that we would not do because it’s “not Pain of Salvation”. Pain of Salvation as an institution is pretty open minded.

There are a lot of ideas floating around during rehearsals. No restrictions. It’s been like that since the beginning. 

Yeah, if you think Disco Queen is weird, you should hear the jam sessions that we have during rehearsals. One song can be two hours long and go everywhere

And afterwards we will regret that we didn’t record it!

Yeah! “That was the perfect album right there, and it’s never gonna happen again.” It’s like installation art.

The things we do on the albums are actually very organized and thought through compared to where we could go if we wanted to.

Benny: You blend a lot of musical styles on your albums. Is that a conscious decision or something that just happens?
To me it just comes naturally – as long as it’s interesting. You play around with most things, and depending on what you want to say and what’s in your system at the moment, the music that you create will be different.

I think it’s more about what we are not doing than what we’re doing: We’re not limiting ourselves to certain genres or music styles. I think it takes more effort not to do that than to do that, but it’s worth the effort of not doing it.

Evilsyde: You have made seven albums in ten years. That’s pretty productive. Do most of your ideas from rehearsal end up on albums?
Thank you. It’s good to hear that, because sometimes we feel slow and unproductive. No, it’s way the other way around. For me as a composer, I probably throw away more than 99% of everything that comes to me. The music that ends up on the albums is a very small fragment of the music that passes through. We could probably do things in a different way, but the way we’re doing it, and have been doing it since I was 11, is that composing and playing are two different things, and composing and jamming are two different things. Very rarely the one seeps into the other.

For the new album there were a couple of times where I had parts that I wanted to be more…free. That is one of the problems when you play with other people and sometimes you want to get something specific out of them as musicians. For instance, our drummer is very organized. He really likes to be in control of what he’s doing – which is good because he’s very good at it too – but sometimes you want to catch him when he’s not aware of it. So a good thing is if you have a part in a song – like we did for that time – I played the chords over and over for like 1½ hours or so. And somewhere in the middle, you get him off guard, when he’s focusing on something else…when he’s a little bit slow and laid back, and he just plays around, then suddenly – [snap] that’s what I want.

Then you record that of course, and he’ll learn that exactly the way it was played, so he is going to be organized again. But then at least you have the feeling you want to have for that passage.

The only problem is that in the recordings you’re going to have remarks like “Try to be more laid back”, “try to focus on something completely different”, “play it a bit uneven” and “pretend that you’re drunk, basically” ha ha. 

Evilsyde: Perhaps you could try to get him drunk?
Maybe that’s a good idea. Actually we were talking about that a few weeks back. It would be interesting to do a whole album where everyone was drunk, just to see what happens. One take, and that’s it. I think it wouldn’t be released anywhere.

We’re not very heavy drinkers, so I think it would be more fun if we did it than any of the other metal bands, because they’re so used to being drunk. In our case it would be a novel experience. 

Benny: Speaking of albums – Are you working on a “Perfect Element, Part 2?”
Ha ha – not anymore. Scarsick is The Perfect Element Part 2. So we are not working on it anymore. It’s been done. We just didn’t tell people because we didn’t want to use the first album as a selling point. We wanted people to buy Scarsick because it’s the best album out there, and if they realize that it’s The Perfect Element Part 2 in the process, then that’s just fine. Actually, if you have the album and you look inside the spines, you can see that it says The Perfect Element part 2.

Evilsyde: You just recorded a live DVD in Amsterdam. When is it going to be released?
Hopefully it’s going to come out at Christmas. It all depends…you have to gather extra material, have menus done, you have to make a rough cut, then a new cut, and a cut after that. Then you have to make a mix of the sound – there are so many things.

We should also start focusing on a new album too. And the record label is interested in having a video of Disco Queen. So there’s too much to do, as usual. We’ll see, but Christmas would be nice.

Evilsyde: How was it to have the show recorded?
It was weird because it came up so late. I suggested several months back that we should record something on this tour, but the interest was not very high at that point, since we didn’t have a full member on the bass and stuff like that, so maybe it was better to wait for the next tour. So we didn’t think more about that, and then it just came up like…Actually we were supposed to be recorded in Amsterdam and Paris. First it was just Amsterdam, then only Paris, and then both – then not Paris, and then – just a few days before – “It’ gonna be Amsterdam!” “Well, OK.”

Usually I’m very much in control over these things, but this time it was…Well, we got there and we played, and we knew it was being recorded, but that was it. It felt a bit odd.

It’s always nice to record two shows, I think, because the second one is always better then. For the first one, you’re kind of tense and not really relaxed. Then after that, you know that you have one show recorded, so we’re on the safe side, and now we can just record the other one as a backup, and you’ll do everything much better. Actually the Paris show was very good, ha ha. 

Benny: This is not your first show in Denmark. What do you think of the Danish audience?
It’s harder to say than other audiences, because we’ve played pretty seldom in Denmark. The last time was with Dream Theater 5 years ago, I think. I seem to remember that they were pretty drunk.

We played in Tex too, which was interesting because we had only one monitor. Well, we had two, but one of them broke. So we had one. And it was very far from me. 

Benny: Last question: How do you make use of the internet to promote your music?
I guess that we do like everyone else – we have homepages and stuff. We were going to get a MySpace page, but it turned out that we already had ten. We just didn’t know.

I think that what you want to do to be out there is to have it possible for people to be able to purchase one song for download. We don’t do that, but I know that the record label is trying to make it happen somehow.

It has happened. The new album is available for download at Itunes and other websites.

Oh well. What do you know…

Interviewed by Benny

Pain of Salvation - Scarsick

Album available on InsideOut Music.

For more info on Pain of Salvation - click on the album cover.