Interview with Magnus Holmberg (keyboards)  - Darkwater, November  2010 

Darkwater's second album is one of the best progressive metal releases this year. Time for us to get to know the band better and to ask several things about this new album.

Could you introduce the band shortly to our readers?

Magnus Holmberg: My name is Magnus Holmberg and I play the keyboards in Darkwater. The other members are Henrik Bth, Markus Sigfridsson, Tobias Enbert and Simon Andersson.

The name Darkwater, why this name and who did come up with it?

Magnus: We thought that Darkwater was a good name because it fit our music quite well as our sound is sometimes a bit dark and often very melodic, perhaps a bit like running water (If you look it from a kind of poetic point of view). The meaning of "dark water" is also quite mysterious and you don't really know what to expect of it, and so is our music I hope. I don't really remember you came up with the name, but after some thinking we thought that the name would suit the music very fine.

What happened after the debut album "Calling the Earth to Witness", did you get a lot of positive response and a bigger fan base.

Magnus: Yes, you can say that. Our debut album gave us a big fan base which we are very grateful for and I hope the response for the new one will be as good as the previous record.

The album was good enough to go to the US and play together with Liquid Tension Experiment and Jeff Scott Soto, a dream come through? How was the experience?

Magnus: Yes, you can say that a dream came through actually and Of course that was a fantastic experience. All the bands were great and we enjoyed it very much. That was an indication that we were beginning to get somewhere musically.

With Simon Andersson you have a new bass player, why did Karl Wassholm leave and was it difficult to find a new member?

Magnus: We had somewhat different visions and we were quite different both as persons and musically. Of course we hope Karl the very best and that he succeeds in everything he participate in. There are no hard feelings involved. It took some time to find the right bass player we were comfortable with and who fit in with our musical vision. With Simon we think we have found our match.

Your debut was already a very good record in my opinion, what did you do different with the recording of the new record 'Where Stories End'.

Magnus: I actually don't think we did anything particularly different this time than before. The main thing I think is that the material might sound a bit different because I suppose we've matured a bit as song writers and the fact that we have a completely different production on this record.

Who is the main songwriter in the band, or is it a real band kind of thing?

Magnus: Mainly there are three songwriters; Henrik, Markus and myself. But the entire band sets the final touch to the material when we try the songs and ideas in the rehearsing room and in the studio.

In my review I was very positive about the sound of the album, it is very warm and perfectly balanced, who is (are) responsible for that and was it exactly what you wanted?

Magnus: We have always appreciated the work of Fredrik Nordström at Studio Fredman so we wanted to try out that sound out on the new album. This sound is a bit different from the previous album but we wanted to have another sound because the songs are quite different from the older songs as well. Studio Fredman did a great job and we think the production match the ambience of the songs perfectly. The sound is a bit warmer than the previous album, as you mentioned, and I think it fits the new material perfect.

There are lots of influences in your music, could you please tell us what the main influences are?

Magnus: I can only speak for myself because we have quite different influences among the the band members. Often we come up with the first ideas on our own and not in a group so I can't really talk for the others who their influences are. I myself have a quite wide spectra when we talk about band I've listened to growing up and bands I'm currently listening to. For example Dream Theater, Symphony X, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Whitesnake, Magnum, Toto, Marillion, Queensryche, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Depeche Mode, Ultravox as to mention just the tip of the iceberg.

I have the idea that the lyrics have a very positive vibe, is that correct and what are they about in general?

Magnus: Well, I wouldn't really say that. They are often about the inner feelings and experiences of different human beings. Some might be personally experienced and some are fictional. Often the lyrics are from the not so very positive point of view actually.

Did you feel a lot of pressure writing this album because of the success of the debut record?

Both yes and no. We didn't really had a plan in mind when we wrote the music for this album. It just came out as it did. But of course we were a little concerned how this one would be and will be received by the fans.

How is the response of the media on your new record so far?

So far it has been very well received.  That's a nice confirmation that we weren't just lucky with the first album.

You have a record deal with Ulterium Records, how did they get interested in the band and are they doing a good job for you?

Ulterium Records is situated quite near to our home town, so we thought that a bit smaller and quite local company would be more personal and helping for the band, which I think they really are. So far we are very satisfied with Ulterium. We got in touch with them and they knew who we were since before so both parts were quite interested in a deal.

What will the next steps be for the band, after the usual album promotion and interviews, touring perhaps?

There will probably be a tour in the beginning of the next year, it's not yet really confirmed though.

To form a band, you have to be good friends too I think, is that how it is with Darkwater?

Yes, actually. We knew each other more or less quite well before starting the band and since we had quite similar taste in music, we thought "why not form a band?" So its quite important to find band members that fits in with rest of us since we know each other so well.

Dream Theater gives you a call to start tomorrow as their new member, what are you going to do?

Hehe, tough one. I'm not so sure I would drop all at hand and join them though. A couple of years ago I probably would, but now I think I'm to curious to find out where the journey with Darkwater is taking us.

Could you complete the following sentence: Progressive metal for me is...

Progressive metal for me is a way of playing music with no boundaries or specific "rules". You can practically do whatever you want and not worry if it's going to play on the radio or not, because it probably wont anyway. Therefore you have a great feeling of freedom when you write music. Personally I actually dont listen so much to progressive music for the moment, but the influences from the different genres of music I listen to kind of contributes to the final result of a Darkwater-song. To sum it up; Progressive metal is freedom and not an offer for momentary trends.

Name the 5 albums that you will be taking with you on a year long journey?

To get a good variety of music I think these albums would be fine to bring along on a journey. I can think of many more records, but these are good to start with:
Marillion - Seasons End
Dark Tranquillity - Fiction
Rainbow - Rising
Magnum - The Spirit (Live)
AC/DC - Back in Black

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

I must take the opportunity to say: Look out for our new album release "Where stories end". We have also filmed a music video for the song "Breathe" from that album, which can be found on Youtube and our MySpace site:

Interviewed by Reinier de Vries

Darkwater - Where Stories End

Album available on Ulterium Records