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INTERVIEW: Bjorn "Speed" Strid

Levi: First question, I'll just go right into it. With all the bullshit that's happening in the world, with all these terrorist attacks, I know Lamb of God have cancelled a few dates as well as Five Finger Death Punch. Is this going to affect your tour schedule at all?

Bjorn: Not really. Obviously, I would be lying if I said that I'm not worried but we came to the conclusion. The security is so high right now in Europe, obviously, it's still scary but we feel that if we just cancelled this tour, what's going to happen next year? It might as well happen two years from now. You never know. There's no way you can really ... Send yourself from it except just keep the show running I guess, that being said, I definitely respect people cancelling as well. I do understand it.

I don't know. We are also on a different level. You can't really afford to be just cancelling tours, and we just came off a direct support tour in North America, and when you are in direct support you normally don't end with that much money to live with. That's another factor. We need to keep going. This is our job, and we are not going to let that effect us. As much as it scares us, we need to keep the show going.

Levi: You are coming to Australia next year. I was lucky enough to catch you last time you were here. I think it was maybe two or three years ago, and it was a bloody awesome show. I had a great time, I'm so looking forward to hearing the new songs live. How have the audiences been taking to the new songs?

Bjorn: Really well I would say, and it's always a matter of coming out of the studio, you are thinking, "How the hell I'm going to be able to pull this off live?" We always do, and I'm so glad that we've been to this North America tour, and we only have 25 minutes to play but we focused on the new album. We performed five songs from the new disk. It was really exciting, and I loved performing these songs live, and I think we were really consistent on that whole tour, and very energetic. I think it's going to be a hell of a tour.

Levi: For sure. You've released a lot of albums now. You've been putting them out since '98. Does it get harder to put out albums after that many years? Is it harder to come up with ideas, and do all that, and keep doing the process?

Bjorn: I think we are in a creative streak right now, and somehow it feels easier. I don't know why. Maybe because we have now become better song writers, and then we can just go for the feel, rather than just going bits by bits, and you picture a song in its entirety rather than just, "Okay, does this match the next one, or what should I do?" It's easier to tie everything together.

Levi: I only just found out today you have another side project called The Nightflight Orchestra, I had a listen today. It's really cool. It reminds me of Rainbow, and Deep Purple. Just wondering, how did that project come about?

Bjorn: Thanks for mentioning that. That's real cool that you got to hear that. It's hard to find I guess but it all came together when David came into the band, and we realized that we had a common love for mid-seventies classic rock up to the beginning of the eighties, and we really bonded over that. We just decided to form a band, and if you want to form a side project, or a side band, or whatever, you might as well be something completely different from what you are doing in your main band. We did that, and that's around when we came to think about Charlie D'Angelo who is also a big fan of that kind of stuff. We found some really great people, great musicians to play with, it has become our vacation band. It's very different from Soilwork obviously, and I think I've developed a lot through that band. It's a lot of fun, and I think you can hear that when you listen to it. We have so much fun recording it.

Levi: Do you have a preference doing clean or guttural vocals?

Bjorn: First of all, thanks for mentioning that. I do like both. I manage to make the transition smoother if you will because I feel that a lot of bands today it's either on or off. It's like scream vocals or it's clean vocals. I found so many ways of expressing myself vocally, so I tied those styles together as well, and they are both very natural elements in our music, and it comes very natural as well. It used to be maybe that okay, we have a screaming verse, and then we'll have a chorus with clean vocals, and that's it. Now, it's all over the place, and it's really interesting that I can still develop at this age. I'm 37 now, and I still feel that I'm growing as a singer, and I'm really grateful for that. It's also a great feeling being in a band like this, being surrounded by musicians where you feel you can be whatever we want technically, and at the same time it's never been about being technical for us.

Levi: In Australia, just in the last five or six years there's been a big influx of European bands we thought would never come down here. We've got you guys touring. We've just had Children of Bodom and Nightwish coming soon. Is it easier for you guys to tours now? Is there more of a demand for you guys to come to Australia now then there was 10 years ago?

Bjorn: Possibly. We started at a pretty early stage as well. This is going to be our sixth tour in Australia. That's really cool, and we came to Australia for the first time I think it was in 2003, and back then there wasn't a lot of Scandinavian bands to coming to Australia. I guess we've built up a pretty loyal fan base at a pretty early stage, and we've kept on making sense musically, and I think our fan base has grown a lot, and there's always demand. Last time we toured Australia was only two years. That's a really cool feeling, and as far as I know we ended up in the charts as well in Australia, and I think it was around number 60 or something if I'm not mistaken.

Levi: As I said before, you've been doing it a long time. I'm sure it was a struggle being a musician back in the days. Do you find it more comfortable these days?

Bjorn: There's never going to be ... Let's say it's never going to really be financially amazing. but there's definitely enough demand for us to be able to play whenever we want, and that's a really cool feeling that we can go just about anywhere in the world, and people will show up. That's definitely a privilege, and like you mentioned before it has to become easier to write songs as well. We are in this really creative place, which is awesome, and the demand is higher but yeah, you definitely need to get out there and tour not just rely on album sales because otherwise you'll get ruined.

Levi: Do you think there is still as much opportunity today for musicians as there were back in the days?

Bjorn: It was different back then because albums were still selling but then we've seen again, the latest years that sales up quite a bit again, and there will always be room for music I think. I think it's safe to say that. If you have dreams of starting a band don't let that industry bullshit hold you back. It's all about pursuing a dream, and if you really feel like creating music, do it, and it's just a little bit of a rougher climate nowadays. It's not necessarily the best time for getting time because there's so much. There's so many labels, so many bands getting signed so it's hard to get through. It's just a matter of being able to promote yourself, and then kids nowadays are way better than me at promoting themselves on social media and everything.

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