Swedish melodic death metal legends SOILWORK have never done things by halves… this time they’re back with something double! ‘The Living Infinite’ goes down in history for being the first double album in it’s genre. With 20 tracks in total this album expands SOILWORK’s musical horizons even further while still remaining inspired by that classic SOILWORK sound. Bassist Ola Flink provides us with all the details about ‘The Living Infinite’ including the story behind his lyrical contribution to the track ‘Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard’…
NZRock: Bands like ARCH ENEMY might have released double CDs before but ‘The Living Infinite’ is the first melodic death metal double album. So who came up with the idea to do this?
Ola: That was Bjorn. He came up with the title to begin with, that was like the first thing. He had thought about doing a double album to that title because he thought it was a good match and he presented the idea to the rest of us. Of course you get a bit skeptical because normally it’s hard to get like 13 songs or whatever songs you get on an album anyway. But once we got started on writing, everything made sense you know, because the creativity just hit everybody. It’s something that’s cool to have done in your career as a band.
NZRock: After listening to the album and it’s 20 songs you really notice it’s been a great opportunity for the band to experiment with different styles. You’ve got one passage which remindes me of blusey JOE SATRIANI, acoustic guitars, organse. Are you happy with how it’s all come together.
Ola: I’m very pleased with it yeah and as you said, there were no boundaries or anything when it came to the creative process of the whole thing because we had new blood in the band with David the new guy, and he started writing a bunch of songs that were a bit different and we all just kept an open mind to everything which helped us out in the end because when you create music that’s the kind of minds you need to create something thats unique for us to play and for people to listen to. It was awesome to do this. It’s not like we’re doing jazz all of a sudden but it’s different though, and it’s fun for us to do that for sure.
NZRock: David has been involved with the band for a few years touring, what did he say when you asked him to join apart from “yes!” as a permanent member. Was he pretty excited?
Ola: Yeah man for sure, as you said we’ve been touring with him before and it was always a good vibe when he was with us when we played up on stage and just in general hanging out with him it was cool. It was just like a natural decision once Peter was out again… we kind of knew it for a while and we had a talk with David. He just gave the band a ton of energy and I dont know, ignited something that’s been a little bit dead for a while so it was awesome. That’s what we needed.
NZRock: Peter left the band just a couple of months before recording. Did any of his songs make it onto the album?
Ola: No there’s nothing, he’s not involved at all in it. The last thing we did with him as The Panic Broadcast and he was a huge part of that. Like he produced it and wrote a lot of songs there but for this one it’s all the rest of us.
NZRock: The very last song on the second CD, that’s the one you wrote the lyrics for. It’s got a pretty different name, ‘Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard’. What’s the theme?
Ola: Haha! It’s kinda weird. We decided to write some lyrics for it becsause there were so many lyrics that needed to be done so we just sat down and wrote some stuff. It’s basically just me, I woke up one morning with this weird feeling… I had dreamt something and I wasn’t sure what it was so I just sat down with a piece of paper and I started putting words on those feelings. Just waking up in the morning and how it leads to what happens in that song I’m not sure but it was just those words that came out of my pen you know. It’s kind a of a cool way to end the double album. The last song has a pretty evil tone to it and it’s with this repeating part where he has some kind of dark vocals on there so it kind of makes sense you know.
NZRock: Even though you had 20 songs on the album, did you still end up having any left over?
Ola: Oh man yeah I think we recorded 26 or 27 songs I cannot remember. so we had to decide on what was going to end up on the albums but that was never a hard decision or anything, it kind of just made sense. When we decided on the 20 songs it was harder to decide on which CDs they were going to end up on. CD part 2 has more of like an evil vibe to it, there’s something there, it’s a bit darker. That’s something that I think is really cool, that you can create a feeling or just a vibe listening to music you know.
NZRock: Yeah like you were saying especially on that second CD and on the song you wrote it’d definitely darker. I love that slow heavy melodic SOILWORK stuff like ‘Enter Dog Of Pavlov’ off ‘The Panic Broadcast’.
Ola: Yeah exactly, the intro on the ‘Pavlov’ song is pretty awesome eh!
NZRock: Do you feel that there’s a SOILWORK sound that needs to be preserved or are you happy to go wherever the music takes you in future?
Ola: I’m happy to see it go wherever we feel comfortable, or wherever we feel happy. We have done it for a long time and there are still some core members in the band you know. Even thought we experiment a little bit, maybe don’t do that typical SOILWORK stuff, there’s always elements of it in there. I can hear even stuff from the first albums that we ever did, there are those types of riffs in there still just mixed up with something new. Like with David as a new song writer you know. So yeah, you get bits and pieces of our entire career and you just try to do something new out of that, mix it up with something that’s new and interesting for us and hopefully people will want to listen to it also.
NZRock: When you listen to the other Swedish Melodic Death Metal bands and also SOILWORK then think about where you all started from and where you’ve all ended up, everyone has got their own unique sound now. Do you think it’s cool how that’s happened?
Ola: That is awesome yeah. We’ve talked about that actually because it’s true, we’ve at some point been part of that Gothenburg sound even though we’re not from there. But we’re kind of named in the same sentence with IN FLAMES, DARK TRANQUILLITY, AT THE GATES all that. These days everyone has gone down their own path and has their own thing going which I think is awesome. We always used to get compared to IN FLAMES but I think we changed a long time ago, like we haven’t sounded like eachother for… probably ever haha! But we’re still put in the same sentence as them always but I think our music is completed different.
NZRock: Have you ever been involved in any side-projects or wanted to be?
Ola: Yeah, but I just do it like when I’m at home. I used to do it on my laptop and I’d just sit on my couch and do stuff. It’s nothing I ever took to a rehearsal space or started to do with any friends or anything. I kind of just always do just SOILWORK… but it’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, I’m just not sure what it’ll be.
NZRock: You used to be in the band HATELIGHT, what happened to that crew?
Ola: How do you know that haha! You’ve been doing a bit of research I would say haha! When I started playing music, back in my little city where I come from, they were the people that I started playing music with. We always had a bunch of hardcore bands because I come from that kind of scene you know. We just kept playing for a bunch of years until we started moving to different cities so these days, yeah they still have bands and stuff but I stopped a long time ago. I know there’s a band called HEARTS ALIVE that they’re in, it’s like a more metalcore type band.
NZRock: peaking of metalcore, there are many who have credited SOILWORK as starting the metalcore genre. Do you agree?
Ola: Yeah to a point because I think we were pretty early with the mixing up of clean chorus and having that whole thing. I don’t know if I like the metalcore because it turned into metalcore but I dont think we ever played that type of music. We’ve toured over the years especially in the States and there’s a ton of bands that listend to us when they started bands and they took influence from that. It’s pretty much standard these days to do that and when we started to do that it wasnt. It was pretty much metal and that was it. Even keyboards wasn’t that normal for more extreme bands you know. And then you start the singing also and it’s kind of what the hell? haha! I’m happy because you can do so much more with it. Metalcore is not a bad word, but I dont know… I would never consider myself being in a metalcore band if you know what I mean.
What’s happening music video-wise for the album?
NZRock: Mircea Gabriel Eftemie from MNEMIC did the artwork for this album. What made him the guy for the job?
Ola: We’ve known him for a long time. We toured with MNEMIC to begin with and he did the artwork for ‘Stabbing The Drama’. So we just contacted him with the idea that we wanted some kind of nautical theme, like in some way connected with water and the ocean because that’s what The Living Infinite is, it’s a Jules Verne quote, that’s how he describes the ocean. So he came up with the artwork because he liked the concept and we all just dug it so it was an easy process. He was the only one, we didn’t contact anybody else because we all liked it. And it makes sense to me at least when I listen to it. Sometimes you see an album and you listen to the music and there’s no connection but I feel that there is some sort of connection with the music and I think that’s pretty cool.
NZRock: So was it Bjorn who chose ‘The Living Infinite’ title?
Ola: Yeah Bjorn came up with it. He got it from Jules Verne and it’s something that’s just never the same… the ocean always changes and he kind of found inspiration in that because that’s the way he would think of life and his brain started working you know. A lot of people connect with that whole thing when they do music, you have MASTODON and all that so there’s something with the ocean I don’t know what it is but it’s pretty powerful and awesome. I’ve always lived next to water so it’s always been close to me.
NZRock: Looking at the entire SOILWORK catalogue, you’ve got some great basslines… like in ‘Mercury Shadow’, I love that song. Are there any songs that you don’t play live anymore that you wish that you did?
Ola: Oh I dont know which ones but there are a lot of songs that we have not played EVER which probably would be fun. For some reason we have started to spread out all over the world. We have people living in France, Sweden and in the States you know. So over the years it’s been kind of hard for us to rehearse and so the diversity and set list has kind of been lacking unfortunately. So there’s a lot of songs that we need to play which is pretty exciting. We have to look into it because there are a lot of people who want to hear songs you know.
NZRock: So being based in different countries are you guys apart for many months?
Ola: Oh man yeah, we just see each other when it’s time to play some melodic metal. It really depends on how busy the schedule is you know. The last year or so we didn’t see much of each other at all but when we did it was kind of intense so that’s fine.
NZRock: Is there any chance that we’ll see you in New Zealand sometime soon? I know you guys have visited Australia a few times.
Ola: Yeah man I think there is. That would be awesome because we’re trying to go new places and that would be definitely one that would be awesome you know. I think I talked to CHIMAIRA who went there and they only had good things to say. I would love to come.
NZRock: Last question… I was reading an interview where Dirk said he’d seen people at SOILWORK shows wearing custom t-shirts with custom Flink slogans on them. What were those?
Ola: Hahaha! I don’t know, I must’ve left some sort of impression haha! It makes no sense to me.
NZRock: Sounds like you have a career options for coming up with t-shirt designs haha!
Ola: Oh there you go, you need something on the side so why not haha!