Enforcer interview: "We write the kind of music we want to hear and we play the kind of shows that we want to see"

11/01/2013 @ 16:15
After the successful "Diamonds", Enforcer returns with their third album and Rocking.gr takes the advantage of the opportunity to speak with singer / guitarist Olof Wickstarnd. What follows is a relaxed conversation with a musician who seems to have tremendous confidence in his band, always makes plans for the future, but feels that he does not have time to experience the success of the group.

Hello Olof, how you feel with the upcoming release of your new album?
Hi there Kostas. I feel extremely confident about it. Actually it’s the first time that I feel like 100% confident about the material we have and the approach we have, with all the details not only musically but also esthetical, you know band wise and all these stuff. This is something that I can stand for 100%.

EnforcerSo, what are the main differences between "Diamonds" and "Death By Fire"?
There are lots of differences to be honest. Both musically but also album wise. The songwriting and the entire process have been complete different than before. How we produced the album has also been very, very different. So we kind of decided in the very early stage of the recording process what the album should be like, how it should sound and before we even had any songs we decided that we wanted to do the definitely Enforcer record, bringing in everything that make us special. We wanted to exaggerate our own vision about music and about the band, instead of trying to be something else. We wanted to mix this melodic, melancholic sound with the hooky refrains from the "Diamonds" record with the speed and intensity of our first album. We also wanted to bring back some rawness of our early demos like the way I sang in the beginning. I think the way I sing is being more myself and not trying or pretend to be someone else. Also the guitar sound was something that we wanted to bring back from the demo days, so it is very raw in that sense. And the songs we write, we all agreed that we wanted to make one single record with not many different songs and different types of songs. We wanted to keep it consequent and with a red line though out the whole album.

I think that it’s obvious and all the songs make a solid speed metal album.
Yes, it’s not that there is something wrong with the slow parts if they fit in the songs but this time we wanted to make something that is unique to us and that is how it differs from our past albums. One also big difference is that this time we produced the whole album by ourselves. We record it, we mixed it and mastered it, done everything by ourselves, so this gave us a lot more control and we didn’t have a label at that time so we use us much time us we want to record it. I think it took us six month to make the album and I must say that it paid off.

EnforcerHow you feel now that you have signed in a major company like Nuclear Blast and which are the benefits of such cooperation?
It’s hard to say what the benefits are, but I am sure that they know what we are doing and that is the biggest advantage and also they got a big network all over the world with offices in every continent of the world. It’s a really strong machinery. At the same time we’re totally ourselves, they are the label and they trust us. We do what we do best, writing music and they do what they do best, spreading the music to the whole planet.

How come and Adam Zaars is not a member of Enforcer anymore?
He decided that he didn’t want to be anymore. We can speculate about it for ever. If you want a straight answer you should probably talk to him. Obviously he didn’t want to be in the band and there are no hard feelings.

What followed the release of "Diamonds" these two of years?
We have at least one and a half year of heavy touring after the "Diamonds" record and that affect the band a lot. We learned a lot about being professional on tour and also how the songs work on stage and how to do this full time. We learned that we have to be committed to that and that we have to be in our best every night because people pay to see you. I think that we grew professionally with the long touring. But also what we did, especially after Adam quit, was to take the time to focus on what we really wanted to do, instead of just doing something. That’s also a big lesson that we learned, what we wanted to do with the band and how we wanted to do it.

Enforcer - Death By FireHow would you describe the sound of "Death By Fire"?
I think we pretty much continue in the way that we started. I think that we looked way more into ourselves this time rather than to look others. Of course we listened to music all the time and that is how to make music by listening to other music, but we wanted to focus on ourselves with this album and do something special, not just copy a typical sound. When we created the sound of Enforcer we had in mind like yeah the N.W.O.B.H.M. and the British sounds but also the European Swedish sound which we also had within us, because we are from there. But the mix of all those makes the typical Enforcer sound and with this album we really try to point out the actual elements of our sound that we wanted to exaggerate. I think that our new album stands out compared to most of the modern hard rock/heavy metal albums of today.

Is there any special meaning behind the title "Death By Fire" and what are the lyrics about?
To start with the title I think that is a brutal title actually and it’s says a lot both about the music and the approach we have on this album which is not occult but it is a bit dark. We wanted to keep the lyrics and the title a bit more towards ourselves, because that’s how we started out, writing this rather dark but in your face type of lyrics and I think the title “Death By Fire” says it all. It’s simply about the worst ways that you can die and says a lot about our music. The songs are mainly more or less about thoughts of dying or things connected to that.

EnforcerIt’s crystal clear that you are fans of past decades music, especially the 80s. Can you tell some of the band that influenced you?
It’s really hard to do at this point, but I can say that when we first started Enforcer we had other external influences. Right now I think that we achieved something unique, something that’s more us and it’s really hard to see what inspires you because we are very confident with the sound we created. When we started the band it was a different thing because we had other things in mind and we wanted pretty much to sound like other bands. So in the beginning we were influenced from band like Exciter, early Razor but also from European metal band such as Gotham City, early Iron Maiden and Venom. Only after we created our own sound it is very hard to say that we are influenced by other bands because I think we are unique. The mix we have is unique.

There is a big scene of old school heavy metal nowadays. Why in your opinion this thing is popular again?
It’s very hard to say. I mean I always have been into this kind of music so to me there is nothing strange about it. I’m just happy that people discover more genuine music than music which was popular when I was o teenager. When I was teenager, popular music was shitty modern death metal and technical stuff and band like Cradle Of Filth and shit like that, total poser bands. After that thing became popular bands were popping up from everywhere. We are the antithesis to that movement because we bring everything back to the core and we do honest, genuine and real music again. Fortunately people seem to appreciate what we do, that we take things back to the core and that we say fuck off to all the modern metal and we do it the way that we wanted to hear it.

Olof Wickstarnd (Enforcer)How is life on the road? Can you share with us any crazy things that happened to you?
Well, lot of crazy stuff had happened and that’s what happens when you’re touring (laughs). I don’t want to go into any private details with this but the bus crash we had two years ago was really bad. We crashed with the tour bus and fortunately we all survived.

Where was that happened?
We were between Oslo and Stockholm on a tour and we hit head on with a snow plow. Basically we crashed the tour bus and we had to cancel seven dates of the tour because we had all our equipment broke, the van was broken and I think we broke some legs too. That was pretty rough.

You are coming in Greece for a third time this February. How you feel about it because I know your fans here are really looking forward to that?
Greece has always been the place for us. From the very first time we were there we were totally blown away by the audience and the reaction of the audience, so it’s a very special country to play that kind of music and I’m very excited to go back because we have a lot of fun and we had a lot of support and I really think that it was one of the most exciting shows of the year.

Is it any harder for you to perform live, now that you also have to play the guitar?
No, not really. At first it was a little bit strange but I think I’ve got into it pretty well and right now it feels even better from just singing. It’s different but I think we do it better, I mean to me it doesn't say anything if we are five or four people up on the stage. To me it’s in the live performances to deliver energy to the audience and get the energy flow between the audience and the band. I don’t think that it makes any difference how many we are on stage. I can play the guitar well and I can sing the same time, so to me it’s not a problem. We deliver the songs with a lot of energy and that what counts.

You said earlier how important is to give every time your best show. But what happens if you had a bad day and you don’t really feel like going out and perform live?
How I feel doesn’t really matter when it comes to play because as soon as you hit the stage you are getting in ...not a trance but in a different state of mind where everything is about an energy outlet and a connection between you and the audience. I mean I could be sick and still have the best show if the audience is with us and we get the energy flowing. That’s probably the best way to express it. Also you can be in the best mood but if the audience is lame there’s nothing you can do about it, you don’t feel the energy and that’s a bad day on stage.

EnforcerAre there any other touring plans?
Yes of course. What’s official says that we play in Stockholm here in Sweden, then we go to Belgium and then we are going on the Angelwitch/Grand Magus tour through Europe. Then we are coming to Greece and then we have some days in Spain. That’s until February. We wait for details about March. In April we are going to South America for a couple of weeks and then we have the summer festivals so we are going to be busy, but that’s the way we like it.

Do you feel like being in a successful band?
I don’t really think about that. The thing is that if you had told me four years ago that I would be in this situation I am now, I had probably freaked out. You always have different goals but I’m already in the next step of the band planning, the next goals and the next steps so in a way I can’t enjoy the actual state we are in right now because you’re always so much ahead in time. So I don’t really feel like I am in a successful band and I never done it. We are not in it for the fame or the money. We just do it out of passion and enthusiasm about music. Writing the kind of music we want to hear and playing the kind of shows that we wanted to see.

How many things you believe that you have accomplished with Enforcer so far and what you want in the future for the band?
Personally speaking for this one I kind achieved all my life goals I had before I started the band. We have toured in South America and Japan which was big life goals. The thing is that you always creating new goals and what life has for us in the future I don’t know. I just hope that we still can go out and spread that message to us many people as possible and the people will appreciate what we do. To be able to built the show even larger and making it bigger and bigger on stage and to provide to the audience what they disserve to see.

Ok the next question is a tricky one. You have realized that the verse of "Satan" is similar to the one of "Phantom Lord" from Metallica?
Well yeah, I heard one person said it before, but it actually doesn’t come from there. The inspiration is from something different and I’m guessing is from the same thing that Metallica took it in the beginning but I want say (laughs)

Olof Wickstarnd (Enforcer)Obviously you hear lots of old music. Is there anything new that caught your eye?
Yeah, I appreciate lot of new music as well, but you know the music climate is completely different compared to how it was thirty years ago. When classic heavy metal came about it was something extreme, it was something unique and it was about breaking rules. Heavy metal at that time was something dangerous. But as time passed by it became commercial and it lost its spark and lost its energy. But the spark continue in other types of music in the 90s with the early death and black metal scene where the people were breaking rules again and take music to the extreme the same with the heavy metal bands in the early 80s. So yes I appreciate extreme music. I appreciate honest and genuine aggressive music, not only heavy metal, but I see a lot of that in heavy metal. What we have right now is that we have a few bands that can do this kind of heavy metal that we do with the same aggression, the same energy. On the other hand we have bands that do other type of music but still extreme. You have to push it to the extreme, push it to the limits and only few bands do that nowadays in the classic area.

Can you name any of those bands?
If I have to pick one band that plays classic heavy metal music is got to be Cauldron, because I love them so much and they make music with so much passion and enthusiasm without looking back at all. If you’re looking to other types of music I would say Watain from Sweden. They do it completely with passion and heading the big shows like in the 80s and there not many new bands are doing that. To me being in a live show it’s not just going out on stage with your regular clothes and just play. To me playing live is making a show were everything have to be coordinate to the process of creating music and feelings that you exaggerate and giving them to audience.

Ok, last words are yours.
I hope to see as many of our Greek fans as possible in February. I’m really excited about coming back there and I think we can bring something special to you this time.

Olof, thank you very much for your time.
Thanks a lot Kostas, take care.