Björn ‘Speed’ Strid’s scene prepares him for when he’s on tour.
“I go to the gym, try to stay in shape and try to eat healthy, and then go on tour and destroy it all again.”
Visionary Swedish Melodeath metal masters Soilwork have embarked on their national tour of Australia performing their classics as well as material from their tenth studio album, The Ride Majestic, which saw Soilwork gain their highest ARIA Debut by far; another triumphant moment for a band whose body of work stretches across twenty years. In the beginning however, Strid says he “became a singer out of coincidence”. He explains: “I was a guitar player in the beginning and then I met Peter in high school and he came up to me one day and said is starting a metal band with me to sing and I said, ‘Oh, I play guitar but let’s try it out’. When I got into singing, I really loved Tom Araya from Slayer, the screaming vocals. And I was also a big Devin Townsend fan. I like everything he did from Strapping Young Lad to solo. Those were some of my faves. But I also grew up listening to a lot of stuff that my mum had playing in the car. And I also loved Bruce Springsteen. I think is a fantastic singer so it’s not only metal I’m influenced by. It’s a lot of things.”
Quite a contrast to the “Melodeath metal” phrase used to describe the band. Strid states: “It is hard to put a label on our music. It is metal because there are so many influences. The different types of influences from metal show but also other types of music. I guess it’s more of a label thing. Labels feel the need to put a label on things. Some call Soilwork modern metal. Certainly we do put a twist in to our music.”
“We like to experiment within the metal genre and I think we manage to develop our sound in a very interesting way. It’s still making sense and we still excited about song writing so that’s a good thing.”
This excitement for creating music has enabled the continuation of Soilwork’s unique style and has undeniably kept the band current. Stylistically, their latest release, The Ride Majestic, picks up where the band left off with their previous record, The Living Infinite (2013) as Strid explains: “I think we really found something new with The Living Infinite. We rediscovered ourselves as songwriters through that album. We needed a challenge really bad. And with that album we found something new. With this latest album we took it even further with some of the darker atmosphere that The Living Infinite had, and cranked it even more with this album. It’s slightly more melancholic and I think it slightly more intense as well. It’s almost as if the intense parts are even more intense and the softer parts are even softer so it does create a very interesting dynamic.”
Strid’s love of songwriting is evident, and his process is as unique as the music that is created. Strid states: “The music usually comes first because I like to work with a lot of rhythm, with the vocals as well. Sometimes I have a few words here and there that come up in my head and I write them down – ideas, but not really full lyrics. I usually want the music and just about everything all done first before I start writing lyrics. I work with a lot of pictures in my head that the music generates so I’d rather wait.” He continues: “I play a lot of guitar. I’ve actually written a lot of songs on the latest two albums. I was a guitar player from the beginning and then just by coincidence became a singer. So I still play guitar but it’s not like I sit down and shred every day. If we’re working on a new album then I pick up the guitar and write a few songs and then I leave it for awhile.” However, Strid is adamant that he won’t be grabbing a guitar on stage anytime soon. “No,” he states, “I’m more of a sitdown kind of guitar guy. Pick it up on stage no, no, that feels like more of a Bon Jovi type of thing, where suddenly the singer picks up the guitar and they throw him a pick and he starts playing.”
As for Strid’s most challenging yet rewarding track on the new release, he states: “I think Death In General was very special. It’s a great song and I love performing live. It was pretty hard recording it and we were worried about playing it live. I was like how am I going to pull those vocals off live, and it’s become really good. There’s something about that song and it was a really cool experience recording it and we made a video for it as well in the desert at the Joshua Tree in California at the end of the North American tour. It’s a very special song indeed. I always wanted to make a desert video ever since I saw Wild Child with WASP.”
“Ever since then I’ve loved desert videos and I came up with some ideas together with the director; mostly it was his ideas but I went there trying to direct a little bit without being too obnoxious.”
As for touring, Strid states: “When you’re younger, it’s always exciting and you couldn’t care less being away from home. That didn’t matter. It is different nowadays. I guess I’m not drinking as much any more. I have more of a pre-party than an after party because I can’t really stand the hangovers any more. That’s part of it.
I mean if you don’t drink, you go crazy on tour and if you drink too much you’ll go crazier that way instead so it’s a matter of finding a balance.
Catch Soilwork on Their Australian Majestic Tour:
Australian Tour Dates:
ROSEMOUNT HOTEL, PERTH WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 10
THE GOV, ADELAIDE FRIDAY FEBRUARY 12
THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13
MAX WATTS, SYDNEY MONDAY FEBRUARY 15
170 RUSSELL, MELBOURNE TUESDAY FEBRUARY 16
The Ride Majestic is out now via Nuclear Blast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/the-ride-majestic/id1017418122 or http://po.st/NuclearStoreOz