Diablo Swing Orchestra interview (11/2007)
|With:||Daniel [guitar, vocals] and Pontus [guitar]|
|Conducted by:||Thryce (in person)|
Diablo Swing Orchestra
On 3 November, Diablo Swing Orchestra were - together with Belgian band Oceans Of Sadness - co-headlining the Blikfest Festival at Beveren-Waas, Belgium (read the Concert Review here). Metal Storm was given the opportunity to do a short interview with this creative/crazy Swedish outfit. We met mainman Daniel Håkansson after the D:S:O show and went backstage to have the following nice chat with him, guitarist Pontus Mantefors and vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund.
First of all thank you very much for doing this short interview with us. It's highly appreciated of course!
Daniel: Yeah! Cheers.
So how has your adventure on Belgian soil been so far?
Daniel: It has been great. We haven't been here for that long; I think we arrived in Belgium around four or five today. We first got to the hotel and then came straightaway. We've been treated really nice by the organization. It has been a great show. We were really pleased with the show. Best so far for me.
Pontus: (laughs) Definitely, yeah!
Daniel: Great audience too.
Pontus: And like you said the people organizing this event were all super nice to us.
Tell me, how does it feel to co-headline a festival?
Daniel: We were surprised actually they would put us there as a headliner, because we're not used to that kind of attention in Sweden. It seems that we're more of a joke abroad than in Sweden. So we didn't mind it at all, but we're a bit unused to being a bigger band on festivals, so to say.
Daniel: (convincing) Yeah, yeah. I mean, we used to be down with the dogs (everybody laughs).
Have you guys seen some other bands today?
Daniel: Just bits. We've been kind of busy setting up and getting ourselves ready and all. And Oceans Of Sadness just got on; we'll go see them later.
And did you like those other bands?
Daniel: The parts I saw, I mean, they all had a really good sound, you know, clear and really well. And also Axamenta were really good and aggressive. I heard a little bit on their MySpace on beforehand. But they are all good bands, and there's a really friendly atmosphere among the bands as well.
How do you guys prepare for a live concert actually?
Pontus: By driving really far (the band laughs) for like twenty-four hours. Eating some kind of soup...
Daniel: We chill out, and we get through the setlist and all. Normal routines: getting our gear up, getting ready for the show.
Pontus: Most of us just rehearse a little bit for a couple of minutes.
Do you guys do anything special before getting on stage to get over the nerves?
Daniel: No, not yet. We will probably get into that later (laughs).
Pontus: Maybe when the audience is getting bigger.
What can people expect when seeing you guys live?
So what kind of a band is Diablo Swing Orchestra live?
Daniel: We really want to be a band that puts on more than just another show. That's our goal. We want our show to be a real performance. But that also involves a bigger budget, so perhaps we need to carry on a bit longer at this level before taking the next step and then we can incorporate more elements in the show.
Pontus: And more musicians.
Daniel: More musicians of course. For example, we played in Sweden with a trumpet player as well to add a bit more...
Pontus: A whole orchestra would be nice too.
Daniel: Yeah, of course that as well! And bringing other elements in our show perhaps from the opera world and dancers…
And perhaps stage decoration?
Daniel: Yeah, of course, of course, more of that, to get the mood right!
Do you have something in mind?
Daniel: Big curtains!
Pontus: (laughs) Yeah, that would be nice. Big red velvet curtains so you don't see anything until we start playing.
Daniel: Some meat hooks hanging all over the place… (starts laughing) No, but we really want some decoration and all that kind of stuff.
Pontus: Ballerina shoes and meat hooks, and Stonehenge and midgets (laughs)
Daniel Håkansson live at Blikfest IV 2007
All right! Some questions about the music then. How hard is it to be working on new material after the success of such a highly acclaimed debut album?
Daniel: For us it rather came as a surprise that so many people really got into the album. We thought it would rather reach a more specific kind of listeners. But our music seems to be spreading across many genre borders and everyone seems to find something in it that they like. And the fact that we use a lot of humour makes it easier for people to don't take us that serious. When we recorded the first album, we already came up with ideas for the next album in the studio. We haven't felt that much pressure yet because we already had some songs ready from the first album, some stuff to get going so to say. And we're kind of confident that people will like the next album because it is in the same sort of spirit.
Can you tell us already a bit more about that new upcoming album? Are you guys making a lot of progress?
Daniel: We are making progress in that way that we have developed. Last time in the studio, we've learnt a lot about arrangement, how to use the voice, and how to use the sound in a better way, because on the previous album we used a standard production. It was not a bad production but a standard metal production, in many ways. And during the recording we also learnt what we wanted to make out of it. Pontus was the only one actually who had a bit of experience in recording an album, the others were sort of rookies in that kind of things. The arrangement will be more detailed on the next album. We focused more on the small things so that they'll give more depth to the music. More layers so to say. It will be a more detailed prescription for sure, with a lot of elements and more twists to the songs.
Could you say the new album will be a "Butcher's Ballroom II" or will it really be something completely different?
Pontus: The new album will be more of a development considering what Daniel just said. You can't really say it's a number two but you can't really say it's something totally different either. If you'll listen to the new material you'll hear we're still the same band playing.
Daniel: For us the biggest difference is that we know a lot more what we want to do now. We worked on more small details and we're more satisfied with the arrangements. Also, when we recorded "The Butcher's Ballroom" we hadn't played live at all before recording. Now we will have the chance to try out some songs live, to see what works and what not and to cut out those parts that don't work. But we are confident it will be a better album for sure.
Does this mean we will also hear a different kind of music?
Daniel: The sound will be more multifaceted. We incorporated more genres: we have Russian music, folk music, we have gospel now, tango and of course the swing element will be present again. But like you said, we don't want to do a "Balrog Boogie II" or we don't want to play a "Pitbull Revolutions II", we want to make new songs and not use the same elements over and over again. We don't want to repeat ourselves. We want to do more new stuff next to the basic elements.
And how will Diablo Swing Orchestra NOT sound like in the future?
Daniel: We will probably move away even further from the standard Gothic sounds and harmonies that could be found in certain songs, like in the refrain from "Porcelain Judas". The more standard Gothic song will probably not be expressed on the next album, that'll be a vital change. Actually we haven't thought about something that we want to exclude. And the songs are still straightforward rock music with a little twist, but the standard Gothic melodies and arrangements that were in some parts of some songs won't be there anymore. I think that's the biggest difference.
What are your own personal favourite songs on "The Butcher's Ballroom"?
Pontus: Well, I am the one who always have to take credit for bringing up "Balrog Boogie". It's the first song on the album and it changed immensely during the recording. Actually it was the one song that has changed the most. It turned out to be a lot better than before the recording, and we all agreed on that. So I have to say that song just because we worked very hard on that one. It has a funk twist and it's still heavy.
Daniel: Personally, I like "Wedding March" the most in terms of energy and song writing. I never get bored of listening to that song because it has a great simple structure. The other songs have twists and turns, and I like those as well, but "Wedding March" is a straightforward rock song and that is what I like.
Imagine your manager or your label or whoever comes to you and says: "Hey Diablo Swing Orchestra, I want you guys to play a cover song on the next album". What would you say?
Daniel: Well we would say no (laughs). To begin with, doing covers really is a difficult thing for us, since we live in different cities in Sweden. And doing a cover song would take a lot of time away from making new and original material.
Pontus: Exactly, we don't have enough time to waste on making covers. We have to come up with new songs.
Daniel: I mean, if we would play a cover ever...
Pontus: It would most likely be live, wouldn't it?
Daniel: Yeah, it would be live. I don't think we would record one.
Pontus: Yeah, probably not.
Daniel: We do have some ideas for cover songs. Actually I want to do a cover of a Primus song called "Kalamazoo", with gospel choirs (Pontus laughs). That would be my favourite cover actually. You know them? It's like a funk metal kind of twist with Donald Duck voice (Pontus keeps on laughing). And you?
Pontus: What was that song again I mentioned yesterday in the car? It would be more of an interlude actually, the movie theme of "The Fifth Element".
Daniel: Great movie.
Pontus: Or the theme song of "Les Triplettes de Belleville"!
Daniel: Yeah! That one! That would be a great cover. We should probably do a cover of that song.
Well there you have it.
Daniel: Exactly. We might do that cover now (laughs).
If you had to describe D:S:O yourselves in only a few words, what would you say?
Daniel: Riot opera.
Pontus: Soprano swing with a metal twist. That sounds pretty good. Slogans are always good (laughs).
I don't know if you guys know, but Diablo Swing Orchestra are pretty popular on Metal Storm. Last year you guys won a Metal Storm Award for "The Biggest Surprise". You were second in "Newcomer of the Year", and also the Staff pick for best Avantgarde Metal album. Tell me something about that. What do you think of that?
Pontus: It was a big surprise for us. We were really happy!
Daniel: It was great. I remember doing an interview with Francisco (Herzebeth) as well, and I read some comments afterwards too, and it was just awesome to see all those positive reactions. And I think that actually helped us a lot in getting some recognition from the metal communities on the Internet. When you win an Award you get a lot of publicity, and a lot of people got to know us in that way, and that's just great. We like to win again next year (laughs).
Last question then. You guys have planned a few live dates in the near future, like ProgPower UK. Does this mean a real tour is in the make afterwards? And are these dates just try-outs or warm ups if you want?
Daniel: These gigs can be considered to be warm ups because there's no proper tour in store yet. The thing is we will probably do a festival summer, mostly in Germany. And I've been in contact with people in The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Italy too, so most likely there will be more dates in the future. I don't know yet if this will be a proper tour though. We will do what we can to make it a proper tour and add more dates when we're on the road. So hopefully there will be a tour and concerts on big stages, because the interest keeps growing and it really has been a good year for us since we released the album.
All right, the last words of this interview to the Metal Storm readers are yours.
Daniel: Thanks a lot for voting for us of course!
Pontus: Yeah, definitely! Thank you big time.
Daniel: That was the best. It was great. Thanks a lot! We really appreciated it, and as I said, vote for us again next year.
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