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Interview: THE UNGUIDED
Title: Rather independent

Richard Sjunnesson loves the new, the savage, and he can not get enough of it.

At Sonic Syndicate the Swede learned to walk. With The Unguided, he runs. And his creative hunger is getting bigger and bigger. Together with his brother, guitarist Roger, the screamer left the first group to lift the new formation in 2010. Clear singer Roland Johansson descended as well at the opportunity, in order to ensure with Richard again tingly exciting vocal passages.

The new album „Fragile Immortality“ follows the 2011 debut „Hell Frost“ on the grand hymn foot: completely innovative and shaking dynamic Melodic Death Metal, full of fires and innovations. I'm talking to Richard..

Ex-Sonic Syndicate members?


„It's really not that complicated. Back in 2008, my brother Roger and I discussed making a side project from Sonic Syndicate were we wanted to bring it back a bit more to the metal aspect of things and also make it a bit more like a hobby and not tie it all up on so much external organizations. Bring it back to the reason why we started Sonic Syndicate initially so to speak. But since we were not allowed to have side projects in Sonic, we patiently had to wait until I quit the band in 2010 before we made our move. By a coincidence during the summer of 2010 I called Roland to discuss some contractual matters, and also revealed I were to leave the band. We joked around that we should get together again and do what we do best hehe. However that joke, became dead serious when Roland, Roger and myself started The Unguided some months later. In the beginning we were also joined in by current Sonic Syndicate drummer John to handle the drum duties in the studio and on possible live events. However that didn't work out in the end, having each foot in different camps, so he's replaced by Richard Schill (ex-Shining) which is currently splintering those sticks in our regime.“

Congrats to the new deal with Napalm Records. What are your expectations for the collaboration with these new album release?


„Both parties have great expectations obviously and we hope we can view the benefits of this alliance the coming months once the album have been released. I've always been a fan of Napalm records, which is housing a lot of the bands I grew up with. So it's great to be under their wing in this, and I really hope it will be a long lasting relationship. We are diligent in our campaign and think we have a great concept, and they certainly have the muscles to bring it out to the metal masses. Apparently we hope for the album to have a good sell impact and that in the end everyone will be happy.“

Please describe the main musical character of the album!


„With the first album we played it a bit safe with having a lot to prove as a newborn band. With this one however, we took the turn a bit wider to satisfy our creative and experimental needs. I think the album is a pretty straight forward melodic metal album and I guess if you enjoyed the first few records of Sonic Syndicate (but imagine it spiced up with extra everything), you have a pretty good view of how we sound. We are older nowadays and I think that comes across in the metal we do as well, it's a bit more intellectual and doped with loads of electronics and big arrangements, without losing its accessibility. We learned a lot from the debut album and tried to make a few things differently with this one.“

How much time was needed for the songwriting in total?


„The songwriting ranged from early 2012 to the middle of 2013 so it was a lengthy process. Once again, with the debut, we had some leftover tracks from our old demo band "Fallen Angels" (pre-Sonic Syndicate,) and also some Sonic Syndicate leftovers that were considered a bit too metal for that format, that Roger and I had been working on previously. We decided we wanted to revisit that, whilst on this new one, all of the songs are steaming fresh and composed after "Hell Frost" was released under The Unguided era. But we allowed this album to take it's time to make it as good as it possibly could be. Hell Frost also got a bit rushed, since we needed some solid ground to stand on as newcomers. We didn't have any of that mentality for this one! It deserved all the time it got.“

Who worked out the lion's share of the compositions?


„Well everyone I guess. Everyone have key functions in this, and everyone in the band is necessary so we all made what was expected of us. Usually Roger writes the framework of the songs, Henric also came up with a few riffs. Roland sprinkle the songs with his solo's and Mr. Schill produced all his drums with Roger. I write the lyrics and then Roland and I work on melodies and rhythm of the vocals while we record. It's very similar to how Roger, Roland and I worked in Sonic Syndicate were we wrote almost 100 % of the three first records.“

The vocals and arrangements are very sophisticated - great! Please tell about!


„I guess the answer to this is hard work and loads of time invested. We never had to regulate ourselves after some impatient producer since we produced everything ourselves, so we were free to spend as much time as we could. Burning the midnight oil over a lot of weekends and just overworking everything that had with melodies, rhythmic and pronunciation to do. It was hard work, but also a lot of fun, within this very creative atmosphere there were plenty of room for experimentation and I think that comes across on the album. It's very playful!“

Allowed to ask you as an long-year musician about special musical influences which led to the new material? 



„Haha, I can only speak for myself and to be total honest with you I don't have any direct musical influences. I listen to a lot of music everyday and I just think I pick up shards of inspiration here and there and during the writing and studio process they come out to shine every now and then. But I have a hard time tracking them to their actual sources since it's just fragments of inspiration recovered by just living my daily lives. If any influence, I'd say Hansi Kürsch and Blind Guardian. He's my hero and that's my favorite band. I know we sound nothing like them. But throughout my musical carrier, that band and Hansi have been almost the only constant, and I owe a lot of my inspiration to them. One thing that was extremely inspiring with this album was however the concept of the lyrics. Seven songs on the album is based around the same story and it just keeps expanding as the album progress, this was really fun to work with and the inspiration was just flooding out of me with those tracks. I hope it's well received, then we'll continue with it, in the same extent, for the coming album, for sure.“

Most of the people in Metal think that it's very difficult, to bring something truly new and innovative. But you seem to made it… Please bring the development of your special sound closer.


 „I'm glad you feel that way! Best review one can get in ones artistry I'd say. I think what makes us break out a bit from what you usually find in the melodic metal genre, is that we don't look too much in other directions and at other bands. We don't weigh in what's modern and contemplate to implement it in our music just because it's the mayfly of the day. We just do what we feel and listen to our hearts. We are not trying to be anything we are not, we are merely playing exactly what we feel for. So when you hear a song from us, you can be sure it's completely unguided, this is how it poured out of us and it's not altered in any way to fit in. I think a key to uniqueness is to dare to walk against the wind and also we have some different features with Roger's exceptional songwriting, Roland's and my own voice, we don't really sound a lot like other people, it's not streamlined so that sure adds to the "unique" factor in the band.“

What counts mainly for you in making music with The Unguided?


„A challenging composition and a big chorus. We put a lot of focus on the chorus, without a good chorus the song is just wasted because that's where the big guns should be used. What inspires me most in the creative process is not actually the screaming vocals themselves but the lyrics. I see myself as a lyricist with a rhythmic instrument, being my voice. So intellectual and lyrics and challenging and melodic compositions is what intrigues me in this.“

Do you feel yourself like an ‚unguided‘ soul? As an ‚master of his own‘, so to say?


„Yes, nowadays at least. I've always been a feeling person that have tried to walk my own way, but for a brief period during all that going down with Sonic Syndicate, I felt more like a pawn in some puppeteers show. It was actually the produced for "We Rule The Night"; Toby Wright, ironically enough, that opened my eyes. He made me realize that there was no need to waste any more time on that and pursue a real vision. A pure vision which was not clouded in greed and money. So that's what I did, I left the band, started this unguided campaign and have been unguided ever since hehe. I'm really grateful for his confidence in me and owe him a lot in that.“

What is behind the album's title „Fragile Immortaliy“? One can be very curiously while your newest compositions are played…


„It got multiple meanings but let me walk you through some of them; the most apparent one is that musicians sometimes come across as inhuman or immortal to common folks. They forget how they are just flesh and bones, with a set of feelings like everyone else. My idea with this was that you have to work hard to remain within that status, it's nothing you should take for granted, they give you a crown to treat and defend with all you got. You have to cherish and honor your fans while you follow your heart to keep that crown. You cannot suddenly vanish from the map and ignore your path and expect people to view you in the same way when you come back. It's a delicate and fragile state, which you have to earn and work hard to maintain. In one way, seeing we are all a bit of has-beens in this band haha, this is very symbolic for us. We've have seen the contrast of standing on stage in front of thousands and thousands of people one day and the next you're in some dark factory troubleshooting electronic circuits on your daily job. Not saying there's anything wrong with it, since we all live much happier lives today than we did previously. But it's such a breathtaking and peculiar contrast that you really have to actually experience to understand. That's fragile immortality right there! Also it ties into the story of the seven concept songs. It's a grand battle between a group of fallen angels, who happen to be immortal, so they simply have to accept each other's till the end of time, even through their strife shrouded indifferences. But things becomes a little bit more interesting as some of them start to learn ways to bypass the immortal "gift" and discover there might be a way to get rid of the opposition. The question is only; who will strike first?“

Be so kind and bring the main lyrical content a bit closer!


„The main lyrical theme of the seven concept songs, which is very fictional at first sight, but got a bit of metaphoric and symbolic touch to it if you read between the lines. Anyhow it's a battle between fallen angels, and their armies in a dark parallel futurealistic universe. On one side we have two fallen angels, an army, and the remaining mortal civilization fighting for their survival and the other there's another pair of fallen angels, which is still under the influence of their heavenly orders, this pair is backed by an legion of machines, programmed to wipe out the remaining humans, in God's wrath, sounds nerdy enough for you? Good! hehe. Regarding the remaining songs they are a bit more down to earth, earthly dilemmas, save from "Blodbad" and "Deathwalker" which is also fictional, in their own way. The way I write is very metaphoric and by the end of the day, my lyrics is basically always just stories from my life, it's like a dairy and always have been, just veiled in a metaphoric shell. The lyrics in The Unguided is the same organism as the lyrics in Sonic Syndicate basically. Some people will not get it, which is fine! This is certainly not for everyone.“

© Markus Eck, 15.01.2014

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