Interview with Horisont Frontman Axel Söderberg
-Words by Tommy Hash
“This is straightforward rock and roll, (this is) something that’s always going to be around. There are always going to be trends in music that come and go, but this kind of music has been around so long; it’s timeless and something that people can relate to.” describes Horisont frontman Axel Söderberg, making his statement from the fertile musical ground of Sweden. Stanch in execution, this Gothenburg quintet known as Horisont behold alchemy for both the darkened hallowed elements and the infectious melodic fervor that their home country has to offer.
As their fourth album, Odyssey ensues a more technical approach, they aren’t out to blow minds with some intricate piece of work that would otherwise be drawn out of narcissism. The band has the courage to unleash an abundance of material drawn from an extended creative fire that was spread out of time used very wisely. Yet Söderberg will be the first to tell you that the record does have it’s proggy leanings while retaining the grounded stance in rock and roll. Odyssey is an exploration that is easy to follow with their trail of grinding grooves don alluring sonic scenery along the way with vintage synths, enticing riffage, and two different minds meeting in the guitar department; the latter partly due to a membership switch-over with the departure of a six string slinger Kristofer Möller.
In the end, the results are clear whether it be the steady, head on rock of “Blind Leder Blind,” hinting at the early days of fierce proto metal tinkered with power pop; thenyou have the progressive psych of both “Red Light” and the title track, both proving that tossing any potential pretentious sound need not rear its head. Nevertheless the sounds of early New Wave of British Heavy Metal creep amongst tunes including “Bad News” add that snarling flare with gallop and gusto. It’s appropriate that Odyssey, with it’s double LP, that the friction and physical vibration from the pinpoint to the speakers is cast over a double album – four sides to immerse the listener with that interactive experience of flipping the record over and placing the needle on the groove (of course, you can get it on CD as well). In context, the mechanical element seems most fitting, but doesn’t it always. Söderberg gives us the details.
TOMMY HASH: Odyssey has quite a bit of intricacy in it; there is definitely a growth heard on your fourth record.
AXEL SODERBERG: Yeah, this album does feature more complex songwriting, we had a lot more time for writing – plus the songs are harder to play; that was noticed when we started rehearsing. Odyssey was definitely more thought through than the other albums. More time was spent writing songs and we also spent more time in the studio. All of that is the main thing. It is a bit more progressive than the other albums; there are things that are more technical to it than simply being riff oriented. The added keyboards played a big role too; I’ve always played the keyboards on the past records where we featured pianos. We wanted to add something new. Since the songs actually got more progressive sounding without that keyboards, we thought, why not add a bit to that. It’s really fun working with these old analog keyboards. I do own a couple.
TH: You guys had a lot on your plate to choose from, considering this is a double vinyl album. Being on a roll, is there any other material that didn’t make it on Odyssey?
AS: All of us had a couple of songs (in the writing process) that were not finished in time for recording, so we just decided that we would only record the ones that were actually finished. Again, there was a lot of time on our hands to write the material, so there was no rush. Plus, it was known right away if “this song” or “that song” would fit on the album. It was easy to pick the tunes that would make it to Odyssey, and just concentrate on working those (songs) out.
TH: As for those songs that weren’t finished in time, might we see them for a single release in the future?
AS: Were going to do another single. We have a couple of songs that hoping to put out on a separate release.
TH: There has also been a major lineup change for you guys as guitarist Kristofer Möller left and was replaced by Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery).
AS: Kristofer has two kids and he felt like he needed to leave because he didn’t have the time. We met Tom while on tour with a band called Church of Misery. He moved to Gothenburg to play music and even filled in for him a couple of times, so he was the guy to go to when Kristofer decided it was time to leave. Tom was excited to join, it was perfect.
TH: How did he fill the void?
AS: Kristofer was more of a blues guitarist, Tom is more of a straight forward heavy metal guy. So there is definitely a difference between their style. It did have an effect on the record.
TH: How do you see the interplay both guitarists, Tom and Charlie Van Loo?
AS: As for Charlie, he is not a metal guitarist, he’s more of a 70’s rock guitarist in the vein of Ritchie Blackmore. Those two styles compliment each other really good. They harmonize the solos together and they fit perfectly together.
TH: What is it like working with engineer Henrik Jacobson a another pair of ears for Odyssey?
AS: He always comes up with all of this great input when we don’t know what the hell we are doing. Henrik always points us in the right direction. We recorded everything live and after that we recorded a couple of solos. This time I did the vocals at my house, where unlike on the last albums, I always recorded the vocals in the studio. I had more time work on them for Odyssey, and that enabled me to concentrate on harmonies and things like that. This was much more of a calm process instead of rushing in and out of the studio.
Copyright & Publishing: 2015 Tommy Hash for Ytsejam.com