INTERVIEW SONIC SYNDICATE
Interview with founding member and guitarist
Sonic Syndicate was formed in 2005 by guitarist and founding member Robin Sjunnesson, who at the time was just sixteen years old. Later that year the band released their debut album on a small independent US label, to be followed by their sophomore release “Only Inhuman” via Nuclear Blast Records in 2007. The band started to gain worldwide recognition and toured relentlessly, hitting the road with Nightwish, In Flames and Soilwork amongst others. This resulted in them scooping Best Newcomer at both the Swedish Metal Awards and Bandit Rock Awards2008 in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2009 the band ran into a little turbulence and swiftly introduced they had a new singer by the name of Nathan J Biggs. Without delay the band jumped into the studio and recorded a new single “Burn this city” which was released a few months later. The band continued their winning streak, grabbing them Best Music Video and Best Swedish Group awards in 2010 (SWE). Their next album “We Rule the Night” (2011) was accompanied by an elaborate worldwide marketing campaign which resulted in first single “Revolution, Baby!” and also the album selling Gold in Sweden. During this time Robin and Nathan formed an inseparable bond and shared the same vision of where they wanted to be in music. Although having enjoyed the journey so far they knew unless they fought to express themselves, Sonic Syndicate would always remain in the shadow of the aforementioned bands. This action lead to an extended break and ultimately a complete line-up change except for Nathan and Robin, who went on to record their self titled album “Sonic Syndicate” (2014) their last nod to heavy metal and final release under Nuclear Blast Records. Touring bass player Michel Barzien was initiated as a full-member and the trio set their minds to creating a new sound and vowed to write only from the heart. The band signed a deal with Despotz Records and went directly in the studio to begin writing and demoing tracks. In late June, 2016 the band entered Purple Skull Music to record their new album “CONFESSIONS” with producer Kritoffer Folin, the new album is set to be the bands most diverse and unique work to date.
Sonic Syndicate are:
Nathan J. Biggs
Hi guys, no time no see. After five albums, you are finally and officially back on track and under a new label, Despotz Records after a while under the colors of Nuclear Blast. How have you been lately ? How did you experienced this 'divorce' ? Are you actually relieved to be able to go back to your real selves just like fake 'rookies' ?
At first it felt pretty naked to not be under the same label as we’ve been for all the years. In the beginning of our time with Nuclear, we had a great vision of everything revolving the band but that quickly changed as soon as our A&R Agent quit the music business. It didn’t feel the same as before and I guess that now in retrospect – it feels great that we left since Despotz Records signed us for the true belief in the band. They knew we wanted to break out of wherever we were and write something completely different. They believed in us, and both the band and Despotz are super happy for teaming up for the “CONFESSIONS” album.
Sonic Syndicate is a lot about family and friendship if we consider the former and current members. Do you think it might explain why your fans are so loyal and the band so close to its followers ? Like a kind of big family.
I think it does. The fans that’s been coming out for the past couple of shows we’ve done now, since the “new start”, are fans that’s been coming out since the beginning. They all say one thing now though “You all look much more happier on stage” and that’s very true. The chemistry in the band as never been better then it is now. We are honest and open with each other and everybody wants to go the same way. That’s like the main key to keep a band going.
Let's talk about your passage in Japan. The band as it used to be has always been pretty famous in Japan. How did the Japanese metal fans welcome you as the new SOSY ? Were they receptive to the new things you had to offer ?
Japan was awesome, as always! We haven’t been there since the We Rule the Night tour and that’s a couple of years back. It felt great coming there again and playing the new stuff. They loved it! I guess the new album must have leaked over there since a lot of people already were singing along to the new songs. It’s great to see how the new material is being really well received.
Besides, you toured in the past with big names but you also enjoyed your own tours as well. Are you not nervous to be a 'guest' for AMARANTHE during the upcoming european tour, lest you be in the shadow of the melodic death metal band ?
We’re really looking forward to this tour. Not only is it with our friends in Amaranthe, we’re also hitting cities we’ve never been before like Lyon and coming back to Marseille and Paris which also has been yeeeeears since last time. Amaranthe is a very melodic band and I see this mix with us, them and the openers Smash Into Pieces being a great package. I think that we all have some fans in common since we all care about the melodies in first hand, so we’re really looking forward to that tour!
SOSY never ceased to evolve and change its members line-up as well. How do you find the necessary artistic harmony ? Have you ever faced dichotomy in your musical visions, do you always and eventually end up being on the same line ?
One thing that we’ve made sure from the start is that we never want to repeat ourselves. I mean sure, it works great for bands like AC/DC and IRON MAIDEN and stuff like that if you’re into it, but Sonic would be boring if the same stuff was released album after album. We see every new album as an experiment and a challenge, and we go all-in on it. This time it was more about to write whatever we felt, whatever were on our finger tips. This album was really written from the heart, so it’s not a shocker that everybody in the band really loves this new album and looking forward to release it.
Going back to your newest projects. In the latest posts on your social media, you allude to the singular and different style the new album displays. The refreshing 'Start a War' has just surprised us with its uncommon beat. Could you tell us more about the musical genres, styles it explores ? Considering the confessional tone of the track, can we expect more clear vocals ? Why did you decide to explore another musical universe on this new album ?
As I said before, every album is an experiment for us and we try our best to make it sound different from our previous releases. “Start a War” was a perfect first single for this album since it’s showing a lot of the different elements we’ve used on this album. I hate it when people wants to put bands in different genres, I think it’s kind of bad for the band since they have this pressure of feeling the need to back a new album up with the same style as they did on their last. To simplify it all, I would like to say that “CONFESSIONS” is a genuine Rock album with a modern twist. We got our heavy drums, we got the distorted guitars and open-air vocals mixed in with some interesting electronics. We wrote this from the heart, that’s why this album feels so real for us.
Between the band's eponym's album and 'Confessions', many things happened. When have you especially been inspired to compose your new music ? Before or after your split with Nuclear ? Have some tracks' inspiration come out of old material you've been hiding for so long ?
We always write music, whether we on tour, on a flight or just locked into our own studio. The interesting part this time was that we had almost a full album worth of material when Nuclear Blast decided to let us go. So after a time of thinking, we decided to scratch it all and start from the beginning. That was probably for the best because we wrote our most diverse and unique material up to date. We just wrote whatever we wanted, you know. So in the end I guess that being let go released a lot of pressure.
I think we kept like one or two riffs from the previous writing session, but most of it was written during the start of this year.
Many metal bands' members often allude to the difficulty for musicians to make ends meet and still live a decent life. For instance, Björgvin Sigurðsson – guitarist singer for SKÁLMÖLD – honestly revealed that all the band's members could not live from their art and have to get another job (other than musician). What about you guys ?
That can be true, but it could also mean that they’re not touring enough. Touring is where the money is for bands. The best way to support a band is by coming out to the shows and buy the merchandise. If a band doesn’t tour, there’s no income. No one makes money on the album-sells anymore, it’s a new time and a new era where platforms like Spotify and Deezer rule the music scene. We think those platforms are great since it’s reaching out to a broader audience and is so easy to get to. Since we’re decided that we want to do the band on full time again like before, we will be able to tour a lot. Before this, we’ve all been having jobs but still in the music/concert business.
A pre-tour word for your fans all around Europe ?
SONICSYNDICATE are back and this time for real. We’re going at this with full speed and on full time. Our plans are to tour the world as soon as new album “CONFESSIONS” is out worldwide and we can’t wait to see all our fans and friends again.
See you in Paris !
(c) October 2016 for VerdamMnis