– Hello, thank you so much for answering our questions. How is everything doing righ now into THE TOWER’s camp with the release of your debut album?
Thank you for asking us to do this interview! It is all good in our camp, we are expectantly watching our album leave its nest and take flight, evolving a life of its own, outside of our immediate control, and we are busy planning future gigs.
– First off, the band’s name has a quite mystic and mythological vibe. How did you come up with it and what does it mean personally to you?
The Tower is the place where we formed the band. It is the place where we are still forming the band, it’s a dynamical inner sanctum outside of space and time, a place that is continuously built and rebuilt.
– You have a pretty singular biography, fictional so to speak, but I personally think its fictional to certain extent. I don’t think it’s just coincidence and written randomly. In fact the details on it describe the emotion on your music: warm, melancholic… With a lot of different nuances and opposite «terms». Also the mix of the different events mentioned there give a certain feeling of psychodelia. Is it actually like that or am I just going mental?
You are quite right, yes. We used some poetic license to write the biography, but like all good poetry it is at the same time written very truthfully. The chronological details are skewed rather than falsified and the scenic backdrops are allegorically modified to dovetail with the events rather than simply invented.
– Your biography ends in the 70’s, states you reunited in 1983 but you remained on «The Tower» until 2012. I guess in certain way this reflects what you have absorbed musically and the things or decades that have influenced you. With that particular biography, did you want people to take their own interpretations and make them figure how would suits THE TOWER?
We wanted a biography that gave a good sense of who we are and where we come from. (Isn’t that what a biography is supposed to do?) To give an analogy: a painting can nail the characteristics, the traits and the personality of a person even when it is not painted realistically. In fact, a painting in, say, an impressionistic style or in the style of a caricature drawing might do it better than a photo! We chose the artistic style of the biography so that it fit with the lyrics and the music but, again, the goal was just to give an introductory depiction of the band.
– While reading it it’s like reading a short novel, with certain literary references. Are you inspired by literature?
Nah, not really.
– As I said earlier you are now releasing your debut album, «Hic Abundant Leones». Where does its title come from and why did you choose it?
We discovered it on an ancient map of the world. It means literally «here are lions in abundance» and was used by cartographers to designate an uncivilized, wild and hazardous territory. When applied to Northern Scandinavia it becomes rather weird, because there are no actual lions here, but this only furthers the poetry by making the lions mythical. For us the record is a bridge to such territories. It is the unknowns we want to explore and somehow, paradoxically, also the regions where we feel most at home.
– I haven’t had the chance of reading the lyrics on the album but, what do they deal with and where do you draw inspiration from to write them? I believe they are part of the whole you have created with «Hic Abundant Leones». Was this «whole» something you wanted to create? Is everything on this record equally imporant to you?
We just wanted to create, period. The cohesion, the sense that everything fit together, was just a side effect of good band chemistry and an ambitiously syncretic and inclusive attitude.
– And what about the cover artwork? I have always thought artwork and specially the cover artwork of an album is an important part of the record itself, and it’s also the first thing listeners see about that album. I personally think the cover for this release truly captures the vibe and even sound on your music, was this something you want to convey with it?
Yes, we wanted something that captured the vibe. We also opted to do the art “in house” and let August (the guitarist) come up with the paintings, so as to make the album a more self-contained emanation of the band. The layout and typography was done by BoD and also includes a photo by Ester Segarra.
– Listening to the opus, it sounds simply superb; you haven’t just taken really good the old sound to the present days, but you have also brought a lot of feeling to the production. Are you satisfied with the final outcome? Has it ended up as you expected?
Thank you for your kind words! We are very happy with the result. The production is largely due to Joona Hassinen of Studio Underjord/MILK studios, who we recorded and mixed with, and Jaime Gomez Arellano of Orgone Studio, who mastered it.
– In fact the whole album sounds really organic, even analogue and with a certain live flavour. How were the recording sessions and the production process like? I guess this sound was something you were aiming for.
We recorded guitar, bass and drums live, and added vocals and some guitars on top of that, so it sounds live because it largely is. We worked fast, with few retakes, partly because this is the sound we wanted but also because our studio time was limited. Joona was really easy to work with so the days in the studio felt rather effortless.
– All songs on the album are really enjoyale, dynamic, even the longest ones make time fly. Still the whole album feels really organic, everything flows really good. Is the songwriting process as spontaneous at it seems? How do you use to work on it?
One recent reviewer of the album said it had a “naive touch” and as far as songwriting goes he was probably right: we might be naively optimistic in how we approach our own creativity. We make it easy for ourselves and go with the flow of our ideas.
– Maybe the fact you seem to mix different influences helps getting such an enjoyable result, mixing Blues, different kinds of Rock or even Doom, building wtih them all a really unique sound. So, talking about such, what bands would you point as some of the most influential ones for THE TOWER’s sound?
All and none. We really do listen to all kinds of music, and there needn’t be any correlation between the extent to which another band inspires us and how similar we sound.
– This being said, even though you throw different nuances, you haven’t created a copy or hybrid, but rather something personal. «Hic Abundant Leones» shows you are doing your own thing; fresh still rooted upon a traditional/vintage basis. Was doing your own thing something you had clear since the beginning, when you formed the band? Or is it more like just letting things flow and come out naturally?
More of the latter. A number of people have termed us a retro band but that is not at all how we view ourselves, and we are delighted to hear that you have a sober and similar perspective. Let’s face it, rock music has been around so long now that it has become a tradition, like folk music or classical music. You don’t call someone listening to Bach or Brahms retro, do you? Rock has managed to transcend both geographical regions and specific decades — both space and time.
– It also caught my attention «contrast» is one of the words that could describe this album the best, thou maybe isn’t the most obvious. There’s light and there’s darkness; there’s a feeling of warmth but also of melancholy, and it’s really groovy yet hypnotic. I could define this record as «dreamy boogie» but, were these contrasts a conscious effort? How easy is to get a good equilibrium without sounding forced at all or without sounding chaotic?
“Dreamy boogie” has a nice ring to it! We were conscious about what we were creating but it was not an effort. The contrasts are there because we enjoy that kind of dramaturgy and automatically gravitate toward such expressions. Put us in a rehearsal room and have us jam and we will spontaneously start varying the beat and the intensity and so on. Playing is always a cathartic journey for us, erecting and demolishing towers, and we seem unable to do it any other way.
– Now, if you don’t mind I would like you to comment a few tracks on the album. «Lucy» (which for me is one of the highlights on the album) sounds almost shamannistic, really hypnotic, with a mantra-esque effect. A song you loose the notion of time and space to. Do you think music shall convey this kind of feelings rather than be just something to listen to?
We certainly hope for our own music to have such an effect, either as a dreamy hypnotic beat that slowly and cooly crawls out of a swamp, or as a boogieing bogeyman that says let’s go crazy.
– I have read you have been compared to THE DOORS (among others) several times, and I really didn’t notice that much this influence until I run into «Pine Tree Mary», which also has a quite DOORS-like structure. How much of an influence have been to you? Besides THE DOORS specifically, this song has a quite US feeling. I suppose music from America has been an influence for you musically but, what else from America does inspire you?
Everyone in the band loves The Doors and there aren’t many bands that have that shamanistic vibe peculiar to The Doors, so we are just flattered that people think we have stylistic similarities. We play rock music, and rock is largely American, so, yes, American music has been important to us. Don’t know what else, except “pop culture” in a broader sense.
– Talking abou such, you have already done a video for «Exile», which was curiously filmed in the USA. How was the experience like? And why did you pick this song? I think it’s one of the most easy listening and catchy on the opus.
We were actually not physically present on site when the video was filmed. We chose that particular song because it had a suitable length and, as you say, because it is quite catchy. A good single to lure people into our tower with.
– The closing track is an eleven plus epic entitled «The Tower», almost Doom-laden but also mixes all the elements used on the previous songs. It feels like a portrait of what THE TOWER is all about. Was this your idea? Was this why this song is entitled homonymously?
Yes, you got it right. It is also a song that has grown very organically; it was not immediately clear to us how much of the band that was in it, nor that it was
supposed to be the centerpiece of our first album. There’s a Swedish song from 1980 that contains the lines: “We have written a song of our own, that is contradictory and cross. We don’t even understand it ourselves, but it goes something like this.” Those lines capture quite well how we felt about the song The Tower as it evolved. By now it has crystallized somewhat, both in form and content, and we understand its meaning for us as a band much better.
– This album is coming out through Will Palmer’s Bad Omen, a relatively new label that seems to fit perfectly your style. Has it actually been a good home thus far?
It’s been great!
– All this about «Hic Abundant Leones» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Time-swinging multipronged rock.
– Sweden has always been a really prolific country when it comes to Rock and Metal music, and it seems this kind of music over there is even getting stronger nowadays. But Uppsala specifically has also given birth (and still does) to a lot of good bands into really different styles. Is there any reason why such a small and pecaful city has such a strong Rock tradition?
Probably not. Lots of small and peaceful cities harbor people that long for rock ‘n’ roll transcendence. Sometimes chance has it that there’s enough of them to reach a critical mass where things start actually happening.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans? I’ve seen you will be playing at Muskel Rock, a festival that is becoming more and more known with the years and, along with some classics, there are also playing a lot of newer bands always with a traditional sound. How would do you think a festival like this can be for a young band like THE TOWER in terms of exposure?
Great, obviously. Plus it’ll be fun to watch Will Palmer sling the bass in Angel Witch!
– That’s all from our side, thank you once more for taking your time. If you now want to add some final words; last lines are all yours.
Thanks for having us! Remember to take the good with the evil.