– Hi Johan and thanks for answering to our questions. First off, how’s been the feedback for «Illwill»so far?
The feedback has so far been mostly very positive. People that we know, and who has good taste and some kind of history in metal, of course thinks it´s the best outing so far. Most reviews are also positive, although you get the occasional bad one. This is the “problem” with having a history. People tend to always, and maybe naturally, compare to the previous albums. But not only that, they – probably subconciousley – also compare it to the feelings, to their lifes, at the time they first heard it. But hey, let´s be honest, I myself act and think in the same way, ie “Infernal Overkill” or “Pleasure to Kill” is the best those bands will ever accomplish. In my universe that is… But the really important feedback is still to come though, when our listeners get to hear it.
– I would like to get into your new album with its title. What does «Illwill» mean to you? And how do you think it fits your music?
It summons up the feelings, and the attitude, we had when writing and doing the album; pissed off, bitter and angry. It fits the music in that it´s a bit more mean and aggressive.
– I think this is your heaviest album (or with more obvious Doom elements) so far. Has this been something intended?
Doom elements? I would rather say the influences mainly came from old thrash metal, some black metal and a dose of UK ´82 punk. Mix this with some Sisters and the usual LoT sound and voila – you have a nice blend of the best parts of the world of music! When we first started the intention was to, with the risk of sounding pretentious, be true to ourselves and to what we wanted to do. We had to try to forget what we had done before, to step out of the ususal frameworks, and just…do it.
– I also think «Illwill» is a perfect mix between details from all your albums and between the elements that create your own style but, what are your thoughts on that?
As I said, we did want to create something that reflected how we felt and what we enjoy listening to, something which differs in some ways from our history. But really, no matter what we try to do it always seems to sound like LoT, for better or worse. We do however first of all make songs, not albums, and this may also play a part in creating our sound or style, in that these can vary depending on the mood and the influences at the time of writing that perticular song. But sure, there´s the heavier songs, the slow “balladesque” one, the more gothic oriented one, so you have a point in that it does reflect most elements.
– In this album you have added some new elements as some psychodelia or 70’s Rock influences. Did you want to try something new?
Don´t you think there was more of psychadelia and ´70s on albums like “Crimson Cosmos” especially, or “Forever Autumn”? These were the dazed and confused times… The thing we wanted, or rather needed, to do was to play faster!
– An example of this could be «House of the Setting Sun». Is it some kind of tribute to THE ANIMALS’ «House of the Rising Sun»? How did you come up with that song?
I don´t believe it´s musically inspired by The Animals song, it´s a comment, or reflection, on that title which sums up the emotional content of our song. And it sounds so beautifully pesimistic – in an “over obvious” way which gives some kind of distance, which in turn make you smile… That song has been with us for quite some time, and I must say it turned out to be one of the highlights on the album.
– Beside this, it seems some details that were more hidden in previous works are now more obvious, something that makes the album quite varied. Is this the real LAKE OF TEARS’ sound or are your constantly evolving?
You have to ask me this question after the next album… This constant change in our sound has not been a thought out plan, or anything like that. It simply reflects where we are and what we want to express at that given moment. We never felt part of any particular genre, something which gives us a kind of creative freedom (but something which might also have the effect of people missing out on us altogether, as many go by genre). If anything, as I said before, we felt a bit trapped in our own “Lake of Tears genre”, something we just had to, in some way, break free from. We couldn´t have made another “Black Brick Road” or “Moons and Mushrooms”. Not now anyway…
– I could say since «Moons and Mushrooms» you have a more mature sound, it seems like, somehow, you started then a new evolution you’re still living. What does that album mean to you?
I would say this happened even on “Black Brick Road”. Some of the explanation probably lies in that we, for those and “Illwill”, recorded at a proper professional studio. But also you learn as you go along, about songwriting, arrangements and production. The feelings towards “Moons and Mushrooms” are kind of mixed…we would have needed more time to make the songs more “complete”, with a bit more finess and originality. In some ways it feels more like a pre-production than a complete and final one, although it has some very fine moments. Our aim, which did not realize, was to make it a lot heavier and guitar based. In the end it came out more or less like a sort of “Black Brick Road part 2”. We play very few, if any, songs from that album on stage. That is maybe because we had, as I mentioned, to little time for the songs and that makes them not translate very well to a live situation.
– In fact, both albums have a few things in common, as the heavy sound or the keyboards with less presence. But, what can we find new on «Illwill»?
A faster pace, overall. More attitude. Honesty. Like only one song with keyboards! A band that really tries to give you their very best.
– A difference respect that album are the goth elements, as now remind me to the 80’s Goth Rock. Have you been listening to new music?
We´ve, over the last five years or so, more or less gone back to our musical roots. This means harder, heavier stuff. Except for a few years in the early nineties we´ve never been into the gothic metal scene at all. We actually know nothing about it! But for every album since “Crimson Cosmos” we´ve tried to make a Sisters of Mercy song… On this one I think we got pretty close with “Behind the Green Door” (I can also detect some old The Cult in it). Our previous attempts at making an ´80s goth rock song includes “Four Strings of Mourning”, “Come Night I Reign”, “Making Evenings” and “Island Earth”…
– I think this little detail makes your atmosphere more melancholic and emotional. How do you work on it and in the composition process in general?
Well, that melancholic, bitter-sweet, feeling is what we always try to achive. It´s hard to explain, it´s about a certain combination of tones that gives rise to this feeling. It can be found in electronic music, punk, metal, pop…whatever. And it is this feeling we´re after, no matter how it is expressed. This is probably the key to why we sound like we do: the generic expression is of no interest, it&a
cute;s all about the feeling. It is so sad that many people, not at least in the metal world, pay so much attention to the expression, to the style, that they miss the important part, the feeling. And doesn´t generic music often, but not always though, tend to become really boring really fast? You hear the first three songs on an album and know exactly how the rest will sound, and feel. It´s not everyday you come across something like “Reign in Blood” or “Battles in the North” who can pull it off.
– This is your first album with Fredrik. What happened with Magnus and what has Fredrik brought to the band?
Magnus had many other things to focus on, so we needed to find someone else. Fredrik has brought some new energy to the band and, apart from some nice solos, a fuel injection in the stage performances.
– And now, going a bit to your past; what happened from 2000 to 2003? What prompted you to split up and what made you come back?
We simply got fed up with our label at the time, not giving us the support or feedback we needed. We felt we had put so much time and energy into the band, and someone else just used this for their own profit. Actually, for a long time we lived with the impression that the “Forever Autumn” album was a huge flop…later we learned that this was our most succesfull album. Also I moved to Stockholm in 2000 and that made it hard to continue under the present conditions. We actually never officially split up, we just said to each other; let´s see what happens. Then in 2003 we finally got out of the old contract and were contacted by Noise, who convinced us to make another album, which resulted in “Black Brick Road”, and the will and energy was stronger than ever.
– Did this give you strenght to come back with new energy or the contrary?
During the pause I believe we all felt that something important, a big piece, of our lives were missing. If you´ve been doing something for a very long time, something you like on a fundamental level, it becomes a part of your identity, a part of who you are. So, it definetily gave us a sort of renewed energy, with – for once – a hope for something good to come out of the effort. We are metal heads to the very core, since childhood, and this might never change. Pathetic? Maybe, but who gives a fuck.
– I believe «The Neonai» has been your bleakest album, did the your split have something to do with this? I mean, did affect your mood to this piece?
It might be the bleakest, but I still find it enjoyable in some songs. The reason for the “bleakness” is probably that it was made first and foremost to fullfill our contract, and to be able to get out of it. Kind of a “forced labour” so to speak.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans? What can we expect from LAKE OF TEARS from now on?
We´ll try our best to deliver yet another fine piece of music. How it will sound I don´t dare to prophecise about though. We will now do some shows and a tour.
– That’s all, Johan, thanks once more for your time. If you want to add any last thoughts, is your time.
Thanks for the interest shown. That you appreciate “Illwill” gives some hope for humanity. Thanks Tania! We would really like to come to Spain sometime to show you what it´s all about! Bring some cold to your warm county… And always remember: Only Death is Real.