Soen released their brand new studio album “Lykaia”, their best album so far, earlier this year. Founding member & drummer Martin Lopez had a chat with Grande Rock about the band’s music, the new album and the new guitarist among other interesting things… read below for more…
Soen band pic
Hi Martin, it’s always fine talking to you dude. Your new album, “Lykaia”, is really magnificent! If I may say so, I think it’s your best work to date. Congrats!
M: Thank you and it’s a pleasure to be back.
First things first… do tell us, why did Kim leave the band and how did you decide that Marcus Jidell (The Doomsday Kingdom, Avatarium, ex-Royal Hunt) should be your new guitarist?
M: Kim left because he had other priorities than music at the time. Being part of a band takes a lot of time and he just couldn’t do it anymore. We tried out a few guitar players without finding the right person for the job until Moonspell invited us to dinner while they were recording in Stockholm and we met Marcus. We got along well and enjoyed talking to each other, we agreed on most of the aspects of life and music that we value, so we decided to ask him to tour with us and from there on it was just a natural step for him to join us as a full time member of Soen.
Marcus is a really busy guitarist. Are you afraid that his other music commitments will cause any kind of issues to Soen at some point or you have talked about these things?
M: We have talked about these things and so far it hasn’t been a problem. We don’t tour that much and we book our tours with the knowledge that everyone is both available and willing to do it. We’re not the kind of people who try to force our band on the musicians, we’re OK with moving around the schedule to make it fit everyone’s needs. We all have families and the priority of Soen is to keep passionate about things and that means that sometimes we have to prioritize life before music.
Back to “Lykaia”. What does the album title declare? Is there any hidden meaning behind it?
M: Not really.
Which are the music differences & similarities between “Lykaia” and your two previous albums?
M: The similarities are that we keep aiming at making emotional music that is complex enough to challenge the listener without taking over. The main differences are the way we recorded the album and that the lyrics are more straightforward in order to get across our message.
The new music elements on your new album are more than obvious, especially for someone who has been keeping pace with the band since your debut. Did you talk it over with the other members and then came down with it? How much did the new guitarist play a role on that?
M: Not really, everything we do is a natural step forward and we don’t really plan the outcome of our music. Lars Åhlund and Marcus Jidell have more of an organic vibe in their playing and that can be heard both on the production and the instruments that they recorded. Marcus produced the album, so he played a huge role regarding the sound of “Lykaia”.
Last time we talked you told me that your music tends to be a little more straightforward and based on raw emotion. I think that’s more obvious on “Lykaia”… what do you think? Are you getting closer to Soen’s personal sound, the one you had in mind in a way?
M: I don’t know. I felt that this was the way to go with “Lykaia”, but it is hard to say how the next album will turn out. There is no planning involved, we do what we want to do on that very moment. This album turned out a little more straightforward but the next one might be a little more technical... or not... we’ll see. The important thing is to be happy with the music we deliver and we are.
Since you are not much of a fan of the track by track analysis, do give us a hint about the lyric themes of the album in general. Which are the things that inspired you this time?
M: The lyrics are very personal and touch topics that Joel and I have gone through in our lives; there’s also a few ones about our view on today’s society.
This time your guitarist Marcus did the production and Stefan Boman the mixing. What has changed in your sound and what things did you do differently during the recordings?
M: The sound on this album is a lot more organic, we tried to avoid computers as much as possible and focused on recording every musician as he sounds without any “make-up”. Marcus had an idea of how the album should sound and how to capture the essence of Soen and we went for it.
Joel stated that wherever you could, the music was analog. Do you think that more and more bands are going for an analog sound these days and why’s that? Why isn’t the “digital thing” so popular nowadays?
M: I think we reached the end of the road. Music sounds cold and too “perfect”, which doesn’t really help a band like us that focus on emotion and need a “human touch” on our sound.
You have booked a European Spring Tour with Madder Mortem. Other than that, have you talked about any Festivals or playing outside Europe?
M: We are currently looking into it.
A video for “Lucidity” is already out. Do you plan to release any other concept or lyric video at some point?
M: Yes, we have plans of releasing another video and hopefully a live DVD.
Have you attained all those things that you had in mind since Soen’s beginning so far? What do you wish to achieve with Soen in long term?
M: The only goal we have is to keep writing and releasing the best music we can, everything on top of that is a bonus. We didn’t set any goals but that, to be able to release the best music we can.
By the way, what’s your opinion about Opeth’s latest album “Sorceress”? Do you think that this retro 70s prog rock/folk thing fits the band quite well?
M: Yes…
Soen band pic
It’s time for our “weird questions”!!! If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
M: The click track.
Do you think that funding platforms like Kicksatrter, Indiegogo etc. can give any kind of solution to the “legal downloading” matter? Can bands/artists only be supported by their fans in order to make music?
M: Yes, I think we’re leaning towards that happening in the close future and it is a very positive thing.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
M: Pink Floyd – “The Wall”, because it’s the best album ever.
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
M: Pink Floyd, “The Wall” era.
Which are the best 3 Prog Rock albums according to you?
M: Pink floyd – “The Wall”, Camel – “Moonmadness” and Carmen – “Fandangos in Space”.
Fill in the phrase… “Prog Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
M: ...all the people who supported the music.
What do you think of the “paid streaming services (TV, music etc.)” of our time? Will that help music generally or not?
M: They may help music to reach everywhere but they make it impossible for struggling musicians to make a living out of music.
Top 3 comedy movies of any era?
M: “Black Cat, White Cat”, “As Good as it Gets”, and then The Office UK even if it isn’t a movie.
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
M: Alice Cooper!
Which do you consider to be the best female & male vocalist in rock history?
M: Dio and Ann Wilson…
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
M: To the past... to try to make things right before the world turns into what it is today.
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms?
M: Tyrionn Lannister, he seems to be a balanced guy.
That’s all for now Martin. Thank you so much for the music and for talking to Grande Rock. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care!
M: Thanks for the interview.