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Pain Of Salvation

If you say Pain Of Salvation, then you say Daniël Gildenlöw. In twenty-five years this true prog metal genius has singlehandedly built his band into a much respected and much appreciated force in the scene. Still, Daniël could not have achieved this without the support of musicians who are not only capable of performing his ideas, but who are also able to perfect or ameliorate them. Longest serving right hand man is keyboard player Fredrik Hermansson, who has been performing this function since 1996. The soft spoken, careful manner in which he answers the questions makes you think that he's not very used to this promotional role, but as the conversation moves on he starts to formulate easier and gives more than enough information about the, even for PoS standards, unusual new 'Road Salt' project.

By: Richard G. | Archive under prog / sympho metal

First off of course congratulations on the completion and release of your new album 'Road Salt One'! It must have been a very special moment when you got your hands on the final product, since halfway through the process SPV, owners of your label Inside Out, went bankrupt!
Yeah, well a few weeks back when we had the final product in our hands, it had never felt so good. Even though there is never a good time for these things, SPV's bankruptcy really came at the worst time. It really screwed up our plans for 2009. Spring last year we had heard some rumours about it. We were planning for the Prognation Tour alongside Dream Theater, it took a lot of work to get that on the road. But in the middle of that process we heard that the whole thing might fall through and that we'd better wait for a bit. In the end after quite some waiting, we got the message 'sorry boys, you are not going on tour. SPV has filed for bankruptcy'. That was a major disappointment, because it also screwed up some tours that we had planned later that year, plus we had planned the recordings for 'Road Salt' around those tours. Safe to say that everything just fell apart, really.

How did the bankruptcy affect the recordings precisely? Did you simply have to postpone until there would be a new source of money?
Yes, it was postponed, partly because we were a bit frustrated. For a couple of weeks we weren't really motivated to keep going. We did not know what would happen to Inside Out. But once they were picked up by Century Media and everything was settled, we found some new energy and we could record again. When we finished that, we found ourselves in a very good position to get ready for 2010. We had shot two videos, the EP was being released, we managed to go on a world tour in December. So in the end 2009 turned out to be a very nice year, but for the first eleven months.

So with Century Media on board now, what has exactly changed for Pain Of Salvation?
It's hard to pinpoint certain events or details, but in general it just feels secure. We have had great backing by Inside Out from the start, when we joined them in 1998. So we knew we could always count on Inside Out and the people working there. Once they assured us about Century Media's plans and how they were welcomed by Century Media, we knew everything was ok.

I actually noticed that the album leaked just a couple of days prior to the release, does that piss you off or not?
You would think that you would get used to it, but I can't deny that it's still annoying when it happens. For me it's more of an issue having to do with respect. There's nothing you can do about it. This time it was really close to the actual release date, there have also been examples where the album was leaked almost half a year prior to release. It makes you wonder 'aren't we popular enough for an early leakage?'

PoS is of course known for albums having an overall theme, could you tell a little bit about the concept of this album?
I would say that it deals with decisions in life and the effects that they have. It is about the different roads that you choose to take and that you actually also have to take. There is no escaping from it. You can look at decisions made way back in the past and analyze the consequences. And at the same time you can be aware of the decisions that you still need to make.

What I like about the new album is that it again sees a totally different PoS sound. Where does the 70s inclination come from
It's hard to tell, but it is something that developed along the way. We wanted to achieve the feeling of a band playing together, which we actually did during the recordings, since we recorded in our rehearsing rooms. It was our intention from the start to record as much as possible simply all members playing together at the same time on one tape. I don't know how the 70s vibe influenced us, but the image of that sound was a natural appeal for all of us at that moment in the context of the 'Road Salt' album.

I was born in the 80s and only started seriously listening to and appreciating real music in the second half of the 90s. Safe to say that I may have less of a thing for the 70s. Do you think it will be more difficult for younger/modern fans of music to appreciate the new album?
I don't know, good question! Everyone in the band except for Leo the drummer was born in the 70s. I don't think we have much memories of it, but it must have influenced us somehow. It shouldn't be a problem at least. I mean, I enjoy music from the 18th century, even though there are no recordings from that time.

From the perspective of you, the keyboard player, what was musically or soundwise the biggest challenge on this album?
One moment that really stuck with me from day one, was the middle part of the song 'Linoleum'. I instantly fell in love with the part where it gets a little bit softer, and I think I play very wel there. I managed to get some goo notes out of my Fender Rhodes piano there.

The title of the album obviously implies that there will be a second instalment as well. Why did you choose to do two separate albums instead of a double album?
We talked about doing a double album from the start, but as work progressed we felt we did not have enough material yet to release a double album. So the best way for us was to split it into half and release it as two separate albums, but to release them within the same year. If we had chosen to d a double album, it would not have been released now and postponed even more.

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And how far or long are the preparations for 'Road Salt Two'? What is it going to sound like?
There is still a few more songs to record, which we will do in early June, if everything goes as planned. Since some of the songs were recorded in the same sessions as 'Road Salt One', they will have more or less the same vibe. The new album will we just as varied as its predecessor, that's for sure. But since there's still some recording ahead of us, I'm not completely sure yet how it will turn out.

Something that struck me is that, especially with the last couple of albums, it seems that PoS can get away with any style or experiment: everybody always seems to love it. What is the secret?!?
Just rely on your gut feelings. If the song is good and if you like playing it, just go with it. I remember an episode when 'Scarsick' was released, we had presented the song 'Disco Queen' to our record company. And even though they never tell us what to do, which is really good, they expressed some concerns regarding that song. But once we started touring, this song turned out to be the one that people were shouting fr: it worked great live! This convinced us even more that if we have a crazy idea, we should just go for it.

How does it feel to have the freedom to incorporate each and every influence or sound that you desire?
Hmm, I can imagine that if you have a standard formula that you write music from can be more secure. But at the same time it works both ways, we know that we have the freedom to try different ideas and we are not scared of that freedom. On the other hand, when every album sounds different, there's the pressure of having to come up with something different with each next album. But I think that right now for us, it gives a feeling of freedom rather than it being a burden

I also saw that 'Road Salt One' is going to be released in two versions, what will be featured on the limited edition?
There is going to be one extra song, the first song will be extra actually. And there will be some extended versions of songs, the packaging will be different, it will be a digipack which will include some liner notes. Those extended versions were actually shortened, because we participated in the Melodifestivallen, which is a show that selects the Swedish entry for the Eurovision song festival. Because that festival has a time limit, we had to shorten the songs that we wanted to send in, but we actually felt that the songs worked great in their shorter versions, so we decided to keep both versions. Obviously we cannot put them on the same album, so we just figured that a limited edition would be the best idea.

We already talked a little bit about him, but the album sees of course the recording debut of drummer Leo Margarit, how did you find him and how is his assimilation process going?
He actually found us. We put an advertisement on our homepage, which said that we were looking for a new drummer and if you don't live in Sweden, then don't even bother to reply. I mean, this was part of the reason why we had to let our previous bassist Kristoffer (Gildenlöw, RG) go, since he went to live in Holland. I think we met Leo when we were playing a festival in France, he was in another band, we got talking and he was very nice, Then he sent us some links of him playing, which looked quite good. Having auditioned all the Swedish drummers without success, we decided that he could try out, since he seemed the best drummer of them all, to start with. During all this, we constantly said to him that he is going to have to leave southern France to come to Sweden, so be very careful with your decision! But in the end he still thought it was worth it and he moved up here.

Last time I checked, Per Schelander was your live bassist. Is he still in the band?
No, he is not an official member, but he still helps us out live. He simply can't give himself 100% for Pain Of Salvation. He lives in another town, no very far away, but he also has a day job and a family to take care of. I think he feels it wouldn't be honest to give us the illusion that he is able to fully commit to PoS. So at the moment we are just taking it day by day and until now it's working out great. We're happy with this situation and not actively looking for a new permanent bassist. Bass duties on 'Road Salt One' were handled by Daniël, but on 'Road Salt Two' some tracks are recorded by Gustaf Hielm (ex-Meshuggah) and Jonas Reingold (Flower Kings, Karmakanic).

You already mentioned the Melodifestivallen, I wonder why you decided to participate?
The main organizer accidentally heard a song by us, he found it interesting and he thought that this is what the competition needs. Something honest. So we were asked to send in three songs. The songs we sent in had actually all already been written for 'road Salt', not for the competition. Then surprisingly enough we hear that one of our songs had made the cut, which was 'Road Salt', the title track of our new record. The last few years this festival has turned into a great chance for some exposure for artists. The media coverage that PoS had received before we participated was virtually none, so we had everything to gain from it. We even got so famous, that the media were making things up about us, trying to create some scandal. It was so absurd! One reported wrote that we had said something nasty about one of our competitors, which he had totally made up. In a way it is flattering that he thinks we are big enough to lie about!

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