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Secret Society

The Swedish project Secret Society recently released a great EP with some pretty well-known singers from the metal world, like Ronnie Munroe (ex-Metal Church) and Paul Sabu. The originators behind this project themselves however choose stay out of the spotlights. They like the peace and anonymity to work on their songs and have no intention to change that. How the EP came about and who’s who on the songs is being answered extensively yet anonymous in this interview.

By: Wim R. | Archive under hardrock / aor

When did they idea to form Secret Society first came to mind? How did you approach others to get involved? How many musicians are involved with “Secret Society” anyway?
Well the whole idea of Secret Society came up about two years ago. We wanted to do something outside the box, not just the ordinary band thing we all already did so many times before. So the idea of having different singers on the EP was something we wanted from day one when the working process took off. We had some connections to Ronny Munroe and started a conversation of the possibility to co-write and lay down vocals for a song. We tried out a couple of songs and Broken Crutch Ronny just killed it! It was actually the first song we co-wrote and recorded in the pre-production for ’The Induction’. That song set the bar high as we wanted from the first beginning. That´s how it all begin working with the vocals for the tracks. Some of us already knew and worked with Paul Sabu many times before and he´s a top notch singer and songwriter, so that came naturally to invite him to join us. And we´re more than happy he did,he did outstanding work both on lead vocals on ’Mental Mayhem’ and ’Broken By Design’ as well on the backing vocals on all the tracks. Same thing with Joe Basketts from legendary AOR band SHY playing keyboards on ’Monsters’ and ’Broken By Design’ also there we worked with people around Joe´s circle and a friend of mine made the connection and weeks later the recording began. He did brilliant work. With Troy Norr it was different. We didn’t know much about him, but we had listen to THEM album and no need to say Troy has a killer voice and is also a really nice guy. Same as with all other singers we had one song we thought could fit Troy and started work with the recording and out of that ’Waysted’ came. Rick Altzi lives pretty much around the corner from us and Andy Laroque and his Sonic Train Studios here in Sweden where we have our base and we knew him from before. Rick has an amazing voice and talent and he took ’Monsters’ to the next level we wanted. To give you an insight of what and who´s behind Secret Society the band consists of three piece of ’telum ignotum’. A drummer and two guitarists.

Is Secret Society the main priority for those involved or are there other bands as well?
The thing is when we work with The Society we give it 100% priority. But there are some other bands and projects going on besides Secret Society, but we´re very focused when we enter that world. It´s not just a one off project, Secret Society is a band.

What is the reason that only the names of the vocalists are known and not those of the musicians involved? Legal matters? The need to keep a low profile? Or other reasons?
When we had our first "Induction" we wanted to work in silence and give the writing and recording full focus, and so we did for a year and a half. During that time it became more and more clear how we wanted to do this and also how the name of the band Secret Society was born. It´s a society with an inner circle of people.

In your bio it is stated you took a year and a half to write the five songs for ‘The Induction’. Was this your main project in this timeframe, or was it something you did in-between other activities? Were there more songs written in this timeframe? How did you select them?
Both. It was the main project all the way but as a musician there are always some other things going on. But most of the time, yes it was the main project and we totally stayed in that characters. Still do.

How would you describe the music Secret Society stands for?
Quality. That´s what it stands for. Also to have the freedom to write the album we always wanted to do with other great singers and writers. I mean having a theme and sound that goes through all the songs but with different input from different singers/co-writers. I read a review of ‘The Induction’ recently saying "Broken Crutch" Ronny Munroe is in the quality of Judas Priest ‘PainKiller’ to catchy choruses in ‘Monsters’. That gives the picture of what we are pretty good I would say.

What is the motivation to release a EP instead of a full album? Lack of quality material? To give the public a first taste?
Yes and there´s absolutely more to come. We worked with around twelve songs during the writing and demoing, but we wanted to keep it short and consistent, rather than rush just to get an full album out as soon as we could. We love the idea of really get into every single song and try out different things before we´re done with it. Can be anything from arrangement, guitar work or drums and vocals. That´s important for us to not leave anything out and every time it has to be the best music we ever done.

When writing the songs did you already know which type of vocalist would suit which song? Did you write the songs with this in mind? Or did you match the vocalist after a song was finished? Was it your choice or did the vocalists have any form of influence on your choices of who is singing which song?
Already during the writing and demoing of a song, you have a picture of how you want it to sound. Some things just comes naturally. ’Broken Crutch’ for example we had a clear picture how we wanted it to sound like and Ronny just killed it! So for each song you just have go with the feeling how you want it to sound and after that we have a look at the possibilities regarding who could handle the vocals and the writing. For ‘Broken By Design’ it was more unclear since we didn’t really know which way and path the song would go. Paul Sabu did outstanding work both on the performance and his writing. The lyrics are awesome. I would say it´s a pretty rare song you don´t hear much of these days. Not many can pull that off with credibility like Paul does. So yeah, it depends of the songs, some are more clear what we want from beginning and with ‘Broken By Design we just gave Paul free hands, and it came out great.

Can you tell something about the moment the vocalists were approached/involved? Did you know them beforehand? Were they recommended to you?
Some of them we already knew and worked with before in different projects and recordings and some we had some connections to that we found interesting to work with, So it was a process of intensive and hard work to get everything right by trying out songs with singers and at the same time keep it as much as we could get five songs together as a concept for a release.’

One of the vocalists, Paul Sabu, is more known for the more melodic, even AOR, side of the rock spectrum. Why did you approach him? Did it take any persuasion to get him involved?
Paul has been a good friend for more than ten years now and we worked a lot together in different projects and recordings. He´s such a professional and easy guy to work with and always delivers the highest top quality. I mean, he´s really one of those who can surprise you with his outstanding performance and writing. He´s also a very versatile both in writing and how to use his voice. ’Broken By Design’ and ’Mental Mayhem’ are great examples how different they are vocal wise but at the same time they work perfectly together. He also did the backing vocals for all five tracks that blew us all away and that kind of created a sound that glued all the songs together. Just an amazing guy.

Was the collaboration with the vocalists a long distance one, or did they actually work in the studio with you?
It was all distance work. It´s the only way it could work and the easiest way. We gave all singers total freedom to do their thing and that worked out great. That´s the exciting thing about working like we do during the writing of the EP.

Did you connect the singer with the song yourself or did you record the songs with various vocalists and picked the one that suited best?
No we didn’t try out one song with different singers it´s not really how we wanna work. But some of them had more than one song of material to work on and with at least one of the singers we recorded two songs but only one of them ended up on ‘The Induction’.

Were there any vocalists you had on your wish list that were not available or interested?
There´s so many great singers out there you wanna work with. As we wrote up to twelve songs we had discussions with different singers we found interesting to work and co-write with, but sometimes it can be difficult with the timings etc. For ’The Induction’ we got the best guys working with us, a really great mix of voices.

How and when did Andy LaRoque got involved? What was his influence on the material and overall sound? Or did you have set ideas how the EP should be sounding, the running order? Were the songs already set in stone, or were there any alterations or changes made during the recording process?
Andy is a good friend and his track record says it all. His work with King Diamond is amazing and so is his work as a producer and mixing engineer. We pretty much had a sound we liked during the preproduction and Andy was the guy who could take it to the next level we wanted and of course he set his sound on it as well and he has a great ear for details. His Sonic Train Studios is no stranger to us either, since some of us already worked in the studio before and Andy is the greatest guy to work with and we think music in the same way so it was a go. He did amazing work, really we had a great flow in the studio and he also connected us with Dragan Tanaskovic (In Flames, Hardcore Superstar, Dark Tranquillity) for mastering the EP in Gothenburg.

What is the main goal for Secret Society? Will you be performing live or is this a strict studio project?
For now, we wanna give focus on the writing and release the greatest music out there. That is what it is all about right now and the main goal is to continue with that. But what can we say about the future about live performances? That is hard to say at the moment, but we´re all open for ideas if the right offers drops in.

Now that ‘The Induction’ is out, what are the following steps for the band/project? A full album? Will you be using the same formula as you did with ‘The Induction’?
Since it has been a digital release only so far, we are working on a release on CD as well. We´ve seen it´s been requested by our Society fans out there. We hope to have it out in July. As for release of new music we will follow our path we choose which means continue working as we did with ’The Induction’. In what format EP or full album it´s too early to say now but we can’t wait to begin the process of following up of ‘The Induction’.

Are there subjects you want to inform us about that were not covered by the above questions?
Keep checking in on our Facebook page for the latest news and the release of ‘The Induction’ physical release in July in the form of CD.

This wraps it up for now. Thanks for your time! Do you have a message for our readers or you wanna have a final shout? The space below is yours….
We would like to take the chance to thank everyone involved and for all the killer reviews and airplay on radio we got for the EP and a big shout out to all who give us the support of listening to ‘The Induction’!! Give also Ollie, who made the artwork for ‘The Induction’ a minute and check out his art. And thank YOU Lords Of Metal for taking your time talk to us!!

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