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Interview - Roger Sjunnesson (The Unguided)

Interview with Roger Sjunnesson from The Unguided
by Samantha Ham at 01 May 2014, 7:02 PM

Though rather unknown, the Swedish five piece band of THE UNGUIDED have been able to touch the hearts of many Metalheads out there with their diverse type of Melodic Groove Metal, partly on the extreme but also connected to the modern Metal rage. Following their new album “Fragile Immortality”, via Napalm Records, Sam Ham had a chance to talk Roger Sjunnesson, Guitars / Keyboards, regarding the new release and more…

First off, I want to thank you, Roger, for sitting down and answering my questions, it means a lot to me. You guys are really amazing, and I was really excited to do the review of your latest album. I am not usually into melodic Death Metal. So, it was a nice surprise. How have you been doing?

Hey Samantha and Thanks a lot for your kind words.  I´m very happy to hear you enjoy our latest effort and I´m looking forward to do this interview with you!

Now, for a bit of history, your band began with what was left of Sonic Syndicate. Do you find it hard to break free of being known as Sonic Syndicate? Or do you find it’s kind of a monkey on your back for life?

Yeah that´s correct. Back in the days Richard (who also is my brother), Roland and I were members of Sonic Syndicate, but later decided to leave that band due individual reasons. However the three of us have always been good friends and a great songwriting team, so we decided to continue our musical adventure under the name “The Unguided”. We started the band as a small “hobby” project and our first plan were just to write, record and release some songs together, just the three of us. But today four years later we´re a full band, have archived more than 50 shows and recently release our second album on a big major label. If someone would have told me that, a couple years ago, I would probably punch him in the face and laugh my ass off ha ha.

As the answer to your question: Our names, faces and music will of course always be known from Sonic Syndicate, and we don´t have any problems with that at all. We´re proud of what we archived in Sonic, and for us The Unguided is just a continuation of all the things we enjoyed in that band.

Knowing more of what you experienced the first time with a band, was it easy to bring into start a new band as compared to just out right first starting out?

Of course it was a big challenge for us to form a new band all from scratch. You never know what the reaction would be, so in the beginning we took everything very smooth and easy. Our intention was never to be as successful as our previous band. The Unguided was more of a fun project there we could get together, have fun, write and perform the music that we love. But as soon the project got official people started to talk about that something huge was coming! We got loads of mails and response from people all over the world who told us how happy they were that Roland, Richard and Roger were back together again. People even tattooed our symbols on their bodies without even hearing what we sounded like. That´s pretty sick isn´t it? I guess that would never happen if it weren’t for our work in Sonic Syndicate. So of course we had some advantage of that when we started the Unguided

What is it like being in a band with your brother?

Being in the same band as your brother is great! It's like spending some extra time with one of your best friends, a friend that you know so well that you can anticipate his every move and read his every though. You can always be complete honest with your brother, for example if you think his ideas are deep shit you can always tell him that without being rude. Plus, there's built-in conflict mediation in the form of our parents and our sister. So far, the arrangement is working out pretty well for us. We plan to stay brothers for at least the next couple of years I believe.

 “Fragile Immortality” is your sophomore release, after three years. What can you tell about it?

On our first album ”Hell Frost” I think we were playing our cards very safe. Richard, Roland and I who stood behind the songwriting used exactly the same formula as we have used the past years writing together. Some of the songs that appear on Hell Frost are even old ideas that I came up for Sonic Syndicate. But they got scratched because they were either too heavy or sounding too much “old-school” according to some people. We also recorded Hell Frost in the same studio and with the same producer as we did in Sonic. Nothing wrong with that, if you are happy with something you should go with it. But it´s never wrong to try and discover something new. Anyway, we´re beyond happy with Hell Frost and I still think it´s an excellent debut album and introduction to The Unguided.

On “Fragile Immortality” we wanted to take the songwriting, production and everything to the next level, and now with the result in our hands. I´m quite sure we succeeded our mission! This time we spent a lot more time and love on the songs, and we worked hard to make every one of them unique from each other. We wanted every track to have its own character and feeling, and we kept working with them until we were all happy. The album is way more diverse than Hell Frost and includes some heavy songs, some fast songs, some mid-songs and some slower ones. I don’t think you could call the slow one a ballad, but as close as a ballad can come with distorted guitars, double bass drum, screaming vocals and some blast-beats he he. On this album we also got great inputs and ideas from our new members Henric Liljesand (bassist) and Richard Schill (drummer) who are killer song writers on their own. And besides recording their instrument they contributed with a lot of good stuff during the process.

Do you feel a strong connection to any of the tunes in comparison to others that you guys worked on before?

After every album recording you always has a few favorite songs that you feel a little bit stronger for, and “Fragile Immortality” was no exception. On this album I would probably pick “Defector DCXVI” and “Granted” as my all-time favorites. When we started to record the album I was very sceptic to these two tracks, since they didn´t really turned out as in the vision I had when I wrote the riffs. But as far as the studio work proceed and more bits like the vocals, solos, keyboards etc got added. I started to like the songs more and I felt that maybe there was some hope left for these tracks after all. Some weeks later we got the first mix of the album in our hand, and I was totally blown away by just these tracks since they had grown so much on me during the process. So my heart will probably always stay closest to them.

How do you find your brother’s vocals along with Roland Johansson’s clean displays? Do you believe that it was a winner on “Fragile Immortality”?

I love both the vocals of Rich and Roland and I think they complement each other perfectly. Together they have something really special and unique which makes strong impact on the listener. So their vocals are no doubt one of the winning formulas for “Fragile Immortality” and for The Unguided in general, that´s for sure!

Has anything changed regarding songwriting on this new release? Any untypical elements that you guys implemented that weren’t there in the past?

The majority of the Unguided songs (or let´s say all of them so far) are born in my apartment with me jamming in front of my computer late at night drinking Monster Energy. I record and program all my ideas in Cubase, and when I´m happy with the stuff, I upload it to the other guys and they can tell me if the ideas suck or not. Than we meet up in the rehearsal studio and jam and produce the song until everyone is happy with it. Than Richard write lyrics to it and he and Roland are sorting out the vocal arrangements. When all bits are in place we record a proper demo, and keep changing and adding stuff until we´re happy again. More is more you know! When we got enough material we book a studio and record it again more professional. The biggest change in the songwriting this time was that our new members (Henric and Rille) contributed with a lot of great inputs and song ideas as well along the way. Plus that we spend a lot more time in the studio to produce the songs more.

Which of the songs made the largest impression on you after all was said and done?

As I mention earlier “Defector DCXVI” and “Granted” were those songs that I felt in love with the most after the album was done. But besides them I´m also a big fan of “Inception”, “Eye of the Thylacine”, “Unguided Entity”, “Carnal Genesis”, “Blodbad” and “Oblivion”. Really looking forward to play those buddies live!

Back to general stuff. What’s the hardest thing about going on tour?

The hardest of being a musician are probably all the tours that’s comes with it. I don’t say I hate touring. Being on the road and perform your own music in front of hundreds of fans is really a dream coming true. You are also basically travel the world for free and get to see places that you otherwise probably never would be able to see. But being away from your kids and loved ones a couple of months in a row, is a quite high price you have to pay.

If you could have any do anything in the world, different than you do now, what would that be?

That´s a hard question, but it would be cool to do something really different. Working on NASA and research about aliens and ufos, and travel up to space once in a while would be cool!

What got you into making music?

I and friend started playing electric guitar together when we were 16, and one year later I and my brother joined a band as a guitarist and singer. The band consists of a few friends from school who all wanted to play rock´n´roll music and have fun together. In the beginning we were playing mostly covers like Green day, Iron Maiden, Helloween etc but we also tried out some own written material. We did some shows as well, but after almost a year we decided to bring our time as a band to an end. However I and my brother didn´t feel we wanted to quit playing music. So in the end of 2002 we recruited new members to a new band called “Fallen Angels” (who later became Sonic Syndicate). It was here me and Richard started to write songs together (me music and he did the lyrics). The first songs we did sucked quit big, but today we have written almost six albums together so I guess we´re doing something right he he.

What can we expect from The Unguided in the upcoming year?

As you might know we just released our second album “Fragile Immortality” so right now we are booking shows and festivals to push it. We recently started to work with a new booker and we´re right in the middle of the tour plans for 2014. That doesn’t mean we´re looking into a full tour and being away for a half year. That would never work for us since we all have families and full time jobs beside this. But we will do some weeks and weekends here and there, mostly in Scandinavia but we´re also looking into doing some dates in the rest of Europe. Besides this we have some new material on the sketch board so a third album won’t be that far away. Hopefully we can start record it later this year, but nothing set in stone yet.

Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans out there?

Buy, Download or steal our new album “Fragile Immortality” and be sure to come out and see us live when we visit your city! Also make sure to like/follow The Unguided on our social Medias for the latest tour dates, info, pictures, videos and bullshit. We love our fans so don´t be shy to catch, write or talk to us.

Roger Sjunnesson:
INSTAGRAM: @RogerUnguided

The Unguided:
HOMPAGE: The Unguided | The Official Website
INSTAGRAM: @The_Unguided

Thank you so much for sitting down and taking the time to answer my questions. It means a lot to me as fan!

Right back at you, the pleasure was all on this side of the table!


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