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Screamer's Anton Fingal: "Live shows are a way for people from different walks in life to come together, drink a few beers and just enjoy the show and blow of some steam. On Wednesday I'm at the office, but on Friday I'm going to see Screamer again!"

Interview with Anton Fingal from Screamer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 02 September 2019, 10:30 PM

It doesn't happen a lot, but it is always great to keep track of bands and coming back to them with an interview. No matter the passing time, there is always a step forward. The Swedish Screamer haven't been wasting time all these years, and even though their lineup change, the only way is up. Signing with The Sign Records also continued to pave the road. Steinmetal talked to Anton Fingal of the band about the band's new album "Highway Of Heroes", where the band stands nowadays and more…

Hello Anton, it is great having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, what have you been up to lately mate?

Hello, thanks for having me. We've had a few weeks off from stuff with the band. With writing and recording the album it was a pretty busy spring and early summer. So it was nice to have some time to just relax, but we've gotten things going again and started rehearsing and stuff.

So, you guys at the Screamer camp blew me away twice since your inception, with your debut, and sophomore albums. Honestly, I have yet to take on your third album, but I sure did the wicked devil dance with your fourth, and brand new, “Highway Of Heroes”. First things first, what is your perspective regarding the new album? Is this Screamer at its prime?

Tough question, I wouldn't say that we've hit our prime yet. We're certanly taking steps toward it with the release of Highway of Heroes, but I think we have more left to give 'til we reach it.  When working with HoH we changed our thinking and our way of writing music, or at least we tried. We jammed a bit less and wrote and recorded more demos of the songs. We also brought in a producer in Gustav Hjortsjö from Bullet. The combination of these things helped us change and improve our songwriting.

What did you mean by “Highway Of Heroes”? Which heroes are you celebrating? Anyone in particular? Is there a philosophy behind the title?

I think it got started when we were on tour in Canada last time. We were on our way to a show and noticed that the road was actually called the highway of heroes (highway 401 if I remember correctly) and we started joking around about that. After a while it stuck and we were like "That's a pretty cool name for a song!". I think Andreas started writing the lyrics there and then.

I have always considered Screamer, as a part of the massive Traditional Metal wave that has been coming from Sweden since the first decade of the 00s, to be a revival band and album after album, you have been proving your worth. What still makes you motivated to play this old school direction of Metal music, continuing on “Highway Of Heroes”?

The simple fact that this is the music we love, both to play, write and to listen to! All of us come from different musical backgrounds. Punk, 70s rock, progressive rock and so on. But what ties us together is our love for 80s heavy metal and melodies, we all love Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. We are not trying to invent the wheel; we just love to play this type of music!

If we are talking about the revival of old school Metal music in the new millennium, do you believe  that there is actually one or that with all the modernity in Metal going on, a demand for the nostalgic stuff was only a matter of time to re-erupt?

Music being produced now is very much a reaction to music being produced 10-25 years ago. Just like that music was a reaction to the music coming out in the late 70s and 80s. Teenagers and kids get bored of the music their parents or elder siblings listen to, and start to listen to and write different music.

I think that is a natural cycle that will keep going on, especially in metal and rock music. New kids will always find out about Metallica or Saxon, even though their parents or siblings listen to something different. My father gave me the Rolling Stones, my older brother Guns 'N' Roses and that helped me develop my own taste and discover other bands. And I would say it's very hard to come up with something really revolutionary today. A lot of the music has basically already been done, so you end up refining or celebrating the existing music.

Let’s get back to “Highway Of Heroes”. The album is signed to The Sign Records, which has been in league with several of Metal and Rock bands, also some of the obscure stuff. How do you see Screamer fitting in the label’s roster mixed image, in comparison to your previous home at High Roller Records?

I think we're going to fit in just fine! It is a different type of record label compared to High Roller, with more bands from different genres and musical directions. High Roller fit us very good for our first few albums and always treated us very good. But the bigger diversity of The Sign will be a good thing for us. We want to reach out to as many people as possible with our music and the diversity of The Sign will help us with that. I would say our music is not just for Metalheads, but can speak to people who normally listen to other stuff. If we can reach out more to those people it's a win for us!

Was it a mutual interest by both parties until the moment you signed with The Sign Records? What really happened with High Roller Records that made you turn away?

High Roller was incredibly good to us and we released 3 great albums with them. But we felt like we needed a change, and help from people who really know how the modern music business works. The Sign is a great label, they work in ways we haven't done before. Especially with Spotify and social media. We want to try working in new ways and reach new people with our music. Hopefully the Sign Records can help us with that! Nothing really happened with High Roller, we just felt we needed to try something new.

Concerning the music within the realm of “Highway Of Heroes”, the musical direction as I perceive it remained the same as earlier, portraying that fine mixture of British Metal with small ounces of Hard Rock and lest I forget, canisters of energy. Is that the story of “Highway Of Heroes” or do you think that Screamer’s music continued developed further on?

I totally agree with you, that is our way of writing and performing music! I'm not saying we won't develop and grow as writers, but this is the type of music we want to play. Hopefully we can take further steps as musicians and develop how we write our music. As I said earlier, this is the first album we've used a real producer on and I think that really helped us think and act differently when writing our songs. We've already discussed taking that part even further and work more with a producer (or producers) to really maximize our potential. We're going to keep writing our own music and the music we want to play, but use any means we can to make it as great as we can!

What makes this piece of music standout in comparison to the past? Which element in the new album’s music do you consider as the game changer for the band as it pursues a bright future?

Oh tough question, really tough question. I would say that the songs are simply better. They're more worked and thought through. This makes the album have a higher standard. When I look back and listen to our old albums, I find myself thinking "What if we did this? Maybe we should have done that." I don't think I will do that with HoH, at least not to the same extent.

The game changer would be that the songs are more direct and focused. It's basically the same type of parts as the earlier albums, but it's easier to spot and is used in better ways. Maybe the songs are written more like Pop songs, you know you've got maybe 3 minutes of air time, let's make those minutes really count. I mean, I love long, dramatic and bombastic songs (who doesn't love Rime of the Ancient Mariner?!), but there is nothing wrong with cutting to the chase and giving people what they want.

Songwriting wise, as if you were studying me, the commemorator of NWOBHM on its short waves, you knew just which weak spots to fire at. The pattern that I could easily notice is the ultra-catchiness, aiming for the larger than life moments, to have the listener headbang with simple, yet melodic, songs. How was this monster bread into life while you guys were in the studio? Were everyone involved in the process or was it an effort of one of two of the veteran members?

We are all involved in the songwriting. We work in different ways with different songs and ideas. Most of the time it's either me or Dejan (the other guitarist), which comes up with a riff or an idea to a song. Then we work with it together, either by jamming or recording a rough demo version for everybody to listen to. Then we go from there.

This time around we tried working in some (for us) new ways. A few songs started with a song melody or even some lyrics and we wrote the song around those parts. As I said earlier, we tried to record more demos this time around. This helped us really work with the songs. We recorded a demo, worked with it for a while then we let it rest for a few weeks and came back to it to change some parts or just add new stuff. Since we live in different parts of the country this was a very efficient way to work. When we met up we could all bring in our new idea to the existing songs, since we all listened and worked with them by ourselves.

Who engineered that swell British Metal sound of this cracker? What makes you stick by that old sound pattern of the early days, other than the admiration for the era?

We discussed the sound of the album amongst ourselves, with our producer and with the engineer (Ulf Blomberg of The End Studio) and we all agreed that we wanted a pretty modern sound. We wanted it to sound good and crisp, but still rough and edgy. We didn't want it to sound "old school", "new school" or anything like that. We just wanted the sound to reflect our music and what we bring live. I think we really got what we wanted.

A tough one for you, which of the album’s songs is your no.1, the track that means most to you? I know it is a tough one because I assume it is hard to decide.

"Halo" is a song that keeps growing on me. Personally was not a big fan when we started working on it and wasn't 100% pleased with the way it came out, but now when I listen to it, I really like it. It keeps growing and I think it will become a killer live! But I have to say that my favorite is "Out of the Dark". Fast, straight forward, catchy and with a killer chorus. Just the way Screamer is supposed to be!

I can only assume that in you recent tour and the festival season you included tunes out of the new album. How were the reactions of the fans to them?

Really good I would say. "Ride On" got a good response immediately and always gets the crowd going. "Highway of Heroes" took us a bit longer to get really good live. It's a simple song (maybe too simple!?) but it seems the crowd need to really listen to it before they get the feeling of it. But at the end of the song you always see people singing along to it. The best feeling in the world!

Let’s talk off topic a bit. It was recently found that Heavy Metal music is unlike the stereotypes that have been plugged into it for years, but rather a means to make people better. Are we better with Metal or it merely gives us strength to carry on with our lives? Do you believe that we are supposed to be the opposite of calm or pleasant due to the raging nature of the music?

I don't think too much about those things. Music in general and rock music in particular has always been a big part of my life and who I am, so I never really thought about it that way. But I think that for many people, music is a way to get away from your regular life. A break from work, cleaning, paying bills and commuting to work. Live shows are a way for people from different walks in life to come together, drink a few beers and just enjoy the show and blow of some steam. On Wednesday I'm at the office, but on Friday I'm going to see Screamer again!

To which bands have you been listening to lately? Any bands that you think are the next thing in line?

I really like Baroness' latest album, and I'm so looking forward to RAM's upcoming album. Otherwise it's been some of the classics, and Idle Hands, a great band from Oregon that Henrik (the drummer) showed me. I can really recommend their album Mana from last year. I'm sorry to say that otherwise I'm the wrong person to ask for upcoming bands, I'm not that updated in the new and upcoming bands.

What is the next challenge for Screamer in regards to supporting “Highway Of Heroes”? Is there anything planned for the remainder of the year? Maybe also for 2020?

We have a tour coming up in November with Haunt from California, which we are looking forward to a lot. Going to be nice to hit the roads again. Then we're working on 2020, we got some stuff booked and some in the pipeline. But you can be sure that we will tour, as much and as often as we can!

Anton, I wish to thank you for the interview, “Highway Of Heroes” is a key album, make sure you support it well and with might. Cheers mate.

Thanks, see you on the road!



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