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Sole Syndicate's Jonas Månsson: "Today we are all struggling with keeping up with the latest gadgets, looking like we are ten years younger than we are and talking to everyone but listening to no one."

Interview with Jonas Månsson from Sole Syndicate
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 October 2020, 10:52 PM

A big question that has yet to be answered, and truth be told, it isn't that easy to answer. Are these the last days of our Eden? Now, the concept of Eden is open to interpretations, it is not subjugated to a form of a singular truth bur rather pluralism. Therefore, it is everyone to question themselves of where he or she are and if those days of comfort to return again. A lot of philosophy, yet a Hard N' Heavy album is in question. Sole Syndicate from Sweden are coming back with their sophomore, "Last Days Of Eden", channelling their own version of what is going on. Steinmetal talked to Jonas Månsson of the band regarding the new album, concept and more… 

Hello Jonas, I am pleased to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, what has been going on at your end? Are things getting better for Sweden with the pandemic?

Hi! Things in Sweden are stabile but serious. The pandemic is far from over but life is slowly getting back to ”normal”. It seems like we have adapted to this new situation.

The world is going into what is called as the second wave of the virus, some lockdowns were reinstated, and several just around the corner. Do you think that there is a chance that this virus would never leave us, but just wait when we are the least prepared or there is actual light at the end of the tunnel?

I believe this virus has changed us for good! We have been forced to do things in other ways than before and traveling is not something you can take for granted anymore. I do believe that being together, enjoying culture, music and sports is something we will return to because it’s in our DNA and something we have done for thousands of years. So I do actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was my first time listening to Sole Syndicate, and it made me wonder. Is it possible that for the last decade and a half or so, the Swedish Metal and Rock scene have been continuing what the American scene lost in the 90s? Is it some sort of a natural transition of musical power?

I actually don’t know? I think you are better to answer that question coming from the outside. I do think Sweden has produced great music since the 60’s with bands like ABBA, Europe and Roxette. Most of us in Sweden grew up listening to American and British bands in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Listening to radio and watching MTV certainly shaped the ”Swedish sound”.

Titled, “Last Days Of Eden”, it would appear that there is not much of a reason to be cheery about. The world is full of problems, other than the main issue that everyone has been dealing with. Were we actually an eden once in your view?

Not in a religious sense but if you look in out history I think the closest we’ve been to a garden of Eden was in the 60’s and 70’s. I experienced my ”Eden” in the late 80’s when all the great hard rock albums were made. As a teenager I didn’t have any big issues to deal with and life was pretty simple. Today we are all struggling with keeping up with the latest gadgets, looking like we are ten years younger than we are and talking to everyone but listening to no one.

With the mentioning of Eden on the title of the album, is there a connection to your debut album as a matter of a general conceptual connection?

More of a sense of recognition. The first album had a song called ”Garden of Eden” so we called the album that. This time a lot of the lyrics focus on the situation we are living in, regarding the environment the political chaos and Covid19.

Out of all this, and you do raise some important issues beneath the lines, do you find any source of optimism, or people are too focused on nonsense or simply dormant to notice that there are matters to handle in order to capture a rainbow?

Both yes and no. There are a lot of fantastic people and organisations that struggle for a brighter future but if you look at the people in charge we see a different agenda. Mammon rules and money is still the most important aspect when you make a decision. And you watch the news in terror as you post a selfie, smiling with your dog on Instagram. We are so full of hypocrisy and the shallow values are of greater importance than true friendship, real relations and sustainability. At least that is what I’ve read on Twitter…

When I tuned in to your songs, it felt to me like a heavier, modernized version of Night Ranger mixed with your country’s Europe along with the idols, Van Halen. Needless to say there are various modern Metal driven approaches within the riffing. How would you say that you were able to find that right mix on “Last Days Of Eden” between the colorful 80s, and the hard as a bone 00s?

Wow! First of all, thank you! I love all the bands you mention. Night Ranger is a new comparison, but a great one. When I write a song I always put the melody first. If the melody doesn’t stick, I don’t care how hard or heavy the song is. If I can manage to mix melody with attitude I believe that is a recipe för a great song.

“Last Days Of Eden” is virtually made of text book formulas of how to compose a bowl of Hard N’ Heavy with more or less Pop in nature foundation. Other than being memorable, what kept this manner of songwriting continuing on “Last Days Of Eden”? Were there thoughts of demanding more from yourselves to take your music to the next level in terms of the instrumental prospect?

We wanted ”Last days of Eden” to be more cohesive than our debut because we found the Sole Syndicate sound after a couple of years together, rehearsing, recording and playing live. Other than that we didn’t have a specific goal in the songwriting process. I write most of the songs and they kind of come to me when I sit down with the guitar. It’s actually not hard work. It just happens. First I hear a riff and then I start singing the first thing that comes to mind and what I sing is often what ends up on the finished song.

Throughout the songwriting and recording processes, have you guys felt yourselves challenged? If so, please describe it.

We have not really struggled but recording is always a process filled with hard decisions and hours in the studio. We had more songs ready but to keep the album together as a unit some really great songs were dismissed.

With Hard Rock, Metal and Pop working together under a variety of platforms, how do you believe that “Last Days Of Eden” makes a difference, a stronger posture in comparison to the many albums released on a daily basis?

We do everything ourselves! We write all the songs and lyrics, we record everything, we produced the album. We are hard working rockers and I think that reflects in the product we deliver. We don’t follow trends but we make music we like. If I could, I would love to go to a Sole Syndicate concert because it’s the kind of band I looked up to when I was growing up. We are not the best musicians in the industry but we don’t cheat and what you hear is what you get.

The first tune that captured my attention, both for its strong vibe music along with its theme, is “…And The Truth Will Set You Free”. Certainly you went on guns blazing with heaviness on the main riffs, yet surprising later on with an 80s delight. Other than the music, since there have been countless that have been against the controversy and hypocritical religion, what is there to it on this song?

The song is absolutely about religion but also a boot in the face to false politicians, highly paid CEO’s who won’t pay tax and people with hidden agendas. Power corrupts, religion is sometimes a way to control people and to let bad people get away with bad actions.

If there is one thing that I felt the need to is a powerful anthem, and it came raining down on me with the slow tempo, “We Came To Rock”. I know that some people argue that it is too much of a cliche, yet this one is honest, really putting the foot down. Why write this song as a rather slow outtake? Do you believe in the power and influence of these types of songs?

This is our manifest. This is the song that opens up our shows. This is US! I see ”We Came to Rock” as the bastard child between Ozzy and Ronny James Dio. Big words maybe but when the crowd sings that chorus with their arms raised it’s hard to stay humble.

A powerful headbanger had been missing right until I listened to the chug groove machine of “Bring Us A Hero”. What can you tell about the creation of this nasty meat grinder? Do we really need that hero that you are talking about?

I think we do when our heroes spell Trump, Putin and Johnson… The song is written by our bass player, David Gustafsson. He is the one in the band who grew up listening more to bands like Pantera and Metallica. You can really hear his legacy in that song. The chug is perfect because it gives the lyrics the credibility that it needs.

Covid-19 didn’t leave too much for bands nowadays other than mainly convene in their studios or rehearsal rooms and start working on the next releases. How do you view 2021? Do you think that it would be no different than the last two thirds of 2020? Have you thought about starting a new record?

We have already started writing for the next album and this time with our two new guitarists, Niklas Strandanäs and Dennis Heltorp. They are not on ”Last days of Eden” and their guitar playing will take the next album a whole new level. I really hope we will have the chance to play live in 2021 and I do think we will. We need to find a compromise between being safe and being alive in order to manage our lives in these corona times.

Even though we may be speaking hypothetically, what are your goals for 2021?

Get as many as possible to hear ”Last days of Eden”, play our music live. And off course that everyone stays safe and beat this fucking virus.

Jonas, I appreciate your time and energy for this interview. I am glad that I came to know the band and the record, there is certainly a promise right there. Cheers.

Thank YOU! We really appreciate that you listened to our music and hope to speak to you soon again!


 



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