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Sole Syndicate's Jonas Månsson: "It’s kind of hard to write about pretty girls, booze and the ordinary rock poetry but maybe that is just what we need right now?"

Interview with Jonas Månsson from Sole Syndicate
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 26 July 2022, 10:09 PM

Thinking about it, to write material that is quite dark, at times pessimistic and showing the uglier side of things, or rather the bitter truth, that is hard, especially when you are a positive, and quite happy, person. Nonetheless, reality dictates otherwise, it shows its face through the songs, even without really affecting a person's state of mind. Perhaps, that is the true way to deal with these kinds of things, the hardships of everyday life, through writing. The Swedish Metallers, Sole Syndicate, are back with a new message, a kind is food for thought. Steinmetal had to know more from the positive guy, Jonas Månsson

Hello Jonas, once again, I am highly pleased to have you for this interview with Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things going on your end?

Hi! Everything is absolutely tip top here.

After 2.5 years of pandemic, along with its influences on the world, in nearly every aspect, the influence on the human mind, needless to say heart, is substantial. How were you able to cope with the situation in the harder moments?

It has really been two strange and difficult years for all of us. We released our second album and were really ready to tour but everything got cancelled so we wrote a new album instead. But we can’t complain. We are all alive and kicking so we should just be happy and thankful.

In your opinion, following this pandemic, do you believe that there is more solidarity between people than previously, or rather the opposite, total alienation from one another due to the spreading fear of not getting infected? 

I don't know. That is interesting. I think we isolated us but at the same time people really helped neighbours and older people to get food and groceries when they couldn’t leave their house so in a sense we did both.

It has been nearly two years since your previous record, and as it seems that state of mind changed, guiding the listener into a darker form of reality. Titled “Into The Flames”, it appears that hope is all but gone, burned to the crisp. What was your intention surrounding this title?

The title of the album is the title of the last track on the album and in a way it sums up the 12 songs pretty good. We are in a dark place in human history with war in Europe, economic instability, a pandemic, shootings and a huge threat to our environment. It’s kind of hard to write about pretty girls, booze and the ordinary rock poetry but maybe that is just what we need right now? When I write my lyrics I tend to write about stuff that’s in my head or on the news. But there are some happy moments on the album as well.

How do you find yourself within the album’s songs, and their themes? Are these tracks evidence to actual events, or simply thoughts that crossed your mind, or people that you know?

Both! The song ”Sunset Strip” is about my sister and a dear friend to the band that got diagnosed with cancer and how strong they were during that period. But most of the songs are just fiction. Some review said that I must have a lot of issues due to the song ”Dust of Angels” but I am the friendliest guy on the planet and I don’t have any issues with myself or my temper. But I understand that people on the outside starts to question my mental health, ha ha.

I have to admit that there is a lot to take in while listening to “Into The Flames”, it even drove me to emotional states here and there. In your view, is there something to hope for folks out there? Isn’t there a shred, a glimpse, of something that is bound to happen for the better?

Sure! Things can’t get worse… No I’m just kidding. Of course there is hope and good thing happen all the time. The problem is that the news only show us the bad stuff. That is apparently what we want but that is not what we need. We need to focus more on the good stuff and I will write an album about that soon to do my part. We are starting to take the environmental threat seriously and that will make a huge change in the future of mankind.

I mentioned the assumption that hope is totally burned within “Into the Flames”, the artwork of the record sees a world burning, our world. Is this a predicted future or rather symbol of being slowly burned from within?

It is a suitable image for the album and the state of the planet but if you look at back cover there is a fire extinguisher with the Sole Syndicate logo on so if we all work together we can put the fire out and save the planet and ourselves.

With all this focus on the gloomier side of things, which is understandable in order to state issues that might be so popular, do you leave any room for positivity whatsoever?

I am a really positive guy so I start every day with a smile on my face. Things are so much more fun if you are happy, friendly and use your sense of humour. I think it is the music I write that makes these dark lyrics pop out of my brain. Most of the songs are minor scale so it kind of happens on it´s own.

I noticed that “Into The Flames” features Sole Syndicate as a foursome crew, along with new members in the lineup. Anything in particular happened that led you to become a four-member band? In your view, for Sole Syndicate, what is the advantage of remaining four members?

On the second album we actually were three since I recorded all of the guitars. We decided to bring to additional guitar players into the band when we released it so I could focus on singing when we play live. It didn’t really work out so I decided to go back to play all the guitars on the new album. Katja, who is the latest member in the band, has brought so much great stuff into our music. We can now play all the parts that we couldn't before. We never use backing tracks when we play live so having a keyboard player and a great singer in Katja is absolutely awesome.

In order to maintain the darker nature of the album, the music responded in kind. Other than being an emotional journey, the twists and turns, or bumps, are conveyed through heaviness, on its modernized edge. With Sole Syndicate being on the borders between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, how did this fusion come to pass on “Into The Flames”?

I guess it is a mix of what we grew up listening to and what we are influenced by today. If you take a part of Whitesnake and Queensryche and combine that with Alter Bridge and Soilwork you get a pretty nice soup. Feel free to dig in. Bon Apetit…

Musically, how do you find “Into The Flames” as the next level of Sole Syndicate? What did this progress, in your view, generated for the band on the record that became a unique feature?

The way we work made it possible to be super creative during the lock down. The songs of the album have changed dramatically over a period of nearly two years. We thought we had a record in early 2021 but the new songs kept popping up in my head so we added new songs and ideas all the time. Katja's arrival to the band also made this album what it is.

The songwriting on the record aims to seek out the catchier notation, whether with sticky melodic riffs, or atmospheric form of choruses that are highly impressive. What can you share about the process of writing the songs? What was done differently this time around?

Melody is the key! You can write a killer riff or a super cool groove but if it doesn’t have a melody I am not interested. I write all the songs and I send demos over to the rest of the band. They listen, give me ideas, lay down their parts and then we listen to it again and maybe we change something to make as good as possible and a song that fits the Syndicate sound. There are so many of my ideas that sound cool but it´s not Sole Syndicate.

 “Into The Flames” was worked on while the pandemic, upon its restrictions, were still flying high, how were you able to work on the songs as a band, needless to say rehearse the tunes prior to recording?

We all live within 30 minutes of driving and all of us have studios at home. Therefore, the process is simple and effective. We send files to each other all the time and we can rehearse together at either of us. The pandemic was not a break for the band, only a break when it came to playing live in front of an audience.

Earlier we talked about the band being a foursome crew, along with new members, how do you find this change as an impact on “Into The Flames”?

Important! Without Katja the album would have sounded different. The fact that I play all the guitars made it easier to finish and being four speeds up the process of writing and recording.

“Into The Flames” is the band’s third album, and you made quite the journey in order to achieve it. What can you tell in regards to what this record teaches you about yourself as a person, a songwriter, musician etc.? What lessons from the entire process did you take with you to the next chapter of Sole Syndicate?

I think and I hope that this band as it is right now will continue to make music and tour for a long time. We are having a great time together and it´s so much fun to meet and rehearse. I have learned that I can write songs that people like and we can record an album in our own studios that sounds killer. I think we have all learned that we are good enough to compete on a high level. We want to keep making great music but we also want to evolve as a band and as individuals. So I hope the next album will not be Into the Flames Part II but something completely new where people are blown away but still recognize the Syndicate sound.

The opening tune, “Forsaken”, already had me thinking about so many things, nonetheless, its music guided me through and proved that it is quite the hit. What is your appreciation of this particular song? What can you tell me about it?

It is for sure the most prog metal song on the album and the hardest to play live. I love that song and it was probably the first song I wrote for the album. We wanted to have that as the album opener because it is a statement. This is Sole Syndicate 2022. Hard and heavy but with a big chorus and the melody in the centre all the time.

A deeper form of track is “Do You Believe”, as I perceived it to be the questioning of religion and how it became a business, a corrupted business. Its modern edge is quite compelling and touches the soul with ease. The focus is on the chorus, which is understandable, as it is a winner. Would you say that this track has an impact on the entire album?

Music is our religion! I do believe that many people use religion to achieve power or earn money. This was highlighted for me during the pandemic as well. The lyrics are important but this song is more of a rock anthem were the crowd can sing along and it´s pretty groovy as well.

“In The Absence Of Light”, for some reason, had me flinching in my chair, it is a tough one with a strong message that is set to penetrate any person that listens to it. Overall, a simple kind of songwriting, however, it is an illusion, as from where I am sitting it is tough to come up with such a strong message. What is your take on that?

This one is my current favorite on the album. It has a really dark theme, dealing with mental health and suicide. I love the fact that Katja is singing on it and it took some time to write. We had some parts in the song that we took away before recording it and it is just perfect right now. Heavy, moody and beautiful.

Looking forward in 2022, what are your plans going forward for the support of the new record?

Right now we are rehearsing like hell! We want to be prepared for touring and playing live in front of everyone. The problem right now is that everybody is going on tour and every band in history is reuniting. That might not be a problem when I look at it as a music lover BUT for a small band like Sole Syndicate, trying to build a fan base it is a problem. Hopefully we will start playing live this fall and tour Scandinavia and Europe in 2023

Jonas, I wish to thank you again for your time for this interview, I wish you guys all the best, you made a great record, and I will be waiting for more. Cheers

Thank you so much!


 



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