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Suidakra's Arkadius Antonik: "…every time we are writing new material I remind myself what's the reason why I am still making the music. And then I remember how we've started and what our motivation was"

Interview with Arkadius Antonik from Suidakra
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 20 June 2021, 9:13 PM

Living every time as if it was the first time, whether it is making music, recording or simply watching as one's production is being made right before one's eyes. To remember the foundation of everything, in particular after so much time, is learning to understand the meaning of roots, the basics, experience doesn't grow on trees, it has to be lived and relived. Clocking almost three decades of Melodic Death Metal, the German Suidakra are at it again with "Wolfbite", yet another story being told with all the drama the entangles it. Steinmetal talked with the mighty Arkadius Antonik about the newfound experience of the album, a little pandemic talk, musical experience and more…

Hello Arkadius, it is quite an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Thanks for having me! I'm doing quite well so far… Despite the more than challenging times in which we all find ourselves together worldwide. My family and I are healthy, that's the most important thing.

I am sure that you have already started feeling the pressure of the past period of time lifting off, mostly mentally. How would you say that you have been surviving this wretched pandemic era? What has been keeping you clicking?

Yes, these are definitely more than challenging and special times we are all in. Fortunately, however, one can say that for the most part it is definitely going in the right direction, back to normality. These have been really challenging times here and there, but my family and I have implemented well, I think. We go out of this time strengthened and have established a stronger bond than ever before. But of course my family and for sure also the music including all the different projects I´m currently working on helped me get through this time in the best way possible.

Gladly, and your legacy is the utmost proof that you have been a busy bee, always up to something, constantly with a burning mind for creation. One thing I wonder though. Since Suidakra has been ongoing for nearly the past three decades, does its current place in Metal music fits your vision of where it was supposed to be back when you started out?

To be honest, every time we are writing new material I remind myself what's the reason why I am still making the music. And then I remember how we've started and what our motivation was. So I always let this feelings flow into the new music and this is the root part of our sound that you can discover on every SuidAkrA album. At the same time, I don't want to repeat something I've already done in the past, so I always try to involve new musical influences. Because I am an open minded composer it isn’t difficult for me to combine the typical SuidAkrA style with new elements we haven't done before. As long as we are still having fun playing shows, writing new music and being creative we are still on the right path that we set ourselves at that time to the band was founded.

Crossing thresholds of time and we are back at the present, with the unveiling of your new album, and 15th in number, “Wolfbite”. Since there is a connection to the universe of “Realms Of Odoric”, can you shed some light on what exactly led to the story told on “Wolfbite” for the sake of possible new listeners and followers?

“Wolfbite“ is yet another concept album based on the soundtrack project “Realms of Odoric” by Kris Vervimp and me. While the 2016 album of the same name ”Realms Of Odoric” was dedicated to the First Age release, with” Wolfbite” we now turn to the Second Age Album. It will deal with a much dark side, that can already be anticipated in the artwork design.

On this Second Age album there is a song called “Alaric Wolfbite“, which not only represents a direct connection in terms of content, but also underlines and emphasizes it as an album title. Kris Vervimp has developed the lyrical concept, backstory and artwork design, once again doing an excellent job.

And here we dwell into “Wolfbite”, what is the narrative presented? Who and whom are the main role players of the story? Are there specific protagonists and antagonists?

Every release that stands in the context of Realms Of Odoric illuminates a major character in this great and extensive story by Kris Vervimp. In this case, we turn fully to the protagonist Alaric and draw his career, adventures and life to the full extend. “Wolfbite” will illuminate the Second Age Album and will serve as another counterpart, so to speak.

Would you say that there is an impact of the story told on “Wolfbite” in regards to our present daily life? Any personal messages that you wanted to convey, using the album as the tools to make it so?

The lyrical concept and idea behind "Wolfbite" came once again from our friend Kris Vervimp. In writing he makes use of a fantastical world and narrative. The complete story was not necessarily developed with the primary background idea of drawing many connections to the present time, but rather the opportunity with this album was taken to tell the story of Alaric. Nevertheless, it may of course be that Kris has consciously or unconsciously allowed connections in these texts to the present day. It is now up to each individual to form their own judgement while listening to the new album :-).

In your view, in particular since you are on both sides of the table, as a songwriter and listener, what are the potential emotions that this album can generate for a listener?

Our music can probably be best described as a good story. There are so many different atmospheres as well as twists and turns, which makes it interesting. I don´t know if our music is easy listening style… I mean it´s not complex but it always has a deeper meaning and level.

The songs and their order reflect the storyline of it. You are taken by the hand from beginning to end and guided song by song through the story and its different atmosphere, feelings and emotions. The content of the texts does not reflect cheerfulness as well as relief but rather revolves around pain, aggressiveness, despair and anger – in short, the dark side. We constitute these feelings and emotions in our music and the various songs on this album.

After reading, while listening, the dossier, I could understand in a way the fine line between past and present of Suidakra. Where the folkish kind of Melodic Death Metal, stands hand in hand with surges of contemporary elements of the music. Still colorful, with a share of atmosphere along with unforgiving heaviness. In your opinion, how do you believe that the band advanced forward in its songwriting while working on this record?

The band is constantly evolving, personally, technically and of course musically. We're just not the band that wants to release the same sounding albums over and over again. And this further development over the years of course also applies to the songwriting process. But also, with this release you can hear and feel that this is SuidAkrA, because the foundation that makes up the character and spirit of the band always remains on which we are constantly building.

We deliberately set ourselves no limits in songwriting, try out different things and styles, want to get the most out of ourselves and the instruments and give the lyrical concept the space and emotional depth they deserve. And the experience of the past few years of course helps to reach this self-set goal by learning and improving ourselves again and again.

"Wolfbite" is thus the natural and logical consequence of the past more than 27 years of band history.

Since the album’s returning lineup was first featured on the compilation album of reworked tracks, “Echoes Of Yore”, how do you believe that the songwriting process of the new record contributed first and foremost to the band’s chemistry, in particular since these are members that some of them made a comeback to the band?

That's right; there have been lineup changes here and there in the past. For a variety of reasons, it was no longer possible for members to continue to play an active role in the band… and that's ok. Don't get me wrong, of course it's more than a pity and challenging at the same time when friends leave the band and you have to see how it goes on and find a suitable replacement. But that's life. Priorities / preferences / circumstances change, so such a choice was sometimes inevitable. And of course, I respect such decisions. And you have to see the whole thing as an opportunity for something good to develop from it. New members joined – or former members came back, who brought new influences, ideas and a breath of fresh air, from which the band could only rise.

I see the current lineup as absolutely coherent, the joy of playing and the fun of the music and the associated "work" has absolutely not suffered and you will also feel and hear that on “Wolfbite”.

Even though you have been the main songwriter of the band since forever, did the new members have a chance to contribute to the songs?

Absolutely! And that is one of the goals - we do not want to set ourselves any limits. If you feel like getting involved in the project, you are more than just welcome to do so. I have no desire and ambition to write an album all by myself. First of all, this is not so much fun and on the other hand you prevent not only the creative output of the others but also the possibility to raise the songs to a whole new, maybe different level. It is possible that you will miss something absolutely terrific! I want to use every opportunity and possibility to have the project at the end of the day just perfect and not to have to accuse myself of not having tried everything and tried and used every possibility and idea.

I noticed a referral for this album to generate a new version of Suidakra (“The 2.0”). Now, I have no idea if it is merely a marketing aspect or there is more to it. What is your take on this? Since I believe that any major lineup change makes a band a new version of itself

This goes back to the album "Echoes Of Yore", which was released in 2019 and is a re-recording of various older songs on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the band. We felt that the release of this special album was the right time to celebrate a suitable completion to a band history with all the happenings during such a long time and to open and celebrate a new chapter of the band without neglecting the roots.

Among other things, this is symbolized using a slightly more adapted, modern design of the band logo for example. Maybe you can also say that we have left something behind us and have made ourselves musically free, that you can feel and hear now in the new album for sure, I would say.

Since there has been an aspect of consistency when it comes to your music, how were you able to channel it through the lyrical concept? How were you able to find the cohesion between the punishing music and lyrics?

The whole approach to that changed compared to the first albums that where released back in the 90's. At that time, we had no lyrical concepts at all, so we usually wrote the music first because we were inspired more by the music of our favorite bands first. Due to the fact that most of our albums now are based on lyrical concepts, also "Wolfbite" has the same source of inspiration as the previous albums. The conceptional story is the inspiration I need to get the right feeling and mood for the songwriting process. So, on "Wolfbite" I also had to know the whole concept with its different parts of this story, to be able to start writing the music.

What were the band’s greatest challenges upon working on “Wolfbite”? How were you able to tackle these obstacles and find the way to overcome them?

Well, basically the most challenging part was of course the Corona-Pandemic that hit the world pretty hard just like the music industry with everything that’s involved as well. But we were at this time kind of in a lucky situation for that matter because we decided to record “Wolfbite” differently this time to previous recordings. This consideration came into mind more and more after the recordings of “Echoes Of Yore” and then manifests itself in February/March 2020 - so shortly before the Corona Pandemic completely captivated the world. Basically everything was done remotely at everyone’s home and their respective home studio during these crazy times. And this also applies to our various guest musicians on this album.

At the end everything went together at one’s computer and was then sent to the “Pitch Back Studio” of Aljoscha Sieg and his team who did a fantastic job of finalizing this album in mix and master. That's why we had dealt with the emerging difficulties but also various new possibilities and advantages that this way of working offers before and knew for the most part what would come our way.

Basically, you can say that we not only made the best of the situation but also discovered and used the maximum possibilities for us and the album.

When it comes to the utmost crushing climax, there is the mixture of orchestration and powerful heaviness within “Resurgence”, a tune that provides a good idea of the diversity that Suidakra can reach. How do you view this track and its impact on the record?

Of course, every song on "Wolfbite" is special to us in many ways. But the song Resurgence on this album maybe even a little more because it is a varied mixture of old-school and new-school with a lot of subtleties as far as an insight into the concept of ́´Wolfbite ́ allows. This track is not only leaving room for the various great guest musicians who are again part of this album and have done an absolutely amazing job in the form of varied vocals, violin, flute, bagpipes and much more, but it also offers the catchy melodies as well as harder riffs and parts of orchestral accompaniment and support that make up SuidAkrA.

I can tell you, it was a lot of fun to compose this song and it is vitiated with special feelings and emotions for us. For that very reason it is probably no surprise that we released it first in a lyrical video :-).

Your clean vocalist, Sebastian Jensen, sounded as if he pushed himself to perfection on “Wolfbite”. How do you appreciate this singing abilities on the record? In your view, how does his role reflect on the story at hand?

I agree with you that Sebastian did such an amazing job on this record. But to be honest, I think the singer on this album brought more than 100% when it comes to singing. And it is very important for me to have that perfect sounding clean vocals parts, because they help me a lot to create the right atmosphere in the songs and this is also important to tell the lyrical concept with my music.

2021 appears to be a sort of a goner for most of the bands worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Do you see Suidakra performing live on actual stages this year or would you perhaps do a live stream show to commemorate the new release?

As for the release of "Wolfbite" on June 25th, we actually decided just a few days ago that we will do a live-stream on Facebook and probably also on YouTube that day. It is a unique opportunity to get everyone involved in that release in front of the camera and at the same time to celebrate the release live in front of our fans together in a live-stream. We will talk about the album and of course answer questions from fans.

As far as concerts are concerned this year, the situation is still difficult to predict. If the current situation has shown us one thing, then it is, among other things, that at the moment, as far as concerts and tours are concerned, you cannot say and / or plan with exact certainty. Unfortunately, … Nevertheless, a few selected concerts are still on the agenda, which have so far been cancelled and / or postponed. There are still a few ideas in the room, about which we unfortunately cannot say anything yet, because there are simply too many question marks in this regard. But of course, we want to be able to present and promote "Wolfbite" live in front of our friends and fans as soon as possible.

Arkadius, I have been following Suidakra for many years and I am glad that you found the time to answer this interview. Many thanks. Another great album delivered another hailz. All the best sir. Cheers.

Thank you Lior! Thank you for your support and the nice words! It was a pleasure answering the questions in this interview and I hope we will see each other again very soon – maybe during a live show with some beers or red wine in hand… does that sound great? :-)  Stay healthy and see you soon, Cheers


 



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