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Thorbjorn Englund (Winterlong)

Interview with Thorbjorn Englund from Winterlong
by Grigoris Chronis at 01 June 2008, 9:52 PM

Due to WINTERLONG's latest release, the Longing For Winter compilation, we grabbed the chance to chat a little bit with a 'warm' Thorbjorn Englund (founder and composer), in order to check the status in the (one man?) band's camp this year. It's been two years now since the Metal/Technology CD was released and…does Longing For Winter mark a new era for the band or the polite Swedish shredder?

Thorbjorn, greetings from Metal Temple magazine!


First of all, how did you decide to release a WINTERLONG compilation? Why didn't you focus on writing songs for a brand new album? Sometimes, a live or 'best of' album means a 'turn a new page' status for a band. Is this the case here?

Well, to be perfectly honest I have been lacking inspiration lately, and not much has come out other than some bits and pieces. The idea to make a compilation came as I was talking to Lasse at Lion Music about WINTERLONG and the future, and he proposed we'd put together a best of album with four new songs added. I figured that I had at least enough material to come up with something cool, and here we are. I wouldn't say this album marks a 'new page' in the WINTERLONG history, it just felt right to gather the fruit of the past and make something of it for people to hear. There are probably some people out there who haven't heard of WINTERLONG, but maybe this time they will get their eyes open and check out the previous albums as well…who knows.

So, the four brand new tracks in Longing For Winter are recently written songs. Or they are unreleased ones from previous sessions?

As I mentioned, they have been composed specifically for this album. I have a lot of taped ideas lying around just waiting to fit in somewhere, so it's not a question of material really, it's more the flame of creativity that must get lit to get it together, and once it does I usually end up with something that I feel good about. These four new songs are great. I guess I've evolved somewhat in my approach to composing over the years.

Was it easy enough to pick up the tracklist for Longing For Winter? Did you want each album to have an equal share in the CD? Did you ask for the opinion/suggestions of other people or your label for this?

I had a few personal suggestions concerning the songs, but it was mostly Lasse Mattsson at Lion Music who had the bigger part in the selection. I trust him enought to choose wisely, and I think he did. You see, I think it's better for someone from the 'outside' to pick their favourites, in that way it probably won't end up beeing my favourite songs, and maybe that's a good thing, after all each song is like a baby to me so picking the 'best' would be hard.

The three songs off the Metal/Technology CD really sound somehow 'different' from the rest of the tracklist. This more 'modern' sound you decided to deal with in this 2005 release, is it something you wanted to do as an experiment or as a will to refresh your sound a little bit? Guess core WINTERLONG fans must have been kinda surprised initially, right?

Actually both. I wanted to step out of the box. Tired and bored of the speedy all-sing-along-style that much of the WINTERLONG concept has taken its inspiration from I wanted to feel and experience my music in a different way. I was into a heavier mode and got a lot of influence from bands such as Rammstein and the likes…

Core WINTERLONG fans I guess might have been chocked, but beeing a core fan doesn't, hopefully, mean that you're unwilling to open your eyes. Of course I understand that this genre of music attracts a lot of concervatism, but one has to evolve. If i'd done just another album like the previous, that wouldn't have been true.

In addition, you decided to take care of the lead vocals. And - I admit - your voice is rather interesting! Why didn't you take the vocals earlier, really?

Interesting, you say? So, does that mean for the good or for the bad?!!! Just kidding. I didn't feel that my voice was up to par earlier, and it certainly didn't fit the music which we did. My voice is very low and harsh, and it doesn΄t fit to the HELLOWEEN-style of Metal music. However, when I made Metal/Technology I knew that I had to do the singing myself to get the right feeling to it. I knew what I wanted; dark, heavy and rough.

Are you planning to focus on the same sound for the next WINTERLONG album? Really, have you started working on it? Any info we can initially have regarding song titles or something?

I haven't thought that far. At least, it's not in my near plans. Maybe there'll be another album, maybe there won't. Right now I don΄t feel like I've got the inspiration. I think I must have some time off and just get away from the music for awhile. It's necessary to reak up now and then to be able to feel the joy and pleasure of creativity once it strikes. I don't wanna make an album because I have to, but because I want to.

So, will WINTERLONG be - from now on - a kinda 'one man band'? Why did you decide to call off a normal lineup, anyway? I can imagine you feel more free working on your own, but…?

Yes, you could say that. I work alone, sometimes hiring a drummer and keyboard player. I guess it was easier to work this way since I happen to live in the ass of geography, up in the north of Sweden. It's just not possible for a band with members sprawling from around the country (or the world) to come about under these circumstances, and with limited economic resources.

With all this quality Metal music being exported from Sweden/Scandinavia the last years, did you - at any time - felt it will be really hard for your music to be distinguished/promoted       adequately? You know, lots of notable bands/releases and not enough money for metalheads to purchase everything, xaxa!

Well, that's sort of the problem for many bands coming up these days, I think. You've got this MySpace site and a lot of other possibilities to promote yourself, and because of this enormous supply of great bands just overflowing the market, and many beeing highly professional, you're very lucky if you can get through. I don't know how well WINTERLONG stands in all this, but I tend to think that, because the name is well-established since 2001, we've got some advantage over the masses…but that won't of course be enough. You've gotta be out   there as well, to tour and make yourself seen, something which we haven't done in a very long time. WINTERLONG is more of a studio project these days, and I like to keep it that way.

Have you ever considered on working on a full-neoclassical album with classical music rearrangements? Or a recording with a full orchestra? A rather difficult task, but - on the other hand    - somehow intriguing, right?

Oh, like Yngwie you mean? It would be great and very fun, I'm sure. However, I would feel I'd only fall in the sahdow of the big maestro, making an attempt to do something like that. Yngwie Malmsteen is my absolute favourite, and I admire his playing and skills so much it's almost silly, but if I would do something like a concerto I would only be just another copy cat. He - on the other hand - has something unique, that he created all by himself. Now, that's something I'd like to immitate.

Is there a chance we will see another STAR QUEEN album in the near future? Is Stella Tormanoff still active in the music business?

She's still making music, and she has a band called PAVLOVIAN DOGS. They're making some great music, and besides that, she composes pieces now and then, here and there, for different projects and stuff. We'll see if there will ever be another STAR QUEEN album, but everything is possible.

You released the Influences CD in 2006, as a solo project. Have not heard it, to be honest. What was the scope for this release? Is it an instrumental album? How similar to WINTERLONG is its style? Or is it a 'covers' album?

I decided to make this album to summarize my musical influences. It contains a wide spread, everything from Metal/shredding to flamenco and it's actually one of the albums I feel really really good about. It's very colorful and shifting, and it is purely instrumental.

Thorbjorn, thanks for your precious time! Anything you'd like to add?

Thank YOU! Keep up the splendid work of yours.


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