Darkwater Discusses First Two Albums, Influences, And Being A Badass By Building Your Own House
It’s more often the exception that international acts find they have a fan base in the United States, although it’s happening more and more. Luckily for Sweden’s Darkwater, they had a crowd of cheering fans to play for upon crossing the pond for ProgPower USA XII. On the first official day of the festival, Darkwater had the second spot on the bill.
Somewhere amid the chaos of that first day’s scheduling issues, lead vocalist/guitarist Henrik Båth found a few minutes to break away for a short interview. The band was particularly swamped during their signing session. Henrik almost lost his voice from his stage performance and yelling over the crowd during the signing session. We got to discuss the band’s first two dark melody-filled records as well as Henrik’s gear, influences, and busy life back home in Sweden.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): You guys are new to playing the USA. How has the cross-over been from Europe? How have the fans been receiving you?
Henrik Båth: Extremely well. We had no idea, actually. We knew we had some small fan base over here, but not like this. So, it’s been amazing.
FS: Do you have any plans for touring the US in the future?
Henrik: Well, we have no plans. Of course, we would like to. We would love to. It’s all about money. We’ll see what happens. If we get a chance, we’ll do it. Definitely.
FS: You’ve released two albums – “Calling the Earth to Witness” and “Where Stories End.” Is a third in the works at the moment?
Henrik: We haven’t started working on it right now. Right when we get back, actually, so we’re going to start working on some new material. We have a lot of material lying around from the last album. We just chose the stuff that matched best together for that album, so we have a lot of other material lying around, so we’ve just got to sit down and go through that and see what we can find.
FS: Lyrically, is it going to be a continuation of the first few?
Henrik: I have no idea. It becomes what it becomes, you know? I have no idea, actually.
FS: How does the songwriting process start? On what instrument does it start?
Henrik: It depends who starts writing the song. It’s both me and Magnus [Holmberg.] Marcus [Sigfridsson] writes, so sometimes we write together. Sometimes, we have almost a finished song or just some riffs and stuff to bring to each other when we go through it. Most of the time, someone has almost a finished song. We present it for the other guys, and then we start rearranging stuff.
Almost every time, there are things in the song that aren’t fitting or needs something else, so we’ll put in some parts or take out some parts. So, the final touch, we all do it together. Most of the time, someone comes up with an idea and mostly, it’s almost a full song.
FS: Ah, okay. Can you give a little of the inspirations behind the second record?
Henrik: For the first album, it was like we did the whole thing in a few years, I think two or three years, writing and recording the material. We can’t continue like that, so we set a date for the mixing, and then we had half a year to write and record everything. We just put some pressure on ourselves, so the inspiration and all that…
Henrik: Nothing and everything, I think. I wrote most of the lyrics, and Marcus wrote three songs I think. I actually wrote almost every lyric while working. We all have full day-time work.
Henrik: Yeah. Oh yeah. We don’t make a lot of money on this! (laughs) I work at a high school as a music teacher. In the spare time, when I don’t have any lessons and stuff like that, I write some lyrics. So I guess, the inspiration comes from the people around me.
FS: Well said. For the audio nerds, what’s your favorite gear to use?
Henrik: For guitars? Yeah? For guitars, I use Schecter guitars. I like them. For recordings, we record a clean signal and then we re-amp it in the studio just to get the guitar sounds to match the music. I think it’s easier like that. Live, I use a Vox pedal.
I’m not so interested in gear stuff. Marcus, on the other hand, is much more interested because he’s only a guitar player. I’m mostly a vocalist and I play the guitar, you know? So I’m not interested in gear stuff, so I have no idea, actually. I like the Schecter guitars and that’s all I know. (laughs)
FS: So, as a vocalist, have you had training or are you self-taught?
Henrik: No. As you could hear today! (laughs, referring to nearly blowing his voice out) No, I’m self-taught. We are all self-taught on our instruments. I don’t think anyone had lessons.
FS: Since we’re at ProgPower USA, are there any bands here that you are excited to see?
Henrik: To be honest, Evergrey and Vanden Plas. Other than that, I haven’t heard a single one. Well, Dream Evil, I’ve heard some songs. Therion, I’ve never heard.
FS: Dream Evil actually had an accident with their visas.
Henrik: I know, they messed that up! The guitarist in Dream Evil is the one who mixes and masters our albums – Fredrik Nordstrom. He’s a great guy! (laughs)
FS: What’s on your personal playlist right now? What have you been listening to, musically?
Henrik: Oh, I rarely listen to music, actually. The only time I listen to music is when I drive my car to work, and then I just put on radio or some old CDs lying around. I haven’t bought a CD in forever. But, I think a lot of that is because these last years, I’ve been building my own house back home and I’m doing everything myself, and it takes up all of my time.
I’m working full-time, doing that when I get home, and now I have a 7-month old little baby. There’s no time for anything, you know? The only time is when I get in the car and those 15 minutes to work, that’s when I put on some music. That’s it. So I haven’t heard much of new music. That’s too bad… I miss that.
In the past, we all sat down and just, sitting, staring into the wall, and just listened to music. I loved that. A new album, you just put the headphones on and just listen. I haven’t done that in like 15 years or something. I miss that.
FS: I’m definitely going to do that here. I bought near 13 records here, today. It’s ridiculous. So, another big thing I know has influenced a lot of the melodic death metal from Sweden crossing over into America early on was illegal downloading. Of course, that hurts album sales, but it helped a lot of European bands get a push in the United States. What do you think about it?
Henrik: I think, as a small band, it doesn’t hurt us at all. It’s almost good for us. Spread the music to everyone, so they can hear us. If you are a big band, people know about you and of course it hurts your economy. As a small band, we have no economy at all, so it doesn’t matter to us much at all, actually. Of course, we get a little money from the sales and stuff like that, but I mean it’s nothing. We just put that back into the next album and it’s gone.
It’s like that. So, for us, I don’t think it hurts a small band. It’s good, actually.
FS: The guys from Evergrey say they wish the software for Spotify comes with a virus called “Mute-ify,” to where, if you play an illegally-downloaded song, it will make your house explode.
Henrik: (laughs) Yeah! Well they are a big band. That’s different. We are a small band. They are a big band. Probably, in a few years when we are a little bigger, perhaps I will answer different.
FS: Is there going to be a second music video from the “Where Stories End” album?
Henrik: We’ve talked about it, yes, and we would like to do that. We’ll see if we can get the money to do that!
FS: Well, cool! Are there any singers who have really influenced what you do?
Henrik: Not nowadays. Back in the time, I always loved Göran Edman, David Coverdale, what’s the singer from Steelheart? (Miljenko Matijevic) Bands like that, that I listened to when I grew up. I like things like Richard Marx. I love it, both his vocals and his songwriting. Nowadays, I think it’s very hard to find a vocalist or singer that I feel like, “Oh, that’s something special.”
I must say that the latest vocalist I’ve heard is Tommy from Seventh Wonder. He is amazing, I must say. I love his catalogue. He’s not a metal singer in any way. It’s just that the music is so good. That’s it, I think.
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