The Swedish trio Siberian are in the spotlight this week for our Meet The Band feature. The sludge/post metal group’s second album Through Ages Of Sleep is based on their dreams, and explores the subconscious mind. Guitarist Linus Marron introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Siberian.
Linus Marron: We started playing together as kids in early 2006 under different constellations. For a lot of years we just rehearsed and rehearsed before even considering to play live. In 2010-2011 we began to take our musical career more seriously and named the band Shrine. In 2013 we signed with local record label Gaphals and had to change the band name for legal reasons. We named the band after the vast wilderness in Siberia, because we find the primitive and untouched taiga to be a great source of inspiration to us, and then we released our conceptual debut album Modern Age Mausoleum. Since then we have been on the path to become a bigger band and toured Europe several times.
Describe the songwriting process for Through Ages Of Sleep.
All of the songs started out with me writing the core of the songs at my home on my acoustic guitars. Daniel then rehearsed the songs with me at our rehearsal place to write his drums. On this record Angus ‘Angst’ Norder from Witchery and Nekrokraft played bass on the whole record. I wrote the bass together with Angus, but the majority of the bass is his ideas. We wanted the bass to have a more prominent role on the songs and to resemble what a rhythm guitar usually does. Finally the lyrics, vocals and other extra instruments are added to give all of the songs more character.
How did you go about chronicling your dreams? Did you sleep with notebooks next to your bed to write them down?
After we released our debut album Modern Age Mausoleum we talked a lot about the symbolic concept of dreams. All of us in the band have very vivid dreams and we usually tell each other about them during rehearsals. We then got the idea to base an album off of that as we wanted the album to be more personal and intimate.
I think that both the lyrics and the artwork for the album are very well portrayed of the dreams that we wrote down. Mattias Frisk, who illustrated the album, did an excellent job and we tried to interfere as little as possible with his work on our album cover.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The whole process went down flawlessly and it was very easy and natural for us to work with Joona Hassinen since we have worked with him before. All of us in the band knew exactly what we wanted the record to sound like and Joona made our vision a reality. Because of this I don’t think we have a specific moment during the recording that stands out from the rest. But we had a lot of guest appearances on this album and that is something we’ve always wanted to do. Most of the guests are close friends to us and we thought that would make the album even more personal and intimate.
How has your sound progressed from your debut?
I think with Modern Age Mausoleum we knew what we wanted to do but the songs on that record are very separated. Some of the songs on that record were written with several years between them. With Through Ages of Sleep we wrote the whole record in a small period of time and we stayed within the frames of the concept a lot more. We had a very interesting writing method for this album. We didn’t interfere with each other’s instruments and everyone in the band had a lot of creative freedom. It’s very risky to do that, but we have played together for so many years that we trust each other artistically.
What has the response to the album been like, and what are your expectations now that it’s being released worldwide?
I think we’ve gotten a very mixed response. We are very aware that we are difficult to categorize as a band since we mix a lot of genres. The goal with Siberian is to try to make something that stands out musically. We don’t want to paint ourselves into a corner and focus only on one genre. Most importantly, we write what we want
to hear ourselves and don’t pay much attention to what other people think about the direction of our music.
We flirt with sludge, black metal and post metal since we are big fans of those genres, but we explore other genres like folk, rock and ambient music as well. The response from our recent tour was very positive and people seem to like what we do. I don’t think we have any expectations at all but if people like what we do that’s great! If people don’t like what we do that’s okay, too.
What has been your most memorable Siberian show or tour?
I think our first tour we ever did was very special. We did it together with the band called Snailking and it was also their first tour. We experienced something fun together and became good friends from it. I think we also got more respect for musicians in the touring scene from that experience. The touring scene isn’t very easy in the beginning and you have to be able to spend a lot of your time in van full of people for weeks, sleep on floors and eat crappy food and at the same time you have to be on top every night you play. It’s not for everyone and I totally understand why some people drop off when bands start to tour more frequently.
How did you get started in music?
In the beginning I think we were just angry kids expressing our teenage angst through music. And I guess it never stopped being fun to play angry music. I know some people think it’s like therapy and I don’t think they are wrong. As adults I think we have grown an interest in exploring the darkness further more, looking deeper into it and using songwriting as our platform. But at least for me music has always been an important part of my life and I couldn’t imagine a world without it. For me it was very natural to pick up a guitar when I was a youngster and very early on I started to express myself through music.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
When I met the other guys, all of us were big Slayer fans and I think they influenced us a lot in the beginning, but not so much anymore. Many of our inspirations don’t necessarily come from other bands but rather philosophical ideas that we discuss with each other from time to time. We also have literature and real-life experiences
as a source of inspirations to write our music. But if I boil it down I think we just want to write good music and use our own ears and judgement as a guideline.
What’s the first concert you attended as a fan?
We were big fans of the hardcore scene during the early days and there was an uprising of hardcore bands in our hometown during that period. We would spend our weekends on local place called Skylten, roughly translated to “The Sign,” watching hardcore bands from all over the world. I think that it gave us the idea that you don’t have to be a big famous band to tour the world and that you could just get in a van and start booking shows. Watching these bands play their brains out
every weekend was a great motivational kickstarter for us in the early days.
What’s the heavy music scene like in your area of Sweden?
I think the Linköping scene, or should I say the Ostergothia (Östergötland) scene is on an upswing much like the Gothenburg scene was in early 2000s. We have Ghost to thank for pointing out Linköping on the map, but I also think it’s worth mentioning important people like Kaj and Patrik who run our record label. Basically Kaj and Patrik ARE the scene and without them none of the bands from this area in Sweden would even be talked about as much as they are. I think Siberian and some other well known acts are carrying the heavier banner in this area of Sweden and I think we make a good platform for younger heavier bands to get attention. One other thing I like about the scene here is that everybody knows each other in some way or another and I think that solidifies the scene a lot more.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I currently listen to more ambient-heavy oriented music like Earth, Wovenhand and swedish act called Slowgold. I’m also in a period of my life where I listen to a lot of atmospheric black metal and I try to explore that scene more and more. We all have different musical tastes in the band, which I think is great because it’s widening our perspective when we write music together.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
As I mentioned before there’s a lot of great acts from this area in Sweden and people that are interested in what we do should check out the roster of The Sign Records and Gaphals Records. You should also check out what other bands Mattias Frisk does artwork for and if you like what he do support him by buying from hiswebsite.
(interview published July 1, 2017)