The Haunted are back with their latest album Strength In Numbers. Guitarist Ola Englund gets us up to speed on the new record, working with producer Russ Russell, touring and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Strength In Numbers?
Ola Englund: Not really. Since this is the second album I’m writing for I guess I had a little more say in the songs this time. However, the way of writing is the same. Basically me, Jensen and Jonas come up with song shells or even complete songs, then let everyone have their go at each other’s work. Makes for a really dynamic album in my opinion.
How did you decide to work with producer Russ Russell?
We’re all a fan of Russ’ work with Evile and Napalm Death and we thought his style of mixing would fit the band. Personally I wasn’t that familiar with his work before going into the studio, but now I’m a big fan.
What is his producing style, and how was the experience?
Russ is the kind of guy who really lifts everyone up, but also knows when to take a step back when needed. He reads the band really well and we really enjoyed his company. He has a great attitude and it really helped us as a band to do our best. I would love to work with him again.
With this being the second album with the current lineup, did it make for a smoother process this time around?
I think with Exit Wounds that there was a hunger and urge to just show that The Haunted is not slowing down or done, for that matter. That album is full force throughout. For Strength in Numbers we definitely had more time to reflect and not rush into the studio in the same way. The songs slowly developed over time and overall it feels like it’s a more mature album. Also of course the guys let me take a much bigger role for the album writing with this one, and I definitely felt more comfortable to take more space.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I have a pretty strong feeling about what songs are going to be the singles before we even start recording, but there are often times where some other songs grows more when the vocals are recorded. One of those moments was with the song “Monuments.” Marco just came in and did the vocals and I knew from that moment that it would become my favorite song of the album. It’s funny to see how a song can be turned upside down by the simplest words added to it.
How has the band’s sound progressed/evolved on this one?
Like I said earlier, I think the sound might be more mature, because we are more mature. We know the future of the band and know where we want to go. And we’re confident that we’re taking the right path.
Nine albums in, how do you go about setting goals and expectations for an album’s release?
For an album release, you never know with the industry and how it’s shifting. Most of the time a release is all about timing. It could have a completely different outcome depending on if it was bad timing or not. But we’re just doing what we do. If people like the album then we’re happy. If they don’t, well tough luck, because we’re not stopping.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
Some of us read them, some of us don’t care. If we read them it’s just to see the bigger picture. If you get a lot of bad reviews, well it speaks for itself, you make shit music. Or people don’t understand what you want to do. I read them so I can share quotes on Facebook. (laughs)
How was the shoot for the video “Spark”?
It was great, we recorded a total of three music videos during ONE day. It was hectic and tough but we were determined to make it work.
How important are videos these days?
The actual video is not as important as having content. A video is a piece of news. More videos means more news. Unfortunately it has become a saturated industry where it’s more about quantity than quality. For us we just want the music to speak for itself.
You have European dates scheduled for the rest of this year. Are there plans for a North American tour next year?
We’re hoping to have something to present for next year, but as of now I can’t say anything.
When it comes to putting together a setlist, do you stick mainly to songs Marco sang originally?
Not at all. We just play the songs that we consider need to be played and that we enjoy playing. We play songs from every album and Marco pulls it off. I don’t like dividing up the band in a Dolving or Aro camp. Both are excellent singers and have strong albums in their catalog. When we make a setlist, we’re just trying to make a set that feels like getting hit by a train.
As a Swede, what do you make of the Trump presidency?
I don’t talk politics because it’s not my thing to do. People listen to the band because they like our music, and I want them to be able to listen to the music without the obstruction that is a political or religious view. If people want drama they can read the news or just check out what everyone shares on Facebook at the moment.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Rascal Flatts, “Life Is A Highway,” mainly because my daughter keeps it on repeat every day. Every hour. She likes the movie Cars a lot. I’ve listened a fair bit to the new Decrepit Birth and also Immolation while I’ve been driving to festivals and such this summer. But since I work so much with music I barely listen to anything new. I should though. Oh yes, the new The Lurking Fear album is an awesome album.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I would really like to say thank you to our followers for all the support. We’re nothing without you. Hope you like the album and see you on the road! And if you’re on the road be sure to check me and Jensen playing some awesome new guitars from solar-guitars.com. Some product placement for you there! Thanks for having me.
(interview published August 24, 2017)