||NATHAN BIGGS OF SONIC SYNDICATE: "WE'RE NOT THE BAND NUCLEAR BLAST ORIGINALLY SIGNED"
Luke 'Loki' Milne
Following on from a short break from the industry, Swedish Metal act Sonic Syndicate return with a fresh lick of paint on their shoes. Wearing their new sound and style with pride ahead of the release of their sixth studio release, 'Confessions', vocalist Nathan Biggs came to the heart of central London to speak in depth with MetalTalk about the creation and design behind their upcoming album...
First and foremost, best of luck with the upcoming release of 'Confessions', the album being hailed as a new start for the band; how does it feel to be back in the game after a hiatus?
"It's amazing. I'm a total addict to everything that comes with being in a band, be it the artwork of your CD, being on stage... I love everything in this whole music culture. I'm just a fan at the end of the day, and I love making music!"
Sonic Syndicate have been affected by a number of changes during the course of it's existence. How do you think you've managed to stay afloat with such a dynamic history of change and development?
"I think it sorts the men from the boys, so to speak. The only reason we've survived is because me and Robin [Sjunnesson] have been the best of friends, and the creativity between us musically is never lacking.
"We can go through hell and back. Everything that can happen to a band has happened to us... but as soon as we sit down and he picks up a guitar and I start singing? We've never had a problem enjoying music and being creative together. I guess that's the backbone of why we're here; we're never gonna stop wanting to make music."
'Confessions' takes on a fairly different tone to previous releases, showing a more vulnerable side to the band. What would you say is the message behind the album, and what kind of listener is it intended for?
"We wanted to be 100% honest with who we are as people and what we enjoy as music. The origin of the band was part of this melodic death Metal and deathcore scene - and we're really proud of our contributions to that - but we've kinda paid our dues to it. We've had a good time doing it, but we're musicians that want to see how creative we can be at the end of the day."
You mentioned being honest with yourselves as a band - would you say that you were dressing things up a bit for the Metalcore fans in previous years?
"No, not at all. We've just come to the point in our career where we can be proud of everything we've done within the genre, but I want to branch out and not limit the band to one genre.
"I think if we had done another album people would have expected, it wouldn't have been our best work. You get comfortable treading the same sort of path, and when you get comfortable you're not surprising yourself. If you're not [doing that], how the hell do you expect to surprise your listener?
"I think if we did that it wouldn't stand a chance of being our best album to date. This is an album that is apart from a lot of music I've heard at the moment."
Tell me more about the birth of the album. How did it all come together?
"When we started writing the new album we had fifteen tracks that were a lot more what you'd expect us to release. We listened to it, and thought 'okay, this is good but is it the best we can do?' We'd already had the studio booked and were going to record this album, but three weeks before we headed into the studio we made the decision of... 'Let's not do this record. We can do better'.
"So we scrapped it all and started again, with the idea of not having any preconceptions of how we should sound, breaking it down to the bare minimum of whatever we wanted to write."
Do you think the material you scrapped will surface eventually, or would you change it to suit your current style?
"There's a couple of tracks that we reworked that are on this album, but overall? No. I think if you ever leave something behind you've just got to appreciate what you've done, but I don't think rehashing or reworking songs is a way to move forward."
Looking back a little, during the lead-up to the release of 2007s 'Only Inhuman' you stated some of your influences at the time of writing the album - mentioning bands like Killswitch Engage, Inflames, Soilwork and Bullet For My Valentine. What bands would you say have influenced the music of 'Confessions'?
"Our music spectrum is so diverse, I wouldn't really list any bands to have influenced this album. I'm listening to rock, pop, Metal, I love hip-hop and rap... to reel off some stuff on my Spotify? Whitechapel, Paris, Yelawolf, Upon A Burning Body... it's so diverse what I listen to. We all have quite an eclectic taste and that's definitely worked its way into this record."
What's your favourite track on the album and why?
"Probably either 'Falling' or 'Start A War', which we picked as the single for the album. It has such a personal message for me. Life is so short, and I've discovered that first-hand with people I hold very dear to me becoming sick and others not being around any more.
"You need to surround yourself with you people you care about. Don't waste time or energy on anything you don't want to do. Just because you're on a certain path, it doesn't mean it's your final destination.
"This could be applied to music or everyday life - you might be comfortable and familiar but you're not feeling any passion. It's having the courage to make a change... to start a war. Every day, people are faced with choices to make...whether it's [to be] happy or to carry on being a passenger in life."
Your separation from Nuclear Blast and subsequent move to Despotz records - can you give a little more detail into what happened?
Of course. Nuclear Blast didn't want to do the new album with us – this is even before we'd moved away from the album I mentioned before. In that way it was a blessing in disguise; we needed to push ourselves, and I think the reason we were let go from Nuclear is that we're not the band they originally signed. We've been evolving for a long time and our goals as a band have shifted as well. We've gone from a Metal band to include so many more elements.
"Now we're with Despotz, it's allowed us to open up the creativity even more and re-evaluate what we want to do and what we want to be remembered for. If we'd have done another 'safe' album I think it would have limited our longevity of the band. I wouldn't have been content writing the same material.
"Of course bands try little new things, but they don't make huge leaps, and I think when you start going down that path you're not gonna release your best album. I'm not saying we're 100% there yet but we're well on the way to creating something different from anybody else. It's gonna be our own sound. Back in the day, you could list ten bands that Sonic Syndicate sound like, whereas now I don't think that's the case."
Let's talk about the upcoming European tour with Amaranthe and Smash Into Pieces. Your last tour would have been around five years ago, but what's your current mood about getting back out there?
"I CANNOT wait! In my everyday life I'm an addict, whether it be coffee or going to the gym, I do it to excess and I when I don't have it I want more and more. I've been on the road and enjoyed touring, and it's the best feeling in the whole world. Nothing can replace it – not girls, not drugs, not alcohol - that feeling when you're onstage is the best feeling in the world. Doesn't matter if it's ten people or Summer Breeze festival in front of 35,000 people, it's the epitome of what I want to do with my life.
"To be able to do this tour with Amaranthe is gonna be great. They're really cool people as well, we've played some festivals together and I've hung out with them in Helsinki while I was living there. They seem to really care about their fans. A lot of bands can't be bothered to go and hang out with fans after the show. I know if you're Metallica that can be pretty impossible, but for as long as we can I still want to go to the bar and hang out with the fans, or hang out at the merch booth.
"There are bands that just do meet and greets... but when I watch people do it, it looks like a conveyor belt of people. I'm not gonna name bands but they just sign whatever and don't even look the fan in the eye. But I'm like... I wanna give my fans a high five and [talk to them]. It's tiring as hell but I just want to make a connection with the fans."
Any closing words for your fans on the upcoming release?
"We're gonna be hitting a lot of old fans, but if you're a new fan you've gotta come see us live – just to see my stupid face, how much I enjoy every second of being up there! Our mission to make people move, smile and laugh. I just love talking to the audience, seeing fists in the air and people singing. It's not like a Metal band taking themselves far to seriously... I want it to be a party from start to finish and make sure we have a blast! We're gonna do our damnedest to get into the UK next year, so watch this space!"
'Confessions' will be released under Despotz records on 14th October. Pre-order at Amozon here.