Sylvain Coudret (guitar) – Saturday 17 June 2017
“If you don’t constantly promote and tour people will stop talking about you. You have to work a lot and tour a lot and that’s what we do” – Sylvain Coudret
So the band – is it once again ready to destroy the stage this year?
You know what? We’re really having a hard time getting everything in order : Sven our keyboardists missed his plane this morning. You’re the first to know ! So tonight we have to play without a keyboard. It’s out of the question to cancel but it’s going to be a little more rock n roll because we will have to adapt our setlist to make it work. We are seriously frustrated!
Outside of this small issue, how is your day going ? Not too stressed ?
It’s going pretty well. The festival is always getting bigger. I got here yesterday so I had the time to walk around the site, it’s insane, it’s one of the most beautiful metal festivals in Europe on every level. Most notably the decoration, the others arrived early this morning so they are pretty tired. Swedes aren’t used to these temperatures!
The programming on The Altar is very Swedish with Soilwork, Pain Of Salvation and Opeth playing with you….
Those bands have been around just as long as Soilwork, or even longer. It’s the Swedish scene for the 90s. It should be a fun end to the night. It’s funny because three years ago we played with Opeth here on the same stage.
I’d love your opinion on this question : are festivals killing tours ? Festivals have such an importance for certain bands that they prefer to concentrate on those rather than tour to limit the financial risk. By the same token a portion of the public doesn’t go to club shows during festival season because they would rather see dozens of bands at once…
It’s understandable but it really depends on the situation of the band. You can be really well payed when you play festivals but there are a lot of associated costs, plane flights for example. Personally I’d rather see a band do their own tour with the infrastructure, equipment, etc. At a festival you have to be a little more restrained and complicated. At a festival you only get a linecheck too which can be risky for the sound. On a tour the sound is a lot easier to sort. You have more time and benefit from having all your own gear. Also I look at it from the fan perspective. You can pay 50 euros to see 2-3 bands in a club or see 170 for 180 Euros over three days. On top of that it’s the summer, it’s cool. So I can understand why people would prioritize festivals. Everyone does what they want, but me I prefer to see a band on tour. Take the headliners for example, if you see them at a festival as opposed to their own tour it’s totally different. At the end of the day that’s only my opinion, and some bands prefer to go through the trouble of setting up a tour to better service the fans whereas others want the financial security.
Soilwork has been very active in terms of releases since 2013 : a double album (The Living Infinite, 2013), a DVD (Live In the Heart Of Helsinki, 2015), an album (The Ride Majestic, 2015), and a compilation of rarities (Death Resonance, 2016). Why do you think you’ve been so productive ?
I think it’s something really positive because it means we get to release something every year. The double album surprised quite a few people and we were able to get a DVD out the next year. Then we were able to do another album alongsides the compilation of bonus tracks. With the number of bands there are out ther you need to stay visible and release things regularly. Two months after the release of an album people forget. If you don’t constantly promote and tour people will stop talking about you. You have to work a lot and tour a lot and that’s what we do. Of course it’s been hard because we did tour a lot in this period.
On a personal level are you creatively limited ? Your name doesn’t appear much in the credits for the last two records…
Björn (Strid – vocals) and David (Andersson – guitar) are Swedish and have the opportunity to work together a lot which helps a lot. On top of that they are very much on the same musical level. From my side I’m not frustrated. I wrote four songs on the first record I played on in 2010. From there personal events meant I couldn’t be as invested as I wanted to for The Living Infinite where I contributed to 3-4 songs. I wrote two for the last record. There isn’t a lot of pressure : everyone can write for this band. If the song is good it will be recorded. I would like to write more but my writing sometimes feels limited. Do you know my old band Scarve ? Sometimes I write things a little more in that spirit than what Bjorn does which is a little more melodic. It doesn’t really fit, we need to have the melody. When I try to write for Soilwork I have a lot of liberty but I have to keep the Soilwork vibe for that and the Scarve vibe for myself.
One of the constants in this band is the inconcistency of the lineup. At the end of the year last year in paris the lineup was kind of a hybrid…
On that tour and on the following US tour David couldn’t come with us for professional reasons, he’s a doctor. So we had to get a session bassist and guitarist. Today we still use a session bassist. It’s hard to keep going with a band like Soilwork who have been going for more than twenty years. Even in the biggest bands it can be hard to maintain a lineup. Over such a longtime there are going to be moments of friction. Without the passion behind it you won’t be able to finish it. To leave on tour you need to like it too ! Without passion it’s impossible to get far in this business, impossible.
The departure of Dirk (Verbeuren – drums) wasn’t too hard for you to handle from a personal perspective?
Remember, Dirk and I have been playing together since 1993 ! We know each other by heart. We grew up together in a lot of ways. It’s obviously complicated but we try to still hang out and to make music together. In any case we don’t have a choice ! (laughter) It’s difficult but it was hard for Dirk to refuse to go play in Megadeth, they aren’t some small band, they do huge tours etc. Sure there’s the question of Dave Mustaine, but it will evolve ! Indirectly it’s been good for Soilwork because it gets people talking about the bands Dirk was in, including Scarve. If Scarve comes back together it will have a positive impact.
So, to discuss a recurring subject, will there be a Scarve reunion ?
We ask ourselves that question more and more the more we travel. Thanks to Soilwork a lot of people discovered us who might never have before. Of course that’s happening even moreso now that we have the Megadeth connection. The problem is planning. It’s already hard with Soilwork a band who tours a lot and when we’re not touring records albums. It becomes more complicated when Dirk and I play in two other bands with different schedules on top of that. I still hope to be able to do something because the demand is omnipresent and growing. We have to do it before we die after all ! (laughter)
Back to news with Soilwork, you’ve done a ton of festivals and have a Scandinavian tour this falll…
After that we need to write the new record ! We are going to try and record next year but nothing has been put into place because it hasn’t been written and we are a little worn out. On top of that Bjorn and David have their rock band The Night Flight Orchestra that occupies their time and changes their ideas.
I’m going to end this interview by asking you the same question that I asked the first time we spoke at Divan Du Monde in 2014. At the time I asked you what the last record you really loved was, at that point it was Avatariums self titled debut. What is it in 2017 ?
A yes, Avatarium ! It’s weird because I never really followed that band after. But I really loved that first album. Recently I haven’t totally fallen in love with anything. You know it’s really hard to be surprised today. These days I really like Mastodon though because they do a lot of stuff that is very personal and diverse. I like when people recommend me surprising things, even if in your eyes it’s harder to be surprised !