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SCAR SYMMETRY are something like an all-star band from Sweden. The band members are all more or less well-known in the metal community: Jonas Kjellgren (g, Carnal Forge, Centinex, World Below), Henrik Ohlsson (d, Theory In Practice, Mutant, Altered Aeon), Per Nilsson (g, Altered Aeon), Christian Älvestam (v, Unmoored, Incapacity, Torchbearer) and Kenneth Seil (b) just recently released their debut album entitled "Symmetric In Design". I had the opportunity to ask a couple of questions and here's drummer Henrik Ohlsson's answers!
So, how are you doing? I bet you guys are quite busy with the promotion of "Symmetric In Design"?
I'm fine, thanks for asking. Oh yeah, we've been doing interviews constantly since christmas and now things are actually calming down but it's been a lot of promotional work for the last couple of months. The response on the album has been incredible!
First off, since you're a new band here's the inevitable question of how you guys met and who made the decision to form the band. If I am not mistaken you are not all coming for the same town/city so I guess it was not just some bored guys hanging out in a pub over a beer when the idea arose.
Ha ha, no we weren't a bored bunch of guys forming a band just for the hell of it. It actually started when I was recording drums for my other band Altered Aeon in the Black Lounge studio. That studio is owned by Jonas, one of the guitarists in Scar Symmetry, and he asked me if I was insterested in starting up a new band with him. I certainly was interested and I suggested that we'd use Per from Altered Aeon as a second guitarist, and Per gladly joined the lineup when he was asked about it. Then Jonas recruited a friend of his called Kenneth on bass and Jonas was also the one who asked Christian to join the band because Christian had recorded in Jonas´ studio before and Jonas knew about his vocal abilities. Christian said "hell yes!" and then Scar Symmetry was a fact!
I'm wondering if Scar Symmetry should be seen more as a project since you all have various other bands to work with?
It's a real band, it was never meant to be a studio-project or something like that. We all have other bands as you say, but we try to create schedules that we follow and the band that is recording or playing live or whatever is the one we focus on at any given moment.
So there are plans to tour or to play single shows at least?
We'll definetly play live and we'll tour and all that when we get the chance. Right now we only have one show booked though, it will take place in Stockholm in April. Imperious and Insision are the other bands on the bill that night!
Sounds good! I already mentioned you guys' others bands.....I think I haven't heard any news regarding Theory In Practise for a while. On the website it just says the band's taking a break. Can you tell me what's up there?
We haven't done anything with that band for two and half years now so nothing's really up there. The inspiration in the band ran out in 2002 and that's the way it's been since then.
That's sad news for quite a few people I guess :(
But back to Scar Symmetry. Whose idea was the band name and what does it suppose to mean or stand for?
Scar Symmetry is supposed to symbolize the emotional scars you receive from living a human life because no one goes unmarked through life, I think. The bandname also has a certain balance in it because it's a combination of a "hard" word (Scar) and a "soft" word (Symmetry), so there's some yin/yang-shit going on aswell, he he.
It's quite impressing you managed to get a deal with Cold Records/Metal Blade that fast. Did you just send a demo and they signed you right away or what?
Yeah, Cold Records were actually interested in the band before we had any material written because they recognized some of the names in the line-up. So, we recorded a demo with one track called "Seeds Of Rebellion" and we sent it to them right away since we knew they were interested. And when they heard that the music was killer they immediately signed us and we didn't even bother looking for other options in terms of labels.
Wow...if that doesn't make some musicians envious! And I had suspected that if a band starts sending out a demo to labels it already has to have enough songs for at least one album or so.
How's the songwriting process like? You have main songwriters in the band?
The guitarists wrote all the music on this album except for minor outside contributions, Jonas wrote seven songs and Per wrote five. Christian did the vocal lines for Jonas' songs and Per did the vocal lines for his songs on his own. I wrote all the lyrics for the album.
So you are the right man to ask about the lyrics!! Unfortunately I don't have the lyrics for the album so I'm afraid a general question about them will have to do. Or if there's a particular lyric you want to talk about, now's the best opportunity to do so :)
Well, "Chaosweaver" deals with breaking free from the disillusioned attitude of the collective subconscious of humanity and embrace a stronger world-view.
"2012" presents all the theories regarding that specific year, both scientific and mystical ones.
"Dominion" is about a person who has lost his hope for mankind and withdraws into his inner world.
"Underneath The Surface" is lyrically about the same thing as the first song.
"Reborn" is about rebirth in different forms, not just the traditional one. Our bodies change as we live which is one form of rebirth from one body to another, and each moment is actually a rebirth in itself so the idea of being reborn in different ways is a really wide and strong concept to empower yourself (or to get depressed, whatever you choose, ha ha).
"Obscure Alliance" is about the connection between the physical and the spiritual planes of existence. "Hybrid Cult" is about a bloodline that has been kept pure since the dawn of man basically and it supposedly rules all economy and media today!
"Orchestrate The Infinite" is about a force that doesn't want to be labelled as good or evil, god or devil, etc. It just wants to exist without human labels.
"Detach From The Outcome" is about a trip on hallucinogenic drugs and the effects that comes with that! I'm not a user myself, I was just inspired by some stories around it.
"Seeds Of Rebellion" deals with the release of your rebellious nature.
"The Eleventh Sphere" is about astral travelling, this one is performed through the system of Kabbalah. The person in the lyric travels to the sphere that was created when god's goblet of creation cracked and the liquid inside it ran over, thus creating a sphere of nightmares, unwanted ideas and everything that goes with the nightside of creation. The eleventh sphere is simply a place you gotta love!
Cool run-down on the tracks, thanks!
Does the album title have a specific meaning then too? I suppose it's not total coincidence that band name and album title have similarities (symmetry/symmetric)?
The album title is connected to quantum physics and the re-occurring patterns you see in nature in the form of spirals, circles etc. I wanted an album title that connected to the bandname and that's why the word "symmetry" can be found in both of them.
And the artwork also goes hand in hand with the symmetric idea...
Yep, Pär Johansson (PJ Illustrations) read the lyrics and pondered upon the album title and then he came up with the artwork. I think it's the coolest frontcover he's ever done! We were totally blown away when we saw it the first time.
I read you spend three months in the studio to record the album. Isn't that quite a long time, at least for a debut?
Three months is quite some time but since we used Jonas' studio we didn't have to hurry, so we didn't! We had a couple of breaks during those three months too and Jonas was the only one who was there throughout the whole process, the rest of us recorded our parts and went home. Then we returned sporadically for beers and stuff like that!
Of course, ha ha! ;)
Recording all the keyboards and guitars took a lot of time because there's a lot of guitars and keyboards on this album, and also the mixing was a hellish task for poor ol' Jonas because it was a complex thing to get all the keyboards and guitars in the right place level-wise and all that.
The album came out only two weeks ago but I'm sure you read various reviews already. I hope you're not already tired of this... but more or less everybody states that Scar Symmetry sounds a lot like Soilwork and also I have this Soilwork banner popping up when I'm listening to the album (which I acutally didn't expect with the background you guys have). For some it's not a big problem, others accuse you of being clones. What is your reply to those?
First of all I must say that we are amazed by all the great reviews we've received, it's really been a pleasure reading them and it seems like everyone loves this album. We had no idea that so many people loved our kind of music so much! A lot of people find similarities between us and Soilwork, that is true, and it doesn't really matter as long as they like the music. But I really think it's more interesting to focus on the things that separate us from other bands rather than searching for similarities. I think that there are many differences between us and for example Soilwork and I find the sound of Scar Symmetry unique and interesting. If anyone wants to dismiss us as being Soilwork-clone I think they're making a big mistake but it's really their loss.
What was or still is your motive of being in Scar Symmetry and being a musician in general?
We formed Scar Symmetry because we wanted to play together in a band, we really enjoyed eachother's company and everything and that's really the main reason why we put this band together. The second reason was that we wanted to do something new musically that we hadn't done before with other bands. Being a musician is essential to me personally, I think I will always play music in one way or another. I constantly think about music, in terms of other bands, my own music and lyrics etc, and I really find a sense of peace while playing that can be compared to meditation. Because when you play an instrument nothing exists except for the music you're playing, you know, that's the way it is for me anyway. I think that is what keeps me going, that sense of fulfillment and peace.
Now finally, as we're a webzine, I cannot avoid to ask about internet resp. a website for Scar Symmetry in particular. Is there a site in the making? It's kind of bad timing to have an album out but no website to provide information. I would bet there's a high demand for info, especially since we're talking a new band.
Since everything happened so fast with this band we haven't had time to launch a website yet, we've only been writing material, recording the songs and promoting the album since we formed! We have a webmaster and everything but there's just been so many other things to take care of! But hopefully we'll get it online soon, we'll do our best!
Ok, that's it for now. Thanks for answering the questions, the last words are yours.
Alright, cheers to all the readers and thank you for doing this interview.
submitted by Cora 28.02.2005