This is an interview with Daniel for PopFrontal,for the acoustic show in Leipzig (June 8th 2012).
How was the tour, how does it feel to be back home?
Tours always make me feel like a cat somehow, you know, perpetually wanting to be where you are not. I long to be on tour, then when I am on tour I long home to my wife and kids. Going out on the road this time around was an emotional turmoil to an even higher extent than usual, with two old band members gone, and me just having become a father for the third time around. I mean, we knew we were already balancing on the verge of insanity when I accepted the tour that was supposed to start only five weeks after the arrival of our new baby, but on top of that Morris decided to come out two weeks late, and when he arrived he surprised us with having Down Syndrome and we had to stay at the hospital for three more weeks with me going back and forth trying to handle logistics so I could be with Sandrian (5) and Nimh (2) too. It was a quite overwhelming time. And if you didn't do the maths already; those weeks ate up all the buffer we had before the tour.
On the other hand, it's always extremely rewarding to go on tour. You get to experience two warm homecomings - first you get back to your loving and devoted fans around the world, reminding you of how many wonderful and insightful people there are out there. And then you get back home, and that homecoming is totally a miraculous experience these days, with Johanna and our three beautiful kids welcoming you - I can't see how anything could beat that feeling, really. A lovely breaking of the heart. Also, we sure missed our two old band members (Johan Hallgren and Fredrik Hermansson), but we had two new guys (Ragnar Solberg from Sign and Gustaf Hielm from Meshuggah) who are extremely good musicians and nice people, so we ended up playing stronger shows than ever, full of vibrant energy, like cathartic explosions - bringing some of the songs up on a new level altogether. Some fans probably came to the shows expecting to be disappointed, but we simply couldn't give them that, haha.
Simon (Moskon) told me how Cryptex got hold of this support slot – when did you first hear about those crazy germans supporting the tour – and what did you think of it at the time?
We were recommended Cryptex by our booking agency, after Von Hertzen Brothers fell through due to problems with their mechanical rights royalties or something. This came in the middle of that whole turmoil that I already told you about and actually threatened the entire tour, so we quickly checked out the handful of bands that were eager to join the tour, and Cryptex were the most interesting guys. But to be honest I didn't get just how interesting they were until I saw and heard them live. They truly grew on us for each day on tour, both musically and personally. I am sure our paths will cross again in the future.
Simon has given an extremely positive résumé of the tour in general and especially the way Cryptex was treated by you, by the band and your team (esp. mentioning tour Manager, backliner, sound people, guitar techs etc.)! He said you granted them reliable stage times, ample time for sound checks (if possible) and virtually no constraints to light and sound…
When you look back - how has PoS been treated as a support act (e.g. by Dream Theater, or Opeth for that matter)? How come you treat the bands so fair who are supporting you today?
We've always been very easy people to deal with, I guess that's just the way we were all raised. It comes natural to us, it's not a part of any plan or the result of being treated this or that way ourselves. We have never been treated badly, but in all honesty I must say that we treat our support bands less as "support bands" than most other headliners do. Apart from how we were raised I guess it could also come out of a self confident calm, us knowing that we know exactly what we are doing and relying fully on what we deliver on stage. We don't need twice as many lights or 30 dB louder sound than the openers in order to shine or convince the audience that we are the pinnacle of the evening.
When was the last time you experienced stage fright?
In 1988. We qualified for Rock-SM, and our first real gig ever (we were 15) was in front of 1,000 people. We were playing in the "Below 20" category where everyone else was of course about 19. I had decided that I would play my solo down on my knees (which I also did in the end, and a few weeks later when we played at our school I want all-in and played it behind my neck - hell, it was the 80s man). Before the show we were sitting backstage, totally green in our faces. I remember the phrase "Fuck it, let's go home" being uttered at some point, more to underline the nervousness than actually meaning it though. It lasted all the way to the side of the stage and during the presentation of the band - but as soon as we were on stage and touched our instruments, I felt relaxed and hungry for more - I felt in my right element, at home. The next day we all went to school to hear the comments from our class mates (I won "Best Singer" - which granted me a pair of Converse shoes, red and white), but after that we all fell terribly sick, all nerves finally untangling again. After this, stage fright has left me alone.
I do want to feel "on edge" though. I work myself up before shows - I jump, I pace the backstage area back and forth, I sometimes hit myself in the stomach and on my arms. I want to be balancing on that knife's blade when I enter the stage. The closest I come to fright these days are the occasional moment of NOT being worked up before a gig. I need the hunger, I need to feel at home. Every night I walk out on stage in search of magic. Something new, unexperienced, something that touches me and moves me. Reaches me or disturbs me. I want every show to alter me, change me in some way or other.
Reportedly during the last show at Stockholm there occurred quite a lot of practical jokes or pranks like the "sabotage" of Leo's drumkit. Your comments?
During that show, PoS even did support Cryptex by singing on one number of their set ("Alois") as a surprise. This sounds special!
Last shows are famous for having these ingredients - it's an unwritten rule of the business. The crew are messing with the bands, and the headliner usually messes a bit with the opening act. Never to the point where it risks destroying the vibe or performance though. I still remember when we played with Dream Theater back in 2002, for the last show they sang ABBA in our monitor system through one of our songs, haha. When we had Beardfish opening for us a while back, we managed to sneak up on stage and under Léo's drum riser before their gig, and we spent two entire songs under there, waiting for one specific song that starts with drums, then Léo snuck up behind his kit and started to play along with the song, and we jumped out from under the riser with a 2 kilo bag of candy that we threw out to the crowd, and to the band of course.
But for me, the one thing that I looked forward to the most with our last gig in Stockholm was that we trashed a few guitars in No Way. We just figured that it would be the most atypical and "wrong" thing to do - a "prog" band trashing guitars. Ragnar, Gustaf and myself all grew up on Kiss as well, so the will and need was there, hard-wired since our early years in music. So, Gustaf arranged for extra instruments to be there for that gig - they were cheap entry level guitars but we figured they would be good enough for one song. Nope. After the first chorus all three instruments were out of tune, not a little - the necks actually started to give! I was worried that I might not want to destroy the guitar at the end of the song, but with all the tuning problems and the obvious disastrous quality of the instrument, the will to break it came pretty natural, haha. I am just sad to know that lots of kids today actually play on those things when they start learning the guitar. My first guitars were cheap and unknown brands, but they were fully functional and still today stand out as much higher quality than those abominations. I try to grasp just about when it became ok to sell crap as long as someone pays for it. That's a philosophy devoid of heart, passion and love to me.
How did the one-off acoustic show on the 8th of May at Leipzig come about?
Will it be an update of the 12:5 sessions?
What is special about "unplugged" gigs?
We were asked if we wanted to play an acoustic gig, it was as simple as that. And I love to do the different odd gigs, I think all of us do. Acoustic gigs are very intriguing in that it gives you an opportunity to present songs in a different outfit - some songs become more visible somehow in a context of that naked simplicity. They step forward and get a better grip on you as a listener I think. The vocal lines come out clearer, the structure and sublayers shine through. It's like a beautiful x-ray, haha.
The gig will not be a repetition of 12:5, but I do want the gig to deal with the music in the same way, I mean taking a fresh look at the songs and renegotiate and redefine what their true natures really are. We still haven't sat down and put the show together, so at this point I know roughly as much as you about what we ended up actually playing.
What's up next @ the kingdom of loss?
The home page (I guess that's what you are referring to even though it's not called "kingdom of loss" anymore - it changed to "walk with me" and then it became "P A I N O F S A L V A T I O N d o t c o m after that) is facing a total makeover this summer. A complete redesign and restructure with lots of new features being introduced. I am always torn between originality and usability when it comes to informative media of any sort. Readability and interface become most intuitive when they follow the common norms, but I will go insane if we stick to conformity too much. It's a conflict I can't win, since I hate compromises too. But I really look forward to the change, and the work. I'll have an old journalist/designer friend to Johanna and me coming over for a few long days in August, and we will get on it in good old workshop style, most likely with large quantities of talking, tea, coffee, potato chips and red wine thrown into the calculation. So, see you all at the other end of CHANGE.