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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Interview: Violent Divine

The Swedish metal band Violent Divine released four albums since their formation in 2005. On November 10th, 2017 they released their fifth album, called Louder Than Love. Recently, DutchMetalManiac's Tim van Velthuysen interviewed vocalist Mike of Violent Divine.

Hey, congratulations with your new album Louder Than Love. It's very nice!

Thank you! We are obviously happy about it, so glad you like it.

When you compare this album to its predecessor, Hyperactivity Disorder from 2016, what is it you notice?

On Hyperactivity Disorder and the other earlier albums it's was more like we were doing every song at maximum speed, top volume and push in as much energy as possible. With Louder Than Love we had a different approach. We made it a bit more dynamic, try to change the sound to be a bit warmer. Maybe we are flirting with the way rock 'n' roll/metal albums sounded like thirty years ago before we had this ridiculous loudness competition. We try to take a step back and go back to the roots, hardrock. We'll also experimented with the writing process. We didn't write a lot of songs before we went to the studio, we made most of the songs as we recorded them. Which is a bit risky of course, because you don't know how it will turn out. Eventually we ended up with 17 or 18 songs and we settled for 13 songs. I think it went quite good actually.

So, you got a lot of inspiration in the studio?

I am not sure it was like an epiphany to have so much inspiration. It's a tight space, you spend a lot of time there, get on each other's nerves. So it was more like a craftsmanship, we tried to make the best of our competences in rock music. It was more like that approach than waiting for divine inspiration or something. It's more like a production approach. Most people often think about musicians, songwriters and bands that we are super-creative beings who get inspiration from nothing. In real life, inspiration comes when you rehearse a lot, play a lot and you practice with your instruments, then you come up with ideas. It's more a hard working process than something that falls on you from out of nowhere.

You released this album in November last year, within a year after Hyperactivity Disorder. Why were they released in a pretty short time?

I don't think it's really that fast. I was checking out The Beatles and Kiss on Spotify the other day and those guys released two albums a year. In my opinion you should produce new music all the time and release at least one album every year. On the other hand you had five years between Hyperactivity Disorder and the album before it, Release The Hounds. We also had a lineup change at that time which took a lot of time. I think the process of releasing albums should be like a bit quicker like back in the days.

For nowadays it's quite fast, right?

Yeah, it is. In some way bands like Kiss, who did extensive touring in the '70s. They still had time to record another 10-song album while constantly touring. I don't know how they did that, but I like the idea that you should release albums frequently. However I know that the business doesn't work that way nowadays.

How are the reactions on Louder Than Love you get on it so far?

Well, from the fans and the audience it's been great. We had some great reviews. We also had some very strange reviews. One guy didn't review the album or the songs but only said that we were one of those bands that aren't good enough to get a record deal, just because we released everything ourselves. That was weird. Another reviewer I think was expecting us to sound like we did on the previous album, but what is the point of that? If you are just going to produce your previous albums again with different titles, it wouldn't make sense to me. You have to try something new in songwriting and ideas. In general the reception has been great.

What is your favorite track on it? Why?

Luckily I have some distance to songs, because it was a long process. In the end I sort of hated them all but today I have to admit that I like when a pop musician does something with metal riffs and big drums, so songs like I Believe or In Your Bedroom are obviously my cup of tea. I also like the harder songs like opener Crawl, when I scream from the top of my lungs, that's therapy. It's sort of growing back to me again, because I had some time off after the recordings.

On your Facebook page you state that your music is influenced by music from the '70s, '80s as well from nowadays. How do you find the perfect balance in this?

Well, it's basically because I am 53 years old and I grew up listening to chewing gum pop like The Sweet and Slade, then turned to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Black Sabbath. So, there are lots of influences, but I also like new modern metal music like Hellyeah or Five Finger Death Punch and bands like that. It's a mix and I think it makes an interesting combination. You can think in the old ways of making music where you put your melodies and harmonies first while you can also allow yourself to be influenced by modern metal music, which is more about aggressive attitude or metallic riffs like Rammstein and stuff like that. It's a combination and I also like to add some punk rock attitude, because I was a big fan of The Sex Pistols and The Ramones back in the days. Some people even claim that I sometimes sound like Johnny Rotten from The Sex Pistols. I don't know about that, but he's a great singer. At least he got an attitude.

It's a compliment, right?

Yeah, I think so. A good frontman or a lead singer in a band is so much more than being able to sing perfectly in key. It's also some sort of communication and you have to have attitude. I like lots of great singers like Steve Perry and John Henry, these guys are perfect. I also like Johnny Rotten and Phil Lewis from L.A. Guns because they communicate in emotion but they are not a perfect picture all the time. It doesn't have to be.

Some kind of raw edge?

Yeah, exactly. I mean I saw my '80s heroes Ratt last summer and Stephen Pearcy is definitely one of my favorite singers of all time. He never delivers any vocal stuff live that is really acceptable, but he has got an attitude about it and he is communicating. In some ways that is so much more worth to me as a singer.

In your music I hear some rock'n'roll, some metal influences but sometimes it also has its more catchy parts, in a good way. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it yet?

This is the eternal question of how to define your music in genres. Well if you like melodic rock music I think you would love Violent Divine. If you like guitar riff-based metal music, you would also love Violent Divine. I think we are on some kind of mission. We want the ordinary top 40 fan to go away from the general top 40 music and start listening metal and rock music. That is what we offer, we are a getaway to a much better taste in music in some way.

Your fanbase must have many different kinds of people then?

Yes, they are. We have some fans we communicate with on Twitter and Facebook from different parts of the world obviously. It could be people in their sixties or it could be teenagers, there is a really large span of music fans. I think it is because of Violent Divine's music is accessible for everyone, but yet I still haven't heard anyone say the word sellout. Most of the times there are elements in our music that most people can accept, like and appreciate.

Can we expect a Violent Divine tour in 2018?

Unfortunately not, actually because of my health issues. We have to stay indoors for a while, but that doesn't mean we are not working. We are already writing songs for the next album, so we just have to sit still for a bit and wait for the storm to pass.

Do you want to say something about your health issues or not?

It's a Japanese disease called Hashimoto's. That's Japanese for your body isn't working like you think it should be. You get tired, you have to sleep many hours, stuff like that. It's a bit tricky. The thing is it takes a lot of time to adjust your medication, because it's a strange disease. But eventually we'll get there.

Hope you get well soon!

Yeah, I hope so. I'd love to go on tour and do lots of shows, but unfortunately this is not the time.

You already mentioned that you are writing new material. Can you already tell us something about it or not?

Well, there is a plan actually. We talked about old school hard rock and metal music and we would like to expand the concept of mixing classic rock music with modern metal music. If you get the idea of what would Thin Lizzy sound like if they released something today, what would that be like? Stuff like that is what we are experimenting with right now. I think it's exciting. I don't know if that will be the case when we actually start recording the album, but it is an idea we are working on right now. It's exciting, because you have to sort of motivate yourself to start new ideas. Next album will be number six and like I already said there is no point in repeating actually what you did on the last album. Onwards and upwards.

Any other future plans you can already tell us something about?

I think all things said will pretty much sum it up for now. It will be a new album hopefully in 2019. That's the goal we are working towards.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Stop listening to top 40 music and get on with listening to metal. It will get you through your working week, so stick with it.

Violent Divine Official Website
Violent Divine Facebook
Violent Divine Twitter

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