It’s always pleasant to chat with Daniel Guildenlöw, frontman of one of the most talented progressive bands of these past few years. First of all because, as we’ve already said before,the man doesn’t seem to have a single flaw and we’re always hoping for a few drops of his perfection to spray some way or another upon us – please don’t see anything sexual about that last sentence! But the pleasure also – and mostly – comes from the fact that Daniel happens to be profoundly nice, always open and with a great sense of humour.

That’s why, as we wandered backstage at the 2011 Hellfest, we couldn’t resist the impulse to call the vocalist and improvise a short interview.

So here we are with an audio recording of the interview and its transcript.

Audio recording:

[audio:interviews/pain_of_salvation_2011_06_19.mp3|titles=Pain Of Salvation Interview]

Radio Metal: Don’t worry, it’s not going to be like a boring interview of twenty minutes… It’s for fun !

Daniel Gildenlöw: You might think that! Until I start answering! (Laughs)

(Laughs) Ok, so, how are you doing?

I’m fine. We’ve done the gig, so that’s nice.

How was it?

It was OK. Good crowd, lots of people.

« Right now I’m so fed up with modern production, with clicky-based drums, wall-of-sound guitars and rectifiers and all that crap. I’m sick of it, I can’t stand it, I can’t listen to it. »

I was a little surprised, because this is a metal festival, and yet a lot of people seemed to react to Pain Of Salvation’s music. That’s cool, because bands like Anathema or Pain Of Salvation might not get the same response as other bands in a purely metal festival. This time, it was the contrary, actually.

I think that when people see us live, they can’t but notice that there’s a groove you have to respond to. I’m just happy it works out. Every time we’re playing at Hellfest, we’re like: “Should we play the metal material?” But then we stick to what’s us, and it usually pays off. That’s good.

The two times you played at Hellfest, it was in the afternoon, so it was quite sunny. I think it’s good conditions for Pain Of Salvation. Some bands look better when it’s dark, but for you, I really enjoy these conditions.

Yeah? I guess we work with different conditions. Of course, as a band, being on stage, it’s always nice when it’s sort of dark, and you can make a light show that sort of underlines the music. But daytime gigs have another type of fascination that comes with them, I guess.

Some bands might tend to hide behind the light show.

Exactly. I’m leaning towards something brutally honest and naked right now, so it would go along with that. We can’t hide behind any cool light shows or whatever; we have to make ourselves and the music talk by themselves.

Have you seen other bands on stage?

I was out and watched a bit of Mr. Big, which was nice. I did the Hammer Of The Gods thing a few years ago, together with Paul Gilbert, so it was nice to see him on stage.

Actually, the two bands, Pain Of Salvation and Mr. Big, can be compared in terms of vocal harmonies. There’s a lot of work there, and that’s quite rare in metal today.

We’ve just been… I wouldn’t say lucky, because we’ve been trying really hard to get the right people in the band. But we have at least three people that are above average when it comes to lead singing. Which is pretty nice, because you can do quite a lot of stuff that other bands can’t really do. Normally, you have like one singer, and the rest of them are sort of singers. But with Johan and Leo in the band, all of this can go extremely high up and become lead singing, which is pretty nice.

It’s also nice because your guitarist can do the lead singing and you can go over the top…

Yeah, I need to jump around sometimes! (laughs) When we do full shows, especially when we play two and a half hours, like we just did in Brazil, for the encore, we can just throw whatever’s out there. I was playing drums for some Dio song, and Leo would do the lead vocals; Johan also did vocals for some Beatles songs. It’s pretty nice. We can do so many different things, ‘cause all of us have sort of a wide foundation to start with. It’s a pleasure and an honor, I guess. Good line-up, I like it a lot.

« I really like music. But I think I’m just so deep into the creative part of music that, when I have free time, I like silence. Or possibly watching a good TV series or a movie. Or reading books. Or even better, taking a hot bath while reading books! »

The last song you played today was a bit different than usual…

The thing is, we only had 45 minutes, which is not really a gig for us. It’s sort of a warm-up! When we started to do the set-list, we figured that we would not be able to play the whole Perfect Element, because there’s the “Falling” intro, where I play a lead solo thing. It starts off pretty soft before it kicks in, and we thought we had to kick in from the start, pretty much. It made for a pretty different experience, we’ve never done that before. We never even played it, we just talked about it twenty minutes before the show! (Laughs) We were like, “ok, maybe if you just did like ‘tick clack uh’ and then we start playing.” So, even though we talked about it, it still felt really odd doing it, because we have never actually done it. It was a weird situation, I guess.

You have already changed some songs in the past. I’m thinking of “Ashes” in major scale, for example. That was really cool.

The one song that has probably gone through the most transformations through the years would be “Nightmist”. I have an old demo recording somewhere, from ’93 or ’94, where it’s really straight through the whole song. And then we’ve been developing it all the time. Already on our first album in 1997, we had introduced a lot of details. Now it’s been going through quite some transformations. We have a reggae part, a power death metal part, and we’re ending with a long twelve-bar blues in five/four. It’s a constant change, everything is up for grabs through the years.

You should to more live albums, to immortalize these changes!

Live albums always seem like a good idea. Today, people want to re-record so much stuff afterwards, and I’m just so against that. So I never do that. But of course, I always get involved in the mixing process. It always starts off like: “We’ll just record the live gig, and release the whole gig or whatever”. Then it ends up being lots more work. I prefer to work on new material. I’m sort of anxious and restless to move on.

Speaking of new material, when is Road Salt Two coming out?

End of September. I think it’s the 27th of September. But I’ve heard it already, so it’s old news to me! (laughs)

What can we expect?

It’s pretty much the same beast as Road Salt One. It’s really the same sort of sound. I used to say that it’s probably darker than Road Salt One, but I’m not sure anymore, ‘cause I’m so subjective. I’m so completely into it, it’s hard to tell. We have more seventies, old-rock-style, sort of Zeppelin or Sabbath-sounding songs, but we also have some soft, sensitive material. It’s really difficult to say how it’s gonna be received by people who’ve never heard it before. It’s more in the same style as the previous album than you can usually expect from Pain Of Salvation, since it’s part of the same thing, really.

You seem pretty enthusiastic about the seventies style, first with Road Salt One, and now Road Salt Two. Is it a new Pain Of Salvation? Can we expect that style in the future?

I’ll probably get sick of that too and change it to something else! (laughs) I don’t know. Right now I’m so fed up with modern production, with clicky-based drums, wall-of-sound guitars and rectifiers and all that crap. I’m sick of it, I can’t stand it, I can’t listen to it. So I needed to find something that felt more true and honest. I just went back all the time to the sound from the seventies, the grainy, just really honest, live-played material. It still moves me, in a way that music from the eighties and nineties simply doesn’t.

Is your bass player a permanent member now?

No! That’s the funny thing. It’s sort of an almost-full bandmember. He’s our first-hand choice when we go out and play. When we played India, we had a guy also called Daniel playing keyboards, because Fredrik was unavailable at that point. So this guy Daniel, who was actually our stage technician for the 2007 tour, managed to play the keyboards. He’s a really good keyboard player. But from the start he’s a bass player – he’s a really good bass player too! So for Brazil that we just did, he came along, but since Fredrik was playing the keyboards, he came along and played the bass, because Per couldn’t be there to play the bass! So it’s sort of open, but we’ll see in the future what happens. It’s hard enough to have four people being able to come to the rehearsals and put in the time and effort that’s needed. With five people, everything starts to get very complicated. We’re not eighteen anymore; we have families, we have lots of other commitments. It’s difficult to get things working out.

« Don’t tell anyone, but I still have the Transatlantic stuff, or the Axamenta stuff, still wrapped in plastic at home. It’s really, really embarrassing! »

Have you heard the album your brother put out with The Shadow Theory, his new band?

No. I would love to say yes to that question. It would just seem so much better if I said yes, I guess! (Laughs) No, I haven’t, actually. Is it good?

It’s excellent. It’s with Devon Graves from Psychotic Waltz.

Oh, that’s cool. Does it have clicky-based drums?

No, I think not! Actually, it also features the drummer from Threshold.

Johanne? Oh, wait, they had three different ones… We’ve played with them a few times through the years, but they’ve had different ones. Is it Johanne, the black guy?

Yes, that’s him!

He’s a really good drummer. A nice guy too. That’s cool.

Sorry, but how is it possible you didn’t listen to an album your own brother is playing on?!

I’ve said it before today, but you’d be surprised about what I haven’t listened to or heard actually!

You know this will end up on Blabbermouth and be twisted around, and people will think you hate your brother and there is a problem in the Gildenlöw family?!

(Laughs) OK, so let’s me rephrase that: I haven’t heard it, but I’m sure it’s good! I’m sure Kristoffer does a stand-out job on the bass! (Laughs) I mean, I really like music. But I think I’m just so deep into the creative part of music that, when I have free time, I like silence. Or possibly watching a good TV series or a movie. Or reading books. Or even better, taking a hot bath while reading books! Listening to music, it’s just… It’s like I need a break from it when I’m not into the whole creative process. I spend so much time getting all the details right, it really makes me go nuts sometimes. So that’s pretty much the reason. Actually, I’ve been on so many different albums outside Pain Of Salvation, and I haven’t even listened to most of them afterwards! It’s like, when I’ve done it, I’m happy with having heard that song. I know what I did, I know what they did, and that’s fine. I don’t need to go back and revisit that. Don’t tell anyone, but I still have the Transatlantic stuff, or the Axamenta stuff, still wrapped in plastic at home. It’s really, really embarrassing! But luckily, that goes with the Pain Of Salvation stuff, too. Like the last DVD: I spent so much time working on it, looking at the menus, going through all the little details… After it was done and I got the final product, I opened it up, I looked at it, but it’s gonna take years for me to be able to put that into my DVD player and actually watch it. I’m done with it for now!

You said we would be surprised about all the things you haven’t listened to. But I’m sure you’ve listened to Lady Gaga!

I’ve heard that one song that’s always on the radio. And that’s it! Why, is she playing here? (laughs)

But every metalhead has already listened to Lady Gaga!

Yeah? I didn’t know that!

She’s a Kiss and Anthrax fan, actually.

Oh yeah? That’s cool. The one song I’ve heard, although it’s extremely commercial at one point, it’s still sort of interesting. It’s a bit uncompromising in a way. I mean, you have that really catchy chorus, but the rest of the song is not really what you would expect from truly mainstream stuff. So I’m not surprised to hear that.

You did a bit of Lady Gaga before Lady Gaga with “Disco Queen”!

Yeah! It’s just that the world didn’t notice it as much, did they? (Laughs) We were kind of Mister Gaga, I guess! (laughs)

So what are you going to do or watch now?

I know Per wants to watch Judas and… What’s the other stuff? Ozzy? I just met up with an old friend who plays in Dark Tranquillity these days. It’s funny: back in 1994, I think, we won this national music contest in Sweden with Pain Of Salvation. And we had this music college band on the side, called The Q-Krunkers From Hell – I won’t even describe what that means. He was 19 years old at that point, and he was one of the two guys taking care of our band. We went to their rehearsal room at one point. He was on stage with this joke band, because we had decided to highjack the stage for their first night. He played the bongo and I played the drums. It was like thrash death metal with country influences – in Swedish, of course! It was really bizarre, satanic and sexist lyrics. But it was a joke, of course, I must emphasize that: it was a joke band. He was playing the bongo for that, and now he’s playing in Dark Tranquillity. I think that was actually the last time we met, in 1994, and now we just met up. So I think I’m gonna check his band out. It will be nice, seeing the old bongo player from The Q-Krunkers From Hell on stage! (Laughs)

Ok, you know, you’re not really interesting so we’d better cut short this interview now…

See, that’s what I said! I told you so! (Laughs)

Interview conducted on june 19th, 2011 by Spaceman & Metal O’ Phil at Hellfest.
Pain Of Salvation’s Website : www.painofsalvation.com

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