Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey and thank you! We have been great. We have been busy writing and recording our latest and final installment in the Hällas trilogy “Conundrum” which is finally out worldwide March 20th but available for streaming since mid February. We also recently toured in Europe supporting Kadavar.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Tear Of A Traitor”?
Lyrically it is based around the traitor and tyrant – a queen who ruled the now fallen lands of Semyra. “Tear of a Traitor” is the shortest song we have ever written but possibly also the fastest. Despite being on the shorter side I think it just as well captures most of the Hällas aspects with quick turns, twin guitars, organs, synthesizers etc. In my mind I view the song as the bridge from our previous album “Excerpts from a Future Past” to the slightly different direction of “Conundrum” but could just as well serve as a gateway to the world of Hällas.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Since there is a concept spanning over two albums and an EP, there was definitely a fictional event that inspired us to write this song but I couldn’t say a real life event inspired the song though, no. The song, lyrically, is a continuation on the song “Tale of a Tyrant” on our self titled EP.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
We spent one day in a cave in the outskirts of Stockholm with lots of smoke machines and very talented people. Basically we had a dialogue with the producers about the mood and the settings we wanted to create, they scheduled a day for the recording and we turned up having no idea what to expect. As it turned out, it was lots of fun! The process of filming a “real” video in a film studio was very new to us since we previously had only done it by ourselves in the recording studio or at a local small venue. Tommy and I were especially happy not having to cut the video ourselves afterwards. This time, we even had directors, actors, wardrobe and make-up artists etc all working very hard to make the most with the tight time schedule we were under. Me and the other guys in the band were mostly just having coffee or goofing around with the fake swords and clothes while not being filmed. I think the video turned out great, especially considering it was recorded in one day! I remember thinking “this is exactly how I’ve always wanted it to look like” when I was watching the opening sequence being shot with the knight raising his sword above all the smoke. Way beyond my expectations.
The single comes off your new album Conundrum – what’s the story behind the title?
A conundrum is an intricate and confusing problem or question. The word, I think, summons up the story of the three albums where the antagonist is on a tedious quest for answers about the meaning of life – the ultimate conundrum.
How was the recording and writing process?
We recorded the album in two weeks at Riksmixnimgsverket in Stockholm. A beautiful studio with everything you could think of needing while recording the music we do. We were very lucky to be contacted by our label who also owns the studio and to have the opportunity to record there. The personnel was very professional and talented.
The writing process was pretty much the same as we always do, only perhaps more structured. Kasper and Tommy wrote the plot of the album – a story that we used to dictate the mood and the settings of the music and the lyrics. Of course, at times the process is reversed where a new musical passage can make a new turn for the plot and we have to rewrite the story to make it fit accordingly.
Generally the process of the music started with one of us coming up with ideas at home that we all brought to the rehearsal room and compose into songs together. Each member takes part in the writing process both musically and lyrically and every bring their individual piece and perspective to the table. Since most of us do not live in the same region, we met up for full rehearsal weekends in Jönköping where we composed, discussed and on the last day recorded the ideas. We could then take the recordings home and listen to the songs or passages and analyze them for two weeks. We then made new material at home, revised previously recorded ideas and brought new ideas or structures with us the next rehearsal weekend. To me that process is very fitting, as it enables me to be totally focused on the music for a couple of days, yet allowing me to keep a distance to the songs and listen to them from a different perspective. Otherwise it’s easy to get stuck or just writing the same pattern over and over.
Did you approach this record as a conceptual album?
Yes, the first meeting we had was without any instruments drawing up ideas on a whiteboard. The first thing we all agreed on was to continue the concept we had used on the previous albums – even before we had any new songs.
As a band that always seems to find inspiration in the past – would you say that opens a lot of more doors to experimentation and new sounds?
I am under the impression that the musicians in the past were not as limited as to what they could write and how they should sound and what label (as in style, not music label) the music would fall under; that they liked to explore music and develop musically and skill wise rather than to make music that “sounds like band X and/or Y” which in my experience often is the case in music nowadays. So yes, to me it does open a lot of doors in terms of experimentation but I would say that it’s rather the mindset than the actual way of writing or playing riffs. It is not untrue that we draw a lot of inspiration from the past but it would be a lie to say that we are not influenced by the present just as well. I think it’s all about how inspiration is interpreted and incorporated in the music. I mean in the past, musicians even came up with new genres. I guess they were influenced by the future!
What made you guys want to go for a 70s direction a la Pink Floyd for this album in particular?
This was a new one to me! I do respect the music of Pink Floyd and am humbled by the comparison but to my knowledge none of us actually listens to Pink Floyd. Certainly this direction was not conscious. Rather, we wanted to expand and further develop the music on the previous album, trying to make the music more complex and simultaneously trying the best we could to keep the feeling of the previous one. I’d like to think that we even went back to the Hällas EP in some ways that got lost on “Excerpts”. For instance, having a melody play over a rhythm guitar rather than having both guitars play a twin lead. With Nicklas on board on keys we also switched the dynamics and had one guitar harmonize with the organs or the synthesizers.
What role did your home country of Sweden play on the writing of this record?
I don’t know. Well, some people do speak about the Swedish “vemod” (=melancholy), I guess you can hear some of that in our music too. Happy, yet sad at the same time. Sweden did provide us with cheap rehearsal rooms funded by the state though!
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
A part from music, the main inspiration for us is in movies, video and board games. Honestly, I think it can come from everywhere. I remember one time looking at an old postcard with a beautiful painted frame that really inspired me that day to write lyrics.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes, we are currently in the midst of the Scandinavian leg of the Conundrum tour, playing in the major cities of Scandinavia during the weekends. In March we will do a longer European tour including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic and France. We are looking into playing more countries and hope to visit them all one day!
What else is happening next in HALLAS’s world?
Except for touring we are playing some festivals this summer and have started to put together bits and pieces for some new songs in preparations for a future album. There are many exciting things happening in the future which we will reveal in due time!