To those a bit younger SALEM might be a total blank but for those of us that were there in the 80s this is one familiar band that perhaps didn’t get the same amopunt pf attention that they actually deserved but it is never too late. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
-We just carry on where we left off. We’re always composing and recording new music, so for us it’s a continual process.
Whilst there are always new bands and existing bands releasing new material, which I suppose is “competition”, to us this isn’t a race, we’re in this for the long run.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistically same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
-Yes, there have been a few continuing ideas and themes. For example, from the original 1980s single, through the “In the Beginning” album, the EPs and the “Forgotten Dreams” album, we used a variety of demonic-like images, and we’re using the same Salem logo on the “Dark Days” album as on “Forgotten Dreams”.
However, the artwork for “Dark Days” takes us in a new direction.
In terms of music we all contribute in different ways to its composition, which results in a variety of songs and styles – it’s all played by the same line-up as in 1982, and all produced by Adrian in his studio, so there is a continuity of musical style. However, we have no formal “written policy” that we adhere to, it’s just the way things have evolved and what inspires us at that time.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know that you have the right lyrics?
-The lyrics are largely composed by the singer Simon and Adrian (bass), who work well together sharing ideas. The lyrical themes vary greatly, although are often based on personal life experiences. Since we’re not young men anymore we have lots of experiences to draw on.
How hard is it to find the right artwork? What are you looking for?
-Continuing from above, with the artwork for “Dark Days” we wanted to go in a different direction. There was a lot of debate within the band and yes, it was hard to find the right image. We were looking for something that captured the essence of the album and reflected our style of music, which has always been both powerful and still melodic. We felt that the demonic images used previously were no longer appropriate.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpreted because of the metal you play?
We have often been asked about NWOBHM and it seems that there is some stereotype idea of what NWOBHM sounds like – a sort of thrashy, almost punky, speed metal like the early Maiden and the brilliant Jaguar. However, there were a wide range of bands that grew out of that time that ranged from this to the AOR-type Praying Mantis and the bluesiness of Vardis and Toad The Wet Sprocket.
It’s great that our roots are in the late 70s and early 80s, at the time of the NWOBHM movement. I think that sometimes people expect all “NWOBHM bands” to sound like early Maiden, and we (like most) certainly don’t.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally?
-Whilst the major league bands like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, for example, will always sell out, in the UK, the underground scene has not been so well supported. Over the last few years, there have been a growing number of festivals such as BROFEST, Wildfire and SOS. These have been taking off and raising the profile of metal and it’s great to see so many young people there.
It is true that so far we’ve had more support and interest, particularly in Europe, than we’ve had at home, but it’s growing.
Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats?
-I think there will always be a place for physical formats – you’ll know that vinyl is making a come-back currently, although numbers are bound to reduce with the ease of access to free music on the internet.
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today?
-I think you’re right. However, I would like to think that with the growing interest in the rock and metal scene, as mentioned earlier, that there will be more support for touring bands.
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
-I always love to see extravagant stage shows, so I guess it would be great to have smoke and flames like KISS!
We did dabble with smoke and pyrotechnics in the 80s – I imagine that much of this is considered highly dangerous and probably totally illegal these days.
What does the future hold?
-We have an exciting year ahead – playing at Muskelrock, Headbangers Open Air, Heavy Metal Maniacs and other gigs with the likes of Diamond Head. And with the release of the “Dark Days” album, which is already getting great reviews, I’m sure it can only lead to bigger and better opportunities.
We are doing this because we love the music. In hindsight, I think that the impatience of our youth was the underlying cause of our split in 1983. Now we are just happy to be alive – and each next step up the ladder is a delight. It is so good to be playing at the festivals we are now doing – it is a dream come true.
It’s been great to chat to you – hope you like “Dark Days” too!