SATAN needs no introduction. You all should know this classic British heavy metal band Answers from Russ. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
What pressure is there in releasing an album compared to a demo? Do you feel that there is a sort of pressure to succeed when you release an album?
-Well, recording something that you know won’t be released (a demo) is always going to be easier. Especially when it’s new material – the band are all interested, you take more risks when playing because you think it doesn’t matter since it’s only for reference. Perversely, band demos often end up being more entertaining than their official release because obviously, when you know that this is the version which will go into history, it’s not unnatural to freeze up a bit, play safely within yourself so you don’t have to live with any mistakes. Let me tell you there are a Hell of a lot of ‘correctly played’ albums out there that are dull as ditch water. I’ve done it myself on the Blind Fury record. It’s technically played better than Court in the Act. The production is way clearer and the mix more balanced. Yet everybody likes CITA the best. Why? It’s just more exciting, as a listener you feel it could all fall apart at any moment. People respond to things like that. Way more than a display of perfection. I know I do. So, yes I’d say when it comes to the actual master recording session, musicians do feel that pressure to get it right. In our case we’ve actually learned how to trick ourselves into thinking it doesn’t matter, whereas on Court… we really didn’t know any better, if we made it to the end of a song then that was the take!
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-It’s strange but, no we never did have expectations. The one time we did (on the first album CITA) it all went spectacularly wrong with terrible reviews, poor sales and getting dropped by Roadrunner Records. That put the kibosh on any future counting of chickens. Having said that, something definitely feels different this time. Now that we’ve signed to Metal Blade and have an awesome management team behind us it seems like anything is possible. We are all feeling pretty excited about what will happen once this new record hits the street.
When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-Yeah that thing where you see people mouthing the words is pretty weird. I think you get accustomed to it as you release more and more records. But if it’s a new song that’s only recently been released you think “hold on, a year ago this music and these words didn’t exist, but now I’m playing it and the first three rows are singing every word!” That is just surreal. Then there was one time Satan played at a bull ring in Ecuador, and during Kiss of Death I noticed a young lad at the front singing the song right back at me. A song that I wrote when I was 17! Even his mother probably wasn’t born by then ha ha.
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for everything so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-This is an interesting question. I’d say that the answer is yes when it comes to the artwork so that a Satan album is recognisable. And it’s true that we use the same team for recording and mixing. I guess we keep doing that because it works so well already and allows us to focus on our actual performances. I have no problem with our studio sound remaining a constant.
But for the actual content (music and lyrics) we want to demonstrate a tangible progression from one album to the next. I have no interest in writing the same record over and over – even though that seems to work for some of the biggest bands in metal.
Do you feel that you are part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Since the official reunion in 2011 yes I do. It was very different back in the day, say 1981 – 89. The dynamic between bands/musicians was fiercely tribal. Dog eat dog, so to speak. Right now the majority of other musicians and professionals within the industry are millennials with no such prejudices. I love the cooperative spirit that now exists between bands in the metal scene. There is only one band who have fucked us over lately and they are a British band from the early 80s
How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-Now you’ve asked the million dollar question. It’s really the hardest thing. Composing – where do those ideas come from? I mentioned earlier we want to evolve between each release, but you can only work with ideas that present themselves to you. It can’t be forced. Personally my only recourse is to listen to as much music from different genres as possible. To have new input into my brain.
What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Where do we draw inspiration from..? You know, I listen to a ton of music that isn’t heavy metal. If you are a song writer and only listen to one strain of music your compositions are very likely to be degenerative and short lived. Kind of like musical inbreeding. Although I’m very proud to play in a heavy metal band which stays true to it’s roots, I still feel the need to grow as an artist and I’m always looking for new stimuli – especially music I’ve never been exposed to before. I’m not saying that that Satan will ever try to recreate Stravinsky’s ‘Rites of Spring’ but for sure I’m going to listen to it. You never know how all this different input may combine at some point to form a really cool idea that can be used – even if it’s just as seasoning for an otherwise straightforward metal song.
We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Of course! It’s hard not to. In the 80’s the public used to buy records and CDs but it was impossible to make money on tour. Now it’s exactly the opposite way around! I’m pretty sure that CD sales are still DE-creasing not increasing. Meanwhile, (at least in the US) the vinyl format has picked up and is now outselling CD in the metal scene.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I love vinyl! There is nothing to compare with opening up a new record, holding the jacket in your hands, actually being able to read the lyrics ffs, putting it on, turning it over, getting to know each pop and scratch. It’s like a living thing.
On the other hand, the convenience of downloading must be taken into account, and for most under 20s it’s actually the only format they’ve ever known. I myself have downloaded albums straight to my phone for use while traveling.
I believe that CDs are being squeezed out of the market between these two formats. They have neither the convenience of download nor the aesthetic satisfaction of a vinyl LP record. Ten years from now CD will be obsolete.
What lies in the future?
-For Satan? Right now we are rehearsing our new live show. We have festival appearances in Germany and France before heading across the Atlantic for what will be our fifth U.S tour, beginning in San Diego and ending in Philadelphia. As I mentioned earlier we’re very excited about this release. Signing a major deal means we have all these cool people working with us. And FOR us. Professional people who are in touch every day with ideas and plans on how to move forward to another level. It’s the only thing that was lacking throughout our career. God knows we’ve always delivered. Our music always had the potential to go far, but maybe it was never given the platform from which to reach the masses.
Things have changed. Satan has something to say in 2018 and this time it will be heard loud and clear.