If you don’t know who these guys are you’ve been living under a rock for the last 20 years. SENSER has had an influence on more than you care to name. This interview is with Heitham, Nick, James, John and Andy. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
When you’ve had such a long and illustrious career as you guys have had has there been any particular ups and downs that generated any good stories to be told?
H. We have been very lucky over the years to visit so many countries, and make some lasting friendships around the world. In the voice of Rutger Hauer at the end of blade runner :We’ve seen beautiful fireworks displays after Bjork’s set at a European festival, recently swam in the
lakes in Slovenia before our concert ,taken cable cars into the mountains in Japan and watched electrical storms from the tour bus in New Mexico. I would say the downside is the physical injuries that have stopped shows. It’s no one’s fault but it’s disappointing for everyone.
I guess every band goes through periods when things doesn’t look so rosy. What kind of things make you question whether it’s time to stop? What are the worst things that can happen to a band?
H: For me there is only one criterion for that and that is if the music is compromised. If the music you are making is still valid then there’s no reason to stop. It also has to be an important expression for you . If you feel you no longer have anything to say then you should stop. I don’t necessarily mean politically or socially but artistically, whatever type of music you make. The worst thing that can happen to a band is that they start re-hashing the same formulas for financial reasons. It takes us quite a while to build up the kind of quantity and quality of ideas needed to make a record for that very reason; we won’t compromise. From experience I would also say that it has to be fun and
relaxed internally in the band, like any job you want to do long term I guess.
What is it that motivates you to continue on? Given that that there’s not much money in music these days.
Nick : I don’t think we’ve ever done this for the money. It never really works out if you have that attitude. I’ve always done the band for the love of composing and performing music. What motivates me more than anything else is the writing and recording process: that is the most creative part of being in a band. This is when you hear your ideas come together into something that hopefully sounds exciting and expressive. When you know that you are responsible for creating something new that can be appreciated and enjoyed by others. I find this extremely fulfilling. I am also somewhat of a perfectionist. I am only ever satisfied with what I’ve done for so long. After that I start hearing
how it could be improved and I always strive to do it better next time. That definitely keeps me motivated!
When you have had previous success and then have to work your way up again do you learn anything from it?
Nick: The old adage of “be careful how you treat people on the way up as you’ll meet them again on the way down” always rings true! You learn to never take success for granted, and appreciate every opportunity that comes your way. After all, you never know if it will come your way again! I think it’s fair to say that you have to learn this the hard way!
How would you like to describe Senser’s role in today’s music climate? What part are you playing?
James: We’re not really setting out to play any particular role in the world with Senser… first and foremost we make music that sounds exciting to us and gives us a buzz. If other people get something from what we create, at a gig or when they buy our music, then that’s our job
completed and the best buzz you can ask for. I guess in a way we’re fairly uncompromising in that respect, we know what we like and what we don’t like and we’re not trying to pander to any particular “market”. Luckily for us we’ve had a good opportunities, gigs and festivals over the years with good crowds turning up to see us play.
When you have a couple of albums to your name how do you still come up with new stuff? I’ve always wondered how bands keep avoiding repeating themselves?
James: With everyone in the band writing and playing different instruments and everyone liking a constantly changing and diverse amount of music there’s always new things being brought to the Senser table. Obviously with the same musicians playing in Senser there is a “Senser sound” to a degree but we like to challenge ourselves and throw that sound around a bit and mix it up with different influences.
When you write new stuff is it easy to keep it Senser-like or do you find yourself wandering outside the “box”?
John: It’s strange how we write stuff, because everybody writes and plays lots of instruments, we tend to come up with ideas individually, then play them to each other in rough demo form. Then if people feel like they can put things with it or develop it then that happens. Heitham writes all of his lyrics, so that’s a big key part. Once we get a feel from the words, the songs often take shape more. But there are no fixed rules as to how we write, or who writes what. As far as wandering outside the box goes, I think we just do what we always do, and make music that we will feel confident about, make the sort of music that we want to hear. I think this next album will a progression from what we’ve done before. Some tracks are more stripped down, leaner if you like. There are some feels that we haven’t used before, but it still sounds like us, because it’s us playing it as a band. I’m looking forward to it a lot!
When you are considered old on the scene does it feel weird that you are around all these new hopeful bands that compete for the same audience as you guys are?
John: Shit, am I considered old? I don’t feel it. I’ve still got all my own hair and teeth. I guess we have been around for 20 years or so, but it doesn’t feel like it. I also don’t feel like we are part of any
scene, I don’t think we ever have been. In some ways that’s been good, we just do our own thing. We can play a heavy metal festival or a more commercial festival, we certainly never feel like we are competing if we support a band or they support us. It doesn’t matter to us.
I take it that Senser is a live band. How has the live scene changed over the years? What kind of places are you playing now that you never did before?
Andy: Senser has always been a live band, we are at our best in a live situation. The live scene is pretty much the same as its always been, lots of festivals and club gigs. The illegal/squat scene is just
starting to get going again , probably to do with the economic downturn and the cuts to police resources. There’s not many places we haven’t played, but we would love to play Australia and south America.
What future is there for Senser?
Andy: The future for Senser is to carry on making albums, maybe a concept album, more hip-hop covers, maybe some metal covers. For me Senser is still to make that masterpiece, that stairway to heaven/candle in the wind tune, so we are still striving for that