As a guide to the vast array of bands in this universe I present to you an interview with SERVANTS TO THE TIDE. Anders Ekdahl ©2021
Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-I can’t even recall when and how I came up with it, it just popped out of nowhere at some point. I wanted something that embodies despair and hopelessness, and I cannot imagine anything more crushing than having to succumb to the forces of the malevolent nature, being stranded in a storm at sea. You can do your best to keep your head high, but if the ocean wants you, you will, inevitably, die. And if not, you just might survive. The situation is metaphorical, though; We all know situations where we are completely at the mercy of chance, and this is what the name embodies to me.
Is it important to have the right name? I think so, though there are more important things than the name. I refused to check out WHILE HEAVEN WEPT for quite some time because I kinda assumed them to be a Metalcore band (sorry, sorry, sorry!!!) because I got used to this “multiple-word-thing” that bands from that Genre got going on, and yet it became one of my most cherished bands once I did. If your music is good, it will come through, though a good name will not hurt you in the process.
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
-I listen to a lot of music – mostly Metal and mostly old school Metal, of course. The most obvious influences would of course be bands like ATLANTEAN KODEX, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, SOLSTICE, CANDLEMASS or SOLITUDE AETURNUS that I worship. I would also name BLIND GUARDIAN, as they were the first Metal band I ever heard and greatly shaped my perception of the scale of grandeur that Metal can achieve.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-It is different because every note gets space and meaning if you play slow enough. You do not have many “passing” notes that you can throw in randomly from a fitting scale to fill up empty space, because the listener hears everything you do, so every note must be written and played deliberately, with purpose.
I for one am totally fed up with the fucked up situation Covid-19 has created, and I am not a musician. What feelings do you have over this whole situation.
-Well, let me tell you that I am pretty fed up with it too, as probably everyone is. It does not affect me as a musician too much because I have a regular day job and can write my music at home, but there are a lot of people who do this for a living, and it is really hard on them. Musicians, but also – and especially – the people behind the spotlights: The clubs, the promoters, the bars, the techs, the caterers… it is a lot of jobs going down the drain right now, and I really, really hope the situation will be sorted out as soon as possible.
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
-No, I am completely satisfied with the recordings as they are, I might have a different opinion on this in a few years, but for now, there is nothing. We wrote and recorded this over the course of several years, so there was a lot of time to arrange, rearrange and overthink things, to change out weaker parts, write better lyrics and vocal lines etc. – there is room for improvement for the next album, but this one, I love it as it is.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
-We are extremely fortunate to work with No Remorse Records and Sure Shot Worx on the promotion on this album. Those are very capable and resourceful people that cover a lot of the ground that we could not cover by ourselves. But of course, it would be a mistake to stop here and expect things to just “happen”. I am highly active on Facebook and our vocalist Stephan helps with our Instagram account (he is firmer with Instagram than I am, I am not too fond of that platform), so we do our best to get the word out. The best promotion we could get would be live shows though, so I really hope we will be able to be able to do that soon enough.
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-A great cover should embody and express what the album is about – it is basically another aspect, an extension of the music. Bloody body parts for Death Metal, Bikes and chains for Heavy Metal, Repka’esque violence for Thrash Metal etc. – of course, those are the clichés that we would expect and that draw us towards the artwork. However, to make yourself visible in the maelstrom of releases, you must have something different, unique, that sets you apart. A great artwork, in my opinion, manages the balance between these two aspects. I love i. E. FATES WARNINGs “Awaken The Guardian”, as it perfectly transports the dreamy, transcendent atmosphere of the album, really sucking you in.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
-There are many different scenes that we are part of for different reasons. I have always tried to become part of the local Metal scene of the area that I lived in, so I am friends with many different Metalheads from different areas, even though we do not always listen to the exact same brand of Metal. There is also a wider definition of “scene” – the one that connects us because we love the same kind of music, go to the same concerts and festivals such as KIT or Hammer Of Doom… I do not think this one has to be local or even national; I feel connected to many People from all around the world, and we are even signed to a Greek label. I think all those kinds of scenes are important. Local scenes draw people into our society and give them room to develop, while the “more specific” scenes are good to dive deeper into the rabbit hole and enjoy more specific interests. I do not consider scenes “national” though – even though there are features like a common language that naturally connect Germans with Germans, Finns with Finns etc., the concept got more and more obsolete with the rise of the internet, and I think that is the right way to go. I feel closer to a Chilean or Japanese Metalhead than I probably would to certain Germans that are the complete antithesis to what defines me, and I am glad to live in an era where I can connect to the former instead of having to deal too much with the latter.
I could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-Mh… it is a double-edged blade, isn’t it? The scene lost some of its edges and, in some way, its innocence. Metal became a “trendy” thing, and it bugs me. However, there are also great aspects about this – The possibilities to find, explore, experience and connect with especially smaller bands is vaster than it ever was. There is room for even the most niche brands of Metal, now that fans can be targeted directly instead of having labels decide who gets a shot at glory and who does not. Especially for smaller Genres like Doom Metal, this is a great step forward, and we should learn to appreciate and make us of it, instead of condemning it.
Discovering a band on the internet does not mean that you cannot support it live – quite the contrary. With my former band CRAVING, we organized several Tours in Germany and across central Europe just by being present in the web, connecting with promoters, clubs, potential fans. It was a hard deal of work, but we managed, and I would not want to miss those memories for all the gold in the world. Try doing that in 1987!
What does the future hold?
-Warrel Dane (RIP) asked the question some decades ago, and I think I can only give the answer he already gave us:
“We leave our legacy like dust in the sands of time
Let’s hope the seeds we plant can carry the weight of our crimes“