SONS OF A WANTED MAN are apparently not new to me. In all honesty I don’t remember having done an intervieww with them prior to this one. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-Our music does not have to convey a predefined message, because we strongly believe that music can have different meanings to different people. We only have control over what our music means to ourselves and even that can change over time. We are always immensely humbled and touched when people express that our music resonates with them, so we can only hope that people find comfort in our music during these turbulent times.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-‘Sons Of A Wanted Man’ was a name our bass player had in mind for many years before. It is a heritage of our original intention to form a post-rock band. Given that long names are commonly found in this genre, it seemed appropriate for what we were doing at the time. People often tell us that they could not predict our genre based on our name. We consider this an advantage, because it does not set expectations and enables us to continuously evolve without being bound to name that is archetypical to a certain type of music.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-We all have very different musical influences, ranging from post-rock and extreme metal to hip-hop and pop. This makes it almost impossible to point out which bands had the most influence on our music, especially since our sound is a consequence of experimenting with different styles and trying to make them our own. Throughout the writing process it often happens that someone says: “this riff reminds me off band X”, while the person who wrote the riff has never heard about that band and found inspiration in a completely different genre of music.
To be a little more specific, we each picked an album that has been on heavy rotation these past few weeks: ‘Ulcerate – Stare Into Death and Be Still’, ‘Gaerea – Unsettling Whispers’, ‘Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race’, ‘Black Mountain – IV’ and ‘End – Splinters from an Ever-Changing Face’.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-As discussed earlier, the initial idea was to form an instrumental post-rock band and in hindsight this plan failed miserably. Our sounds gradually evolved into what we are doing today by gathering five completely different people in one rehearsal room, being spontaneous and learning from each other’s preferences and past experiences. We never had a discussion about what genre we wanted to play. To give an example: while three of us have been into black metal for ages, two members had never heard about a blast beat before they joined the band. Although some purists might look down on what we are doing, we love the musical freedom we grant ourselves because we are still able to surprise each other after being in this band for many years.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-It is hard to predict what format has most impact on listeners, because people enjoy music in various ways. In an age where music is increasingly streamed online, the format might become less important to some people. For others, dropping the needle on a vinyl record, admiring the artwork and reading the lyrics are crucial to fully experience an album. Although our music can be found on streaming services, the release of ‘KENOMA’ was explicitly developed with the second group of people in mind and with attention to visual aesthetics. We have also experienced that releasing a full-length is often an important requirement to be considered an accomplished band by the public, media, bookers and labels. In all honesty, we have always found this bizarre, because the quality of music does not depend on the format it is released on. Therefore, we would always prefer to listen to an extraordinary EP, split or single on repeat instead of sitting through a mediocre full-length.
What part does artwork and layout play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-We consider the visual aspects of an album a fundamental part of the release. For our previous releases, we always designed the artwork and merchandise on our own. Given that our own capabilities were inadequate to realize the vision we had for ‘KENOMA’, we decided to collaborate with an artist we all love and trust. Simon Chognot of Cold Mind has meticulously drawn the cover in the exact dimensions to be printed on a gatefold vinyl.
In our experience, people have always appreciated our DIY-approach and our efforts to handcraft the special editions of our releases ourselves. For ‘KENOMA’, we made wooden boxes from scratch, painted them and screen printed them with the artwork. It was insane to witness how quickly they sold out and how people ordered them from all around the world. This has really touched us.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-The combination of online streaming and social media has definitely changed the game. Although there are some unmistakeable downsides associated to this evolution, social media has also helped us to connect with people in different countries, play more international shows and sell more albums. For our band, however, we feel most comfortable on the middle ground between old school and new school. Gaining the genuine support from people and developing a loyal following is not achieved by generating “likes and shares”, because most of those “likes and shares” will never come to your show on a Monday night in the middle of nowhere. Being able to continue doing what we love, is rather the consequence of building personal relationships, supporting other bands and helping to keep the scene alive. In other words, we consider attending and organizing shows, spreading flyers and posters (not only of yourself), and connecting with like minded people far more important.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-Our rather eclectic style of music enables us to connect with different scenes and find our way to stages big and small. As a result, we have played both mainstream festivals and line-ups exclusively filled with black metal bands. Most of the times, we are the odd one in the bunch. Although this is not always an easy position, we actually enjoy this diversity. For us, being part of something bigger and grander is not a numbers game, because we are mainly moving in underground scenes. Some of our most memorable shows were played only in front of a handful of people, but the personal connection with those individuals left a lasting impression on us. In that sense, we definitely feel part of a broader counter-culture movement where people are bonding through music, but also connecting on other levels such as politics.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We are limited in terms of touring possibilities because of our day jobs, so we would never claim to be road warriors like many other bands. Nevertheless, we have always tried to play as many international shows as possible from the start. Each year, we try to organize a couple of smaller weekenders and tours. With the release of our album ‘KENOMA’ we were hoping to increase our international reach. Unfortunately, all planned tours and weekenders were cancelled due to the covid-19 crisis. We feel blessed that the last show we were able to play before the world suddenly changed was in support of the mighty Implore and Downfall of Gaia in Cologne, Germany.
What will the future bring?
-Normally these kinds of concluding questions are perfect to list the next shows on our schedule. Unfortunately, the current situation is rather unpredictable and it is still unclear when we are able to play live again. Although it was prohibited to rehearse during the lockdown, modern recording technologies enabled us to collectively work on new songs from a distance. The coming weeks we will start rehearsing again, so regardless of our brand-new album it seems like the foreseeable future will be about writing new music.