With a new album out I wanted to know a bit more about that and some more. Read what UADA has to say for themselvess. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
What fascinates me is how you can still come up with new combinations of chords to make new songs and sounds that have not been heard before. What is it that fascinates you into coming up with new songs and albums?
Jake: It’s always been about the yearning for creation. Writing is second nature and comes extremely natural to me. I’m not someone who is able to sit down and drill scales or practice things over and over, if I have a guitar in my hand I’m writing and creating based on sounds, patterns, structures and ideas that fit the narrative in my mind.
How is this new recording different from the previous? How do you take your sound one step further?
Jake: With this album we really wanted to try to make it sound as close to our live sound as possible. Although I don’t think it could be fully achieved we are content with it’s sound for now, but the next round will be better. I think we’re just naturally progressing while being open to incorporating any roots and influences that we have. Some bands find a niche and stick with it, some are content in just rehashing influence worship records over and over, but with UADA the purpose is to be true to ourselves and push our boundaries without overstepping them or holding ourselves back.
When you write songs about the topics you do, what kind of reactions do you get? How important is it to have a message in your lyrics? What kind of topics do each song deal with? Is there a red thread to the songs?
Jake: Up to this point we’ve had a very positive reaction to the lyrics and we see that the words are very important to the listeners. In metal it seems a lot of times the lyrics are overlooked and the vocals are just there to fill its place, but we notice a lot of people are paying attention and connecting with the words. That is very important to me, although I do not try to write to purposefully connect, it is rewarding to see others may understand or at least feel them. Recently with our latest lyric video we have seen a bit of an uproar about the words, which we assumed would come. In the political climate that is here in the USA there was no doubt that it could be polarizing to some. I think within the hour of the words being released unto the public we were getting backlash and accusations of being “leftists”, “centrists” and “alt right” simultaneously, which can be credited to the ambiguity I believe. Also within the first hour I had received multiple messages from friends, peers and acquaintances that said something on the lines of “I think your lyrics are making people uncomfortable” in which I could only reply “Good.”
“No Place Here” is uncomfortable and it’s that uncomfortable feeling that I’ve felt since as far back as I can remember. The feeling of not belonging here in this place, this time, this world. So if the words had such an impact on others, I know that those people once again can feel me, even if they don’t like it.
When starting this band I just wanted to write my life experiences, philosophical mindsets and what is happening within the world of UADA itself. So, the words come when they’re supposed to. I can’t force them, I just know when I know.
Each album has a different concept and with “Djinn” the concept is based on possession. Possession physically, metaphysically, emotional, mentally, socially and spiritually ect… Everything that was possessing the band, society around us, inner turmoil and so on.
I do believe the red thread of fate is very much present, assuming that is what you mean, and have so from the first note ever played with this music. There is a certain knowing behind what we do and what is to come ahead of us. Not everything is predictable of course, but I do believe if you can see something in your mind you can most definitely bring it into reality. Manifestation is something we have always talked about and something that I believe anyone has within them to do so.
Whenever I think of you I cannot help wandering off to different bands. What bands/sounds do you identify with?
Jake: I think that’s a natural thing when listening to music. For us it was always about combining the melodic black metal scene of the 90s (Dissection, Dawn, Vinterland, Unanimated) with 80s UK heavy metal (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy). There are other influences that also play a role in what we do, but those are the most present in our influences. One thing I have noticed is that we do get compared to a lot of bands that we don’t listen to and bands that we don’t like, which is really strange, but we don’t allow that to defer us from our path. People are going to hear what they want to hear.
How did you go about choosing artwork for this new album? What was important to have in it?
Jake: I’m always compiling ideas in my head about the artwork and present those ideas to Kris Verwimp when the time is right. The artwork has to match the concept and the words, so it is important for me to have that input. Since the album is about possession and titled “Djinn” it was absolutely important to have that factor of one being possessed or summoning those to themselves. There is also a duality and polarity to the words on this album and having that within the djinn themselves was an important role. Everything in this country is so politically driven now with a two party red vs blue narrative and that also can be seen here. I see the middle figure as myself, although it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be, but with song titles like “The Great Mirage”, “No Place Here” and “Between Two Worlds” it should seem pretty obvious why I connect to that being.
The Black Hole at the top of the cover was originally going to be something else, but was later changed after having a very profound experience while filming the “Cult of a Dying Sun” album up at Mt. St. Helens in the summer of 2018. I was laying awake that night gazing up into the stars and watching over the camp. We had a lot of food and there was a lot of wildlife around, so it was smart to have someone awake and watching. Here when you venture out into the forest and mountains you are no longer necessarily the top predator. Anyways, I laid awake that night and sometime between the hours of 3:00am and 4:00am I was blinded by a flash that flooded my vision into a complete state of a white. It was quite a few seconds before my eyes could come to readjust. When I turned to the direction in which I thought the flash had come, I saw long tentacles of orange matter floating over and across the horizon. As I stared in wonder of what I was seeing, I examined it as closely as I could. As the matter waved across the night sky like wings I noticed they were all heading back to center point where it looked like half a black orb sat in the middle. Eventually the matter started to form a circle around this orb and eventually the matter was sucked into it, disappearing. I had no idea what to make of this, but within the next six months I started seeing NASA release information that they had discovered black holes in our galaxy, which later was said to even be within our solar system. And then they started releasing photos which were exactly that of which I had seen. So, it was imminent that this would make it onto the cover of “Djinn.” I’ve heard in theory that black holes are often thought of as a wormhole to another dimension. Although I’m not sure if it is true I thought having that represent the new dimension that this album was taking us in would be great symbology. I’ve witnessed a lot of strange phenomena in my life, but witnessing the death of a star will be quite a hard one to top I think.
Something that scares me a bit is that I hear from more and more bands that they aren’t that bothered with art work anymore because people today download rather than buy physical. To me the whole point is to have artwork that matches the music. I don’t know how many times I’ve been disappointed by weak artwork to an otherwise cool album. What’s your opinion on this subject?
Jake: I have no idea why anyone would think this to be less important and I do see this all the time. You’re right, there are a lot of bands that just don’t care about the importance of the cover art. I don’t want to say that it seems lazy, but what else would it be? Maybe I’m old, or times have changed but when I was young I bought a lot of albums solely based on the cover art. Of course I didn’t have the luxury of just streaming it online, so the artwork, the lyrics, the photography were all part of the experience. Yes, the music is most important but when you open up a record and want to fully immerse yourself into it, the art, the words and those photos are all a part of that first impression and the journey that the album should take us on.
How do you come up with song titles? What do they have to have to fit the songs?
Jake: Well, the titles just as anything else are also that important. Each song is its own representation to the narrative and the lyrics. Usually I have an album title first followed by the song titles and then the lyrics. I look at it like a book in some ways. The songs each are a chapter to the story and set the mood from the opening to the finale.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as a compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
Jake: There is a certain nostalgia in being able to hold a physical release and I hope that will never die, but I’m also not a materialistic person so I understand having the convenience of the streaming world. I’m sure in time as our human race ventures deeper into this cybertech existence that we will see things in a much more 3D or virtual reality world. Something that will be released as an entire sonic, visual, and physical experience uploaded directly to your brainwaves from some sort of telepathic technology. At least that is what I assume is what the future will see. This will be the way we view concerts and maybe even have social interactions. I doubt we will see it in my lifetime and I really hope we don’t. I’d rather live the 80s and 90s again if anything, but that is just my personal preference.
How much of a live band are you? How important is playing live?
Jake: I love both the studio and the stage, but I need the balance. Not playing live right now, and not even being able to rehearse is a bit taxing really. Although the break was welcomed after pushing myself to the very limits for the last six years, I’m really feeling the missing element of playing live. I’ve also been without a personal vehicle for the last year, so I’m not able to just up and leave my home to venture out into the deep woods and mountains. And in the last six years of touring, I’ve watched the forests that were close enough to my home get cut down, paved and turned into parking lots or sub divisions. The song “Forestless” will make more sense now I’m sure. But, yeah it’s been hard and I’m developing some strange teeth grinding habits that are causing some jaw issues. I don’t have that outlet to scream at the top of my lungs to let everything I bottle up out. That release, especially when sharing this energy with a live crowd reciprocating it back is nothing short of therapeutic or medicinal. The return, if that happens, will be nothing short of sweet and I’m sure we all will appreciate it much more than we ever could before.
What lies in the future?
-We are scheduled to return to Europe for a headlining tour, so long as the travel ban allows us, in the spring of 2021 with Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Velnias and Solbrud. I’ve also already started writing for the next album but there isn’t anything more I can speak to on that now. No matter what occurs we will be ready and keep looking ahead, always pushing forward into the partially unknown.