With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to WELKINS BOREAL. 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?
-On the first and most superficial level, we’d want people to get their kicks from enjoying great catchy rocking metal songs.
On the next level, for those who want more, we’d like them to pay attention to the careful arrangements that make up the song. A lot of thought has been invested in the details even if they are often subtle. In contrast to some modern productions that fill the songs to the prim by recording a hundred tracks of this and that, we have tried to remain true to the spirit of analogue recordings, even when using digital technology like on our debut album, and record what would fit on a traditional 24-track tape. Hence, the little details should be easy to hear for those who look for them because there aren’t a dozen things happening at the same time.
For those who want to go a level deeper, we’d like them to enjoy the detail in the lyrics: both the conceptual ideas behind them and the versatile use of English. I am particularly happy with the lyrics on the new EP ‘Ashes’. A lot of work has gone into each and every lyric to make sure every detail works as intended.
For many if not most people, the first level is all they need from music and most of my music listening is at that level too. Also, if music doesn’t work on this level, who would bother going to the deeper levels?
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-Bloody difficult to be honest! It was a fair bit easier in the early 1990s when I started playing in bands but with the quadzillion metal bands out there these days, nearly every band name I could think of was already taken. In the end, I found the name from one of my old lyrics. The Wizzard song ‘The Left Hand of Eternity’ on the ‘Songs of Sin and Decadence’ album has a line that goes: ‘Out of the welkins boreal devastation to bring’. The main reason for picking the name is that it sounds good and has a relatively neutral meaning with references to our northern homelands.
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?
-Iron Maiden, Twisted Sister and WASP will have been the earliest influences that made me a metalhead. For the music I make these days, there is a potpourri of influences ranging from classic metal like Maiden, Manowar and King Diamond to gothic metal/rock like Katatonia and Ghost to progressive rock like Pink Floyd to epic and doom metal like Bathory and Candlemass. Even though in our promo material we compare ourselves to Sentenced, To/Die/For and Charon, I cannot say that any of them has influenced the actual music, as I have never really listened to those bands – until my friends started comparing the music on the debut album to those bands! For my bandmate Aki, who joined in January 2020 and will participate in writing the future material, the influences are relatively similar perhaps with the major difference that he is also into punk rock which is unknown terrain to me.
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?
-Back in the 1990s I played in several different bands, ending up founding a new band for every type of music I was interested in creating and playing. I wanted to avoid that this time round and created Welkins Boreal as the sole outlet for whatever I wish to play. Hence, the songs on any release can be quite different, rather than different variations of the same basic idea, which I find interesting – even if it makes the ‘sales pitch’ for the band more difficult than saying ‘sounds like Nightwish’. So there is no marketing type thought behind the name and sound, such as in the case of Ghost, but there is a relatively neutral band name that works with many different types of music and a blank canvas that we can musically paint on.
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?
-I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with streaming services. On the one hand, they are super convenient and with the premium version of Tidal the sound quality is the same as CDs. On the other hand, I miss having a record collection and the feeling of putting a vinyl or a CD on and focussing on the music in a way you rarely do with streaming. Releasing single tracks is very common in electronic music (so I’ve heard) but metal fans seem to appreciate the good old album format. Releasing single tracks is convenient for bands because they can get the new songs out to the fans more quickly than waiting for a whole album to be ready. But those single tracks are much more easily forgotten than whole albums…
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-Back in the day of physical records, when you browse CDs or vinyls in a bricks-and-mortar shop, cover art was extremely important. I have bought albums solely based on the artwork communicating a certain style of music. The artwork is still important but less so when most people see only a tiny thumbnail type image of it in a streaming service or on social media. If I knew how to best catch people’s attention these days, we’d be headlining Wacken 2021…
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Absolutely it has and to be honest, I am having difficulties with it. I do use social media but not more than a few minutes a day and I post things infrequently rather than several times a week like social media professionals advise you to do. Especially when it comes to music, I’m an old bugger who still lives in the world of fanzines and magazines and being in direct contact with other bands and fans. Hence, very happy to be doing this interview the old fashioned way!
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-At the risk of sounding even more like a grumpy old bugger, I have to say there is much less of a scene feeling these days compared to the 1990s when people exchanged physical tapes, CDs and fanzines. Back then I was certainly very deep in the scene and identified myself heavily with it. Not so much nowadays, but it might also have to do with the fact that I spend so much time staring at the computer screen at work that I don’t have the tenacity to follow music media online to such extent that I read fanzines back in the 1990s.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-Playing live is super important these days, much more so than in the past. However, for the time being, we choose not to play live until there is a major opportunity that would warrant the additional effort to put together a live act. Both Aki and I are busy with work and family and thus have limited time for music. For the moment, we choose to use the time available for music to write and record songs, rather than play live. We also live in different cities which would make rehearsing a live act a very time-consuming logistical challenge.
What will the future bring?
-A CD version of the debut album ‘Phantoms of Yesteryear’ with a bonus track is in the books for late 2020. We’ll also start writing new material this autumn which will in due course accumulate to a second album. And of course, the release of the new EP ‘Ashes’ 11 September 2020!