With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to WITHERING SURFACE. Anders Ekdahl ©2020
Withering Surface are back. Why are you guys back? How does the metal scene feel today compared to when you last released an album?
-Our singer Michael spent some time with Jakob, our original drummer who quit the band in 1999, as he was producing an album for Michaels other band. I guess they just hung out and had a good time, talking about old days and came up with the whole reunion idea. They asked me, and even if I’ve never seen a reunion as possible, it got me thinking. I was into the idea of re-connecting with the guys and it fit perfectly in my life at that point and I missed writing and playing more melodic material than I was in my other bands. So we decided to write a few tracks and see if it would work. It was very important for us to have an output as catalysts for our re-appearance and if it didn’t work, we’d just forget about it. I was a little anxious, but the moment I sat down and worked on the first song, I had a really good time and it all came natural for me. So I made three or four tracks that the other guys dug and we felt awesome and that this was the right thing to do.
Considering it’s only 15 years ago, a lot has happened in the music business in general. Now, everyone in the band has been a part of the scene in other bands both during and after Withering Surface pt. 1, så it’s a little hard to distinguish between the ages. But back then, social media did not exist – At least not to me. Of course we had a website, but it was very basic and not responsive in any way. Back then you had to get a record deal to release an album and that was really hard to obtain. Nowadays, bands and individuals can sit in their bedroom and compose a track and 5 minutes later, it can be released. It’s awesome that artists has the technology to help them get their music out – and more important get noticed! The amount of band might be the same today, but the awareness of them are a thousand times bigger. That’s great, though there is a lot of crap out there that should have never been released, haha!
Also the whole interaction between artists, labels, venues, booking agencies, fans and bands in between is so much easier with all the communication platforms of today.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-I don’t remember it being hard. We were young and didn’t think too much about it. As I recall it, our other original guitarist and bass player came up with a name each because they thought they sounded good. We couldn’t decide so we just put them together…
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?
-Yeah, definitely. When we started the band, no one in Denmark knew anything about the Swedish/Nordic metal scene. Neither did I. Michael was tape trading and had his own fanzine which he photocopied on the copy machine at his school. From that, he knew a lot of interesting bands like Paradise Lost, Sentenced and At The Gates. He had the urge to gather a band that could do something similar and make a difference in the Danish metal scene. We knew each other from the rehearsal space we shared and he got me hooked. I was a big fan of the Gothenburg scene which you can hear in our music throughout our catalogue, though I have always listened to a lot of different styles and I kinda have no particular genre I stick to. I guess I gather my inspiration from everything from jazz and classical over rock and pop music to crust and black metal.
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?
-Yeah, we knew exactly what to play. The main focus was 100% on the music. As I recall it, the name came around when we played our first gig…
What can you tell us about your new album? Was it an easy thing to sign with Mighty?
-We wanted this album to be awesome and we wanted to prove that this reunion is justified. We wanted to create music that had the Withering Surface DNA and make it present and relevant in 2020, not jumping on any bandwagon or forcing it to be modern or something that is not us to please the masses. I think we managed to do so. It has a lot of melodies and agression combined and sounds fresh. I hope we managed to sound hungry and vital and not sound like a bunch of old farts beating a last one out as lots of reunited band does.
Signing with Mighty Music was pretty easy as it is Michaels label. Though the decision to do so was not easy. We didn’t want people to disregard or disrespect us for releasing it on “our own label”. We thought about shopping the album around between bigger labels, but conformity and the possibility to be in complete control won. Michael struggled most, as he didn’t want to be in a position where he would compromise some of the other artists on the label on their behalf, but hey, when you are the label boos, you can do whatever you want, haha. No seriously, of course we are a priority band on the label, but it’s not on others expense. Knowing Michael, he would never let that happen. Having been a part of the work and the process up until the release, it is very obvious that it was the right thing to do.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-For me, it’s first and foremost about the music. It has always been the process to get the music down and the master ready and then worry about the artwork. I think it will never change, though it would be an interesting idea to do everything simultaneously as a concept. Though I’m the graphic guy in the band and I’ve done all the visuals from Niklas Sundins artwork, it would probably be a bit too much for me to think about… Having said that, the cover art and the whole packaging for this album has been specially important for me as this is the first time I’m responsible for the whole process. As the mixing was going on, we started the process of coming up with the artwork and Niklas was awesome to work with. He’s so talented and I love his style. All of us are fans of his work, so we approached him and he was up for the task. He didn’t have much time at the time, but he had some ideas sketched out and from these, we figured out what the concept should be. It was a really easy and inspiring process. Having this great basis, it was easy to come up with the rest of the visuals and again it was very nice to have the control and the labels accept when deciding to do a gatefold LP with blue vinyl and a poster to come with the release and so on. At the moment we are working on the stage decor for our upcoming shows which will also be made from the album artwork.
In my view, the artwork is a supplement to the feel and/or message you are trying to express, it should never be about catching peoples attention. It’s about the music and the art and an extension of that. I would never take into consideration if the artwork can sell copies or get people to click on a link. Cool if it does, though…
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-Oh yeah. It’s all about social media now. Last time we released an album (in 2004), we had a few ads in some magazines, the rest was about interviews and reviews. With social media you have a unique possibility to connect directly with the fans and link to all kinds of stuff, like the aforementioned reviews and interviews. It really has changes the world in getting your music out to the masses. Also streaming services are brilliant in promoting your band. Not only can people discover your new release, they can also dig into the back catalogue without spending a lot of money on like four-five albums at a time. A lot of people shit all over streaming services, but I think they are brilliant. It’s the best tool to check out new bands that you’d never have heard about. If I dig a band, I’ll support them by buying their albums, go to concerts, buy merchandise and such. Maybe you will not sell thousands of records, but you’d probably not have done so, if the consumer didn’t have the possibility to check you out in the first place…
Of course one of the most important ways of getting attention is still to get on the road and play your music live. Hopefully that will never grow out of fashion.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-Definitely. Playing on a band really connects people. As I said earlier, it felt like we were never apart when we did the reunion. I’ve had strong relationships with a lot of people over the years, relations I would have never had if it wasn’t playing music. That also goes for other bands, crew, promoters you tour with or meet at festivals and gigs.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-We would like to be. We had lined up several festival gigs, including Denmarks biggest metal festival Copenhell. But of course all of that is down the drain. We still have some dates in Denmark in the fall, we’ll have to see if that will happen. We were in the process of booking a European tour in the beginning of 2021, but I guess it will be hard to do now that everyone will be eager to get on the road as soon as this fucking pandemic is contained or a vaccine is found. But we will carry on and get out there as soon as possible. Touring is not only one of the greatest things about playing music, it is also super important in staying relevant abd being on contact with fans.
What will the future bring?
-Hopefully a lot of live shows and good response to the new album. We have no plans of making another album, but if this one is well received and we get some great experiences from our reunion, we’ll definitely release more albums.