Even leek het verkeerd af te lopen voor mijn gepland interview met Horisont, de Zweedse retro rockband die op 28 maart in de AB Club het voorprogramma van Scorpion Child zou verzorgen. De headliner had door allerlei bandproblemen vertraging opgelopen, waardoor de deuren later dan voorzien open gingen voor het publiek. Geen tijd meer voor een soundcheck, laat staan voor een interview. Ik was net binnen en Jackson Firebird begon al aan zijn set. Ik nam er dus de camera bij en focuste me op wat wél doorging. Na de show van Horisont trof ik de mannen aan de merch. Wie niet waagt, niet wint, en dus vroeg ik hen of ze het nog zagen zitten om een paar uur later dan ingepland een paar vragen te beantwoorden. Het kon voor hen, nadat ook Scorpion Child had gespeeld. En zo gezegd zo gedaan.
Een dik uur later bevond ik me dus in de backstage van de AB, en werd ik omsingeld door drummer Pontus, gitarist Charles en bassist Magnus in de sofa. Rechtover mij kleedde kersverse ScorpionChild drummer Jon Rise zich om, maar daardoor liet ik mij uiteraard totaal niet uit mijn concentratie brengen. Dat hij er goed uitzag zo bezweet en in zijn ondergoed, ging totaal aan mij voorbij, en ik liet mij niet van de wijs brengen.
Horisont is een band uit Gothenburg, die stevige retro-rock brengt met psychedelische inslag. Het hoog stemgeluid van zanger Axel herinnert ondubbelzinnig aan Led Zeppelin. Tussen het ontstaan van de band in 2006 en vandaag zitten drie albums: Tva Sidor av Horisonten (2009), Second Assault (2012) en Time Warriors (2013). Eind dit jaar zou hun vierde album klaar moeten zijn. Wij voelden drie van de vijf bandleden even aan de tand (of was het snor) over het waarom van Zweedse songs voor een internationale schare fans, en dronken nonnen die kinderwagens van de baan rijden.
HoriSonT is Swedish, how do I pronounce it?
HorisontT, you say it right, with the 'i' pronounced like in the Englisch word 'me'. It means Horizon.
Why did you pick that name?
We wanted a Swedish name because we also have songs in Swedish. It means 'Horizon', and it's timeless, the Horizon is neverending. It sounds perfect in Swedish but sometimes it's hard to pronounce in English.
Let's stick to the language for a moment ... You guys have recorded 3 albums by now, of which the second only contains songs in English, but the first AND the latest album also have tracks on it in Swedish. Can you tell me a bit more about why you chose to record the second album entirely in English and then returned to partly Swedish lyrics on the third album?
We write songs and then we try lyrics in both English and Swedish. After that we decide which one sounds best. Also, after Second Assault, people were asking for more Swedish songs on the third album. That's why we decided to record a couple of Swedish songs again on Time Warriors. The audience seems to like it when we sing songs in Swedish. Even in Europe. But anyway, we do the music first, than we do the lyrics, and if they sound better in English, than we keep them in English.
Can you who understand Swedish, objectively judge that, what sounds better? I mean, would not every song sound better in English to not-Swedish fans?
I think so. But for us it's harder to write good Swedish lyrics than English ones. Somehow it's more difficult to write in your own language. Also, it sounds very different.
Tonight it didn't, the PA was so bad that we didn't even notice when the band was singing in Swedish. (laughing)
We share the PA with Scorpion Child. And there was no time to soundcheck tonight, as we arrived very last minute. I guess that's why ...
When you tour in the North, do you perform more of the Swedish songs or do you sing some in Swedish that are on the albums in English?
No, we always do the album version. But yes, we sing some more of the Swedish tracks.
I think you have already toured in the north to promote 'Time Warriors' before this European tour was planned?
Yes, we played nine weekends in a row, up in Scandinavia: Sweden, Danmark and Norway. Then we did Spain and now we're doing the rest of Europe.
And now the European tour with Scorpion Child: yesterday was the first show I think in Germany? How was it? Yesterday was just us and another band, in Osnabrück. Today (28/3) is our first evening with Scorpion Child and Jackson Firebird. We just met today. We don't know each other a bit.
How did you end up on a bill with Scorpion Child? The label? No, we're on three different record labels actually. We were just asked by our booking agency to be part of this show and we thought it would be fun.
Anyway: you guys have 3 albums out and Scorpion Child has one: how come they are the ones that headline? Oooo .... well (looking at Scorpion Child's new drummer who had taken a seat nearby to listen to the interview): They're American! That's the big deal (laughing).
It is said that there is more 'metal' on 'Time Warriors' than there was before on the first albums. Personally I don't hear it --> enlighten me?
The first album has more boogy music and has more swinging sounds. The second and the third album are equal I guess, they share the same kind of proto-metal. But the sound on the third album is more straightforward. Judas Priest wannabe sound (laughing). Less beating around the bush and more action.
Did you do this on purpose or did it just turn out this way? We wanted this album to be more straightforward than the other two. More late seventies, early eighties metal sounding, and I think we made it sound pretty much like that.
The album is called 'Time Warriors' but the song 'Time Warrior' is on the second album ... is there a connection, or a story behind this?
The first album has a Swedish title, 'Tva Sidor av Horisonten', which means 'Two sides of the Horizon', with one side of the vinyl album in English and one side in Swedish. The second album is called 'Second Assault' which is exactly what it was, but for the third album, we didn't have a clear idea of what we wanted to call it. We liked the expression 'time warriors', since we live in a time of quite crappy music, and we try to keep the banner high for good music. Therefor we see ourselfs as time warriors and that's why we decided to call the album 'time warriors' in the end.
What seventies band inspired you the most?
That's hard ... The Scorpions. Ted Nugent. Rainbow.
I was expecting Uriah Heep! Uriah Heep made like five good songs in fifteen records or so .. But they're really great songs! (laughing).
The video of 'Writing on the wall' is a bit brutal a times, (when the car hits the baby). What is it really about? Why did you pick this song to make a video of?
It's a classic rocksong. It's got good twin guitars, it's got a good chorus, good vocals, good lyrics, good melody. It's like a popsong really but with a heavy metal feel to it. It's got all of the ingredients that makes Horisont Horisont. It's not too long, not too short .. it's a good song. When we had to pick a song for the single and the video, this one stood out, and we all agreed to pick this one.
A bit shocking though, nuns running over a baby ...
I don't like babies. We did it several times and got 5 babies killed (laughing).
What is is the song really about? Losing your soul? No, it's a drinking song, about problems with alcohol. But Magnus had his own idea about it. He interpreted it differently from what I meant it to be when I wrote it. He saw these nuns. Also, the artist that did the artwork for the single: we didn't talk to him, but he came up with these two nuns and a skull, the sort of 'death' thing ...
Back to the tour: 25 april is the last show of the European Tour. What's next? Will you be playing some summer fests in Europe?
We'll go to Norway in May for 5 gigs, then we will play at some Swedish Festivals, and some in Europe. In total we'll do between ten and twenty festivals all across Europe and Sweden. And hopefully we'll record our next album before Christmas. And in October we will be back on a new European tour.
Sounds good! We'll meet again!