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Strapping Young Lad

Interview von: Janick Schlee mit Gene Hoglan, am: 28.03.2005 ]

Strapping Young Lad sind defintiv eine der abgefahrensten und außergewöhnlichsten Bands im heutigen Metal Zirkus. Was die Herren mit ihrem neuen Album "Alien" auf die Hörerschaft loslassen scheint nicht ganz von dieser Welt zu sein. Das besondere aber bei SYL ist und bleibt, daß sich die sympatischen Jungs selbst nicht allzu ernst nehmen. Grund genug mal bei Drum Legende Gene Hoglan genauer nachzubohren, natürlich musste ich auch ein paar Fragen zu seiner Band Dark Angel stellen. Was mighty Gene nun über europäische Open Air Festivals denkt und was schreiende Häschen, die gegen einen Elektrozaun geschmissen werden, mit Strapping Young Lad zu tun haben, könnt ihr hier nachlesen....


Musicscan: How where the reactions on "Alien" so far?

Strapping Young Lad: Once people pull their balls out of their throats, after we have kicked 'em right up to their neck, the reaction on the most part has been,"Holy fuck! Nice work, men!". The commentary has been pretty overwhelming so far, at least to our faces. Of course, words are just words, but I've got to admit that I have learned to appreciate how writers tend to fall over themselves with the superlatives thrown at this band. It's cute!

Musicscan: How long did you work over all on that album?

Strapping Young Lad: We wrote the record from March to August and we recorded from August to December 2004.

Musicscan: Where do you see the main differences between "Alien" and "SYL"?

Strapping Young Lad: I think we are a more cohesive unit now, but writing both albums was pretty easy. With the 'SYL' album we were just putting our foot back into the water, so to speak, and on 'Alien', the Dev and I dove in head first. All our concentration was put into 'Alien' for the majority of the year and Dev's method of sampling became easier to come out of his head and onto the disc. When "SYL" was recorded we kind of thought that we had already "done" the sampling thing, that's why it came out so raw and 'unsampled',but I guess the chaos in Dev's head was too great to not let the samples flow on this one, and I think that's awesome. We've layered so much on this record that it kind of reminds me of a flower, eternally blooming, every time you listen to it you find a petal that you weren't aware of before.

Musicscan: "Alien" is the first album written as a cohensive unit, how does things work out? Do you had more "problems" in the writing process or does it fit from the first moment and it flows just naturally?

Strapping Young Lad: Actually, 'SYL' was our first at written as a unit. For 'Alien', Jed and Byron were gone for most of last year so it is not like we were jamming everyday with everyone present, but we found ways to work in everyone's ideas as we went. They'd blow into town for a few days, drop some riffs off and we mutate them into songs. It was actually easier to have two chefs in the kitchen at any one time then all four of us bashing out ideas ad nauseam. Same inputfrom all involved, with two different ways to go about it.

Musicscan: Who had the idea for writing this effort as a unit? I mean the result of "Alien" is brilliant, but will you do this for upcoming albums, too?

Strapping Young Lad: The writing of this album reminded me of the rehearsal for "City", which was just the Dev and myself jamming in a rehearsal space. We only rehearsed four times before we recorded "City", but Dev already had the majority of songs ready for it. "Alien" differed in that entire songs were not brought to the table, most of the tunes were centered around Devin and myself actually jamming. For the most part we weren't under any rigid time constraints, we knew we had roughly 5-6 months to write but since we rehearsed everyday the songs were going to be written eventually. It was really fun to just freak out and be barrier-less when coming up with new tunes.

Musicscan: To me SYL´s music is extreme, powerfull, insane, apocalyptic, with monster technical skills. How would you describe SYL´s sound in a few words?

Strapping Young Lad: Have you ever heard a bunny scream? Well, imagine a million bunnies thrown onto an electric fence. A bunny scream is shrill, terrifying thing. Strapping is that bunny.

Musicscan: Another important thing to me is, that you guys didn´t take yourself too seriously. Titles like "Shitstorm", "Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing" or "No Sleep Till Bedtime" shows that humor is an important thing for guys, right?

Strapping Young Lad: Absolutely not! There is no room for humor in heavy metal (laughs)! That is why we don't fit in. Hell, we're all comedians...

Musicscan: Are there any european tour plans so far, or maybe some summer festival appearances? I mean it would be a cool oportunity to show lots of people your new material.

Strapping Young Lad: I will tell you one thing about those European festivals, it's more fun to see your name on the poster than play the show. For the band, the shows are usually a train-wreck with all the onstage sound problems, monitor hassles, etc., and how many of your fans are you actually playing for? Remember, a festival is a weekend party for most people, so whether you're playing at noon or midnight, are you really getting your message across to people? Don't get me wrong, playing festivals is neat but really not too much fun for the band. As for tour plans, we might be playing some festivals this summer, and if we don't, we are planning a full European tour by fall.

Musicscan: Why did you change the name of song number 9 from "Mega Bulldozer" to "Thamalus"?

Strapping Young Lad: The original title for that song was "Landscape", and then it morphed into "Omega Bulldozer", which then became "Thalamus". They were merely working titles until we settled on the most confusing of the three. Hell, I wanted to call "Two Weeks", "Skullcrushing Brutalizer of the Apocalypse", 'cause it's a nice, sweet ballad, ya know?

Musicscan: What are your expectations before you start writing the new stuff? Or did you simply start writing and let the music flow?

Strapping Young Lad: Totally! We just wanted to make a good record and, probably like all bands, improve on our last effort and make a record we would enjoy listening to and playing live. That David Hasselhoff 'covers' album we did aside, we know going into any Strapping album that it ain't gonna suck so we just let it all come pouring out.

Musicscan: Are your songs completely finished when entering the studio or did you rearrange some stuff during the studio time?

Strapping Young Lad: For the most part, the songs on the record were completed musically before we entered the studio. We wrote "Two Weeks" in the studio as well as "We Ride". As a matter of fact, on the last day of recording the drum tracks we knew we wanted to use one of Jed's songs but we hadn't heard any of them yet, so Jed whipped out his riff tape and I learned 4 or 5 quick little pieces. The strongest of which emerged (after copious computer kerfuffle-ry) as "We Ride'. Sweet 'modern technology'!

Musicscan: Are you totally satisfied with the result of "Alien" or is there still something you should have done better?

Strapping Young Lad: Of course, with anything a band puts out, they can fix it and fix until the cows come home and still not be 100% pleased with it but I must admit I am totally happy with the new record.

Musicscan: In my eyes Devin did a killer vocal performance on "Alien", maybe his best so far - what is your opinion?

Strapping Young Lad: My eyes agree with yours. Absolutely.

Musicscan: I want to take the oportunity to ask you something about Dark Angel. What´s up with DARK ANGEL? Is there an album planned?

Strapping Young Lad: No, as of now there is no Dark Angel happening. Although we appreciate everyone's inquires into the matter I hardly doubt that you will see a new Dark Angel album anytime soon. We do have a pretty cool 'official bootleg' dvd in the works, though, that should be fun!

Musicscan: When people were ask about the best or most important thrash metal album, nearly everybody named Slayer´s "Reign In Blood". They just seem to forget Dark Angel´s "Darkness Decends", doesn't that sometime pisses you off?

Strapping Young Lad: As a matter of fact, just last night I was thinking about "Darkness" and "Reign In Blood", about how unfortunate it was that they came out in the exact same week! And if "Darkness" was released a month or two earlier how things might have turned out. Ah well, I'm still here, dammit!

Musicscan: Are there anything you like to add - the last statement belongs to you.

Strapping Young Lad: Be good to each other, pick up your friend if he falls. Carry him if you have to. And buy a t-shirt(laughs)!

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