Hello Arkadius, it’s a pleasure to speak with you. The current situation made things different and harder for everyone. How are you making up for the things you don’t have access to now?
The thing is that we are trying to do our best right now. Of course we know we can’t go on tour or play any shows, so what we do now, in these difficult times, is writing music. We put much more time in the new Suidakra record than we did on previous albums. I also started a few new projects, that I wouldn’t be able to because of the tight time schedule of touring and releasing and writing music. So we are trying to do the best out of this.
Back in 1998, when you released „Auld Lang Syne”, that’s when you first caught my attention. So Suidakra has been around for a long time now, and you guys have a number of albums to your names, but could you please talk us through about the current state of the band, and the fact that you are still up and running after 25 years despite the amount of line up changes?
Thanks, for making me feel old :D. The thing is, as you mentioned in 1998 “Auld” was our first full lenght album that we released, and in that time we were really busy because at the beggining we were releasing an album every year. At that time we were going to school, so we had much more time to write new songs. So Suidakra has been around for 25 years and will release the 14th album with “Wolfbite”. And having a band on that level wich means, that we are not as big as other bands to make music for a living, but we are also not a small demo band, so we are something in between. And this is the biggest challenge for most of the pasts members that have left the band, because usually 90% of the reason was that you had to afford a huge amount of time to be part of the band, because it was more than a hobby. After a couple of years, most of the band members had problems combined their jobs and families. And I am the only member that stayed, even with a family and a full time job. Time passed by quickly. Looking back 25 years, „Auld Lang Syne” feels like it was released 8 years ago but, that’s the way things are going.
It feels like, that the core of your music didn’t change much even after the 13th album. It means a lot to me. I like when a band can stay true to their roots. Why or do you think this is important?
Of course in the core Suidakra’s sound didn’t change, because I am still the responsible person for the music itself. Of course we had new influences on every and each albums, but this is something that enriches our sound, what gives a new touch and new feelings. When I start playing guitar and writing new songs for Suidakra, it happens naturally, that there is that certain vibe and that melodic death metal combined with folk elements. And for me it is really important, beucase Suidakra stands for certain sounds in my opinoin. I wouldn’t combine it to Amon Amarth, wich where every record has a same sound, not in a negative way, but you know what to expect. You still have some surprising moments on our records, but you know what to expect. But as you said, you will hear a differences on „Auld Lang Syne” and “vulfpike”, but you can still hear that Suidakra trademark, and that is really important to me as well.
You have a bunch of albums, and you receive a lot of critics regarding them. Your newest era may not get as good feedback as you older ones. What’s your opinion about this? What people tend to like more at concert?
To be honest, it funny for me to read reviews, but I don’t take them personally, or get touched by them. Because I know how it feels to have a favourite band and you have discovered the band with a certain album, you want to recreate the feelings. So there is a special expectation from the fans, and if you can’t fulfill it 100%, you will not get a good review. So I totally understand it. Some people and critics are open minded, some are not. And I am a huge Metallica fan, and ever since they changed their sound, I think the albums are great, but this is very different, wich has a different meaning for me. So I understand if people are not touched by my albums more or less, but to be honest it doesn’t have a real effect on me. I mean in 2005 we released “Command to Charge” album, to do something new, and to be less folk influenced. Because at that time I had a feeling that I was burned out with folky melodies. I had a feeling everything that everything I played on my guitar I heard before. So we tried to do something else. It was the album that had the most negative critics. On it’s own, and that’s the funny fact, is a song called “Dead Man’s Reel”, is a must have on the setlist on every Suidakra concert. So as you can see, sometimes it is very strange with critics. It’s funny and also intresting for me to see the people’s reactions, but at the end of the day for me the most important thing is the fact that I stand behind this music and I feel very proud of the albums and everything that I created, something cool or new.
I just got some fresh news about you releasing a new album for the summer. I am thrilled. How are you able to get in form even in these depressing times? Do you like the outcome?
I was listening to the album after the release because I spent so much time in putting my effort into the songwriting. So you’re so much into the material. And after it was finished, I listened to it for a long time, because this time it was the first time that the finished album and the release date had a really huge time gap. Because usually, you finish the recording, and then you start with promotions and then you have the release like 3 months later, but this time, because of corona, things have changed. Our writing and recording process were totally different, and we were lucky to have more than 1 and a half year to work on this album. Wich means we were so much more involved into it, and didn’t have the stress finish it until a certain deadline, and after it was finished I listened to it a lot. I am very happy about this album, because still after the 1000th time that I’ve listened to it, I don’t feel something that has to be changed. Because usually, you go into a studio, and then in the studio you don’t have that much time, so there are always parts on our album where you feel that you want to do it differently. And this time we were lucky to have so many time to listen to the recording and make the changes to the songs. This is something that kept me very happy and motivated, even in this depressing time. I think this is a very cool album, even though can’t promote it live. The music itself gives me motivation to move on and start other musical projects.
When you are coming up with new ideas, when do you know the songs are worthy for the Suidakra name? How does your collaboration process looks like with the others?
When we are working, we are always doing concept albums, so this gives us a totally different direction for our song writing. It’s not about I write a riff, and decide if it’s Suidakra or not, it’s the other way around. I have the lyrical concept, and then I know what the songs are going to deal with, with the whole theme, and I know wich atmosphere have to be created, and I know how many songs that album will contain. So what I do is, I compose 100% onto the direction. You can compare it with writing music for a movie. So the movie itself is already there, and what you do is you are trying to tell the story with the music, and this is what I do in Suidakra. And once I start writing the first riffs, I know in wich direction I need to go, and then it becomes a natural process. And also I have to agree, that in the past we never stopped writing new music. Becasue sometimes there are bands that are releasing a new album and then they take a break from songwriting for 2-3 years, do the shows and then start writing the new album again. This is not how we work. We always write new materials. And the cool positive thing about that way of working was, that I never had to find my way back so songwriting. Because I realised at the beggining of the band, that when an album was done, we did the shows and when I realised that we had to do another release, it was really hard to find the way back to the songwriting process. But it always took 1 or 2 songs untill I was in. But it’s been like 15 years since I never stopped writing music, so it feels very easy for me.
At the end of last year your first album ,,Lupin Essence” got remastered, wich I think was a good idea. Did the fans demand it to be available again? Looking back on it after 25 years, what do you think of it?
The thing is, ,,Lupin Essence” was always a limited thing, because it wasn’t released by a label. The amount of copies were limited to a thousand copies and it was sold out immediately back in the 90’s when we got some good reviews in the press. And during Suidakra’s carreer there were always new fans that discovered Suidakra, and of course they had the desire to also get the first albums, to complete their discography. But it wasn’t really available. The only thing you could do to hold this album in your hand was to pay a lot of money on ebay. When we were selling them, they were around like 6 euros, but now you can see it on ebay around like 90 euros or whatever, so this is ridicoulus. But this is why I felt, that okay, now I have the time because of corona to make it available to the fans. But I didn’t wanted to just release it in the normal way to just put out the 8 songs on the album and that’s it, I just wanted to celebrate the anniversary of this album. And during the band’s releases and timeline we always had some bonus tracks, wich were pre-recordings of the first albums. And I felt it would be nice, to put it all together from this album, so the original songs, and the songs we released on B-sides or as bonus tracks on limited editions, and also took 2 songs and completely rearranged them. Especially for this produce. This could be a cool time travel to see the evolution of the band, because we have the original ones and then you see different interpretations of the band. You can feel how our sound changed and how our skills changed. But looking back in this album, it was really important for us, because back in the day it wasn’t really a normal process to release a CD, back in the day you couldn’t afford it, so bands like us had to use tape to record their music. We were lucky to record mix and master that album in 5 takes. And I still remember how it feels like when all the thousand copies arrived in my home. It was a huge package, about 100 kilos. And I still remember it fulfilling half of my room at my parents house, and I thought: dude, I’m never gonna sell all these. I was surprised and happy to see them go so fast and I still have a special connenction to that album because of the beggining of the whole journey.
In those times, did you ever think, that you would still be around and still making albums?
Oh no, definetley not. Because I never saw much deep into the future. When we released an album, we had shows and then I was planning the next one. You can compare this to a relationship between a guy and a woman. There are sometimes ups and downs and you have members that are leaving the band wich makes you very sadm because you were friends. And there are of course ups, like tours in America or China. These are moments I’ll never forget. But I never thought – if you would tell me, travelling back into the past and tell me, when we started this Suidakra thing, that 25 years later, I will still be around and releasing album number 14, I would’ve said, that you were insane. Because if you are not doing this for a living, like there are bands that are releasin 2 or 3 albums, and then everything just falls apart. The best example is the bands that were around us when we started, we were touring with them, and most of them just disappeared. Except the bigger ones that made it. But those who started the same as we did sooner or lated, but they disappeared, so we are really lucky.
How is it to be a musician? What do you think of others that doesn’t play miss out on?
Being a musician is very tough, because on the one hand, you have to put a lot of effort, a lot of time a lot of money and a lot of energy into it, but on the other hand it’s such a cool thing wich makes you addicted. Because you are able to create something, like with other arts. You create something that means people something or help them forget a tough time. Like I had some feedback from fans where they’ve been trough difficult times in their lives and they were listening to Suidakra and they just wrote me that it helped them a lot. It’s a huge compliment, I mean this is something every musician dreams of when you start playing music, to reach people and to touch people in a certain way, no matter what it is. This is the part I like most about being a musician. And of course you meet other musicians, you share experiences, you have a very cool time, but on the other hand, being on tour is not always like a rock star life like people think what it is. Sometimes it is very hard, we don’t sleep as much, and we have to perform every day and give every day 110% percent, because the people that show up, it’s their night. It doesn’t matter if you are tired or not, you need to give a remarkable performance. And this is why I remember almost every show we’ve played, and we played a lot.
How old were you, when you decided you want to be a musician? How hard was it to get your first instrument?
I was like around 13-14 years old. I was listening to AC/DC, and Angus Yound inspired me a lot. Before that I was only listening to music and had no thought or plans on making music myself, but things changed when I started listening to AC/DC, and to the guitar solos from Angus Young. From then I instantly I started to listen to Metallica, the Master of Puppets album. This is when I decided, that it would be awesome, to play an instrument. For some reason I wasn’t really intrested in drums or bass guitar, it was always the guitar for me. But back in the day it wasn’t easy to come up to your parents and ask, to have a guitar. But I did it anyway. They said okay, and I had to wait for it and then they bought me a very cheap guitar, it was like 100 euros or something like that. And I was really disappointed, because it didn’t sound great and I couldn’t really play, until I just started to get some lessons from my guitar teacher. And even tough I went to the lessons, I had the idea, that you go in, for a 45 minute lesson, and when you come out, you will be able to perform a Kirk Hammet solo. I was disappointed everytime when I was there, because I was only doing exercises and trying to play scales. And everytime I left, I was thinking, that I am gonna quit, I’m not gonna go the next week. But I did it, I don’t know why. And after like 6 or 7 months, things changed like a click and I was able to play so many things. Everything just became easier and easier. And I was even able to play the songs that I wanted to play, so that was a turning point.
With whom were you trying to make music with first? What difficulties did occur?
Many. Because the thing is, I didn’t really plan to start a band for making music, I just wanted to play guitar. That was my first plan. And I was hanging out in a youth center, a place where young people meet like a disco. And I was doing some bodybuilding, at the age of 14 with heroes like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and right next door there was a rehearsal room. And I went in there just to see if there was any instruments there, and a friend of mine, who played the drums later, was playing there playing the drums, and I knew him from school. So I grabbed the guitar and started playing Metallica songs. That was the first time I experienced how it is to play music not only for yourself, but with a drummer in a rehearsal room, with a very loud guitar and ear plugs stuffs like that. That was the time when I got addicted. The next day we met at school and we talked about the rehearsal and we started a project with a couple of other guys. And on Christmas eve, my dad wanted a few cover bands, to play, and we were a cover band. I don’t even remember what we played, and then we started to write and play our own songs. But that was really like a project, it was not meant to be a band. But in terms of struggles, these were big ones, to find a rehearsal room, finding other musicians that fit well. Because it’s not necessarily your best friend play guitar well, or a good guitar player being your best friend. And also there were struggles about the music, in wich directions we wanted to go, so in the beggining we were just copying other bands, because we were young and had no clue or idea and I wasn’t even a songwriter or a singer. So I think it’s a normal process that you start first of all covering songs, and finding out how songs are written from your favorite bands and at a certain point we found our own style and became better songwriters and musicians. And this turned into this Suidakra thing.
How do you imagine this year? What plans and goals do you have?
I mean one of the biggest goals was to release this album of course. Because altough we have released a couple of albums in the last few years, it was like the “Cimbric Yarns” album, wich is an acoustic album. And this was something I always wanted to do, but after I done it it was like, check, and that’s it. And then we released “Echoes of Yore”, wich is a best of album with pre-recorded songs, chosen by the fans for the fans. So you can say, that the last metal album with new material by Suidakra was released in 2016, so it was a couple of years ago. So this is why I am very excited about the new album and the reaction of the fans. Not necessarily the press, but the fans. Because the fans I know for years are the fans that know Suidakra and the Suidakra sound. Because it feels like an eternity since we released the last album, so that’s one of the biggest goals, this year, and of course to finish my musical projects. I’ve decided to do a Master Business Administration besides making music, so I will need some time to this one, and this is gonna be my big goal, for the next 1 or 2 years.
I appreciate talking with you, I hope we continue to hear more about Suidakra. Wish you the best!
Thank you for this interview, and for supporting us, keep listening to metal, cheers!
- Official Website: https://www.suidakra.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Official.SuidAkrA
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suidakra_official/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/suidakraofficial
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/77H7WLYHNHy0klUy1fGXIi
The interview was taken with Arkadius Antonik on 03.05.2021.