Sweden's rising force, Mind's Eye, driven by drummer, keyboardist and producer Daniel Flores, have probably released their finest work to date. With blazing riffery, dark keyboard patterns, and soaring vocal harmonies, A Gentleman's Hurricane is an intriguing concept piece documenting the confessions of an assassin. Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Murat Batmaz had the chance to talk to Daniel Flores about the new album and his thoughts on music and songwriting in general.
SoT: How has the reaction been to your new CD, A Gentleman's Hurricane, so far? Are you pleased?
Daniel: it has been absolutely mind blowing. I never even thought that we would get better reviews than on Walking on H20 but it has now been officially proven to us that this album is better than the last. Mostly 10/10's from internet zines and we have already received two 10 out of 10 reviews on magazines "Bright eyes" in Germany and "Powerplay" in the UK.
SoT: Could you talk a little about how the music for this album was composed? You've written most of the songs with some input by guitarist Johan Niemann?
Daniel: Yes, but Johan has contributed a lot on this album as his guitar playing makes this album a total new experience. The riffs he came up with are exactly what we needed to make this album stand out. The music on this album was made as a soundtrack to my concept. Does that make sense? Well, as I wrote a script first it was like writing music for a movie. A fantastic feeling for me and Johan as we are both film lovers. Anyway, to create something musical from a script is maybe my best gift and what I'm best at right now. It's totally a new way of creating metal music and I'm proud to be the first band on earth to come up with something like this.
SoT: What do you think has changed the most ever since Niemann took up the guitar duties along with bass?
Daniel: Well, there is a unity we never had while Fredrik was in the band. We are all friends and we all get along real well, that's something new. With Fredrik with all due respect it was a lot of arguments about small stupid things which made me lose focus and kept me from developing as a musician. I know Johan feels the same way. To have a guitarist who has all the abilities of other guitarists and even more but who doesn't want to be all over the place all the time is a true luxury for us. I'm the same way with keyboards but obviously I'm no virtuoso on keys but I'll do what is necessary and that's enough.
SoT: What does the title of the album refer to?
Daniel: The war in the main character's mind. I'm also playing with the words "gentleman" and "hurricane". These two words have no relation whatsoever but if you put them together they create chaos in your mind as both have totally different meanings. The main character has issues he wants to deal with and the cover gives you that picture of him. The cover shows you what he feels he see everywhere he goes: chaos.
SoT: Could you elaborate on the concept behind the songs? Would it be wise to say it is sort of in the vein of Operation: Mindcrime?
Daniel: O:M is a masterpiece. I would never compare these two as both are totally different for obvious reasons. I mean we didn't have millions of dollars to make our album and the musical ideas that we did have been taken to a length that was never added on OM. It's hard for me to give you a hint of what we have done here without giving away the story too much but I'll say this: If you like cinematically created music but with lyrics and photos to point you in the right direction then you will like this album.
SoT: A Gentleman's Hurricane is your heaviest work to date. Was there a conscious effort to write heavier material this time around or was it all the result of a natural process?
Daniel: Well, I see your point here but the reason why this album sounds heavier is because the songs told us they needed to be. We never go in and say let's make a rastafari record or a METAL record. That would just be stupid and as far as developing, to me developing is not doing styles which we haven't done before, to me developing is musical maturity and creativity. We are musicians first; then we wear our hats, today I may wear a pop hat but on A Gentleman's Hurricane we just had to wear the metal hat. We are actors in our own music we follow the script and make it as good as it can be. The egos are long gone and that's the only way we will have it.
SoT: Being a noted producer, you have lots of acquaintances in the Swedish music scene. How did you get in touch and convince some of the guests on the CD?
Daniel: All guests on the album are good friends with me and I chose them because I felt they where right for the parts. They were honoured to be a part of this album and that's something that I still can't digest as they are some of the best musicians in Sweden today and that only says a lot. All the guys who are aboard on this record have put their hearts and lives online to be part of this record. Thank you guys!
SoT: How long did the recording and mixing stage take?
Daniel: Recording took like 2 months and mixing took like 4 weeks or something. The concept took about three months to write… Once we had that done the music came to us. That's the way I prefer it as it's tough to hunt down inspiration. Inspiration finds you, not the other way around.
SoT: What bands were you listening to the most when you put the songs together? Strangely, I get a cool Frameshift vibe on some of your material in that the songs constantly shift between heavy guitar riffing and moody soundscapes with some electronic bits thrown in as well.
Daniel: I was listening to Krister Linder allot during this time. I know Johan was listening to Pink Floyd. I also have to add that during the creating process of a record you don't have time to listen to others' music; that might put you off balance, at least for me anyway so I try to avoid that. If I listen to something it has to be the total counterpart to what I'm creating right then.
SoT: Does Mind's Eye ever play live? If yes, will you be hiring musicians to pull all these complex songs off on stage?
Daniel: We play live all the time, just not together so much (laughs). We are all professional musicians making music as a living. It's hard enough to get these guys in one place but I think that next year we will tour. Let's see where we will take this show.
The songs are not that complex if you ask me. It's not like we are doing Spastic Ink stuff, we are just making normal music sound weird. We have the elements of a normal song: Verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus- chorus, bridge, chorus end! The main difference with us is that we have a style which makes us stand out. Our chords are not the typical chords and that's how we make this band sound unique.
SoT: When producing and mixing an album, what is the most important thing to you?
Daniel: To listen to what the song what me to do. I don't want to sound arrogant but musicians who don't listen to what the songs wants them to do should go out and get a sales job for woman shoes. There is a story to be told and of course I have to mind all the usual bumps on a complex sonic landscape such as ours but the main focus is always on the song. I can't describe this any other way.
SoT: Lots of people compare you to Dan Swano, another amazing artist from Sweden. Both of you have been in numerous projects and both of you are great producers. Have you ever met Dan or is there a possibility you two might do something together in the future?
Daniel: I'm sorry to say I have never heard his music before. I will gladly do so though but sometimes these things don't go all the way. You can't just have two musicians in one room and say to them: Go and create a masterpiece. To me it's more than just music, it's about human beings, what's behind the mask and of course maturity. I like to get to know musicians before I try to create music with them. The best humans create the best music. Music has to mean something or else it has no value. If he is anything like me he would say the same.
SoT: What in your opinion are some of 2007's best progressive rock and metal releases?
Daniel: Symphony X's new album, the new Threshold, the Codex album, the new Pedestrians of Blue album, the new Work of Art album and the new Therion album.
(Click here to read our review of A Gentleman's Hurricane)