With thier latest release IV Monument on Transubstans Records, hard rock/metal act Sideburn are set to compete with the big boys of the Swedish metal scene who are honing in on those classic heavy sounds of the '70s and '80s. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo caught up with guitarist Morgan Zocek to talk about the band, their new CD, the music scene in Sweden, and future plans.
SoT: IV Monument is now Sideburn's fourth albums-can you go back in time and talk about the beginnings and history of the band?
Morgan: In 1998 I advertised looking for a singer and found Jani Kataja who on the phone said that he was influenced by singers like Ronnie James Dio and Glenn Danzig, the funny thing is that he said that with a very humble almost shy talking voice
but at rehearsals when he begun to sing his voice moved mountains!
Martin Karlsson (Bass/Organ) begun to jam with the band around 2002 when he moved to Stockholm from the North of Sweden and we met him through mutual friends.
Our current drummer Fredrik Haake joined in 2010, me and Martin got to know him when we played together in an Ozzy Osbourne cover band, at that moment Fredrik played in a lot of other bands/Projects but we played him some SIDEBURN stuff and he wanted to join after a while and focus on lesser bands/projects so he had the time to play as a fulltime member in SIDEBURN.
SoT: Sweden has really become a hotbed for '70s styled music in the last few years. Why do you think that is?
Morgan: I think Sweden always have had a lot of great hard rock acts in all styles, from Melodic hard rock, Death,Progressive metal to more 70īs sounding bands, donīt know why that is, do you have any idea?
SoT: The new album is a heavy mix of hard rock, blues, metal, and psychedelia. Were bands like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Pentagram, UFO, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Scorpions, etc. a big influence on the band? Any other groups that influenced you during your formative musical years?
Morgan: All of the bands that you mentioned above have been big inspirations except for Pentagram, other bands that inspired me to pick up the guitar are bands like KISS,IRON MAIDEN,OZZY OSBOURNE,JUDAS PRIEST,ACCEPT, who got me into listening to Hardrock and heavy metal as a twelve year old kid, and a little later Swedish heroes like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and EUROPE. When SIDEBURN started to take form in the late nineties we where listening a lot to the "Stonerbands" such as KYUSS,FU MANCHU,GOATSNAKE, and CHURCH OF MISERY.
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the creation of IV Monument? How long did the writing take, who does most of the songwriting, and how the recording process went?
Morgan: Some of the song parts/riffs dates back to the last record (2010) but never found their place until now. The writing process usually looks like this; me and Jani sit at home and creates riffs/song melodies,song structures, sometimes we have the whole song ready when we present it to each other in the rehearsal room and just do some minor changes together with the rest of the band, and sometimes we jam on certain parts to get the songs complete.
SoT: Transubstans Records/Record Heaven seem to have a really good feel for the heavy rock scene in your part of the world. How did you come in contact with the label?
Morgan: We got in contact with them when we had recorded our last album "The Demon Dance" (2010)- we sent them the finished master tape and they wanted to sign us right away!
SoT: Does the band play live at all?
Morgan: We tour a lot in SWEDEN and have a lot of festivals coming up next year around Europe, we will also sign up with a new Management/Booking company who will help us to plan our tour schedule outside of Sweden. It's allways a question of money to get the touring machine rolling. You dont want to "Pay to play".
SoT: There are many other Swedish bands who are gaining popularity in Europe and North America these days-how would you say Sideburn differs from, say, Graveyard, Witchcraft, Devils Blood, Horisont, Captain Crimson, etc. or, would you say that Sideburn are similar enough that if fans like those other bands they should definitely check you guys out?
Morgan: I donīt think we have so much in common with the bands you are mentioning exept for our musical roots, we're more classic/timeless hardrock and don't just want to sound like the seventies. I donīt want our music to sound dated, I want it to sound up to date both production wise and in our performances, for example my guitar playing is equally inspired by 70īs players like Iommi and Page, but also as much by 80īs guitar gods like Malmsteen and Michael Schenker and I also love "Newer" bands such as Symphony X,Nevermore,Dream Theater, a lot of Progmetal! Another thing we do is our three part harmony singing in the style of bands such as Kansas and Uriah Heep that I donīt think bands in our genre do much nowadays, that I think, make us sound unique.
SoT: This style of music is all about the 'riffs'-how hard is it these days to create new, original music, or more importantly, original sounding riffs, when so many other great bands throughout heavy musics history have already come up with a wealth of great, memorable riffs?
Morgan: You can't reinvent the wheel nowadays, and I don't want to, but new riffs come to me sooner or later, some familiar ones but always with a twist so they feel fresh..
SoT: How has initial reaction been to the new CD so far? What are some of your favorite songs on the album, and why?
Morgan: The reviews so far has been fantastic and we have done and will do a lot of interviews (requests are coming all the time from all over the world, and thatīs a good sign I think). A lot of gigs and festivals will be played and the band is stronger as a unit than ever. So we have good times in front of us.
I cannot pick any favourite songs on the album, i love them all, it's a cliché but it's like nine babies that you created and you can't pick a couple out of that as your favourites, could you?
SoT: If you were to describe Sideburn to a hard rock/metal fan who had never heard your music before, what would you say?
Morgan: I would say that we play Classic/Timeless Hardrock with elements of Doom/Blues/Progressive.
SoT: Here's a 2 part questions-If you could take Sideburn out on the road with two existing heavy rock bands, who would they be, and how about two bands who currently are no longer together?
Morgan: Out of the existing bands i would love to tour with Spiritual Beggars and Europe or maybe Black Country Communion, it would be a great bill!
Of the "Old" bands I would say the original Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on vocals.
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(Click here to read our review of IV Monument)