Soilwork: Interview With Bjorn Strid

SoilworkThe caller ID on my phone said INTL with a series of numbers with no hyphens between them. It was time to answer the phone and speak, for the first time, to Bjorn Strid, vocalist for Soilwork. I have been a fan of this Swedish band since their inception and was hoping I would be able to understand his English. Little did I know, his English was impeccable and his accent was very easy to decipher and understand. He called from his home in Helsingborg, Sweden, which is six hours ahead of us in the Eastern Time zone. Bjorn spoke to me about Soilwork’s stint on this summer’s Ozzfest, hanging with Will Smith, and his admiration for Devin Townsend.

Hi, thanks so much for calling me. I won’t keep you long and run up your long distance-international calling bill!

Hey, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for taking time to talk to me today. I appreciate that.

So, how was it being part of Ozzfest and the Swedish invasion this past summer?

We’ve done a lot of festivals before, but in Europe they aren’t tours, they are just one-off shows. Ozzfest was a new experience for us. It was a bit weird for us. In general, our set times were as early as 9:15 a.m. or as late as noon. So by lunchtime, we were done. Afterward, we did signings, then we hung in the parking lot for the rest of the day. It was like Heavy Metal Parking Lot [the documentary]. We met some really cool people, and I was so happy there were many other Swedish bands on the bill.

I heard you guys became friendly with Jada Pinkett Smith. Is that true?

Believe it or not, she was the least rock star on the entire festival. She was cool, hanging out all the time, fixing BBQs by their bus. She really digs hard music. Even Will Smith, when he was out there, he would always hang out a lot by the bus. Just hanging with Jada, listening to Satyricon on the stereo. That was really weird. You wouldn’t expect that from her. She is such a cool person, and everyone else in the band liked her too.

Did someone in your band move to America recently?

Yes, Peter the guitarist is living in Charlotte, North Carolina. He married an American girl and he moved over there November 2004.

Does the distance put a strain on the band?

It’s a little complicated sometimes, and there are definitely obstacles. But still, we don’t rehearse that much anyway, and we have the internet to trade files or basic ideas for a new song. And now, we have a Belgian-born drummer, Dirk Verbeuren. He still plays in another band called Scarve. Now he’s living in France, outside Paris. He’s not an official member of the band, but he will be. We just have to do some negotiations.

So your guitarist lives in North Carolina, your drummer is in France and the rest of you are in Sweden? Thank god for the internet!

Yes! [laughs]

Regarding this upcoming tour, is this the first time you’ve ever toured with Strapping Young Lad?

This is the first time, and it’s such a great honor. It feels kind of weird for the bill, which is Darkane opening, then Strapping, then Soilwork, then Fear Factory. So that’s really, we’re like playing after Strapping Young Lad? It’s…wow. Devin is one of my idols and it feels weird, but it’s an honor.

If this exact lineup were in Europe, would the lineup be in the same order?

Yes, I think so.

How many albums did Devin Townsend [Strapping Young Lad] produce for you?

He only did Natural Born Chaos.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in New York on this tour.

We really want to prove to the new U.S. fans that we may have gained this summer, what we’re all about. Most of them saw us early on in the day, and this is our chance to really show them.

Are there any plans for a new album?

We’re going to try to tour the shit out of this album. It’s still new for us. I guess we realized through the years that we could tour a lot longer on each album and not have to rush to make a new album. But now we’re touring much more and it’s probably going to take a while, as far as I can see, maybe at the end of next year [2007] we might start working on a new one.

Soilwork are performing at Irving Plaza in NYC on Tuesday, Nov. 8, and at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on Friday, Nov. 11. They are special guests of Fear Factory, along with Darkane and Strapping Young Lad.