Five years since the last release Axenstar is back with a brand new album. But why did it take five years? Magnus Winterwild is here to explain!
In 2016 you started the preparation for the next, and seventh, Axenstar album. And on New Year’s Eve 2016 you “promised” a new album next year (2017). What happened?
Winterwild: Haha, yes we did and I guess that was some kind of wishful thinking as it turns out we missed the target with two years… The thing is that everything took a lot longer than we thought it would and we have recorded 90% of the music by ourselves in our own studio and that means that you have a lot of possibilities to change and be really picky about how the songs turn out.
Prior to the recording process in 2016, how was the songwriting process for the upcoming album. You released your latest album, Where Dreams Are Forgotten, in 2014; at what point did you start writing for the upcoming album?
Winterwild: I guess we had some new song ideas already back when the previous album was released, and we started writing more or less right away, but when you don’t have like a deadline it’s really easy that productivity decreases.
Was all the songs ready when you entered the studio in 2016?
Winterwild: No, we continued to write songs during the whole recording process.
As we all know by now the album wasn’t released in 2017, and in 2018 you started the search for a new drummer. What happened to Adam Lindberg?
Winterwild: Yeah, we did. Adam decided to leave the band and Sweden to study music in Pasadena outside Los Angeles, so we knew we needed to find a new drummer and it took us a while before we felt ready to start the search for a new one.
How was the search for a new drummer?
Winterwild: Well we put out an ad and we got a very fast response from this guy Hampus Fasth and as it turned out he got the job and it has been working out great. It has been really good to get some fresh energy in the band.
Other than a new drummer the lineup has been quite stable the last ten years, and the upcoming album will be the third album with the same lineup (except for the drummer, if I’m correct). How has that affected the songwriting and the recording process?
Winterwild: That’s correct, I think it has made it a lot easier as we really know each other by now and we know how we work in the songwriting process as well as in the recording process. It feels really relaxed and you don’t have to afraid to ask for help if you’re stuck in the writing process.
The upcoming album, End Of All Hope, will be Axenstar’s seventh studio album, and you are now being considered as one of the veterans on the scene. Is that how you would describe yourself too?
Winterwild: Haha, yeah I guess you could call us veterans but we certainly don’t feel old. It’s really great that we have had the chance to release seven albums, that is something we’re really proud of but we’re still hungry for more because this is really what we love to do and it’s quite strange that it has been 17 years since our debut.
Axenstar debuted in 2002 with the album Perpetual Twilight; a time when the Power Metal scene was blossoming. How would you describe the scene back then, compared to now? Has anything changed?
Winterwild: Well back then power metal was really popular, and we tried our best to compete with the bigger bands and had some success I would say and over the years the genre has had its ups and downs. Nowadays I would say there has been an upswing and there are a lot of great bands out there, both old and new.
And now, 17 years later, you are about to release your seventh album. How would you describe Axenstar today compared to back in 2002?
Winterwild: We are of course older and have a lot of experience of how the music industry works. I can miss our youthful enthusiasm back in the days but it’s also nice to be more relaxed and confident as we are today. Back then we could be really upset about a bad review but now we just laugh at a bad review because you can’t please everyone.
What can we expect from the upcoming album; has the band changed musically in any way?
Winterwild: There is of course always some change when you evolve in your songwriting and find new influences but this time we have really tried to hold on to the roots of the band and I think we have found a good balance between typical classic power metal and a more modern sound.
Is there anything you could tell me about the upcoming album?
Winterwild: The album will contain 10 really strong tracks and will be released on both vinyl and cd. The only «guest musician» would be Thomas Odewärn [previously Eriksson] the original solo guitarist of the band. We asked him to play some solo parts and he gladly helped us out.
A few months ago we could learn that you have signed with Ram It Down Records. Your last album was released on Inner Wound Recordings, what happened there? And why did you go for Ram It Down?
Winterwild: Well we had a really good thing going with Inner Wound but since the new album took so long time to finish (for various reasons) we were not able to sign a new deal with them. So, we started looking for another label and found this new really cool label Ram It Down, founded by Timo Hoffman which we had previously been in contact with, so it was not a hard decision to make to sign with Ram It Down and we’re really happy with all they have done so far.
You have now a complete lineup, a new record label, and an upcoming album; the future is looking good for Axenstar. Does this mean that there will be more albums in the future?
Winterwild: I really hope so, as you say the future do look promising and we’re really excited about this new release.
What about live shows; do you have any plans there?
Winterwild: At the moment we only got the release show booked, but there is a lot of other gigs in the planning.
One final question: it seems like the power metal scene is bigger than ever in Sweden, where new bands are scratching the surface everywhere. Is that your impression also, and why is that you think?
Winterwild: I think that Sweden or actually all of the Scandinavian countries always have had a lot of high quality bands, so I’m not surprised about all the new bands coming up. I don’t know why this is the case, but I guess that if you get some successful bands that will automatically generate an interest among the kids to start playing an instrument and form a band.
Axenstars new album, End Of All Hope, is out now via Ram It Down Records.