Richard left SONIC SYNDICATE. Of course I was sad, but since he was unconfortable in the band, I think it was the best decision for both. I support him and I support SONIC (yeah, I’m playing Switzerland right now ;)), as it’s a win-win situation for me – a heavier project featuring Richard and Roger, and the new SONIC which I also love.
Being part of the press team of Backstage Music Forum, I did an interview with Richard. The Portuguese version can be seen here: http://backstageforum.hot-me.com/interviews-f9/entrevista-com-richard-sjunnesson-ex-sonic-syndicate-t3870.htm#27203, and now I give you the original version in English. Enjoy!
» SONIC SYNDICATE fans suffered a shock when the band announced that singer Richard Sjunnesson wouldn’t take part of the European tour. The shock was even bigger when Richard himself posted a blog saying he was leaving for good and why. That and much more info can be read here http://richardsjunnesson.blogg.se/, but Backstage talked to Richard just the same.
Backstage Music Forum: Hi Richard. Thank you for talking to us in such a busy and troubled time like this.
You’ve obviously been quite unhappy with SONIC SYNDICATE for a while now, especially after “We Rule The Night” was released in August. I read it on your blog but tell us why did you decide to leave the band only now?
Richard Sjunnesson: I think it’s kind of a precise description why I decided to leave the band now instead of earlier over at the blog. But in rough lines, the decision to leave the band was topical already during the writing of WRTN for me and that’s when I first voiced my disappointment to Roger (Sjunnesson, guitar player and Richard’s brother). Fact is that this was also the biggest change in my life for ten years, it took time to adapt to the thought in my head as well and to utterly confront it. For various financial reasons I also had to linger until I could stabilize my economy and disconnect the dependence of the band. I first wanted to leave after the festival season because I was already on solid ground as of then. But I did an agreement with the band to stay for the Scandinavian shows so they could work on a new singer. To be fair, I didn’t owe them anything but I surely did it for my brother’s sake.
BMF: The official statement was that you weren’t going on tour as you were “on a break for family and personal reasons”. You think the band believed that you were just putting on some tantrum and would eventually come back, or you think they intentionally postponed “the dropping of the bomb”?
Richard: I think some of them believed that to begin with, yes. But when the statement was published it was very clear that I would NOT come back in the band in its current state. This made that statement very dishonest and just to save their hides. Making them kind of look like fools once I got my vindication on the blog. (This made it understandable why they removed it, I suppose). My ultimatum to make me stay in the band was nothing I knew they would actually consider to begin with.
BMF: You said you and Roger were already working on some new stuff. Was that originally meant for SONIC or were you already thinking about something else?
Richard: In terms of a side project we were never allowed to have that in the band, which also is a big reason why I left. Let’s say we were encouraged to have a side project instead. Where we actually would be able to ventilate our creativity. I would have no problem whatsoever with staying in the band and consider it more of a normal job. Like a contractor kind of deal, if you see where I’m heading. I mean, even if my heart would have been elsewhere, everyone always needs to earn a living, obviously. But being both musically crippled and imprisoned in a band where I’m not allowed to do anything else is nothing that works in my book. I can just do something halfhearted for so long.
The side project mentality in the band has changed as of now (or well, it’s one of Roger’s terms of staying). It’s just a shame that something like this would need to happen to actually provoke a change.
As for your question, the material we are writing is steaming fresh and was not intended for SONIC in any way.
BMF: You think Roger will be in an awkward position by staying in the band AND working with you at the same time?
Richard: I think Roger is strong and won’t let anyone treat him bad. If they value him they should be very careful to entangle him too much in whatever drama is going on between me and the band. This is my decision, not his! It’s indeed going to affect him in one way or another, yes, because it’s inevitable. But I’m most certain he has enough of internal emotional ghosts to deal with as of now. I mean, not having his brother around in the band is a big change for him as well, so I would strongly suggest not pushing too much external pressure onto Roger at the moment.
BMF: From previous albuns, your favorite songs are “Prelude To Extinction”, “Double Agent 616” and “Red Eyed Friend”. I’ve seen SONIC SYNDICATE 6 times in the last two years and these songs were played only when Roland (Johansson, ex-vocalist) was still in the band. Was I just unlucky with the shows I’ve been to or was it another change that came along with the “new SONIC”?
Richard: First off with a new vocalist we had to review what songs did actually work good with a new voice. Let’s face it: they are not in any way close to each other from a vocal performance kind of view. Some songs worked better than others and some didn’t work as good. This was the case with “Red Eyed Friend”. We played it a couple of times the first batch of live shows with Nathan (Biggs). But his type of vocals simply didn’t make the song justice, so it got scratched from the set. While other songs worked really well, of course! What happened to “Double Agent 616”? I’m not even sure if we practiced it with Nathan. As we wrote more new material, old songs had to roll over to make room for them. “Eden Fire” songs were very hard to get into the set since everyone working with the band and the band itself never recognized the effort and kind of pretended that album never existed. Whenever an “Eden Fire” song did show up in the set, it was most likely an internal fight behind the fact that it was even there. Sometimes I did manage to get out winning of these disputes and we played songs like “Prelude To Extinction” and “Jailbreak”, for example. Thinking back on it, it was only me and Roger that ever struggled or suggested “Eden Fire” songs to be included in live sets.
BMF: The new project will sound “most likely classic SONIC”, to use your own words. You see it as the developing process that SONIC should have gone through?
Richard: We will spend less time staking out a path where we want to take this and spend more time on writing what we feel. That’s what we did on the first three SONIC records and that’s what we want to do now. Most of all we are doing music for our own winning, music to be proud of! And to sate our own creativity, of course. On WRTN we had to write in a commercial format. Not saying it was dishonest in any way ’cause individuals in the band actually enjoyed writing in a commercial format. That’s where it clashed to begin with, don’t you see? There are voids between every single member in the band in terms of musical taste. We grew apart so noticeable the past few years, it’s ridiculous. And it started to be more of a problem than an advantage. Resulting in WRTN, which some my think it’s dynamic but in my case I think it’s straggling, ’cause I have to skip track after track to even be able to enjoy it.
BMF: What will you miss the most about SONIC?
Richard: Roger and the live shows.
BMF: What did you learn, in terms of human nature, and won’t let happen again with this new project?
Richard: I will always follow my heart from now on. This project will always have the band calling all the shots and not having decisions made for us. When it comes down to it, money feels really poor when you get to do what you really love.
BMF: Some people are wondering if Roland Johansson is the “old friend” whom you’re working with. But like the name of the project itself, you want it to keep it secret, so I won’t ask you to confirm or deny it. I’ll just ask if you know WHEN will that mystery be revealed? 😉
Richard: Well, Johnny Cage is currently busy shooting a new movie so I can’t go more into details on that. But as of the band name it will be revealed very soon! A web team is putting together a site as we speak. Be patient!
BMF: I wish you all the best and hope to hear from you soon!
Richard: Right back at you, Renata! «