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Interview with Scar Symmetry’s Per Nilsson

Scar Symmetry invigorated the almost stale melodic-death metal scene when the hit the genre hard and fast in 2005 with their dynamic release ‘Symmetric In Design’. It was only months later when they muscled their way into the hearts of U.S. metal fans with the almost perfectly mixed blend of music with 2006‘s ‘Pitch Black Progress’.

Now in 2008, Scar Symmetry are once again carving their names into the scenes latest and greatest with a superb new album titled, ‘Holographic Universe’. Although a bit more on the melodic side, it is still a very solid release.

I finally had a chance to chat with one of the masterminds behind the group, and here is what he had to say.


JH: Hello, glad to finally get you this time around.

PN: What?

JH: Tried on the last two press days and seemed to get bumped or forgotten.

PN: No, no! That should not have happened.

JH: No big deal. Happens often enough. How about a brief background on the band?

PN: Oh….ah….

JH: You know, a little history?

PN: Yeah, yeah….I hate doing this. No problem. We started in 2004.it was Jonas (the other guitar player in the band), he runs a studio, and so he had recorded everyone who is in Scar Symmetry now in our previous bands. Actually it was when Henrik (the drummer) and I recorded there one time, it was when he said, “oh my god, you’re the best musicians I’ve ever recorded. We must form a band.” And he know the other guys, so we put the band together. Landed a record deal with Cold Records immediately. We’d record one-half of a song ‘Seeds of Rebellion’ which is on the first album. We did a demo of that which landed us the deal. That label had Metal Blade license the album for Europe and a month after that Nuclear Blast found out about us, bought us out from Cold Records and that’s that.

JH: The first two releases were very close together. And ‘Holographic Universe’ is a couples years from the last release. Why is this?

PN: Well for the first album, it was released on Cold Records/Metal Blade but shortly after the release nuclear Blast took over. Then we ended up without a tour and NB did not want to set up a tour without a new release, so we did have anything to do but to do a new album which was ‘Pitch Black Progress’.

JH: I don’t want you to take this wrong or anything because, and this is the honest truth. I’ve been a big fan since about track three of the first album when it was sent to me, but what I’m hearing on this new one seems a bit more melodic. Almost a very radio friendly sounding album.

PN: You know, I don’t think we really plan anything for any of the records. Or what it is going to sound like. The first album was done very quick. We formed the band, wrote some songs and recorded the album. Sort of an experiment. It was then that we knew that we had a group of really talented musicians. And we are going to make a lot more music together. When we went into the studio for the second album we had the frame of mind that we would basically do whatever we wanted. That’s the way we work. We don’t really worry about what people are going to think. Usually the song writing is me or Jonas. We’ll write the guitar parts and some basic drum arrangements. Then we send them to Christian who comes up with the vocal stuff. So sometimes if I write a song that I know is going to have a lot of the harsh vocals and then I send it to Christian and he’ll send it back and it’s topped with more clean vocals. Sometimes some songs just end up that way.

JH: So there’s no sitting around as a group saying hey we’ve got this formula to stick by?

PN: No. We little bit try to avoid the most common formulas in metal music today. The melodic death metal that you always have. We try to mix it up a little bit.

JH: Can you give us a rundown on the new album?

PN: Ah……I don’t know what you mean.

JH: Describe it in your own words for the unsuspecting listener.

PN: (silence)

JH: What was the creative process like?

PN: Well like I said, either me or Jonas wrote the song. A complete song with the guitar parts. Programmed the drums and some keyboard parts and sent it to Christian and he would send it back with vocals with phony words. Mostly that’s the way the songs ended up on the album. And really the songs are very easy to write. Sometimes it would only take me a day or two to write a song and then in a few hours the vocals were done.

JH: Does Christian follow any particular theme when writing the lyrics?

PN: Yes there is, only it’s our drummer Henrik who writes all the lyrics. I’m not sure I should even begin to try and explain the concept of the album because it’s so weird.

JH: I have not seen the lyrics yet for myself.

PN: Oh, well it’s like a mixture of a really, the newest research of physics, quantum physics. It’s a mix between quantum physics and Eastern philosophy.

JH: ….a little deep. (Ha, ha)

PN: ….very….deep. Like there’s no objective reality. Like multitudes of subjective realities. Little bit like that. The mind is the master. That’s the theme. Mind is the master.

JH: So you guys had two runs of the U.S. last year?

PN: Yep.

JH: How well did that go for you.

PN: The first tour was absolutely incredible. We toured with Dark Tranquillity and The Haunted. It was just unbelievable. Some nights we had such a great response from the audience. I think it was in Montreal where we actually sold more merchandise than both main acts put together.

JH: What does touring for the new album look like?

PN: Nothing is really decided yet. We’re looking at touring Europe in the fall and the U.S. first of the year.

JH: I’ll make sure to leave the first of next year open. Do not want to miss you again. What can one expect from a Scar Symmetry show?

PN: Unbelievable musicianship and fantastic songs.

JH: How about Christian’s vocals? How well does he pull off the clean to gutteral in a live setting?

PN: Very well. He manages it very well. Of course, when we tour and there are 15 plus shows in a row, there may be a little problem hitting the highest of notes, but nothing that anyone could ever notice.

JH: Well that’s to be expected. As with any vocalist.

PN: Yeah, so, it’s like if you go listen to David Coverdale, some nights he can’t hit the higher notes and he doesn’t even do the growling. Christian is taking real good care of his voice when we are out on the road.

JH: So this comes out in the U.S. on the 8th of July. Has it already been released over there (Europe)?

PN: Yes, on Friday.

JH: That’s only two days ago. So no telling how well it’s moving yet?

PN: No, not yet.

JH: With no touring plan until the fall, what are you guys going to do this summer? Any festival plans?

PN: We don’t know really.

JH: Just going to take some time off?

PN: Yes I think so. It wasn’t sure when the album was going to be released. It was postponed so we didn’t have any shows lined up. A few small fuck-ups you could say that way. So it was too late to get on any of the summer fests. We may actually have the whole summer off.

JH: That could be nice.

PN: Yes, and work hard all fall and winter.

JH: Anything you want to add to our conversation?

PN: Last words?

JH: Last words…..

PN: Go out and buy the fuckin’ album!!!