We talked with the Swede Dan Swanö about his bands, his job as producer and many more topics.
Styx: Hello Dan. First off thank you very much for taking your time for this interview. It is really appreciated. How are the things going on your end?
Dan: My pleasure! Things are going well, thanks for asking!
Styx: Way back in time around the release you said in an interview there will be more albums like Crimson 2 but not under the banner of "Edge Of Sanity". Do you still plan to do another album with one big song?
Dan: Well, at the moment there is no thought of that musical concept. After Insomnium did it, I think it kind of died a bit for me since I got to work on it, and that one is almost the album I wish I had done, in some ways...and there is no point of chasing that "ultimate 1 track album" since so many hail the 1st Crimson, and you cannot really top that one because it's got a special vibe that I never got close to recreate on Crimson II. Musically there have been stuff that is pretty close to certain parts of CII, such as bits of pieces of the 2nd Witherscape album. I jokingly called the title track "The Northern Sanctuary" for Crimson 1/3 since it is pretty exactly one third of the Crimson length.
Styx: How would you describe the success of "Moontower" back in 1998? I think the album was ahead of its time and didn't got the love it should have gotten.
Dan: There was no success at all. But still, I am damn proud of it, and yes, it was ahead of it's time and my wish to make a death metal album done in the 70's with a somewhat timeless production worked out fine, but it was very confusing for the old EOS fans and at that point the industry didn't look like it does today, with all these DeathProgAOR bands!
Styx: With "Crimson 2" you introduced a new artist to me with the name Rogga Johansson. How it came to be that you decided to let him do the vocals on this album? Was it related that your voice gave you problems back in time when you tried to growl?
Dan: I mixed some of Roggas bands and there were moments when he sang a bit similar to my old style. He is a fan fan of the early EOS stuff and when I felt that my growls would probably not be brutal enough, I decided to use him. Then my voice came back to life, and I sang a bit of the album as well, it is still cool to have him there for the sake of variety! Rogga has gone on to be quite the death metal celebrity, now working with Kam Lee and stuff. An Awesome dude!
Styx: If you take a look back in your career is there something you would do different?
Dan: Well, there are some things that could have been done differently, that is for sure, but those would be pretty big changes involving certain bands never have being formed, and that would lead to me living a completely different life today, and I love my life of today... so I let the past be the past and do what I can to enlighten the people of the future of the parts of my past that I feel proud of...making sure it is re-released etc.
Styx: What do you prefer more to be a musician or to work as a producer with Unisound Studio?
Dan: Studio all the way! I have been back in the game as a musician with Witherscape since 2010 and there are certain aspects of it that I love, but there's also so much work from that awesome riff you just wrote on your steel string on the sofa to the release of the record...and every time I complete an album as a musician I feel that I need more and more space until I get the urge to make the next one. But studio work is where my true passion is and have always been so I feel blessed for being able to make a decent living mixing and mastering stuff!
Styx: When we fans listen to your music and go from the early beginnings to the most actual we see how your musical horizon grew with every release. What exactly outside of Death Metal and Metal in common inspires you and how these things influence your music?
Dan: Oh man, if you saw my "Top 1000" tracks I have on my phone you would freak out. There's maybe 25 death metal related songs on there, the rest is AOR, Pop, Rock, Prog and even country and stuff. What I loved about Death Metal was that I felt like I could be a part of moulding it into something that I come work with. Thrash and Black Metal had all these silly rules what made the genre the genre, don't get me wrong, Death Metal was pretty narrow at the beginning too, but the rule bent more easily with a younger genre and it's crazy what we could get away with in EOS and still being labelled "a death metal band" I get inspired by the vibe of music in general and when I am writing a death metal record, like I am doing right now, I sometimes find inspiration in completely different music and take that vibe with me and try to write a riff, in Death Metal style, that evoke the same emotion in me... also movies and TV series inspire me sometime to write a certain way, and you cannot help being inspired by the bands you work with as well.
Styx: Please tell us how many instruments you can play and which ones are your favorites? How old you were as you started to play an instrument?
Dan: I can handle a drumkit, guitar, bass and keyboards/Piano and sing. I was 7 when I got my first drumkit but I could also play a pretty decent organ by then as well.
Styx: Out of all the projects and bands you had and still have which one you like most and which one you like less when you take a look back?
Dan: Hard to say, really. They all had their special moments. But I think the band that is dearest to my heart is Unicorn. especially the time from late 1988 to summer of 1990 (The time with Per on bass) like less...well, I am not really sure here, because I think all projects and bands I have been is pretty awesome. All have made terrible songs and classics..so all I can think of is Abscess, which was a one-off Thrash Metal attempt with members of EOS and Pan Thy Monium that turned into a fiasco we never spoke about again.
Styx: Century Media gave you a few re-releases to remaster and remix. Mostly it happens that those albums in their newer version sound much worse then they did in the past. Most of the reissues you were part off sound brilliant. How do you make it happen that your remixes/remasters for the reissues are unique for each album?
Dan: Thanks! Well, I do my best to get the vision of the members through. Sometimes there is very little to do, and since I also have no fear of really ripping it up with the EQ if the original album sounds like ass...maybe that is a part of the answer. But always in connection with at least 1 original member of the band that gives me green light for my tweaks!
Styx: You and your brother make a great team when it comes to the process of creating musical content. Is there a new Nightingale album coming along or even maybe a new Pan-Thy-Monium?
Dan: Nope. Nightingale is currently laying low, but we do release a live album!! So buy that one!! The album I am currently writing will have some Pan-Thy-Monium vibes (1st demo/1st EP/parts of DOD vibes) that will be about enough of that.
Styx: Are there any plans in the future to play some gigs with Witherscape and is there coming a new album along?
Dan: No gigs. A new album... well, I do think so, but we are currently not exactly sure how to continue and do something better or at least comparable to TNS which I feel is the best metal album I have been a part of, maybe ever...so that is a rough one to follow up!
Styx: Thanks Dan once more for taking your time for this interview. Any last words?
Dan: Check out our merch business www.swanomerch.com. And if any of the readers feel the need to have an album mixed or mastered by me, do not hesitate to contact me over at www.unisound.se Rock on!