I recently spoke with vocalist Joel Ekelof and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis from Soen, shortly before they played their first UK show, supporting Amaranthe at the Garage in London.
Festivalphoto: Soen are a fairly new band, so for the benefit of anyone who hasnt come across Soen yet, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Kim: We're from Sweden and America. I think the idea, the original seed to it started as Martin's side project to Opeth. I got involved in 2004, he was looking for a guitarist, I was looking for a drummer for a band, but we did it this way instead. I knew Joel from before, we had played a lot of the same venues and totally different genres but I knew his voice was top notch, so we called him up, recorded some demo material then also got Steve DiGiorgio involved and then I think that's where we really found a core, when we knew how this would sound, and could start working on things properly. Martin and Steve knew each other from being on the road together.
Festivalphoto: Your new album, "Cognitive" was released earlier this year.
Kim: It seems a long time ago. We're keeping ourselves busy, we have other commitments as well, it takes a lot of time but we put as much as we can into pushing this forward.
Festivalphoto: Tonight is your first UK show. Any nerves?
Kim: No, thrilled.
Festivalphoto: It's a very diverse lineup tonight.
Kim: You could say that.
Joel: It is.
Kim: But we're all from the same label which is cool.
Joel: It's fun, even though its totally different. Perhaps it's not bands that would normally be..
Kim: My Granny would probably say we're all pretty much the same band, she would put us in the same..
Joel: Distorted guitars?
Kim: Yeah all the same.
Festivalphoto: Apart from tonight, are there any other shows or festival appearances planned at the moment?
Kim: Not planned right now. We're working really hard on getting it sorted. We've got a few dates in the fall, they're not confirmed yet but they're in Europe. we will post it as soon as we know more, I promise.
Festivalphoto: Obviously with you all having different backgrounds there are probably quite a few bands that have influenced Soen's music. Who would you say are the main ones?
Kim: I can put the words in your mouth - many people mention Tool
Joel: I don't think they really influenced us.
Kim: It isnt the main influence, but of course it would be silly to deny that we have tool as an influence - we didn't sit down and say "Hey lets make a Tool album", and if you listen to the album more, if you get into the album, you will see we have a lot more influences, and that there is a Soen sound on the album.
Joel: For example there is a lot of Uruguayan folk percussive influences into it, not just in the percussions but in the rhythms also. There's a lot of different influences that have been transformed into the sound of Soen, through our filter.
Festivalphoto: Which do you prefer and why - Vinyl, CD or legal mp3 downloads ?
Kim: It depends what's available and where I'm at I suppose, they're all good in different ways. If you're in a car and you want a song now, you can't got to the vinyl shop and get it, so you have to use itunes or whatever, but if you want the collectors edition vinyl then you've got to go to the shop.
Joel: I think its ok with Spotify, it's a great service to access music and listen to it, and you know the artist gets a little pay at least, but if you really like an album then you want to have the physical version to touch, so CD.
Festivalphoto: Finally, if you could say one thing to fans about why they should listen to Soen, what would it be?
Kim: They might broaden their minds. I think the experence is the thing - you might experience something.
Joel: You will have to work with the album but it will pay off in the end.
Festivalphoto: Thank you both for your time.