Sweden's Greenleaf has created a long lasting legacy of Stoner Rock over the past 17 years. With the release of the band's 6th album, Rise Above The Meadow, the band feels stronger and tighter than ever. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Vocalist Arvid Jonsson and Guitarist Tommi Holhoppa to discuss everything currently in the world of Greenleaf.
That Drummer Guy- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Thanks to your awesome PR, I just got turned on to you guys with your latest release, Rise Above The Meadow and I am heavily impressed with what you guys do. So with Rise Above The Meadow being the band's 6th album, what went into the writing and recording process this time around?
Arvid- I guess for the most part a lot of more live experience. Ever since we released the album before this one "Trails & Passes" we have been spending a lot more time on the road and I think you can really hear that on the new record.
TDG- What I really appreciate about the new album is the diversity of it all. No two songs are alike and everything feels completely strong and inspired. Does the songwriting process come off that naturally as it sounds or does it take time to really make it feel right?
Arvid- The songs are most of the time a result of some sort of jam, kicking of with one of Tommi's riff and then we'll kind of see where it will end up. But then when we kind of compare the songs to each other we tend to be more critical in choosing what actually gets to go on the album or not.
TDG- Was there any material written during the Rise Above The Meadow sessions that may end up on a future release?
Arvid- Yes there are a couple of ideas that maybe will appear on a later release. You never know til then, haha.
TDG- When in the writing process for the new album, was there any music you were listening to at the time that may have helped with inspiration?
Arvid- Well in general, I think we will always take our main inspiration from 70s-rock stuff, heavier things like Kyuss and even High On Fire and top it off with old blues. But I also take a lot of inspiration from pop-music that I like. Folksy things like Fleet Foxes and Junip are some of my melodic inspirations.
TDG- You have been playing a couple tracks off the new album live. How has the crowd reaction been to the new songs so far?
Arvid- I think very good so far. We are trying out a couple of new ways to play the groove and some stuff are a bit more mellow then before, but yeah people seem to dig it.
TDG- Has there been any talks of hitting North America for any kind of touring in the future? Even a possible one-off festival show?
Arvid- Yeah of course! And we are doing our best to make it happen. It's just a question about money really, but the goal is to do a US-tour at the end of this year. And that is all I know for now.
TDG- The band is turning 17 years old this year. What has kept the band feeling inspired for almost two decades to keep persevering?
Arvid- Probably in some ways the line-up changes helps hahaha. But also there is this "freedom feeling" of a idea with Greenleaf, that we can do whatever we want, sort of. And that we don't necessarily have to care to much about what everyone else thinks. As long as we can sit at home and listen to a new record and be happy about it, it's all good kind of, haha. And that is what makes Greenleaf so fun and why there is no reason to stop.
TDG- There is a ton of great bands in the Stoner Rock genre, which you have been able to share the stage with and many newer bands that are continuing in the tradition of the style. How would you say Stoner Rock has changed in the last 17 years since the formation of Greenleaf?
Tommi - In the early days when I started Dozer (my other band), and then a few years later Greenleaf, Stoner Rock consisted of mostly American bands like Kyuss, Clutch, Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, Sleep etc etc. I think that is what started the whole Stoner Rock thing, people heard those bands and fell in love with the sound and then started their own bands. Since then the genre has had it's up's and down's, Queens of the Stone Age made it bloom again and then after a few years when it looked like people didn't really care anymore about this kind of music Witchcraft, Graveyard etc etc pumped life into it again. I'm not saying that stoner rock ever went away but there has been times when it has not been as popular as it is now.
Here in Europe I think it's more popular than it has ever been! And I think we (the bands) have the festivals to thank that for, Desertfest, Stoned From the Underground, Kröckbacken, Lake on Fire etc ect. The festivals have made stoner rock "hip" amongst the kids again...hahaha! So how has stoner rock changed in 17 years since we started Greenleaf? The genre has grown a lot! There's stoner rock bands in every city in every country in Europe and it's more alive than ever!
TDG- So what are the plans for Greenleaf for the rest of 2016?
Tommi- Shows, shows and the some more shows! Lot's of shows here in Europe but also (like Arvid said earlier) there's plans for us to come to the U.S in November.
TDG- With it almost being March of 2016 already, has there been any new music in 2015 that you have enjoyed or any new music this year that you are looking forward to hearing?
Tommi - Heard the new album with Black Cobra a couple of days ago and it blew me away! And also the latest one with Spidergawd is really good! There is probably a thousand albums I will check out this year because I'm a music nerd looking for new music all the time but I'm really looking forward to hearing the new album with Kaleidobolt from Finland.
TDG- Thank you once again for taking the time to do this interview. I am honored that I get to help promote Rise Above The Meadow. Before we go is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven't brought up yet?
Tommi - Well, if you readers get the chance to see us live come and check us out! We will do everything in our power to make your faces melt! Hahaha!
Greenleaf- Rise Above The Meadow is available NOW via Napalm Records!
Alestorm has been the forefront of Pirate Metal since their inception in 2004, and to the worldwide public in 2008 with the release of their debut album, Captain Morgan's Revenge. Alestorm has return to shore with their 4th album, Sunset On The Golden Age. Alestorm has been written off as one trick ponies, but when you look past the lyrical content, they are so much more and Sunset on The Golden Age proves this fact.
The album starts with Walk The Plank. It starts off with triumphant, then goes straight into some thrashy goodness. The whole song sounds like it would be perfect as an opener for an Alestorm set. One very noticeable thing that is indeed a positive thing, and continues through the entire album, is that the keyboards are actually keyboards now. it's not just the accordion sounds that usually take over Alestorm songs. While the accordion sounds are still there at times, they not used nearly as much as past album. This really helps diversify their sound. Having Elliot Vernon on keys definitely helps diversify the sound. Up next is Drink, which is the lead single off the album. The lyrics are very quirky and sum up part of the Alestorm philosophy "WE ARE HERE TO DRINK YOUR BEER!". This song while a bit poppier than some fans would be used to, this should come as no shock. it's just a fun straight forward, drinking song to drink jig to. Magnetic North is the next song. it actually starts off very folky, which is kind of a shock for the band. The band is classified as a Folk Metal band, but don't usually have traditional folk instrumentation. The song is midtempo, but gets have danceable. One thing that does come as a shock is that the song actually features a breakdown section. it'll be interesting to see how that pans out live seeing Pirates throwing down for a little bit. *I obtain 20% of the sales if Alestorm makes a shirt that says "Walk The Plank, Bro!"* Overall again it's a fun song that will get the crowd jumping live. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) starts off 8 Bit style before kicking off into the song. the second longest song on the album does feel quite epic. This features Alestorm doing the best Pirate Metal they can do with all their signature notions all while giving you a history lesson about The Battle Of Cartagena. the song also features some growls in the middle as well, which is a rarity for the band up to this point. The song also features one of the best solos on the album performed by Dani Evans. After the mid paced attack that just happened, Mead From Hell takes over now and it is quite fast and very Power Metalish. If the title wasn't a dead give away, this song is about mead that leads you onto a mystical journey to Hell. This ranks up quite well in Alestorm's quirky drinking songs, fast fun and full of alcohol. Surf Squid Warfare is possibly the strangest song on the album. It is essentially Alestorm performing Surf Rock and Power Metal. it's quite surprising the band hasn't made a song like this before, but they finally did. it's hard to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. Next up is Quest for Ships. This is the most Power Metal song on the album. it feels like it harkens back to mid-era Sonata Arctica. The song is about...well what else...a quest for ships to sail the seas. It's another one of Alestorm's fast paced fun songs that will be fun to mosh to in the pit. Wooden Leg! comes up now and it is the shortest, and possibly fastest song on the album. By this point in the album if Mead from Hell, Surfing Squids and ship quests weren't whimsical enough for you, this song takes it up another notch. This song also features the only Blast Beats on the album (nicely played by Peter Alcorn). Once again, a great song to put a smile on your face. Hangover is up next and this is where Alestorm could have possibly jumped the shark (haha, references). As fun as the song is, it almost feels like an Electronic Dance Party song. It's as if Ke$ha wrote an Alestorm song. Only a band like Alestorm could pull off writing a song like this and still have their fans eat it up (or maybe they will hate it, only time will tell). Finally we reach the longest song ever written by Alestorm, the title track, Sunset On the Golden Age. The band isn't normally known for writing long songs (the longest being around the 7 minute mark. This takes epic to a whole new level at 11:26. This may be the finest song in Alestorm's history. It captures everything about the more serious side of the band. Heavy riffs, excellent songwriting, well thought out lyrics, and overall, a phenomenal song. This is the perfect ending song to a live set,right before the encores.
Alestorm stepped up their game with Sunset On the Golden Age. Lots of diversity, amazing songs, the most hilarious moments in the band's catalog, and overall 10 perfect Alestorm songs (Seriously though, Hangover will be the band's watershed moment. People will love it or hate it with a passion.) Alestorm, like fine alcohol, only improves with age, and this is the band at top form. Now go see them live when they start touring behind the album!
Alestorm- Sunset On The Golden Age Available August 1st via Napalm Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)