Seventh Wonder has been leading the charge in Progressive Metal since 2000. 16 years later, with 4 albums under their belt (and the upcoming 5th album in 2017), the band has finally been able to have a live CD/DVD to call their own: Welcome To Atlanta Live 2014. Welcome to Atlanta features their 2014 appearance at ProgPower USA where the seminal Seventh Wonder album, Mercy Falls, was played in it's entirety, with a special Best Of set that follow. Recently, I had the opportunity to be able to talk to drummer Stefan Norgen, to talk about this live release and the upcoming endeavors of Seventh Wonder. Enjoy!
That Drummer Guy- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
Stefan Norgren- My pleasure. Thanks for your interest in the band!
TDG- The very first live release from Seventh Wonder, Welcome To Atlanta Live 2014, is coming out September 23rd through Frontiers. How does it feel being able to capture this memorable show live for everyone to see?
SN- We are extremely happy to be able to do this! It was a night to remember indeed and we are thrilled that it was caught on tape. We are not a heavily touring band, I mean we wanna play live as much as is logistically possible, but it´s a huge challenge to make all the pieces of the “live show puzzle” fit together when doing international gigs/tours. We know there are a lot of people that are dying to see us live but haven´t had the chance yet, so it definitely feels good to be able to offer something like this, and we are very, very proud of it.
TDG- Having played ProgPower twice now, how do you feel about ProgPower USA? How does it compare to other shows and festivals that you have played?
SN- For me, this was the first time. I joined the band shortly after the first appearance at PPUSA. It´s a unique festival, Glenn and his crew has a fantastic family vibe and the support they provide is incredible. They work tirelessly to help out even way before the bands arrive at the venue and go out of their way to make sure everything runs smoothly. I actually still keep in touch with a couple of the crew members from time to time. And the fans are die hard, man! It´s truly amazing!
TDG- Where did the idea come from to play the landmark album, Mercy Falls, in its entirety at ProgPower?
SN- It´s been a vision of Andreas´, our bass player and creative mastermind, for several years. He´d had the idea for a long time and was looking for an ideal “platform” for pulling the whole thing off. Mercy Falls is a story that begs to be told from the first to the last chapter all the way through and it sort of HAD to happen at some point in time. When he discussed it with Glenn an Progpower the planets kind of aligned and we all said, DAMN let´s do this.
TDG- Now that Mercy Falls as hit it’s 8th anniversary (just a few days before this interview), how do you feel about the album today?
SN- I have an outsider´s perspective since I didn´t play on it or help write it and I can honestly say that I am blown away by it every single time I listen to it. The musicianship is out of this world (and yes, learning it was by far the biggest challenge to date in my drumming career, hehe…) and the way it seamlessly explores everything from beautiful and frail to crushing and powerful, from joy to sadness, from bright to pitch black is truly phenomenal. A masterpiece!
TDG- Along with Mercy Falls, you played an additional “Best Of” set. Was that hard to put that set together or did it feel natural putting those songs in the set?
SN- It was quite tricky actually. We knew that we´d do several of our “obvious” live set songs on the first night and wanted to avoid repeating them day two. But given the live recording, we also needed day two as a “plan B” in case of screw ups, so right up until we got up on stage for the first show, we didn´t know exactly what the setlist was gonna be like on the second day. Well, it turns out we did a pretty damn good job with the Mercy Falls set so we didn´t have to have a second go at any of the songs. So we had prepared some songs that would be special for the fans that came for the additional set such as “Walking Tall”, “King of Whitewater” and the acoustic medley. So, natural? No. Lots of fun? Hell yeah!
TDG- And not only is there a Best Of Set included in this collection, the CD version includes two new studio tracks (Inner Enemy & The Promise). Would you say this is a fair representation of what to look forward to on the next Seventh Wonder album?
SN- Yes and no. When we put out the “Inner enemy” video two years ago, we intentionally set out to write something more to the point, shorter and more straight forward than what the band usually does. Ironically, it turns out that that was more difficult to do than our usual, complicated stuff, haha.. With “The Promise” however, fans of ours will recognize the signature SW prog epic features like intricate riffs and a more complex structure. Oh, and 10 minutes of it too!
TDG- In speaking of that, how is the new album coming along so far?
SN- Splendidly, thank you very much! I did all the drum parts over 11 days in July, then Kyrrt started laying down the keys and now Johan and Andreas are well underway with their stuff and Tommy is starting his vocals right now. I´ve seen and heard most of the pieces and I get goosebumps thinking of how it´s all gonna come together. It will be a killer album, count on it!
TDG- Besides the release of the next album, are there any additional plans for the band in 2017?
SN- We haven´t gotten that far ahead yet but obviously we want to play live when and wherever possible!
TDG- What’s on your current music playlist?
SN- Whoa, cool question! Right now I´m digging the latest Evergrey album which is really awesome. I´m also listening a lot to the first single off the upcoming Testament record “Brotherhood of the snake” and I cannot wait for it to come out! Over the last couple of months I´ve been really into the old Eagles albums from the 70´s too, my favourite being “One of these nights”. I saw Don Henley live recently and the melodies and harmonies on those classic records are some of the best in the history of music in my opinion.
TDG- Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a fan since Mercy Falls, it’s been honor to be able to talk to you and promote the brand new live release, Welcome To Atlanta Live 2014. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t mentioned yet?
SN- Thank YOU! Your support is much appreciated! These last couple of years, since I joined basically, have been a bumpy road in the Seventh Wonder camp. With a new member, lots of new kids being born in our families, Tommy joining Kamelot, Andreas living in the states for a year, lengthy label negotiations and so on, it´s been challenging to work on new stuff and play as much live as possible (including the massive ProgPower project) while managing our personal schedules and family lives. So we are beyond grateful that all our fans are as loyal as they are and that there is such amazing support and interest in the band today! So now it´s about damn time that we give something back and over the next couple of months we will show you that your patience has been well worth it!
SEVENTH WONDER- WELCOME TO ATLANTA LIVE 2014 COMES OUT SEPTEMBER 23RD THROUGH FRONTIERS MUSIC s.r.l.