Interview with Linus “Lee” Wester & Pontus “Evan” Hagberg
It’s not often that we cover non-metal bands on these pages, but when it comes to Swedish pop rock band Symphony Of Sweden things get a bit different. This Swedish duo are actually creating a cross-over songs where rock meets pop and cinematic orchestras meet electro, all delivered with attitude! I decided to welcome our readers to the musical world of Symphony Of Sweden, so I had a little chat with this Swedish duo.
Metal Revolution: I believe that you’ve often been asked in intereviews to introduce your band since your name is completely new for most of our readers and metal fans in general. We’re not exception, so we would ask one of you to take us back to the very beginning of this unit.
Lee: I’m Lee, I’m the lead singer and co-writer of the songs. Me and Evan have now been working for almost 2 years, and it was a match made in heaven, the first song we did together got on the radio, it was “Scream Out For Something”.
Evan: We are pretty new to ourselves as well! We started the band in January 2020!
We met at Lee’s daywork as he at the time had his own Tobacco shop combined with the local parcel center where I went to get my parcels. So after saying „Hi” to each other for a couple of years, Lee finally understood that I was into music as well as it was often music-related parcels I picked up…
So he asked if I was making music and I invented him to my studio where he sang for me and everything fall into place. He was a singer and songwriter in need of a producer and I was in need of a great singer!
MR: Who came up with this name for a band, Symphony Of Sweden? What does it exactly stands for?
Evan: It actually took us a couple of months before finding the name. Lee had the word Symphony early in mind as we both like it big and grand, but then one day I got the idea to combine it with Of Sweden as Sweden itself is a pretty nice marketing word so to speak… Especially within the music industry and overall we feel Sweden has good reputation all over the world… I don’t know I could be wrong, haha!
Lee: I really wanted to have the word Symphony in the name, we mix classical with heavy guitars, so I really tried to come up with something catchy, but nothing was good enough – then my brother, Evan came with the idea of combining Sweden so we got Symphony of Sweden.
MR: Another ineviatable question people ask these days I guess is about Covid-19 and how this long quarantine period affected you indivuidually and as a band? You had slightly different approach to it in Sweden than the rest of Scandinavia/Europe. How do you look back at these two years since the outbreak of the pandemics?
Lee: Well, yeah, it has been 2 long years, but we have tried to make the best of it, writing new songs, finding our sound, and planning for the future. But we really miss playing live and seeing the crowds’ reaction to our songs being played live.
Evan: Like many other bands, we took the opportunity to write and produce songs instead of looking for live gigs obviously, so basically, for us, it was not a disaster as we started the band along with the pandemic start so we had no tours to cancel and so on. I feel very sorry for all my friends looking forward to tour just to see everything was canceled. However, we believe – now when we see the light in the tunnel – that it will be an insane interest in live performances in the coming future! We are longing for playing live!
MR: The reason why I really wanted to talk to you is because of your latest studio album Inner Demons, what can you tell us about it? Any funny stories from the studio for us to tell?
Evan: Yes, it went amazingly trouble-free to write, record, and produce the album. It was an extremely interesting thing to do as we started with a totally blank paper. In which music direction should we go? How do we write the songs? But pretty soon we found out the perfect workflow. I will start making the music production and then Lee steps in and makes all lyrics and melodies. Of course, we could give input to each other but basically, we work like that!
We wanted to have our own sound, but still playable on the radio and so on. So as I came from the pop-world I had an idea to sound a bit like Imagine Dragons, however as it evolved I added some distorted guitars, looked for more acoustics drums than programmed so to speak, so in the end, we came up with a pretty nice hybrid mix of pop and metal I think! Also, Lee told me it was not until just before he met me he really found his voice, so the first tracks we recorded was in a safe and comfortable voice range, then Lee wanted to sing higher and higher as he felt his voice managed to do that, but then I had to cool him down a bit! (Laughing)
Lee: It was our first album together and we really didn’t know where it would take us. Some songs I had already made at home, then Evan put his magic on them. Then we tried different ways to write together and so far the best way has been that Evan comes with a music background, and I write the lyrics and melody to it.
MR: Have you utilized any new recording technics due to this pandemics? How was the recording process?
Evan: Over the years I have been collecting studio gear so we recorded everything in my own studio which is a hybrid of analog gear and in the box as most people do now. At the moment, I am going more and more outside the box as I find that analog hardware gives you this special mojo you can’t really explain but it just sounds better… But the process sounds simple, for the reader at least… I produce a backing track. I send it as an mp3 along with the chords to Lee. He works with the melodies and lyrics and after a couple of days he is ready and we record the vocals! So when recording the vocals, I will then hear the melody and lyrics for the first time! It is exciting! Most of the time Lee has nailed it, and at very few times we both feel it could be even better, and then Lee takes it another round but it is not often that a ”remake” is needed.
After the lead vocals are there, I may change things in the production to emphasize a vocal hook or something. Add some background vocals myself, maybe call for Lee to add some background vocals as well. We had a great workflow with the Inner Demons album. And even if we will do many albums, the first one will always be very special!
MR: What was the main inspiration while creating this album? Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences?
Lee: I always have music and melodies in my head, it’s never a quiet moment. I had to get it out, but I never met the right person to help me until I met Evan.
Almost every song I write is about personal stuff. I want to make it real. so many of the songs on this album are about mental health, that’s why it’s called “Inner Demons”.
Evan: For me I have to produce music to stay alive, it is a call or madness if you want… I am a bit older than Lee, to be honest, so I am very influenced by the 80s… Freddie Mercury was my idol performance-wise when I was a kid, then the ultimate metal voice for me is Ronny James Dio. So to combine 80s hard rock with Hans Zimmer-like soundtracks and a touch of modern pop along with life itself is my inspiration.
MR: Recently you also released a new song for the upcoming album, it’s called „The Grim Reaper”. What can you tell us about this particular song? You want to make a video for it?
Evan: Yes, “The Grim Reaper” is our first song released from our coming album where we will work closely on many tracks with Jim Wallenborg, who is a great metal guitarist, which will take us to another level when it comes to guitar playing, to say the least! We will try to add a more ”metal edge” to our music but still keep our melodic and symphonic legacy on our next album. Regarding a video, we have it! It is on our YouTube channel.
Lee: That is the 1% of songs I write that is not about me per se. It’s about that spirit that is always with us through life, knows us and all of our secrets, the Grim Reaper.
MR: …and what about another song “Bailey”, another new song or the one you’ve recorded earlier?
Lee: It’s a new song, I wanted to tell a story about a young boy named Bailey. He lives with his mom in the countryside in America, one day he gets drafted into the military to fight in World War II – the song is the conversation between him and his mom.
Evan: Yes, “Bailey” is a completely new song as well. An epic track that grows over time and ends with a really majestic ”sing-along” part that we would love to perform live in front of thousands of singing fans!
MR: Any chance you can only rely on creating and recording music, or do you both have everyday’ jobs and family obligations?
Evan: I am working 50/50 with music and as an IT consultant for a couple of years. Before that, I had a period in my life I could live on music only. However, when going 100% music there is another level of pressure on you. You have to be creative every day, every second, to come up with new stuff to keep the cash flow going. So for me, it is not a bad thing to also have regular work to combine with the music from a creative point of view. Then you have time to think, collect inspiration and long for the studio!
Lee: I work in a supermarket. No live gigs, no money – yet.
MR: What are your musical plans for the future then?
Lee: I wanna play, write and live doing music. This is my calling.
Evan: In the coming months, we will be focusing on finishing the remaining tracks for our new album and hopefully release it around mid-February 2022. Probably another double single prior to that.
Then 2022 will be the year when we move our asses out from the studio and start performing live!
MR: What can you tell us about your other promotional activities? You also made some t-shirts etc.? Doing everything yourself or do you get any kind of promotional support?
Evan: We are working with our excellent PR-Manager Afrodite for social media and digital marketing. We definitely plan to have merchandise, like T-shirts and posters, within a year at least. We are doing most of the hard work ourselves, but several record labels have approached us with proposals but still, our plan is to make a lot ourselves. In the long run, it could be wise. However in the beginning we know the ball is a bit heavier to get rolling than if having a big label backing you up.
MR: Any plans of extending your line-up by adding another guitarist or something like that?
Lee: We gonna stay a duo. When we play live we gonna have a big ass band with us – but it’s me and Evan how is Symphony of Sweden.
Evan: Early on when Lee and I had our first meetings we were both into the idea of being only the two of us. Being a band with many members means many wills which could be both good and bad…However, we have begun collaborating with Jim Wallenborg, a great metal guitarist who also will get songwriter credits on many of our new tracks. We also have Eric Günther on drums on many of the new tracks. Eric has also been with us on several videos before like on Giants, She’s In My Head, and My Pride. We get along really great and they are positive to go with us on tour. They can both be seen in our Grim Reaper video as well!
MR: Can we expect to share your music on stage, in front of a larger audience? Maybe in Denmark?
Evan: We really long to go on stage and Denmark yes, sure! We have nothing planned though, but 2022 will definitely be the year we start appearing on live shows, probably starting here in Sweden, but who knows, if the demand grows we will for sure go to Denmark. I love Denmark. I have been to Köpenhamn a couple of times and your football fans are just great!
Lee: We want to play all over the world if I got a phone call. Paris tomorrow? Hell yeah!
MR: Last message or greetings to our readers?
Lee: Thanks for listening to our music. Please share it where you can, we really want to go on tour, and we can only do that with your help!
Evan: Thanks a lot for reading this far and don’t forget to head over to Spotify or Youtube to check us out! You won’t be disappointed!
MR: Thank you for providing us with an opportunity to cover your band in our magazine.
Evan: Thank you too for doing the interview with us!
Lee: Our pleasure, stay tuned!