This live interview with guitarist Peter Wichers of Soilwork was done by Boris Van Berlo at their show at Biebob in Vosselaar, Belgium, on February 22nd, 2004.

After several successful releases the Swedish death / thrash metal band Soilwork have risen to become one of the world's leading metal bands. Their fifth album "Figure Number Five" was released in 2003 and is probably the most prominent album in the band's career. The band has toured in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan. Guitarist Peter Wichers was kind enough to answer some questions from our own Boris Van Berlo.

Your latest album ďFigure Number FiveĒ was released almost one year ago. How was the response until now and what did you do the last months?
Well, since we released the album itís been quite hectic and weíve been doing a lot of touring. I am very grateful to say that we actually got to conquer some new territory this time. We went to Australia for the first time and we also did America twice. This is the second tour we are doing in Europe, Ö so there were a lot of things to do. But I am very happy because thatís the way that we can show the people that we are getting recognition too. Going out there playing and having a good time. The overall response has been very good and I think that we as a band have grown to become a better live act too.

This is your first headlining tour. How is it going so far?
Itís going fine! Itís not an arena tour but itís fun for us to come out and actually be able to play for the first time as a headliner instead of being a support band. There are some benefits being that one Ö the only thing that sucks is that you have to wait until the last, you have to stay sober until the end.

And in what kind of venues are you playing?
This is a club tour, so we are doing pretty small places all the time, and I must say that I prefer to play a packed small club instead of playing in a bigger place. Tonight there is a capacity of 300 to 400 people so for us itís a lot of fun doing this!

And the opposite? Big festivals like Wacken Open Air last year?
I was so nervous! Usually I donít get nervous when I play, but Wacken was so nerve wrecking for me, and because of that I donít think we played at our best performance. It was nice and fun but personally I can only say that I sucked ass at that festival. (laughs)

It was the second time you played Wacken. Were you more nervous than the first time?
Yeah, because we played at the big stage. Off course we were honoured that we could play on the main stage, that was a very big thing for us. We got treated really nicely and a lot of people appreciated the show, so I was very grateful but also nervous. We will probably come back there and be more prepared cause weíve done a lot of gigs afterwards!

Did the good response open any new doors for the band?
Yeah, like tour America. We could go before, but this was our chance to prove to the people that we could do a tour over there. So now weíve done 3 tours in America and I think that that territory is actually really opening up for the Scandinavian metal style and people are being more objective about the whole European style too. So there is definitely a market building up in the States for this kind of music.

Was it a support tour?
Yes, the first one was a co-headlining tour with Hypocrisy, then it was with In Flames and Chimaira and then we did Chimaira and Soilwork a few months after that.

And what kind of crowds does a package like that attract in America? Did you play in small and dirty clubs orÖ?
The whole of America is kind of dirty but the crowd was pretty cool. I think there is a big difference between the crowds over here and in America because in the US they have a lot more hardcore kids comming to the shows because the hardcore people over there are getting more into the Scandinavian style. So there are a lot of people with short pants and a lot of tattoos, but still they are there for you and you appreciate that! I am never going to ban anybody from coming to our show. Itís cool to see this new kind of crowd. And definitely Chimaira and In Flames have that crowd already, so for us itís a good thing to break into that crowd. We have the metal fans and it might expand to a different crowd to.

The popularity of Scandinavian style metal is increasing in the US, especially in hardcore and nu-metal. And because of that a lot of people think that they invented some new style? Did you notice anything of that sort?
I can openly say that since weíve toured with Killswitch Engage in the past I know that they are major fans of our music, so to us they would never say something like that.

I meant more the labels and the media.
We know itís bullshit. They canít actually tell something like that over here because people know the whole thing. Maybe to the hardcore crowd over here because they were never interested in In Flames, Soilwork or Dark Tranquillity. But the people who know the European music styles know itís influenced. But I like Killswitch, I think itís cool, itís not a replica of the Swedish sound but they were influenced in a good way.

How did the idea and concept of the double video clip with ĎIn Flamesí came up?
It was actually the director who came up with that idea. We were mixing ĎFigure Number Fiveí at that time and he was up there when we were talking of doing a video. And Anders (from In Flames) was there and popped the idea. He called the guys from In Flames and we all said ďletís do thisĒ and it was fun. We are making fun of each other in the video and I think itís also important for people to know that even though you play this music style there is still a sense of humour. You should not be like Ďarrrgí all the time, thatís not what Soilwork and In Flames are all about. We take our music seriously but everything around it is fun. I get happy when I play my music, I donít get depressed or want to cut my wrists or anything like that. For me it is an energy kick. Itís like beer drinking metal: you are supposed to have a good time, like AC/DC or whatever.

You just released a new EP with old material through Listenable Records. Is this because your deal with Nuclear Blast is at itís end, or was it more out of respect and a Ďthank youí to your first label.
Yeah, when Laurent asked us there was no hesitation. I like Laurent very much as a person so we said ďoff course we can do thisĒ. Itís also a cool thing because the CD is a bit more underground, itís harder to get and not available in every major store. Itís definitely something to give back to the people who are begging us to release these tracks for a very long time.

But itís not that you are looking for a new label?
No, itís only a one of thing, we are very happy with Nuclear Blast. If I did have problems with them I would say it, but theyíve been treating us very nicely so I have nothing bad to say about Nuclear Blast. Off course there are always things that you donít like, but overall they are doing a great job for Soilwork.

Connected to this: how is the availability of your first albums?
I heard that people have difficulties finding our records, especially in America, because there are a lot of people who want to know our first 2 records. I have been talking to Laurent about it and we will see what we can do. But it should be out and people should be able to find the records.

Can we expect some extraís with a possible re-release?
Usually itís the industry who decides that but off course we have the final saying when it comes to re-releasing a record. When we want to make something different, like change the front cover, we can do that.

You had some line-up changes in the past months. So can you tell me something about the new drummer?
Well, Öweíve been not fortunate enough to actually find a drummer that we got along with perfectly. We always managed to get great drummers but it never really clicked on a personal chemistry level. Dirk (Verbeuren) is the new guy, he plays in another band called Scarve from France. But he is actually from Belgium, and he is one of the best drummers I have ever played with in my life! And thatís no bullshit. But, he is a session drummer , he is not a permanent member of Soilwork. He is going to stay with his band and we perfectly respect his decision, because he has been working with this band for ten years and now finally things have started to progress. So we understand his decision and I think we will stay friends after the tour because he has a great personality and we like him as a person.

And how did you meet him?
He writes for a French metal magazine so he has done some interviews with us, and I always received their records via Listenable and I really like the way he plays drums. So I just called him up when we were in dire straits of a new drummer and he said ďYeah, Iíll love to do thatĒ. So that worked out pretty well and you will hear for yourself tonight that he is amazing. Itís also a good thing for him because he can promote his band when he is out there with us.

Is Scarve also on the bill?
No, they are opening up for us in France but it didnít work out for the other dates. I am really looking forward to see Scarve in France, it will be awesome. The thing is that these tours we are doing right now are kind off expensive and I donít know if the label was willing to give them so much tour support. Because we have a full bus and they would have to follow in a van, and I know what a hastle that is, but I would love to tour with Scarve in the future.

Have you started working on some new material?
Yeah, weíre actually writing back home now. We havenít written anything on tour because weíve been so busy and couldnít find the time or the right state of mind, but we have about 5 or 6 songs ready, and we are planning to go back to the studio in September/October. So we will see what happens. I donít think we will release an album this year but next year, and then everything will start again: touring,Ö . Of course the quality of the music must be very good, we will never compromise on that, but for us itís a thing that goes round and round, and thatís the way we want it to go.

And are there plans for some summer festivals, or are you going to stay at home writing and recording?
No, after this tour we only have one tour left to do, we will do Australia and Japan again because Australia was sold out the last time. We are going down there with Killswitch Engage and Anthrax. After that we will go to Japan to headline with Dark Tranquillity as support, and later on we will do the With Full Force and the Tusca festival, and maybe some other festivals which arenít confirmed yet, so check out the website for further dates.

Are there any plans for a live-CD or DVD?
We might do something like that. Record as much as possible on tour and take the best parts and try to get a good sound off course, and try to get some special things for the DVD. We will see what happens, we definitely want to do something like that.

Are you recording during this tour?
Some days yeah, but we donít have the video camera with us right now.

I was thinking that because of the long set list you are doing some sound recordings on this tour.
No, itís just our time to give something back to the fans because itís our headliner tour. And a lot of people have been asking us to play songs from every record, so for us itís time to play longer sets. Thatís one of the reasons we are doing this tour, to give something back to the fans who are always complaining about us only playing 40 minutes.

I was one of them.

Maybe to finish up a question about the different side projects or other bands that members of Soilwork are playing in?
Right now everything is kind of calm because there has been so much Soilwork for the last 6 months and we almost toured constantly. Bjorn does have some plans going back and recording a new ĎTerror 2000í album, but only when it fits the schedule. I donít know if there is anyone else in the band who has a side project that they are working on right now, because me and Sven are so involved in writing music for Soilwork so we want to be able to write as much as possible.

Is there a band that you would like to open for or take with you on a next tour?
Yes, there is, if I am doing a headline tour again I love having Forsaken on the tour. They are great guys and they play very well and I think they are a cool band to open for us. If we do another one I would like to have a different kind of bill, a 4 band bill: Scarve, Killswitch Engage, Devin Townsend and us. This would be a tour I really like because it has so many different kind of elements of music. So for me that would be very interesting because I would watch every band every night. I donít know how it will work, because everybody will have their own group of people coming to the shows. Itís metal in general, it doesnít matter if you play Pink Floyd-metal like Devin does or more extreme like Scarve, or Killswitch is kind off American. But I think everybody should support metal otherwise itís going to fade out. I am not going to force anyone to listen to a metal style they donít like but I think itís important for people to open their eyes a little bit because there is so much good music out there.

I have a question for Bjorn, but maybe you can answer it: whatís the thing with the Ferrari shirt?
Actually it has to do with his nickname Ďspeedí, he thought it would be a cool thing having a racing shirt, because that symbolises speed in a way, but he is not wearing it anymore. Itís over, but we got a lot of people asking us that question too. I think it just like crumbled up and became this little rotten piece of cloth because itís so dirty and smelly, so he got a new one now, the ĎVancouver Fire Departmentí.

Do you have some last words for our readers?
I just want to thank everybody who made this headlining tour possible because they really need a big thanks for supporting us as a band and helping us grow. Now people realise that itís not a bad thing to sell a little bit more records and do a headlining tour. Because everybody talks about selling out but they will never see a band on tour like a headlining act if they donít sell a bigger amount of records. So for me itís just a big thanks to everybody who has helped us out. We will keep on making good music for you guys!

Thank you.

Links of interest:

Nuclear Blast