In late 2005, Violent Divine formed, they went on to release three albums, changing their line-up in the mix, while going on to write towards their fourth album to date, "Hyperactivity Disorder". This album features that all new line-up change, new music, and a whole new future for these guys. Frontman vocalist Mike discusses their fourth release, as well as the past, present, and future that awaits them.
1. Let's talk a little about the history of the band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
Mike: Violent Divine originally formed late summer of 2005. Some old friends of mine was looking for a vocalist for their new band project. They heard me doing the backing vocals for another band who was recording their album and decided I was fit for the job. We started out as a a three piece band but quickly found ourselves a bass player since I find it impossible to play bass and sing at the same time. Besides, I can't play bass that well even without singing.
The original line up split in 2011. I guess the other guys needed to pursue real life stuff like regular jobs and parenting. Being a parent myself, I have full respect for their decision. Some times real life stuff don't go very well with a massive time consuming thing such as being in a band. Anyway, it took a bit of time to form a new line up for Violent Divine. It's not all about being able to master your instrument. It's also about devoting lots of time and effort into this madness.
2. Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
Mike: I usually say that we wanted a band who played the kind of music we all would buy into as rock fans. I still believe that to be true. From day one it was about writing catchy songs based on guitar riffs, a solid beat and memorable choruses. We wanted the entire concept of the band to be contagious, just like the bands we loved ourselves.
3. How long after you formed was it until you played your first live show?
Mike: I think we did our first show in our neighboring town of Linköping in December 2005.
4. What are your memories of the performance?
Mike: I remember being nervous, which isn't at all like me. It was a big club but not at all a huge crowd. As I remember there were two young ladies in the audience but I'm totally ok with that since we made our first two fans.
5. What is your latest album and why should people buy it?
Mike: Our latest album is called Violent Divine Hyperactivity Disorder and well, I figure if you're a rock fan of almost any genre, this album should be your bottle of Jack Daniels. I think we might have a fling with goth fans as well since we're Swedish and melancholy is sort of in our blood. Come share the misery, sort of. But seriously, I think this album and Violent Divine in general is for a wide audience. We might even convert some pop fans to enjoy distorted guitars.
6. Where did you record your latest release at?
Mike: We have our own recording studio called "Cabin In The Woods". It's not a fancy space ship studio but we figure that we know what we want to do and how to do it, so why not be in total control.
7. Who did you get to produce your record?
Mike: We didn't even look for a producer. I mean, I'd love to work with any of the great names producing rock albums, but it's a bit off budget. If you have a clear concept of what the album should sound like, an idea of the entire product from writing the songs to artwork and what have you, it's worth doing as much as you are able yourself. OMG I sound like a control freak, don't I.
8. Tell us about your experience in the studio recording the new record?
Mike: It's been a long journey, to say the least. I think we started off in 2013 tracking the first songs and we finished tracking the last songs we wrote this summer. It wasn't meant to take this long but stuff got in the way. Whenever we did record songs, however, it was quite effortless. We recorded the debut album in 8 days but we did this one in like two years, but I guess if you just count the hours doing actual stuff in the studio, you might end up with three weeks.
9. Would you say that the band was comfortable in the studio?
Mike: For the first time I'm recording with guys who have absolutely zero respect for that red-light-we-are-recording thing. It's been totally relaxed and most fun and games. It's like we could write an entire new album and record it in less than one month if we wanted to. That's truly unbelievable.
10. Do you remember the very first time you heard the final mix of the new record and what you were thinking?
Mike: Well, as I was the one mixing the album I was sort of buried in technology and details and it was only near the end of the process that I actually made a CD to test the mix in various sources like the car, the crappy ghetto blaster, computer speakers and everywhere else I can think of people listening to music. And I was like WOW. Did we really make this?! After all, since my hearing is quite damaged, I have to rely on technology a lot. After hearing it on CD I went back to correct some minor details and I'm so thrilled with the result.
11. Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous ones? What can we expect and what is the message behind it?
Mike: That's a bit complicated. First of all, it's a Violent Divine album and those who liked the previous albums will most likely recognize the band. But of course it differs. A new line up with their preferences in music has brought a more up to date approach to the songs. But I think that's great because the album can appeal to an ever wider audience. After all, in today's Violent Divine, I'm the only one who is a fan of Kiss and I've never even listened to bands like Dream Theater. However I think the mix of our individual influences came out great.
About having a message, well, it's not like it's a concept album and I don't think there is an actual message. I don't write lyrics that much about the usual sex, drugs & rock'n roll. That don't mean I don't write lyrics about sex of course. When I first listened to it on that burnt CD, I was struck by how dark most songs are, lyric-wise. It just happened to turn out that way. I figured most lyrics are about human/social interaction in one way or another. It's like I'm watching humanity from afar, not fully understanding what's going on. But it's not a message really. I hope people can relate to the songs and the lyrics from their own perspective and I'd really love to get some feedback on that. Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook and share what you think.
12. What do you think is the most underrated Violent Divine album?
Mike: I think the third album, Release the Hounds, didn't really get the attention it might have deserved - or maybe it did, I don't know. There are some great songs, we tried to expand the concept a bit but I'm not sure what we accomplished really. I think it rocks and even the power ballad is cut above the rest. And that coming from me should mean something because I'm really not comfortable with ballads. I can write them in my sleep but I think it's God's way of saying I can do better or something like that.
13. How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
Mike: To me they are important since I write them and sing them. Not sure the other guys give a rat's ass though. I mean, somewhere along the line it must be lyrics that sort of make sense to me. We made a few songs earlier with more or less BS-lyrics and sing along choruses and it works surprisingly well. It sort of serves its own purpose and it's not like I'm ashamed performing those songs, but luckily some 90% of the Violent Divine lyrics are important, at least to me.
14. Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Mike: I'd say Hyperactivity Disorder is much more of a group effort than any other Violent Divine album. Each band member have lots more input nowadays. As an example, if I come up with an idea, I'm not a good enough guitar player to play exactly how I want it to be. Luckily S.J can pick up where I left off and finalize it and make it so much better than my original idea. That's really the ideal situation of in a band. Another example when S.J brought a new song to a rehearsal and wasn't very happy with the chorus section, I could create something from where he left off. The thing is that this band work together really fast and effortless, unless I try to explain what I mean referring to Kiss songs from mid 70's.
15. How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the years?
Mike: Well since the band's line up changed, there is of course some sort of musical evolution here. Speaking from my own point of view, I hope I'm a better singer than I was in 2005, as well as a better song writer. I definitely know I'm more focused and experienced than I was before. With the old line up, Gus wrote most of the songs, but now it's a bit different when it's more of a group effort. Gus is a great songwriter but I think this way of writing songs more "as a band" has its merits. I mean, it's still based on riffs and melodies but with the new line up it's a different approach. After all, I'm the only member with musical roots in 70's glam and rock music.
16. How would you categorize the style of the band?
Mike: Probably one of the hardest question you get as a band. A friend once categorized the band as "pop-doom", referring to the metal riffs and the melodic choruses. I think that suits Violent Divine very well. In a wider perspective, I think it's more hard rock than heavy metal but I'm not sure everyone would agree on that. After all, if a rock fan is into goth rock, I guess that person might recognize the goth influences, or if someone is into metal as in Metallica, that person might find such influences in the bass line. It's all very subjective.
17. What are your current plans for shows/touring, if anything?
Mike: At this point we have some discussions with a couple of booking agencies and we'll see what comes out of that. As a rock band, our natural place is on stage and we will work very hard to bring Violent Divine to venues all over the planet.
18. What does the next year hold for you and your band?
Mike: As the album is to be released December 4, next year will be all about doing as many shows as possible. Of course lots of promotional stuff and hopefully a couple of pints in between. I'll not be surprised if we start working on the next album already by the end of the summer. After all, I'm already humming some new ideas in my head.