Suffocate For Fuck Sake from Sweden is one of the well hidden gems in music. Their sound is extremely unique. It is a mix of Screamo, Post-Metal, Sludge, Post-Rock. By choice DIY, they want to have complete control of their music, from composing to recording and mastering. The band is the result of a group of friends gathered in a studio to play the music they like, without caring if anyone will hear it. Their second album “Blazing fires…” draw a lot of attention and it was spread only by word of mouth. At some point you had to spent few hundreds of euros to purchase the album from Disqogs.
16th of April the band will release their 4th album FYRA and given the opportunity, Rock Overdose and Vangelis Giannakopoulos had a discussion with the band about the new album and the band in general.
Preorder FYRA at https://suffocateforfucksake.bandcamp.com/album/fyra
Rock Overdose: Let’s take thing from the beginning. How did you end up naming the band Suffocate For Fuck Sake?
Tommy Norin: It was a name of a song. When we created the band we wanted to find a name to raise emotions and not having just a name. This name stuck with us and we thought that this name is raising eyebrows and you want to hear the band having that name. Back then we thought that this name was catchy and fits well with the music
Rock Overdose: Kind of provocative also…
Tommy Norin: Yes. We wanted to do provocative music so this name was part of it and we thought it would work very well.
Rock Overdose: Then in 2004 you decided to release your self-titled EP, which it was self-funded. How difficult it was for you to take that decision?
Tommy Norin: Basically, the first record was like a test for us. We started recording one song just trying to create something new and there was not any band yet. We then built on this song and decided to see where it goes. Then everything went like a flow and we created the EP Suffocate For Fuck Sake. This EP was just for fun, just for us. We didn’t expect anything and it is a record which didn’t draw any attention. It was really just for us. We wanted to create music the way we want, without caring if anyone would listen to it.
Rock Overdose: After 4 years you released your next album: “Blazing Fires and Helicopters on the Frontpage of the Newspaper. There Is a War Going on and I'm Marching in Heavy Boots”, which is kind of Holy Grail for music collectors. At some point in order to buy it you had to spend few hundred Euros. Did you expect that it will draw so much attention?
Tommy Norin: To be honest we didn’t expect anything. After we released our first EP, we thought that this is a good concept so let ‘see if we can take it a little bit further and build on it more. We released it and we didn’t have any kind of expectations. We released it and we even didn’t want to find a label. I remember that we received an email from a Mexican label, informing us that they like to release the album and we said OK, cool let’s do it. The album was gaining ground slowly. It was released in 2008 and approximately in 2010 or 2011 we figured that it drew a lot of attention.
You know we created this album and we liked it a lot but we first realized how much it was appreciated many years later.
Rock Overdose: “Blazing Fires…” is a concept album which deals with the very sensitive manner of mental disorders. It is an extremely powerful album in terms of emotions.
Tommy Norin: You know it is hard for us to understand the effect the music has to the people. We are a small band and what we have noticed is that we don’t have a lot of fans but the people listen to our music is really into it. We are very grateful for this because it is a perfect combination. We don’t play so much live. We are more studio band. When we play live, we get really into the music and really don’t know the effect it has to the people.
Rock Overdose: The fact that you don’t have live shows is a matter of choice or due to your everyday responsibilities?
Tommy Norin: Both. One part is because of the band. It is a project-based band and because we don’t live in near cities. We don’t rehearse as normal bands. Hopefully this will change in the future.
Rock Overdose: That’ interesting. I thought that a band with such unique sound, would have a lot of hours in a garage in order to articulate it.
Tommy Norin: Actually, it is the opposite. We gather to record. And we exchange our ideas remotely before.
Rock Overdose: 8 years after “Blazing fires…” you released “In my Blood”. The change in the sound is quite obvious. Clearer soundscapes, thicker production but again with you signature style. Is something changed in the way you producing?
Tommy Norin: We always produce and record everything ourselves so we have the absolute control of the sound. For “In My Blood” we would like to have something rawer and something different than “Blazing Fires…”. For example, we are more tuned down in “In My Blood”. We wanted to be a little more aggressive. But you know, somehow when you start recording everything gets its own life. A different recording room or a different amp may change the sound a lot.
Rock Overdose: Now we are waiting “FYRA”. You sent us the promo material and we had the chance to listen to it in detail. I would like to ask you about the cover and the symbols. What do they represent?
Tommy Norin: The whole album is a concept about 4 different kinds of addiction. We divided the album in 4 chapters where we in each chapter follow a person and their addiction. So each addiction has a symbol and we put all those symbols together into one.
Rock Overdose: Oh, that’s why your social media posts about FYRA are all related to symbols which are combined at the end.
Tommy Norin: Yes, if you put all the symbols together you will have the album cover. One chapter of the album is bout Adam who has gambling addiction, so the symbol is like casino chip. The other chapter is about a girl called Martina who has eating disorder, so the symbol is like fork. There is a symbol like glass for drinking addiction and last the symbol is like a pill showing the addiction for drugs.
Rock Overdose: How about the name. What is “FYRA”?
Tommy Norin: FYRA is the number 4 in Swedish. Since it is our 4th album, we follow 4 different people, we thought that this Swedish word sounds good and it has symbolism for us and for the album.
Rock Overdose: I witnessed more electronics in this album. You wanted to explore more electronic soundscapes?
Tommy Norin: Yes. The idea came after a live show we played. We have a lot of physical instruments in our records (piano, violin) and during the live we had to play those instruments on keyboards, this was something like violin and we didn’t like it. Also, we like electronic music so we thought that it would be a good idea to have a more electronic approach as a next step. To be honest we wanted to be even more electronic on FYRA, but we decided not to do so. Every time we gather to write an album we have one main idea and this time was to be more electronic.
Rock Overdose: Speaking about the music, Sweden has a quite strange tradition in music. The majority of the bands originating from Sweden (Pain of Salvation, Cult of Luna, Khoma etc.) are highly respected from everyone and on the other hand, it is rare to see a band form Sweden become headliners or super famous. Where do you think this is related to?
Tommy Norin: I think that the bands from Sweden are rarely headliners is related to the introvert character of Swedish people. As for the music part, there are youth centers in Sweden where everyone may learn music. When I was 12-13 years old, we had a band with some friends and we paid something like 10 euros per year to have a rehearsal room with equipment. Everyone has the opportunity to learn music almost for free.
There is a law in Sweden where the state gives an allowance to the bands in order to help them deal with expenses related to the band.
Rock Overdose: That’s explains a lot of things (lauging)…
Tommy Norin: Especially when we were teenagers almost everyone was playing an instrument. There was music everywhere.
Rock Overdose: You know I found it very exciting when I can’t put a label in a band’s music. In your case it is a little bit screamo, a little bit sludge, a little bit post-rock. Which are your influences to deliver that unique sound?
Tommy Norin: That’s true. It was a something we wanted since the beginning, to mix music styles that didn’t normally belong together. Like mixing calm music with hard music. This is something that became signature for the band. Our influences come from other styles, because we don’t listen a lot of music from those genres. Breach is a big inspiration for many in the band. We also like Godspeed You Black Emperor. So, the idea was to mix Breach with Godspeed. I don’t like to play music which has been delivered by other bands, we want to explore something new. That’s why we tried electronic stuff in the new album, in order to go in new places.
Sigur Ros has inspired a lot also.
Rock Overdose: In FYRA I have witnessed that clean vocal parts reminded me Sigur Ros narrative style.
Tommy Norin: When you hear something a lot then you automatically go in that direction.
Rock Overdose: Why you have chosen to have your characteristic narratives in Swedish and not in English?
Tommy Norin: The idea on having Swedish came because it is easier to express your feelings in your native language. It is our way to get you more into the stories. We don’t want our music to be easy listening, we would like to give the opportunity to dig deeper and have multiple layers. The fact that someone has to check the translations of the samples is a step to get into our stories more.
Rock Overdose: We see DYI scene to try overcome the strict underground. Are you in the same momentum?
Tommy Norin: Definitely. For example, the first 10 years of the band we didn’t have any Facebook page or something that you can communicate with us. The last 2 years we tried to be more extrovert and have communication with our fans, it feels weird to use the word “fans” by the way. We got in touch with people who are interested in us and this is a very good feeling. It is a goal for the future to have a tour. You know, we will never be a band that will tour the whole Europe. We would like to play in different places so to meet new people.
Rock Overdose: Tommy I really appreciate the fact that we had that discussion and I really hope the best for FYRA.
Tommy Norin: Thank you also.
For Rock Overdose
Interview: Vangelis Giannakopoulos