Interview mit Jimmy Mattsson von Isole

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If you include their activity as Forlorn (1991-2004), ISOLE have been active for over 30 years. You can hear this experience on their eighth album in the best sense – and still „Anesidora“ sounds fresh and unspent. What inspired the Swedes, what impact the pandemic had on the making and what is the Pandora’s box of our time, bassist and singer Jimmy Mattsson reveals in this interview.

The first song starts very post-metal, it reminds me of Crown or The Ocean. Do you have an explanation for that, how did it come about?
I really don’t know anything about post-metal. Barely even what it is. I am very oldschool when it comes to metal. But Crister’s influences have always been more varied and he keeps up with more modern music than I do. He’s really into Muse and other pop bands and this time some of that shone through. I remember when he played the original demo for “The Songs Of The Whales” to me and the rest of the band. My first and only thought was that the fans are going to hate it. Luckily it seems that I was very wrong on that note.

And is that why you put the song at the beginning of the album? In the further course the album becomes more „classic“ doom…
There were a lot of discussions as to which song was to open the album. The only thing we agreed instantly on was that “Vanity” should close it. And maybe that “In Abundance” should open the B-side. The rest of the song order was all in a blur. But as for the album’s opener we wanted a song that went into full gear more or less instantly. And that just didn’t leave us that many choices.

Nevertheless, the sound is completely different from the last album, the distorted guitars are clearly in the background, the music is altogether more „airy“ – when in the development process did it become clear that the album would sound so different from its predecessor?
We are not the type of band that puts out the same album over and over. Sure, we have our sound and it’s pretty clear what ISOLE is. Or rather what ISOLE is not. Our influences come from anywhere but it has to sound ISOLE. This is not „Dystopia 2“. Exactly like how „Dystopia“ never was meant to be „The Calm Hunter 2“. Everytime the thought of a new album presents itself we ask the question “what can we do differently this time?”. Soundwise we wanted the album to really reflect that there is a band playing the songs and not computers. Jonas “Tord” Lindström did a great job mixing and mastering. And at least to my ears it really sounds like it’s live.

You are all also active in EREB ALTOR – how rigidly do you separate the bands? Can it happen that during the rehearsal of one band an idea comes up that is then used in the other band, or do you work periodically only with one or the other band?
Both bands are active at the same time, all the time. Not all of us are in both bands either. There’s different drummers so stuff like that mentioned in the question never happens. We don’t jam to try out ideas and such. It’s just not our thing. Rehearsals are song and setlist focused. We plan out and rehearse the setlist for the next show. Songs for both bands are written at home and in our studio. Although with a bit of a difference in the way things are done during the demo sessions.

If the album is released now, I assume that it was created in the height of the pandemic. To what extent did that influence the creation process, both in songwriting and recording?
Not as much the songwriting as the recording. The creative process was pretty much the same as it always is where we all send in whatever songs we have to see which ones make the cut. This time we actually recorded two more songs than what ended up on the album. If we’ll release them later on? Probably not. But they might end up on the next album. But as for recordings the pandemic absolutely had an impact. The building that used to occupy our studio got shut down several times to stop the spread. This of course delayed everything. We originally aimed at having the album out in 2021 but it took until March 2021 before we even could record the drums. And when things finally were looking up there was a big storm and rain flooded the entire building… It took us more than a while to find a new place and get back on track after that.

The artwork is classically doomy, I think – and thus quite different from your last covers. What made you change your style so much?
We wanted something we had never done before. I sent my good friend Matt Chambers a message since I’ve worked with him before. And I told him to take a look at our previous covers and then followed that up with just stating that we don’t want more of the same thing. We have had abstract and minimalistic art before. This time we wanted bigger. Think more in the vein of the style of album covers during the 1980’s. In my opinion this is our best album cover yet.

On the cover you see a man with a top hat entering a factory area – what is the idea behind the picture, in what context is it related to the rest of the album?
The concept for the artwork is that of Pandora’s box. The box being the gates to the factory and industrialism as a whole. What evil humanity unleashed on mother Earth not all too long ago and what we still do. We never learn as long as the box is open.

The title, as I learned in preparation for the interview, means „sender of gifts“ and comes from Greek mythology. In which context do you use the term here, why was it the perfect title for this album?
The translation is actually meant to be along the lines of “she sends gifts from below”. The working title for the album was simply Pandora’s Box and I found that to be overdone and plainly too boring for an album title. And after some research I stumbled upon Anesidora and liked the sound and look of it. The other guys agreed.

You released a video for one of the songs on the album – in it you wear corpsepaint, if I see it correctly. Is that something you plan to wear for upcoming live performances as well, or was that just a one-off story for the video?
No, that was just to make the video stand out and look different from the band photos and the album cover. And we really didn’t want to put out the same thing as the last video again. We had this idea of the band being corpses to fit with the lyrics and the theme of the song. As much as I love KISS, we are not heading down that path. A decision Daniel is very happy about! (laughs)


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What about live shows in general – is there anything planned, will you be able to play live in Central Europe, especially in Germany, with the album soon?
We’ve announced some festivals so far but there are more shows to come. We’re looking at being on tour in October/November/December and hopefully we will be announced for some more summer festivals before then. Germany has always treated us more than well. In fact, ISOLE played their first international show in Germany all the way back in 2005 and the love has been mutual ever since. I would be very surprised if there are not at least a couple of German dates on the Anesidora tour.

And what about EREB ALTOR, your other band? You released an album in Pandemic with „Vargtimman“ – are you going to tour Europe with it or at least play some festivals?
Pretty much the same answer goes here. There are some festivals still to be announced and we are working on putting together a tour. We were supposed to hit the road at the end of last year for „Vargtimman“ but with the world being what it is right now we had to cancel the entire tour. We pretty much have two “new” albums to play on stage since the touring cycle for Järtecken got cut very short due to the pandemic. We will announce everything as soon as we can.

Thanks for your time and answers! The last words are yours:
Thank you for this interview! Be sure to listen to „Anesidora“ if you haven’t already. And if you have then give it another spin. Preferably with headphones on in a dark room. Hope to see all of you on the road later this year!

Lets finish this up with a short brainstorming – what comes to your mind first for the following terms:
Nice guys.
The first drink you order in a bar: The darkest beer they have.
Metal Cruises: Are fun but expensive.
Amon Amarth: „Twilight Of The Thunder God“
The last album you listened to: „Strong Arm Of The Law“ by Saxon.
ISOLE in ten years: I’m fairly certain we’ll have a new album out by then!

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Ein Kommentar zu “Isole

  1. Zu schade, dass Daniel Bryntse und Jonas Lindström (Ereb Altor-Schlagzeuger) wohl kein Withered Beauty-Album mehr machen werden. Hab mir das Album neulich wieder durchgehört und bin immer noch begeistert wie gelungen diese Black/Death/Doom-Mischung immer noch ist. Oder die Windwalker-Platte…oder das Februari 93-Album…
    Isole mag ich gern, die ersten beiden Alben hatten großartige Momente (Autumn Leaves), aber irgendwo habe ich die Band in den letzten Jahren aus den Augen verloren. Ereb Altor waren als Bathory-Klon der ersten Alben tatsächlich für mich interessanter.
    Nach den Lobeshymnen überall muss ich mich doch mit dem neuen Album beschäftigen.

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