By Michial Farmer
Sweden's Blindside is one of the bands enjoying the growing popularity of hardcore and rapcore in the United States who deserve their newfound fame. They proved their capabilities on tour last year with P.O.D. and Project 86, and their new album, A Thought Crushed My Mind only reinforces what their fan base already knew they are one of the best hard music bands around.
This is an email interview with guitarist Simon Grenehed.
Tollbooth - What would you say makes A Thought Crushed My Mind different from your other albums?
Grenehed - A Thought Crushed My Mind is our second album. The first one, we wrote pretty much with no experience from working in the studio at all. It was more of a demo/project from the beginning, but we wanted to make as much out of it as possible. It was definitely a first step for us.
When we started writing material for A Thought Crushed My Mind, we had no idea what was going to come out. We just got back from our first U.S. tour, and we were full of new ideas and influences. Also, we were surprised how much better we got at playing our instruments, kickin' around with those riffs and fills that we never thought we could do. That's actually one of our problems we're always playing at the edge of what we're capable of. But it's fun. We like to push the limits. I should say it's fun until you get into the studio with perfectionist engineers. It worked out though, finally. Creativeness is very important, we think, and therefore we always try to follow our hearts, making the music we'd like to hear. We just create what's inside of us already. This time it came out in a more "hardcore" way, and probably some people will be disappointed, but it's always going to be like that with the second album anyway. Actually, the response we've been getting is that people don't like the new album at first, but that it grows. I think that's how it is. It's not as easy to get used to as the first album.
Tollbooth - I love the string arrangements on the new album. Whose idea were they? Who orchestrated them?
Grenehed - We worked with our producer, André Jacobsson, who is a very good friend of ours…actually, he's our youth pastor. He sat with us in rehearsals before we started recording and brought up the ideas. He's very intelligent as a musician, and we knew he could do what he was talking about, so we gave him a chance to try it. It came out even better than we dared to hope and we're really happy with it. The strings were done by some guys who usually play folk music. It was pretty cool seeing those guys go off to our distorted sound.
Tollbooth - Do you see Blindside as a ministry? If not, what is the focus/goal of the band? Do you play mostly Christian or secular venues?
Grenehed - We're not preachers. Some people have that gift, but we don't. What we do is write lyrics about what we're about, how we live our lives and reflect to people and our surroundings as Christians. On this new album the lyrics deal with sin and how to surrender all problems to the Lord. It may seem dark but we just need to face it. No matter how you live your life there's going to be problems. We all struggle with sin as Christians and we need to deal with it. Some people have a hard time understanding how we can write about such "dark" issues, but we think it's important to bring up this as well. Also when Christian wrote the lyrics, he just put on paper what was inside of him. There are a lot of beautiful parts that show how God is so much in charge of our lives as well. I think that the last sentence of the last song on the album sums it up pretty well:
People say I should eat more, boy they should see me nowWe've been alternating between Christian and secular venues. As things are going incredibly well for us over in Europe, with our new video for "King of the Closet" airing every week on the European MTV show Super Rock and stuff like that, there's going to be a lot of secular gigs, even tours. So please keep us in your prayers; we need it more than ever.
Tollbooth - Was last year's "Warriors" tour with P.O.D. and Project 86 a good experience? What did you learn from the tour?
Grenehed - It couldn't have been any better. We had such a great time with those guys. It was like a big family, and it's amazing to see how much three bands with the same direction and beliefs can accomplish with a thing like this. We all prayed a lot together and brought up things and discussed. We learned a lot both musically and on a spiritual level as well.
Tollbooth - Is your music more accepted in Sweden or in the States?
Grenehed - Well, our first album got kind of booted here in Sweden, but this new one has gotten a great response, and things are suddenly happening for us here at the moment. We've been overwhelmed with how people in the States responded to our material. It's great and a very good thing to be accepted in the States first and then back home. The people over here are very surprised to hear that we've already toured the States twice.
Tollbooth - What's the difference between the Swedish Christian music scene and that of America? Does Sweden have a scene at all?
Grenehed - There's not much of a christian music scene over here. It was big in the eighties and a lot of people seem to be stuck there, especially when it comes to heavy music. However, we hope that changes now.
Tollbooth - Have you received any criticism in Sweden for the religious nature of your music? Are hard music fans there open to the Gospel?
Grenehed - There's a lot of prejudice over here against Christianity. People think that spirituality's cool, but Christianity has a hard time getting accepted again for some reason. Sweden is supposed to be a "Christian country," but it isn't really. I think we've been very well accepted in heavy music. We've been around for awhile so people are getting used to us and what we stand for. But I can't say they're open to the gospel. For us, though, it's important to get to the first step; for people to accept our beliefs and not be afraid to check us out anyway. When you get to that point, people will start checking out our lyrics and stuff, and see what we're really talking about. Also, our lyrics are written from a personal perspective, and I think anyone can relate to 'em, Christian or not.
Tollbooth - What's your favorite thing about America? What's your least favorite?
Grenehed - We love the nature of America. Last year we flew into Sidney, Ohio and had four days to make it to San Diego. It was a beautiful trip. Day three, we went from Denver all through the beautiful mountains into all the canyons of Utah. Checked out Zion national park, which I recommend for everyone who hasn't seen that yet. Amazing scenery. Also, we've been very well received, met almost exclusively nice people, so it's all good.
The bad thing with touring the states is that you have no time to settle down and have a good lunch. It's always at those quick stop places with "junk food." It's alright for awhile, but not every day.
Tollbooth - What's Blindside's songwriting process? Does one person usually write a song, or do you all work together?
Grenehed - Usually someone comes up with an idea of some kind and brings it to rehearsals so that we can start jamming it and see if everyone is happy with it. Everyone is equally important in the songwriting. Often we actually start to work over the phone, play a riff and spread the idea around, to see how the other guys in the band react to it.
Tollbooth - Are the members of Blindside full-time musicians, or do you have other jobs?
Grenehed - We all have other things to do on the side. We're a long way from making a living from our music. For anyone who starts a band to make a living on it…think again...
Tollbooth - Who are your major musical influences? What bands have you been listening to lately?
Grenehed - We don't have any major influences. We all listen to different music within the band.
Tollbooth - Tell me about "Phatbat 1303," the bonus track on the new album. Who programmed it? Do you guys listen to a lot of techno, or was it done on a lark?
Grenehed - It's a thing we've wanted to do, 'cause Marcus (drummer) has been doing this electronic kind of music for a long time. We thought about bringing it into the music for awhile, but settled with having this as an extra track. Marcus does listen almost exclusively to electronic music, and records a lot of material as well. He's been doing some industrial intros for us as well for concerts, but we haven't used it in the States yet.
Tollbooth - Does Blindside have any plans to tour the US again anytime soon?
Grenehed - We are playing
the Cornerstone festival in July and hope to do some touring while we're
over there. Check our web page if you want to know what's in store for