The Unguided Interview
By Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela
THE UNGUIDED… Melodic Death straight from Sweden
A five-piece melodic metal band from Sweden, formed in 2010 by Richard Sjunnesson, after his departure from Sonic Syndicate. Later, he was joined by (also former Sonic Syndicate singer) Roland Johansson, and guitarist Roger Sjunnesson and current Cipher System bassist Henric Carlsson. Combining Death, Metalcore, Power and Melodic elements to a tight little package we all can hear today… 4 studio albums, lots of touring, a couple of line-up changes and 8 years later (as The Unguided) they’re still as strong as ever, maybe even stronger… The time has come to find out what the hell are these guys up to… Let’s go !!!
So honored to have this chance to have a moment with You. How are You doing?
Roger: -Hey Santtu, I´m doing very well Thank you! Currently home reloading my batteries for the weekend!
As always I´m curious and like to know some history… How & when did You decide the time has come for You to step out of the shadows and how was the start, about 20 years ago with Fallen Angels and later with Sonic Syndicate ?
Roger: – This is a quit long story but I´ll give it a shot! I and my brother (Richard) got into heavy music during the age of 13 – 14, started with ordinary heavy metal like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Helloween, Europe etc. I really enjoyed the riffage and melodies in rock music so I said hey, I want to be able to play this shit myself! I got my first electric guitar when I was 15 and started to practice like a mother f*cker together with a close friend of mine. About one year later I and Richard hooked up with some friends from school and started our first band. I played guitar and Richard was singing. “Silence” was the project name, and was later evolved to “Tunes of Silence”. All of us were very unexperienced playing in a band and all beginners on our instruments so the musical quality wasn’t super high. Imagine having five Lars Ulrich in a band and you´ll get the picture how crappy it sounded! We played mostly punk rock covers, everything from Bad Religion to Iron Maiden, but also wrote some own stuff. We did a couple of local shows in school and on parties but that was it. Later our drummer called out that he will move on to another band. After he left no one else were motivated to continue, so we decided to call it a day and put the band to rest. This was in early 2001.
In end of 2002 me and Richard talked about starting a new project, we had recently got into even heavier music like In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Children of Bodom. So we decided that this new band should have a much darker theme, with elements like screaming vocals, tune downed guitars and double pedals drums. We also recruited a keyboardist to get the modern feels in the sounds. We called ourselves “Fallen Angels” which we through reflected the new heavier era very well. After the line-up was complete we started to practice and write songs very rapidly. We recorded three demos in one year, and after the last demo (called “Extinction”) things started to move more seriously. We got in contact with a record label from US, who were interested releasing a full album with us. This album later became “Eden Fire”, and right before the release we decided to change the band name to something cooler and more unique. Release an album under “Fallen Angels” would probably result us being sued to the stone age and back. Since we were young and broke we weren’t very eager to trigger this to happen, so in mid 2005 we re-named the band to “Sonic Syndicate”.
What kind of reactions did You get when forming The Unguided, since some people already knew You from Your earlier bands and projects?
Roger: – I think the reaction from people were mostly positive. Many of our present Sonic Syndicate fans were happy to see me, Roland and Richard returning to the music biz as one piece, writing music and working together again. As we know with the album “We Rule the Night – 2010”, Sonic Syndicate chose to go a complete different way musically. Instead Me, Richard and Roland played our cards safe and used the same songwriting formula we have used the past years writing together. This resulted in Hell Frost, which became a quite big success. Especially for the fans who were more into the musical roots of the old school Sonic Syndicate. Today, we´re still beyond happy with Hell Frost and I think it’s an excellent debut album and introduction to The Unguided.
Your way of making Your kind of music is not very mainstream, not the biggest selling or on top of every charts… Is this a decision well planned or something that just happened ?
Roger: – Our main master plan with The Unguided is to freeze hell and archive world domination, ride roller-coasters, write the music that we love and play some shows here and there. This band is all about having fun together, meet, talk, hang out and make friends with new people. Because that’s what music and this band is all about. Having fun! If we would aim to get on the charts we would probably do something completely different, which we´re not interested in.
The metal scene, in my opinion, is filled with old narrow minded know-it-alls who don’t care about, don’t want to know about new bands and their way of making music, listen to and love only what mainstream masses and media tells them to… How hard has it been to get noticed and get the attention You surely deserve?
Roger: I think that’s one of the charms in music. Everyone has its own personal taste which makes all kinds of music so interesting. There are both the narrow minded know-it-all ones which usually hates everything unless true Norwegian satanic black metal, and the wide open ones that just enjoy good quality music. For us, we went through a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to the position where we are today. You no longer get anything for free in the music biz, behind every success it’s always tons and tons of hard work.
Tell us a little about Your songwriting process ? Where do You get all the ideas and what inspires You ?
Roger: – Right now we´re four songwriters in the band and everyone have their own personal way of writing. For myself I usually jam in front of my computer late at night watching Macgyver and drinking cheap shitty energy drinks. I record and program all my ideas in Cubase, and when I´m happy with the stuff, I upload it to the other guys and they can tell me if the ideas suck or not. Than we meet up in the rehearsal studio and jam and produce the song until everyone is happy with it. Than Richard write lyrics to it and he and Jonathan are sorting out the vocal arrangements. When all bits are in place we record a proper demo, and keep changing and adding stuff until we´re 100% satisfied.
Listening to Your music makes me think You sure sound like a true team of highly skilled musicians, with the same visions and goals, knowing exactly what You’re doing… Do You just work Your asses off 24/7 or do You know how to relax and just take it easy?
Roger: – All of us have been in numerous professional bands before The Unguided, so we have quite good experience how everything regarding band and the music business works. I would say that we´re working our asses of from time to time when it comes to new album recordings, releases, tours etc. The rest of the time is quite chill band wise. We should not forget we´re running this band as “hobby project” besides our normal daily lives, (but still in a very professional way of course). We all have full day time jobs, family, kids etc besides the band. This makes it hard to invest all the time in the world you know.
*How would You describe Your music and You who make the music have changed during these years ?
Roger: – I would probably describe us as “Modern melodic death metal”. Can’t say if that’s correct or if “vegetarian sci-fi metalcore metal” fits us better? What do you think? Regarding our development, I think if you compare our debut album “Hell Frost – 2011” to our latest fourth album “And the Battle Royale – 2017”. Battle Royale is a more musically interesting album with a lot more elements and variation from the past records. That’s probably since all member contributed more to the song writing this time. In a very good way!
So far 4 full-length albums with The Unguided, the latest one released last fall… Has everything gone as You planned back in 2010 and how does the future look like ?
Roger: I, Richard and Roland started this band as a small “hobby-project” and our first plan were just to write, record and release some songs together, just the three of us. But today a couple of years later we´re a full band, have archived more than 100 shows and just released our fourth album on a big major label. If someone would have told me that in the beginning, I would probably punch him in the face and laugh my ass off.
As we all know Roland isn’t with us anymore, but we have found the greatest replacement in Jonathan who isn’t only a god like vocalist, but also superior guitar player! Our current plan is to continue to play and write music together and do some shows and festivals this summer and fall in Finland, Sweden, Austria, Poland, Germany and Czech Republic (check dates on www.theunguided.com).
The next step for this band is probably to bring this machine on a big world tour with let´s say: Metallica, Slayer, Slipknot, In Flames, Sabaton, Nightwish etc. It would also be cool to share stage with something completely different, like Lady Gaga, Beyonce or Justin Bieber. We´ll see what happens.
What have been the most memorable, positive, rewarding moments and maybe tell us something “funny”, something that causes You to laugh afterwards ?
Roger: – For a couple of years we were playing a festival show with The Unguided in Gothenburg (which happens to be the capital of heavy metal), which left us with some great mosh and circle pit memories. We played quite early so we had no expectations how big crowd would be like. But when we finally hit stage, the crowd were surprisingly big (a couple of thousand for sure) and they were going totally ape shit right from the start!! Sooner in the set, right in the middle of our last song our vocalist Richard told the crowd to split up into two teams. Which formed a gap bigger than a fu*king canyon! We were planning to do the “Brave Heart” named after the first battle scene of the movie Brave Heart (also more familiar known as a “Wall of death”). People were lined up and beyond ready to break legs and melt faces as I slowly counted down. As a final step, Richard throw his stage shoes out in the crowd and screamed GO! We started to play the last chorus of the song and people were running like crazy into each other. Wow!!
Haven’t seen You guys live… Yet… What can I expect when coming to Your show ?
Roger: – You can expect a lot of energy, intensity and entertainment. We are all routine musicians with years of intense touring in the back. This makes The Unguided to the most perfect live act to be experienced live besides Rammstein. It’s cool, beautiful, professional and a different push in the songs than on the album. Our motto is always that even though we are playing on a beyond big festival stage, or in a small dirty cellar where everyone points finger and scream shut up, we always give hundred percent! Because that’s what the crowd expect us to do. Now we also have four albums in our luggage, which means we can vary the list more and make each evening more personal than the other.
What keeps You going on strong and kicking everyone’s asses ?
Roger: – Star bars and protein shakes!
Any last words (not literally) to people who are reading this, the Family of MHF, Your fans and Your soon to be fans ?
Roger: – Thanks for the interview! Check out our latest album, come out and see us live and make sure to sign up on our social medias for latest news, tour dates, dick pics and bullshit about The Unguided!
By: Roger Sjunnesson – Guitarist The Unguided
Thank You So Much
MHF Magazine/Santtu “Rebel” Kaskela