by Ryan Meehan
In 1999, Falconer recorded a demo as a solo project by Stefan Weinerhall (ex-MITHOTYN) with Mathias Blad as the session vocalist. Karsten Larsson (ex-MITHOTYN) joined on drums and the project became a full band. The debut album, “Falconer,” was released in March 2001. They were chosen as “Newcomer of the year” by many leading magazines. From the beginning, the band did not plan to play live, but with the success of the album, the offers came. Exactly one year after the last recording session, Falconer returned to the studio to record “Chapters From A Vale Forlorn,” which was released in March 2002. Mathias had a tight schedule at work and couldn’t give the band the time the rest did. They split amicably in November 2002. Kristoffer Göbel was enlisted as the new vocalist. In November 2003, the new album “Sceptre of Deception” was released. After its release, the band embarked on a brief tour of Europe. Anders and Peder parted with the band in mutual agreement in 2004 after two years, and were replaced by Jimmy Hedlund (guitar) and Magnus Linhardt (bass). In May 2005, “Grime vs. Grandeur” was released, but it wasn’t the typical Falconer album. It was harder and more mainstream than previous releases. Many thought that it didn’t fit under the Falconer moniker. As the song writing for a next album progressed, folk music and epic metal found its way back into the band’s style. They felt that to do this material justice, it had to be sung by former member, Mathias Blad, who returned in November 2005. This means that Falconer is, once again, primarily a studio band who may perform at the occasional festival show, but full tours are not an option. The next album, “Northwind,” was released in September 2006. Falconer played a selection of summer festivals in 2007. Back on track, and feeling at home again, musically speaking, they went straight on to writing the next album. For the sixth time, they returned to Andy La Rocque’s Sonic train studio. “Among Beggars and Thieves” was recorded in late 2008, and consisted of more progressive material. Just a few intimate gigs followed in the typical Falconer manner. In 2011, “Armod” was released and was the first album entirely sung in Swedish and concentrated specifically on the folk elements in the music. After this, the band had a pause to take care of family matters, but gradually new material arose, which was both a rekindling of the very first years, and also a look ahead with more aggressive material. “Black Moon Rising” was recorded at Sonic Train Studios with Andy LaRocque, and was released in June 2014 via Metal Blade Records. This album is the most guitar oriented, riff-filled, and fastest Falconer release to date. This is a much hungrier and more vital Falconer, with some of their finest material in many years, and we are very pleased to have and Stefan Weinerhall as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How does one know if the music that they are creating can fall under the “folk-metal” classification? We don’t seem to have many bands here in the United States that would find itself in that category…Is that something that is primarily European, and if so…why do you think that is?
SW: It certainly feels more like a European thing. What defines “folk” in music is hard to say, maybe flowing easy melodies without any blues. Most folk music hails from the rural un-educated part of the society where the most basic and emotional things rule the music I guess. If you “learn” music from theory and are told what is right and wrong and how things should be you lose that folk touch. That’s my look on things anyway.
RM: What are the best and worst aspects of being a part of what is essentially a studio band? Do you ever feel as if there’s a certain lack of comradery at times because the band members rarely get to spend time with each other face to face?
SW: That is certainly one of the biggest down side to it yes. If you are a studio band of today you actually don’t HAVE to meet and that brings along a feeling of not being part of a band but more a project. For me as main writer I still get something out of it since I’m the creator, but unfortunately I tend to think of the music in terms of “me” instead of “us”. When we do meet in the band I love the time whether it is for a gig or just a photo shoot although it feels somewhat strange that we’re in the same band with a united front to the media and fans like a “real” band although we’re not. But I have grown to accept that we’re quite an original band that do quite good and we all like the situation as it is, so we’d just better stop comparing us to “real” bands. The good thing that is do leave us alone so to speak most of the times. There are not many things we fell that “we have to do”. Grown up busy family lives etc is no problem for us to live since the music is on studio level on a strict hobby basis. Anyway, for me the goal and priority in music has allways been the creative part.
RM: How do you think “Black Moon Rising” has been received overall? Which aspect of the record makes you the most proud to be doing what you’re doing?
SW: The response has been the best than in many years, where some even say it is our best ever. Even better than the “magical” debut album, believe it or not. Well for me, it is the nerve of hunger and intensity that is back. The focus is more on the riffs again.
RM: What’s the most significant difference between yourself and Jimmy (Hedlund) when it comes to guitar playing? Do you ever view one of you as the lead and the other as the rhythm, or do labels like that only get in the way of compiling the best record that Falconer can produce? Why do you feel that way?
SW: The labels are there for a reason and the reason was wanted from the beginning. I know what I’m good at, and that is making music and writing great riffs. I’m a tight player but I am not a technical guitarist and I have no solo skills. I use the guitar for writing and riffing. The playing itself is not the passion but the result of the playing if you know what I mean. When Jimmy came into the band in 2005 we looked for someone who could bring that extra polish to the guitar work and do proper solos. His passion in playing is the playing itself. So I think that we both bring totally different skills to the music, we do what we do best individually.
RM: Was the issue of the new material being a few beats per minute quicker than previous releases something that was decided before the songs were written, or was it simply the fact that the songwriting itself called for an increased speed?
SW: As I wrote the songs I felt like I was back from the shadows due to different reasons personally. I knew the new material would be angrier, more guitar oriented and less slick. To enhance the feeling of some of the songs I just wanted to raise it a few notch by playing the songs a few BPM faster. Not to the limit of compromising quality in playing but enough to playing on your toes if you understand me.
RM: What makes Andy LaRocque such a dynamic producer to work with? In other words, what is it about the way he hears heavy metal music that allows him to get the most out of a band such as Falconer?
SW: Honestly I think we know each other so well now that we are quite laid back. Falconer is too lazy to care about trying someone else. The music is pretty much produced as we enter the studio and since we know Andy can get the right sound and know what we want with the music we just keep it in the family” so to speak. We love spending time there and the feeling in the studio is not to be under rated although it might not sell any CDs alone but we have seldom made decisions out from the commercial aspect.
RM: In the most recent statement from the band on the website regarding the final performances, it was stated that “The inconsistency of doing very few shows with huge gaps between them has meant that we’ve had to start up the rusty machinery from scratch each time…”. How much of your current approach to the live angle has to do with the process of such infrequent reinstatement, and how much has to do with the age of the band members and their lives outside of the group?
SW: It has a lot to do with ordinary life with 7-4 jobs, kids, lawns to mow, soccer practice, working on the house etc etc. On top of that we have singer that work in show business where one work when others are off, that is: Weekends and during vacation. Combine those factors with rehearsing on weekends since we live far apart and getting shows. There are few shows we can do on a year then. Top that with the fact that we are not a massive band that makes money on this. We decided years ago not to try and force something since the conditions or ambitions for serious attempts for stardom or break-through wasn’t there. As I said before we’re quite content and lazy. We like it as it is and we’re just better of doing this when, where and how we want it. It might sound slightly bitter but that’s not the case.
RM: If you had to pick five European festivals right now that you would want to do for the final five Falconer shows, which ones would they be and why?
SW: Wacken, Metal Camp, Download, Sweden rock, RockAmRing. Reason: they are big and we would reach a lot of fans through few shows and of course a big crowd is better than a small crowd and I would get to see bigger bands myself ha ha!!
RM: What’s up next for you guys in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
SW: Except for the last shows next year we’ll have one release coming up that is not official yet but that’s pretty much that. Maybe start thinking about new material soon……..or well we’ll see if something else pops up.
Official Website: http://www.falconermusic.com/
Falconer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/falconermetal
Falconer on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/falconermusic
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