Aspiring to be more than the regular, to be thunderous and explosive, to be a little provocative and not politically correct, that is more or less Heavy Metal. It is true that times changed, and the rebellious nature of the genre faded, and it got a somewhat in line with the times, nevertheless, the spirit never really died, and is there, still kicking, even in lower octaves. Stating the fact that there are thrills, kicks and screams, there is Blackrain. Their nature is that being wild and free can cross decades, and even centuries. Recently coming up with "Untamed", the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal flames burn bright with each chord and chorus. Steinmetal had a great talk with Swan of the band about the nature of the music, what is going on now and there is digestion involved too.
January 27, 2023
Blackrain's Swan: "I find great pleasure to share my music with people out there
Hello Swan, it is awesome to have you for this talk about the latest happenings of Blackrain, how have you been doing?

Hi, I'm doin´just fine, working on a new single we've just made with our new drummer Franky Costanza, in order to release this with a video in the upcoming months, the goal is to introduce this new version of the band to the public before we start playin´gigs again. So, thank you for having me in this interview!!

I remember it, as if it was yesterday, I had a chance to review your sophomore record, "License to Thrill", and to be honest, with the flow of albums going on, I missed you guys. Back then in 2008, you already proved that there is something good coming our way, and it is bound to blast. Taking a swift journey in the memory lane, you guys grew quite a lot, both professionally and mentally. How do you view this?

Time flies, it's kind of depressing when you think of it hahah, but obviously we did evolve a lot in every aspects, musically, I believe we've learned better how to play and make songs and mentally, well, I guess we've become less reckless and innocents, as like everybody else, we've been forced to take some responsibilities in order to pay our bills and somehow fill our place in this crazy society…! Back to the « license to thrill » era, we didn't care about anything, we were only playing music (not always very well) and partying, we could leave our jobs from a day to another to be able to play with the band, nothing else mattered, we were living some kind of Motley Crue life, but without the money haha..

Today it's a bit different, we're still wild, I believe nobody never really changed deep inside, but as we grew older we got families and so, some duties to fill in! In terms of music, I am much more satisfied about our skills today, we're making songs I really love and are able to play real cool concerts, we do everything much more seriously and way better than we did back in the days.

Back to our reality, you guys survived the Covid-19 pandemic, probably were locked down like the rest of us, without the ability to head out and perform. Prior to the pandemic, you released "Dying Breed", were you even able to support it as you wished right before things heated up?

Well, living in Sweden, I haven't suffered lock downs and all those freedom restrictions, but we couldn't play gigs of course. The time frame was actually alright for us since we've been able to tour and promote « Dyin´breed » right before all hell broke loose. Only a couple of concerts were cancelled or postponed, so we can't complain.

What interested me throughout the pandemic is that a lot of bands released stuff just to keep in check with the fans, since it wasn't possible to book shows. Now, since you guys were probably working on the new album, you didn't release anything. Were there thoughts about doing it, a sort of a token for the fans to be shipped out?

We spent this time like many other bands creating new music, I saw that a lot of bands tried out online gigs, rehearsals etc… Thing is, we don't live in the same places, it makes it difficult to do that kind of things together during a pandemic. Also, we're not very much into satisfying the endless thirst of people for them to keep interest in something, we like to create music, make videos, play gigs, but if for some reasons this is not possible, well, people will have to wait then, if they really do like our music, I'm sure they'll give it a listen when they figure out there's something new out there. As many of our fans probably noticed, we're not very fond of spending time on social medias… sorry!

Recently, you released your sixth album, "Untamed", simply put and to the point. So, what is it with being untamed? Who is the one that is untamed? To whom or who do you refer to with this title?

I am not sure the title Untamed is referring to a special person, even though I always put a little bit of myself in every songs I make, but this name seemed to be the best to represent and express what this album had in the guts, the feeling from the music, its diversity almost without boundaries. On a more personal aspect, it could also mean that we were not goin´to get stopped by the pandemic or any of the freedom restrictions that occurred from it, as we wrote this album during lock downs.

In a philosophical view, "Untamed" has its way into a transfiguring darkness, shaping up against reality, crossing the lives of many, and there is a chance that some of your personal experiences of late. In your view, what does the record generate? What is the story being told here, even though it is far from being a concept?

Each album, each song that we make, is usually either lyrically or musically or both a small reflection of our lives, of our feelings, of our state of mind of the moment, we only try to put in music some events from everyday life, or personal experiences that somehow touch us, it is as simple as this, nothing less nothing more. I've always thought the fact that music in general tends to sound joyful or dark is highly related to the society we live in, that's surely where all the darkness from « untamed » comes from.

Now if our music speaks to others, if people actually identify themselves into some of our songs, well, that's pure awesomeness to me. Still, I don't pretend that I'm able to do this and anyway I do not believe you can change much in this world with music. I find great pleasure to share my music with people out there, and if I can help some dudes to forget for a couple hours their daily routines with my sound, that's all I ask for. Even though I don't like to get to politics with music, many songs on this album are about freedom, a freedom that I think is precious but that we could lose very quickly depending on the will of just a little bunch of people that stands above us due to their huge bank accounts and take the right to decide in our names.

After the album's story, or stories, let's try to understand what you wish to convey with "Untamed"?  What aspects does the listener need to take in by listening to the record? Is there a particular moral, or set of morals, that are in question here?

This album is about what Heavy metal and Hard rock used to be in its young days, about rebellion and critical thinking. I am very sadden to see that many fans and musicians today seem to have forgotten this, I am even talking about the look of the bands today, most of them look like my neighbours, everybody dresses up and looks like clones, pop artists have more controversial attitudes and looks than hard rockers today… people have forgotten that long hair was a sign of rebellion back in the days, it was a real provocation. I am well aware we don't live in the same context, but I have the feeling that people just want to melt into the mold, everybody is scared to offend the others and nobody questions the system anymore. It goes the same way for new bands on stage, where's the show? Except Ghost, Ramnstein, there's too little bands that tries to give us a good old fashion concert with stage clothes and so on… anyway, I just miss the old rebel attitude, that wild thing bands like Guns n´ roses or Motley Crue had when they first came to light.

Certainly, the artwork of "Untamed" is one of your best. There is a fine measure of continuing the artistic vibe of "Dying Breed", but even if I am a fan of cold colors, this art here is superb. One thing I have to understand, what is being administered over there to the skeletal person on the ground?

Thank you, we were very satisfied with the work of Megan Mushi for the cover of Dying Breed so we decided to continue in the same direction with Untamed, I simply asked to get an illustration with the same four skeletons in the context we were livin´in  back then, which were war and pandemic. So obviously the skeleton injecting something to his pal is a direct reference to the covid vaccination, I think it's a cool detail of this album cover!

As if right from the get-go, you guys knew how to find that near perfect balance between being aggressive, melodic and thrilling at the same time. "Untamed" is a heavy piece of music, one of your heaviest albums, nonetheless, it also proves that you have been developing, catching influences and harbouring them as your own. How do you find the musical progress on the record?

If Untamed is my favorite record of BlackRain it's especially for this reason, we finally managed to naturally mix many of our influences into the same record without losing the band identity, I'm extremely happy about this. We got some heavier tracks that reminds a lot of what we were playing in the early days, along with some very melodic, sometimes even pop kind of tracks. This is one of the reasons as well why we allowed ourselves to have 12 songs on the record, it quite a lot but it didn't feel like « too much » while listening to it. It is not the first time we try to deal with different kind of inspirations but it's surely the first time we make it work as a « whole ». It's without saying that well keep working in that direction on the next record.

You intrigued me by saying that you write songs that you love yourselves. My interpretation is that you are influenced by stuff that makes you tick, like a lot, nonetheless, what interests me is how do you find that edge to produce something that you would call a golden goose. What can you comment about that?

It's something complicated to explain, it's a job basically, like any other, the more you do it, the best you get at it, but it goes together with different parameters, with the production, the recording, the mix, everything matters in the final result, I don't think you ever know in advance that you will get, or not, that golden goose in the end Regarding the influences, to me, it works that way : you listen to things, you discover music that makes you tick yes, that's when you « drink it », then, you need to digest what you've been drinking, because if you try to use this influence before you digest it, it will most likely be a copy. So, you need this time, to digest what you've been listening to, so when you actually use it, you don't do it on purpose, it just adds up itself to the music you're making, naturally, that's how influences work. So, to cut a long story short, I think I got a better digestion than back in the days lol.

"Untamed" led to a great relationship between yourselves and your producer, Hannes Braun. From where I am sitting, it seems that this chemistry between you led to even more than a fruitful cooperation, but to the near fact that he more or less became your fifth member. Since most producers are hired to do a job, here it feels like family. How did Hannes aid you to make "Untamed" to the monster it became?

We were good friends long before Hannes mixed our record, in fact, I didn't know it was his job, and I would have known that earlier, I would have surely asked him to mix BlackRain way way before Untamed… Since we always had a good relation and since our bands play kind of similar music, I think it was pretty easy for him to understand what we were looking for, to be honest, we didn't talk that much, I just liked his work from the first track I sent him and never really have much to say about the mixes, we were pretty much satisfied from everything he was sending back for each song, that's it, that's his job and he's god damn good at it. I believe we're both very open minded and got similar tastes in terms of music styles and mixing, maybe it helps! One thing for sure though, we were never that satisfied with this producing part of our music, so we're not going to let go of him anytime soon! And I got for proof, we just sent him a new song to mix

When it comes to sound, I can understand why you like the thunder, which for me is the summary of the impact made by the sound of "Untamed". It is modern, banging, not even close to velvet but pure steel and rust. With Braun at the helm of the engineering, what do you make of the end result?

It's modern like you mentioned, it's exactly the way our music needed to sound, now I don't know about the texture, I like thunder, rust and steel for sure, but I'm not against velvet either haha, however, thanks to him, BlackRain reached a whole new level, and that's exactly what we were searching and aiming for, what we needed to exist in this heavy metal world saturated with new bands and big sounds, next time, we'll try to get more lightnings into it!

I was first captured by the darkened, but thrilling Glam Metal devourment show of "All The Darkness". I actually identified with this song, it is so realistic in its own special way. Furthermore, you found the right hook to have people lined up listening to this number. What is your appreciation of this track?

Happy to read you there! This is my personal favorite track with « Kiss the sky » this song is so different than the rest, it really got its own atmosphere, there's something coming out of it in my opinion. I can't be very objective about it of course but I think the lyrics really fit the music, the melodies, and also the fact that it sounds much more pop/classic rock than the rest makes it pretty special to me, the dynamic and the evolution of the music in this song is a good achievement, I hope I'll be able to come up with more tracks like this one in the future.

"Neon Drift" turned out to be somewhat different from the previous one I mentioned. Truth be told, you show many faces on "Untamed" but as far as the former goes, it is a Heavy Metal piece in a modern form, tight, banging and tough. What can you tell about the creative process of making this particular song?

I started with Neon drift thinking I was making some kind of « billy Idol » type of songs, the verses still remind me of that but it turned out to be a pure heavy metal track lol, just like «  All the darkness », « Neon Drift » got its own special kind of atmosphere, which is something I always appreciate in music, a song I.D so to speak.

The fun fact about this song is that I was the only one thinking it was a good one, good thing we used it on the album since it's one of the most played track of Untamed… It was a lot of fun to have Jim from « Kissing´Dynamite » playing a crazy solo for us also, and a crazy time shooting the video for it…!

Being a busy bee that you are on the road, what is expected to happen on the Blackrain camp in 2023?

The fact that we had to find a new drummer kind of screwed up a few concerts' opportunities right now, but we're working on new material and also starting to rehearse a new live set list, as well as developing as much as we can (afford it) the upcoming live shows. We will be back on the road in May and will release a new track/video before that!

Swan, many thanks for the time that you made to answer this interview, I appreciate it very much. I wish you guys all the best

Thank you so much for your interest and support, I really enjoyed answering your questions, they were more interesting than the ones I'm used to answer!

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