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A Ripple Conversation With Simon Ohlsson Of Vokonis
It all started as
Creedsmen Arise but soon they emerged to the world as Vokonis. In just over a
year the band has made themselves a name in the Swedish heavy underground and
beyond as they released the debut album “Olde One Ascending” (Ozium Records)
this summer. We hooked up with guitarist and vocalist Simon Ohlsson to get the
full scoop on Vokonis.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
S: My musical epiphany
was the first time I heard The Smashing Pumpkins. There’s this magical moment
in their track Cherub Rock when they slam their Big Muffs to transform their
sound to that warm fuzzy wall that I instantly fell in love with. And hearing
Mastodon for the first time. I didn’t know something could be so aggressive and
raw but still have that progressive feel to it.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for
you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into
S: That process have
evolved as I have evolved as a musician. At first I would jam on my guitar and
eventually come up with something worthwhile. Now I mostly (due to time
constrains) arrange the songs in my head without even playing them first. Then
I bring the idea to the rest of the band and either it doesn’t work and we
scrap it or we make a song out of it. We try to be picky about what songs we
spend our time on.
Who has influenced you the most?
S: Mikael Åkerfeldt of
Opeth. He has the sound, the songs and the balls to do whatever he wishes. He’s
my number 1 musical hero. Other than that I have to mention the twin guitar
maestros of Mastodon. Their contributions to metal is enormous.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration?
New ideas, new motivation?
S: This will come out
as a cliché but I guess I take my inspiration out of everyday life. I can get
really inspired whilst listening to music or watching a movie. But I get true
inspiration from current events or how the world is nowadays. It’s gone to
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us
about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
S: We hail from the
city of Borås which is known for being a rainy city. So I think that actually
have played a big part in our sound. Rain can feel depressing at first but I’ve
embraced it and now I find it soothing. And it lets me and the guys go and
rehearse what we love without feeling guilty of not being in the sun.
Where'd the band name come from?
S: It’s from the song
King Vokonis Plague. That name came to me and it resonated with me. So we
decided to call ourselves that.
You have one chance, what movie are you going
to write the soundtrack for?
S: The Big Lebowski or
Alien. Those are my favorite movies that I can watch a thousand times without
growing tired of them.
You now write for a music publication (The
Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a
1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
S: That would probably
be Opeth’s epic track from Watershed called Hessian Peel. To me that song
embodies all that they are. They’ve got the folky parts along with death metal
and they end up with this hard-rock jam. It’s a ride for sure.
you musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to
S: We want to give the
audience a sense of journey. Like they travel somewhere in their minds and let
our music be the soundtrack to that. I always try to write songs with a
narrative sense. So I guess I want that to translate well to our audience.
on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
S: We had this one crazy
moment this summer where a guy in the woods invited us in to eat pancakes with
him and his wife. That was probably the strangest thing we’ve ever been asked
to do. They’re great people and we had a lot of fun but we didn’t really know
if we were going to get robbed or something.
Tell us about playing live and the live
experience for you and for your fans?
S: We always want to
give a great show. We’re not really a band that would stand and drone on a few
chords for half an hour. We have that punk-mentality when we’re always moving
and maybe play a little bit too fast. We want people to enjoy themselves and
lose themselves to the music.
What makes a great song?
S: The overall feel of
it. A song can have some great riffs and a huge chorus but no heart to it. You
kind of feel it when you play it if it has the energy you’re going for or not.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
S: It was a really
catchy hard rock-grungy kind of thing that I in retrospect am not proud of at
all. It’s very predictable but we had a lot of fun writing and playing it.
What piece of your music are particularly proud
S: That we managed to
write a whole record and make it sound like one big piece of music. I always
respect a record that sounds like one big song. And I think we managed to do
just that with Olde One Ascending. But I’m really proud of these new songs
we’ve been writing this past summer. I think we really elevated ourselves and
have written some great songs. And a huge reason for that is we've spent so
much time together as a band.
Who today, writes
great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
S: A lot of people
haha! I have my personal favourites Opeth, Dinosaur Jr. High on Fire and a lot
more. Two bands that I think is really at the top of their game is High on Fire
and Mastodon. I don’t think they’re done making great albums anytime soon.
Mostly because I think both of their latest albums are to me some of their best
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of
S: I will probably get
a lot of hate but digital and CD. It’s convenient and it doesn’t sound like
shit. I mostly listen to music in my car on my way to or from work. So it’s
more or less out of necessity.But I
love me some vinyl.
Whiskey or beer?And defend your choice.
S: I do enjoy the
occasional beer or whiskey, but my answer would have to be neither. I don’t
really drink a lot. If you see me drinking something it would probably be some
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly
looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the
best record store to lose ourselves in?
S: That would be AA
Musik. He’s got a lot of record and he’s a real music lover. So go and have a
What's next for the band?
S: Playing a bunch of
shows in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The thing I look forward
to most is recording our new album in November.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to
share with our readers, the waveriders?
S: Thanks so much for
the opportunity to speak with you. It's been a pleasure.
Live at Klubb Undergången by Andreas Nilsson
Group photo by Jens Eliasson