About Me

Interview with Diablo Swing Orchestra

An 8-person band is practically an orchestra… hence the name Diablo Swing Orchestra. The Swedes have just unleashed their latest opus ““Pacifisticuffs” and Metal Imperium talked to the band.

M.I. - “Pacifisticuffs”… What’s the meaning of the title?

The title is a word play between the two opposites of being a pacifist and fisticuffs as in the gentleman way of fighting it out on the street. We feel that it is a fitting way of describing our emotional response to what’s going on in the word today and how it can be frustrating to seek peaceful solutions to problems that evoke emotional havoc inside since everything about how things are handled just screams wrong. 

M.I. - “Pacifisticuffs” is the 1st album of the band with new vocalist Kristin. How did you come across her?

Our dear drummer Johan Norbäck found her during a gig in their mutual hometown of Karlstad. He was really happy when he sent the rest of us some Youtube clips of her performing a Kate Bush cover. Her mix of Tori Amos like vocals with some really emotive piano playing immediately sold the rest of us to the idea of letting her try some of the old songs out and see if we would hit it off in a social way. Said and done she came up to Stockholm and needed only one rehearsal to fully convince everyone that this was going to be a great match. We started to write new music right away and it really was a fresh start for the rest of the band and a much needed vitamin injection creative-wise.  

M.I. - The band released “Pandora’s Piñata” in 2012 and 5 years later “Pacifisticuffs” is released… why the 5-year hiatus?

It took way too long finishing this album and it was really not the initial plan. What happened was that life somehow managed to get in the way of the music. Some members have gotten kids, we’ve had loads of tech issues when recording and mastering so on and so forth. And we also tend to take our sweet time with things since we really want to make each album better than the last one, so I guess expectations rises with each record. On top of that the discussions with the label when to release it added another month or two once we were ready, so we’re really happy to finally be able to release this little baby of ours.

M.I. - The band announced the album would be released in October but it wasn’t and will only see the light of the day on December 8th. Why was it postponed?

That was the first date we got through the label and when we thought it would be released. If anything we’ve learned to keep our mouths shut until we’re 100% sure about a date since it just pisses people off if we keep changing the date for when it’s supposed to be released. But the reason why is that we’re just as eager to put it out there as people are to hear it. 

M.I. - The new album contains 13 tracks which is not so common… even though you didn’t release new material in 5 years, you have been active. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From wherever we can really. Since we’re 8 people in the band and we all have our different favourite music we do have a wide range of musical inspirational sources to draw from. I guess the trick is to make it work as a coherent whole and not just end up with a sonic mess that no one is interested or able to listen to. But inspiration doesn't’ have to come from music. It can be from a film or a speech or a movement. Anything that somehow stirs up emotional is a good source of inspiration since that’s what we strive to do with our music 

M.I. - How is the writing and recording process of new material? How complicated is it socializing and trying to write an album with 8 members in the band?

Surprisingly easy since it feels that we’ve found a line-up now that strives towards the same goals when it comes to what we want to achieve. But, of course, there are some discussions going on sometimes where we want to take a certain song or how to mix a song but we always try to work that out through discussions where everybody can make their point and, so far, we’ve managed to agree. On the other hand, I think it would be weird if we didn’t have these discussions since it somehow shows that were really passionate of what we do here.

M.I. - All of your releases have titles that aren’t the titles of tracks. Why?

We find it much more interesting to try to sum up a title with our feelings how we think the album of song sounds like. We want the titles to play with the listeners imagination so that there are already ideas what it will sound like before listening to us. We do that with everything from our band name to song titles. It’s a way of communicating so that you get maybe one idea how a song will sound like and then afterwards you might feel that - Ahh, that’s what they meant with that. We think it’s a more fun way to use titles that not just the refrain words for the title.

M.I. - Supposedly this release is less introspective than your previous releases and offers an expression of life’s highs and lows… why have you opted to deal with life? Is it a good topic?

Well, I think we’ve always dealt with the struggles of life in our lyrics but it’s been focusing more on personal reflections on what’s happening in my life. Now we’ve chosen to comment more decent on events in the world that might not affect us so directly. But is really hard to stand by and say nothing on current events when so many things according to us are moving in the wrong direction.  

M.I. - Evegård has added her lyrical and composition skills into the mix for Pacifisticuffs. How much impact did this change influence the band’s sound?

I would say a lot and not so much depending on how you look at it. We were already moving away from the opera vocals a little on our last effort so that jump to more normal vocals is not such a big leap for us as it might be to some of our listeners. We felt kind of drained of ideas in that department already so some of the sonic change would have happened anyway. But then again a lot of the new songs would not have happened if it was not for Kristin’s input. It’s a real change for all of us since Annlouice did not contribute much in the song-writing process at all and Kristin was already used to fix everything from recording to writing and marketing herself and therefore had a clear view of the whole process. 

M.I. - Your previous release received worldwide praise and got excellent reviews… have you been getting reactions regarding this new album? Are they as awesome? Did it put some extra pressure on your shoulders?

We haven't gotten to read that many reviews just yet but from the look of things it seems as if it will be as usual, some people really get it and think it’s cool while others think we should have left our instruments by the door and not bother too much about it. But that how it always will go, you can’t please them all and neither do we strive to do so. We don’t think that it’s a very good idea to bother too much what others will think of your music when you write it. That’s like begging for trouble with your creativity. It’s better to worry about all of that once the songs are written, mixed and mastered. So no, not much pressure here :)

M.I. - The band has released 4 full-lengths, all of them through different labels. Why?

Well, I guess we’ve been connected to Candlelight from the start in some way since the founder of Candlelight picked us up for the second album and then we went back for the third. By the time it was time for “Pacifisticuffs” Spinefarm/Universal had bought Candlelight so we just basically came with the package. 

M.I. - The cover is a bit futuristic… It kinda reminds me of the TV show “Stranger things”… what’s the meaning behind it?

We had a long discussion before what we want the cover to convey and it went something like this:
Imagine an outdoors city environment where all the negatively charged stuff of the world resides. In the dead centre of this view, a large triangle has magically opened. Magical dust of hope and positive forces electrically pour out from the opening behind the rotated triangle. In the foreground, we see a young girl reaching out her hands, electrically/magically controlling the triangle to her benefit — her Pacifisticuffs at full throttle with the power to change things around to the better!

M.I. - This is the 3rd cover in which is featured an animation. Why does this kind of cover appeal to you? Who designed it?

We think it’s easier to capture something that is sprung out of our imagination with an animation rather than a photo of something that is already existing. The artist is called Sebastian Kowoll and we hooked up with him when we ran a competition on our FB page telling people to send in their work and we were really intrigued with the stuff Sebastian sent us and we knew he would be able to do some awesome stuff for the cover.  

M.I. - One of the promo photos is quite original and features the whole band looking up in a silver garment… who comes up with these ideas? Do you feel the need to get away from the typical band photo?

It’s normally Andy who has the ideas for the visuals since he works as creative director and has the most ideas in the department. And in a sense I would say that we try to stay away from the generic band shots where the people stands in a forest and look a bit moody even if we’ve done our share of that in the past as well :) 

M.I. - An 8-member band is not an easy task when it comes to the logistics of touring… how do you handle that?

So far by not touring that much and try to see it as a fun vacation with your friends once we get the chance to come and play somewhere.

M.I. - Being a band that plays so many styles… name one or more bands that you’d like to tour with.

Muse and Primus.

M.I. - Is there a planned tour for the new album?

Yes, it’s in the work as we speak, hopefully we’ll be able to present some more gigs soon.

M.I. - Thank you for your time. We can’t wait to hear about you in the future and hope you come to Portugal! Leave a message to our readers.

Thanks, we hope to be able to come down there and play asap. 

For Portguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca