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Sweden’s new heavy symphonic metal band FOLLOW THE CIPHER talk about their debut album

Hailing from Faul, Sweden that is known for the idyllic forests and deep blue lakes Follow The Cipher brings their G force and bold cinematic sound on their debut album to be release on May 11 2018.

Is also where some of the hardest rock bands like Sabaton, Twilight Force, Civil War and Billion Dollar Babies. Other bands from the country are Amaranthe, Sister Sin and Liv Jagrell, Thundermother and Martina Edoff.

The band is: Linda Toni Grahn – Vocals, Ken Kängström – Guitars & Vocals, Karl Löfgren – Drums, Viktor Carlsson – Vocals & Guitars and Jonas Asplind – Bass & Vocals.

Ken Kängström and Linda Toni Grahn talk about the album.

IMM: The band formed during 2014 and has done many shows and festivals. What got you now to record the album?

Ken: Yeah, it has been a long story actually. 2014 is when Linda and I wrote “Winterfall” the first song we wrote for Following The Cipher and that song stands out compared to the other tracks on the album because at that time we hadn’t developed our sound properly. And today we are much harder when “Winterfall”. We had different guys in the band before than current members. Also we took our time to develop our sound and we live in different parts of Sweden so we can’t see each other every day so we have we have to plan when we create and record the music. Is why it took four years to record the album and actually it took a year to record the album and pre-recorded the album before that.

IMM: So it took time to get it together and send it to the label to release it and have been performing during those years and have good following?

Ken: We only have done three shows actually.

IMM: Really?

Ken: Yeah, the first one was the Masters Of Rock at the Czech Republic, the second was with Sabaton Open Air 2017and the third was Falkenberg Rockfest at Sweden. So those are the only three shows we have ever done.

IMM: With debut album with two discs and the second disc has live recordings. It seems like you have done more shows.

Ken: You think so? That is a compliment, were thankful about that (Laughter), we’re actually really new to this.

IMM: It seems like you have been doing this for years.

Linda: Cool. Thank you.

Ken: Thank You.

IMM: With a debut album it’s not often or pretty much rare to have two discs. One a the studio recording and the other of live tracks. Was the decision on your part and the label’s to release that way?

Linda: I think we wanted this for sure.

Ken: I think the idea to record the live shows it was part of Sabaton’s idea to tell George the owner of Masters Of Rock Festival to record those guys. And they actually recorded the whole show of Masters Of Rock which is quite rare for a new comer band as us so that was really cool. Yeah we had things given to us and wouldn’t be here if not for our friends in Sabaton and everything like that. They helped us out a lot. They recommended us to Nuclear Blast records and these festivals are why everything happened so fast for us.


IMM: Of the 11 songs on the album, were there more songs written and these 11 chosen to be on the album or just these 11 songs?

Ken: We tried some stuff before but these are the only completed songs written by the band and all of them came to be on the album.

IMM: The last song on the album “Carolus Rex”, Is a Sabaton song which is the title of their album and reference to the Swedish kingdom from 1561 to 1721. You love the song and decided to cover it to tribute to Sabton’s version?

Linda: The question came up that would it be cool to do a cover? And the idea of doing a cover from Sabaton was great idea. Ken co-wrote the song and when I felt the song with the lyrics and as a vocalist I fell in love with it. I really love to sing this song. I think it was Markus Wosgien at Nuclear Blast who wanted to push this further to do this cover. And yeah, we like to play this song and to have it on the album.

Ken: I like to state this further that I haven’t been part of writing the lyrics for this song, only melodies and guitar riffs so we don’t sound that way (Laughter). As Linda said it was cool choice and I think Linda’s voice fits so well with this song and when we tried it out it felt so natural, and to put it on our album of our version of it.

IMM: You nailed it.

Ken: Cool and thank you.

Linda: Thank You (Laughter).

IMM: What stands out of the album is during the production/ mastering and recording of it is when the volume is on one it is loud enough.

Ken: It is quite explosive. That was part of the plan during the production.


IMM: Explain the song “Valkyria”?

Ken: Yeah, that was one of two songs that both me and the other guitarist Victor wrote for this album and “Starlight” that we put our life together on this one. It was a fun song to record and Linda was at my place in the studio in my basement. I usually write the soft melodic parts for the band and Victor writes the harder stuff more gentle stuff. This time I had a plan to write the harder stuff or starting point before hand. When it came to the chorus or to write the chorus, I gave Victor a call and said listen to this and what you think about this? He got so pumped up he drove his car straight to our studio and he wrote the melodic part, the chorus for this song. So is a funny story about that and that makes the song a little more special for Victor and I at least. We worked together and use our opposite strengths for this one.

IMM: For the video “The Rising” which was released two years ago. And you have these videos that and you feel you’re in neutral state because the album hasn’t been released. It felt frustrating?

Linda: In some way, yes of course and now if felt like it had to take time. It is now happening so fast and I don’t know if we made all the right decisions for this band to stand for.

Ken: I agree with you and also at that time and was quite early when that song was written so at that point the writing of the first song was to determine our sound more specifically I think. It was harder than “Winterfall” the first song. And we haven’t been stressing about it either and is part of the growing process and we needed it that way. We need to find our sound without the stress.

IMM: Who chose the name for the band? Its meaning is presents a dirty, rusty, lonesome, environment and a devastated future cause by humans. Realistically we part of it.

Ken: Yeah, that is main theme of the album and the name Following The Cipher is from a song I wrote back in 2003. I sat in my studio and tried some different techniques combing electronic stuff with metal. Pretty much like what we are doing right now. So I created the song with all the elements of the sound we have right now. I name the song the Following The Cipher and was in my trash can on my computer for many years and when we started this band it felt quite fitting I think. Because all the elements were there and Following The Cipher was bit nostalgic to take with us from here, so that is how the name came to be. We are writing a possible future that may or may not happen, that bit of a Sci-fi touch to it. A apocalyptic world that many people have done those many things. But this is our take view on it, our production and how we want to represent it visually and the album concept and one thing leads to another I guess.

IMM: What are the plans that are in a fluid motion for more performances?

Linda: We are going to do two shows this summer. One is Metal Fest at the Czech Republic on the second day. The other is Graspop at Belgium and those are the only shows we have booked and we will see, that we have some proposals from booking agencies.

Ken: We have some proposals to go on tour but we decided to wait a little bit because we want to see where this gets us. We are just releasing our first album on the 11th of May. If possible we like to take the best opportunity we can and dive into the first thing we can get in front of us. It be real to stay a little calm and is a big project to tour especially as a newcomer band with everything so expensive and we try to be really careful and selective about the tour. So we are trying to get this tour for fall or autumn. That is our mission at least.

IMM: Linda, who are your influences for singing?

Linda: I don’t have any influences for my singing just my artistic way. I totally love Lady Ga Ga, I love Alice Cooper. They are very theatrical on stage and I like that. So is more of the stage persons I have my influences. As for singing, I can’t think of anyone. It’s the energy in me that I want to work with. Actually at the beginning I didn’t want to be a singer I wanted to be a dancer. I went to dance classes in high school and when I wanted to start a band I want to be a guitar player or singing with the keyboard because I was t shy to sing in front  of people. When I had my band before Following The Cipher I was co-writing the music. And after a while I wanted to sing my own stuff so that’s why I started to sing and has been a developing process and I started to sing when I was very late I think. I was twenty one for the first time I did that and now I am turning thirty.

IMM: So for more shows, are focusing more locally at Sweden and looking at other parts of Europe you will take it on?

Ken: Our main goal is to start playing at different countries and small gigs at Sweden as well.  Our main goal is to go on a tour because what we have notice in this short period of time we got signed by Nuclear Blast there are a lot of people outside of Sweden that like our music and actually there more people in certain countries that are fans of Follow The Cipher than pure Swedes are and it would be better to play outside of Sweden I think and it be really cool to have some gigs here and see what people think of us here as well. Both would be a priority.

IMM: The album is coming out next month and you performed three shows, it doesn’t seem like you have performed three shows. It seems like the band has been performing for several years.

Linda: Thank you.

Ken: That’s good to hear actually, because most of us in the band don’t have much experience. Like Viktor and I, for example Viktor had played some gigs with his old band quite a while ago playing some little gigs.  And Linda you have been playing a little bit?

Linda: Yeah, it has been a break like for two years and I thought I lost it but maybe not (Laughter).

IMM: I can’t wait to hear what you have for the next album when you start working on songs for that.

Ken: We have some ideas already and have found our sound and this is still new to us and our compositions we have down. So for the next album we will have a clear picture on what on record to write instead to of trying to create the sound and develop it in some ways and I have plans for the second album.

IMM: Are there songs written for this album coming out that could be on the album or start from scratch?

Ken: For me it will be brand new and I have one little thing in my folder in Drop Box I like to try with Linda later on. A part from than that I want to write everything from scratch and I have a few ideas.  

Linda: I am so excited

IMM: Linda, do you have input as for the words?

 Linda: When I met Ken, he made all the music as he is the music maker and lyric writer and of course I can have input sometimes with some melodies and some words. It is Ken who makes the whole package into the final song. Viktor have already done the song and the lyrics and they send the songs to me so I can do it my place and they work a little bit different.

Ken: I always have to have Linda by my side when I write some vocals stuff and a great tool to be at the same place and try out some melodies. How dose Linda’s voice sound when we try this part and how it does sound if we try this part?  Is real fun and having a blast with the music.

IMM: Again this album starts at mach speed and good to talk to you and hope there will be more shows this year and see what happens for next year.

Linda: Thank you so much.

Ken: Thank you and we will keep going as hard as we can and see where it leads.

IMM: It never hurts to change up a tune here or there. It can be hard than drop it down to a lighter sound.

Ken: I like the variety personally. I think there needs to be some variation and if you want to listen to an album in a straight line I think there has to be some variety in there.  

IMM: It was good talking to you.

Linda: Thanks again.

Ken: Thank you very much and speaking with you.

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