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Soapbox

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Late October Art For The Ears organized a message-board interview with Soapbox from Umeå in Sweden. This hardcore punk band released their first album A Divided Man earlier this year through Solid State Records. In cooperation with this label this message-board interview was set up and here are the results.

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Discography: Soapbox EP (1999), A Divided Man (2000, 2001). Available through: Solid State Records Structure Records & Sally Forth Records. Official website: Soapbox. Interview by: mpomusic, Daffie K, ZaoExInferis, Andy, BlueCollarKnight, Dftg7, XriveroflifeX.   Article work-out: mpo. Date: October 26-31st 2001.

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mpomusic: Soapbox is around for several years now. First, can you give an introduction to the band by mentioning some of the highlights?

Simon: We have been around since late '97 and we have released one EP on the Dutch label Sally Forth Records and one full length as a split release between Sally Forth and a Swedish label named Structure. The full length A Divided Man was also released in May this year by the American label Solid State Records! And I guess we can call all of those releases highlights for us as a band since we started out as a couple of friends wanting to try and make music that we all liked. Other highlights, such as live performances... In the summer of 2000 we did the European festival tour with Disciple Punks in Norway, PeaceDog in the Netherlands, Freakstock in Germany and finally Park in Sweden, and it was totally awesome. We met so many nice people and travelled a lot together with the semi-international band Glorybox and had lots of fun together!! Last May we did a couple of gigs in Netherlands and Belgium and had the opportunity to play with the legendary band Shelter and that was a blast for all of us!!

Daffie K: Maybe this is a question that you've heard a lot of times, but why the name Soapbox? Is it just for fun or does it have a special meaning?

Simon: From the very beginning when we started to play together, we played a cover of the song Soapbox (written by Blenderhead). We kinda liked the name and decided to keep it, looked up the meaning of it and liked that too... We want to get up on our "soapbox" and give voice to our opinions...

ZaoExInferis: What does it take to get a record label? For you guys did you have connections at all or what was the deal with you guys?

Simon: Send out your recordings to labels that you think might be interested. Play live, gain experience. We were fortunate enough to know some people in the business that were interested in putting us out. They gave us a lot of feedback from the very beginning and helped us out in many ways.

Andy: Hey do any of you guys have any favorite writers?

Simon: I cannot answer for all of us, but I can give you some names of writers that I enjoy reading. In no particular order...

CS Lewis.

The Narnia books are awesome, and can be read at any age. If you have not read them, make sure you do. Also try to get hold of his other books, the Pereleandra series is quite enjoyable but also his more "religious" books... Awesome writer.

Patrick Süskind

Author of three books as far as I know, but I don't have the English titles, but if it is translated directly from the Swedish title it is The Perfume...

RA Salvatore

Writes Fantasy books and has released about fifteen books on Forgotten Realms, but has also released more books outside Forgotten Realms that are all good.

Stephen Lawhead

Christian author that writes some fantasy books, but has also written five (or six, I'm not sure) books about the Arthurian Mythology, knights of the round table, king Arthur, all that stuff... Very good books. Get hold of the Songs Of Albion books and be ready to be swept away.

Right now I am reading Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and all I can say is that Disney is nowhere near as good as the original...Krister also reads a lot. His favorite writers are: Dostojevskij, Tolstoj, Gogol, Doglas Coupland, John Pilger.

mpomusic: You seem to like fantasy. What do you think of Tolkien's books?

Simon: I'm a bit ashamed that I forgot to mention Tolkien in my original answer... I love Tolkien and can't wait to see the movie... Fantasy is great, I love it a lot!!

mpomusic: From what I've heard the band's working on new recordings. What is it going to be, a full length or a 7"? And what kind of musical direction can we expect?

Simon: Yes, we have recorded six new songs that will be released on the Swedish label Structure on a 7"!!

BlueCollarKnight: Are you thinking about trying a different vocal style 'cause when I bought the Solid State release a few months ago the vocal style was horrible. Are you also thinking of easing up on the hollow guitar distortion?  I think you guys have the potential to be a great sounding band if you try harder...

Simon: The material on the full length had the sound that we wanted to put on it at that time (it's all a matter of taste I guess). When we started to work on new material we soon realized that we had the need of a second guitar player to make our songs more varied. So we contacted a friend of ours (Olof Johansson) and asked him if he wanted to join the band, so since mid-September, we count him as a full time member of Soapbox. Olof did not do any guitar on the new recordings, but he did some vocal parts well worth mentioning. On the recordings we have also taken some steps towards a more melodic singing, but we still have some hard-screaming parts.

mpomusic: What sort of musical background has Olof? Has he been playing in other bands and stuff?

Olof Johansson: My musical background is wide. I've always had a thing for the hard edge music but I've played in choirs, a little jazz, blues, rock etc. The latest project I was in was supposed to be kind of a hybrid between Living Sacrifice, Extol and Meshuggah (or more correct, these bands were big sources of inspiration) I haven't been playing in any band that has been around a lot. I've actually never been into punk rock, but I'm learning that from the other guys. I've known Simon, Pär and Andreas for some years and Krister since I joined Soapbox.

As a guitar player I think I will bring my way to play a harder edge to Soapbox. I really like the way Soapbox is taking their style and music right know. I have a Gibson Les Paul Studio (Actually, Pär's and my guitar look the same, but we don't use them exactly the same) and a Peavy 5150 amp. I Hope I soon have the possibility to come out and play live with Soapbox.

Dftg7: How about the Swedish scene? Is it stable? Are more bands added to the scene or do many fall away?

Simon: Well... there are not many Christian punk and hardcore bands: Us, Blindside and Selfmindead (yes, they do live in Norway, but are Swedes...) are around. There might be some new bands coming that we haven't heard of so we better leave the rebirth of the scene left unsaid... A band I would suggest you check out is Marygold, while not in the punk/hardcore scene they are good Emorock. The secular scene has had a down period but some of the old bands hang in there, and some new bands have seen the light...So I guess the scene is still alive, but maybe not as hard kicking as it used to be.

Dftg7: Well, then tell me about the movements in the scene of your genre...When was the scene at its top, and when/why did it fall back? I'm trying to form some idea of this, because it's very strange that this happens... so many die-hard fans giving up "their" music for a lot more softer pop/rock sound.

Simon: I guess I could say that the peak of the hard music scene here in Umeå took place from the early to mid nineties... It got a lot of spin off effects with a lot of bands starting to play and the scene was building, it was a very nice understanding between the different hard music scenes, such as hardcore, deathmetal, thrash etc. When and why people "gave" up is hard to say, but the scene is still alive and Umeå still has an interested audience...

XriveroflifeX: Do you have any plans concerning touring the U.S.A. in the next years?

Soapbox: Seriously... We really want to tour America, and we'll see whenever our plans come to life...

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