For any reader that might be new to The Unguided, can you introduce yourself, please?
Rich: Most people know part of the band, including myself, from the songwriters of Sonic Syndicate 2002 – 2010. I guess in The Unguided we kind of continued and developed the sound that we started in our old band. Soon 4 albums deep into this band, we’ve definitely defined ourselves anew.
The Unguided forms around the nucleus of yourself and your brother. Do you two have a close collaborative relationship, or is it more a case of “I write the lyrics, you handle the guitars”?
Rich: We have a close collaborative relationship when it comes to running the company behind The Unguided, but when it comes to writing the songs we have different responsibilities. My brother is pretty uninterested in lyrics and vocal arrangements and I’m not too impressed by guitars in general, so it came pretty natural (*laughs*). Anyway the latest album have really been a team effort and everyone in the band have contributed a lot.
Talking of other band members, your new vocalist Jonathan Thorpenberg, has been in place since the end of last year. How is he settling in?
Rich: He’s settling mighty fine! We’ve spend a lot of time together since our first show with him during the summer of 2015 so we haven’t really been strangers to each other at all, he’s been an natural part of the band for a pretty long time now. Of course recording a new album and getting down and dirty in a studio for long periods is where you really get to know each so it’s been an interesting year with stellar results.
What was it about him that made you contact him when Roland left?
Rich: First I just heard about his guitar skills in a studio I was recording in and we needed a stand-in for Roland for a show, so it was an interesting trail to follow. First show with Jonathan he actually only replaced Roland as a guitarist and we had another guy filling in for the vocals. When we found out about his vocal skills as well; he became the natural replacement on shows for both when Roland was busy elsewhere. After a while we found ourselves spending more and more time with Jonathan when Roland was occupied with his job and private life, the replacement was more at our shows than the actual main person, so we figured we needed to overlook the situation. And that’s when Roland stepped down and Jonathan became a permanent member.
Nighttaker and Daybreaker are the first new songs without Roland Johansson. How are the fans taking to it?
Rich: Nighttaker, which was the music video became a symbol for the singer transition so it got a lot of attention. Eventually it became a great live number as well and according to Spotify it’s our most played song, so frankly it’s one of our most successful tracks since Phoenix Down from Hell Frost (2011) and that’s quite an achievement during a trying time as a singer change.
Presumably you’ve written some new material over the last few months – how is the new dynamic affecting the style?
Rich: We have material just waiting to be unleashed! And I’m sure you hate to hear this from bands, but this time around it’s true (*laughs*). This is the most dynamic album up to date from this band, we’ve utilized all the competence in the band to its fullest and it’s really a nice roller-coaster ride. I think the fans will love it! The first single; Legendary, was warmly welcomed.
When can we expect the new album?
Rich: The album will be out November 10th. You can already now enjoy the lyric video Legendary at YouTube.
Are we going to get a tour to go with it?
Rich: Does the bear poo in the forest? (*laughs*) Swedish expression for something that’s super obvious! Doesn’t translate too well… But yes, of course you’ll get a tour to go with this new baby.
This is going to read as a strange question if readers aren’t familiar with the artwork on your albums, but: World Of Warcraft or Old School D&D?
Rich: Both. I’m a huge D&D fan as well as I’m a huge Blizzard fan. With the artworks I’m trying to incorporate key happenings in the conceptual story of the albums and it’s obviously heavily inspired by sci-fi and fantasy, gaming and of course good old forgotten realms from Dungeons and Dragons.