Alex Svenson (vocals, bass), Mattias Ruejas Jonson (guitars), Hugo Zombie (guitars) and Jonas Fransson (drums) from Then Comes Silence
Absolutely smashing Post Punk flame from Stockholm THEN COMES SILENCE just released a brilliant new single, ‘When You’re Gone’. It goes with a stunning video packed with symbols and thought-provoking traces. Brought to life in 2012 in Stockholm, the band has released numerous singles and four full albums so far, including the most recent, very well-received ‘Machine’ in 2020. Their music is an exquisite combination of soulful, touching lyrics and vibrant soundscapes - it’s a true gem amongst the new goth scene. Their new release as well as an ass-kicking show at Castle Party Festival gave me a perfect occasion to ask them a few questions. Not only about the new music, but also about a creative process, inspirations and live shows.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You just played a fantastic gig at Castle Party. From what I could see the welcome was very warm and so were the reactions after the show. It was the first gig that played for months. How did you feel being deprived of the possibility of live shows, promoting your music by playing concerts etc? And then finally being on stage with a living, breathing, screaming audience in front of you?
Mattias: It was fantastic to be able to perform in front of an audience again. A live show needs to have its audience or else the energy of the musicians gets lost in my opinion.
Alex: Strangely it felt like normal again. With “normal” I mean, for a band like us this is what we do, travel from place to place and play for a crowd. I thought I would be a bit stiff on stage and out of shape, but when the first chord hit, I felt “yes, let’s do this, we’re back again”.
Hugo: I love playing live so these last months really sucked. Playing in front of a living, breathing, screaming (and dancing) audience again, it kinda felt like the first time. It was amazing. In my opinion, the audience is the most important thing in a live show.
RoD: Many people treat festivals as a vent for their energy, they dress up, listen to music and run wild… they often let their other self-run free during such events. What are live shows for you personally?
Mattias: Live shows for me should be something else from how the music is on the records. I have always loved when the band / artist does something unique with their songs that is easier to feel through a live performance than a recorded album.
Alex: Especially when you play in a band like THEN COMES SILENCE, who is built on a classic Rock combo, two guitars, drum and bass it has to be one big part live or there’s no point. I really appreciate artists that go all the way on stage. Some might think it’s just posing, but isn’t that a part of this whole thing? I don’t want to go and see some boring dudes and ladies on a stage just standing there without making something extraordinary. I can sit and watch my neighbours doing that on a regular day. I like the Goth and Dark scene because people put an effort to it, both audience and artists.
Hugo: People should run wild as much as possible, and festivals where you are surrounded by people like you it’s a great chance to do that. For me, the stage is where I can let my other self-run free.
Jonas: I’m one of those who always looks the same, I’m my style, my style is me. But sometimes ofc you raise the bar with extra makeup or dying your hair or whatnot. I fully understand that this is not for everyone and some prefer to look more “normal” at work and ordinary life. I don’t care how, or why, other people do their thing, but I always appreciate it as long as it’s not boring or because it is what people think is expected of you.
RoD: I know there is Prague Gothic Treffen scheduled for you at the end of August (really looking forward to it!) - are there any other live shows we will have a chance to see you at this year?
Mattias: We have some shows booked this year, one is a festival in Meschede “Live Am See” which sounds really promising. Just hoping this pandemic will vanish so we can get out performing again.
RoD: Back in May, you experimented with live stream performance. What’s your opinion about such undertakings? Was it enforced by a pandemic or you’re thinking it might become an alternative for the live shows in the future?
Hugo: We did four live stream shows during these months. They were great, I had a lot of fun, but... something is missing without the audience. The “magic” is missing. We kinda had to do that because we just released an album in March 2020, when the world entered lockdown, so we had to promote it some way and keep it alive. So yes, it was forced by the pandemic and I hope that from now on we will be allowed to tour and play live again, and we don’t have to do live streams anymore.
Alex: To be honest I didn’t like it at all, but we had to do it to be pro-active and promote the new album ‘Machine’. I didn’t enjoy that we had to be “TV producers”, “broadcasting engineers” and artists at the same time. Sure, we had people doing it for us, but it’s still a production ordered and financed by the band and we were responsible for the whole thing. In September we did two small live stream gigs, two days in a row in our new practice space with ten people in the room. That was quite joyful actually. Much better than a regular live stream.
Mattias: I believe that people need to experience a live show in the flesh, not through screens or other media.
RoD: During the stream show, you were accompanied by Karolina Engdahl from TRUE MOON and Nicklas Stenemo from KITE. Are you planning any other collaborations with, perhaps, another artist in the future? Is there anyone you’d particularly want to co-operate with?
Jonas: Definitely! It’s so fun and interesting with collabs and we will continue to do it. We have some wishes and plans but I can’t tell you more about it.
Mattias: There is a bunch of artists I would love to cooperate with, and too be able to do something unique with.
Alex: There’s always talk about something like that. Both live and on recordings.
RoD: Change of subject now - when it comes to writing music –-what’s your approach? Do you need an isolated, silent place to be one on one with your ideas for lyrics or music or on the contrary - you get ideas from everyday events, people you meet, books, movies you watch? Is Stockholm an inspiring place in this respect?
Alex: To me, there are no such things like a silent space or a special moment where I find time to write a song. I write music all the time, I even wrote a song in my dreams, the song ‘The Rest Will Follow’. I collect the words in my “Book of Lyrics” and I have guitars laying around at home and other places so I can pick them up when I have something popping up in my head. It’s true that movies, music and books give you ideas. You have to be observant to move on with your music and art. I watch other people, what they say, write and do. That’s a big influence too.
Mattias: Alex brings it to the rehearsal space where we all work out all the parts of each song until it fits everyone’s playing style.
RoD: Is change a natural course for a band’s development? Change in style, line-up, labels, worldview, approach to music making? There have definitely been a lot of changes in your case since you started in 2012 - how have they influenced you as artists or people?
Alex: Change is good for you and it’s also inevitable. If you want to stay creative you have to pick up new influences on the way. Without change we would have stayed in pre-stone age and collected muzzles on a shore somewhere. Regarding labels and other partners, that’s what happens in music business. Labels have new owners with other plans, people quit and move to other companies etc. That’s why we have moved around from different labels. About the bands line-up, well like dear Lemmy once quoted “If you think you’re too old to rock ‘n’ roll, then you’re too old to rock ‘n’ roll”. Some former members couldn’t keep pace with the band and had to leave. Some lost the inspiration and chose 9 to 5 instead. You have to be a bit crazy to keep on playing in a band. Especially nowadays, when it’s really hard to make a living of it.
Jonas: It’s a controversial subject. Some hates when bands change too much, other see it as progression. When I listen to new music of artists I know, I want to recognize and feel the thing that made me like them in the first place. As a musician, you don’t want to repeat yourself too much, but you still want to hold on to what makes you you. It’s a balancing act for sure.
RoD: Again, a change of subject - the new single is quite impressive, it signals a further change to your music style - how would you say your inspirations and music taste translates to every subsequent release? Do you think it’s improvisation, ad hoc change or rather a process you undergo as artists?
Alex: Over the years playing in bands, we have been sucking in what’s going on around us. We are always interested to hear what other artists come up with. Hopefully it will be useful and give us a push forward. It doesn’t have to be in the dark scene. We listen to everything.
RoD: Do you think music or, should I say, art, in general, should be ideologically involved? ‘In your name’ (the song and the video) are not your most recent releases but they seem to be as actual as ever. Would you say you are engaged in any particular idea? Are there any matters especially close to you that you decide to speak about through your art?
Jonas: It doesn’t have to be, but mostly it is whether you like it or not. We are persons with thoughts, ideas and political standings. Like everyone else. Of course, that sometimes shows in what you are doing, but no we're not a political band... We are political persons playing in a band.
Alex: We think it’s unsound not to act if there’s something wrong in this world. People must keep paying attention. Sure, by nature the majority of people need to feel needed, feel that we have a purpose and being important. This is what others use to gain popularity, but never lower the guard and let populists and demagogues darken your heart and chop your head off.
RoD: ‘Machine’, the album ‘In your name’ comes from, was released in 2020. Even though it’s smashing material I could imagine it was quite difficult to promote it during that particular year What was the pandemic experience like for you?
Mattias: It was something different to do a promo for an album without live shows. We did the live streams and a lot of music videos to accompany the album to help with the promo but we still miss doing live shows where we can showcase the album live.
Alex: We got some extra funding from the labels to make more videos.
RoD: ‘When You’re Gone’ (released on 25th of June 2021) in comparison to your previous releases is, I’d say, even more insightful and personal, and musically - vibrant and rich in musical layers. It’s a truly exceptional song. What inspired it?
Alex: I had a real down during that time. A depressive period probably. I think it was related to my father’s passing. I didn’t have time to mourn and miss him properly the first years he was gone. So much work to do around his estate since he lived on the other side of the world. I pushed everything back to work things out and finally it hit me right in the face. It always does at some point.
RoD: The song goes with a fine video. It is said to be the DIY thing - what was the work on it like? Who came up with the whole idea and symbols?
Jonas: We decided to make this one ourselves, and as always it is Alex who is the creative leader. He had a lot of ideas for this one but we didn’t know how to bind it all together until we started filming. It did come naturally as soon we started filming. Me and Alex work really well together with this kind of stuff.
RoD: Slowly rolling to an end: can we expect the new album to follow the single? What THEN COMES SILENCE are cooking for the fans?
Mattias: I don’t really know how much I can say or not say but THEN COMES SILENCE is always cooking something for the fans.
Alex: Yes, we hope we can surprise everyone with a nice musical buffet this fall. Legal stuff needs to be sorted out first.
RoD: And one last question: what making music is for you personally? What gives you the energy, the drive to keep on being creative apart from your art?
Jonas: I don’t know much. But I do know I want this, a music career together with my friends. I hope we can continue doing this as long as possible. So far so good.
Mattias: My drive is just to make people feel something, if people enjoy what I do, then I’m pleased with myself.
RoD: Thank you very much for your time!
Pictures by Jonas Franson