ENBOUND – Heartwork
December 4, 2016, a year ago
Swedish rockers Enbound create a highly-accessible blend of AOR and melodic rock/metal on its sophomore release, The Blackened Heart. Consisting of vocalist Lee Hunter, bassist Swede “Machine Gun Fingers” Odén, guitarist Marvin Flowberg and drummer Mike Cameron Force, Enbound possesses some mighty big talent. After a six year hiatus, Enbound is ready to unleash its brand new album, as bassist Swede “Machine Gun Fingers” Odén explains to BraveWords writer Kelley Simms.
BraveWords: Your 2011 debut album, And She Says Gold, was well-received by fans and critics alike. But why did it take six years to release your latest album, The Blackened Heart?
Swede: “The boring, and also private reasons has a bit to do with it. Some of us had other personal headaches that needed attention. That's sometimes just the way life is. Moving along, our main reason was that we really wanted to make the best record we could at this time, letting it take the time it demanded. We had around 60 drafts and demos to choose from and worked on the ones we saw most potential in. They became 15 or so, and then down to the 10 that you can bang yer head to today.”
BraveWords: What did you want to achieve on this album, or what did you want to do differently from your debut?
Swede: “Enbound's foundation keywords, or main idea, is heavy, groovy and melodic hard rock/metal, with an open mind to take in influences from anywhere. The open mind part might be true for most musicians and/or creative people, sure, but within Enbound at least, we have a deal — to always listen to what your mate has to say and understand the idea that's presented. But also always speak your own mind. It's mutual. In order to perceive and take in someone else's idea, you must listen with an open mind. Our sub-goal is to try making the best decisions for the particular song, how can the song's essence improve from this or that decision. And sonically, we wanted to step it up a notch and make a big improvement, which I think we did. I think we found now what we basically tried to do on And She Says Gold. It's a fatter, in your face, modern metal sound. It has more force, more push, but it is keeping the dynamics, and you can still distinguish what's going on in each instrument.
BraveWords: With a nickname like "Machine gun fingers," you’re smokin’ hot on the four strings! What’s your specialty on the bass and what’s your style?
Swede: “Thank you, that's very kind! I hope I'm humble, I want to be, because I consider myself quite behind my own idols, who are crazy technical for instance. At the same time, it would be kind of sad if 20 years or so, and thousands of hours practicing and constantly looking for improvement didn't result in something with substance. But my style is quite aggressive, I play HARD on the strings. There's lots of adrenaline involved. Playing hard results in a tone with lots of attack. Playing like that also requires you to play each note equally hard to keep it consistent sounding, which is difficult. I've asked myself many times if I'm complicating things. But I do not get neither the feel or sound I'm looking for if I don't play this particular way. I would guess that makes out what one could say is my signature style of playing. Of course it feels nice being somewhat in the spotlight, but when I think of And She Says Gold or The Blackened Heart, what comes to my mind is what we achieved together in Enbound.”
BraveWords: Seems like Symphony X bassist Mike LePond guests on a million band’s albums! How did you get him to play on "Feed My Flame"?
Swede: “Our Mike (Cameron Force) just reached out to Mike LePond and a deal was reached. There were no problems to solve to make it happen really, and the contact we had was great! He was our first pick so we were really glad he wanted to contribute. During our demoing of “Feel My Flame,” we soon figured that we needed something special. And at least not to our knowledge, we had never heard of two consecutive bass solos by two different performers like this, on an ordinary album track. It was a fun idea that worked really well we think. The rest of the song was basically already the way you hear it. We sent him a backing track and he got free hands to do whatever and did a fantastic performance that really fit the song. When I first head it I was like, sh*t, what am I supposed to do now...? Besides what he did musically, it was very well performed and all notes were so articulate. I did normal bass backing on his part and he recorded one backing track for me too, on top of which I put some ideas together which became my solo part. It all was a blast. Thank you Mike for your contribution!”
BraveWords: I guess it’s true what your press release says about how Enbound can handle any angle of melodic metal. What was the songwriting process like, how does Enbound songs take shape?
Swede: “Thanks again! We all have played lots of different styles of music before and have many different artists we like to individually fetch inspiration from. I guess that effects the end result of ours, maybe pretty much even. Regarding the song writing, since we live in four different parts of Sweden, anyone presents a rough idea by sending it to the others, and pitch what the essentials of the song is thought-out to be. In this stage we listen a lot first, both to the material and what the writer has to say about it. New ideas comes to us on the way, someone does something interesting or something that put emphasis on something else and our brains just go nuts from there. And when a song feels ready and we are all happy, we record it one more time, but now for real.”
BraveWords: Heavier tracks such as "Holy Grail" and "Give Me Light" combine the right amount of melody and aggression. How did you go about constructing tracks to have that even balance?
Swede: “If I recall it correctly that was the intention and they both had it right from the start. Neither of these two had the purpose of being over the top aggressive, so you tell yourself to hold back what you think is the right amount. Marvin’s riffing on these songs are killer too. Top notch performances. And with parts like my somewhat small bass solo in "Give Me Light,” which makes you catch your breath again before letting loose once more for the ending — balances things out. We listen very much to other compositions too, to get inspiration. And we ask ourselves constantly, is this Enbound and is this what we are looking for? Maybe I'm making it sound too easy, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes I'm so frustrated when putting my bass back in the case I could smash it instead. Some days creativity is long gone or my fingers feel glued together.”
BraveWords: Of course you’re a power metal band, but I detect some strong AOR influence in your sound as well. Who would you cite as among your biggest influences?
Swede: “Yes there are AOR influences here and there. Within the band, it's Lee who is the biggest fan of AOR if we are particularly talking about that genre. And I know his influences are bands like Queen, Toto and Jellyfish. We have loads of different bands in common we like, but all have a bit different personal top favorites. This is very good I think. We can easily understand each other and relate to an idea or basically any song and band reference. And many times there are more than one song to reference too also. We are all four big time consumers of music. And being kind of specific if you'd like, Marvin is into jazz; Allan Holdsworth or saxophonists like renowned Swedish artist Sune Persson. Mike is the Iron Maiden and Metallica guy. And I turn to prog metal for my main inspiration. But I could sit here all day name dropping, to cover the preaching we've shared in Enbound about this or that band. We love music.”
BraveWords: Vocalist Lee Hunter has some powerful pipes. Did the band really begin to take shape after he joined? What avenues opened up for you musically?
Swede: “I agree, he surely knows how to sing. And for taking shape, no and yes. We started to record And She Says Gold without a singer. And songs like “Combined The Souls” had already taken direction towards what that album would be. I think we somewhere felt that our old sound, which was more classical metal sounding, more raw/naked with less background stuff going on and with more straight 16th notes for longer periods, just wasn't quite our thing. We kept the heaviness and groove but expanded into prog and symphony for instance. So in that sense "no". But as for "yes,” I think that we happened to find a singer that fit that path more than we expected. I don't know if something opened up in that sense, but maybe that sound was easier to settle for us with Lee on vocals.”
BraveWords: You’re not as well known in North America as you probably are in Europe or your native Sweden, but what do you think you need to do as a band to get a bigger name here and how would you plan to go about it?
Swede: “As of now my thoughts on that are that it might come a day when Enbound is quite known in the States. And if that happens, it happens and I'd be thankful and delighted about it. However, I personally want to make music I find joy in creating, then if that works in terms of becoming famous, that's a bonus. A big bonus absolutely but still a bonus. When thinking about Enbound's future, I am looking forward to continuing making music that is what I love to do. The feedback matters in its way, I'm very happy about it and I really appreciate it. It is a rush, yes. But that is not why I'm on this ride. The creative process is very rewarding for my soul. If we continue to write good music though, hopefully one thing will lead to another.”