Interview with Black Ink River

Interview with Daniel – Vocals

Interview by Rossy Maguire

Hey and thank you for taking the time to do this interview! To kick-off, what’s the meaning behind the band’s name Black Ink River?

Hi, thanks for having me. Well, there’s not really that much of a story behind it. Me and the drummer were thinking about what to call our studio project and we basically just threw words around until we had something that sounded cool. We have a river in our hometown that’s called Black river, Svartån in Swedish. It stuck and we still like it so there you have it.

Black Ink River was formed in 2016. How did you all meet?

Me and the drummer, Roger Johannessen, worked together at the time and  I heard he had his own recording studio. I had some songs that I wanted to record so I kind of forced my way in there making him play drums on my songs. I needed a guitar solo on one of the tracks that had a bit of a bluesy feel to it and he said he knew a guy. He invited Bosse Karlsson to the studio and recorded a really sick solo. I was blown away. At that point, I just thought to myself “we need to start a band”. Roger and I talked a lot about music and especially rock bands from the 70s and decided to write a few songs together. We asked Bosse to join our project and we ended up writing a whole album. Our debut album Headstrong was recorded but we wanted to jam these tunes as a band so we needed to find a bass player that was cool as hell and into this kind of music. A couple of months passed and one day Bosse came into the studio and said that he had heard of this dude that played bass in the heavy metal band Wolf that was really into our kind of music. Bosse tracked him down and sent him some of our songs and about two weeks later he came down to the studio. This mystery man with the bass was Anders Modd. We played a couple of the songs as a full band for the first time that day and it was so damn good, haha.

I remember texting Anders that night after our session begging him to join the band and he was like “hell yeah!”.

When did you first start getting into music and know that you wanted to join a band?

I was 14 years old and some of my friends from school had started a punk band and needed a singer. For some reason, they asked me. No one had ever heard me sing but I guess I had the right looks or something. We sounded terrible but had the time of our lives.

Have you been in bands previously to Black Ink River?

Yes. I was in a metal band called Grandexit from 2007-2014 but decided to leave when my wife got pregnant. This was a time when the band toured a lot and I had other priorities and I also wanted to do something different in music.

So you’re about to release your second full-length album “Through The Unknown” this month. What is the inspiration behind this album and how does it differ from the previous album “Headstrong”?

This is a concept album that explores existential philosophy and thoughts about life and death. The lyrics are basically a reflection of my inner fears and dark thoughts. When I’m Gone is a song about laying on your death bed with your last breaths in your lungs wondering what’s to come. Both frightening and beautiful at the same time.

This album we all wrote together as a band taking our time with every part of the songs and testing different ideas and approaches until it feels right. We really came together as a band and made this a team effort where everyone contributed. We also have some guest musicians on the organ on the majority of the songs. When I’m Gone is a duett with the amazing singer Chasmin Marquez.

The inspiration is everything from The Beatles to Black Sabbath, it’s hard to put a finger on specific sources of inspiration. I guess you can hear some Hendrix in Bosses guitar playing, some Sabbath I Anders way of making riffs and grooves, and Roger is a big AC/DC fan so it’s a mix of a lot of stuff. I think I draw some inspiration from bands like Graveyard and Blues Pills.

Adding to the previous question, where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics, whether that is for “Through The Unknown” or “Headstrong”?

This type of music comes naturally to us. Bosse has been playing this type of music since the 70s so it’s in his blood and when we get together trying out new riffs and ideas it always ends up sounding like Black Ink River and nothing else. That may sound like a cliché but that’s how it is. My inspiration when it comes to writing lyrics is the world from my point of view, humanity’s impact on our planet, religion, fear of dying, love, injustices in the world, and my own inner demons.

Is there a particular writing/recording procedure you like to follow, or do you just go with the flow to get the old creative juices flowing?

We always just go with the flow. As long as it feels right it is right. Being fortunate to have Rogers studio, where we recorded both Headstrong and Through The Unknown, we can just take it as it comes without having to worry about deadline or cost.

Who designed the awesome artwork for the new album and what was it like to work with them on this album?

Well, thank you. I did the artwork. It was awesome to work with me.

Do you have a favourite track/tracks from “Through The Unknown”?

My two favorite tracks are I Am Fire and When I’m Gone.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before, considering the band has backgrounds from death metal to bluesy rock?

I would describe the music as heavy riff oriented rock. Sometimes it’s pretty straight forward rock n roll and sometimes it’s a bit more psychedelic or jam. I think that if you like bands such as Mountain, Cream or Hendrix you would probably like what we do.

You guys are from Västerås, Sweden originally. What’s the music scene like there?

To tell you the truth Västerås have had better days. Now there are only one or two club scenes where you can catch a decent band once in a while but Stockholm is only one hour away and there are lots of great places to play or to see live bands there.

In addition, how has the Covid-19 pandemic affected yourself, the band, and/or Sweden?

We signed a booking deal last spring and the plan was to release the album in the fall of 2020 and then maybe go on a small tour and do some one-off shows but all of that was pushed forward. Now we’re releasing the album but we don’t know when we can do shows yet. We got creative and did some music videos and released 3 singles and did a live-streamed show.

Is there anywhere in the world you would like to play but haven’t yet? In addition, any bands you would like to play with?

I would like to play Red Rocks in Colorado and I would love to tour in Japan. If someone could put us together with Rival Sons or Deep Purple that would be great.

What genres of music do you like to listen to personally and are there any new/existing bands that have captured your attention and would recommend to your fans and readers?

I listen to a lot of rock and metal. I’ll give you one rock band and one metal band. Spidergawd is a rock band from Norway that has a unique sound. They have a guy on the saxophone that is really good. They sound like nothing else. The other band is Kvaen which is a one-man black metal band from the north of Sweden, atmospheric and beautiful but also really heavy and fast. Great stuff!

What would you say are the pros/cons of being in a band? Have these changed since the pandemic happened?

Being in a band our size means a lot of work to try and grow or even get noticed. There are so many good bands out there and everyone is fighting for a spot in a magazine or to get shows and so on. You always need to stay relevant and to create content for your fans so that they don’t forget you, especially now in the pandemic when you can’t do shows. Being in a serious band is a lot more than playing music.

Aside from creating music, is there anything you like to do for fun and/or as a hobby?

I love to be creative. I have a small video production company that is called Heavy Groove Media and I do full production music videos. I love filmmaking. I also love to travel.

Once Covid-19 finally settles, what are your plans for yourself and the band?

When this thing settles we will pick up where we left it with our booking agency and book some kick-ass rock shows. Play music and party like it’s 2019!

Thank you for your time and best of luck with the album’s release. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

See you soon, stay wild!