Soen Interview

Jeremy Saffer

Swedish progsters Soen just released their latest album Memorial. Guitarist Cody Ford gets us up to speed on the new record and other topics.

Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Memorial compared to past albums?
Cody Ford: Our last album, Imperial, was done during Covid and it really forced us to upgrade our equipment and knowledge of doing things remotely. In turn, our ability to share files and ideas and have great sounding demos has improved drastically. I spent a lot of time with Martin (Lopez, drums) in the summer hashing out ideas, and we worked while we were on the road as well. I think everyone felt involved and things were done far more efficiently.

Do you usually write more songs than you use for an album?
Always! Typically there are one-to-three songs that might not make it. It’s important to record more than you intend to release. There are always songs that don’t turn out as good as you hoped, or perhaps don’t fit the flow of an album. It’s important for us to put together the strongest album possible.

The recording process for Imperial was affected by the pandemic. Did you go back to your previous process for this one?
Our process since Imperial has changed. We can do all the guitars remotely, which saves us a ton of studio costs. It grants us the time to get things right and experiment as well. Martin and Joel (Ekeloff, vocals) do their parts in a studio and we put it all together in the end.

What was the biggest challenge in recording Memorial?
The biggest challenge was time. We’ve been very busy post-pandemic touring Europe, North America and Latin America. We really needed to look at the bigger picture and figure out when we could physically do this thing. In mid-December 2022, we finished our busy year of touring and had to get right to work on Memorial. We worked non-stop for the next two months and managed to get it done before getting back on the road.

How has your sound evolved from Imperial?
I think the main thing is that Joel always pushes himself to evolve each record. He takes his voice to new heights, whether it’s his range or technique. He worked hard to work on his raspier vocals, and they sound huge with the heavier songs on the record.

How much attention do you pay to reviews?
I pay attention to the good ones and pay no regard to the bad ones!

The album is being released on vinyl as well. Are you a collector?
I had started collecting probably a decade ago now. Nowadays not so much. The cost of living is a bit crazy right, now but I’m sure I’ll get back to it at some point!

What was the response to last year’s Atlantis?
Really good! It seemed to get glowing reviews. The shows have been really special as well. They’re more of a relaxed, intimate vibe and it results in a whole pallett of different reactions. We’ve really enjoyed that chapter.

Do you have any plans to record a “traditional” live album in front of an audience?
We did release a live show that we did in Chile recently. It was more of a streaming event and not an album, though. There aren’t any plans for that at the moment, but these things can change quickly!

With six albums under your belt, how challenging is it to put together a setlist, and how much does it change from show to show on a tour?
Very hard! There’s a lot of hits you need to include. There’s always the new album you need to promote. And it’s important we actually enjoy playing the songs we want to play live. We try our best to cater to everyone.

How was the band’s North American tour last year, and are there plans for another tour here this album cycle?
It exceeded expectations! Great turnouts, great VIP experiences, and just lovely people. We’ll be back in 2024 for sure.

Touring can be a grind, but after being unable to play shows during the pandemic, did that change your perspective once you were able to return?
The pandemic was depressing for us, for sure. Having your livelihood taken away, your sense of purpose and your passion. We were so thankful to get back to touring. But like most things, it’s about balance. Too much touring can be unhealthy. We try to keep that balance for our sanity!

You’ve been a guitar teacher for a long time. How did you first get into it, and what is your favorite part of teaching?
When you feel really passionate about what you’re doing it’s a natural inclination to want to teach it! I really enjoy it. I love watching people grow and get excited about guitar and music. I have some students in that 14-year-old range, which is the age I started playing. It’s cool to see myself in them. That light in their eyes when they learn a new lick or technique. It doesn’t feel like work, and that’s a beautiful thing.

What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
I’m a soccer fan. I grew up playing it and played competitively until I gave that up for music. I’m Canadian, so naturally I’m a hockey fan as well. Lately I’ve been more interested in learning different languages, which is just a product of touring and being exposed to them a lot more. I love working out and yoga – necessities for a healthy touring life. Cooking, hanging out at the cottage, board/card games, golf, and traveling are some others!

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Red Rose, Katla, and I know I’m late to the party for this one, but Game of Thrones!

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Sleep Token, Deftones, Loathe, Radiohead, Def Leppard, Children of Bodom, Khruangbin, Slowdive, Mogwai, Anathema, Jeff Buckley…the list goes on.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Just excited to see you all for some more memorable nights on the road!

(interview published September 1, 2023)

Watch Soen – “Unbreakable” Video


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