Did you feel under pressure to maintain that level of success?
“Success is not something you can control. Even after [second album] Mother Earth in 2000, people were wondering whether we could keep it up. Every album has brought a different kind of success; it might be musically or it might be because more fans have discovered you. The only pressure we feel is about whether we still matter to the music scene. We want to make music that feels important to people. Music is essential to life, so being relevant to people is the only aim we have. It’s like a circle: you give, and you get back.”
What do you think caused the writer’s block you experienced in the build-up to last album Resist?
“At a certain age, things start happening for the second time in your life. When I was younger my grandparents died, and then as you get older more people leave you. It’s inevitable. It’s that circle of life. It causes you to stop and reflect on what’s important. The problems began when my father started getting ill. There was too much emotion and I couldn’t deal with it. For me, when there’s too much emotion I can’t write. I feel overwhelmed by it all. I need to be able to put it in a place, to know where it’s coming from and how to deal with it. Only then can I make music. I can’t do it when I’m right in the middle of it.”
Did the band come close to breaking up?
“In the beginning of that period, I didn’t know if we could come back. Eventually, it was that uncertainty about the future that enabled me to explore the emotions I was having. I was talking to everyone and realised it wasn’t just me going through it. Everyone was having trouble coming up with new music. Of course, we wanted to continue. Music and this band is my passion, but I realised that we had to change the balance. It also helped to realise that there were a lot of new things happening in music, and not just within our scene, so we took inspiration from those sources, too. My heart and roots are in metal and rock, but I like all kinds of music. The challenge was to interpret something that might be happening in pop into our own genre.”
How important was your 2018 solo project My Indigo in getting things moving again?
“It forced me to get out of my comfort zone. It made me look at music in different ways and get creative again. A lot of what I learned helped when it came to Resist. The song Firelight was originally written for My Indigo, for example, but we roughened it up a bit and it ended up on Resist, so it was a sort of bridge between the two. Writing rock music again came naturally afterwards, and that was a huge relief. When you’ve done a lot of intimate stuff, the heavier material then seems to come more easily.”