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The Grand and Mighty Refrains of Axenstar

The Grand and Mighty Refrains of Axenstar

The Grand and Mighty Refrains of Axenstar

Chapter VIII is the latest epic offering from the Swedish power metal ensemble Axenstar, now available worldwide via Inner Wound Recordings. This album, as the title suggests, marks the eighth chapter in the band’s prolific career, continuing their legacy of delivering high-octane metal anthems infused with melodic storytelling.  With activity dating back to the dawn of the new millennium, Axenstar continues to enrapture fans with their intensive auditory adventures.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed founding member Magnus Winterwild to find out more about the grand and mighty refrains of Axenstar!  Read on…

We’re here with Magnus from Axenstar. First of all, let’s go ahead and talk about the new album, Chapter VIII. Is there any overall story or concept behind the title?
No, not really. We have always had difficulties coming up with album titles. So, for this eighth one, we just thought, let’s call it Chapter VIII to get an easy album title.

Let’s talk about a few of the songs in Chapter VIII. Heavenly Symphony—what a great way to open the album! What’s the story behind that song?
I always try to write some songs that will connect with the old Axenstar, looking back on the first 2 albums and trying to capture the spirit of some of those songs and recreate the vibe. And Heavenly Symphony, I think I got the inspiration from thinking about those 2 albums with the intro, with the guitar and keyboards, like dueling and everything. It’s pretty much a standard power metal song. So, yeah. I just tried to come up with some lyrics that I think suit the song, so it was not more difficult than that.

Let’s talk about the recently released single, The Flame of Victory. Tell me a little about that one.
One of the guitarists, Jens Klovegård, wrote the music for that one. It’s a kind of groovy, mid-tempo song that I really liked from the start, actually, when he brought it to the rehearsal.  I had some medieval theme on it lyric-wise.

Your newest member, I believe, Pelle Åkerlind of Morgana Lefay. How did he become involved with Axenstar?
Our former drummer, Hampus Fasth, who was with us during the last release, wanted to do something else, so he started studying, and so on. So, he felt he didn’t have time with the band anymore. So, for a couple of years, we continued without a drummer. We thought, well, we should anyway write a new album. So, we won’t bother with finding a new drummer during that time. So, when we had the songs written and everything, we needed a drummer. So, a friend of ours knew Pelle. So, we got in contact with him and asked him if he wanted to record the drums for the upcoming album. And well, he said, “Yeah, sure. Send me the songs, and I’ll do it.” So, he’s a very easygoing and good guy. And it went really smoothly, I think.

Your guitarist, Joakim Jonsson, is also in Skyfire, and he, I believe, is the second longest-running member of Axenstar. I guess this is a two-part question. Is Skyfire still together today, and what do you think has made you and Joakim work so well together since 2005?
Well, Skyfire, I don’t know, actually. They’ve been on and off for forever. I don’t know if they’re rehearsing anything, but actually, he’s the drummer of a couple of other bands as well. So, he keeps busy.  I’ve known Joakim for a long time, and the first time he was actually involved in Axenstar was when we did the European tour in 2003 or 2004, when our original bass player was expecting their first child actually. So, we got Joakim to do the stand-in for the bass guitar. And then, when we needed a guitar player in 2005, we contacted him, and he was up for it. He’s also a very easygoing guy. No problem with anything there.

So, we worked fine together for all those years, maybe also because he’s involved in different bands as well.  If Axenstar is on a bit of a break or whatever, he always has something else to concentrate on. So, I guess that’s why we work so well together.

Would you like to tour in support of Chapter VIII?
Yeah, it would be really great to do a tour. I don’t know if we will be able to do it and so on because, well, it’s the money issue and everything’s got to work out. Also with Pelle, if he has other bands, everything needs to be working.

Has Axenstar ever played here in the States, or is that something you would like to do in the future days?
We have never been to the States. We’ve been close, I would say, a couple of times, coming over, but in the end, it’s always been something that hasn’t worked out. So, we would love to do it. Of course. I guess every metal band wants to go on a US tour in their career, but yeah. Let’s see what the future brings.

Far From Heaven is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Looking back on that album and the fact that it’s been 20 years, what do you think of that?  That was your second album I believe…
Yeah, it’s amazing. Far From Home is still one of the most known Axenstar albums, along with Blind Leading the Blind and all those songs. And during that period, I guess we had the chance; if we had maybe made some other decisions back then, maybe the band would have been bigger today. I don’t know. But, yeah, it was done and I’m really proud the band has been around for so long—actually, like 20 years—since the second album. It’s amazing.

You made a guest appearance on a Six Foot Six album in 2018. Qhat was it like working with them? And were you a fan of Falconer?
Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of Falconer. And we did the European tour back then, we were opening up for Falconer, actually. So, I got in contact with Kristoffer Göbel back then, who later on started Six Foot Six. So, it was an honor to be asked to do some guest vocals on his solo album.  I know they have actually released or will maybe release a new album, also, soon. I’ve have seen a couple of videos. So, yeah, Falconer has always been a big inspiration, and I’ve been a fan of them. Yeah, for sure.

Are you currently involved with any bands or projects outside of Axenstar?
Yeah, well, a couple, I would say. Me and my brother, Thomas, had a thrash band back in the day, in the ’90s. And we have, I don’t know, maybe 10 songs that we’ve re-recorded – well, it’s almost like 10 years ago now, I guess, and we thought that we would try to get it released somehow, but we haven’t finished those recordings. Actually, it would be nice. And then, me and some friends are maybe trying to start an AOR band more or less, but we’ll see about that. Nothing that I can reveal at the moment.

What do you think has kept you so passionate about Axenstar and metal since 2001?
I can’t imagine a life without playing metal or rock music in some way. And I always loved music. So, I feel like you need that outlet, if you understand what I mean. Get the energy out, and maybe just sing or play some instruments. It’s really relieving. And I think in times when you’re down or sad or something, it’s music that makes you, or at least make me, get back on my feet and feel better. For me, music has a very healing power.

Do you have any messages for Axenstar fans here in the US who’ve been following you for all this time?
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your long-term support, and I would really love to come over and do some shows for you guys in the future. It’s always very nice to read the comments on the videos and stuff from people from all over the world, especially the US, and we’d really love to come over and play for you.

Magnus Winterwild – Vocals, Bass
Jens Klovegård – Guitars
Joakim Jonsson – Guitars
Pelle Åkerlind – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Axenstar Official Home Page

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