Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Daniel Håkansson, the guitarist and male singer from Diablo Swing Orchestra. When a reviewer writes a review about a relatively unknown band he or she will try to compare the music with another band operating in more or less the same genre. You can say a lot of things about Diablo Swing Orchestra but they certainly do not sound like your average metal band. This is good because there are already enough copycats and faceless bands in this world. Diablo Swing Orchestra adds a new chapter in the long history of hard rock ‘n’ metal.
Before we start a question about the bio: most bands have a simple bio but Diablo Swing Orchestra has a nice fairy tale in the style of Hans Christian Andersen. Who wrote it?
I did… but I merely wrote what we found out. I really wish I could take credit by saying we made it all up. Would be a nice movie, don’t you think?
Nobody can accuse Diablo Swing Orchestra of being predictable. Where do you get the inspiration for the songs and the music?
It’s a bit different with this album and the last one where I wrote pretty much everything. Me and Pontus (guitar, vocals, FX) did most of the writing together on this one. But everyone was more involved in the arrangements/writing on this album. We learned a lot while recording the last album which came in handy when putting these songs on tape.
And how would you describe Diablo Swing Orchestra’s music?
A god description I read somewhere was : It sounds as if Danny Elfman collaborated with System of a down and got Maria Callas behind the microphone.
Did you always wanted to become a guitarist and singer?
No not really, I wasn’t that interested in music until I turned 16. But because of my upbringing and my mother was an aspiring opera singer I got it from an early age anyway. Guess it was bound to happen but I just had to figure it out myself.
How do you see yourself, as a guitar player that can sing or as a singer who also can play the guitar?
Well, I first and foremost see myself as a songwriter and the guitar is just the instrument I use. But I’m more of a guitarist than I singer. I wasn’t even supposed to sing in this band at all. If just happened since some verses/choruses didn’t fit Annlouice’s voice on the first album. But it turned out I worked great as a contrast so we have incorporated more male (not just mine) vocals on the new album.
What kind of guitars & amplifiers do you use?
We actually use custom made guitars from Henrik Jansson in Stockholm. When it comes to amps we both have Peavy amps.
To what kind of music and bands do you listen yourself?
Oh that’s a long list. To make it easier I’ll just write what I listen too at the moment: Kroke – Awesome Balkan folk band.
Was Diablo Swing Orchestra your first band and/or do have other bands right now?
This is the only band I’m playing in at the moment, I have played in other bands in the past but nothing serious really.
Is it easy to combine Diablo Swing Orchestra with your personal life?
Since it’s not my full time it does take up a lot of my free time but I’ll keep doing it as long as it’s fun. Even if no one would want to listen I’d still write songs.
What is the idea behind the name of the album?
We felt that the name sums up the feel and sound of all of the songs in a good way.
This is your second album. What have you done different compared to the debut album?
We came better prepared this time around and we had rehearsed the details in the arrangements. We had also done better pre-production recordings and prepared special klick tracks containing all the tempo shifts. Then of course we wrote better songs =)
Why did you choose the In Flames studio? (besides the fact it is located in Sweden)
He did a lot for the sound on the record. We had some ideas where we wanted to take the album and he picked up on them in a very good way and manage to turn into something even better.
Can you tell us something about the songs on the album?
If I am to say something general about all of them it would be that they are all more thought through in terms of arranging. We also had a lot of production ideas in the writing process. They may also come off as a little more weird than then songs on the debut at a first glance.
What is your favourite song on the album and why?
It kind of shifts from day to day but I’m really pleased with how “A Tap Dancer’s Dilemma” turned out.
How was the album received by the press and fans?
As it is to be expected the reactions have been mixed but the majority seems to think that we have taken a step forward with this record.
The cover art by Peter Bergting: who usually does book covers and graphic novels. Why did you / the band choose him for the artwork?
He did the cover for the first album as well and he’s a great artist and a friend of Andy.
What are the highlights for you with Diablo Swing Orchestra?
Two gigs I remember as being particularly awesome are the Summer Breeze 2008 and Mexico City 2009. That and of course recording and releasing our two albums.
And do you have any negative experiences in all those years with Diablo Swing Orchestra?
Nothing juicy but I guess waiting for flights, busses etc can be a drag sometimes.
What can we expect from Diablo Swing Orchestra in the future?
We’re working on new songs but taking our time, since the main goal at the moment is to play live. Would also be great to put out a video for one of the songs but we’ll see about the financials for that this time around.
And the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
No, I think you’ve covered most of it.