We got a moment to talk with one of the most inspirational musicians in the death metal world. Here’s what he had to say about his past bands, his younger days and today’s music:
MPM: Please introduce yourself:
DAN SWANÖ: A 45 year old melodic rock fan that somehow ended up deeply involved in the death metal world 😉
MPM: Tell us about your start in the metal world:
DAN SWANÖ: I got my first doses of hard rock long before I could walk, or even talk.. My two older brothers made sure that bands like Judas Priest, Moxy, Kiss and Dust became a part of my first batch of musical DNA. Some years later, after being hooked on Kiss and then Judas Priest (Back then I was very monogamous with my fandom. I worshiped one band at a time, almost like a god) through the turn in the music of both these bands around 1982-1983, things became a bit more heavy metal than hard rock and I kinda liked that. I went through an intense Iron Maiden phase, but after a while I realized that I loved all about that band that wasn’t “the true” Iron Maiden. Songs like “Wasted Years”, “Stranger in a Strange Land” and the B-side “Reach Out” but also “Prodigal Son” and stuff like that. The tracks that wasn’t the typical same three chords+harmony stuff, and got bored with them after a while. When “Hly Diver” came out I took a liking to all things Dio and I also enjoyed Mercyful Fate a lot. One christmas I got a tape from my oldest brother with a compilation called “Hell Comes to Your House” in it. I had no idea which band played which song, and that is where I learned to love “Blood of my Enemies” for example. I liked some of the faster songs on that one, and also the weekly radio show Rock Box opened up my mind a bit to things harder than “Freewheel Burning”. In the summer of 1988 my taste in heavy metal seriously changed thanks to the arrival of “The Keeper 1” album from Helloween
that was a perfect bridging gap for me. And in the autumn of 88, a friend introduced me to Slayer’s South of Heaven album, and then I got hooked on the thrashier stuff, and before I knew it, I was a full-on speed/thrash metal, later death metal junkie….for a few years, until that became boring too 😉
MPM: How old were you when you got into the metal scene?
DAN SWANÖ: I started my first proper band Ghost and we had a few tracks that I would call heavy metal (“Demonernas Intrång” for example) and that was released in 1985, so that was my entry point. My first adventure in the more extreme sort of metal was with Brejn Dedd in the autumn of 1988. I have just remastered an extensive double CD/LP release of the work of this bands, set for release in the late fall by Soulseller! Check it out! Awesome thrash!
MPM: How did Edge of Sanity come to be?
DAN SWANÖ: Started as a one-off during a recording I did in November 1989 with a local Hardcore band called F.Z.Ö. and when their singer went home early, the other three guys started jamming on something a bit thrashier and before I knew it, I had added growls to it and we had formed a new project, that later became Edge of Sanity. But it wasn’t utill we became a five piece and started rehearsing on a regular basis that we really came into existence, and that was early 1990.
MPM: What made you want to start Edge of Sanity and what is the influence behind your work?
DAN SWANÖ: I had become more and more interested in growling vocals after hearing John Tardy on the first Obituary album and also Chuck was a big influence. I recorded some solo tracks under the name Mortify that had more of an early Sacrifice vibe to them, but with the EOS stuff I felt that we should combine the more brutal vocals of death metal with more thrashy tracks, and we did so for the first couple of demos, but once we heard the Entombed stuff we slowly metamorphosed into more a death metal band “with a twist.”
MPM: How did you come to working with Blackheim on Diabolical Masquerade?
DAN SWANÖ: Through our work with Katatonia. Anders and Jonas sent EOS a fan letter back in the day, and told me they also had a band and wanted to record in my studio..said and done, the duo arrived and we created the 1st Katatonia demo together and from them on, they recorded all their stuff with me and when Anders formed Diabolical M….I was his first choice for recording and mixing the stuff.
MPM: What got you into studio work?
DAN SWANÖ: My brother Dag always messed around with recording equipment and thankfully always documented all our rehearsals and random musical endeavors. So it was a natural thing for me to always document stuff and at a really young age, me and my friend Anders formed Ghost and recorded our own demos, and around 84-85 we got to record out stuff with Dag and that stuff have now been released on DLP and Cd by Bone Records..Check it out!! And the whole recording-thing just went on and before I knew it, we were recording ourselves with my brothers gear and getting OK results and then the 4 track porta studio turned into 8 channel, 16 channel, digital recording etc.
MPM: How many bands would you say you have worked with by now and which was your favorite?
DAN SWANÖ: I counted once and somewhere around 500 different bands, not including my own have been recorded or mixed or both by me since around 30 years back in time. I don’t really have a favorite, but I don’t think any other band that I worked with inspired me so much like Opeth did with their first album in 1994.
MPM: Out of all of your previous bands, what was your favorite moment or recording experience?
DAN SWANÖ: I haven’t had that many magical recording experiences. I don’t really like recording myself because I hear how much better I think I am in my head 😉 Cool moments in general…well…we were not there to pick it up, but winning a Zeppelin award for best metal band in Sweden 1994 was pretty epic. And even though we made complete fools of ourselves, you cannot deny that being on Headbangers Ball in 1993 wasn’t a milestone 😉 Nightingale’s gig in Cyprus, filmed by national TV was also a really cool one, as well as our gig at Rock hard festival (That is eternalized as a live album).
MPM: What bands influenced you?
DAN SWANÖ: There’s so many. But in the world of metal I would say that Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Candlemass, Voivod, Death (first 3 albums) Bolt Thrower, Pestilence (first album) all had a lot to do with the sounds of Edge of Sanity, Pan-Thy-Monium and also Witherscape. For Nightingale it’s more Sisters of Mercy, Rosetta Stone, The Mission, Slowdive (for the first album) then Foreigner, Gamma, Spocks Beard, Rush, Marillion that colored my material for the rest of the albums.
MPM: What was your favorite guest or session appearance you have done?
DAN SWANÖ: I think there are some really cool part on that second Star One album. There’s also some cool lines of vocals on Ghostorm’s second album. I think the song is called “Legend.”
MPM: What do you think of today’s metal scene? What bands do you like from today’s time?
DAN SWANÖ: I think it’s cool. Well, I am honestly not that much of a metal head, but I find the latest album from Judas Priest really cool, and Alter Bridge did a bunch of really good albums in their first years of existence, and Breaking Benjamin is also a good band. Then there’s a of course a lot of the bands I work with that I find awesome! None mentioned, none forgotten 😉
MPM: Any plans of an Edge of Sanity revival?
DAN SWANÖ: Nope. Not with me in the line-up any way.
MPM: What is your favorite song you have written and why?
DAN SWANÖ: Tough questions. I don’t think I have one. But there are some tracks that I was a part of creating that I find really cool, like pretty much every Unicorn track from our first years of existence.
MPM: Will there be a Crimson III?
DAN SWANÖ: Well, SPL released one already 😉 But from me…not a chance 😉
MPM: Any advice to upcoming metal musicians and bands?
DAN SWANÖ: Learn how to play properly in a stage setting. I stood up and played guitar the first time a few weeks for the first Nightingale gig and I was reduced to a beginner, and then the nerves, the sweat, the bad light, the bad air, the people talking during your soft passages etc. all that is best to get used to as early into your career as possible 😉
MPM: Anything planned for the future?
DAN SWANÖ: Not really. The death metal solo album I worked on died a natural death before it even began to materialize. My heart is not in it enough to make a full album of kick ass metal. A track here and there, like for Bloodbath, was fine, but a whole never. Doesn’t work… I will take a long break from writing and just mix stuff, and then we’ll see when the urge to create comes back. I rather release nothing than crap.
MPM: If there was a dream band you could play with, who would it be?
DAN SWANÖ: Tough one. I am not good enough on any instrument to replace any one in any of my favorite bands…so maybe I could join Marillion when they play Seasons End and play some additional D-50 on the background 😉
MPM: What do you think of Ghost BC getting confused with your old band from the 80s?
DAN SWANÖ: Awesome! It will surely help the sales of our Ghost release 🙂 I like the Ghost BC. I think “Ritual” is one of the better tracks written in the last 20 years.
MPM: Any last words for us all?
DAN SWANÖ: Thanks for your interest! check out our merch thing at swanomerch.com and follow me on instagram and like Unisound and Swano merch on facebook to be updated. also check danswano.com for lots of exclusive “there only” music!
Interview by Neil Andersen