I was fortunate enough to get EVERGREY’S Henrik Danhage on Skype while he was down in Atlanta for ProgPower USA XVII. The band was having a listening party for their new album The Storm Within (out now, AFM Records), and he got on the line with me right after that. He was understandably excited and humbled at the same time, making for a great chat. Check it:
Amps: This new album The Storm Within just might be the best work you’ve done as a band. There are so many great tracks, seriously.
Did you just have eleven written, or did you have a bunch more and have to whittle it down?
Henrik: Thank you so much. We have a couple more ideas, but we usually just write the amount of songs we need for an album. That being said, we have a lot of riff ideas that never became songs. So we always have this hard drive full of music and snippets of songs. The trick is to find the songs that suit and make sense for an album. In that way we are very old school. We still listen to albums, you know? We still think the way we did when we were young. You got an album in your hand, and you listened to it in order. The order of songs is very important for the right vibe.
Amps: I’m so glad you said that. I feel the same way. It’s all about the journey, the hills and valleys of a record. How one song ends and the next one begins. I am fiercely anti-shuffle.
Henrik: I think as a music fan it’s kind of disrespectful for me when I buy an album to put the songs out of order, as if I could do a better job than the band did with the track listing. Those people recorded it and put their effort into it. They know why they put this song in the #3 position. Who the fuck are you to make a “better” playlist than the band? I would never play an album on shuffle, either.
Amps: The sequencing on The Storm Within…was that hard to do, or did it come pretty easily?
Henrik: Oh, it was hard. Everybody wants to make the best presentation of the album for our fans, so it’s a very constructive discussion for the band. Five guys who sometimes think very differently about what is the best song order.
We spent a lot of time arguing over the order (laughs). It wasn’t angry or upsetting, but we really, really sat down and discussed how to do it best.
Amps: You had your listening party earlier today. What did you hear from fans?
Henrik: They really liked it. Some of them loved it. I’m just feeling really humbled. Some fucking idiot spilled the beans a month ago and put the whole album up on the internet. That’s not cool at all. But the fans who were here today, they stayed away from that link, even though they knew of its existence. I understand they were really eager to hear it, but they waited till the listening party to hear it with us. That is respect. We sold a lot of albums today, and we’ll sell a lot more this weekend. These are hardcore metal fans. You don’t like a band for 20 years and then say when album number 10 comes around, “No, I’m not gonna buy this CD, I’ll just have it on Spotify.” That’s just not gonna happen, you know?
Amps: Have you seen anyone so far at PPUSA that really impressed you? Anyone you’re really looking forward to seeing this weekend?
Henrik: Man…you really got me now, Damian. In that case I’m really excited to see Per Nilsson (SCAR SYMMETRY guitarist). He’s a good friend of mine that I haven’t seen in a month now, so I really miss him. We’re gonna have a good drinking party! He’s a good friend and an amazing guitar player. But other than that, even though I play in EVERGREY, I’m not a big fan of some of this kind of music. I’m not a big prog metal fan, and I’m not a big fan of power metal, either. I’m more of a traditional dude. I like VAN HALEN, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST.
That being said, I was really surprised at DRAGONFORCE last night. I normally don’t like that stuff at all. I don’t like the power metal melodies, the style, the singing, but they put on a really, really good show! And I stayed a lot longer than I expected to.
I was really impressed, and I walked away like, “This was really cool!” even though it’s not my cup of tea. But they really delivered what they are selling and I respect that. It was fun, and they made my beer taste a little bit better!
Amps: The lyrics usually come from a very personal place with Tom (Englund). Does he ever hand them over to you and then you build a song around them? Or do you hammer the music out first?
Henrik: No, the lyrics are always done last. We have to set up the music structure first. How long that takes really depends, dude. Songs can take anywhere from two hours to two months to put together, depending on how eager we all are, determined, or how much luck you have that day, you know? It’s really hard to answer that question.
Amps: When you finish an album like this one do you spin it a few times, or do you put it down since you’ve lived with it for however long?
Henrik: Personally I have my narcissistic week where I listen to it all the time, and then I drop it. Because we’re gonna be playing a lot of these songs for a long, long time and I want to enjoy that. I don’t want to burn out on it, and keep it fresh. If I listen too much I won’t be able to be spontaneous when a fan asks me about things. For me it is very important to keep it fresh. I’ve had this album for six months so I’ve heard it a lot. But for me, I like to put it away and do different things.
Amps: What’s cooking with a tour?
Henrik: We’re doing Europe first, and then we’re gonna be back in North America in May.
Amps: You gotta come to Philly, or near Philly!
Henrik: (Laughing) New York City is only three hours away. What the fuck dude? Get your ass up there if we play!
Amps: TWO, not three, good sir!
Henrik: Oh, you’re heavy on the gas pedal (laughs)? Heavy right foot, eh?
Amps: No, the city is only two hours from me when I drive like a law-abiding citizen. Gear-wise, what is your current guitar and amp setup?
Henrik: I’ve been playing Charvel guitars for a couple of years. That’s my favorite brand and a guitar I dreamed of playing for years, watching Jake E. Lee, Vinnie Vincent, guys like that. I’m putting the final touches on a new custom model now, too. I’m using Bogner amps, which is a super-crazy Marshall on 11!
Reinhold Bogner lives in L.A. and he is the guy who saved Eddie Van Halen’s Plexi and the fact this guy’s working with EVERGREY is incredible. For me it’s Charvel, Bogner, Seymour Duncan pickups and a couple of pedals. I like to keep it simple.
Amps: What do you hope people take away from The Storm Within?
Henrik: I want them, and this is gonna sound bad but, I want them to feel empty…drained. I want them to either have a drink or a cup of coffee after and then push PLAY again. That’s what I want.
Amps: Any hobbies away from music?
Henrik: (Long pause)…ladies. It’s a fun hobby, it’s very demanding, it has its tolls. But it’s one of the best hobbies in the world. Women are amazing. That’s where I like to spend most of my time (laughs). I like to have a drink and a nice discussion.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans out there?
Henrik: Thanks for sticking by us and still believing in us. There are so many bands out there, so if you’re investing your time and money in EVERGREY we are very grateful for that. There is so much cool music out there nowadays and you can find so much great stuff. Knock yourself out and have a great time!
I don’t think I need to say anything else, do you? Pick up your copy of The Storm Within and be sure to catch EVERGREY on the road whether you’re here in the U.S. or some faraway land. I can’t wait to finally experience them live myself.
LIVE IMAGE: LENNN PHOTOGRAPHY