We talked at length Jonas Wabeen , drummer of the Danish band THE SONIC DAWN for us unveil details of his upcoming album “ECLIPSE” which will be released via Heavy Psych Sounds on February 1; and interesting questions about the band. .
DenpaFuzz: Let’s start at the beginning, how Sonic Dawn born? Have you been in another musical project before?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : We formed The Sonic Dawn in late 2013. The three of us go back a long time. We’ve played in various groups growing up, both together and with others. The Sonic Dawn was born out of our curiosity about psychedelic sounds and a simple desire to jam out. As the name implies, we also see the music as a means to transcendence and change. That’s the group’s ultimate artistic ambition.
DenpaFuzz: In relationship to the songwriting aspect, there are band that need a break and they took some sort of spiritual retirement to write music. Others start to get the ideas and the firsts chords during their tours. How are you doing it?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :For us it has always been beneficial to get out of town and away from our everyday routines, to write or even record. Our last album, Into the Long Night, was written and recorded during a month’s isolation in a country house in the outskirts of Denmark, just the three of us. For our upcoming, third album, Eclipse, we have worked a lot on the song writing. We wrote three or four times as many songs as we could fit on an album, which happened both home in Copenhagen and during a couple of trips out of town.
DenpaFuzz: Following the thread, do all of you write the music? Or it is just one of you who writes the song? Could you tell us more about this process?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : It’s a very collaborative process, where we often all work on both music and lyrics, but an idea must come from somewhere of course. Sometimes from spontaneous jams, which we often get into, or if someone has a clear vision, the others will listen. Usually the music comes first and then the lyrics, but the words most often end up playing into the meaning of the music in new ways, so you change the whole thing a bit.
DenpaFuzz: In which style do you frame yourselves? What do you’ll tell to someone who never had listened any of your records? In Eclipse, what had change from your previous records?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : I sometimes describe it as melodic, kind of sixties inspired rock music. In more specific terms, we say psychedelic rock. To some people the label ‘psychedelic’ is confusing and hard to grasp, but the same goes for the psychedelic experience that inspired the term. To us, it’s a style of rock with roots in what 13th Floor Elevators, Love and others pioneered long ago, which can put the listener into a completely other kind of headspace. On Eclipse we try to do that more effectively than we have previously done. Instead of taking the listener through long passages and extensive solos, to make them forget where they are, we try to get straight to it. Songs like No Chaser and On the Edge of Our Time aim to place you directly in the trip, no warning given. I would say that the new songs are more straightforward and to the point, a bit shorter too, but at the same time, Eclipse holds some of the trippiest moments we’ve recorded.
DenpaFuzz: Your music has always been tied to psychedelic movement of the 60’s, closer to pop and West Coast sounds. There is any band that had especially influenced your music? Do you put your eyes in any past musician when you create your songs?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :We’re definitely interested in the psychedelic sound of the sixties. That decade was an explosion of creativity we still hear the echoes of. Sadly, you could say. We try to stand on the shoulders of that and reach beyond for something new.
Our song writing is probably more inspired by The Beatles than anyone else, but some of our favorite psychedelic groups are The United States of America, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett and of course 13th Floor Elevators. We listen to many other genres too.
DenpaFuzz: To the Spanish speaking audience, just for the language used, is hard to figure what are your songs talking about. Rock music, at its beginnings, had some social themes in the lyrics. Having in mind that, at least from my point of view, your music draws a lot of inspiration from those times. What are your motivations to write the lyrics? What are the songs talking about?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :On our new album, a lot of it is about the end. In our time there’s a quite developed idea that we are headed towards the end of mankind, with the impending climate crisis, the threat of nuclear war and so on. To not believe in a future is almost paradoxical for any civilization. Instead of sinking into apathy or depression, we need to envision a better future if we want to build one. That’s more or less what the first album single, Forever 1969, is about. Revolts happen, you know. In other songs, such as Circle of Things and The World Moves Slow, it’s a more personal perspective on the end of things. Everything must come to a close, naturally, but dealing with it can be difficult, as everyone knows. Eclipse is in many ways the most intimately personal record we’ve made.
DenpaFuzz: I’ve read in someplace that your music is getting compared with some phases from The Beatles, but updated to XXI Century, what do you think about these comparisons?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :We take that comparison as a great compliment. Nobody would ever confuse us with The Beatles, of course, but on an abstract level there are similarities in sound and song writing.
DenpaFuzz: I think that “Forever 1969” features Uffe Lorenzen, a huge music character born in Denmark in the last decades. Please, tell us the story about a song that evokes that summer of love at the end of the 60’s.
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben): Thank you! Well, Forever 1969 is more of a comment on our current time, than it is nostalgic. As history shows us, major change is possible, when people come together. It can happen in the most unlikely manner. Nobody knew Woodstock would be what it became, for instance. That happened in 1969, just like the biggest peace marches etc., even two years after the Summer of Love had turned into autumn and the hippie was declared dead. Could it happen today? What’s holding us back?
DenpaFuzz: From my point of view, in your records and songs, melodies have a huge importance, instead the heaviness and distorted sounds. Melancholy is floating in your songs. “On the Edge of our time” o “The stranger” could be an example. For those that haven’t listened yet ECLIPSE, what do they’ll find?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : We hope people will discover many different qualities in the album, depending on their background and current situation. To us, it’s a sincere album of psychedelic music that shouldn’t just appeal to the die hard psychedelia fans, but to anyone who will listen.
DenpaFuzz: I’ve noticed that you’ve included some vintage keyboard in some of your songs and, that I, personally, love. How do you bring theses sounds on stage?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :That’s correct. In the studio we were joined by our long-time friend, Errka Petersson, who we consider one of the very best rock organists in Europe. He was also involved in some of the song writing. A great privilege to work with such a talented musician, really. It does happen that he joins us live, but it’s only on special occasions, as he is based in Stockholm and we’re in Copenhagen. The live versions of many of our songs are more naked in a way, when we play as a trio, but that can be a great advantage too. The trio format can be the most powerful of all constellations, in my opinion. You notice everything. Everybody must be on point. No fillers. In the studio you usually need a bit more.
DenpaFuzz: Also, another thing that stroke me about Eclipse is the modulation in the vocal registers. There are songs, like “Forever”, in which these registers show up, with some falsetto parts. But, there are others, like “Opening night” in which the register changes completely. Even, it looks like a different person were singing. Is it just a feeling or is it a lot of hard work put on the voice?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :That’s just the way it comes out. Emil has a broad vocal register and will sing the song in the way that seems most natural.
DenpaFuzz: Both in “Opening night” and in “Circle of things”, your music gets a little bit folkier, like you were in a trip to late 60s California. Americana or West Coast sounds like in “On the edge of our time”. How a Danish 2018 band gets such influence?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :We wrote those three songs during a week’s stay in the Danish countryside, in the summer 2018. The atmosphere tends to rub off on the songs you write. That being said, we connect very much with the West Coast sound.
DenpaFuzz: What is the goal of The Sonic Dawn? Is there anything you haven’t done and you’ll like to do?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : So many things! It seems we will finally tour the United States, which is a dream of ours, for instance. Musically there is also many things left to be done. We’re quite content being an underground band, but it would be cool to reach broader crowds and make a larger impact… Turn some unsuspicious minds around so that they will never be the same.
DenpaFuzz: Again, on the new record, “Christiania” is the name of another song. An iconic place for a lot of people. Is this an homage? Guitar riff and an arrangement full of effects; Does it has a special reason?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : Yes, it’s like a defense for Christiania, which is currently being attacked from all sides. If the cops and politicians would leave these good people in peace, so they could use their energy constructively instead of defending their right to exist as an autonomous city community, the beauty of that place would be so obvious. Maybe that’s what the establishment is afraid of… People being inspired to take power over their own lives and organize in free communes. We stand with Christiania, against the cops and anyone trying to take advantage of the freetown.
DenpaFuzz: Also you have some jazzy moments in songs like “Towards the end”. What ties you to a such source of inspiration and creativity like Jazz?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : Hard to say. It’s not like we go ‘hey, let’s play some jazz,’ we just play in what ever way we feel will convey the song best. We’re not afraid of mixing styles.
DenpaFuzz: You’ve played a lot of times in shows for an audience more oriented to Stoner Rock. How do they receive you?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :Yes, we often play bills with heavier bands, like on our recent European tour with Brant Bjork. We’ve also shared the stage with Graveyard, Dead Meadow and groups like that. It usually works very well. Stoner and psychedelia complements each other, and on a festival or a club show with 2-3 bands, nobody really wants to hear the same sound over and over again, or you’ll lose concentration.
DenpaFuzz: You’ve been touring for a couple of weeks with Brant Bjork, a legend within the scene. How has been the experience?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : The tour was such a blast! What an honor to support a legend like that. Great audiences, very positive reception of us as the support and great parties. They’re lovely people and we got along very well. We look forward to coming back to many of those same cities on our album tour in early 2019!
DenpaFuzz: I see that you’ll stop touring at the end of this year, to resume it in February ‘19. Do you need a break? How are you coping with touring? I guess it is always hard. How is the band’s daily routine?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :We would tour constantly if possible. It’s what we love. 2019 will be our busiest year yet, touring Europe and abroad, and we just can’t wait. Of course it’s hard work, especially as a smaller band, but it’s a labor of love, so we really don’t complain.
DenpaFuzz: Where do you feel more comfortable, playing in a small venue or in a big festival?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) :We like both. They’re very different situations so you’ll have to adapt your setlist and performance accordingly. A small club can be crazy intense, with people right in your face, but larger crowds can summon a sort of magic where it feels like something significant is happening.
DenpaFuzz: Lastly, it will be a great pleasure to me (also for the translator) seeing you live in Madrid or in any other Spanish city. Will I have my wish soon or should I’ll have to travel across Europe to see you live?
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : Let’s make it happen! We played a string of shows in Spain in 2017 and would love to come back. Perhaps next fall. The same thing goes for Madrid as with every other city: If you want to see us where you live, spread the word to your friends and if you know somebody in a music venue, let them know about us too. That’s the way.
DenpaFuzz: It is a pleasure been able to chat with you Jonas. Thank for your time. If you like to share a couple of words with your Spanish fans, now it is the moment!
THE SONIC DAWN (Jonas Waaben) : Thanks a lot for supporting independent music. Without fans everyone would be stuck with what ever is trending on the radio (gasp!). We will be back in Spain eventually. Until then, take care, amigos!
Traducción: Omar Prieto