Interview: SIENA ROOT.

This 20th of March “THE SECRET OF OUR TIME”, the new album by SIENNA ROOT, will be released through MIG Records. Love, their drummer, and Samir, their bassist, tell us all the details about their new album, along with curious facts about the band.

A lot actually, we’ve constantly moved in a new direction musically although keepin our trade mark sound alive

DenpaFuzz: Twenty years since you founded the band and 16 since you released you first record “A New Day Dawning”, which established you as the pioneers in what has come to be labed as “Retro Rock”. After so much time, what had change within Siena Root?

Sam: A lot actually, we’ve constantly moved in a new direction musically although keepin our trade mark sound alive. We’ve worked with many different great musicians over the years and as of now Love and I are the only ones left from the new day dawning-era. We always try to develop and find new ways to be creative and not do the same stuff over and over again. If we succeed or not is of course in the eyes/ears of the beholders, our fans and listeners, but that’s at least what we aim for  J.

Love: Yes, that’s a lot of changes. Just like life itself, the band changes all the time. When we try to fight the changes, this is often when the problem starts. Changes is a natural thing. This new album will be a change to previous albums for example.

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DenpaFuzz: I think I’ve never said this to you, but you are one of the band that made me interested in new bands that led me to the creation of DenpaFuzz. After many years listening the good old 70’s rock classic, backed by the idea of “If I have the roots, why choose the fruits?” An enormous mistake. What would you say to these people like me that just keep on listening the same bands? How do you define you sound?

Sam: Wow cool, much obliged. Glad you tell us. Don’t know what to say actually, I did the same thing back then and that was the reason why I formed Siena Root together with Love. I was listening to the old stuff and had the idea that all the vibe was lacking in the contemporary music of the late 90s/early 2000s. Now it’s different, but I still believe that in order to know what’s going on you need to know your history, and that goes way beyond music.

Love: Thanks, we are very flattered to have inspired you. It’s important to know the roots to be able to appreciate the real good fruits.

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DenpaFuzz: You’ve been an open minded and curious band and more than 20 musicians have been in your ranks. What is the engine that keeps Siena Root together and looking forward?

Love: Sometimes I forget why I keep this slow train going. I guess, it’s fun as long as you keep a steady solid foundation of the band where your soul resides. It has to be fun, challenging and rewarding, and not too much focus on the business part. Siena Root has always been an underdog, or subculture, never mainstream.

Sam: I think the energy all the musicians we’ve worked with brings new blood into the mix and that is definitely a part of fueling the engine. But also this ongoing dream about making a really special album and being able to communicate the bands vision to the audience makes us looking forward. Being a member and even a founding member of this band makes it hard for me to see the band from the outside and it’s obviously impossible for me to know if the fans and the audience see the band as we do. We know some har core fans do J but how does the bigger audience see Siena Root?

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«…not too much focus on the business part. Siena Root has always been an underdog, or subculture, never mainstream».

DenpaFuzz: You’ve had several singers at different points in time. In fact, after the Samuel Björö left the band in 2017, I saw you live with Sanya. Lisa has been with you for more than a year. And, now, in the same record, you have two female singers; Zubaida and Lisa. How this idea was conceived? Will both of them in the upcoming shows?

Sam: We had always worked with Sanya on and off from time to time ever since the time she came back in for the Root Jam recordings/concerts so when Samuel left it was pretty natural to bring her on tour again. Lisa joined us as a guest for a tour and things worked out great so when we started writing some new stuff it was also a natural thing to ask her to join us for some of the writing sessions. We had known Zubaida for quite a while and knew she had a great voice so when we were about to record the new album we wanted to ask her to do some songs and the result was amazing so one thing led to the other so to speak. On the new album there are like 11 musicians featuring or so and I don’t think it’s gonna be possible to tour with all of them at the same time except for some special occasions but I think you can expect to see both Zubaida and Lisa with Siena Root in the future but not always on the same tour so to speak.

Love: Once again, it was changes and chance that showed us the door into the next album. We just had to open it and seize the moment. The two shows in Stockholm and Gothenburg will feature most of the people that play on the record. We call this the Siena Root delux. It will mainly be a smaller lineup with mostly Zubaida on vocals that will tour this spring, because of practical reasons.

DenpaFuzz: During the recording process of the recording of the new record you visited Colour Haze studio in Germany, where you recorded some of the songs. Moreover, Stepfan Koglek played the guitar in some songs. Did you planed it or it just happened that way?

Sam:  We’ve toured side by side with Colour Haze ever since the early days and our first tour of Europe and we’ve always been  in touch with Stefan from time to time. So we talked to him about his studio and the possibilities to do something there, one thing led to another and eventually we stopped by his studio this summer after some festival shows. We had a 2” tape in our hand and asked him to do some guitar work, it was great! 

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DenpaFuzz: I’m curious: that bus I’ve seen so many times in pictures and where you’ve recorded the video for “In the Fire”, what do you use it for? What’s the story behind it?

Sam: We use it for touring from time to time, it’s an old Scania from 1966 that I own together with some friends. We’ve had it on longer european tours and for festival weekends etc. It’s gonna get on the roads again this spring/summer. It’s a great piece of history, runs like nothing else, they just just don’t make things like they used to anymore. That bus has been to all over the globe, India, Africa you name it, I’m sure it’s gonna keep on runnin’ forever hahaha…

DenpaFuzz: You’ve had several collaborations from other musicians like KG West, that comes and goes from your recordings and live performances, Johan Borgström or Lisa Isaksson, what’s the role they play in the album and in the band? Will we see them playing at some point on the presentation tour?

Sam: You will definitely see Johan on tour, we work a lot with him nowadays and he brings a lot to the band. KG was a very important member of Siena Root and we always keep in touch. But he spends most of his time in India nowadays so it’s not likely that he’s gonna be on the road with us for any long tours or so but that doesn’t mean that he can’t show up for one offs from time to time but at the moment there are no such things planned.

Love: These excellent musicians will be performing with us when there is an opportunity and bring in more inspiration to the music. Johan Borgström will be touring fill time with the band this year, playing guitar.

DenpaFuzz: Regarding “The Secret of our Time”, you have created a concept album about human nature and its relationship between technology and artificial reality. What drove you to walk this way?

Love: This is a contemporary crossroads, where we stand today. It’s right now, right here we decide the kind of world we hand over to our children. Are we capable of thinking as a species, or only as 8 billion individuals? We are on a path towards  disunion, climate change and autonomous intelligent weapons. I think this is important stuff that concerns us more than we think, things that influence us more than those who used to hold the decisions up til now.

Sam: I guess it’s in our time, we are influenced with what’s going on in life and society at the moment and the relation between man and machine feels more relevant now than ever before I would say. But it wasn’t planned like “hey let’s write an album about this or that” it was more something that happened or grew stronger while the first pieces got written and came together. 

«For this album, each song was created in different ways. It is also a matter of production. We wanted to enhance the different vibe of each song, making a complete album».

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DenpaFuzz: The topic of the album has been an influence to showcase more prog and folk elements in the recordings?

Sam: Maybe… I like prog and folk but it wasn’t conscious from our part.

Love: Yes, maybe, but still it sounds like a good old root rock album.

DenpaFuzz: After listening the whole album, we can conclude that it has its roots in the blues and, to a lesser degree, in that vintage rock that has been characterising Siena Root all these years. Does Lisa’s register any special influence or it is that you just inspired more on blues than in hard rock for this record?

Sam: I can’t hear it that clearly, I guess I’m too involved in the album to hear it objectively. I like blues and I like hard rock but my answer remains the same as the previous question, it wasn’t conscious… We very rarely speak about let’s do this or that, we jam, write and see what comes out.

Love: Lisa has brought some sparking inspiration for sure, but we are many who listen to blues a lot.

DenpaFuzz: I know that the hard rock is in the album in songs like “In your head” or “When a fool wears the crown”, but, at the same time, I perceive a huge folk flavour in it. Do you compose the songs mixing different elements or each song has its own identity?

Love: For this album, each song was created in different ways. It is also a matter of production. We wanted to enhance the different vibe of each song, making a complete album.

Sam: A bit of both, in the beginning I think the songs have their identity (I hope they still do J), but when the smoke clears away and we start to see the complete album we always try to make it come together as a unity. 

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DenpaFuzz: Songs like “Siren song” has different stages in which the blues is in first place to share its predominance to retro-rock and to this organ sound that resembles more and more to Deep Purple, don’t you think? As far as I know, you’ve shared stage with them, how that experience was it like?

Sam: Playing with Deep Purple was great! In all respects it really was. It’s a band that’s been part of my life for a very long time musically and I think we are related to them somehow in a musical way that goes beyond being a band with organ. They were really nice people and one of the great moments was when we played our first song and look to the side of the stage we see the guys from Deep Purple diggin’ the show and filming the gig with their telephones. After we had enjoyed their show we were sitting backstage in our locker room and suddenly somebody knocks on the door, I open and in comes Ian Paice with a case of beer – Cheers guys, let’s celebrate! 

DenpaFuzz: For a long time, I’ve been holding the opinion that your songs have sections of force and rhythm and, at the same time, they have relaxed sections. This is the case with “Mender”, do you agree with me? How do you achieve such changes?

Sam: We always work the dynamics, when some sections are relaxed the heavy stuff comes across heavier. I remember very early on, when we formed the band, we said we’re always gonna be light AND shade not just heavy riffing. It was a joke but it lived with us until today.

Love: We describe our music as dynamic root rock. I think this is true also for this album. It is indeed dynamic, both in vibe and volume. We try to use the compressor with moderation.

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DenpaFuzz: “Final Stand”, the opening song, without rejecting classic rock, showcase some progressive elements that, somehow, soften the edges of the song. The good work at mixing & mastering results in an amazing song but, do you think this could lead listeners to think your sound had become softer, as it happened with other bands?

Sam: I don’t think so, but again I don’t really hear it that way haha. I think it’s heavier than our previous 2 albums but it’s gonna take me another few months before I can hear the album with fresh ears. When you work with writing, mixing and mastering you don’t hear anything after a while hahaha. That said, you are probably right but to me I think our fans wants the broad palette that Siena Root offers. 

«Playing with Deep Purple was great!… After we had enjoyed their show we were sitting backstage in our locker room and suddenly somebody knocks on the door, I open and in comes Ian Paice with a case of beer – Cheers guys, let’s celebrate! 

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DenpaFuzz: What is the role of Siena Root within the underground scene? I mean, which kind of people your music is addressed to?

Love: We leave no one out, all people are addressed and included in our music.

Sam: It’s for everybody! I don’t really know our role, we just do our thing, it’s probably easier for you and our beloved fans to determine our role.

DenpaFuzz: In the lasts songs of the album, like the wonderful and bucolic “Daughter of the Mountains” or “Have no Fear”, you led yourselves carried away by folk vibes, adding the sound of the sitar. Even more, in “Have no Fear” you sway towards progressive elements. This is, somehow, a counterpoint against the earlier songs. Is this part of the conceptual nature of the album?

Love: Yes, the hole album makes sense as it is composed. It is the complexity of the mankind, the diversity of nature. One riff or one beat is not enough to tell the whole story.

Sam: I don’t know what previous albums you refer to but both “Different Realities” (2009) and our debut “A New Day Dawning” (2004) have their fair share of prog and folk don’t you think? So in my mind it’s always been a big part of the Siena Root sound and also maybe the thing that separates us from the stoner bands and classic hard rock bands. 

DenpaFuzz: The work closes with “Imaginary Borders”. Here, I perceive a melting pot of the different elements present in the whole record. Different styles in the same song, with a west-coast influence and big progressive moments, as well as some retro riffs. Please, talk us a bit about this song… 

Sam: It’s one of my favorites on the album, I’m very happy with that one. The irony is that it was very quick for us to write… Melody came first, some jamming and finally we sat down with the lyrics and there it was.

DenpaFuzz: How do you expect the audience to receive this album? Do Siena Root have any goal to achieve?

Sam: We want to move forward and do new stuff musically, artistically and also touring wise, like tour places we haven’t played before. We want every concert to be unique, like we usually say we don’t wanna do the same songs over and over again, a lot of bands do that very convincingly but it’s not for us. We hope our fans, young and old, new fans and old fans, are gonna spin this album many many times!

Love: To know the impression is rather hard. I think we’ve managed a very good sound production and some very cool tunes. I hope that this will open doors to new audiences, in other parts of the world and music preferences.

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DenpaFuzz: Thanks a lot for your word and I expect listening live these new songs soon. Will you visit Spain? Good luck!

Sam: Thank you my friend! I really hope to see you soon and also hope to visit Spain very soon, nothing confirmed yet but we are working on it.

Translator: Omar Prieto

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