Six Dumb Questions with The Quill (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the quill

Time flies, and often in more than a single direction. 11 years ago, Swedish heavy rockers The Quill released In Triumph, what was then the victory lap around four prior successful classic-fueled blasts of rock and roll. The long-players Hooray! It’s a Deathtrip (2003), Voodoo Caravan (2002), Silver Haze (1999) and The Quill (1995) had established them as a powerhouse outfit in a crowded Swedish scene, with the megalungs of frontman Magnus Ekwall at the forefront over guitarist Christian Carlsson‘s riffing, given thrust and groove by bassist Roger Nilsson (who left in 2005) and drummer Jolle Atlagic to land in a place that was no less Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath than it was contemporary to countrymen outfits like Mustasch, Dozer or The Awesome Machine.

It would be another five years before The Quill followed-up In Triumph with 2011’s Full Circle (discussed here), and when they did it would be without either Ekwall or Nilsson in the band. Carlsson and Atlagic‘s songwriting was intact, but the energy of the group was different, and even as they came “full circle,” they were on uncharted ground. The then-topical Tiger Blood followed in 2013 with Nilsson back in the group alongside vocalist Magz Arnar making his second appearance, and now The Quill return to thethe quill born from fire Silver Haze-era lineup with Born from Fire — a completely over-the-top, righteously unmanageable 66 minutes that’s just as much at home in the Motörheaddy thrust of “Snake Charmer Woman” as in the Sabbathian roll of “Keep it Together” and “Unchain Yourself,” the stomping “Skull and Bones” or tripped-out psych passages like “Set Free Black Crow” or the harmonized apex of “Hollow of Your Hand.”

It’s too bad they already called a record Full Circle, because otherwise, Born from Fire would certainly be a candidate for the title. It’s 12-track stretch finds The Quill rejuvenated and in top form of craft and performance. For not having appeared on a Quill album in more than a decade, Ekwall hasn’t missed a beat in reassuming his former role, and with over 30 years of experience behind them since their first demo, the band delivers crisp, professional-grade heavy rock. For not one minute of the hour-plus release are they anymore lost than they want to be, and whether it’s the nestled-in chug of “Ghosthorse,” the bass-heavy ultra-fuzz of “The Spirit and the Spark,” the swaggering hook of opener “Stone Believer” or the atmospheric epilogue in closer “Metamorphosis,” that command of their approach remains absolute. Whether a given listener is familiar with past offerings or not, Born from Fire lands with a sense of purpose and personality that only straightforward heavy rock at its most done-right could possibly muster. It is a blueprint not just for the best-case-scenario of reuniting with former members, but for the renewal of spirit that reunion can bring about at its most successful.

In the interview below, Ekwall talks about coming back to The Quill after his prolonged absence, how the writing and recording of Born from Fire came together, the band’s intent toward capturing the vibe of their earlier work and much more.

Born from Fire is out Aug. 25 on Metalville Records. Please enjoy the premiere of “The Spirit and the Spark” and the following Six Dumb Questions:

The Quill, “The Spirit and the Spark” (track premiere)

Six Dumb Questions with The Quill

Tell me about coming back to The Quill after so long away. It’s been more than a decade since In Triumph was released. How did rejoining come about? How does it feel to work with the band again? 

Actually, I am really surprised how easy it was to come back. Very natural, no hard feelings. This was not a planned reunion. It just happened. The guys asked me to join them for a local gig playing a bunch of old KISS songs, and when we rehearsed for this, we tried out a few old Quill tunes, of course. Someone had a new riff and suddenly the first new song was written. I believe it was “Set Free Black Crow.”

We just took up from where we ended when Roger left the band back in 2005 or something, no problem. You know, we are living in a small village and we have met several times over these 10 years I have been away from The Quill. Christian and I became friends like 40 years ago. So everything is great and the most important thing is we made an album that we really love otherwise this would never have happened.

What was your time like in the studio? Tell me about arranging vocals for the songs and putting together lyrics for these tracks. How was it stepping back into doing that again? Did you have any specific goals in mind for what you wanted to do vocally or what you wanted to bring to the material this time around?

The album is recorded in two different sessions in a studio close to where we live. I personally like to record fast, a lot of the vocals are first takes, just the way I like it, to keep the feeling right. Lyric-wise, I decided early on to write about stuff that has happened in my life, like an Ekwall biography, to make it easier for me to sink my teeth into writing. They became rather dark in the end. You find a few songs about death and people close to me that have died, in cancer and so on. Some songs, for example “Hollow of Your Hand,” are about my own anxiety and fear of life itself. There is also a few simple rock ´n´ roll lyrics like “Snake Charmer Woman” and “Electrical Son.” During these years away from the band I have written and recorded loads of stuff with both other people and by myself so I never been out of the process. Writing and recording is just a natural process for me.

We decided early on to try and get the same feeling we had when we wrote and recorded the Silver Haze album; just having a laugh, an easygoing atmosphere. Start from zero and just write without any plan. And it turned out very well, the 12 songs on the album are the 12 songs we first wrote, so there is no old leftover material from back in the days, just new, fresh songs. I personally think it sounds a bit like the old, innocent Quill back in the late ‘90s.

Did you find going into Born from Fire that the writing process changed at all from when you were last in The Quill? What was the timing on your coming back and the album being written? How did the tracks come together?

No, nothing has changed at all. As I said before, this was not at all planned from the start we just happened to write some songs we really liked and when you have done that you normally record them and that was just what we did. When the first session was over we decided to go for it!

Writing process is almost the same for every song. Chris or Jolle has a riff, I come up with the melodies and later the lyrics, we kind of do it together in our rehearsal studio. It almost never happens that somebody turns up with a whole song.

The album kind of spaces out after “Hollow of Your Hand,” gets more atmospheric toward the finish. What was the process like putting together the tracklisting and was there something particular you were looking for in terms of the overall flow?

We had a bit of a hard time deciding if Born from Fire should be a double or a single record. But in the end we used all of the recorded tracks and I personally think it was a good decision. Now you get the whole picture and the variety of our music. I like the spaced out songs, always did, I just love the way bands freaked out in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Looking back on the Quill catalogue I really dig songs like “Until Earth is Bitter Gone” and “Man Posed.”

You have to try and find some flow in the tracklisting but you also have to consider the length of the tracks but we are pleased and I really hope our old and new fans love it as much as we do.

Would you say that part of the intention of Born from Fire is to capture a vibe similar to records like Voodoo Caravan and Silver Haze? More of a classic heavy rock sound? Or was it not something the band really thought about during the writing and recording?

As I said before we tried to get back into the mood we had circa Silver Haze, no worries on what a future label would think about what we do or how to present ourselves, just an honest an breathtaking album from our hearts. The songs we wrote are the songs you hear on the album, nothing added, nothing taken away.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

Well, it is great to be able to be a part of The Quill once again, a band I spent so many years in, building up and created great albums with. I really wish from my heart that the honesty in Born from Fire really shines through.

The Quill on Thee Facebooks

The Quill on Twitter

The Quill website

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Metalville Records on Twitter

Metalville Records website

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The Quill Announce Aug. 25 Release for Born from Fire

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the quill

Swedish heavy rockers The Quill parted ways with vocalist Magnus Ekwall following the release of their 2006 album, In Triumph, via SPV/Steamhammer, and it would be a full half-decade before their next outing arrived. That record, 2011’s Full Circle (discussed here), was released by Metalville Records and something of a reboot for the band, and saw founding drummer Jolle Atlagic and guitarist Christian Carlsson bring in bassist Hot Señor Rob and vocalist Magz Arnar to round out the four-piece.

The results stayed true to the classic roots of The Quill in ’70s and ’90s-style heavy, and they followed up with the then-topically-named Tiger Blood in 2013. Four years later, they’ve newly announced that their eighth full-length is titled Born from Fire and will be out next month as their third LP via Metalville, and that it reunites Carlsson and Atlagic with Ekwall and bassist Roger Nilsson, the latter of whom had been out of the band since 2005 after appearing on their 1995 self-titled debut, 1999’s Silver Haze, 2002’s Voodoo Caravan and 2003’s Hooray! It’s a Deathtrip.

While it’s Ekwall who makes the most powerful impression — dude is the kind of lead singer who can absolutely carry an entire song on his own if he needs to — all it takes is one listen to any of those records to know that The Quill in that era had a special dynamic. I haven’t heard any of the new material yet, but will definitely be interested to hear how Ekwall and Nilsson reintegrate into the process for Born from Fire, and in the meantime, I’ve included a stream of Voodoo Caravan at the bottom of this post, because whether you’re revisiting it or you’ve never heard it before, you should hear it.

Release announcement follows, as posted by the band. They’ve got preorders up through Amazon now:

the-quill-born-from-fire

BORN FROM FIRE – THE QUILL IS BACK!

The classic line-up who created the albums Silver Haze, Voodoo Caravan and Hooray! It’s A Deathtrip has reunited. Lead singer Magnus Ekwall (Ayreon) is back behind the mic together with the dynamic power of drummer Jolle Atlagic (Hanoi Rocks, Electric Boys, Firebird), guitarist Christian Carlsson and bassist Roger Nilsson (Spiritual Beggars, Firebird).

The legendary line-up has secretly recorded a smashing new album titled “BORN FROM FIRE”. The new masterpiece will be released August 25 by Metalville – formats include digital, cd and double vinyl in gatefold sleeve. First single with accompanying video will be released August 11th.

https://www.facebook.com/thequillsweden/
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http://www.thequill.se/
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The Quill, Voodoo Caravan (2001)

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The Quill Interview with Christian Carlsson: Back at the Beginning for the First Time

Posted in Features on August 9th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

They called the album Full Circle, but really, long-running Swedish rockers The Quill are charging boldly into new ground. Their first outing in half a decade and first for Metalville Records (Riotgod, Astral Doors), Full Circle also marks the debut of talented vocalist Magz Arnar (he of the pierced septum), who came aboard to replace the departed Magnus Ekwall. Since the release of In Triumph in 2006, drummer and founding member Jolle Atlagic had also joined Hanoi Rocks, so all around, The Quill coming back is something they’ve never had to do before.

You could call it “starting over,” and I don’t think you’d be wrong — that certainly seems to be what the band had in mind with the title Full Circle — but The Quill, apart from the lineup changes, also aren’t the same people they used to be. Family men with jobs and concerns outside the band, members can’t just get together and jam whenever they feel like it. They’ve had to streamline their songwriting process, tighten everything up to get the most out of what time they have. The result is that, as well structured as past efforts from the band have been, Full Circle might be the most of all in their six-album discography.

And while some of the “let’s jam this out” spontaneity of their earlier records has gone, the crispness of presentation and quality of songwriting on Full Circle are impossible to ignore. As such, with the chance to have a back and forth with guitarist/founder Christian Carlsson via email, it wasn’t so much the rebirth I wanted to learn about, but the forging ahead. It’s short compared to some of the interviews that get posted around here, but Carlsson was both accommodating and forthcoming in the interview about everything The Quill — which is rounded out by bassist Robert Triches — have been through since the days of In Triumph.

As always, the complete Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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audiObelisk EXCLUSIVE: Stream New The Quill Track Now

Posted in audiObelisk on June 20th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Set for release July 26 via the German imprint Metalville Records (Riotgod, Astral Doors), the new studio album from Swedish heavy rockers The Quill — dubbed Full Circle — marks the debut of headbanging four-piece’s new frontman, Magz Arnar. Arnar, who came aboard to replace Magnus Ekwall, had a sizable task ahead of him in carrying forward the signature wail that’s become so much a part of the band’s sound over the course of their five previous albums. One listen to the straightforward punch of Full Circle, and fans will know The Quill picked the right guy for the job.

To that end (the listening end), The Obelisk is happy to be able to premiere the title cut from Full Circle, which you can stream on the player below. It’s been five years since The Quill released a record, and though they’ve gone through one of the hardest changes a band can have to make, the song shows their rock is still as vibrant and direct as ever. Here’s the track, followed by The Quill‘s bio from Thee Facebooks:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The Quill is back! Four years after the most recent studio album the band is ready to once again spread its musical gospel. We are talking heavy rock firmly rooted in the ‘70s but vibrant and updated rather than retro.

With the touring cycle for [2006’s In Triumph] completed, in 2008, the band and singer Magnus Ekwall parted ways and The Quill was put on the backburner. Drummer Jolle Atlagic joined now defunct Finnish glam legends Hanoi Rocks – touring Europe and Japan in the process – and also did a stint in The Real McCoy band alongside Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett. Christian Carlsson (guitar) and Robert Triches (bass) also kept busy with other projects.

In early 2010, it was The Quill time again. Songs were written and Magz Arnar filled the vacant vocalist spot. It was a perfect match. The versatile singer has heaps of energy and a powerful voice that fits The Quill like a glove. Magz has the required range to sing the old stuff but also a rawness that the band was looking for.

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