Ola Englund may not be a household name, but he should be.
Ola Englund is the lead guitarist for Swedish metal band, The Haunted. This incredibly humble, yet talented guy has gone from a home studio music gear guru recording videos to share online, to being member of The Haunted. With the upcoming release of Exit Wounds (The Hauntedâ€™s eight studio adventure) in the USA on Sept 02, I reached out to him via email to chat with him about all things Ola!
NRR: Hello Ola.Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for National Rock Review. I really appreciate it.
Ola Englund: Thanks for having me man!
I basically stumbled upon you and your band FEARED when I read you were going to be the new guitarist with The Haunted. I checked out many of your videos and really loved the work you did with FEARED. I did a review of Vinter
when in came out for National Rock Review back in January of this year. I love that release! Iâ€™ve also heard some of the early releases from Exit Wounds. How would you contrast your work in The Haunted with FEARED?
Ola Englund: Feared is my personal baby, basically everything I enjoy about metal. Feared is more of a reflection of where I am at the moment. With that said with the haunted music is definitely on the same level for me. It comes super natural and is not easier or harder to work with compared to Feared.
NRR: In The Haunted, do you guys write the material together or is it a process of each member bringing riffs to the table to build a song?
Ola Englund: We usually start of at our own but end up with rough versions of the songs that we work together on if needed. We help each other with riffs if needed as well as criticize each others songs and riffs.
Itâ€™s good to have that last filter where someone is questioning something you think might be awesome. Forces us to think twice about everything.
NRR: What two songs from any of your bands (FEARED, The Haunted, Six Feet Under) are you most proud of your playing and song writing? Why do these stand out for you?
Ola Englund: If there is something Iâ€™m proud of as of late itâ€™s my own Solar project, because itâ€™s not in my comfort zone. Metal comes as easy as eating breakfast for me but when Iâ€™m writing for my Solar project I can let out everything in between the metal.
For Feared I would say the song Vinter is something Iâ€™m proud of because itâ€™s just a celebration for something cold and beautiful. Feared is a death metal band first and foremost but the song Vinter is the contrast that makes the band Feared what it is.
Ola Englund: For The Haunted I would say Kill the Lights because itâ€™s me writing a The Haunted song as a fan. It was the first song I wrote for them and itâ€™s more like a tribute for the haunted I love.
NRR: From following your adventures on Facebook you are traveling all over doing clinics for Randall and Washburn as well as a few shows with The Haunted. Can you share your tour plans for The Haunted? Will you guys be making it to the states? Most importantly, will you be coming to Michigan?
Ola Englund: For now we have a scandinavian tour and some stray gigs and festivals here and there, weâ€™re in a catch 22 since people havenâ€™t heard what the new haunted sounds like. We arenâ€™t planning on doing longer tours, we all have our own commitments, jobs and other bands. But with that said weâ€™re looking at options and will try our best to get around the world.
NRR: What one element of music do you enjoy most? By this I mean, is it the touring and performing? Is it the creative process of creating new music? Is it the physical act of playing an instrument? Or is it a combination or something else?
Ola Englund: Everything in portions is what makes it enjoyable. I love everything in the process of being an artist or in a band. From the creative writing part to the performing, to go out meet the people that supports you, to just be working with people as motivated as you and with the same vision. Itâ€™s all very rewarding.
NRR: What inspires you to keep making music?
Ola Englund: My family and my love for metal. To see if I can make a new album better than the last. Itâ€™s a competition against myself. People who sends me emails and messages thanking me for what Iâ€™ve done. They inspire me.
NRR: Are there future plans to make FEARED a touring band?
Ola Englund: If we ever reach the level where it makes sense that we tour. Right now we arenâ€™t on that level. I would rather see us do smaller festivals to start with. But seeing how Feared shirts keep popping up in the audience of shows I do with other bands, I know there might be a chance that we will receive a level where it makes sense.
NRR: Iâ€™ve read that you also plan to record some non-metal music. When do you plan to release that and how would you describe that music?
Ola Englund: As I mentioned earlier I already put out the demo of my non-metal project Solar earlier this year. I put it out for free cause I wasnâ€™t sure how people would react to it. Iâ€™m planning to do more whenever I get more time, but this is a project that needs time. So I donâ€™t want to give any estimates of when it will be done, but you can listen to the first part right now. The music is all the in-between melodies and Ideas that I have in my head. NOT metal.
NRR: What do you hope to convey to the listener through your music? (Do you want to just entertain? Inspire? Provoke a thought or emotion? Tell a story?)
Ola Englund: I just hope that people will enjoy the music I love making. Iâ€™m not out to make original music, I just do what I do, If Iâ€™m lucky someone will enjoy it.
NRR: Any bands you really want to tour with or just jam with at a gig?
Ola Englund: I would like to tour with some good friends if possible, like the guys in Meshuggah or something like that.Maybe testament. I would love to go up and play Cowboys From Hell or a Pantera song with Phil Anselmo.
Other than that I donâ€™t jam haha, Iâ€™m hard to work with.
NRR: Besides performing, what do you enjoy most about being on the road?
Ola Englund: I like to work when Iâ€™m on tour, write lyrics, songs or just do whatever I can to kill time. Fine with just sitting around doing nothing but I get sick of doing nothing in 5 minutes. I need stuff to do.
Ola Englund: Also meeting people that sound money to go watch you play can be very rewarding. I like to walk around and talk to people. When Iâ€™m at home I spend a lot of time in my home working all the time so itâ€™s nice to meet people that are on the same level as you.
NRR: Besides music, do you have any other creative outlets? Painting? Writing? Photography?
Ola Englund: Not really, I like photography but itâ€™s not something I do with love. But I consider everything around my job to be a creative outlet.
NRR: On a beer theme, what style of beer would you use to describe yourself as? Stout? Pislner? IPA?
Ola Englund: Iâ€™m a simple lager guy, I prefer having a casual beer. Stout, IPA are to heavy for me. The taste is good itâ€™s just that Iâ€™m not interested. Iâ€™m definitely not a connoisseur when it comes to beer. As long as itâ€™s cold, it will safely end up in my belly.
NRR: Thank you so very much Ola for taking the time to share your thoughts with your fans and our readers. Iâ€™m a huge fan and if you end up heading to Michigan on tour, let me know and Iâ€™ll buy you a beer!
Ola Englund: Thank you Chuck! Hope I can go to Michigan one day!
Following the interview, Ola did a clinic at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, IN to talk about his experiences with social media and showcase his signature line of Washburn Solar guitars.
The Sweetwater Sound headquarters is impressive. Not only do they have a large ecommerce operation to handle all of your musical needs, they have studios for lessons, a retail shop, and a full instrument and equipment service department. The real kicker is the 250-seat sound stage where they have a variety of free clinics with many big name musicians such as John Petrucci, Steve Morse, Chick Corea, and now Ola Englund.
Olaâ€™s workshop began with him jamming a couple of Feared tunes and then going into his personal history and how he ended up where he is today. His story is inspiring in that he was working as an accountant by day and spending his evenings developing his music and sharing his knowledge via YouTube and other forms of social media. His talent, determination, and positive can-do attitude lead to his developing a following of over 70,000 people with a combined 23 million views on YouTube. It was through this social networking that Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under and former Cannibal Corpse vocalist) offered Ola a job as guitarist in 2012. After a year of touring and recording an album with Six Feet Under, he was offered the lead guitarist spot in the The Haunted.
The workshop continued with Ola cranking out some of the new Haunted material off of Exit Wounds, as well as a tune off his new Solar project. He shared tips for getting your message out on social networks such as having great content, remember the people following your work, and â€œdonâ€™t be an asshole.â€ You have to love that tip, as life is too short to be a dick.
Ola then gave some information on his signature Washburn Solar 6 and 7 string guitars, which he played during the event. They feature an alder body, maple neck, and ebony fretboard with a dramatic double cutaway styling. The deluxe guitars include Seymour Duncan 59 neck and Alnico SH-14 bridge pickups. Another bonus feature on the deluxe model is the EverTune bridge.
After the workshop, everyone at the event received items signed by Ola, chatted with him a bit, and played the new Washburn guitars. While it was great to meet Ola, it was a special treat to jam on the new guitars. They play and sound great.
It was fantastic to see Ola Englund perform, hear his story, and get a chance to meet him. I will be eagerly awaiting my pre-ordered copy of Exit Wounds and looking forward to more great music from Ola Englund.
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