World-renowned Swedish metal outfit Sister Sin called it a day in 2015. Undeterred, frontwoman Liv Jagrell formed a new band and began work on her debut solo album.
Throughout their thirteen-year career, Sister Sin sold thousands of records and toured the world on high-profile tours, supporting the likes of Slayer and King Diamond.
The band toured relentlessly for over a decade across Europe and North America garnering an intensely loyal following of rockers that craved the band’s aggressive and melodic brand of hard rock. When Sister Sin called it quits at the end of 2015, the group’s enigmatic lead vocalist Liv Jagrell knew that she had much more to offer the world and her fans. Subsequently, Liv headed into the studio with longtime Accept and U.D.O. member Stefan Kaufmann and U.D.O. bassist Fitty Wienhold who co-produced the record. The end result was Liv Sin’s debut solo record Follow Me.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Liv Jagrell at the O2 Academy Newcastle during Liv Sin’s tour with American Head Charge to talk about her new record, life on the road and her thoughts about the breakup of Sister Sin.
NRR: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us here at National Rock Review again, we really appreciate it.
Liv: Of course.
NRR: So you are currently out on tour across Europe in support of your new album Follow Me – you are out with American Head Charge. I was just wondering how have the shows been going so far?
Liv: It’s been going pretty good, especially here in the UK – it’s been good. You can tell that they have a following here in the UK, so it’s bigger audiences and it’s nice.
NRR: What would you say has been the highlight of the tour so far?
Liv: I think that yesterday was a pretty good show in Manchester, there was a good feeling in the audience.
NRR: Like I just mentioned, your new album Follow Me was released earlier this year. The record is a bit heavier than the albums that you’ve done with Sister Sin I would say. It’s definitely got a lot faster guitars and faster guitar riffs, would you say that was intentional to go heavier with this record?
Liv: Absolutely, because I’ve always been into more heavier music and more of the newer both death metal and black metal, but also like the more …what do you call it …you can’t call it Nu Metal, because In Flames has been forever, but still Arch Enemy, In Flames those kinds of bands. So I’ve always wanted to try to explore a little bit more towards that side.
Sister Sin was obviously a more rock and roll-ish band, so it didn’t suit so well to try and do it in Sister Sin. So when I was on my own, suddenly I decided I would try to change the music a little bit to that, but still, have some of the old elements from Sister Sin left because otherwise probably the fans would be maybe disappointed or like what is this? So I try to keep a little bit of that feeling and the ideas that we had in Sister Sin when we were doing melodies and stuff like that. So I try to keep that and push the music to be a little bit heavier.
NRR: The opening track from the album “The Fall”, that song really sets the scene for the rest of the record. Immediately it grabs your attention.
Liv: (laughing) That was the idea.
NRR: I was just wondering could you tell us a little bit about that song and the inspiration behind it?
Liv: Well yeah, the music is made by my guitar player Patrick, one of my guitar players and me. It was not the first song he sent me, he sent me two or three songs before …..but when I heard the riff to that I was like yes, this is exactly the kind of music and the style that I was looking for. It was like yes, this is it – this song, it was like I knew from the beginning it was going to be one of the best songs. So it’s my favourite song, it’s my favourite song to play live and it’s my favourite song to listen to … because it’s like … (makes an explosion noise) (laughing).
NRR: On the record, you’ve got a few collaborations. Obviously, you’ve got Schmier on “KIlling Ourselves To Live” and you’ve got Jyrki 69 on “Immortal Sin”. After all of these years is there anyone still on your musical bucket list that you would like to collaborate with maybe on a future project?
Liv: Absolutely, I say it all of the time but I would love to do something with Dee Snider because he is one of my biggest idols, he’s amazing. He’s the best entertainer on stage in my opinion, so I would love to do something with Dee Snider. I would also love to do something with … I have a few (laughing) ..with Angela Gossow. Of course, she’s not still in Arch Enemy but she is one of the first like females that I looked up to because I thought that what she made, she was one of the first I think doing the female growling thing, so I would love to do something with her. Also, I would love to do something with Rob Flynn from Machine Head, I really love Machine Head. I love that he has strong opinions and I also have strong opinions and our opinions mostly match, so I do like that he is not shy about it and he says what is on his mind.
NRR: I know that with Sister Sin you weren’t as involved with the songwriting so much, now obviously you’ve got your own opportunity to branch out. Is that a challenge that you relish?
Liv: Yeah, definitely. In Sister Sin, there was the drummer Dave and Jimmy who made the songs, the music and they made all of the lyrics, which was kind of for me easy peasy because they just told me what to do. But also I feel more with my new band and my new project where I get to do music and the lyrics and stuff I can feel it more from the heart, of course, because it is my stuff that I’m actually singing out and it’s my melodies. It’s not my guitar riffs because I’m not a very good guitar player so I get my boys to do the riffs and stuff, but it’s from our ideas and I put my melodies in.
So yeah, it’s a challenge because I got so used to, for over 10 years I didn’t have to do anything, I tried a little bit. So I got so used to just like sitting around and people telling me what to do. So, in the beginning, I felt it was very hard, I was like how do I do lyrics, how do I make a melody that suits good etc. So it took a little while to get into it actually (laughing).
NRR: With this tour being a support tour you get a shorter set. How do you go about picking a setlist for a show like this?
Liv: Today is really hard because today we have a really short set. Some of the previous venues and places we’ve had 45 minutes, it’s like yeah that’s cool because we have only released one record, we play a couple of Sister Sin songs – 45 minutes is perfect. Today we have 30 minutes and it’s tougher because then it’s like we can maybe squeeze in seven songs. How many Sister Sin songs? How many of our own? That’s hard and I’ve still not decided today if we are gonna play “The Fall” or a Sister Sin song in the end, let’s see. Now I’m gonna play “The Fall” since you mentioned it.
NRR: Do you miss performing those Sister Sin songs, I mean you say you include the odd song in your set, but obviously, you’ve got a 13-year history with the band. Do you actually miss performing that material live?
Liv: Well, maybe a little bit of me does because of course I miss the Sister Sin boys and I miss the feeling that we had, but I’m having so much fun with these guys too. On stage, we are really, really tight together performing, so I’m having a blast with those guys. So a little bit of me misses it but a little bit of me is also happy about the new guys that I’ve found.
NRR: When Sister Sin broke up at the end of 2015, I just wondered with the benefit of hindsight is there anything that you would have done differently with that band at all?
Liv: Yes, of course, there was a lot of things that …if we would have done it differently maybe we would not have split up. Because I know that we toured too much, we kind of toured constantly and never took any breaks because when we were not touring we working or recording new material and doing weekend shows and then touring and touring and touring ….I mean we were just a small band and still are, so we had the van tours all of the time and they are pretty rough. So when I think about it then we would have been smarter with our choices of tours sometimes and because we got burnt out from touring and from just seeing each other and all that. So I totally understand why some of the people didn’t want to continue playing.
So I totally understand and I have no hard feelings for them wanting to leave the touring life and the music business – because it’s a shitty business. Of course, there’s a lot of things when you think back it’s like yeah, we could have done that a bit better. But I think that there is a meaning behind everything, probably this was supposed to happen and hopefully, this is a new start for me and a new start for them too and that was supposed to happen.
NRR: Do you feel that there is still unfinished business with Sister Sin. I know it just kind of almost dissipated quite quickly, did the band have new material ready to go or did it just collapse all of a sudden?
Liv: It just collapsed actually. We have no hard feelings, but the only thing that I can think about is that it was a little bit too fast, we didn’t have time to say goodbye. I would wish that we had done like a last tour, a last festival somewhere or something like that just to finish it off, that would have been perfect in my opinion. But I mean you can’t force people to play also, it is what it is.
NRR: When you are not touring you are also a personal trainer. I just wondered whilst you are out on the road do you still get the opportunity to workout and do you have a particular routine that you adhere to on tour?
Liv: I try, today I got like 20 minutes, I did some yoga today because it’s easier. I have a little yoga mat and you can just roll it out and you can put up yoga videos from YouTube, there’s a lot of yoga programmes on YouTube, so that’s easy to do. Otherwise, sometimes I do like more a kind of high-intensity training – 15-20 minutes something like that, which is only bodyweight exercises, but you get pretty sweaty fast and it’s 15-20 minutes and you are done. Sometimes I try to find a gym but then it’s like I do it in the venue instead.
NRR: I noticed on Twitter you’ve been putting up a few songs that were your workout songs. I just wondered what’s your go-to CD or album or music that you listen to when you are working out. Do you go for rock stuff or do you have something different?
Liv: No, mostly rock stuff. There are a lot of variations, and sometimes I have a period where I only listen to Amon Amarth and then next is only Arch Enemy or only Machine Head. Lately, I think it’s been a lot of Kreator, the last Kreator album, that’s very good to work out to.
NRR: What is your one essential item on the band’s rider?
Liv: Oh that must be my honey, for me. I’m not talking for the whole band. For me, it’s the honey that I can have in my water to have onstage. Honey and lemon, preferably both honey and lemon to have on stage. If I don’t find any honey I have to go out and buy it.
NRR: You’ve got a great voice, besides the honey and the lemon, what do you do to keep your voice in shape, because when you are singing heavier music it does put a lot of strain on your voice. You mentioned earlier about Angela Gossow and people like Alissa they all have vocal coaches to train their voice to sing in that kind of style. What is your routine?
Liv: I warm up, I always warm up. I have my lemon and honey and water. I normally don’t speak during the daytime, I start speaking when we get to the venue and we have load in and we have to communicate with people, but before that I keep quiet and I go to bed as soon as I can. I don’t go out partying all night, I go to bed when the rest go and party.
NRR: What’re the plans going forward, obviously we are almost at the end of this year already – I can’t believe it. What’s on the cards for now through until next year, what are your plans?
Liv: Well we have this tour and then we have the headline tour in Spain in October. We are also releasing an extra song that we actually have, so that will be released on 6th October. So one new song is coming out and then we are planning to do a small EP at the end of the year to release early next year. Then go back on tour and hopefully get a festival summer. So that’s the plan and then record a full-length album next fall.
NRR: Well that all sounds amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us.
Liv: Thank you for interviewing me.
Follow Me by Liv Sin is out now via Despotz Records.
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