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Swedish Doomsters Rise And Shine have been rocking their female-fronted "flowerpowermetal" Trad sound since 1993 - here, Comrade Aleks takes a dive into their lengthy history with founders Joakim and Josabeth.

Interview with Rise And Shine.
"Started in 1993, Stockholm's Rise And Shine were one of the first Doom metal bands with a lady vocalist. Despite tricky album titles like 'Flowerpowermetal' (1998) and 'Roadflower' (1999), they actually performed pretty classic-sounding music, and they still sound classic on their fifth album 'In The Shadow' (2017). Josabeth Leidi (vocals) and Joakim Knutsson (guitars), the band's founding members, tell Rise And Shine's story tonight.

Rise And Shine: Magnus Rydman (drums), Joakim Stabel (guitar), Josabeth Leidi (voice, guitar), Jens Sidegård (bass) and Joakim Knutsson (guitar). Photo: Rachel Trc.

Hello Josabeth and Joakim! Thanks for your time and energy, I couldn't find any new interviews with the band, so I believe that I have the right to ask you first about the band's origin. How did it happen that you gathered 25 years ago and started to play this down-tuned form of Metal?

Josabeth: I didn't have any band at the time. The last band I had, before Rise and Shine, was together with Mattias (who later became our first drummer). We were called Fantasy. We had ended Fantasy maybe two years before, and I was quite down about just writing songs for myself on guitar and not having anyone else to play them with. So, I asked Jocke (Joakim) and Fredrik Gleisner if we could try my songs out in their rehearsal studio. They had a band called The Destitutes. Mattias came along. Or maybe I asked Jocke and Mattias, and Fredrik came along. When we left the rehearsal after some hours they asked me to form this band. I was really pleased ;-)

Joakim: It is actually not down tuned. Standard tuning. If you wanna know the trick ask Tony Iommi, haha!

Josabeth was the band's singer from the very first day, and as far as I know back then it was only you, Acid King, Left Hand Solution and Mourn who played a kind of Traditional Doom with female vocals. Did this uniqueness attract people to your gigs?

Joakim: No! Hahaha! But Ann-Sofie from Spiders told me recently that we had been a big influence on her. And that she at 14 years old sneaked away from home in the middle of the winter going for miles to see us. To me that was very surprising and encouraging to hear.

Josabeth: Yeah, I think it was so gentile of her to share that story with us. Well, otherwise what can I say? No it didn't, mostly people were a bit worried over what the hell I was.

Full-length album discography: 'Flowerpowermetal' (Black Widow,1998), 'Roadflower' (Black Widow, 1999), 'Ghosts Of The Past' (Plugged Records, 2006), Empty Hand (I Hate, 2011), In The Shadow (Freedoom, 2017).

You recorded two demos, in 1993 and 1994 respectively, and then after two more EPs you came to release debut full-length album 'Flowerpowermetal'. How did you write these songs? Did you already know what kind of sound you want to achieve when you entered the studio?

Joakim: Actually an Original Flowerpowermetal-recording exists. That one was recorded by Living Skull aka Tobias Gustafsson of Vomitory, Nifelheim etc. That recording is a bit different from what ended up on the record. We might release. At least on Spotify, ITunes places like that. If some label are interested please get in touch. About the sound I think we were pretty aware what we wanted. Not easy to achieve at the time. There was little understanding among producers and studios.

Josabeth: Yes, as Jocke says we knew what we wanted, but didn't have money to get the recording or production we wanted. I remember that Black Widow was really pleased with the sound on Flowerpowermetal and thought it was intentional, but I was just so unpleased about it that I couldn't listen to the record more than one time. But I still think the songs are good, we knew how to play them and had a lot more potential than the recording gave credit.

What are your memories of this first big recording session? Was it stressful or relaxed experience?

Joakim: If we're talking about the Living Skull Session mentioned above it is when a total metal guy nicknamed Glemmy (for reasons you can investigate) parked his smoking Volvo outside the studio, climbed in through a window with a Venom t-shirt, loads of Motörhead backstage passes hanging from his belt, and a bass on which he started thrashing when we recorded. I have it on video somewhere.

Josabeth: Haha! True.

Rise And Shine - 'Softer Crofter' (Official, 1999):

The album was released by Black Widow Records, a famous but a kind of "closed" label. How did you collaborate with them?

Joakim: They heard of us through Peace/Doom Records and Rise Above I think. So they wrote a letter or maybe faxed haha!

Josabeth: Yes, we wrote by fax from my job at an art school. They were easy, I loved that they wrote a first letter just saying direct that we wanna be the only/first label releasing you :-) The deal was short and direct. Good memories.

It's said that the band called its style Flowerpowermetal, that strongly associates with hippies, what about you? Were you into this culture? Or was it just a kind of provoking title for such heavy band?

Joakim: I am not very fond of Power Metal actually. There are some bands I can cope with but not the average band of the genre. So we thought it was fun I guess. Then we in some way were hardrockers and punks grown in to something should I say more mature. We have always been in to bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath (yeah I know Ozzy might beg to differ) which I think are hippies. Not necessarily wimpy non fistfighting hippies but neither were (are) we. We are Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers.

Josabeth: I think we had a lot of hippie attitude. My former band Fantasy was an "anarchistic" hippie band and in the '80s I played hardcore, and I felt at home with punk oriented lyrics. We didn't care how a hardrocker "should be", even though most of the members were grown up that way. And as Jocke points out the Power in Flowerpowermetal should not be read as in powermetal.

Your next album 'Roadflower' was recorded just one year after the debut. How did you manage to record it so swiftly?

Joakim: I guess we had a lot of energy and I remember that with that one we really wanted to show something. I still like Roadflower a lot.

Josabeth: Roadflower is maybe still my favorite album. We had so many songs in us and were ready to conquer the world :-)

Live at the Abyss Underground festival, 2018.

How do you see your progress on Roadflower? Was it really a step further for the band considering the sound production and songwriting?

Joakim: I (speaking for myself) can be very productive in periods and I think that goes for all of us.

Josabeth: Yes, and I think we did just what we wanted. And as I wrote earlier I'm really pleased with that album.

How often did the band play live in the '90s? Was it easier than nowadays?

Joakim: Quite often. Mostly small gigs in Sweden but even some festivals and stuff. We actually have played in England, Germany, Holland, Switzerland at least.

And with what kind of bands did you usually share the stage?

Joakim: Blackshine, Terra Firma, Abramis Brahma, The Quill and loads of punk, hardcore bands. We always been welcome in the punk scene. Actually more than in the metal scene. I don't mind that at all. I think in many ways HC and Doom has more relationship than Doom has to some other Hard Rock genres.

Rise And Shine - 'Break The Chains Of Time' (Official, 2006):

It took seven years for you to finish third album 'Ghosts Of The Past', what slowed you down?

Joakim: I should say negotiating with labels and mixing taking far to much time, changing members and stuff like that.

Josabeth, being Rise And Shine's vocalist are you the one who also writes the lyrics? What's your message? How would you sum up your lyrical themes?

Joakim: I also write lyrics, haha! And so have Erik Leidi and Dennis when he played bass. I like having lots of ways to interpret the lyrics. But some are just straight in the face "Leave me alone and let me live my life"-lyrics.

Josabeth: Jocke and I have both been writing lyrics and music on our own, or one part on our own and the rest together. I think that is great. If I should sum up the lyrics theme when I write, it's about myself, about my relationship with other persons and the struggle with ordinary life - not being able to do your own thing, being forced to work for a living. And not being able to fit in. To dream of another way of life.

The next recording, 'Empty Hand' was recorded after the band became a quartet: how did that influence the songwriting aspect? Was it simpler to compose songs for one guitar? And did it become more complicated to play it live?

Joakim: Well I made it like it was two guitars playing. Some were made with two guitars so I don't know. I just had to work harder in the studio.

Josabeth: Yes, Jocke had to work harder! I've always been firm that we should play "two guitar" based music.

Rise And Shine - 'Bring Me The Fire' (Official, 2017):

As the years passed, the band's tended to a more rocking sound - can you say where the turning point was when you decreased your songs' "weight"?

Joakim: I can agree to some degree. But I think songs like 'Ghosts of the Past', 'Empty Hand' and 'Childhood in the Shadow of The Bomb' are among the heaviest we've done. We don't use a pattern, songs turn out the way they do and some will be catchy rockers and some totally idiotic non logically arranged funeral music.

Rise And Shine took part in three split albums at different times, but all of these splits were done with bands playing another style. Did you choose the bands with whom you shared releases or was that decided by the label?

Joakim: No we are friends with the bands Gehennah and el Camino. Or are you thinking of tributes to Blue Cheer, Trouble and Captain Beyond? They were more label stuff. Part from that we (me and Josa) released the Trouble tribute.

Josabeth: I love Gehennah, and I love Trouble.

25th anniversary show, 2018. Photo: Mia Myrkheimer.

Where and how did you record the 'In The Shadow' album? How different were these sessions for you? As I understand it, some of band's members were with you for the first time at the studio.

Joakim: It was recorded at my work at the moment. We recorded live, apart from vocals and guitar leads. Yeah these guys might be the first time in studio with us but we had known them for ages so that was no problem. They already knew what they were getting in to. Five days of beer drinking and ear ringing (probably very creative English).

Josabeth: Yeah, we had a good time!

The band celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and I can't help thinking that Rise And Shine is a badly underrated outfit. Did you ever try to make some radical effort to push the band harder and further? Bigger tour, maybe working with promoter… whatever bands do today…

Joakim: Yeah we really tried. Maybe not always the smartest way to go but we tried. We have had people around us but if you ask me they did not have the patience one needs. If it is one thing I really would like to have done it is what you call a "Bigger Tour". We never really got that opportunity which saddens me some times. If I should be a bit self-critical we have been really too stubborn for our own good. I hate to kiss "important" peoples asses. And I hate when labels tell you what to change in sound, looks and attitude. Sometimes I can get a bit pissed off at shitty bands in somewhat same genre getting attention they really don't deserve.

Josabeth: I guess I agree with everything Jocke wrote.

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Visit the Rise And Shine bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-01-03 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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