Swedish rockers Saturn play a style that will bring you right back to the days when rock and heavy metal were pure and there weren’t so many different genre labels in between the two that you could fill an outdoor swimming pool with them. I talked with guitarist Robin Tidebrink, as he told me a little bit about the history of the band and their love for all things vinyl and classic. He also gave me a rather cryptic definition as to what a Rokktori is, so I guess you’ll just have to research this elusive term yourself!
So tell me how you guys got together. What bands were you in previously? What made you want to start playing music?
Well, I and Oscar have been friends since we were about fifteen years old. We jammed and had a few projects for a couple of years but nothing really took off. After finishing school I moved to Malmö (a town in southern Sweden) for a while and then moved back home after two years. Oscar had met Linkan and they were jamming, just guitar & bass mostly. I began to jam with them and we all felt like we had a good thing going on, so we decided to get a drummer. Oscar and Linkan found a guy named Andy Gustafsson and we recorded two demo tracks with him as a drummer in late 2012, early 2013. Andy’s motivation failed and he was soon replaced by Ted Carlsen. We’ve all been in different bands but nothing big or serious before Saturn. I love heavy metal and rock n roll, that’s why I want to play music, nothing more – nothing less. It’s as simple as we all love to create and play music.
The sound of Saturn is definitely one of nostalgia. It sounds like classic metal in the vein of Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Rainbow for sure. Why did you decide to go for this kind of style as opposed to something more modern?
Well, we didn’t decide anything. This is the music that naturally comes out of us. When we first met and started to jam it just came together this way. But we all love the seventies and early eighties eras of classic rock and heavy metal, so it’s not that strange that we sound the way we do.
Tell me a little about how Ascending came together. How long did it take to write and record? What was the vibe like in the studio and how did you manage to get that perfect “could have released in the eighties” sound?
We recorded it fairly fast in the summer of 2013 and all instruments, except the organ are one-takes recorded at the same time. We added no tracks or overdubs afterwards, so that’s why it sounds kind of rough and raw. It also made the recording sessions a lot faster since everybody was really focused. I mean nobody wants to be the one who mess up at 7:35 in the track “Over The Influence.” (Laughs) If anybody did, we would just have to start from the beginning. But it went great and I think that you get a very dynamic kind of sound when you record this way. Everything’s not perfect, but life isn’t perfect is it?
As far as the lyrics go, what is the primary idea behind the album? What does “Rokktori” mean?”
Oscar’s the one who writes most of the lyrics, but I think that it’s safe to say that it’s about love, religion & politics. It’s basically all about being alive and to live. A Rokktori is whatever you want it to be, but we can tell you that you need one to get better.
The album has a rather odd closer in the form of “Moonstone” which sounds like a completely different band due to its folk rock nature. What was the inspiration behind this one and why did you think it would make a good closer piece, compared to the much heavier and warmer nature of the album?
I actually wrote a much longer piece called “Moonstone” that sounds like an Irish drinking song when it comes to life, but for the album we chose just the intro to that song, as we thought that it would be a perfect closing track for Ascending. I mean if you have a late party and “Moonstone” is the last track on the vinyl, everybody goes to sleep. It’s a party killer (chuckles) perfect. I came up with the main chord progression when I experimented with different tunings on the acoustic. I thought that it sounded big and airy.
When you listen to music, which format do you think is best? Do you enjoy the nostalgia of vinyl and tape releases, or do you guys listen to CDs more or do you do the whole MP3 thing?
All of us in Saturn love vinyl, that’s why we’re so happy that Rise Above wanted to release Ascending on LP. It’s another experience rather than downloading an mp3 or streaming music. I love the feeling of getting lost in the artwork and lyrics while you let the vinyl play from side to side.
What are your top five favorite releases of all time and why?
Man I can’t really list a top five. There’s just too much good music out there! But it would include Deep Purple, Rainbow, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath & UFO. Really hard to narrow it down to five bands. I mean, Captain Beyond? Budgie? Iron Maiden? Metallica? Sorry, give me a top thirty list.
How do you guys feel about the current state of heavy metal and rock music? Do you mostly stick with the classic albums or are there any newer bands that you like?
I really love many of the new bands out there, but I tend to mostly listen to the music I already know. But I really feel like there are loads of new bands playing seventies stoner/classic rock these days. Many of them are from Sweden, like Graveyard and Horisont; but they do it really well! Love those bands!
What do you guys do when you’re not making music or at a bar (like in the photo shoots) having a good drink? What kinds of hobbies do you have?
We either create music, or drink beer while listening to it. But we love to play some video games like Battlefield as well. And I really love kicking Linkans butt in table tennis.
As of late, more bands have been bringing back the old style of heavy metal and classic rock, like The Dagger, Black Trip and of course, you guys. Some of these guys even used to play death metal around the time that it was big. Do you think this is a sign that people are sort of frustrated with all of the core and flavor of the week influences that permeate the scene? Back in the days when this kind of music was written, songs were more pure and they had a bit more weight than the majority of the frantic screaming that we sometimes get from bands these days.
I don’t know really. I can’t speak for others but I simply enjoy the earlier music more. And I think that the music back then were less pretentious. It’s very much about having a cool image today; I mean of course it was back then as well, but yeah – I think I find the seventies and early eighties scene to be more pure.
Thanks for answering my questions and for recording a strong album that really goes back to the classics. I think the rock and metal scene really needs this kind of injection. – Eric
Thank you very much Eric, we’re really glad you liked it and thank you for the interview!