Monday, October 21, 2019
GIK Acoustics - Europe
GIK Acoustics - Europe
The Moshville Times

Interview: Dan Swanö of Unisound Studios (Part Two)

In this section of the interview (part one was published yesterday), Dan talked about the old times, who he would like to  work with and the effects and damage growling can do to you. I could not resist asking Dan about the bands that he has been involved with as this man is a legend in the metal scene. I thank him once again for the opportunity to interview him.

Is there a record that you produced, mixed and mastered that you would love the opportunity to remaster or remix?

All albums from 1990 to like the latest year. Nope…seriously…there are a few that I wish I had done different. I’d love to remix the Unicorn albums. The Altar split CD sounds disastrous. I also think that all I mixed for EOS sounds weird… but the albums worked any way. In a pre-Slaughter of the Soul world, you can release an album that sounded weird and get away with it… then that album came out done with ADAT and Mackie 8 bus… then there was no excuse any more! And I quit within a year after that.

Is there one band that you have not worked with which would be your dream job of mixing and mastering their material in your studio?

Good questions. Well, the bigger the band, the more stressful it can become, with deadlines syncing with world tours and stuff, and I am comfortable with my “place” in the scene and I honestly would rather work with a band at their beginning or on their way back to the top (Like Rage/Refuge for example) there is that hunger, and of course these guys also put a lot of trust in me to get stuff done for a certain date etc. and since I have a strict “I work alone, no visitors during mixing” policy, I rule out a lot of bands that would demand to be present during the process! But I’d love to remix hard rock and metal albums the way Mr. Wilson can dive into the progressive rock treasures. I know a lot of metal fans would hate it, to hear their old faves a bit “different sounding” but with the new restoration tools and the possibility to give each overdub the time and place it needs, you could bring forth so much cool stuff from old records.

Like hearing the bass on any Metallica record before the Black album and the same with Beneath the Remains. A bit more body to the drums on Sin After Sin, trigger the Simmons drums with something a bit more natural sounding on the 1st Prophet album and Legs Diamond’s Out on Bail – you know, that kind of stuff! I’d love to do that. Remaster albums that sound “wrong” because of some confusion at the mastering, like John Norum’s Total Control – When you restore, what I assume to be the intended EQ curve, that album sounds really good! Also the first EOS album could benefit from sounding like it did on the rough mix, but with lower kick drum…that kind of stuff.

You have been involved with so many bands that are no longer active. If there was one band that you would like to release new material, which band would it be?

Tough question. I am not sure that I would like to be the one behind the comeback album of some of the bands I worked with before, that have disbanded. Very few bands can pull that off and make an album even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as their back catalogue. And then there are the bands where a member died before they could evolve…those are sad…so sad. Maybe, with some rest and some new experiences a band like Hail of Bullets could come back with their original line up and make that 4th crushing album! I’d love to work on that.

A band of mine but still it’s kind of the same thing.”Make a new EOS record…blah blah”. We also crashed and burned during our existence and there’s nothing to revive, really. A band like Unicorn Mk 1 kind of disintegrated without a good reason, and now that we’re back together in a “rehearse and re-release old stuff” it’s super fun and the vibe is there, and if we lived in the same city (or even country) I am sure we’d try some new tracks etc. but at this point, I doubt we even will rehearse any other tracks than the one’s we have re-learned so far ;)

How are your vocal chords after the release of Witherscape? Are you still recovering from those vocal sessions? Could this be the end of your growling?

I am yet to growl since I did the final stuff for that album, years ago. The vocal chords have always been messed up, since I stopped doing it on a regular basis back in 1992. But the headaches I experience are out of this world, and they keep coming sooner and sooner the longer I growl (or do that gritty/clean Witherscape voice too, I am afraid).
I plan to growl on my Death Metal solo album thing, I am currently recording, and do it pretty much “one line per day” or so…which doesn’t make much sense timing-wise…then the album would come out in 2076, but that is what I need to do…a little bit, day by day, until that splitting headache shows its ugly face. Or if it doesn’t work, I will hire some top growler to do it for me rather than have some second rate “soft growling” from myself.

Do you miss being out on the road with your bands and playing live and meeting the fans? Is it just not financially viable for you now and time away from your family and studio work?

I don’t miss the live playing at all. I do miss the “meet and greet” thing a bit, but me and my wife go to a few festivals every year, and thanks to out connections we usually get AAA and stuff, and can “be there as if I played there”. That’s enough for me. It’s of course also the financial bit. Nightingale need a lot of money to get a gig going and actually not lose lots of money in the end, and the offers are there, but the fee doesn’t even cover the expanses of my flying to Sweden and rehearsal for the gig…

A colleague has stated that you recently released a live album with Nightingale which was recorded at one of the rare live performances. Do you have any plans to do more releases of this kind or any more releases with Nightingale in the future?

Nightingale is kind of in a coma at the moment and the Live Album is something I always wanted us to do, and when I listened back to the Rock Hard gig, like one year after we did it, I found that the performance was actually not as bad as I thought. So I mixed it and thought, worst case scenario – we have it for ourselves as a memory of that gig, but it turned out so that InsideOut released it digitally and licensed it to Alone Records for LP and CD, making it a proper release..and they released Retribution on vinyl, while they were at it! Awesome label!

Do you find yourself struggling to come up with new material sometimes as you work on so many albums that are not your own?

Oh yes, all the time. Every time I start working on my death metal tracks a new job arrives and the tracks on there are just so fucking killer, and it will be the competition, so I end up throwing away 75% of the riffs I had written and start over and honestly, after mixing a couple of death metal albums in a row…writing my own death metal is not the first thing I wanna do. But I solider on and write riffs and eventually there will be as many “class A” riffs that I need to put an album together.

Going back quite a bit now, can you remember what the chemistry between yourself and Mikael from Opeth was like during the Crimson sessions?

It was awesome! He was the first one that ever guested on an EOS album doing what some one else was also doing (Singing/playing solo guitar -Anders Måreby (Ghost/Icarus/Unicorn) did Cello and Acoustic guitar stuff on Unorthodox, Crimson and Infernal) I had just done Orchid with him and his vocals just killed me! His King Diamond styled soloing also fit like a glove to what I had in mind. I am so happy for him and that he can make a living doing what he’s doing! We had a killer time with EOS, Steel and Sörskogen!

Regarding a band which you no doubt get asked about a lot, are there any plans for either a reunion or any future material from Pan Thy Monium? Given the other members now have their own commitments would it be too much of a hassle or do you feel that the band has reached it’s peak and there’s not a lot more to be done with the band?

Pan-Thy-Monium was one of those projects that I really loved to work with for quite a while. The kind of deep tuned doom/grind with keyboards felt so cool and I loved worked on the …Dawn demo and especially the Dream II EP – All songs are so progressive and dark within its own small world. There are some moments on the 1st album that I really like too, but for me, PTM is the ultimate “should only make EP’s'” band. Khaaoohs is a disaster and the 3rd album has a few moments I like too…also there the “EP only” rule should have applied. The guys went on with PTM without me, after I thought we had agreed to “let it die” after the 3rd album, and I didn’t like the idea, so I made the “Karaboudjan” thing as my “answer” to that..and I will never go back to that band, since, to me, we already crashed and burned during its existence. You cannot recreate that kind of youthful magic.

Second to last one, are you aware that there is a “Radio Disney” cover of the song “Eaten” by Bloodbath?

Yeah! I have checked that one out. Really cool! For a song I started writing as a bit of a “joke” – it turned out to be my most successful song, at least a version I play on (Black Tears covered by Heaven Shall Burn is most likely more successful) . Almost 2 million streams on Spotify and millions of views on YouTube…vocal covers etc. Awesome!

Last trivia question for you Dan. Why do you play a right handed guitar left handed?

I started on an acoustic guitar with no clear indication what is up or down, and I am ambidextrous… and it just feels natural for me to hold a guitar that way. Same with a rifle, or a hockey stick (Drums are played “the most usual way” though) and since I learned stuff upside-down, and never intended to be a guitarist or bass player in any band, I just kept on writing on the guitar. Once I wrote on more than 2 strings at the time, shit got complex for the guitarists that had to learn my “inverted” stuff. I also have a problem to play certain stuff written “the normal way” upside-down. One day I will put together a tribute page to all of us that play this weird way full-on (Not left handed players with the strings in the “normal order” that also can play upside down when you ask them…only the dudes who only play this way!)

Unisound Studios: official | facebook

Dan Swanö: official | youtube

About The Author


As Trevor Peres of Obituary once said, "Anything to do with Death, Dying or being Chopped In Half, then I'm into it". Been into death metal since the late 80's and a lover of dark ambient, its simply a case of opposites attract.

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