Swedish melodic metalcore rockers Dead By April formed in 2007. Over their seven year existence they have seen many line-up changes with the one constant being guitarist and newly anointed lead singer Pontus Hjelm. Joining Pontus is Marcus Wesslen on bass, Christoffer Andersson on guitar/harsh vocals and Marcus Rosell on drums. They have released three full albums, including 2014’s Let the World Know. We had a chance to catch up with Pontus and discuss their band history, latest record, future plans and a very surprising influence.
Let’s talk a little about the history of the band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
I co-founded Dead By April in 2007 and we had our major breakthrough in 2009. Currently we do not consist of the complete, original line-up. To some people it’s important to keep the original line-up. Sometimes it seems even more important than the music itself. To us, however, it’s more important that we consist of members that respect each other, have the same goals, are able to hang out together and more importantly, performing our music flawlessly.
Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
Yes. We simply wanted to create music without having to take any ’unwritten rules’ into consideration. It’s a very plain and simple ’recipe’ if you will. And to us it came naturally, it felt so right. We wanted to start a song with a raging metal riff, put in a melodic pop chorus and finish it off with insane breakdowns etc...and everything in between. That’s what we did. And here we are some years later still doing it.
What are your memories of your first live performance as a band?
Well, personally, not very positive I’m afraid. In the beginning of my Dead By April career I suffered badly from stage–fright. When I think back on the first show, I remember feeling my heart beating so hard and fast I thought it would jump straight out of my chest. I remember feeling dizzy and almost passing out. That was literally seconds before entering the stage. I still suffer from stage fright, I’m able to control it better today. Thanks to therapy.
Let the World Know was released earlier this year and has been a huge success – what can you tell us about it?
It’s Dead By April’s full–length album number three. We’re very proud of this album. We believe that whatever music you listen to, you will be able to find a song on this album that you’d like. It consists of a variety of songs ranging from – ’Same Star’ which is an up-tempo track with fast guitar riffs and sonic synths, a big melodic chorus and even some heavy dubstep synths, to – ’Replace You’ which is a piano ballad with a real orchestra performing strings and piano.
Pitch me like I’m the guy standing in the store with $20 and can’t decide which CD to buy – why should I buy your album?
If you buy the Let the World Know album and listen to the whole record, all tracks in a row, we guarantee that no matter who you are, no matter what you prefer to listen to, you WILL find something on this album that will touch you in one way or another.
I agree with that! If this music thing doesn’t work out, you should be a salesman! So, where did you record Let the World Know?
Everything, except for the drums, was recorded at Studio PH, which I run myself in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Was it self-produced or did you bring in a producer to record the album?
Actually, I produced and wrote the whole thing.
Damn! Does the band contribute to the writing process at all?
The creation process and the writing itself I do solely on my own. However, when it comes to recording and producing it, it’s important that ideas that might come up are tested to help develop the songs in the right direction.
How would you categorize the style of the band?
Good answer. Are there one or two favorite moments with the band you could share with us?
It’s really hard because there are so many! But one show in particular would be Loud Park in Tokyo, Japan. It was an amazing festival to play at. Also, as a bonus, being able to experience Tokyo makes this trip stand out. And I’d recommend every human alive to experience Japan at least once during a lifetime. It’s an incredible city!
Who or what inspired you to become a musician; who are your influences?
In my mid-teens, music became a natural way to express my feelings, thoughts, dreams, experiences etc. And to me, Michael Jackson was definitely the most complete artist/writer there has ever been so far. He is undoubtedly the biggest source of inspiration to me. Still today.
Cool…I didn’t see that one coming. So, what are you current tour plans, if any?
We are currently, any day now, about to confirm a European headlining tour. This tour will take us to Russia, Poland, Germany, Austria and The Netherlands. Apart from that we’re looking into confirming some US dates next year. We’re excited!
Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
It starts with an intro we’ve produced ourselves to get the excitement going. After about 1.5 minutes we run up on stage with an explosion of energy! Fast playing songs mixed with a few down-tempo tracks. It’s important to keep the show dynamic. All and all, simply put, people will go home with a new beautiful experience after going to a Dead By April show.
Do you have a favorite song you like to play live, yours or a cover?
During a Dead By April show I always look forward to playing the song “Empathy.” It’s a challenging song filled with constant riffing and I’m having a blast every time!
What two bands, in existence today, would you like to share the stage with?
Touring with 30 Seconds To Mars would be a dream come true for us! We absolutely love their music and their live shows. Amazing band! Also, Linkin Park would be unbelievably cool to share the stage with!
You guys are all over social media it seems. Is that really you or do you have agents/label/publicists running your pages?
We run them all personally and we absolutely love to interact with our fans! We’re very active on social media forums such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Direct links to our social media profiles can be found on our website —> www.deadbyapril.com
Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments or words of advice for aspiring musicians and people trying to get into the business?
Stay true to yourself, your identity and stand for the lyrics and music that you perform. That’s what we do. Thank you for this interview and we’ll see everyone out on tour!
By Brett Tully, RockRevolt Magazine Journalist