Interview with Sister Sin lead guitarist, Jimmy Hiltula, on the eve of the release of the band’s new album.
Sister Sin set out in 2002 with a determined goal to rule the world with their old school style of 1980s influenced metal and nothing would stop them. Their exceptional talent coupled with a relentless dedication to eventually busting through the proverbial glass ceiling in one of the toughest industries in the world seems to have payed off. Like fellow Swede rockers In Flames, At The Gates, and Dark Tranquility, Sister Sin have succeeded in breaking out on an international level with their very own style of metal mayhem!
The band’s first album Switchblade Serenades created somewhat of a stir here in the states and was a huge breakout hit in Sweden. Their second album, True Sound of the Underground, grew their popularity immensely here in the US as the band ventured out on the “Hell Hath No Fury” tour that included other female fronted metal bands including In This Moment and Straight Line Stitch. By the time Sister Sin jumped on board a tour with OTEP and One Eyed Doll, they had accumulated multitudes of new and loyal fans. Their concerts sell out worldwide and the release of their new album will surely only garner more well-deserved success for Liv (vocals), Jimmy (guitar), Strandh (bass) and Dave (drums).
I sat down with Sister Sin lead guitarist Jimmy Hiltula on the eve of the release of their highly anticipated third album with Victory Records, Now and Forever, to discuss their latest creation. Jimmy was in great spirits and shared, “We’re very happy with how the album turned out. I think it’s kind of a different album in a way for us. It’s much heavier and has a darker feeling to it than the others we have done. The songs are far more diverse and dynamic. We added different elements to them such as keyboard parts and even a piano. We wanted to create a multi-dimensional atmosphere on it and try to step out of our comfort zone.”
The album does have the feel that Jimmy mentioned, but it definitely still offers up plenty of what you would expect from the band. Such is the case with the first video released from the album entitled “End of Line.” Hiltula agreed, “We chose that song because it had all the main ingredients of Sister Sin. The verses were pure Sister Sin, all the way. Then we threw in the thrashing guitar parts and the pounding drums. The tempo is fast and the chorus is melodic and dynamic, so the song was just a given for the first release.”
The album does have some surprises on it, including the band’s first ballad entitled “Morning After.” It’s a powerful song that will catch fans off guard as it begins with the delicate sound of a piano and Liv’s voice, with a string section joining in. Jimmy explained, “We really wanted to do a ballad on this album, but we weren’t sure what to do. It’s not only our first ballad, but it’s actually a cover song too. We just kind of stumbled across the song on YouTube one day. It was originally done by Randy Piper’s Animal. We thought the melodies were good and we felt that we could do something really special with it. I think Liv’s voice is extremely powerful in it and it really showcases how exceptional her vocals truly are.”
The band has won fans over with their dynamic, high energy live shows here in the US. The first dates here in the states to support the new album will come in February of 2013 as they open for the iconic German rocker Doro. Jimmy enthusiastically added, “We’re really excited to be hitting the road with her. We’ve done some previous things with her such as recording the cover of Motorhead’s “Rock N’ Roll. We’ve also played a few times live with her, but this will be our actual first tour with her. She’s definitely one of our idols. The timing was perfect and it all just came together to be able to do the tour, so we can’t wait to hit the road with her!”
The touring cycle is a beast that’s tough to tame. The band travels from city to city in their home on wheels as they adapt to sleeping on a moving bed and being up all night and sleeping all day. Jimmy touched upon the difference between touring the US and Sweden by noting, “Well, the US packages that we have toured on seem to be really big. There are usually four or five national bands and maybe two local bands opening up. I would say that’s the biggest difference, unless it’s a big one day festival. The audiences are very similar though. What kills us is that the drives in the US from city to city can be very long. We sometimes have to travel thirty hours to the next show. The food is also a little different. When we first get to the US, we tend to eat a lot of burgers (laughs), but then we get tired of them. We love eating at Panera Bread and at Subway because we don’t have those in Sweden.”
Jimmy is a guitar slinger in the truest sense, and talked about the musicans that influenced him to pick up that loaded six string years ago, sharing, “Metallica actually got me into playing the guitar. I didn’t necessarily think that Kirk (Hammett) and James (Hetfield) were guitar gods, but they did inspire me to learn to play. As far as my heroes go, first and foremost is Yngwie Malmsteen. I’d also have to say that Judas Priest is a big favorite of mine. Painkiller is one of my all-time favorite albums. You can’t get more metal than that! There are so many albums that influenced me too. The first WASP album, Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil, the first Van Halen album, there are just too many to list here. The ’80s was such a great period for metal.”
If you are a fan of 1980s metal and haven’t checked out Sister Sin, then you don’t know what you are missing. The band’s influences run deep in the music of that era. They capture the feel and sound of the period and put a very modern twist on it. Even if you are not a fan of ‘80s metal, Sister Sin has a lot to offer in the true form of rocking any metal head’s speakers. Now and Forever is one new album worthy of buying and being cranked up to at least 11…if not louder.
~Johnny Price, Journalist – RockRevolt™Magazine
~ Photograph of Jimmy by Rebecca Bendrén Photography (via Sister Sin FB)