For over 20 years Swedish folk-power metal band Falconer has captivated the minds and hearts of thousands of fans all over the world with their folk-power metal style. Without a doubt they’ve given a unique experience as every album the band releases tends to have a peculiar kind of epicness attached to it. It is difficult to forget the impact of albums like Falconer (2001), Grime vs. Grandeur (2005), Northwind (2006) or Armod (2011), which cemented the musical legend of Falconer and which made their live performances a kind of a unique miracle due to their well-known status of studio band. Now it’s 2020 and they are back with their 9th studio album titled From A Dying Ember. We had the opportunity to speak with founder member Stefan Weinerhall about the new album, their work with Andy La Roque, their last show at ProgPower USA 2015 and what we can we expect on this new Falconer album.
Since almost everyone else around the world is in some lockdown or quarantine, how has been your quarantine/lockdown experience so far?
For the band hasn’t really mean anything. But personally, I work a bit more from home. But that said, you can’t really do that much on your spare time. We’re pretty much down to our house. But yes. I’m manage, I am just getting by.
So this means the pandemic hasn’t affected Falconer at all?
No, not at all, because we’re not playing anything live and so on. We just happened to record the album before the pandemic really broke out. So after that, we haven’t done anything. It hasn’t affected anything in Falconer in any kind of way.
The new album From A Dying Ember will be released on June 26th via Metal Blade Records. How long has this new album been in the making?
Well, I started to write the songs for this album in maybe 2017, so it’s taken a longer time now. But I just took the time that was really necessary to make the album. And I told myself that this time I won’t hurry anything. So if the album should take 10 years to write so be it, as long is as good as possible. We were in the studio for twelve weeks, which is pretty much a normal stay for Falconer, four weeks in the studio and we have a product.
After a couple of spins, I can tell you that this album is a pretty good hit. We can conclude there’s a handful of epic folk power metal tracks. Is there a conceptual level what the fans can expect on this new album?
No, not really. It’s just a bunch of individual songs. So that’s not really a theme or anything in the album. I can say that I have written a song with Karl Beckmann for the first time in 20 years. We played In Mithotyn together before and that song ends the album. So it feels like we’re ending on a Mithotyn kind of high note sort of speak. It is a bit strange for a Falconer song, but if you know our history you are going to understand where it comes from.
I think and remember a little bit of Mithotyn. Now, Rejoice the Adorned is one hell of a ballad, where did the inspiration come from for that song specifically?
Yeah. It’s one of the best songs that I have ever written, I think, although I don’t play anything in the song. It’s just a perfect ballad to me. I had part of the music already done, but then about one year ago my grandmother passed away, then I came up with the idea for the lyrics because I felt that, although I mourned her death I told myself that I should really be glad that our love meant something. So it was worth mourning. That is the inspiration for the lyrics. After that, the song really just progressed and from the beginning it was meant to be an acoustic ballad. But then Jim told me, maybe we could play it with piano instead then it was just perfect. I mean Mathias’s voice really shines, it belongs in the more sensitive and mellow songs.
It is a beautiful tribute and a beautiful song, I now understand where the passion came from. Now, I was reading that it seems that the Digipack version contains acoustic versions for Portals of Light & Long Gone By, but only in the European edition. Any reason why not in the worldwide versions?
I have no idea. That’s a decision that the record label took, so I can’t really answer that. I just think that it would be nice if everyone could buy it, I guess you can buy it imported but it’s going to be more expensive I guess. I don’t have a really good answer for that one.
What was the most difficult part of creating this record?
I would say that the most difficult was not to finish the songwriting process too early. I had to break and hold up, so to speak, in the songwriting process and just ask myself. OK. Is this really good enough? No, it’s not. I’m gonna throw this and this away and start all over again. So I was anxious to get ready, but I was more anxious to get it as good as possible. So I had to force myself to not coming to the goal too fast, so to speak.
From the beginning Falconer have worked with Andy La Roque (King Diamond) as a producer, what brings the band back to him? And what is like to work with him in studio?
Well, we’ve recorded all our albums at Andy’s, so that’s pretty much a second home for the band. Andy is such a great person to be around. And he knows our music inside and out, and we know his work inside and out too. So it’s a very comfortable stay and comfortable workflow. I guess most bands would like to change producers for each album to maybe get a new sound or take, but we like the sound and we like what he can produce for us. We just stay with him. As we do with our cover artist, Jan Meininghaus he has painted all of our covers. We like it, so we stay there . It’s almost like we feel like we are doing the same thing as Iron Maiden did in the 80’s when they used Derek Riggs and Martin Birch during that era.
In 2015 Falconer played ProgPower USA, and it was the last time that Falconer played live, are there any plans to release that show on DVD?
We have the recordings and some are good, but I don’t think that Falconer was never a good live band. So that’s not really any reason to try to release a beginners kind of live show. We really belong in the studio and we feel like beginners each time when we put on a stage show, I think that you’re better off just listening than watching Falconer live on a stage.
For the videos I saw of that show, people was pretty amazed with your performance
Yeah, but that’s the diehard fans and I think they can swallow anything, but normal metal fans will see it right away that these guys don’t belong up on a stage. I mean, I don’t consider the Falconer’s live shows good. But that show really felt like a perfect ending, it was full with a great atmosphere and everything, just great memories from that weekend.
With everything that is going on, and the state of the industry at the moment, we see many artists working on live streams, could that be something that Falconer would be interested on doing?
No, we just write songs and record them, and that’s it. I’m into music because I like the creative process. I mean, being a songwriter and a performer that’s two completely different things. I’m so far away from being a performer, so no, I’m just fine being in the studio and then go back to writing new songs.
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) once said something similar. He said that he preferred to work in his studio in new music rather than play shows live. But around 3 years ago he surprised us all with 3 sold out shows in The Netherlands, then a show at Graspop Open Air in 2018 and then another 3 sold out shows in The Netherlands in 2019.
Yeah, I actually read an interview with him where the things he said about playing live was exactly how I felt. I wasn’t into the playing our music on stage and maybe playing the wrong note or something going wrong , just trying to be someone that you’re not. So what made him finally do more and more shows? I have no idea, maybe he got a taste for it, I don’t know.
Thank you so much Stefan and congratulations on a releasing a great epic album
Yes. Thank you. I’m really proud of it. I hope that the fans will enjoy it too, because I think we’ve got all the true elements of Falconer on this one CD. One really folkish Swedish song and one killer ballad. I have to say It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written. So I’m really proud of that one. I guess the ordinary Falconer fans would have other killer songs in the album. I think the opening track, Kings and Queens will be a fan favorite. I would guess.