Greenleaf are just a really cool band; coolness just oozes from their riffs and they are just so dam likeable. When I spoke to Arvid Jonsson about their excellent new album Rise Above the Meadows, I also got to chat about touring with Clutch, the retro sound, future plans for the band and more in a nice, pleasant chat with one of the best riff-worshipping bands out there.
Jack: Thank you for taking time out of your day to speak to me. How are you doing?
Arvid Jonsson (Vocals): We’re fine! At the moment we’re all home, waiting for the festival summer to kick off. Looking forward to Desertfest in Berlin at the end of this month, think that’s gonna be something very special indeed!
Jack: You just released your brilliant seventh album Rise Above The Smoke, are you happy with the response?
Arvid: I think we are so far… Most of the press and the fans seems to like it and we are happy with it too, so overall yes. But the biggest task is to play it all live a couple of times, it’s really after that you will know if the songs are good enough or not.
Jack: This was Johan’s first album on bass. What did this bring to the album?
Arvid: Both Bengt and Johan are good players but the differences are that Bengt plays more like a very steady heavy machine and Johan has this mosy sludgy way of playing. In my opinion on some of the latest songs that mosy way of playing fits the songs better, although on some I kind of miss Bengt actually.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Arvid: We did it all with Karl-Daniel Lidén in the same studio as on Trails&Passes, we recorded all the instrumental tracks in 4 days (live-tracking). And then another 4 to record all the vocals. So you could say we’re pretty fast bunch in the studio. We rather spend more money in a better studio a shorter time, then to sit at home over-tracking until we’re tired of everything we have written.
Jack: I really love the artwork for the album, who drew it and where does the inspiration for it come from?
Arvid: Sebastian Jerke is the artist and it’s really all his doing! We just gave him the title and the lyrics and he came up with this brilliant planet idea.
Jack: I also love the music video to ‘Golden Throne’, what was the decision behind this video?
Arvid: It’s actually just two of my friends and me having fun one day with a VHS camera. We were listening to the record while we were filming Martin messing around on his bike… And afterwards we decided that it would be a fitting video for Golden Throne. I like the fact that it’s provokingly simple… And that it’s only one even take.
Jack: Last year you supported Clutch on their huge European tour in December. What did you take away from this experience?
Arvid: That to be a successful rock band means hard work and a really tight crew. Clutch’s guys know what they are doing. And it was an experience watching them work, killing it every single night.
Jack: Was it weird playing bigger venues?
Arvid: Maybe a little bit at first but you quickly get used it. The sound is very different from the usual clubs we play since the rooms are so much bigger. Everything sounds much more gigantic.
Jack: Would you say Clutch are an influence on Greenleaf?
Arvid: Yes of course, especially to Tommi. They have that certain drive and attitude in their songs that we sometimes want as well.
Jack: You then toured with label mates My Sleeping Karma and Mammoth Mammoth. How did you find the tour and was it weird playing smaller venues after the Clutch tour?
Arvid: The venues on that tour weren’t really small and the shows were sold out almost every night so I would say that was one of the best and fun tours we have done so far. All the bands were really friendly and we shared a nightliner so there was a lot of time getting to know each other.
Jack: You’re on the road in April and May where you’ll be making your debut appearance in Bulgaria, as well as a few festivals including Desertfest Berlin. Will you mainly be playing new material or a mixture?
Arvid: Probably a mixture but with most focus on the material from the two latest albums.
Jack: Your sound in some ways is quite retro sounding. Why do you think there is a revival of retro occurring in music?
Arvid: I’m not sure but probably because of the music they made back then… It’s simply too good to ignore any more [Laughs]. It’s rare to find that type of groove and honesty in modern music and maybe that’s why so many people are looking back for inspiration.
Jack: In an interview you described the band as a full-time band. Do you have day jobs or is Greenleaf the main career?
Arvid: Yeah we all still have jobs on the side. We still have to, to be able to pay the bills. Also Sweden is a fucking expensive country to live in. But it’s okay I mean we get to do what we love most of the time, and I think that’s pretty rare.
Jack: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Arvid: Festivals for the summer and then a long tour in the fall. So yeah just play until we’re really sick of each other.
Jack: Finally, you’re influenced by Kyuss – why have Kyuss remained relevant?
Arvid: It’s that wall of sound you know at the same as it’s so melodic and groovy. Still today I think some of the records really sound unique compared to everything else. And of course there’s a lot of copy cats but not that many who really succeeded with capturing the essence of their sound.
Jack: What is the best Kyuss album? My favourite is Blues for the Red Sun.
Arvid: I like them all but if I had to choose one it would be Welcome To Sky Valley.