QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Erik Engstrand (Eyes Wide Open)

written by Marko Jakob

Pix666: Hello Erik. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys of Eyes Wide Open?

Erik: Hey Pix, thanks for having me. We are doing well all things considered. Recently released the new album and had our first show in about 2 years so we’re excited.

Pix666: Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. How did you meet as a band and what kind of music does Eyes Wide Open make?

Erik: Eyes Wide Open is a Swedish melodic metal band and are influenced by many different genres like Melodic Death Metal and Metal Core. It’s kinda hard to nail a specific genre that we reside in but we can say we bridge the gap between all that.

The band started out as me, Kristofer and Jesper getting together as friends to start the band. Jesper and Kristofer knew each other from previous bands and I was actually Kristofers guitar student. This was back in 2011 and at the end of year we got 2 other members joining us. Karl Adamsson on drums and Patrik Fahlin on vocals. We have since changed the lineup a bit. Me taking over the vocals 2016 and Lucas Freise is now pounding the drums for us since 2019.

Pix666: You’ve been on the road with Eyes Wide Open for about ten years now. What inspired you to become a musician and what have been the best experiences and milestones with your band so far?

Erik: I think my dad is one of my big influences, he was a musician himself and had a lot of stuff like guitars, amps even whole stage setups. He tried to teach me some chords and stuff but I was kind of a late bloomer and was more into sports cause of my friends were.

Then something happened in High school and I got more into metal music and found a lot of new bands. For me In Flames, Children of Bodom and Soilwork was the big thing and I wanted to learn their songs on guitar. I think my dad was pretty happy about my new found interest, haha.

Pix666: How has the music business changed in general within these ten years from your point of view? How strong is the influence of social media, for example? 

Erik: I think mostly the things that changed is the availability with the streaming platforms and how people consume music. Social media has taken over most of the advertising and it’s kind of a blessing and a curse. It’s easier to reach out but even harder to stand out from the crowd.

Pix666: Well, social media and music streaming can both be blessing and a curse for bands. Would you rather have been a musician in the 80s or 90s or are you happy with the way things are now?

Erik: Haha funny that you said the exact same thing. Nah, I think I am pretty good with how things are now and I’m not sure if we would have reached this point in another time. We’ve grown accustomed to the way we produce and spread music nowadays.

Pix666: On Novemer 12th your new album ‘Trough life and death’ was released. How were the reactions to the album so far and where can people buy the album? Do you have some special versions or bundles for sale?

Erik: The reactions have been overwhelming, I’m super happy about all the response and shoutouts we’ve been given and to see people already with artwork and lyrical tattoos is so awesome.

The album and merch is available on our website (e-w-o.net), Arising Empire’s website, EMP and Impericon. We have a black and one blue colored vinyl and also some exclusive shirts.

EMP (Exclusive Eraser t-shirt) https://www.emp-shop.se/p/through-life-and-death/510493.html

Impericon (Exclusive Devastation t-shirt) https://www.impericon.com/se/eyes-wide-open-through-life-and-death-vinyl-special-pack-t-shirt.html

Pix666: Within this year you have already released five new video clips. Where did you shoot the video and were there any funny moments during the shoots?

Erik: Yes, actually we did four of them on the same week. Lucas came to Sweden from Germany, where he lives, for a whole week and we decided to make it all happen. Thanks to a good friend we got the opportunity to use several sites as for example the fireman training ground for the Devastation music video. That was a lot of fun having the fireman Mattias Berg helping us out filling that container in the background with really intense fire and heat streaming out.

End of Days was filmed at the beach in my hometown and my bandmates had a good time seeing me jumping into the cold water and I think they had a blast in the other scenes as well. We were at a garage and we had Kristofer and Lucas pouring sand and water on me…

I guess I got myself to blame being the director.

Pix666: In Central Europe many countries are already going into lockdown again – what about you in Sweden? Were you able to play a release show for the release of ‘Through life and death’?

Erik: Yes, thankfully most of the restrictions were lifted before our release show and we had a great time together with Evergrey at Nöjesfabriken Karlstad. Hopefully we can continue doing shows now and that the pandemic gets under control.

Pix666: Is there already a tour planning in general or is that still too uncertain at the moment, because the Corona Pandemic still hasn’t gone away?

Erik: Yes, we have a couple of things planned for next year. A Sweden tour together with Aviana and some shows together with Imminence. Also a few festivals and more coming our way.

Pix666: But I saw that you are in the line-up of the Midsummer Music Festival 2022 in Germany. How big is your fan base abroad – surely you can read something like that in the statistics? Do you know in which countries the people who listen to your music live?

Erik: Yeah we can, specially with Spotify for artist we can get a good view over all our listeners all the way from which country, towns to sex and age. Just to clarify we don’t see the users just the statistics. I think we have been most active in Europe touring wise and Germany has always been good to us but we can see that we are rapidly growing all over the world.

Pix666: Let’s get back to your new album. Where do you get the ideas for your songs and how do Eyes Wide Open songs usually are created?

Erik: For lyrics I get most of my ideas from personal experiences and discussion with Kristofer during song writing. Also I get lots of inspiration from video games and movies. The song writing process is always starting with me or Kristofer having a riff or melody that we play each other in the studio and then go straight from that riff or melody to write the foundation of the song instrumentally. When we have a good song structure and laid down the first demo we pass it along to the other guys in the band to have their thoughts.

Then me and Kristofer sits down with some lyrical ideas, themes and also develop some kind of vocal melodies and flows.

Pix666: Your album cover has a beautiful artwork!!! Who drew it and what is the meaning of this figure with the mask? I hope I’m not the only one who does’t know that (yet) 😊

Erik: The album cover is crazy good in my opinion and we are truly blessed to have worked with our guy Blake Armstrong. He is super talented and all around nice guy. The guy with the mask started all the way back in 2012 when we released our first EP ’Revelations’ and back then we never showed his face, then his trademark was the striped hoodie. He was the mascot for the trilogy we were making and we called him ’the seer’ back then.

When the trilogy ended with And So It Begins another cool artist named Kristina Kister evolved the character and made the mask to hide his face. After that we closed that chapter and thought we need to have something new for The Upside Down.

When going into the artwork for this album we had a good long talk me and Blake to sort out what we should go for and what the lyrics were all about. Then he said to me ”You have this great mascot, we should use him and put him into the world of Eyes Wide Open. Into the world of these lyrics.”

Blake then evolved this character even further and it is stunning how cool this looks.

Pix666: What wishes and dreams do you have for Eyes Wide Open for the future? Are there any venues or festivals you would like to play or bands you would like to tour with?

Erik: Of course, we have plenty of bands we want to tour with and venues to play but to name a few I would say In Flames, Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Architechts and Bring Me The Horizon. For venues there is a lot but Wacken, Download and Hellfest to name a few festivals atleast.

Pix666: Do you have any other news about the band or some interesting personal things about you that you would like to share with the fans?

I hope that all of you enjoy ’Through Life And Death’ and I want to thank all of you for the tremendous support, it means a lot to us! Right now we’re working to get out on tours but there is also some studio work in the pipes. So see you out there!

Thank you Pix666 for having me and take care, stay safe and healthy!

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck with the new album and stay healthy!!!




photos © by Eyes Wide Open & Gisselfeldt Reklam & It