Do you want a stoner rock album that is not only damn good, but has some deep topics to discuss? Look no further. Greenleaf has created a stunning record with Echoes From A Mass, full of some of the best stoner rock riffs, bluesy lines, modern sounds, and heartbreaking material. It will be released March 26, 2021, and is sure to be an unforgettable experience for any and all who listen. Here is a tip, listen to it all the way through. Do not pick and choose songs here and there, listen in it’s entirety. You will not be disappointed.
Sweden and stoner rock is not something you hear too often, but Greenleaf has solidified a huge spot in this genre within their country, and it is befitting. Getting their start in 1999, Tommi Holappa (guitar), Daniel Liden (drums), and Bengt Backe (bass) were the first to develop their roots. Since then there have been a few changes in vocalists and other members. In 2014, Arvid Jonsson (vocals) and Sebastian Olsson (drums) joined in to release, Trails & Passes. With the 2021 release, the only additional change was bass player, Hans Frohlich. These four incredible musicians have given us a treasure. I know it will be spinning on my turntable regularly.
Arvid had a good chat with Metal Nation about Echoes From A Mass and its meaning.
You have been pretty open with how this album has been very personal for you due to going through a recent divorce. I am not sure people realize how jarring it can be if they haven’t experienced it before and how you feel confused and like you have to learn who you are without that person. Is that one of the reason’s you chose to do an album about it? To sort through it all?
“Yeah, very much so. I think there was a lot of reflection, which I think is pretty obvious when you look at the lyrics. If you compare these lyrics to the ones’ of earlier albums, these are much more straightforward with the issue. Especially in this case where I was left for another one after a very long relationship. I did use Echoes From A Mass to do that along with my other project Pools that I just started. It also had a theme that ended up being many songs that came out with the depression I was having and anxiety. You end up using it for something good, I guess. It was the best way to get it out it was like therapy.”
As someone who has experienced divorce, I really felt the lyrics and they almost took me back to that time. It is a very difficult time.
“Yes. I think some of the songs are more straightforward on the subject with the last one being more the end and cry for help, sort of. You kind of ask yourself what the person had become afterward sort of but now you have to sort out what you want now and how you are going to handle this person as well because, at least in my case, I have a kid with this person so that is also something I try to put into the lyrics sort of. How am I going to handle this person now and be good about it also because you have to when you have a kid together.”
Yeah you don’t get to sever that tie. How do I go from having this partner and friend to simply just the other parent to our child and continue to have that respect for them when you are hurting so much?
“Exactly. It is weird in the beginning but time heals and so on. And making music helps *laughs*”
Of course! Just listening to music is so healing so I can only imagine what it would be like to create something that is so personal and so cathartic through it.
“What Have We Become” is a very emotional song and reminds me of The Doors a bit.
“Yeah, that is maybe it. Another journalist said it sounded like a mix between the cover of ‘Hurt’ with Johnny Cash, and a really mad dancing song. *laughs* I like that. That is a pretty okay review I think *laughs*.”
I definitely hear “Hurt” too, that was my first impression with the chorus. I assumed there was one or two songs that might be a little difficult for you to perform, once you are able to perform again, and I assumed “What Have We Become” would be the one.
“Yeah, maybe. Doing that song for 25 shows would be a bit tough maybe. We actually did all the lead vocals in one day so that was the last time I did. So it was like now you can put it all out there, you don’t need the voice anymore after this. So I kind of poured everything out in that one and we did only one take. The other guys said, ‘Yeah that’s it we don’t need to do it again’. So, it was a little bit special in that way.”
That’s perfect because it makes it even more raw.
“With this album I tried to edit as little as possible when it came to vocals because I wanted it to be, instead of perfect, more honest. So there is some stuff on their that we could of probably done more with. When it comes to records I like the most, I like the small stuff that is not that great, in a perfect way. I love albums like Harvest by Neil Young for example because there’s so much random things that you are not really sure if it is supposed to be there not, but it’s great. I tend to like it more and more with myself as well. That is one thing when you have done a couple of albums, you are more used to listening to yourself.”
It does have the 60’s and 70’s feel to it, back when it was more raw and it was more of a jam band at a live show sound when you listened to the albums. It gives you a more personal connection to the record that way. It is not overproduced.
“Sure, I agree.”
One of my favorite lyrics on this album, “Picking up the pieces in a world without you” from the song “Love Undone”. It gives such a great visual representation of what you were feeling. Was it a feeling of a broken puzzle or chunks taken out of you?
“Yeah it was like that. It was like a new start from everything that but you were not ready for it. It was a lot of pieces, and my way of handling it was like routines I remember. I started working out a lot and woke up at the same time every day. It was actually my mother who told me to do that. She was like you have to do this and this and this and that it’ll work out. It was very practical but actually worked well *laughs*”
Well mothers know best. *laughs*
“*laughs* Yeah I guess so.”
Thank you for letting me dig into that, you have been very open about it, so I figured it was ok to ask questions regarding the divorce.
“Yeah of course.”
Changing courses, “Tides” is a bit of a different sound than the rest of the album. I would say it is more modernized.
“Yes that is probably true”
Were you nervous having that song be your first single when the rest of the album sounds a little bit different?
“I don’t think we were nervous but we did it to kind of turn heads a little bit. It’s funny because the guys in Greenleaf like many different things, even though Trails & Passes is their figure stone *laughs* that is their base, so we kind of wanted to do something that hits differently, especially as the first single. We knew that ‘Love Undone’ was coming after so we knew they were probably going to like that one if they didn’t like the first one. We also really love the song, all of us. As a band we thought ‘Tides’ was the greatest song for a single because it big and catchy at the same time. So it’s like really heavy and really catchy. We just wanted it to be the first one, and not to make people upset, but to turn some heads.”
From the responses I’ve seen, it appears that your fans have taken to it pretty well and seem to enjoy that evolution.
“I was actually a little bit surprised because there is always these guys that want everything to sound the same, but yeah I think it went well. The preorders were really good even after the first release, so that was cool.”
I pre-ordered the limited edition one. I have been able to listen to the album many times and really enjoy it. Every time I listen, I have a new favorite. I dig how it goes from modern, to the old stoner rock feel, to an almost bluesy, southern rock with the last three. Did you mean to put them in that type of order?
“I don’t know about the order, we didn’t think too hard about it, but that’s the way we do it. We want some songs of that, and some songs of that, etc. It kind of goes that way, but it is very obvious on this record. There have been a lot of journalists that have said now, that that is the way it flows kind of, and I guess that is a smooth progression on the record. That you get it in that order. *laughs*”
It does flow well, and living in a digital world, not everyone takes the time to listen to an entire album, but I really hope they do with this one because the last three are very strong songs. The last one about breaks your heart.
“So do I *laughs*. That is the good thing with the rock audience. They are more album orientated than, let’s say pop, which is great. They also still buy vinyl! Which is very nice because then it turns into money as well.”
The first song that really caught my ear was “Good God I Better Run Away”, it is super catchy and has the concept behind it that really has that emotional component and almost a panic feeling.
“It is kind of one of the first emotions, the panic that is what it is describing, like you don’t want to be there anymore, you just want to go away.”
Definitely. Then “Bury Me My Son” became my long lasting favorite.
“It has a certain rhythm. We call it the ‘jeans jacket song’ *laughs*, because it’s like you see this gang of jean jackets not headbanging, but more like swinging at the concert, do you know what I’m saying? *laughs* I’m doing it now but I can’t describe it *laughs*. They are not dancing or banging their head, do you know what I mean?”
I actually do *laughs*, but it also has sad lyrics. They might be nodding with tears in their eyes too.
Last question, any advice for someone who is dealing with divorce, since that is what this album is about?
“Just do like my mother said, *laughs* form a routine. More than that, let the time heal you, that is the most important, and talk, don’t isolate yourself. Talk about it and express it because everything gets a lot easier then. If you just hold it to yourself, it is not going to be very good, it is going to be worse. That is probably my best advice, write songs maybe.”
Whether you can relate to the lyrical content of this album or not, it is still a joy for the ears and heart. There is some transitions that continually pull you in and give you that comfortable feel in the sadness of the concept. The instrumentation is incredible and the personal experience is not something we get regularly these days. It is an absolute must have.
As always, please support our musicians right now. We need the music now more than ever.