It’s certainly been a hectic year so far for the melodic death metal band Jotnar. Already with a cracking album release in ‘Connected/Condemned’ , a tour slot with Sonic Syndicate under their belts, and some major festival slots on the horizon, things are certainly looking good. Despite the hectic schedule, guitarist and founder Ben Melero took some time out to have a quick chat about the bands origins, the new album, future plans and his love of Nelly Furtado!
Firstly, many congratulations on the new album which we’ll get to in a bit but if I could take you back to the origins of Jotnar, how did the story begin?
Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!
Well, I started the band with my all time buddy Elhadji back in 2005, when we decided we wanted to form a band. It was hard to find other members in Canary, where the scene is small and all musicians are in various bands at the same time. It took us about 3 years to get the first formation, and we started playing live in 2010. It was a hard beginning but it was a good way to get a solid foundation for our sound. We released an EP album on 2012 with Coroner Records/Murderer Music. It worked pretty well and we toured a lot in Spain, made a Swedish Tour and played in great festivals like Metalcamp in Slovenia (now Metadays).
Looking back would you say you’ve changed as a person/people and in your attitude and vision for the band?
I must say I have, for sure. Being in a band, sharing ideas with other buddies, touring in different cities, different countries, meeting people and musicians from different countries, cultures, different backgrounds, it has been a really amazing experience that for sure has had a real impact on my personal way of thinking and living.
Now on to the album ‘Connected/Condemned’, when did you start writing the material for the album, was it all pretty quick coming together?
I must say it was a long ride! We had many of the songs by the time we recorded the EP “Giant”. In fact, we had enough songs for a full length album then but we decided to release a short EP instead, and then release the full album in a few months later but since we started touring a lot, we had to postpone the album release. That allowed us to write new material and also rearrange all the songs.
We had some problems in the recording, because our former singer had some personal problems and that delayed the recording for more than a year and at the end, he had to quit because he couldn’t make it, so we had to start from scratch with a new singer. It was a bit of a nightmare, but in the end it was worth all the effort.
Where did you record it?
We recorded it in my own personal studio, Jotunheim Studios, in Barcelona. It was produced and engineered by myself and then sent to a fresh ear to complete the mix and mastering. It was mixed by Sacha Laskow at the Perfect Filth Studios in Canada and mastered by the mighty Jens Bogren at the Fascination Street Studios in Sweden (responsible for bands like Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Amon Amarth, etc…)
You have a few guests on the album, all adding a lot to the project. Was it difficult to get everyone on board? How did you approach them?
In fact was pretty natural and not planned.
We contacted Björn thru our former label, Coroner Records, which is headed by Ettore Rigotti, who is the main guy from Disarmonia Mundi. He knows Björn since he was the singer there as well, and one day talking to him, the idea came up and he put us in contact with him. It was a great experience and he is such a talented singer. By far the best singer in the Melodic Death Metal field.
Jennie Nord is a friend from Sweden, she sings in Ultimate Fate. We met her on our Swedish tour and we’ve been friends since then. We asked her if she would want to collaborate with us on a song where we wanted to add something different, a female voice and she loved the idea. We love the final result so we are really happy about both.
I must ask about the Nelly Furtado cover, is that a song you perform live? And who in the band is the secret Furtado fan?
Nah, we’ve never played it live, and most likely we will never do. We have tons of great songs that are 100% ours that we prefer play live. Not that we don’t like it, because I do, but because it’s just something special for the album only.
I must admit that I am the “fan”!!, well, not a true fan. I’ve never listened a full album or anything like that, at all! but I do love this and some of her other songs. I really enjoy some pop songs, and I always wanted to make my own version of this track. I really loved how it ended up.
You’ve also done some videos (Broken Esteem and Suicidal Angel and of course the title track), was that something you enjoyed doing? How did you put the storyline for a video together?
Yeah, I was really fun, I must admit. Every video was different and was nice to make them. Sometimes it can be a little tedious with so many takes in different angles etc, but we had so much fun. It was really interesting.
About the story… we tried to make a story based on a possible interpretation of the lyric. I didn’t want to make a video explaining the exact and real meaning of the lyric when I wrote it, but instead, I prefer to make a story more open and broader, that can be open to different interpretations. We made some story lines, some ideas, possible scenes and what we’d like to express, and then talked to the director, and then he added his personal touch. We are really happy with the final result.
I notice you have a festival slot in Spain at the end of June, you must be really looking forward to that. Are there any more live dates planned, maybe a tour?
Yeah sure, it’s going to be awesome. It’s one of the biggest rock and metal festivals in Spain, Rockfest Barcelona, and it’s going to be amazing to be able to play with legendary bands like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and Europe, among others… and we are thrilled about that show!.
We also have another festival in Italy, the Straevil Fest in Brescia in June 17th, which is going to be fun as well.
We’ve already completed the Spanish tour with Sonic Syndicate a few weeks ago and we are planning to make more tours for sure, maybe a European tour and also be able to get into as many festivals as we can for next season. The more we can play the better.
I know it’s early days but when will you start thinking about new material, any ideas for songs at the moment?
We already did! We have a few ideas for new songs, and we will start working on them pretty soon. We want to do it with no rush at all, but we are already thinking about next album. We don’t want to take too much time to release the next one, so most likely we would start writing after the shows so we can enter in studio next year. Let’s see how it goes, but definitely there will be a new album about 2019!
Finally, I’ll ask you to describe the band to those who may not be familiar with you at the minute, and why they should check out the album!
It’s not easy to describe yourself but we make some kind of melodic death metal, where the melody is the most important part of our music. There is a huge load of melody in our guitars and composition as well as in the vocals, where we try to get a good balance between growls and clean vocals, with powerful riffs and smooth melodies.
I think people who likes power riffs and good melodies are going to enjoy the album. It’s very balanced, with a good mix of fast, slow, mid tempo songs, which makes the 14 songs and 60 minutes of playing very enjoyable. You definitely must check it out !!!
Our thanks go to Ben for the interview, check out all the latest band news via the usual social media channels