Gold Spire 🇸🇪 #Interview

7 min read

One of the most delightful gems I’ve discovered in the world of underground metal in recent months has been the self-titled debut album by Sweden’s Gold Spire. Formed by brothers Påhl and Erik Sundström, the record is a delicious blend of dark, noirish, jazz-infused progressive rock and extreme metal. It also has some of the most beguiling saxophone playing you’re going to hear on a metal record. I caught up with guitarist Påhl Sundström to find out more about the band and their music.

Thanks for doing this interview with me for Blessed Altar Zine. Who are Gold Spire and what does each member contribute to the band?

Påhl: Erik Sundström – Drums, Magnus Kjellstrand – Saxophone, Heval Bozarslan – Vocals, Petter Broman – Bass, and me: Påhl Sundström – Guitars. Me and Erik write the material and handle most of the production matters together. However, we have cherry picked three amazing and prestiges musicians to help us realise this vision. I think everyone who hears the album understands that we could not have done this without them.

Most members of the band have plenty of experience in other bands, but I don’t know if any listeners could have anticipated such a unique sound you’ve created together. What were the main sources of inspiration for such a darkly beautiful and atmospheric record?

Påhl: Thank you! Our goal was to create a dark and atmospheric album, so that’s reassuring to hear. And, well, we have been playing for so long and consuming such a vast amount of music over the years that it is almost impossible to point out specific sources of inspiration. When me and Erik created this album we wrote all the parts with Magnus, Petter and Heval in mind, so in a way I guess you could say that they were our main inspiration for these songs. But, of course there are lots and lots of artists that are important to us. Morbid Angel, Incantation, Autopsy, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Camel, Vangelis, Herbie Hancock, Cocteau Twins, Kaipa… the list is endless. Gold Spire is, in many ways, a culmination of the music we like – and the creative methods we prefer.

A big part of what makes the release stand out is how the flute and saxophone were incorporated. The choice of where to include vocals also felt very carefully considered. What was the songwriting process and how did you put these tracks together?

Påhl: The first thing we did was to form a narrative and deciding on a general mood board for the album. This is not a concept album in the traditional sense – mostly because our “story” is multi-layered and largely open for interpretation – but the music and the lyrics are meant to be experienced from start to finish. This narrative provided the approximate direction for the music, and we tried to make the different parts and songs evolve and branch out from one another. We decided early on that this would be a labour of love, without a lot of outside pressure. Before starting recording, we relocated from our rehearsal space and built a small studio in the basement of my house, where we spent the good part of a year slowly assembling the album – so it is indeed carefully considered (maybe too much!). We didn’t play it to anyone before handing it over to Lawrence Mackrory for final mix and mastering. It was a very peaceful operation. And as for the saxophone parts, we didn’t want Magnus to conform to any idea about what death metal “should” sound like – although he is a hugely open-minded musician. We were reluctant to just add saxophone flourishes here and there; we wanted the saxophone to carry the riffs, and we had a vague idea about using the tonal timbre of the instrument in all of the songs to enrich the distorted guitar and add a rough, brooding quality to the bass.

Is there a story behind the name of the band and the cover art?

Påhl: The name Gold Spire is actually derived from a 1940s novel that takes place in the region in northern Sweden where me and Erik grew up. It is loosely connected to our idea behind the lyrics, but this is not important trivia. For us, it is a symbol of our mutual musical journey – but we really want the reader to draw his or her own conclusions regarding the lyrics and the theme of the band. I hate it when artists try to explain themselves and you realise that your own interpretation was cooler than theirs! So I’ll try not to do that. 

Coming back to the histories of the band members, where did the idea of creating Gold Spire come from and how did the band come together?

Påhl: Well, to explain this I will have to go back to the time when I was still playing with my old band Usurpress. Even though he was never an official member, my brother Erik had been pretty important for that band during the later years – he helped me write several of my songs for The Regal Tribe back in 2015–16 and also did session drums during rehearsals, since our regular drummer took a small break from the band. When the time came to write Interregnum, in 2017, Erik was involved through the whole process together with me, Daniel Ekeroth and Steffe Pettersson. It was during those writing sessions that a lot of the foundation for Gold Spire was laid out. Not only because we generated more material than we could fit onto the album, but I also felt that it would be cool to expand some of those ideas in a more uncompromising manner, so to speak. The time following the release of Interregnum was a difficult one for all of us. Steffe Pettersson had been battling cancer for some time, and just as we thought things were taking a turn for the better he got worse, and passed away just a couple of months after the release of Interregnum. It was a devastating blow for me personally, and it was not until 2019 that I was ready to continue working on the Gold Spire stuff. The thing that got the whole thing moving back in 2019 was a conversation I had with my friend, jazz saxophone player Magnus Kjellstrand. When I told him about mine and Eriks ideas he signed up on the spot, before hearing one note! The idea of having a saxophone player really sparked our creativity and made us re-think the creative process in a lot of ways. Then, we contacted Petter Broman since he is a very good friend and, coincidentally, an ingenious and versatile bass player. We have played with him in the past and knew that he would be a perfect fit for this band. As for Heval, Erik and I have known him since the Usurpress days, and I am a fan of every one of his bands. I think it was maybe a year after Usurpress had folded when he asked me if I had something else going on, and when I told him about the plans for Gold Spire he was very intrigued. Heval has quite a broad taste in music, and I think it was the weirdness of the entire proposition that pulled him in.

Do different musical formats (vinyl, cassette, digital etc) make a difference for you (both as a music fan and music maker) and is there any chance we’ll see a vinyl release of the album?

Påhl: For me, the physical format is still very important. This might sound like a mental illness for younger people, but I actually find it difficult to really enjoy music if I don’t own a physical copy of it! I am happy to say that my personal collection is still pretty much limited to vinyl and cd’s, though. Cassettes are a little bit too irrational, even for me. And also, I am a fan of albums – a collection of songs meant to be experienced as a whole – and I can’t really get that feeling from listening to streamed music. Regarding a vinyl release of our album, I am 99% certain that this will become a reality during the first half of 2022.

Are there plans to tour the album and play these songs live?

Påhl: Not at the moment, no. We are, sadly, not in our twenties anymore, and the amount of time that would require is a very real obstacle. In fact, we have no ambition to reach a million people and sell loads of albums, either – we are perfectly happy making music for ourselves plus a handful of interested people. However, if the stars aligned and the right opportunity presented itself – who knows?

 Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention or promote? 

Påhl: Buy our album! And thank you very much for this interview!

interview by Tom Boatman

Thanks again to Påhl for his time. Gold Spire’s self-titled debut is out now on Chaos Records. Don’t sleep on it, it’s a great album. Check it out on the links below and follow the band on social media to keep up to date.


US store

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