If you have listened to Zornheym, a Symphonic Extreme Metal band from Sweden, then you already know about Richard Bendler’s voice: he can be ultra harsh, extremely aggressive, but he also delivers some of the most melodic and beautiful clean vocals I’ve listened to. Bendler agreed to do this interview and I’m really glad he did, I was so curious about his whole career and well, as always, about some more personal things… If you want to know too, keep on reading.
Hi Richard, thank you for agreeing to this. First thing (and mandatory) I want to ask you, how are things in the asylum? Are the guys in Zornheym working hard on new stuff?
Bendler: Hi Sílvia and thanks for having me!
Yes we are working hard on some new stuff, me and Zorn are talking and sharing ideas and material on a daily basis regarding writing the third album.
Zorn is the main writer and he usually comes up with an idea that he shares with me so I can start to work on song patterns and melodies and then we send stuff back and forth.
Besides your great voice, both harsh and clean, there’s your strong presence on stage. Where do you get your disinhibition for such theatrical performance? Have you worked as an actor before, maybe?
Bendler: I’m an entertainer, and always have been, haha goes all the way back to my early years in school when I was the class little entertainer.
I used to arrange gigs in my grandpa’s barn when I was 10 years old where I invited the village kids to see me miming to Twisted Sister and Europe.
I love acting but I have never done it on a professional level, but it’s a dream of mine.
I think that part of the “charm” about Zornheym is due to its visuals (energetic performances, the videos with great characterization, the graphic novel…) This enhances the fantastic music. Are you an active part in the creative process of the music, lyrics…?
Bendler: Yes, I’m part of the creative process, and I’m grateful that I am, I mean it’s Zorn’s idea the whole thing, is his baby if you know what I mean.
I make all my song melodies and patterns and I’m part of the visual stuff also and usually give some input lyrically and for the general concept too.
I know artists out there that are not involved at all in their making of their music or visual stuff, and that’s sad, for me it’s very important to be part of the creative process.
Which was the first gig that Zornheym did? Do you remember if you were nervous?
Bendler: Yes I remember it very well, one of Zornheym’s most successful gigs so far.
It was in France Motocultor 2017 and it was in front of a couple of thousand, so for a first timer it was absolutely killer!
And yes it was a nervous situation definitely, but I’m able to turn nervousness into a strength instead.
What is the song you love the most to perform live?
Bendler: Love to do Corpus Vile, where I come out in my inmate coat and mask on, and to half the song I go behind the stage to take it off and back on to do the ending of the song, its theatrical and I love that stuff, and it’s gonna be more of that, I promise.
What can you tell us about your other projects/bands, Richard? Are you working on some new stuff in any of them?
Bendler: I only have my own BENDLER stuff and my brother’s project ENGULFING.
I have a bunch of songs that I’m working on, it doesn’t sound like Zornheym at all, it’s more towards the Metal genre, both BENDLER and ENGULFING are on Spotify and Youtube if someone wants to check it out!
Do you have any routines for preparing yourself before coming out on stage?
Bendler: No not really, it’s important to have a good night sleep and to drink water so your vocal chords don’t dry up while performing.
I work out a lot so I can be in shape at all times, so I can run around on stage and not lose my ability to sing both harsh and clean.
When was the very first time that you performed in front of some audience?
Bendler: Ooh that’s a long time ago haha, maybe back in 92, me and Lars from Scar Symmetry had a band called BACK WARDNESS, I was one of the guitar players.
Besides doing vocals, which instruments can you play?
Bendler: Guitar is the only instrument I can still play pretty decently, when I produce my BENDLER stuff I do all the instruments.
Which bands were you listening to in your teens? Are you still listening to them?
Bendler: I do, it may seem boring but I listen to Iron Maiden every day, and have done so since ‘88 when I found them. For me Maiden gives me energy and joy, it’s a storytelling band with loads of stories to find, and it’s a theatrical band, and Bruce is one of the absolute best performance artists out there.
And their way of building music is very appealing to me, the structure and melodies are in my opinion absolutely great, and I have loads of great memories of Maiden.
Is there any vocalist(s) that you consider an influence for you?
Bendler: Bruce Dickinson has influenced me, a great performer.
Michael Kiske also, his pitch is absolutely crazy!
For harsh vocals I really don’t have any that I’ve been influenced by, Dan Swanö (EDGE OF SANITY) has a great way to alternate between clean and growl, I like that.
As a metalhead, do you prefer listening to classic or new stuff? Can you tell us some of your favorite bands and albums?
Bendler: As I mentioned before, Maiden is something that I prefer, “Somewhere in Time” was the first album I heard with them so that one is very close to me.
HELLOWEEN “Keeper of the 7 keys” part 1 & 2, love them.
BLIND GUARDIAN “Imaginations from the other side” & “Nightfall in Middle Earth”.
TESTAMENT “The Gathering”.
How do you see the underground Metal scene nowadays?
Bendler: I have to be honest here, I don’t have any insights in that, but my guess is still hard and even harder after the corona to make it, but it’s blooming for sure. And now we have all kinds of uncertainty in our world today, war, climate change and unstable economy, and that maybe reflects the stage in some way, but that makes it even more important that we all can enjoy music in all forms and styles and that we find strength in the tunes, and still brings us together.
Can you name a song that’s special for you, for being highly emotional?
Bendler: “Arc of Space” with Bruce Dickinson has a very special place in my heart.
Do you think a lot about what the future can bring you? Or are you a person who mainly lives in the present?
Bendler: I’m a person that dont like to dwell in the past and such, I prefer to live in the present, and to think what the future holds for me is very appealing.
What does Metal mean to you in your life?
Bendler: Metal gives me energy and inspiration, I listen to Metal everyday when I workout, and that’s every day, it means so much to me. Music in general is an extremely large portion of life for me.
Many thanks for your time, Richard, wishing you the best. Is there anything else you want to add?
Bendler: Thank you for the interview! Zornheym will release something very cool soon so keep your eyes on our social media. The third album is also coming together nicely so stay tuned for that one too! Take care!
Interview by Sílvia
Check out the Symphonic Extreme Metal band Zornheym in which Bendler performs with his great vocal skills, and don’t miss this band live if you have the chance. Check out Richard’s solo project, Bendler, and Engulfing too, and support the underground.
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**