Interview with Daniel Gildenlöw

Dreams of all Polish prog rock fans finally came true – the mighty Transatlantic arrived in Poland. During „The Whirlwind” tour they visited Poznan where a small but enthusiastic audience welcomed them passionately. No wonder, as the band had remained silent for nine years since recording their previous album „Bridge Across Forever”. Consisting of four significant musicians: Neal Morse (ex Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings) and Pete Trewavas (Marillion), the band is being accompanied by an additional tour member, Daniel Gildenlöw who is the mastermind of the Swedish band Pain of Salvation. Having enormous luck, I managed to ask Daniel a few questions relating to the cooperation with Transatlantic and his own band.

How did you get to Transatlantic?

DG: It was back in 2001 and the tour they did. They looked for someone who could play lots of instruments, sing high and low and learn a lot of music very quickly. It seems that both Roine and Mike had heard my name be mentioned from different sources, so I was contacted by Roine in the end. He asked me if I wanted to be part of the tour to help out do all the stuff that they put on the album but they didn’t have arms enough for. That was it. It seems I have done something right since they asked me again when they’re making their tour now.

Did you have any reservations or doubts about joining Transatlantic?

DG: Prog rock is not the music that I normally listen to. The first time I was listening to the albums back in 2001 it was just like thirty minute songs. I know I never have enough time for stuff, I’m always in the middle of something else. I know that I’m not going to have the time to really sit down with it as much as I should, so I had a lot of doubts at that point.  And this time around I really wanted to do it, but we were in this music contest [Melodifestivalen] in Sweden and lots of things happened for us with Pain of Salvation. We were just in the last weeks of the recording of the new album. So from the time point of view it was very bad timing for me, but I still want to do it. I feel comfortable being out with these guys.

Transatlantic, photo: Robert Grablewski

To what extent are you allowed to influence Transatlantic during gigs?

DG: I don’t know… [pauses to reflect] I’ve never really tried my wings when it comes to being influential. Since with Pain of Salvation, I’m the engine and the one responsible for everything. I make all the music, I’m involved in every little detail, so I find it interesting and refreshing to be on the other side of the table and just be a musician. I don’t know, maybe in one or two weeks from now I’m going to be all frustrated and ask them for that [laughs]. They tell me the parts that they need, and then between that I have free hands to explore the space.

You didn’t participate in recording „The Whirlwind” album, so how do you find yourself somehow slipping into the music of Transatlantic?

DG: It would of course be simpler if I’d been a part of making it. You’re just coming in with different perspectives. I think it’s like that with everything, not just music. It’s one thing to have been a part of the whole process; you see it build up step by step and then everything makes sense from a mental point of view. When you’re coming in afterwards you’re supposed to learn this outside and foreign material. It gets blurred and harder to remember, you don’t know instinctively which section leads into which section and stuff like that.  So it’s both good and bad. It’s interesting to get into and learn something that is very external for you. In a way, if I’m looking for a different feeling than I have with Pain of Salvation that is also a thing that adds to the whole vibe. With Pain of Salvation I’m a part of the whole making process so this is also new to me; looking at the surface of the material and then trying to dig my way in slowly but surely.

How are you all getting on in Transatlantic? You’re five big and strong individuals.

DG: Everything’s working out really nicely. Everyone is so laid back and I think enjoying the company. I’m guessing from one point of view all five people are pretty different. We come from different directions musically, we have different tempers, even different social and cultural backgrounds. But we have so many things in common with music and all of us are pretty laid back people. We work in different ways but it makes for a good combination in the end.

Daniel Gildenlöw, photo: Robert GrablewskiIn 2001 you did the European tour with Transatlantic. This time you’re touring both in the USA and Europe. Can you see any difference between the American and European audiences?

DG: It’s hard to say because we’ve only made two shows in Europe right now. I have the feeling that the American audiences were more sitting down and listening. There’s a little bit more passion in the European audiences. But then again, with Pain of Salvation I’m used to a much more mixed and passionate audience so I’m still trying to get used to the idea of people just standing there and listening. That was the kind of audience we had far back with Pain of Salvation with the first albums. We had a lot of prog metal and prog rock fans. They tend to stand in the back. They give you respect by really paying attention to the music and maybe play drums in the air to show that they know when there’s a seven beat or when there’s a four by four. That never gave me any energy back really. I like people to invest emotionally in music when they get to the show. Of course I want us onstage to invest emotionally too. So I feel that back there I’m trying to invest myself emotionally and trying to get the audience and everyone sort of  loosening up a bit. It’s a hard task.

You make your own albums, produce them, write lyrics, join other projects, make tours, and at the top of it all you’re a husband and a father of two.  Still, you find goodwill and spare some of your personal time to share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

DG: It is too much, isn’t it? [laugh]

It is plenty indeed, hence my question: do you do it for you fans or just for fun?

DG: I think when I look at this there’re probably two angles of it. One of the angles would be that it’s somehow expected of you today. Maybe not for Transatlantic that connects to another type of audience, but a big portion of our audience with Pain of Salvation expects you to be on Facebook and Myspace. You should have the band on Facebook and every member should be on Facebook and you should have a band Myspace and every member should have Myspace. And you should have five or ten blogs going on simultaneously and you have to answer all your emails whether there’re a hundred a day – you should still answer them all or you’re just being an asshole. So part of it is responsibility, feeling that I cannot pass up on that, I need to do it. It would be easier to be one of those product bands where you can just have other people running your pages. But for Pain of Salvation and especially for me being sort of the content responsible type, it isn’t possible to have someone else do that for me. People turn to me with their important thoughts and feelings and then expect me to come with these profound and life changing thoughts about things. It would be a big difference if someone else was trying to pose as me.

But the other side of it is that I’ve noticed that when I try to pull back from all that and I just focus on the music, I’m losing a connection that I think is important. When you connect to the fans and the audience, that’s when an energy trade happens. And if I don’t have that feedback, I find myself becoming much more depressed. Because when you’re feeling that you’ve created something and you can’t see the connection and the receiver, when you can’t get any feedback on whether people like it or not, then it becomes like sitting in a silent room, just doing something and not having any idea if something happens. It’s like in „Lost”, pressing that button not really knowing if something happens when you do it. It becomes a tedious task somehow. So from that point of view I’ve noticed that I also need that connection, that energy flow going back and forth. Whether I like it or not. If people are saying stupid stuff I become very annoyed. It really gets to me. I’m really sensitive to negative feedback. I try to avoid reading reviews. Everything under 5 out of 5 makes me feel disappointed and misunderstood [laughs]. From that point of view I guess I’m not really cut out for this industry, but I don’t have a choice.

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