Siena Root is one of the most significant Swedish bands, when it comes to vintage heavy rock. A band with more or less 2 decades of a very distinctive, soulful, and organic sound, very well rooted in the 60s and 70s, with an outstanding career and great albums throughout the years. ‘Revelation’ is their upcoming album, which sounds amazingly good, a record which solidifies their sound, is true to their past but is looking promisingly to the future with a dynamic and ‘classic’ (to the band’s standards) approach. Myth of Rock had the privilege to speak – among other things – about it with Love Forsberg, the band’s drummer/percussionist who was one of the founding members of the band and is one of the most fitting persons to discuss with us all matters around Siena Root’s past, present and future.
by Antonis Mantzavinos
Good afternoon my friend, how are you doing? Where do we find you?
Hello Antonis, I am doing fine, I am just home now, from some appointments, returned home and I need to go to a dinner first and then off to the rehearsal room, so, quite a busy Sunday I must say!
I would like to start with the upcoming album, soon to be released. What is the story behind the title first of all? Any specific meaning that you would like to share with us?
Yeah, some might think that it has something religious about it. I wouldn’t say it’s like that because none of us is specifically religious at all. We were writing and recording this album in a long period of time, first we thought ‘Maybe it would be an all-acoustic album’. But then after a while, we discovered that these electric songs are really nice and they fit together with the acoustic songs, both theme wise and lyrically wise. Then we had the whole album recorded, and we thought ‘Ok, what’s the name of the album going to be?’. We listened to it and it sounds like a dynamic root revelation!
Give us a little bit of the background for writing songs on this one. I know also that you had the album ready a bit earlier as well, so I am interested to hear the story behind making this wonderful record, one of my favorite of the band.
Well, what I can say about it and as I said before, it was during a long period of time, there was covid, we realized that it was not possible to tour and make any live shows at all in the year 2020. So, we thought like, what are we gonna do? So, let’s record some new material. So, it was difficult to keep up with the steady work, when there was not live show, Siena Root is a live band what we got used to be active on stage and play live gigs and be close to the people and our fans. We had to figure something out. It just happened naturally that this recording took a lot of time. At first, we recorded it in Dalarna, in a studio outside of Borlänge, called Omnivox. We recorded there our last album “The secret of our time”. But then it started out the guy who owned the studio, wanted to do a video of the studio itself and our recording sessions, and we thought, ok, let’s try out. Like many other things with Siena Root, it blows up and becomes big! After a while, we thought that this is not working out. The studio owner went one direction, and we went another direction. The film maker was fine doing a lot of shooting but at the end, we had an album and a movie, about 40 mins long. A documentary about how the album was actually made and recorded. So, here we are now, 3 years later!
Thank you for all this trivia, this is quite interesting and detailed!
Siena Root has evolved a lot as a band to my opinion. Keeping its core sound values and DNA, it has developed throughout the years. How do you perceive this change over the course of time?
Oh, yeah, that is a tough one, very good question actually! Wrapping up 20 years of development is not a n easy task! You are right, that some things stayed the same and some others simply doesn’t. Like it can become obvious to some people, the lineup has been changing but it has been a steady change so far I must say. This is the first album with the same vocalist we used on the exact previous album. Zubaida is doing a great job, both singing the songs but also writing songs and lyrics. She is a very dedicated band member; this is a big change that has happened during the recent years. But what I can also say is that, with the first album, being a steady 4 piece into a more hippie collective that has been incorporating guest artists to then come back again into a steady member band, it has been a fantastic trip for us! It’s also about, not focusing too much on the personnel or the lineup per se, but the music, the ideas, the inspirations. There are many bands out there that want to do AC/DC, keep the same line up and write the same songs over and over. Not many bands manage that, because it is so damn hard to doit! We always wanted to stay fresh and stay on our toes and move forward in the song writing and try new ideas about how to write songs and inspirations, everything from vintage music to North African inspired music, etc. We necessarily don’t want to be repetitive, not make the same songs again and again, even though you can hear a lot of resemblance in our albums of course.
Coming back to ‘Revelation’, I must say that an amazing work has been done on the overall production and the warm and organic sound on all songs, but I must specifically praise the vocals of Zubaida on this album, where she absolutely shines! She has a fantastic voice and is a great performer as well. How did it come up working with her and what do you think about her contribution on the Siena Root sound? To me, she perfectly fits on this modern-vintage version of the band which I really like.
Yeah, I can just say that I noticed her on several occasions, when she played with the Frank Zappa cover band, I am huge fan of Frank Zappa myself, she did an amazing work there. She has done some blues stuff as well, so I had a pretty good image of her playing live. I instantly noticed that she has a unique music talent. She plays fantastic keyboards too, you have seen that yourself, right?
Absolutely, I remember the last time I saw Siena Root in Nalen and she was awesome behind the keyboards too!
When we came to the position that she has done guest performances with us, both Matte and Eric, were not able to be on tour with us anymore. It was very natural to ask her, she was very hungry for new music and to participate with the band. It was really nice to welcome her in the SR family, and as you say, her voice is perfect for what the bands plays and wants to play. She is also becoming a very good keyboard player, evolving further.
What is the story of Siena Root? How did the band start and evolved throughout the years? You have collaborated with so many different musicians and have done so many excellent records, live albums, etc. And also, what are you most proud of about the band? The latter is a question, I have always wanted to ask you, since I heard the band many years back and first saw you playing with the band in Greece.
That’s a really nice question actually, thank you for this! First time anybody asked me about this! What comes naturally to me is that we have managed to stay true to keeping the music and art in the first place and put priority in the fun and the having a good time together playing together. Putting art in the first place, rather than this is what the fans wanna hear or this sells more records. Of course, we think about these things as well, no question about it. But on the forefront as a priority for us is music and art put in the core and as a priority. We always come back to if we don’t like this or the sound or fancy doing this song or this riff and melody, we don’t do it at all, there is no point. Very often, we play on the shows the songs that we think fit most of the current lineup at the given time. Its not necessarily the most popular songs. I am really happy and proud of that. If you listen only to what others like or say, then you find yourself in a very difficult situation. It’s easy to get lost and I see that in many bands, it is not appealing to me, the way I see things.
Have you played in another band/project in your career? And also give us a short description of how you started playing music yourself, what have been your main personal influences, etc.
Oh, ok, when I was younger I was playing in cover bands and smaller bands of course, nothing big. Currently I have this solo project, called ‘Unconditional Love’, it was released last year from Root Rock Records. Sam plays bass on many songs, K-G previously in Siena Root plays keys and a little bit guitar, Erik plays a bit of keys on 2 songs, it’s my project that I started during covid, where I elaborate with famous speeches and the beat, the rhythm, I write songs from famous speeches, e.g.: Martin Luther King Jr., Greta Thunberg, etc. So, I am pretty excited about it! It’s on LP and almost the entire album is on Spotify. I did the arrangements; a bit of songwriting was done together with my fellow musicians, and I also produced the album myself. The lyrics is all pre-recorded from famous speeches, there are 8 tracks with 8 different speakers.
This is definitely very inspirational and intriguing! Sounds really cool and reveals another creative part of you!
Yes, I am very happy about it!
Coming back to your question about what made me started playing music, I was in a music school where my dad encouraged me, doing classic percussion, but it was so appealing to me. After a while, in the higher school grade, I discovered that it was possible to play the drum kit with my school friends, we started playing the music we were listening to, like Guns N Roses, Black Sabbath, etc. And then like everyone else I guess, I tried to find my own way, I started my own bands, and then I met Sam on a birthday party of a mutual friend of course, we thought, let’s try to form a band, we both like the same stuff, like KISS! After a while it became what we called Siena Root!
Coming to the contemporary times, what could you share with us about the movie premiere on Thursday February 23rd of ‘Wheels of Revelation’?
Actually, you need to come and watch yourself on Thursday in Stockholm, you’re gonna like it! It is a documentary about the recording of the album, a very nice movie, around 40 mins.
Something between a road movie, full of pictures, without dialogues, and a lot of Swedish countryside!
If you had to name only one as the very special gig that Siena Root has played all those years so far, what would that be? Tough choice I know, but let’s try to pick one very unique for you.
Ha-ha, I think that, playing in Germany, it was Burg-Herzberg-Festival in 2005. Fantastic experience! A very special thing for me personally… We did not know what to expect at that time, we didn’t have any sleep at all the night before, we were locked out of our apartment, the trip from Berlin down to mid Germany and showing up on stage in front of thousands of people, totally sleep deprived, in a huge hippie event! We were gonna do the show just before Ten Years After! I thought it was a crazy and hilarious moment!
That must have definitely been very special, absolutely I can imagine that!
The last word is on you: any special message to the fans out there?
I am very much looking forward to meeting you all on stage after all these years of not having concerts, so, let’s see you all out there!
Thank you so much for today, I hope to see you soon out there in a gig.
Thank you very much Antonis, always a pleasure! See you in Stockholm next Thursday, let’s have some fun!