Prog Sphere spoke recently with singer Nad Sylvan, these days in Agents of Mercy. Read what he had to say exclusively for the readers of Prog Sphere.
Nick: Hello, Nad. How's life?
Nad: Hi Nick, life is great. Very busy right now with my house and garden, before my dad and brother arrives (from the
where they reside). Also tracking vocals for the new Agents of Mercy album. US
Nick: I would like to thank you for this interview, we both know you're quite busy these days. We hear the new Agents of Mercy is on the way, after all. would you like to tell us anything about it? What can we expect? Are there any guest musicians on the new record? We'll take any details you're willing to give us!
Nad: Oh the new AoM album is quite intriguing! As always, it’s a pleasure to sing Roine’s songs. They are all so powerful and I feel as if they were especially written for my voice! And that is awesome. This time I have also co-written two songs with him and there are three songs written solely by myself, the rest are his. We recorded it in just one week in a very quaint retro studio in southern
, just outside Malmö (were I actually was brought up) - Varispeed studios, so in contrast to "The Fading Ghosts of Twilight" - it isn’t recorded piecemeal. It has got a wholeness over it thanks to that – and you can feel it’s recorded live (with no click!). Very energetic. We have a new and young (25) very good drummer - Michael Wahlgren, who we got through recommendations from Lalle Larsson. He played on Lalle’s "Weaveworld" album. Other than that, it is me, Roine, Jonas and Lalle who plays/sings on the album. I also got to say, these new songs has more edge, more rocking and more attitude. You can actually hear that this is a band, not a project anymore! Sweden
Nick: Let's go a little bit into the past. What were the reasons for shutting Unifaun down? Did you only found it to create that oneshot album? I bet a lot of people hoped for more material from the band, especially the fans of Genesis since Unifaun was sort of an homage to it.
Nad: This is a tough question - and I have expected it to surface sooner or later. Let’s just say that it was a very timeconsuming project which took WAY too long to finish off. It started as a joke and grew into something very serious. I don’t think we understood at the time what we had gotten ourselves into! But the album did very well and I am very proud of it. Thanks to Unifaun, I am now with Roine. And since AoM took off like it did - I saw no real reason to do a second album with Bonamici. The problem is basically that he is working on different terms. As I see it, he did not have the same aspirations as I and hence he did not put so much effort into the project, things he was supposed to do were never finished - so I was very frustrated and eventually I felt we were better off apart. We haven’t spoken in a year, a sad thing - but I hope he is happy. So when Roine came along, everything just clicked - and finally I was working with people I could really relate to. That’s pretty much it.
Nick: What artists, especially singers have been influenced you? I think I can recognize Peter Gabriel in your vocals.
Nad: Peter Gabriel is just one of them, and I suppose his influence is more of a subconscious thing. I just happen to have a timbre in my voice that is quite similar to his. It’s all natural, nothing I put on. Though I admit this was a beneficial thing when I did the Unifaun album! :) Other singers are obviously Phil Collins, but also Rufus Wainwright, Stevie Wonder, Gino Vannelli and Glenn Hughes to mention a few.
Nick: Would you mind telling us how you got in touch with Roine Stolt to found Agents of Mercy? Seems like AoM is going to become a full-time band now. Also, what's Roine like to work with?
Nad: It was actually Roine who got in touch with me two years ago. I had known of him since the mid 70’s, so I was very glad to hear from him. He had heard and read about Unifaun, looked us up and just digged my voice. Yes, AoM is slowly turning in to a full-fledged entity. We obviously hit it off with each other big time with the European and US tour last year (The Power of Two). We are all very good friends, the aspiration level is over all very high and so recording the new album with the same line up was just a natural progression. We enjoy each others company immensely! How Roine is to work with? Very meticulous, self critical and extremely gifted. He is kind hearted, almost too kind sometimes and just a dreamboat of a chap! He gives me very much "free hands" to experiment and develop his and my own ideas. He is a true artist in every sense, bless him.
Nick: What was it like to share the stage with Karmakanic? People do not have so many chances to see such a highly-skilled group of musicians in the same time on one stage. One of the products of that tour was a live album, and I must say that you guys did amazing job. Could we expect some more "joint-ventures" like this in the future?
Nad: I cannot see why not. I don’t see any other bands doing a dual show like we do, and I enjoy being the front man just as well as a side man. It’s all for the music you know. Karmakanic have a couple of albums under the belt whereas AoM only have one, so backing each other up was a cool thing to do I think. It didn’t really feel like it was all of a sudden Karmakanic, it was still US you know, up there on the stage performing songs we all enjoy. Besides, Jonas is currently in the writing process for a new Karmakanic album.
Nick: Speaking of Agents of Mercy so far, it's possibly one of the few bands whose influences are wide enough to have Genesis on top of Beatlesesqe arrangements with Floyd's depth, while still managing to be very progressive." If I were to ask you to describe the music of AoM in one word, how did you do it?
Nick: You've lent your voice recently to an album by the Swedish art rock/pop band Fred. Tell us a bit more about it.
Nad: I was approached by a very friendly guy, Peter Lazar who just wanted my voice for this song he had written. If I like the rest of the material I could imagine recording it (enough for an album), but if not - I have told him so - I am out. :) I liked the song a lot, but AoM comes first as he knows. I like to sing other genres than prog and so I thought a little pop couldn’t hurt anyone!
Nick: In some of the reviews of "Power of Two" album, I have seen you described as "eccentric". Do you consider yourself eccentric and what does that mean to you?
Nad: I suppose I do stand out a little, a tall slim long haired androgynous character looking like something out a 17th century novel! I suppose there is a little more drama over my presence than that of the "regular" progger on stage. I hope it is a good thing. Obviously Roine likes it, who now is letting his hair grow long again!
Jorge: Speaking of "eccentric" and "The Power of Two", who chose the Nixon/Mao cover art and what does it symbolize?
Nad: It is Roine’s drawing and I think it is supposed to depict the powers of two big nations.
Nick: What sort of music have you been listening to recently? Have you discovered a band or album that has been so good it just freezes you in your tracks?
Nad: All I can say is - Rufus Wainwright. All is great, all is wonderful. Goosbumps don’t even begin to cover it!
Nick: Is the music your life profession, something that brings you money, or you're under pressure to get up early every day and spend several hours somewhere where you probably don't like to be?
Nad: I am a very privileged guy who can execute my music at work. And I sleep in every morning.
Jorge: If you could work with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Nad: Steve Hackett. I don’t think his drummer is doing justice to the Genesis classics when singing them. I believe I could challenge him! I would also like to work with Nick Beggs, his bass player. That guy is an amazing talent, besides he looks so cool and almost steals the show!
Nick: Do you have any plans for the future?
Nad: No immediate plans. But we are taking AoM on the road again this autumn, and for the first time in my life - I wish that summer was already over!
Nick: I think we're done here. If there's something that you would like to say, now's a good time.
Nad: Yes, I would like to say this: What ever your dreams are, don’t you ever give up on them. Life is here and now, tomorrow you may be gone.
Nick: Thanks for the interview, Nad. I hope I get the chance to see you live in
Nad: Thank you!
Photos by Heidi Sverin
Photos by Heidi Sverin