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Agent Side Grinder - Back to electronic roots | Interview

Agent Side Grinder are back with a new album "A/X".

Agent Side Grinder are considered one of the Swedish giants and leading bands when it comes to dark electronics.

This May, ASG returns with a completely new full-length album, "A/X", bringing the band back to their root sound, which included more dark electronic elements and synths.

"A/X" was long expected, since, apart from the already known hit-singles "Doppelganger" and "Stripdown" which are included in the album, "A/X" is the first full-length album recorded with the new singer of the band, Emanuel Astrom, on the vocals. Along with Emanuel, ASG members are Johan Lange and Peter Fristedt.

Agent Side Grinder - Doppelganger (official video)

The two singles had made clear that ASG would introduce a more electronic and danceable sound, along with all the known elements of the band's music, as metallic beats, infectious basslines, sweeping synth melodies and extremely strong tracks.

Another thing that makes ASG a special band is their powerful live prformances, ASG have performed live in several venues around Europe and in some of the biggest festivals as well. Wave-Gotik-Treffen, M'era Luna, The Great Escape, Eurosonic, Les Transmusicales de Rennes, Entremurahlas, Bimfest, Drop Dead Festival and Arvikafestivalen are some of their live appearances.

ElektroSpank | FMA was looking forward to this release and speak with the Swedish electro masters. I am really happy to have had this conversation with ASG and specifically with the band's singer Emanuel Astrom. Please enjoy...

Photos by: Ludvig Lindqvist - Logo by: Peter Lundbergh

ES: Hello Agent Side Grinder. I'd like to tell you that I am really happy for this conversation. A new album is already out but before asking you about this, would you like to introduce yourselves and Agent Side Grinder to our readers and dark scene fans?

Agent Side Grinder is a dark electronic band from Bromma in the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden. In the current iteration there's three of us. Sonic architect Peter Fristedt, multi-instrumentalist Johan Lange and singer Emanuel Åström.

ES: Now, I would like to go straight to the new album, "A/X". A beautiful collection of dark-electro, post punk song with a "touch" of synthwave. Can you tell us some things about this album? It is your fifth full-length release, and it was long expected, I might say.

It's was long expected for us too. We had do reinvent the band after losing three members, and most of A/X was written by Johan and Peter during a time when the band's future was uncertain to say the least. The last pieces came together when Emanuel joined in 2017. After that, the album took roughly a year and a half to finish. The result is slightly schizophrenic and brutally honest record, full of twists and turns.

ES: We've seen an increase of the electronic elements on "A/X", at least in comparison with "Alkimia". Which are the influences on "A/X" music-wise?

With this album we're going back to our electronic roots. More late 80's and even early 90's, than the 70's post punk of Alkimia. Klinik and Front 242, as well as Skinny Puppy and Youth Code have been the buzzwords around the studio. Also there's some nods to acid, John Carpenter scores and even a Daft Punk/Kraftwerk combo. Emanuel keeps coming back to Massive Attack and Peter has been tutoring us in the works of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental. The list goes on.

ES: To me "A/X" is the most compact and mature work by Agent Side Grinder. What would you say are the main differences of "A/X" in relation to the previous four full-length albums?

The most striking difference is the production. Producer Jon Bordon became almost like a fourth band member by helping us build this bigger and more bombastic sound. The result is more polished but still keeps the songs' dark and twisted presence.

ES: What is the concept idea behind "A/X"? What does "A/X" stands for and what inspired you lyric-wise?

We've seen the album as the soundtrack to the nightclub at the start of the apocalypse. And with the reboot of the band, after going through the-split up that's really how we felt. Standing and the edge of something new, unexplored, frightening and revitalising at the same time. That's also what the title stands for. Lyrically the themes return to the mental state after the split, as well as the pre-apocalyptic, almost cold war, vibes of today.

ES: What is coming up next for Agent Side Grinder? Are there any promotional moves for "A/X" scheduled? Live shows, tour or anything else?

We will be playing some festivals during the summer, starting in France in June and peaking with Amphi in the end of July. In October and November we're going on a tour across Europe. A/X is also being released in North America through Metropolis Records, soon. So hopefully a US tour later on.

ES: We've seen that you prefer to use analogue equipment in your music. Can you tell us the main differences you believe analogue equipment has in comparison with modern tools and technology?

To us it was just a matter of using what we could get our hands on when we started out, and then using analogue synths through amplifiers became a part of our sound. It's just more hands-on than working through a computer. Also Peter makes some of our gear in his workshop. The spring percussion and tape loops for example. It gives the sound a more personal connection.

ES: We've seen the use of analogue equipment increasing in dark, synth bands around the world and this scene is growing continuously. How do you feel about this turn to the synth-punk, dark electro of the 80's? Which are, in your opinion, the main reasons that new bands and artists choose that style of dark music?

There is something with darkness that has kind of natural appeal to many people, it's part of being human. The analogue synth sounds help bring that out in a way few other instruments can. Also, the bands that pioneered the post punk and dark electronic genres are finally starting to get the acclaim they deserve. They're becoming iconic like Elvis or The Beatles. Teenagers today still know about, for example, The Cure or Joy Division.

ES: You have been in the dark scene over a decade. How do you see it developing? How is the scene currently in Sweden? To me your country is one of the most active and productive in the electro, synth, and dark music.

As we said earlier, a new generation of musicians is discovering the same influences as we’ve had. But they create new sounds from that, which brings energy to the entire scene. Then there are many purists too, and we respect them a lot as well, but electronic music was never meant to be conservative, and many new bands are contributing to keep the scene vital.

ES: Looking back to your successful course and musical paths since the day Agent Side Grinder formed, is there anything, any special fact or event, which has marked this course? And is there something that you would choose to change throughout this years?

There are several milestones, but we're not very nostalgic. ASG has been around for a little over ten years, a band that's been active that long is bound to change over time. Each album speaks quite clearly for where we were at that given moment, our influences and ambitions.

ES: Closing this interview, is there anything else you would like to share with the fans of Agent Side Grinder and our readers? Any last words?

Thank you for sticking with us through a rough period. Now we're in from the cold and ready to reward the loyalty and support we've felt the last few years.

Agent Side Grinder - Stripdown (official video)






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ElektroSpank FMA is an online music magazine about the darkest side of our lives.

We write about Gothic, industrial, dark wave and all of their sub genres. ElektroSpank FMA is not only about music, but for the dark, Gothic lifestyle as well. We try to support the music and scenes we love. For those who have never heard about ElektroSpank before please visit our about page for more info and history.

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