The Haunted will very shortly be releasing their new album Strength in Numbers, which brings together the best elements of their back catalogue with new influences and explorations. Guitarist and founding member Patrik Jensen was eager to talk about how the band has changed over the years. “As compared to the last album, Exit Wounds, same line-up and everything. I think that the big difference is that on that album, it’s usually me, Jonas [Björler] and Ola [Englund] that write the riffs. So on that first album it was me and Jonas. Ola contributed, but I think maybe he was still trying his ground. He was new in the band, a band that has almost twenty years’ history at that point. You know, the band has a certain core sound that you might need to get familiar with first. And on this Strength in Numbers album, I think he felt more, ‘Okay, I know what the band is about, I know how we can push things in different directions.’ And maybe we also gelled more as people because we’ve done tours together, and you get to know people really well during tours, and he felt maybe comfortable with bringing forth his ideas. So on this album I would say he actually has written the greater share of the riffs on this album. How we’ve grown musically is that we’ve grown stronger as a unit. I think we all have the music within ourselves,” he reflects, “but just because we’ve grown stronger and everyone is happy, we have a good atmosphere and everything, everyone feels comfortable with coming forward with their ideas. I think that is the strength from the growth of the band.”

The positivity is obvious in Jensen’s voice as he elaborates on Englund’s contributions. “First of all, of course he’s a great rhythm guitar player, but he’s also a real solo guitar player. Anders [Björler], in the band for many years is very melodic and so on, but his solo style is almost like it’s a harmony along with the rhythm guitars. It’s still a great memorable solo and everything, but it’s not what Yngwie Malmsteen would call a guitar solo,” he says wryly. “So with Ola in the band we now have someone who likes to take that spotlight, who really gets into playing those things, so that has brought an extra dimension to the band. Those harmonies that Anders played there, we still have them because of course we have his twin brother Jonas still in the band, and they have the same kind of approach to harmony, so Jonas still contributes those guitar parts. The biggest thing that [Englund] has contributed with is that we have a solo guitar player now. Clearly you know that Ola is also a YouTuber. The guy’s very enterprising. So we have someone who’s really put new life in the band, getting everyone motivated every day, ‘Come on, let’s go, we gotta do this!’ and everyone’s happy of course,” Jensen hastens to add. “Sometimes it takes that one person to say, ‘Let’s go!’ With him we’ve got someone who’s very driven and very musically gifted, so he was a great person to get to add to the band.”

Continuing to discuss the current line-up, Jensen reflects on what drummer Adrian Erlandsson has brought back to The Haunted after playing with a number of other bands. “I grew up with Adrian,” he reveals. “He’s one of my best mates. I got to know him when my first band, Séance, did a European tour together with At the Gates. He was such a nice guy, we got along so well that I actually moved to Gothenburg to start a new band with him, a band that turned out to be The Haunted, actually. Adrian left the band after the first album because we only played 19 shows on that first album, 19 shows on an album that we’re on the number one spot all over the world with ‘Best Newcomer,’ blah blah blah.” It’s clear that Jensen was dissatisfied with that time also. “So he left because he didn’t see a future in the band. With him back in the band, of course him being my best mate, I love playing with him. But he also brings chops with him that he developed playing with Cradle of Filth because they have lots of blast beats and everything. That’s something that we don’t have that much of, we have a few blast beats here and there on some albums, but he has those chops down and he has grown as a musician, of course, from playing with other people. So he brings more tricks and tools to the table now than when he was in a band in the first place, which I also do even though I have been in the band for the whole time, I hope that I’ve also grown somewhat during these twenty years,” he adds with a self-deprecating laugh. “So Adrian came back a stronger musician than he was when he left, definitely.”

Another integral part of the Strength in Numbers team was producer Russ Russell. “The first three albums we had Fredrik Nordstrom produce the albums, and then from Revolver onwards we had Tue Madsen, and we kept him on Exit Wounds just because there were so many new members in the band that we wanted to keep much of the Haunted entity together. But with this album we thought it was natural to take another step towards a different sound, so we knew Russ Russell from a tour with Napalm Death, ’98 I think, and he did the live sound for Napalm Death. He’s a really funny guy, great guy. He’s been around forever. He did at least one, maybe a couple of Napalm Death albums. So we liked his style, it was more edgy. Tue Madsen has that heavy thickness to it, a richness to the whole sound, which is cool, but we wanted to achieve something different. So we thought okay, Russ will be the guy that can deliver that, and I think did,” Jensen finishes proudly. “I think he made a killer production out of this album. You know, it’s always somewhat of a gamble when you choose who to work with because you never know how things will pan out, but this was really good, we’re very happy with Russ’ work.”

The last time The Haunted played Australia, it was alongside Insomnium. Jensen has fond memories of that trek. “Any Australian tour is more or less a perfect tour,” he enthuses. “Maybe people believe that bands say this, if they speak to someone from France they’ll say this or that, but Australia really stands out as a beautiful country. People are so welcoming and hospitable. I don’t know if it’s because you know, for generations you’ve been so far away, and whoever comes has made a journey to come. But you know, the colours, the nature, everything about Australia’s beautiful, so we really love playing in Australia. With Insomnium I remember, they’re Finnish, so I remember a few very wet nights of course, with different alcoholic beverages,” he chuckles. “It was a great tour, of course. We’re looking forward to coming back to Australia. I think we have advance plans on the next Australian tour, I think it’ll happen in early 2018. Can’t wait!”

With a Haunted tour on the horizon, Jensen also has exciting news about another of his bands, Witchery. “Very big news,” he declares, leaving a pregnant pause. He laughs at the anticipation he generates. “I’m pretty fast with writing music and so on, so I was done before everyone else with The Haunted. We write maybe five skeletons of songs each, me, Jonas and Ola, and then we get together and we start, ‘Okay, what can we make better here? How do we write these songs?’ So my songs were done. I had time over, and that’s when I wrote the album that came out last year, November. Then there was still more time. So I wrote the new album. And maybe tomorrow or something, there will be an announcement that there’s going to be a new Witchery album coming out November this year as well.”

With that, Jensen adds a few final remarks for The Haunted’s Australian fans. “I’m serious when I say that we want to get back to Australia. It is a Metal country. I love AC/DC, so of course I’ve visited Bon Scott’s grave and everything. Australia is very dear to me, and we want to come back as soon as possible. So look out for us Australia!”

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