OVERDRIVE recently sat down for an evening chat with Jake E, vocalist for CyHra and previously for Amaranthe. We ended up having such a long and in-depth discussion that we’ve had to split it into two parts! After navigating the vagaries of time zones and daylight savings in both our countries, the Swedish Jake is already thinking about Australia.

“I’ve never been to Australia, that’s pretty odd,” he muses. “I really hope we will. Of course we’re working on it, but as a new band I guess you have to wait for the opportunity to appear. Right now we have no idea where we have fans, or not. I want to see a live kangaroo sometime in my life,” he chuckles. “I’ve been to most continents in the world, but I’ve never been to Australia. Not even with Amaranthe, which I find a little bit weird, Amaranthe has never played Australia either. I don’t know why. It will probably happen in the future, hopefully.”

“I’ve been lying sick for a couple of days, or a couple of weeks,” he apologises with a yawn, “But after the first show we did this weekend, I completely collapsed afterwards. It was like putting fuel on the campfire. The singing on the show just turned my flu into something completely different, it just exploded. I’m starting to get better today.”

When asked how the show went, he immediately becomes enthused. “It went amazing! Really, really amazing. I could not have expected the turn-out. I mean, it was like 350, 400 people coming to our first show, and the album’s been out for a week. For me, that was amazing.”

As for what’s next, “We’re booking concerts now, we have some Summer festivals lined up, we’re working on more of those. There’s a lot of shows that are confirmed, but they’re not official. We’re working on tours, so things will happen in the beginning of next year. We’re taking it a little bit slow, letting the album spin a little bit before Christmas time, and then we’ll probably head off at the end of January, beginning of February. I hope that the album gets some spins in Australia so that we can get down to you and have some fun, and some shrimps on the barby,” he says with a laugh and a mock Australian accent. “I’ve been watching too much Crocodile Dundee I guess.”

In addition to the former Amaranthe vocalist, CyHra brings together former members of In Flames, Annihilator and Rhapsody for their debut album, Letters to Myself. Jake E reflects, “It’s been great! The album in general has been written by me and Jesper [Stromblad]. We wrote more or less all the songs before the other members came aboard. So it’s been me and Jesper’s influence. The funny thing is that Jesper was my hero when I was growing up. He’s ten years older than me, so when I was 17 they were at the starting point of their career, they’d released two or three albums and were just starting to grow as a band. So I was a fan of In Flames from the start, more or less. In Flames’ music has always inspired me, growing up as a song writer. So in the end we figured out that me and Jesper’s personal way of writing songs is pretty similar. We wanted the same thing, and wanted it to sound the same, so subconsciously things just came and fit perfectly, and it makes whatever I brought up, whatever he brought up, we both liked it. It was actually a really easy write to form this album, in the way of getting the songs out. We never argued about anything. I think there was one drum-beat somewhere in the demo stage where we felt that, ‘Okay, I want this, and he wanted the other thing,’ but it was one time. Other than that, we were on the same page the whole way.”

As for the electronic elements on the album, Jake E explains, “It was probably me because I’m so used after writing three – I won’t say four albums, because I was really not writing much on the latest Amaranthe album – but in Amaranthe, we always used keyboards and electronics to make the sound more. As you can hear on the CyHra album, the keyboards and the electronics are not in the forefront of the mix, but you can still hear them. They’re there, but they have a cause, because they make the whole landscape of the sound bigger than if you would just have the guitars, drums and vocals. That’s something that from now on I think we’ll always use. On one of the songs there’s this modern electronic sound, and on some of the others they’re more orchestrated, violin sounds. It’s a mixture of different things.”

He goes on to reflect on other bands that have brought him inspiration. “I’ve been inspired a lot – I don’t say that CyHra sounds like it – but I’ve been inspired a lot by the latest 30 Seconds to Mars releases during the years, and I’ve also been inspired by Bring me the Horizon’s latest album, and also Sixx:A.M. has been there, especially Sixx:A.M.’s first album has been a little bit in the back of my head when I’ve been writing this album. So there’s a lot of Metal influences when it comes to the guitar riffs, but when it comes to the melodies and the way we have put down the songs, I also really like a bit more modern influences when it comes to Metal and rock.”

Jake E’s creative talents don’t stop at music. “I love making videos,” he says, and the passion is evident in his voice, “and if you’ve ever seen the Amaranthe videos, I am the one that’s been behind more or less all of them, the videos where I’m in it, like the ‘Boomerang’ video and whatever. The ‘Maximalism’ video I had nothing to do with. But ‘The Nexus,’ ‘Hunger,’ and all the other videos we made, it’s been a work of me when it comes to bringing the ideas, the locations, storyline to the table. I love making videos, and when it came to the ‘Karma’ one, I wanted to find a suitable story that reflects the lyrics in a way, and not only for ‘Karma’ but for the whole album. The lyrics and experience in this album is something we lived, it’s inherent in ourselves, both me and Jesper. Jesper had been struggling with alcohol addiction. He’s free from that but he will always be an alcoholic and that’s something that he’s working with every day, but he’s been clean now for almost two years. All these demons, all this anxiety that comes with it, the whole album is very close to both of us because both of us have been having a lot of problems during our lives. But with the video, it’s starts off in a way that you wake up and you start to run away from something, whatever, in this story it’s an evil guy with a sledgehammer, but the metaphor in the whole thing is that he’s running away and all of a sudden he’s hit in the back of his head, and he wakes up the same way as he was waking up in the beginning of the video. So it’s like a catch-22 in a way when you’re fighting drugs, when you’re fighting alcohol, when you’re fighting anxiety. You think you can run away from it easily, but it always gets back to you, and that’s what I was trying to perform in that video, trying to present to people that it’s not as easy as it looks.”

“I’m also an actor nowadays,” Jake E adds. “I love acting and I love the whole format of making video. But my dream has always been to perform some kind of a Michael Jackson video where you have a prologue, an intro with a storyline that maybe also comes into the middle of it, it’s still something I want to do. So hopefully we can do that on the next album. But I love that. I’ve been more and more involved in acting. I’ve been shooting two movies this year. One of the movies, I actually have a scene together with David Labrava, the guy that used to be in Sons of Anarchy. That was really, really fun. It’s a Swedish biker movie where he’s the top dog. Quite interesting actually. It’s going to be out I think in April 2018 or something like that. It’s going to be fun. It’s called 1%: The Voice Within.”

Check back soon for Part II of our interview with Jake E!

GET YOUR HANDS ON CYHRA’S LETTERS TO MYSELF FROM SPINEFARM RECORDS HERE!