I had the chance to talk with Jonas Asplind, the bassist for Follow The Cipher who are about to release their self-titled debut album on Nuclear Blast. We talked about the new album, some specific songs, how the band came to be, and some other subjects as well. Jonas was very easy to talk to, and I enjoyed every minute of our conversation. Let’s get to the interview itself.
We started talking about the origination of the band’s name. Asplind had this to say “This is a trick question! Ken Kängström who started the band had the name with him. He wrote a song in 2005, called Follow The Cipher and always liked the name. He thought it was a cool name and mysterious. We like to let the listeners think about what the cipher is.”
Next, we covered that the band’s founder Kängström wanted to start a band that had a different sound than everyone else in the metal scene. Asplind was excited to address this topic “Our goal was to write almost death metal, but something that was like grand cinema. We do not consider ourselves power metal. We really like hard music!”
As we continued, we talked about Falun, Sweden, and all the great music and bands that come out of that region of Sweden, including Sabaton, who Follow The Cipher are very close to. Asplind commented, “We are all friends in this small town of fifty thousand. Sabaton are personal friends of mine and some I have known since they were kids. The bass player of Sabaton is one of my closest friends. We have been each other’s idols at different times. All the bands help each other out. In Falun, the attitude is you can do it if you want to do it. Sabaton are really fantastic people and will help anyone.”
I asked Asplind about the atmosphere of the album and how aggressive it is. It feels dark and the album really crushes you. The album is very intense. Asplind described it this way, “I am glad to hear you feel that way about the sound. We want the album to be like a movie with big bombastic feel. We like to have a futuristic, post-apocalyptic feel to the sound and songs.”
Next, I asked Asplind about himself and what led him to Follow The Cipher. Asplind described his path to the band, “I have been working with music for 20 years. I worked with a lot of bands with anything they needed. Through Sabaton I met Ken about 15 years ago. We he started Follow The Cipher he asked me if I wanted to co-write some songs with him. We did that, and it went well. He had a couple members from Follow The Cipher who decided they wanted to do their own thing. He asked if I wanted to do some of the admin stuff and I did that, and it eventually led me to being in the band.”
It was time to discuss Follow The Cipher’s phenomenal vocalist Linda Toni Grahn who really adds to the aggressiveness of the music with her vocals. Asplind described Grahn, “She has not been singing that long. She had a lot of stage fright when she was younger. She did an audition for Kängström who was auditioning male and female vocalists. She was the fourth to try out and Kängström immediately knew she was the one. Her voice is amazing! We see her as a great vocalist, not labeling her or us as female-fronted. She is a part of our plan and better than most of the guys you hear. She is part of our band and a fantastic musician. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when she sings and how she gets to some of the notes she sings.”
I wanted to ask how excited the band was to be signed by Nuclear Blast and what an achievement that was. Asplind said, “It was fantastic and been a long journey for me. We only sent the album to one label, and that was Nuclear Blast. It took us three years to finish this album from start to finish. It was worth the time as we needed to find the right sound and songs. Nuclear Blast had their eyes on us since 2014 when we did “Winterfall”. Sabaton sent a song in and said that they should check them out. We played our second gig ever and Nuclear Blast was there on the spot to sign us.”
Next up was talking about tours to support the new album. Asplind had this to say, “We are playing metal festivals in the Czech Republic and Graspop as well which will be our fourth and fifth shows ever. We start with that and we are looking for a good tour to start with. We are doing everything ourselves with no booker. Our goal is to tour as much as we can, we just need to find a good partner.”
Since this album is a very hard and an aggressive album I wanted to ask about the pace of the songs. They all have this feel of moving forward which I find compelling. Asplind added, “When Ken writes the songs to present to us, then we have this awesome drummer who can do the fast beat. He also joked it is hard music to exercise to because the beat is so fast you would be worn out quickly.
Earlier we talked about how it took three years to do the debut album, so I wanted to know if they were already planning for the next album. Asplind had a surprising answer to this, “We have a lot of songs and probably already have the next album. We have found a way of how we should work. We are spread all over Sweden, so we send a lot of music back and forth between us. I am already looking forward to the next album. We love playing live, so we are really looking forward to that and playing the song of the first album live.”