Structural Disorder

Progstravaganza Questionnaire: Structural Disorder

Structural Disorder is a progressive metal group formed in Stockholm, Sweden in September 2011.

The band consists of Markus Tälth (guitar/vocals), Jóhannes West (electric accordion/vocals), Hjalmar Birgersson (guitar/vocals), Erik Arkö (bass/vocals) and Karl Björk (drums).

The band was featured on Progstravaganza XVII: Progression and here is what they had to say.

How did you come to do what you do?

Erik: The progressive genre felt like the ”natural choice” for us, mostly due to the fact that there are “no restrictions” to what you can and can’t do within the genre (At least in theory – sometimes I wonder how “progressive” the progressive genre is.) I guess the name and the very being of the genre has gone from being the definition of something that wants to expand the borders of music to being something that defines a certain sound and certain aspects of the music (The odd meters, the long songs, the jazz-influences etc.). And don’t get me wrong – I love the genre and the music, but this is something that has crossed my mind a few times.

What is your first musical memory?

Erik: For me, I think it’s either Jan Johansson (”Jazz på Svenska”) or Count Basie (The “Atomic”-album). The defining moment for me, that drew me in to metal though was the time when I saw the video for “Renegade” by HammerFall on TV.

Karl: I can’t really remember my first musical memory. But the moment that led to my musical path was the first time I heard “Kiss alive two” with the drumsolo on “God of thunder”. Which coincidentally was during the same time as we were learning the basics in drumset playing in school.

Hjalmar: I don’t actually remember this, but I have been told by a reliable source (my mom) that I was really into Paul Simon’s Graceland when I was two. Also, I do remember borrowing a mixtape of Electric Light Orchestra songs from my mom and listening to it repeatedly until there was literally only noise left on the tape.

Markus: I can’t really remember my first, but I do know that I got into metal when I was around eleven, with bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Marduk. Dimmu’s Puritanical album had just been released and my brother brought it home, and I got fascinated with how it sounded and how fast they played. But it wasn’t until I got into Opeth some years later that my eyes really open for music and genres.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Erik: Everything from Meshuggah and Behemoth to Eva Cassidy and Sting.. And everyday situations, movies and books…

Hjalmar: I think it’s hard not to give a really general answer to this question. For me, I have some musicians that never fail to inspire me, such as Daniel Gildenlöw, Devin Townsend, Esbjörn Svensson (rest in peace), Magnus Öström, Jem Godfrey, Fin Greenall, etc. Also, there is an ever-changing array of new discoveries (or rediscoveries). And of course, there are sources of inspiration in other things than music as well. I am greatly inspired by rainy days, quantum physics and dark and twisted TV shows such as The X-files and Fringe. I am sure everyone else would have a quite different list.

Markus: My inspiration is very subconscious. Most of the time when I write music it just comes totally unconnected to something else. There are a few times where I write songs that are in directly inspired by something, or even if I notice later that it sounds like something else, it had been subconscious during the writing process. But when that happens, I most often gets inspired by the latest thing I listened to.

What message does the song on our Progstravaganza compilation carry?

Johannes: The song is the closing act of our eponymous debut concept album. The story as told through the lyrics focuses around the feelings that a mentally ill man experiences while locked up in an institution. He is painfully dealing with and re-exploring the events from the outburst of his mental illness, and learning about what happened to the people that he loves. This track represents an open end to the story; the protagonist has fully realized the chain of events that brought him there, and he has escaped the delusional phase. But the tragedies of the past have put him in a state of apathy. During the development of the song, however, he transcends into another state of mind, looking for forgiveness and trying to find peace. Whether he finds it, and whether he is released from his mental and physical cell or not, is probably better left unanswered.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

Johannes: Well, I would say no. When we are composing for the band (and there are a number of composers among us, and sometimes we write together as well) I would say most of us write what we like to write; If it fits into our musical bag then we’ll use it. Our sound also has a range of musical environments and types of songs within itself, making the boundaries less easy to cross. Structural Disorder is the creative force of its members, combined one way or another. Also, this is a good thing about a genre like ours that is generous when it comes to style definitions.

Structural Disorder

Structural Disorder (Photo by Philip Wessman)

What is your method of songwriting?

Either we jam out new riffs/melodies in our rehearsal place or write stuff (sometimes entire songs) at home that we present to the rest of the band – sometimes it’s just an embryo, which gives everyone in the band a lot of freedom when it comes to the arrangement and other times the song is pretty set in its structure and arrangement.

How do you see your music evolving?

The songs that we are writing now feel like the “natural progression”, considering what we wrote for “The Edge of Sanity”. We constantly try to challenge ourselves technically – but without the cost of a good song, so to speak.

What advice would you give to other musicians, trying to make inspired music and get it out in the world?

Erik: Listen to all kinds of music – even stuff that you normally wouldn’t listen to! If you love metal – try to listen to some jazz, if you like pop then give Meshuggah a go and try to find something that you enjoy with every type of music.

Karl: Strive towards writing music for yourself before trying to write music that you think that other people might like. There is a convincing honesty that people react to in a positive way when you play something that you personally think is so good that you don’t really care if you are the only one who really like it. It may not be the recipe to reach millions of dollars in your account, but people do tend to see through you if try to write songs with the sole purpose of trying to make money or gain celebrity status.

What are you looking forward to?

Johannes: Like with the release of our debut album, it is so wonderful to get a piece of the excitement coming from people that enjoy our music. It is something really personal about it since our music is personal and we feel that we really can contribute when other people from all over the world appear to like it, sometimes very much. I hope that this happiness I feel will grow as more people get in contact with our music in the future.

Karl: In addition to what Johannes mentioned, I am personally looking forward to see the overall progression of the band in every aspect, such as sound, stage presence, visual effects and so on. We have a lot of ideas for the future and we are also writing some new songs that we feel will take the band to the next step.


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