Swedish import Liv Jagrell might look seductive on the surface but you’d be best advised not to underestimate her physically, artistically or intellectually. She will most likely kick your ass. Her band Sister Sin has released their 3rd official U.S. full length album, “Now and Forever”, and have been not so quietly building to the moment that they take over America. Sister Sin is not your average Swedish glam/sleaze outfit, they are more in your face Accept or Motley meets Warlock type metal with potent melodies meeting precision riffage and brutal beats. Speaking of Warlock, Liv and the band are coming to a venue near you as the special guests on Doro’s long awaited U.S. tour (beginning Feb. 1) and will no doubt be winning converts. Sister Sin’s catalog is stellar, each album essential and each album a progression, the hallmark of any good band. I talked to Liv overseas in Sweden about her career in music, personal training and much more. Read on…..
Legendary Rock Interviews: When did you start playing music as a kid?
Liv Jagrell: I’ve always played music since I was like 10 or so. Then when I was 14 I discovered Nirvana and I thought that guitar was really cool so I started playing guitar at 14. I was playing music before that though as a child.
LRI: What was your first “band” experience like back in the day?
Liv: My first band was when I was like 15. I forced my two best girl friends to start a rock band. We were very evil (laughs). We all had black clothes and black hair and it was quite fun when we think back on it but they’re not playing today. I started that band and looking back I think I was the one that wanted it the most but we definitely had fun, it lasted for about 3 years.
LRI: In 2013 Sweden is well known for metal bands like Sister Sin and Backyard Babies and heavier bands like In Flames but when some of us in the States were growing up the first thing that came to mind was Abba and Blond girls and what not….
Liv: (laughs) I don’t think I was aware of that at all, at least not until I started touring out of Sweden. That is really funny that people would think that because at least half of Sweden’s population isn’t blond at all. I have naturally very dark hair! I don’t think it ever occurred to me that people think that but that is really funny and now that I’ve traveled over here you are right, a lot of people tend to think about the pop bands from Sweden like Ace Of Base and Abba more so than the heavy metal.
LRI: Looking back on your 2003 recording “Dance of the Wicked” are you happy with it or are there a lot of thing’s you’d change if you could?
Liv: We don’t consider that our first album, that’s actually just a demo tape that somebody wanted to release and we were like “Okay, you can release it” even though it’s really, really badly recorded. For us, that’s not really the real debut album, “Switchblade Serenades” (2008) is. We are not really even the same band that recorded those demos.
LRI: Well, the sound of the band has definitely changed a lot.
Liv: Exactly. It changed very much and I also think we just were not ready as a band at that point.
LRI: It’s gotten to be a stronger, heavier sound, whereas the original sound was a little poppier and more Hard Rock ish.
Liv: Right, half of the band has changed. There were former members who were in a little different direction than Dave (drummer, Sundberg) and I. Dave and I and the new members were a lot more focused on clearly being metal, that’s another reason I really consider “Switchblade Serenades” the first album.
LRI: Over the years, dating back to “One Out Of Ten” you guys have made a lot of really good videos . Has there been any talk of combining with some other footage and releasing a DVD or anything?
Liv: I hope so, I think that would be fun. I would really like to do a live thing too with it. We haven’t talked about that but I think that would be great. I think further down the road that’s a possibility, maybe doing that with some live footage too.
LRI: People always talk about how your band’s sound is a throwback to the old school style but the other thing that your videos prove is that Sister Sin is keenly aware of the visual elements of metal. Growing up on bands like “Twisted Sister” and “KISS” that was a big deal, is that something that has been lost over the years?
Liv: Yeah, absolutely. It’s so important that you not only have the musical hook but the visual hook too, of course, of course. In my opinion, who wants to look at some boring looking band or some band with low energy. Our approach both live and in the videos is to have a strong image and a lot of energy. I hate when bands are just playing, I get bored. I think it’s equally important that I see a great show too. You’re right, either bands forget about it or they rely solely on it and just overdo it.
LRI: I talked to Cristina from Lacuna Coil and one thing she mentioned was how funny it is that people would question or single out a female singer for being a focal point or being attractive since that’s something she would try to be whether she was in a band or not. That made a ton of sense to me, does that seem strange to you too?
Liv: Yeah. I understand what she means. Most girls tend to care about their looks, not everyone, but MOST girls do in or out of music. When you’re in a band and you’re pictures or shooting videos, of course you care about how you look because you know other people are going to be seeing you, you know? That’s probably something that is just in all women or girls, it’s just in our nature to care about that but then I can also laugh because it seems like people ask about that so much. I understand why they ask about it but I can also understand why it might not or at least should not be that important. At the same time, I am a girl and I do care a lot about how I look when I hit the stage, I would never, ever hit the stage wearing only jeans and a t-shirt. That is not stage clothes to me.
LRI: The thing that always, always cracks me up is that tons of guys have the exact same insecurities about what they look like onstage or in photos but no one is going to ask your guitarist about it.
Liv: (laughing) I know. There are all these questions that are asked of me that would never, ever be asked of any of the other guys in the band. It is kind of funny if you think about it.
LRI: You are a personal trainer as well as a rock singer so I was wondering, how much of your staying in shape is what you eat and how much is working out?
Liv: I would say it’s about 70 percent what you eat and 30 percent working out. You can achieve much more by changing the diet than just working out normally. Of course, if you work out very, very hard you can change that and achieve a lot more in your workouts. Most people just don’t have that much time to dedicate to that and benefit more from shorter, good, focused workouts and changing their diet.
LRI: You think that working out should be something you should want to do more for your overall health and organs rather than to lose weight?
Liv: Exactly, exactly. If you want to lose weight the best thing to do is start to move your body but focus on changing your eating habits. If you want to be a stronger, healthier person aside from weight loss you need to work out and train your body. Sometimes you don’t want to lose weight, sometimes you just want to get stronger and be in better overall shape.
LRI: Are the guys in Sister Sin as interested in working out or training as you are?
Liv: Nope! (laughing). No, I am the only one. They all just think I’m boring.
LRI: Is it hard to find the time for anything while working as a certified personal trainer and touring or being in the spotlight as a metal singer?
Liv: Yes, obviously I am gone for a few months every year and the band is most important to me but it’s hard to do that and keep up a client base without relying on other personal trainers. It can be hard to have another job on the side and combine it with music but we try. It is nice to be able to make a little bit of money and living off of music and that is our dream because it is hard to do two jobs at the same time.
LRI: What do you think about the new trend towards virtual physical training through websites and webcams, is that something that is going to continue to grow?
Liv: I would really, really love that and would hope that it would continue to grow. I have not had that much luck yet with it but I have hope that it could be a thing in the future because I still want to help people with getting fit and training because I like that very much. I have a very hard time always being able to be at the gym but if I can do it online and help people like that I can be much more of a support to people. I love music, music is the main part of my life but I still love all the other components of personal training and helping people change their lives and their bodies too. It’s a nice feeling to be able to help people.
LRI: Your last album “True Sound Of The Underground” was really well-received and strong. What, if anything, changed when it came to recording “Now and Forever”?
Liv: If you compare the two albums, “Now and Forever” is much more dynamic and we actually worked very much on the dynamic element of the album. I love “True Sound Of The Underground” but it’s kind of the same sound and the same dynamics throughout the whole album. We wanted to make each song on “Now and Forever” a little more unique and diverse. We also worked a lot with the melodies also, we started by working with the vocals and the melodies first and then centered the music around that. We’ve never done that before, that was kind of new for us. We tried to work hard to do something else with this record sonically.
LRI: You guys have gotten the chance to tour with some classic metal acts like W.A.S.P. and Motorhead and you’re getting set to tour America with Doro. Is there something that you’ve picked up or learned in touring with all of these legends?
Liv: Absolutely. Every time you are even watching a band you can learn something, watching a band like those bands forces you to look at your own band and see what you can do also to up your performance. Those bands have been successful for a very long time for good reason. Mostly just excited to get back on the road again. It’s been too long now and of course, to hang out with the Doro gang, they are the nicest in the world. I know we will have so much fun. Oh, and also… our first time traveling in a nightliner. That I look forward to very much! No tiny, smelly van (laughs).
LRI: Do you prefer touring in Europe or is it a lot of fun here in America?
Liv: I like both, I do, but we’ve spent most of our time touring in Europe so it is fun to come to the U.S. I feel a little bit more at home in the U.S. because we tend to play the same venues and see the same cities and it is very nice. It gets to be very comfortable and familiar in these cities in the United States and I like them very much and we have made a lot of friends. I also like playing Europe though because European audiences are kind of sometimes a better audience to metal music.
LRI: You recently had to have surgery on your throat. What prompted you to go under the knife and and how has the recovery process been?
Liv: This is something that I’ve struggled with since 2007, when I went almost ONE year without singing and I was heavily medicated. After that I could hold it on a level that worked most of the time. I was very careful with what I ate and drank along with sleep and warm ups. The more we played, the harder it got to keep my voice in shape. So the last year and half, it just got worse and worse. Of course we played a lot, did a lot of interviews and then I have to work in a gym and all that, so i can understand why my vocal cords started to get weaker and weaker. It just came to a point where my doctor figured out it will not get any better and that I was going to need surgery to be able to tour next year. So the band and I
decided that it was the best. Surgery went well and now I’m onto the recovery part which is going as it should, so I know this was the right choice. I’m still a bit afraid to start sing for real but I’m sure it will be all good. I hope to be better than ever!
Q. You recently flew from Sweden to Chicago to film a new music video. What
song was it for and when can we expect to see the video? Any stories you would like to share about filming process?
LRI: Yes, that was so much fun! The crew and the producer were so good to work with. Everything was planned and done very professional. The only thing I can complain about was the cold (laughs). It’s not that fun to run around in a tiny leather jacket in the middle of the winter for two days, but at least the result was worth it. The video is for “Hearts
of Cold” and it has a bit of “Bonnie and Clyde” sort of style to it. I think its set to be released January 20-25th or something like that, so keep your eyes open.
LRI: Last question. As a personal trainer, is it a priority to avoid the shitty food in the U.S.?
Liv: Yes! It is very shitty (laughs). The guys in the band love it but for me, I try to avoid that kind of stuff and it seems like it is everywhere in the U.S. It is horrible but the one thing you have, the one thing, is you have the Whole Foods stores. We don’t have that in Sweden, we don’t have a big market featuring nothing but food like that and that is nice. So whenever I come to the U.S. it is always nice because I look forward to going to the Whole Foods stores!!
LRI: It sounds like we need to steer you to their corporate offices for sponsorship opportunities.
Liv: Absolutely!! (laughs). I absolutely love them and that would be a dream! It will be amazing being back in America. Hope to see you all out there!