SISTER bassist Rikki: “For some reason, a lot of people get really offended by us, that has been the story of this band since day one!”
Sister recently released their sophmore album, “Disguised Vultures” on Metal Blade Records and it is not only a left turn from most of the bands on their label but also a bit of a unique jolt to the hard rock/metal community as a whole. Usually, a record company biography misses the point of describing a new band but Metal Blade’s description of Sister being “a bastard child of Guns and Roses and G.G. Allin” seems to be quite fitting. Throw in a healthy respect for Marilyn Manson, Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. and you’ll see why I am diggin the mess the Sister guys are creating and lined up an interview with the band’s bass player Rikki; read on……
LRI: Thanks for talking with us Rikki, your new album Disguised Vultures is a bit of fresh air and sleazy fun. How do you feel now that the record is finally out and people are hearing it?
Rikki: It feels great! As you said to finally get the album out suits us pretty well especially this time since the songs were written over a year ago. For different reasons including the hectic tour schedule last spring the recordings were delayed a bit and with the tours during the autumn and December being a bad month for releases it ended up being released January this year. It actually turned out to be a good thing in the end especially since the first album was total chaos and we operated on a time shortage of massive proportions; it felt good to have the time to make the right decisions for this follow up. We decided early that we wanted to record bass, rhythm guitar and drums live and we wanted to make sure we had the right place and the right guys behind the table. We worked together with Martin Sweet and Linus Nirbrant. It felt like a strong record during the recordings and even moreso after the mixing so it felt really good when the release date arrived.
LRI: Your manager died prior to the recording of this album. He also managed Crashdiet who themselves have dealt with death in the past with their former singer. Do you think any of that contributed to the new album being a little moodier or darker than the debut album?
Rikki: Dave (late Crashdiet singer Dave Lepard) was one of my closest friends and we both lived in Uppsala a bit outside of Stockholm before he left this world. All the guys in Crashdiet has been good friends for a long time and both our bands have a close connection so it felt good to finally have a European tour together in May last year since we had talked about it for so long but it all got crazy when Michael died just a couple of weeks before the tour was supposed to start. There were so many loose ends to fix and with so many people having strong personal bonds with him it truly made the work hard. We decided both bands would try to make the tour happen and in the end we did but it was a really strange time for all of us but it all was in the name of Michael, of course. I don’t know if the loss of Michael changed the mood of the album. The songs were already mainly written and we, the band, were all on the same page of how the album should be like before he passed but you never know exactly how things can change you. I’m sure we all had that in the back of our heads then and still have.
LRI: The video for your song “Sick” has provoked some pretty polarizing reactions, people either love it or hate it. Was it a fun video to make and do you love being in a band that is so visually orientated?
Rikki: That has been the story of this band since day one! For some reason a lot of people get really offended by us. We have never tried to provoke that kind of reaction and have just focused on what we want to do but I must say I find it very amusing. It can get to the proportions that people actually seem to dedicate their whole lives to harassing the videos and other stuff on the net and shit like that (laughs). Don’t know why and don’t care but its interesting. With this video the band and director Jimmy Johansson just wanted to do something like the title of the song ’Sick’ says and I think we got it right (laughs). The fact that some people get that upset still after all the bands that have done this since Alice Cooper, WASP and stuff is just a bonus and as you say a lot of people love what we do. You can’t focus on the people who are just complaining about everything. Its the era of online comments on everything and everyone’s an expert nowadays apparently. Also its funny how people seem to change their minds when it ends up the band they hated actually does pretty good. They seem to forget that they ever disliked them and suddenly, since they can remember, they always liked them. We just do what we would like to see in a band. Nothing more complicated than that.
LRI: There are a lot of different types of songs on Disguised Vultures and a lot of growth between the music here and the music on the first SISTER album “Hated”. Do you feel the freedom as a band to make each album a totally different experience ?
Rikki: I think that “Disguised Vultures” is a more diverse album than ’Hated’ and I think that it was time to release an album that shows the growth of the band since the last three years. The first album were a bit more fast paced and so on and we all wanted to add a new element to that. With our former guitarist Lestat leaving the band in 2012 and since he was the main songwriter up til that point it left a lot of pressure on the rest of us to step up. Tim, who joined the band shortly after Lestat left, has really filled the spot well and I think that with the songwriting more divided in the band it adds to the diversity. It would be pretty boring to release the same album again and you always do what you think feels right and in the direction you think the band should take. I think this album is more Sister than ever but sure there’s probably a lot of people that think otherwise but its not for them that you do it. It would be impossible to please everyone out there! As long as we are pleased with the result its good enough for us and Metal Blade is a great label in that way. They are totally into us doing what we think is best.
LRI: People, especially in America, always seem to think of Sweden in terms of black metal and pop music, do you find that there are a lot of different styles or artists that inspire you to write songs?
Rikki: Yeah thats it! Now I guess you can say there is more stuff in Sweden going on than black metal and pop. Death metal as well (laughs). I think Sweden is a pretty good place to be at when it comes to creating music. There’s a high standard in many of the bands here and I think that this environment makes everyone try to do their best. Still, I must say that we never considered SISTER to be a part of the music scene in Sweden, maybe with some of our friends’ bands but we have played more out in Europe than back here. But I think you are, on some levels, affected by what’s going on around you, no matter if you like it or not. There are some good bands here and I’m sure they influence you in some ways like all the bands you listened to growing up until now and so on. All the music and people that I like and respect can have an impact on what I do.
LRI: Despite Having only seen video it looks like SISTER has a great live show and a lot of energy. Do you enjoy the bands live gigs in a totally different way than working in the studio and do you prefer one over the other?
Rikki: We are mostly and first and foremost, a live band. We all love performing live and the stage is where we get our energy. Of course its great to record and all that but being in a band playing music is all about the stage for us. I guess that’s one of the reasons why the visual part of music is that important for us. We want everyone to feel something extra when they are at our show instead of watching a band who’s standing still on stage and playing the songs sounding exactly like they do on the album. For us its all about the live experience. Its something that triggers us on stage as well; knowing that we need to step up when playing live and give everything we got. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, probably, wanting to be as good as possible.
LRI: Besides playing bass in the band what other elements do you feel you bring to the band’s personality? What do you feel you’re personally responsible for in Sister?
Rikki: We are all very much involved in this band. Not much goes through without everyone saying what they think about it. With that said, there can be times when someone does more and someone does less. We seem to shift that cause there isn’t a division between us like I understand a lot of bands have. Like “ok, you write the songs, you handle the merchandise, you the economics” and so on. Of course we have some areas were this person does more and this person less and stuff but it can be different from time to time. On the Hated album, I was more involved with the song writing process than on ’Disguised Vultures’ because I had a lot of stuff going on on the side in the end of 2012. Tim wrote most of the music and Jamie and Cari wrote the lyrics but I was very much involved with the creation of the album, the sound, arranging the songs, making decisions in the studio and so on and on the next album who knows maybe half the songs will be written by me. I think it is a strength in a band that you’re not dependent on any one person doing just their part. I’m doing most of the dealing with the record company and TKO booking agency and stuff like that as well lately and I’m getting more and more interested learning the graphics of everything, like taking control over the website, t-shirt designs and such. Nowadays with the music industry not providing much money its cool if you can do most of the stuff and we are all control freaks in this band so if you want stuff just as you want it its better to do it yourself. I actually prefer doing most parts myself without having to go through a manager or someone cause the band has total control of everything going on. Of course, when more and more stuff needs to be done you may need to loosen the grip some but that will be up to the future to tell. I think I contribute very much in most of Sister and what Sister is today after spending 7 years in the band, like we all do.
LRI: If the 15 year old version of you saw what you are doing today what do you think he would think of it and what advice do you think you would give him?
Rikki: I can start by saying that we are all very much in the curse of not appreciating what you have, you always want more and that is the main thing that makes you strive to be better. When you are on tour playing with bands you looked up to just a few years earlier or playing festivals that you had fantasies about doing as recently as a year earlier it doesn’t matter afterwards. Playing on the big stage right before Mastodon at Sonisphere Madrid 2012 only makes you want to play there more often, if you know what I mean. Sometimes you kinda wake up from the blur and it’s like “shit did we just do that??!!’ but most of the times you just work for greater things to happen and don’t look back. I think that is important but I guess you have to feel like that all the time and if you do it comes natural. For some people I guess they are relaxed and just take what is handed to them and maybe even get a lot but I have nothing against achieving things by working hard in the dirt. When I was fifteen I probably would have looked at us today said I had made it but now I just feel like this is nothing and we have only just started on what Sister will be.
LRI: The band has an American label in Metal Blade and an appeal that old school fans of original Motley or W.A.S.P. would appreciate also. Have you gotten any feedback from the U.S. and do you hope to make it over here for a few shows this year?
Rikki: Actually we’ve sold more albums over there in the States than here in Europe even though we’ve never been there. We get offers to go there a few times a year but there’s always been obstacles and ended up too expensive with the artist visa and stuff cause you need to start from the bottom over there compared to touring in Europe. We are actually in the middle of discussions on doing a tour in the States this year with a cool band so let’s hope it follows through. It’s looking better than ever I can say at least (laughs). For most Swedish bands its a dream come true to play in the US since all the musicians you looked up to while growing up made it big there.
LRI: Thanks for talking with me Rikki, I think this is one of the best records so far this year and hope everyone checks it out, last question….. If you could play a show opening for any band past or present who would it be for and why would it be amazing?
Rikki: Thank you and glad you like it! I would say it would be cool opening for Roky Erickson and that he could join us on stage for a couple of tunes. Why not on ’Two-Headed Dog’ which we released as a b-side on the ’Sick’ vinyl single and also have played live the last year. He’s a legend so that would be awesome!
Visit the official SISTER website here