Skyfire | Interview with Martin Hanner


At last, Swedes Skyfire has finally completed their long-delayed fourth-full length work “Esoteric”, which was issued last September through US-based label Pivotal Rockordings. The wait was long and particularly arduous for the band, who suffered various blows in the last five years, namely, computer crashes, line-up changes and illness. You must be relieved and proud at this point with “Esoteric” finally out on the streets right?

“Yeah, definitely. Answers bassist and keyboardist Martin Hanner.
It has been a long wait, especially for our fans so it was about time we got ‘Esoteric’ released. But it is really nice to see that people haven’t forgotten about Skyfire, even though almost five years have passed.”

So, what really happened to Skyfire following the release of “Spectral” five years ago? Did the band actually called it quits?

“After ‘Spectral’ Jonas and Henrik left the band so we had to find replacements for those guys. Luckily, we’ve found Johan Reinholdz and Joakim Karlsson.
Another thing that did contribute to why it has taken so long for us to release another album was that our label at the time Arise Records went bankrupt which meant that we had start writing new songs, record them and so on. We got contacted by some labels, but in the end we signed to Pivotal and we are very proud to be working with them. They are all great guys.
We never thought of giving up as a band, but we didn’t just want to get signed to a label that signs a lot of bands and then don’t care, so we took things slow. So even though it has taken some time for us to get back on the scene, I think we have grown both as a band and individuals.”

Even though there’s a five-year gap between “Spectral” and “Esoteric” there aren’t too many stylistic changes to be reported, perhaps the new album sees Skyfire leaning towards a more progressive musical route. Guitar leads for instance play a prominent role on this new album, and sometimes they invoke memories of bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X due to its complexity and progressive texture. Was there a conscious effort to lean towards that direction, yet still retain the characteristic elements of the past?

“Well, when we started out we wanted to have a bombastic sound with a lot of melodies. We still use that as base for our songwriting, but I think we have matured and grown as musicians and therefore we have added some new elements that have helped us achieve more variety in our music. Like you mention we have taken a step further on ‘Esoteric’ when it comes incorporating more progressive sections. But we have also added some more aggressive and darker riffs which I really feel contribute to make the melodic parts stand out more. So it’s all about diversity. It is so much more fun to write songs when you can choose between a wide variety of styles to use, instead of just sticking to one. That way it’s also easier to avoid that the songs get repetitive and hopefully that is something that our fans will appreciate as well.”

“Esoteric” features the talents of new guitarist Johan Reinholdz from Andromeda and Nonexist and new vocalist Joakim Karlsson from Mark:Black. Did the recent addition of these two elements bring any changes to the songwriting dynamics?

“In terms of songwriting nothing hasn’t really changed except for that we have added solos to the Skyfire formula. It seemed stupid not to, now when we have a guitarist like Johan in the band. In the future though, it’s very likely that both Johan and Joakim will take part in the songwriting process.”

What kind of intentions and inspirations were the driving forces behind the creation of “Esoteric”? You’ve mentioned before on a press-release that you were particularly inspired by the work of Symphony-X and Bal-Sagoth.

“Yeah, personally I really like the atmospheric and progressive elements from these bands. ‘Esoteric’ is a mix of many different styles though. We have the traditional Skyfire parts with melodies and bombastic orchestral parts, but we also have more progressive sections as well as some darker sounding ones. When it comes to the more orchestral parts in our music I get a lot inspiration from music in films. For example, the soundtrack for ‘The Rock’ is really cool in my opinion. Other times I think bands like old Atheist inspire me along with bands like The Crown and Embraced, but most of the time I get inspiration from just sitting down and jamming on my guitar or keyboard.”

Looking into the future, where do you think Skyfire will go next?

“It is hard to say after being away for such a long time, but I hope we can get out and tour a lot more in the future. In the meantime we will continue to give 100 % and write the best music we can.”