Björn 'Speed’ Strid is the singer with Swedish melodic death metal heroes Soilwork, who he co-founded in 1995. The band’s 11th album, Verkligheten, came out in 2019. Speed also fronts 80s-themed hard rockers The Night Flight Orchestra.
What’s the worst thing about being in a band?
“Well, the travelling isn’t as much fun as it used to be when I was 25. The flying and check-ins are the worst part now – nobody prepared me for it! There used to be a time where you couldn’t wait to get out on the road; I still have that feeling sometimes but when you get out there, you remember what it’s like. Luckily, there are so many touring highlights that keep you on track.”
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
“Never cure a hangover with booze. It’s very effective at first but you’ll get a slap in the face in the end. If it’s not the next day, it’s going to be three weeks later.”
When was the first time you felt like a rock star?
“When we first got to Japan. Soilwork went there in an early stage in our career after the first album. Before that, I had only ever flown domestic in Sweden and then suddenly we’re on a Boeing 747 to Japan. Then we get there to crazy fans waiting at the airport who know where we live and what room we’re staying in. The whole thing is surreal. I was on vacation in Japan once and somebody took a photo of me eating ice cream because they couldn’t believe it that the Soilwork singer was eating ice cream on the streets of Kyoto. What did they expect, raw meat?”
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What’s been your worst experience on drugs?
“I got my drink spiked with crystal meth once in Arizona – that was no fun at all. It’s going to sound strange but I was living with a former crystal meth addict who had been clean for 10 years, but I realised something was slipped in my drink straight away. I still can’t be 100% sure but it was definitely a really scary experience and pretty traumatic.”
When was the last time you cried?
“I cried watching the Queen movie, Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s really powerful stuff.”
You’re the last remaining original member of Soilwork. Did you ever think you’d get this far?
“Definitely not. There was no master plan. We’re making sense now because the new people coming into the band have done so much for our sound, and it’s still exciting, so that’s the most important thing. It’s been a crazy journey and I’m definitely not old but I’m also definitely not 25 anymore, so I have to take care of myself now.”
Do you have to dictate what happens with the band now?
“It looks like that from the outside because there’s been quite a few line-up changes and people probably think Björn Strid must be really hard to work with, but it’s not the case at all. We’re a very democratic band and that’s sometimes bad for us because we can never come to a decision on certain issues. We’ve always been so focused on the music and we’re not always good on the business side. I prefer it that way.”
You get to indulge your classic rock side with your other band The Night Flight Orchestra. What other genres would you like to test out?
“I would like to try big brass band crooning like Frank Sinatra – I have been trying it a bit already but if I’m ever going to release a solo album, it would be something like that, with horns and stuff. I am very much a musical chameleon!”
Published in Metal Hammer #