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Supergroups come in many colours and shapes. Usually, most bear some resemblance to the musical style their key members are best known for. With Cyhra, that’s predominantly melodic metal.
Created in 2017 in a union between former Amaranthe singer Jake E. Lundberg, In Flames members Jesper Strömblad and Peter Iwers, with ex-Shining guitarist Euge Valovirta and journeyman drummer Alex Landenburg, the band wasted no time pumping out debut album Letters to Myself within the year. A US tour with Sabaton and Kreator soon followed. A little over two years since their first live show, second album No Halos in Hell has just seen release.
On the way to his office in Gothenburg, Lundberg says it feels like a “fresh start” for him, after his departure from rising Swedish stars Amaranthe left him wondering about his future.
“That was hard – not knowing where I stood within the business,” he says. “I had no idea how much value I would have after leaving that band. I could just have been someone no one had any interest in. But now with this album, I’ve jumped back on the horse and it’s turned out really well and I felt no pressure on me at all.”
Lundberg began writing the album straight after returning from the US, flowing with ideas and still excited from the tour.
“My energy level and my inspiration level after that tour was just on 200%. I just went into my studio as soon as I got home and wrote the music, because I had so much in me that I wanted to get out. And we were under no stress then, whatsoever.”
Interest in the band had led to a new label signing to Nuclear Blast, and Cyhra were “very relaxed” as they went in to work on No Halos in Hell. Then Lundberg got some personal news that shook up the process a little.
“My girlfriend figured out she was pregnant with our second kid,” he says, “so I said to the guys that we needed to finish the album before the kid comes. Otherwise we’ll have to wait for a long time to record it, because I thought it was important to be around when the child came, for support. So then we were under pressure a little bit, but we managed to get it all done before my son came, so that was good. But I think the general feeling was that we were really happy and excited to write new music, so it was all positive energy, I must say.”
Already a father of a now six-year old daughter, he talks about parenthood changing his perspective on life and how guilty he feels hitting the road for weeks at a time. His daughter is well used to the lifestyle now, telling us brief story about her joining Cyhra on stage to play a drum solo a few days before. Every child is different and he’s still a little anxious about how his son might deal with it all.
I had no idea how much value I would have after leaving [Amaranthe.] I could just have been someone no one had any interest in. But now with this album, I’ve jumped back on the horse and it’s turned out really well and I felt no pressure on me at all.
“The hardest thing being a parent when you’re an artist – an actor or a musician – is the guilt you feel by being away, but my daughter has grown up with it, and she knows that sometimes I’m home, sometimes I’m away. I always speak to her in video calls everyday and she doesn’t know anything else. But now that it’s started all over again and I have a son who’s now one, maybe it will get tricky. I don’t know how he’s going to react. He might turn out to be one of these clingy bastards who doesn’t want daddy to leave home! But the kids are OK. What I’m dealing with the most is not being there for my kids when I’m gone, and I’ve decided not to be away too much.”
He’s taken a different approach to his lyric writing now too: “These days I write lyrics that are more personal and I want people to read and listen to them and get something out of them.”
No Halos in Hell, he says, features the most personal and emotional songs he has written thus far. Lundberg explains that the third track, Battle From Within, deals with a subject extremely close to him—the loss of his brother to suicide ten years ago.
“Even though I don’t believe he meant to take his own life, and I know it feels weird to say that, but he was young and in a situation that he wanted to set and example, and something went wrong. That song is an example of what the band is about. It’s a message to the fans to please take care of yourself. If you have problems, or health issues or mental health worries, don’t be afraid to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. There’s help to get.”
It wasn’t only cathartic for Lundberg personally but stands as a valuable lesson for those who bottle up their emotions. It’s a track that means a lot to him.
“I really wanted to get a message out with that one and writing that song was probably the most emotional thing I gone through ever. Because ten years ago, I put a lid on it. I wouldn’t talk about it with anyone. I wanted to be the strong one and do this fucking stupid thing – man up. I think that is so fucking stupid, but it’s something that I grew up with. When I was writing this song, I did it almost subconsciously. The words just came to me. There’s other bands out there who write about this stuff for profit or to get extra attention, but for me it had nothing to do with that. It was important for me to get rid of these feelings and start this process of working on my own emotions, and I’m really, really proud of this song.”