INTERVIEW WITH LIV JAGRELL OF SISTER SIN
Date: November 24, 2015
ONE OF THE WORST NEWS TO HIT THE HEAVY METAL WORLD THIS YEAR IS THE DISBANDING OF THE SWEDISH METAL GROUP, SISTER SIN, WHO SUDDENLY AND UNEXPECTEDLY DECIDED TO CALL IT A DAY ON NOVEMBER 7, 2015. SISTER SIN’S POWERFUL SINGER, LIV JAGRELL, WAS KIND ENOUGH TO GRANT SLEAZE ROXX AN INTERVIEW AFTER TAKING SOME TIME TO PROCESS THINGS. LIV CANDIDLY ANSWERED ALL QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT LED TO THE BAND BREAKING UP. LIV ALSO PROVIDED HER THOUGHTS ON THE VARIOUS ALBUMS THAT SISTER SIN HAVE RELEASED IN THEIR 13 YEAR CAREER AND ADVISED THAT WE HAD NOT YET SEEN THE LAST OF HER!
Liv Jagrell: Actually, it’s just that we toured too much and we got burned out. That’s the simple answer. They just felt like they did not want to do this anymore. We can’t tour this… because it’s both economical and like we toured so many… This year, we had been out for almost four months or something so it’s a lot of time away from family. It’s a lot of time away from friends. And also just to survive in the business is hard so I think we maybe worked too hard in the last years [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Was it all the members that were feeling that way or some more than others?
Liv Jagrell: Maybe some more than others but I mean it’s no hard feelings between us. It’s what it is and you can’t force people to keep doing this because it’s a hard business.
Sleaze Roxx: Were there any thoughts in whomever was interested in continuing to forge on with the name Sister Sin without the others?
Liv Jagrell: Hmmm. No. No. Not directly.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you mean by that?
Liv Jagrell: Because if it’s going to be Sister Sin, it’s got to be at least three of the members. For me, that’s Sister Sin. I would never take the name Sister Sin and continue by myself because that will feel… That’s not right because Sister Sin have been together for over ten years. In my opinion, it’s got to be somewhat close to those members otherwise it’s not Sister Sin.
Sleaze Roxx: Fair enough. It sounds to me like you are ready to continue but some of the others are not. Is it fair to say that Dave and perhaps Jimmy are not and you would be interested in continuing with music?
Liv Jagrell: Hmmm. Not exactly actually. Absolutely. I am not giving up music. I will be back but I will not say anything more about the other members and to tell who wanted to continue to play and who did not want to play. But as for me, I am 100% sure that I will still be doing this. I just don’t know exactly how, what and where right now because this is very sudden and very just recent so I haven’t thought about that so much. I am still trying to understand that the band that I had for over ten years is not here anymore. I mean, it’s like a relationship. It’s like someone that you have been for that long. It takes time to think through and like just everything but I will be back in the music business for sure.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool. It seems that everything happened so suddenly. Were there any talks of stopping the band over the years or did it just happen in the last couple of weeks?
Liv Jagrell: It was pretty sudden I think. I can’t speak for everybody of course but for me, it was very sudden but I think that it has to be a lot of that… Since we released our first record in 2008 [Interviewer’s note: Liv does not consider ‘Dance Of The Wicked’ which was released in 2003 as an actual album], we have toured, released an album, toured, released an album, toured, released an album very much all the time and we never had any kind of break. We didn’t have any vacation or break. We would just get home from touring and then we started making new songs for the new record, we did the new record, and then we start to tour again. It’s been since 2008 so it’s kind of… It’s not a surprise that you get burnt out but still, it’s a bit of a surprise for me because maybe, like, I did not see it coming so much but I can understand when I look back.
Liv Jagrell: Hmmm. I actually don’t know which one that you are referring to because I know that… No.
Sleaze Roxx: It just said those two words so perhaps there was no hidden meaning behind it.
Liv Jagrell: No. Not from my side at least. I manage my Facebook and my artist page and not so much the Sister Sin [Facebook page]. We do it everybody but it’s mostly Dave so probably he’s the one who put it up but I can’t actually say that there was some deeper meaning or not. Maybe because it was a song [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Of course. On October 15th, the band posted a Facebook message saying that its van was for sale. Were there any talks at that time of calling the band quits?
Liv Jagrell: That was for totally economical reasons!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough. It’s surprising to see Sister Sin calling it quits because it seemed that the band was just getting bigger and bigger as time wore on. Perhaps from the inside it does not feel that way at least from an economical point of view. What are your thoughts in that regard?
Liv Jagrell: I actually got the same feeling that you got. I felt that we had a bigger fan crowd every time we toured. We went on the Mayhem Festival which is pretty big and had a lot of attention around that so I actually say that was the case. I felt like we were… We had never been this… I can’t think of the word but it had never been this good for Sister Sin as it was right now. But I mean, if somebody is burned out, they are burned out and it doesn’t matter how everything is around this. And even if everything has been better and better for us, the finances of being a musician and all that, the economics of being a musician is tough and very hard. So even if it is better and better, it is still hard to survive.
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! Another band that has recently taken a hiatus is Dirty Passion. Rather than call it quits, they just said “we will be back but we are not sure when.” Were there any talks about doing that instead?
Liv Jagrell: Uuuuhhh. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely but I actually think that’s kind of the same [laughs]. I hope that we will back someday. That’s my goal at least. I hope for that.
Sleaze Roxx: Sister Sin posted on Facebook that it is sort of like a marriage and sometimes, it doesn’t work out. Is that what happened to the band? Everybody was burned out or going in different directions?
Liv Jagrell: I think that by that, he actually meant what I said too that in the band, we are really close to each other. We have always been very close to each other. We have been very very close friends. We have never had those big arguments or really big fights. I’m very happy that we never had those which [there] seems to be a lot of that in bands all over the world. We never had that. And I am happy that we have no arguments right now either. Same as in a marriage, sometimes people go in different ways and they want different things. So yeah, I think that is kind of a good comparison.
Sleaze Roxx: Sure. I think that Sister Sin’s last show was in Gothenburg in Sweden on October 23rd. At that point, did the band know that this would be its last show?
Liv Jagrell: No!
Sleaze Roxx: In a way, would you have liked to play one last show with the band and then call it quits or is it better to do it this way?
Liv Jagrell: No. I would have liked to have played some more shows. We just make like an announcement and do a couple of shows but that would be my choice. But as for me — yes — I would have done a couple of more shows if I could.
Sleaze Roxx: I was hoping that since Sister Sin are at least on a hiatus, I was hoping that you could take me through the various albums that the band has had because you have had a long career already and just tell me your thoughts on where the band was and what you thought of the albums. Is that alright?
Liv Jagrell: Yeah! Absolutely!
Sleaze Roxx: Let’s start with ‘Dance Of the Wicked.’ That was in 2003. What did you think of the album and where was the band at at that point?
Liv Jagrell: Well, for me, for us, that’s not even a real… We don’t count that as our first album because that was a demo tape. A company in Greece asked if they could release it. We were young and we just started to play. And we were like “Hey! Yeah. Whatever.” And then our record label in the US, Victory, somehow picked that up and bought that without us knowing it. So I am not very proud of that album [laughs]. For me, that’s a demo tape. That’s a demo band. And it’s far far away from the Sister Sin that it is today. It was very sleazy and greasy [laughs] if you ask me.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Liv Jagrell: Hey! We have to start somewhere. We had fun back then but it is not a good album in my opinion.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Fair enough but you know what, I like it.
Liv Jagrell: People seem to like it so that’s OK but for me, it does not stand for the music that I want to stand for today or the music that I like, the kind of lyrics or the person who I am today. But I mean, that was 2003 so it’s a long time ago [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: Afterwards, the band had some sort of record label issues or something because it took a long time before the EP ‘Smash The Silence.’ What happened during that time?
Liv Jagrell: Actually, I mean, it feels we did not even have a record label. We just put out that demo tape. We just put out that demo tape with that Greek — I don’t even remember his name. This was a demo band and we just decided that we wanted to do an EP or something to just like record something really good and then hopefully get a record deal with that. So that’s why we put out ‘Smash The Silence.’
Sleaze Roxx: It took like four years between ‘Dance Of The Wicked’ and ‘Smash The Silence.’ How come there was so much time between those?
Liv Jagrell: Because we were just a demo band. We just played in our rehearsal room and maybe got three or four gigs a year. Because we did not have a record label or anything or manager or nothing. That is why it took us a pretty long time and then we decided that we wanted to try to record something really really good instead of all this… In Sweden, when you play in a band, you scan sometimes get free recording hours but it’s like — what do you call it — commun…
Sleaze Roxx: Community?
Liv Jagrell: Yeah. So it’s not very good and it always sounds bad. And you have like one day and you have to try to do two songs in one day or three songs in one day. So we just decided, “Hey, we have three good songs” or whatever it was on ‘Smash The Silence’ — I don’t remember. Oh actually, it was half the record.
Sleaze Roxx: Yeah. I think that ‘Smash The Silence’ had five songs.
Liv Jagrell: Five songs. Yeah. So we recorded it as one. It’s actually a long story. We had a record label, kind of a record label, who paid for that but then they went bankrupt. But at least we had that recording. We were like happy because we really wanted that kind of recording and we made it an EP and that made us, got us the record deal that we got later on so we could do ‘Switchblade Serenades.’
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of ‘Switchblade Serenades’ — what did you think of that album and what was the state of the band at that point?
Liv Jagrell: I think that it is a good record. I think it’s a bit too sleazy in my opinion because I have always been more heavy. I have always wanted to play heavier music. To be like the first record, I think that it’s a good record and we were very proud of it. We were very proud of it when we recorded it. We felt that it was a very good record. But if I look at it today, maybe I would have done it differently. Maybe I would do the sound a bit differently and the arrangements differently but back then, it felt good. So I am really happy with it and I think that it has some really good songs. As for the band, I think that we were not quite as… We didn’t really know back then what we wanted with our music. We kind of hadn’t really found the sound that we were looking for. We were trying but we were not really there. So it was still a little bit too sleazy. Yeah. We were still trying but I think it’s still quite a good record.
Sleaze Roxx: So then you lose your main songwriter [Chris Bednarz] for the band but credit to the three of you that remained, yo forged ahead and kept going with the great songs. How hard was it to lose your main songwriter?
Liv Jagrell: Actually, not that hard because I always knew that Jimmy and Dave, they did a lot too and they had some great ideas. For me, I liked Jimmy’s sound and his riffs better because they were more metal which I wanted to play or heavier. For me, it was a step in the right direction. ‘True Sound Of The Underground’ — I like that record very much and it means a lot to me because I think it’s a great… I know it’s… every song is kind of in the same direction all the time and there is not so much variations. I really like that album because I think it’s just a punch in the face!
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! And at that point, you got Strandh in the band. How did he fit in with the three of you?
Liv Jagrell: Very very good. When we found him, it felt like we found the person that we were missing. So he suited the band very well. His style and his persona and everything — he was just right for the band.
Sleaze Roxx: Cool! So that takes us to ‘Now And Forever.’ What do you think of that album and what was the state of the band like at that point?
Liv Jagrell: I also think that it is a good album but I like ‘True Sound Of The Underground’ better because I think we tried a little bit too much to do the variations here. We just tried to be a little bit more outside our style and it worked OK. I think that some of our best songs are on that album. I love “Fight Song.” I love “Hearts Of Cold” — “Chosen Few” — I think they are really really good. I love the lyrics. They’re really good lyrics on those. But also, I really found that maybe, we did not find the sound that we were looking for. The arrangement[s] — we could have done that better. We could have done the whole production better maybe on that one but I still think it’s a really good one and I like the cover, it’s cool!
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Liv Jagrell: [Laughs]
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! What was the band like at that point in terms of cohesiveness and being together and stuff like that?
Liv Jagrell: Well, actually, very close to the essence of Sister Sin but not quite there but very close, I mean, we were touring a lot and playing a lot. I think that we were in a very good place.
Sleaze Roxx: At one point, Victory Records decided to re-release ‘Dance Of The Wicked’ with some bonus tracks. Was Sister Sin happy with that decision considering that you don’t really like the album that much?
Liv Jagrell: No. I say that if you ask us, we would not have re-released it. So that was totally the record label that did that. No. I would not have done that.
Sleaze Roxx: So that takes us to ‘Black Lotus.’ What do you think of that album and what was the band like at that point?
Liv Jagrell: For me, that’s the best, still the best album because I think that we found the essence. That was the essence of Sister Sin. The songs, the lyrics, the production, the sound — everything on that album is really really good. The vocals — I am really happy with the vocals. I think that the producer that we recorded with did understand exactly what we wanted and he really knew my voice. He helped me a lot. I love that album very very much. But it was a difficult album to write. We had a long process of sort because we had a short amount of time to write it — or for Dave and Jimmy — and I know that it was very stressful for them. Also, the recording was very stressful and not very harmonic but the album is very very good and after we released it, it felt very good because we are happy with that album. Now, I am very proud of it — very very proud of it and very happy about it so that’s why I am bit sad that now when we have found our style, then suddenly we are going to end it so yeah. It is what it is.
Liv Jagrell: A little bit, yes. A little bit, absolutely because I know that they did not want to do that again. They did not want to do the same type of songwriting or the same process again. They had wanted a better process at least so it could absolutely have a little bit to do with that. It was a bit too much for them I think.
Sleaze Roxx: What do you mean by the process? What exactly do you mean by that?
Liv Jagrell: The writing process that they had because they locked themselves in our rehearsal room for two and half months.
Sleaze Roxx: Oh wow [laughs]!
Liv Jagrell: Nobody [laughs] is going to feel any good about that! Suddenly, you just see those four walls and like very stressed. It was like “Hey, we need to get this song ready.” I know that they had a lot of pressure.
Liv Jagrell: Yeah, yeah. Maybe but it’s still hard to say because I don’t regret anything that we’ve done. I don’t regret the tours. I don’t regret the albums. It’s hard to say what we would have done differently or what we should have like not have done or taken away because the tours that we have done have been very good. I don’t want to have that undone so it’s kind of hard to say what we would have done differently but maybe just a little break somewhere would have helped a little bit — yes.
Sleaze Roxx: In terms of bands, Sister Sin have to be considered, you know, one of the most successful bands that have come out at least in the last ten years in heavy metal because you had a record label, you had fantastic albums, you were touring the world… It must be discouraging for other bands when they see Sister Sin calling it quits. What are your thoughts in that regard?
Liv Jagrell: Hmmmm. Yeah, it’s probably… If it would have been… If my favorite band or anything like a band that I was looking up to when I was younger, absolutely — that would make an impact one me so… It is hard to see how you can quit without disappointing people. This is how the business is. This is what happens with bands. We have actually been together for 13 years and we have not fought, and we have not become enemies and stuff. There are a lot of bands that don’t talk to each other but they are still touring and I don’t think that’s good either so it depends on how you look at it.
Sleaze Roxx: Definitely and I think that is a real plus for Sister Sin is that the band is ending which is really sad but at the same time, you are ending and you are still friends and you can still talk to each other. So that’s a great thing wouldn’t you say?
Liv Jagrell: Yeah. Absolutely! I mean it’s better that than keep on trying to do it and then end up as not friends. That would hurt very much more so I think that this is better even though I am upset. This is better. This is definitely a better way because I don’t want to end things in a bad way.
Liv Jagrell: Aaahhh. No. I don’t do that so much. I do a little bit of it but mostly I work at a gym back here. I am a personal trainer so that is my day job [laughs] so I will do that for now until I find out what I am going to do, what my next step in the music business will be.
Sleaze Roxx: Assuming that you will continue in the music industry business eventually, would you be continuing in the same musical vein as Sister Sin or do you think that you will be coming up with something a little bit different?
Liv Jagrell: I think something a little bit different. I don’t want to be doing the same thing. I can’t do the same thing because Sister Sin is always going to be Sister Sin. It’s so much the whole band and it’s also Jimmy and Dave’s writing so a bit different.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything else that you would like to cover that we haven’t covered today?
Liv Jagrell: Hmmm. Good question [laughs]. No. I don’t think so because you have had a lot of questions. I think that you covered most of it and I just hope that… Actually, I just want to say thanks to all our fans, all the support because we have great fans! I mean, without the fans that we have, we probably would have not have lasted that long as we have. Our fans are really really great and we have a lot of support out there. And that actually hurts me more than myself. I feel like I hurt the fans more than it’s hurting me. I feel sorry for the fans more than myself.
Sleaze Roxx: No. You should not feel that way. Everyone has a life so you have to do what is best for you at the end of the day. I know that everyone is disappointed that Sister Sin is no longer but at the end of the day, it’s your lives, right?
Liv Jagrell: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s still… I mean, I love my fans and I love meeting them and stuff like that. So I feel sad about that but hopefully I will be back so I will still see them and we can talk again!