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July 2004 - SIENA ROOT

SIENA ROOT is a Swedish heavy rock outfit that takes the listener back to a journey into the early 70's, where dinosaurs like Atomic Rooster or Captain Beyond dominated this earth. Although the personal view of SIENA ROOT is retrospective their brew sounds refreshing, kaleidoscopic and exciting. Forget all this stereotype biker 12 bar blues-rock shit , because SIENA ROOT have nothing in common with it. It 's  time to feature this fantastic band here in the Cosmic Lava and now it's up to you to discover them!!!


Welcome to the Cosmic Lava! It's been a while ago since you've sent me a copy of your demo "IV". I was really surprised by the high-quality and the professional sound of the whole package. When have you recorded it and was it your first demo?

Thank you very much! We recorded it in February last year. It was the fourth one, but the very first with this lineup.

You signed with UK-based label Rage of Achilles last year and the release date for your debut should be May 31st. As far as I noticed, I haven't seen the debut anywhere. Am I just blind or what happened with the deal? What are the actual news?

The debut is recorded and done, but they had some problems with the printing of the cover, so the release date for "A new day dawning" in Germany has now been changed to the fourth of October.

Siena Root was formed in 1997, but you sound so tight and skilled as if you were playing together for decades. What kind of music have you played before you formed the band and how old is everyone of you?

Sam Riffer: I didn't have any actual band until I formed what would later become Siena Root. I lived in Colorado for a year and played my riffs with different primitive constellations. When I returned to Stockholm I met up with this percussionist named Love at a friends party. We got drunk, talked about forming a band and decided to meet for a jam at his house. I would bring the bass and he would bring a guitarist. I plugged in through a PA, it sounded like shit! But we kept on jamming and this thing later became Siena Root.

Love: Before I met up with Sam I was in this swedish punk rock band "Herr Fisk", and besides that I studied classical percussion.

Sam Riffer: Then I was studying back 2000/2001. I met Mr West in the hallway. He seemed like a nice guy, so I kept him in mind. Later on that year we were putting on a show. The day before the show I got a phone call from our guitarplayer at the time. "I cut my finger bad, sorry, I can't make it tomorrow". So, immediatly I asked Mr West "We got a show tomorrow, how about learning twelve songs tonight?"He did, and as soon as he plugged in it was like, -magic! That was the sound. The stratleads... you know the rest.

KG West: Prior to that, I used to be in a rock'n'roll band named "The Cranks". That was really my only serious band before Siena Root, but I was also fiddling around with a guitar at home. When I got the chance to play with these guys, I also took the opportunity to bring Oskar into the band, because we were looking for a singer that also knew his way around a Hammond. 

Oskar: As a child I studied classical piano and singing. Later on I played in a few bands as an organplayer. Basically rock music, and blues. Now we're all in our mid-twenties.

You come from Sweden, a country that is filled with a lot of talented and amazing bands which are influenced from different styles, but they have in common a huge love for the 60's and 70's. Are there any bands you have a good relationship with and are there any Swedish bands you really dig?

Sam Riffer: I don't listen to music produced after '74, but yes, -I like November.

KG West: Well, I don't listen to rock music much nowadays, it's to much to keep track of all bands when you try to play your own music all the time. But there was a swedish band called "Kebnekajse" worth checking out, and I also like a guy named Kjell Höglund that writes the most incredible lyrics.

Oskar: I'm more into swedish music now than I ever been before. It's mostly old progressive rock. At this time I actually rent my house from my father in law, that is one of the guitarists from Träd, gräs och Stenar - the old swedish cult band.

I think, your shows must be something special. How many shows do you play during a year and have you a strong following in your local area?

We never get to play as much as we like of course. If we were to decide we'd be constantly touring. And yes -the local following is very good!

Whenever I listen to the demo it's like a time-travel back into 1971 and I imagine how Siena Root is on stage, together with Swedish cult acts as November or Aunt Mary. How do you create such an authentic early 70's sound?

Sam Riffer: All the equipment is pre '74. Our backline as well as the studio equipment. For this demo and the debut album.I think, it's not only depends on the gear but also on the attitude or what's your point of view?

KG West: I think it's the spirit of the music and our approach to it that may seem 70's, all the long passages of jamming and interaction between the musicians, that's the most important thing, to keep it organic. But I would like to call it timeless.

Love: And I think we all let our love for heavy riffs shine through...

Oskar: Of course we all have our influences from bands from that time, and that reflects in our music.

Love: It's the mix of our combined influences that helps us to create something new. Sometimes you might think we're playing blues, and sometimes it may seem like we're playing doom...

You use heavy organ sounds as Atomic Rooster f.e., but your music is still well-balanced and sometimes more Bluesrock influenced in opposite to actual bands like Big Elf where the organ is more dominate. What kind of bands do you feel influenced by?

Sam Riffer: The Wailers, Sabbath and swedish Hammond player Bo Hansson to mention a few. Also a lot of folk music from different corners of the world.

KG West: Deep Purple and all those bands were an important part of growing up and learning to play the guitar, but nowadays I find myself listening to blues players like Freddie King and an increasing amount of Indian classical music, hindustani that would be.

Love: I'm not keen on namedropping but I can tell you I dig Frank Zappa, Zeppelin, Cat Stevens and..... Mozart?

Oskar: I couldn't mention them all, but Elvis is the king and Paul Rodgers is his right hand...

Do you feel only influenced by 70's Heavy Rock or is it important for you to preserve the 70's life-style with clothes, attitude and substances?

The music will always be the main thing for us, but we all find 70's estetics quite appealing. We think the late 60's, early 70's were very creative and groundbreaking times in western culture. But none of us use any substances.

In my earliest childhood, my parents travelled often to Malmö/Sweden, but sadly I haven't any rememberance to this time. How would you describe Sweden and the people who are living there?

We like to concider ourselves citizens of the world  and there are as many ways to live as there's people, so we wouldn't try to describe swedish people as a group. Swedish nature however, we would like to describe just as our music; it has hills and slopes, light and shade, tension and release... and it's very beautiful.

I like to close the interview with the usual question about the band's plans for the second half of 2004! Any tours or releases

Besides the debut on CD... there will also be a double vinyl version that hits the shops in September! We will also hit the road for another german tour in November!

Thanks a lot! Keep up your good music and hope to see you here on tour in Germany!