This interview is published in the Bulgarian rock fanzine Rawk'n'Roll. I put here the Enlish version, so it could be used by the band and its fans abroad.
Siena Root is one of those bands the music of which pours life and sunbeams in your soul and while you listen to it you can't help smiling and loving life. In their albums there are influences of everything beautiful, colorfull and fragrant from the past decades - just take the vynils of Jimi Hendrix, the early Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin, powder them with cinnamon and let the spring summer and the scent of the awakening for new life Nature in your home and you will get an idea about their music. Or just listen while you are reading.
RR: Hello! First, present yourself (name and position in the band) and tell us where this questions are catching you and what are you doing!
KG West – guitar, organ and sitar. You are now catching me in my home with a cup of coffee.
Mr. Sam Riffer – bass guitar riffs plus a little derbouka and singing.
Love Forsberg – percussion, Stockholm.
RR: Siena Root is going to record its next three shows for a live album. It seems that not many bands from the psychedelic rock scene are releasing live records. How did you decide to do that?
SR: To me it’s been my dream or part of the plan all along the way, a few studio albums to get moving and then it comes; the double live album!
KG: Also, ever since we started touring, people coming to the shows have asked us about a live recording. So, we have been bringing a mobile 16-track tape recorder – ”The Root Rock Mobile”, to record shows for over a year now. The next three shows will finish off the sessions.
RR: After the DVD with as-Sayf, this will be your second live record in a row out there – quite a brave act in my opinion. About the DVD – how did you decide to release it after 3 years and how do Egyptian dances add to the music of Siena Root?
SR: We did release it after all the years since we liked the sound of those tapes. We did not release right after it was recorded due to the fact that Sanya left the band a few weeks after that show.
RR: Compared to “A New Day Dawning”, your fourth album is different and more psychedelic but when we hear the two albums in between, we see that the way to “Different Realities” is very logical. How did you turn to longer instrumental trips and how have you decided to use the sitar so vastly in your music?
KG: We have always been doing a lot of instrumental music. To me, instrumental music is the most pure form of music – without any words there is just the notes and sounds without any distractions from other art forms. But of course you can use lyrics to convey a message and that combination can be very powerful, so we use some vocals lines in the right spots also on “Different Realities”. It was quite natural to use the sitar as it fits the music, and I have been studying the ragas and talas more in depth the last years and feel more at home with the instrument. But it´s not the only instrument we use that you wouldn´t normally find in rock. There´s a long list of derbuka, flute, hurdy gurdy, glockenspiel, mandolin, various keyboards and all kinds of things you can think of, that we used for live shows and albums.
RR: When should we expect a new Siena Root album and do you have any idea by now about its musical approach?
SR: I hope that the live album will be released in the fall of 2011.
RR: One of the interesting things with the band is that for four albums you have had three different singers, both male and female. Why is that fluctuation?
LF: No, that is four different singers, one for each album. We have also used three different flute palyers and many other gueasts in studio and on tour. This is partly because we don't care to stick to a classic rock structure of the band, but also because some of us have an easier and better way to work together. Not all ideas and wills are possible to fit in one band.
SR: We could never find a singer that would fit the band 100% so we had to change often in order to make the band and the music move forward.
RR: Even though the singer much or less is the face of every band, you have managed to preserve the specifics of Siena Root and each of these people has fit perfectly in the band’s style. Was it hard to achieve?
SR: Very hard, never really worked ;)
LF: It's a lot of work managing a band. Don't forget that there are great bands without singers.
RR: Your sound and musical approach is very bright and positive, yet trippy and hypnotizing. What are you in everyday life – the same shiny positive people or distinct trippers?
LF: I think that is for others to tell. I try to be positive and I'm not trippin’ very much.
KG: I doubt I come across as shiny and positive... but I´m working on it!
RR: Could you describe the band the way you feel and see it, show us Siena Root from your eyes and heart?
KG: I think that since we have been doing this for a long time, it´s hard for us to see Siena Root objectively from an outside perspective. To show you Siena Root from our eyes and heart, we let you listen to our music of course. Which is the mean of communication we have been working on very hard for a great amount of time. I don´t like to diminish our work by trying to describe it in a few sentences.
RR: Let me share a quote of an interview with Siena Root: “In the sense that blues is blue, hard rock is black, and reggae is pan African coloured, this music has the colour of siena. It is a warm, earthy colour, originally from the muddy roots of Toscana. Because this sound has roots that go deep, it was also natural to let root be a part of the bands name.” Speaking so passionately about the colors, can I ask you if you have deeper passion to the painting too and if so, do you find many links between creating music and visual art?
LF: Yes, there are obvious links, in my opinion. All art comes out of ideas and philosophical perceptions. Also, if you combine music and visual art you get movies, probably the most powerful media of them all.
RR: Your songs are like a flight above fairy lands, powered by the spirit of the blues and rock from the 60’s. Admit it – do you have a license to drive a flying carpet?
SR: You bet! All types and sizes.
LF: No, I don't, I think the music itself is the only license you need.
KG: Well, it´s of course better to have a license, but nowadays it´s getting more expensive to get one. I have been saving up, and hopefully I will have it for the summer.
RR: If you had a Volkswagen Microbus, covered with painted flowers and powered by green smoke that could take you anywhere in time and space, where would you drive to with the band?
SR: I’d be quite happy to have myself a little time trip to 1967 for some jammin´. Maybe a tour in 1968-69 and then some small festivals in 1970. I think I might enjoy it.
LF: If anywhere in time and space was an option for one day, I would like to see India at the time of Buddha. I think that might me an interesting experience. But I think the time where we are now is really thrilling to. It can be nice not to know the future.
KG: I would probably go to headline a festival in a parallel universe next month, just making a small detour to stop by 2040 and pick up the band. We would be in our 60´s then and would probably have learned to play better by then.
RR: Who would you invite to the trip and what would be the soundtrack of it?
SR: I´ll bring the band and let our riffs be the main soundtrack accompanied by Ennio Morricone of course.
LF: I would invite the prime minister of Sweden, play some improvised folk music and hope that he would gain some perspective on the ignorant stuff he's into right now.
KG: I invite all fans of Siena Root, and why not a soundtrack by Dick Dale.
RR: What bands, books and drugs have influenced mostly Siena Root?
LF: To me, I would say the single most influential band would be Black Sabbath, I think. But I also often come back to my records with Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Grand Funk Railroad. When it comes to books, I enjoy surrealistic Sci Fi and Fantasy.
KG: You could say Siena Root is influenced by all the great bands you have already guessed, Deep Purple, Zeppelin and such, but there are also the obscure influences other than rock. I never listen to rock in my home. It´s mostly blues, Indian classical music or some old synthesizer works from the 70´s.
RR: The Swedish rock scene seems to be endless. With which bands do you keep in touch and to which of them are you fans?
KG: As Sweden is not very big, we keep running into people from bands like Abramis Brama, Bland Bladen, Öresund Space Collective, My Brother The Wind, Backdraft and others.
LF: I'm not a fan of swedish music in particular. But I enjoy acts such as November, Nationalteatern, Peps Persson, Bo Hansson, Trummor & Orgel, etc.
RR: You have played many picturesque events like “Burg Herzberg Festival”, “Duna Jam” and “Yellowstock Summer Festival”. Which of them was the most memorable experience and how will you remember it?
LF: I like Herzberg very much beacause it's so big and yet there is a friendly atmosphere. But my favourite is Dunajam. It's laidback, warm and very beautiful, that's my style.
SR: I had a great time at all of those places. I especially remember our first time at Herzberg. The night before the show the keys to our hotel got lost somehow so we didn’t get any sleep at all and when we arrived to the festival we had no idea what to expect. We were a bit late; as I recall it, we pulled in like an hour before show time, all of us out of our minds due to no sleep. As soon as we hit the stage all the stress was gone due to the warm welcome by the crowd, truly a great day in Siena Roots´ history.
RR: Quoting a friend of mine, I’d like to ask you – how does it feel to be among the “last standing hippies”?
SR: It feels very good! But I doubt we really are the last ones.
LF: I don't know whether I'm really a hippie. But if you say so, I say that there will come new generations of hippies, people that have an open mind for music, love and peace.
RR: Thank you! I hope I could catch you live one day! Take care, good luck and Peace!
SR: Thank you!