An Interview with Tobias Grave of Soft Kill
Earlier this week, we posted our typical band of the week post featuring Soft Kill. As luck would have it, Tobias Grave, the band’s frontman, agreed to take a break from their European tour and sit down to answer some questions. Check out our interview below.
1. For readers who may be hearing about Soft Kill for the first time, can you tell me a little about how you got started as a band?
Tobias: My previous project Blessure Grave got offered an LP by a label called Fast Weapons. This came during a relationship break up and I had moved to LA and found new members. We started collaborating on new material and it was clear to us that these songs and the ones I had brought to the table were something new and removed from what BG was known for so we decided to do a whole new band altogether.
2. Your style has been referred to as post-punk and goth rock. What would you say is the best way to describe your sound?
Tobias: Post Punk is a term we have completely stopped using because it’s started to feel corny. I think everything from the Cure to Pulp to early REM is post punk, but it’s usually just thrown at bands who embody early 80’s UK vibes nowadays. We are definitely not goth, there’s plenty of that out there if people need it but we’ve only ever jokingly called ourselves a goth band. We’re just a band who loves the Stone Roses, Cure, Asylum Party, Replacements, etc. Alternative independent rock n roll music?
3. Who are your biggest musical influences and how have they affected your songwriting?
Tobias: Lately: Tom Petty, Big Country, Cleaners From Venus, the Replacements, Gun Club and the Dicks. Music just gets you in the mood to create, and often it inspires something removed from it itself is categorized as at least in our experience. Often it’s just something nuanced about a part that makes you see a new take on the beauty of song writing.
4. You released two of your albums, “Heresy” and “Choke,” within a year of each other, which is a lot of work for a band. Was there extra material from Heresy leftover for Choke? Or were they completely separate writing processes?
Tobias: Completely different writing periods. Most of “Heresy” was done over the course of a year at random times in different parts of the country. “Choke” is a collection of songs from different periods and places as well, but a good portion of it was written in Portland as a unit.
5. I know your most recent album, “Savior,” was written during a very difficult personal time during the birth of your son. Was it cathartic to put that into your work? Do the songs feel any different now that some time has passed and your son has recovered?
I personally think the songs on the album are beautifully written and overall there's a balance of dark and light even in the way the tracks are placed. Were the songs put into a specific order purposefully?
Tobias: “Savior” is autobiographical in nature. It’s about facing tragedy, reflecting inward and examining your strengths and weaknesses as a human being praying to a higher power for help. It’s about life and death and how little I know about both. I spent every second of every day begging for my son to survive while also planning my own demise if he didn’t. The songs were laid out in an order that felt cinematic in some sense. “Swaddle” feels like being ripped from the womb and “Hard Candy” is like floating out of that month into our new life as a family. We thought about laying it out chronologically which would mean “Bunny Room” and “Savior” would be the start, but I don’t think mentally I would have ever been able to listen to the record in that order. Each song brings me back to the exact moment that inspired it. I’ve shed a lot of tears on stage being sent to those places again.
7. You guys are currently on tour in Europe. How do you feel your European shows differ from those in the States?
Tobias: Europe is a great place to explore and it’s been nice to see our fan base growing here. It’s getting really strong in a bunch of cities but my favorite moments are when we venture to new places and get knocked from our comfort zone. Honestly Europe and America don’t feel anything alike. The venues here are considerably better as a rule compared to back in the states. It’s nice to be fed, housed and paid for your time whereas in America you have to crawl through shit for X amount of years before you feel comfortable even requesting something from a promoter or venue.
8. Are you currently working on any new material or focusing on touring at the moment?
Tobias: We have a 7” single dropping any day now and our next album is about 20 songs deep demo wise. Can’t say much besides 2020 is the plan and it’ll be our best.
Thank you for answering some of our questions and giving our readers the opportunity to learn more about your music!
Soft Kill will be touring the US starting in April. You can see the list of dates here.
Learn more about Soft Kill on their Facebook page.
Listen to Soft Kill’s music on Spotify.