These Are The Days
In many ways it was a dream come true for Saybia when the band released its first album The Second You Sleep in 2002 and created quite a stir in Denmark. No other Danish rock band has logged such a major success on this side of the new millennium. The five musicians appreciated and valued this accomplishment, especially when they looked in the rear view mirror at the preceding nine years of toil and slim pickings.
There was, however a flip side to the coin. Success proved to be a formidable new companion for Saybia, five musicians who were also old friends. Some indefinable thing inside each of them died and their friendship began to wither. There was nothing left to talk about and nothing left to fight for. They were like five zombies, each isolated on his own island. ”From coast to coast / From flag to flag / Then it occurred to me / We’re standing close now, to breaking up / From coast to coast / We wave our flags for nothing” (“Flags”).
Prior to that point, they endured an 18-month ordeal that no other Danish rock band has ever experienced before. One-year-and-a-half of endless tours in Scandinavia and Europe, along with a visit to the U.S. for performances at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas and in New York City.
But Saybia’s history did not begin on that day in January 2002 when the group released its debut album The Second You Sleep. In truth, it began in 1993. Five teenage friends began to play music together in the little seaside town of Nyborg around 130 km west of Copenhagen where the whole Danish music industry is based. The situation allowed the band to develop its music in a peaceful setting, far from the spotlights of the capital city and the hungry chops of record label talent scouts.
Up to 2001 Saybia had recorded and released several EPs on their own label, played every little corner of Denmark and drove three VW busses into the ground. All the while, they were building up a solid fan base. By the beginning of 2001 the record companies had got wind of this hard working band, who had now moved to Copenhagen. Søren Huss (vocals); Sebastian Sandstrøm (guitar); Jeppe Knudsen (bass); Jess Jensen (keyboards) and Palle Sørensen (drums) signed a contract with EMI in the spring of 2001 and that summer the band made its record debut with the company by releasing a six-track EP. Two of the singles “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Fool’s Corner” became instant hits, and the EP earned the honour of winning the Danish Music Award for Best Rock Album. At the gala awards ceremony in February 2002, the band beamed with pride as the coveted trophy was handed to them by Kylie Minogue, who was flown in for the event.
The debut album The Second You Sleep had just been released and Saybia entered the Official Hitlist in pole position, the first Danish rock band ever to debut with a number-one album. A platinum record arrived a month later and a year later Saybia had under its belt: triple platinum for 125,000 albums sold at home; platinum in Norway for sales of 60,000 records; and, sales of another 100,000 albums in Europe, Asia and South America. The single “The Second You Sleep” was
among the 50 most-played hits of 2003 on Dutch Radio3FM, and at MIDEM in Cannes, France in January 2004 Saybia received the European Border Breaker Award.
Success extracted a price and the five musicians were drained of energy. They forgot what it was like to be friends and none of them could spell the word communication or for that matter, even remember what it meant. ”Nothing seems to work behind these walls / Communication is breaking down / Empathy is nothing but a myth / So tell me who you really are” (“Flags”). The autumn of 2003 turned into a nightmare for the band members as they were unable to find their way out of the abyss. Each of the five was fully aware that every one of the others was in a bad state, but they still weren’t capable of discussing things or helping each other out. In an attempt to rediscover the old camaraderie, they purchased on old house just south of Copenhagen, refurbished it and converted it into a rehearsal studio/workshop. ”Do you remember? / The exact time we went dry on gasoline / Just the five of us / Against the rest of the world” (“Guardian Angel”). So, in desperation they made the hasty decision to tear two months out of their calendars and head to the Swedish island Gotland in an attempt to write and record some songs for a new album.
Away from family and friends, and without TV, movies, concerts and other distractions, they were forced to confront the situation – to take the bull by the horns and talk things through in a search for the lost chord of friendship. They fully understood this was a last-ditch effort: ”In the end we almost made it / At the point of no return” (“We Almost Made It”). It was a difficult, painful process, but along the way the vague forms of new songs began to appear. Søren Huss had time for reflection and put his thoughts into words. He wrote his way through the crisis, but Saybia’s problems weren’t solved just yet. Even though they left Gotland in mid-March 2004 with a nearly-finished album in their baggage, they still had a major task in front of them upon their return to Denmark. But by now all of them could see the light at the end of the tunnel and during the spring of 2004 they slowly re-forged the bonds of friendship, the joy of playing music and the belief in a common future.
The battles Saybia has fought bear relevance not only to a band, but also to most of the relationships in life. That’s another reason why the band’s music is so compelling. Everybody can relate to the lyrics, and many will find encouragement, hope and spiritual salve in Søren Huss’ words. He and the rest of Saybia have been in purgatory, but have climbed out wiser and richer in experience: ”Nothing has changed I’m exactly the same / As before we went cruising in a high speed lane / I’m still dreaming of open sky open road / But grass is not greener on the other side / I know by now ’cause I walked the red carpet and died” (“Brilliant Sky”).
These Are The Days is Saybia’s second album and it’s a serious record, but then life is also a serious matter. That’s a fact the band has realised. ”I took a life for granted / Until it slipped right through my fingers” (“Stranded”). The five members of the band embrace a lot of powerful emotions on These Are The Days, as they have passed through a colossal stage of development, both as musicians and individuals, since the 2002 debut. It shows clearly in Søren Huss’ lyrics, which bear the scars of tough times and reveal a new depth, an element that was bubbling just under the surface on the band’s earlier songs. Musically, the band’s range stretches from melodic songs like ”Bent The Rules” and ”I Surrender,” to the 17-minute-long impressionistic closing number “Untitled.”
These Are The Days was produced by Sweden’s Andreas Ahlenius. The American talent Tchad Blake (Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson) mixed the record in the legendary Real World studios in Bath in the south of England.
When it came to the album cover, Saybia had just one photographer in mind: one that could capture and personify the spirit within the group; one that could depict vulnerability, desperation and re-birth. It was the star Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, who’s know for working only with bands he likes. He’d never worked with a Danish band before, but he has seen Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, film director Lars von Trier (Dancer In The Dark, Dogville) and supermodel Helena Christensen through his lens. A meeting in London, where Corbijn got to listen to three demos, was all it took to convince the much-in-demand photographer to work with Saybia.
During an eight-hour-long session in the natural surroundings near the band’s house south of Copenhagen, he shot a series of pictures that capture the anguish and release contained in the new album The photos reveal the scars on the band’s psyche, but without blatantly exposing them.
These Are The Days contains 11 new songs, including the lead single ”Brilliant Sky.” The English film director Simon Ellis has shot a lovely, yet extremely trippy video for the song.
These Are The Days comes out on September13, 2004 in most European territories.