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Kingmakers: An Exclusive Interview With DEJAN ROSIĆ Of SCREAMER

By George Dionne, Podcaster
Wednesday, January 18, 2023 @ 8:00 AM

“Every good heavy metal album always needs some fire”

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Photos Credit: Tom Johansson

SCREAMER has been delivering their take on classic Heavy Metal for over a decade now. The Swedish outfit has released four studio albums and their first live album in 2021 entitled Live Sacrifice. Now signed to label heavyweights Steamerhammer/SPV, SCREAMER is ready to unleash their 5th studio album Kingmaker. I had the chance to catch up with guitarist Dejan Rosić to find out more about it.

KNAC.COM: If I knew absolutely nothing about SCREAMER, how would you describe the band’s music to me?

ROSIC: I would say it’s very melodic classic Heavy Metal. Big singalong choruses and catchy guitar riffs.

KNAC.COM: SCREAMER’s 5th studio album Kingmaker is set for release on January 13, 2023 through Steamhammer/SPV. The album has already received great reviews. You and the band must be excited about that?

ROSIC: Very! We are even more excited to get the album released, so all the fans can enjoy it and learn all the songs for when we hit the road and start playing them.

KNAC.COM: Does everyone in the band contribute to the songwriting, or does vocalist Andreas Wikstrom handle the lyrics and the band handles the music arrangements?

ROSIC: He mainly writes all the lyrics and the music, but there are no set rules on how we do it. Me and Henrik did write some lyrics for the song “Renegade” and Andreas completed them and perfected it. Me and the drummer Henrik got together early 2021 and wrote and layed down the foundation of the album, and then Andreas started with vocals and lyrics. We had pre-production with Jakob Herrmann at Top Floor studios, and then when Jon Morheim joined the band he helped us finish the album.

KNAC.COM: There’s a bit of effective simplicity when it comes to your single “Kingmaker”. The riff and chorus burrows in the listeners head for sure. Is that something the band strives for, to keep things simple?

ROSIC: That is something we definitely strive for, but making that effective simplicity is hard. I think when songwriting is good the things that are hard sound simple, because it is properly executed.

KNAC.COM: Your single “The Traveler” is about life on the road. SCREAMER has had a few songs about that subject matter. I would imagine life on the road has its good and bad aspects worthy of writing about it?

ROSIC: This band's aim has always been that we are a touring live band, so I think only natural for us to have songs about that subject since touring. Playing live and being on the road is something we enjoy.

KNAC.COM: Someone in SCREAMER appears to be a fire bug, with songs like “Hellfire”, “Ashes And Fire” and “Burn It Down”. Am I on to something here?

ROSIC: Haha, I haven’t really thought about it in that way. But every good Heavy Metal album always needs some fire!

KNAC.COM: Obviously you are proud of all of the songs on Kingmaker, but is there a particular song or two that are your favorites? Why?

ROSIC: I would say the song “The Traveler” because it’s not something we usually do, but in the same way it is.

KNAC.COM: Guitarist Jon Morheim is new to SCREAMER. How did he end up joining the band?

ROSIC: When our old guitar player Anton Fingal left we contacted Jon a month or so after that. Jon was a guy me and Henrik already knew for almost ten years.

He was the only one we asked and wanted, and luckily he accepted. He fit perfectly in the group and even lifted everything up a few notches with his talent, and gave our new album Kingmaker even more flair.

KNAC.COM: You joined SCREAMER shortly after their 2011 debut album was released. How were you recruited for the band?

ROSIC: Before I joined, Henrik had asked me to come down and try out for the band, but I said no. Then he asked me again and I said yes. Since he knew me already very well, and we played together even before SCREAMER, I only met up with the other guys and we played the songs. I even think we wrote a song from a riff I brought with me. The rest is history 12 years later.

KNAC.COM: Kingmaker is SCREAMER’s 1st album for Steamhammer/SPV. How did you end up signing with the label?

ROSIC: Before we contacted any labels we finished the album, recorded, mixed and mastered. Then we reached out to a few labels and Steamhammer was the one we felt was best suited for the band going forward.

KNAC.COM: Vinyl has made a comeback in recent years, and Kingmaker comes in a classic black vinyl as well as a purple one. Does SCREAMER have a lot of say in the appearance of the vinyl and accompanying album cover?

ROSIC: They didn’t tell us much about anything, they let us mainly do our thing. But we had a plan with everything from the start so it was easy. The label asked us what color we wanted and we chose the purple one.

KNAC.COM: SCREAMER takes things one step further and has created unique covers for the singles released from Kingmaker. Why focus on single cover art?

ROSIC: That was our goal with this album overall, to not just take everything one step further but ten steps. You can never have too much good artwork and you can always make cool shirts out of all the artwork!

KNAC.COM: Who designed the Kingmaker album cover & singles covers? How did you decide on the artist(s)?

ROSIC: David Paul Seymour did the front and back for the album. He worked on our previous release Live Sacrifice, so our plan was to continue to work together. The singles were done by Daniel Porta/The Pit Forge who did not only the singles, but also all the layout work for the album. We have been huge fans of his so it was only natural to work together.

KNAC.COM: Who gave you the nickname ‘Bosnian Santana’? Is this because you solo in minor keys?

ROSIC: Haha the story isn’t as fun as it should be. We did a show in the bass player's hometown and we were a bit tired after a taco buffet. [After] some bowling and goofing off backstage before the show, I just said I’m the ‘Bosnian Santana’ and it stuck. I’m born in Croatia and my family lived in Bosnia before we moved to Sweden. Who doesn’t love solos in minor?

KNAC.COM: You recently completed a North American Tour with HELLFIRE and toured with TRAVELER, HAUNT, and SABER in the spring. Do you plan a return to North American in 2023?

ROSIC: We are in the planning stages for returning to North America, so that will definitely happen. Hopefully in 2023!

KNAC.COM: You had a bit of a bump in the road during the HELLFIRE tour. Your catalytic converter was stolen. However, your fans pitched in for a new one. How did that all go down?

ROSIC: Funny thing was that [it] was one of the only times the van was parked in a good gated spot haha. When we started the van we heard directly that something sounded wrong. Tony from HELLFIRE jumped out and took a look and saw that the catalytic converter was stolen. Luckily our fans helped out, because touring budgets after the pandemic for smaller bands are what they are. The Heavy Metal community is great and we are forever grateful!

KNAC.COM: SCREAMER has shared festival stages with such heavyweights as METAL CHURCH, GRAVE DIGGER, MICHAEL SCHENKER, ARMORED SAINT, and SKID ROW. Have you ever been ‘starstruck’ meeting your heroes?

ROSIC: Usually not, but when we toured the US we went to hang out and see UNTO OTHERS who were touring with ARCH ENEMY and BEHEMOTH. We met Mike Amott from ARCH ENEMY before the show, and I have to say I was a bit starstruck since I grew up listening to ARCH ENEMY.

KNAC.COM: Do you prefer the larger festival crowds or smaller club shows?

ROSIC: Both have their charm. I like doing both, but if I have to choose, it’s club gigs since you get closer to the audience.

KNAC.COM: Has SCREAMER ever had a SPINAL TAP moment, where everything went comically wrong on stage?

ROSIC: I was trying to be cool once at a festival, and play guitar behind my head. My hair got stuck in my guitar strap. I would say that is very SPINAL TAP!

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