Jake E of Cyhra: “I’ve grown tremendously as a frontman”

Modern melodic metal band Cyhra has a nine-date tour of Japan coming up in January. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with frontman Jake E to hear more about the tour.

Founded by vocalist Jake E (ex-Amaranthe) and guitarist Jesper Strömblad (ex-In Flames), the band now also features Euge Valovirta (ex-Shining) on lead guitar, Alex Landenburg (Kamelot, ex-Annihilator, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Axxis) on drums and Marcus Sunesson (Engel, ex-The Crown, Night Crowned, The Haunted, Notre Dame) on guitar. The band’s third album is scheduled to be released in 2023.

You have toured Japan a bunch of times in the past when you fronted Amaranthe. Can Japanese fans expect the same showman on stage that they grew to love during your Amaranthe years? “Touring Japan with Amaranthe back in the day was always an amazing pleasure. It didn’t matter if we played in front of 200 people at a small club or 18,000 people at the Loud Park festival. We were always greeted with open arms and the fans always did everything they could to make us feel special up on stage! Now returning to Japan with Cyhra is something we’ve all waited for for so many years! The pandemic came in between all of our plans. After all the love we got in Burrn! magazine, where the readers voted us, and me, to be one of the top songwriters, one of the top ten vocalists and one of the best albums of the year. That was just surreal! Since then, I haven’t been able to think about anything else than ‘Soon it’s finally time to come to Japan and reveal the great live show that Cyhra has!’ To answer your question, I believe that since the Amaranthe years, I’ve grown tremendously as a frontman. I am no longer able to hide behind other singers. I am on my own and I bear all the responsibility to engage the crowd more or less on my own shoulders. I am not trying to say that the rest of the band doesn’t have any part of the live show, but in the end, I know that the audience is expecting the singer to steer the ship so to say! Anyway, it’s gonna be fantastic to come back to Japan and I am so looking forward to meeting the Japanese crowd again! And I assure you that no one is going to be disappointed.”

You have no fewer than nine shows planned in Japan in January, including five shows in Tokyo. Will they all, more or less, have the same setlist, or will the shows differ? “That is a really tricky question to answer! I don’t know what I can say and what I can’t say. But if you have tickets for more than one concert, I can assure you that none of the concerts is going to be the same, neither for us nor for the fans There will be some extremely interesting special things happening and we are setting up a fantastic show! We are gonna put an end to the ‘No Halos in Hell’ tour and maybe we will start something completely new, who knows?”

Following two fab Cyhra albums, “Letters to Myself” (2017) and “No Halos in Hell” (2019), you will release the band’s third album in 2023. What can fans expect from your forthcoming album? “After we released ‘Letters to Myself’, I never thought that I could outdo myself as a songwriter ever again. At the time, I thought that that was the best album that I’d ever been part of. Then we released ‘No Halos in Hell’ and I thought that, damn, this holds the same kind of standards and we’re finally starting to set the trademark of what the band is all about. With the band’s third album, I’ve realised that we are here to stay! Cyhra as an entry is a phenomenal bunch of people that have been shown to be not only amazing musicians but also amazing friends to be around. I’ve never had so much fun on stage in my whole life and I am so proud of us as an entity! I am extremely excited to see what the fans are going to think about it because it’s Cyhra all over it and you will directly hear that it’s a Cyhra album from the first time you hit the play button! It might be so that this album is a bit more modern. You have great lyrics and great hooky choruses. Any fan out there won’t be disappointed! I think that we’ve created a monster and I can’t wait for the world to hear it.”

Cyhra’s musical style combines heavy guitar-driven metal with catchy melodic parts and liberal use of keyboards. Now when you will soon release a third album and your signature sound is firmly established, do you feel that you have to fit any new music into what is expected of Cyhra? Or do you just want to write great music without any constraints? “I think that when you are in a band you will always try to explore new ground and try to find a fresh approach for your compositions. And no matter how old or experienced you get you also always grow as a songwriter. But at the same time, you can’t experiment too far out of the band’s framework or trademark sound. What I mean with that is that if you’re a power metal band, I think it would be unfair to the fans if you all of a sudden start to play industrial metal, because then you’re so far off from what brought the fans in in the first place. I usually write songs that I like myself and that I would enjoy listening to myself. I feel no constraints, but I feel an obligation towards the fans that it should not be too far off from where the last album ended so to say.”

Guitarist Marcus Sunesson has been playing live with Cyhra for the past few years as founding guitarist Jesper Strömblad has not been touring with the band. Is Marcus now a proper band member or is he about to become one? Has he been contributing in the studio as well? “Yes, absolutely. Marcus is a full-time member since 2019 and Jesper is still a full-time member as well! It’s just so that Jesper has decided that for the time being, he’s not touring with either Cyhra or The Halo Effect. But Jesper has been a big part of the new album. It’s of course sad that he won’t join us for the Japanese tour dates but he is working on himself and he’s getting better every day! So, when the time comes Jesper and Marcus will be on stage together and that’s going to be fantastic!”

Your drummer Alex Landenburg is also the drummer for Kamelot. How do you manage touring commitments when the drummer sits on two drum stools? “Yeah, that was something that we knew already from the beginning. We have a replacement drummer called Adde Larsson who has filled in for the shows where plans collided for Cyhra and Kamelot. Adde is doing a fantastic job and we would not let the train stop just because one member can’t do one particular show or tour. It might of course be disappointing for the fans if the original line-up is not present, but we’ve decided that whatever happens with any of the members the show must go on. And we are lucky that we have a replacement drummer that can step in on short notice if Alex is needed elsewhere! Alex is doing the Japan dates but flies directly to Miami for 70,000 Tons of Metal with Kamelot.”

You are kicking off 2023 with the Japan tour in January. What else do you have planned for 2023? “Right now, we put all our focus on the Japanese shows and the planning of new single releases and the album release of the year, hopefully. Haha! I can’t wait to show the new album to the world and I think it’s going to be something extra special. I also hope that it’s going to be as appreciated as the ‘No Halos in Hell’ album was! Hopefully, we will be able to go all around the world again, but things have changed in the touring business. Everything has become more expensive. There’s a war right on our doorstep, so right now I just decided to live day by day. I’m just happy to be healthy and try to be around my family as much as I possibly can. So, first Japan, then we’ll see what happens!”

Cyhra will play nine shows in Japan between the 19th and the 28th of January. Tickets for the shows can be bought here.