In between struggle, survival and the fight against illness – Danish alt rockers RIVERHEAD discuss new album “Cancer”

5 mins read

On April 28th, 2023, RIVERHEAD, the Danish rock band, will be releasing their highly anticipated second album, titled ‘Cancer‘. This album is a testament to the band’s background in hardcore and metal, with its rough, melodic rock sound. However, the band is also breaking new ground with a more vulnerable expression, a natural progression resulting from the challenges they’ve faced over the past few years, including illness and personal struggles. Despite these challenges, the band has emerged stronger and more honest, with ‘Cancer‘ serving as a powerful tribute to survival.

The band has already shared two singles and videos, “Numb To The World” and “Broken Boy,” and has just released the album’s third single “0806,” which is their first all-acoustic track. This song showcases a new facet of the band’s songwriting with its lo-fi sound and personal, mournful lyrics based on their firsthand experiences with serious illness.

According to lead singer Jacob Bredahl, “0806” is possibly the most important track on the album. The band had to summon up the courage to write and perform a song that is as honest, raw, and fragile as it gets. They finished the song late one night during the recording session at a hotel they were staying in, which was situated across the street from the hospital where the storyline took place a year before.

We have teamed up with the band’s bassist Mixen Lindberg to dive a bit deeper and learn more about their newest work. See our brief interview below.

RIVERHEAD is a Danish band that was established in 2015 by four accomplished musicians who have previously played together in various metal and hardcore music projects. Their frontman Jonas Pedersen, who is Swedish, joined the band at its inception. In early 2016, RIVERHEAD released their first EP ‘Letting Go/Something To Die For’ and followed it up with their debut album ‘Nothing’ in 2018. They have performed extensively and have earned a reputation as a dynamic and cohesive live band.

Riverhead by Michael José
Riverhead by Michael José

Following the release of their debut album ‘Nothing’ in 2018, RIVERHEAD’s singer Jonas Pedersen left the band, and the search for a new frontman began. After four years of searching and writing, the pandemic hit. In response, the band started writing instrumental tracks and recording demos with producer Jacob Bredahl. Unexpectedly, Bredahl became the new lead singer. However, his entrance was disrupted by a diagnosis of cancer, which brought an increased focus on the band’s music and friendship. The subsequent process of creating the album ‘Cancer’ became a fellowship, democratic from day one, and a part of the band’s joint struggle for survival.

RIVERHEAD’s second album ‘Cancer’ is a manifestation of the band’s struggle with life, death, and survival, both mentally and physically. The band’s songwriting has become more refined, and their interplay is intense, dynamic, and tight. The album confronts the listener with rock tracks such as ‘Broken Boy’ and ‘Numb To The World’, which show a band that has looked into the abyss and has something to say about it. This sentiment is especially notable in the band’s first acoustic track, ‘0806’, which narrates the mentioned illness with unsentimental vulnerability.

The title ‘Cancer’ serves as both a direct reference to the illness and a metaphor for the opposition and meaninglessness that one inevitably encounters in life. The album also explores the world through the eyes of a child and as a person who, halfway through life, realizes that a paradigm shift is necessary for relationships and the world to endure. The struggle is unending, but what matters is to engage in it for life while we still have it and each other.

‘Cancer’ is produced by Jacob Bredahl and Riverhead, recorded by Tommy Hansen, Tue Madsen and Jacob Bredahl, mastered by Brad Boatright with artwork by Liz Curso. ‘Cancer’ is released on LP/CD/Digital via Sounds of Subterrania April 28th 2023.

Answers by bass player Mixen Lindberg

Your new album ‘Cancer’ deals with themes of struggle, survival and the fight against illness. How did the writing process and recording of this album differ from your previous work?

After Jacob joined the band, the way we worked on songs changed, and as a result, the writing and recording of Cancer became a much more collaborative effort compared to previous years. In the early days, we would mostly work out song structures without our singer being present, which resulted in overworking our material to a certain degree. However, now we have a more immediate, intuitive approach to composing. It’s more of a “get-to-the-point” situation, which I think complements our songs.

Your latest single ‘0806’ marks your first all acoustic song and displays a new side to your songwriting. Can you tell us more about the inspiration and creative process behind this track? How did it feel to create a song with a more vulnerable and personal tone? How do you think your fans will react to this departure from your usual sound?

Initially, 0806 was a “typical” uptempo Riverhead song that we demoed, but it never made the final cut. One night at my house, I started playing some of the same chords on my acoustic guitar, and Jacob instantly chimed in. Mads was quick to point out that this song was not going to have drums on it, and so our first acoustic song was born. We sat on it for a while, partly because it wasn’t fully finished, but also because it felt very intimidating.

Riverhead by Theis Wilmer Poulsen
Riverhead by Theis Wilmer Poulsen

While we were in the studio recording the album, we ended up finishing the song late one night at the hotel we were staying in, which happened to be right across the street from the same hospital in which the storyline took place the year before. The next day, Martin and I sat across from each other with our acoustic guitars and recorded it in one take. Jacob later recorded his vocals, and I think we ended up with possibly the single most important track on the album. 0806 is as honest, raw, and fragile as it gets, and I hope it shines through to anyone who listens to it. If not, that’s okay too because, in the end, we did this for ourselves as a way of processing what Jacob went through.

The band’s name, RIVERHEAD, is an allusion to a location in New York that has a rich cultural and historical significance. What inspired you to choose this name, and how does it relate to your music and identity as a band?

Shoutout to Small Brown Bike, who put out a great album called RIVERBED some 20 years ago.

Your music has roots in both the hardcore and metal scenes, but the new album ‘Cancer’ explores a more melodic and emotional side of your sound. How has your musical style evolved over the years, and what inspired this shift in tone for the new album?

I believe that time has played a crucial role in our musical evolution. Although we may appear rough around the edges and share a similar musical background, at our core, we are simply a group of emotional dudes trapped in aging bodies. When Jacob joined the band, we were reignited with a desire to explore new sounds, push ourselves creatively, and embrace vulnerability.


What are yous plans for the rest of the year?

Play shows, write songs, record a new album, and do what we do best: spend quality time together. Additionally, Martin just became a father, so some of us also have uncle duties to attend to.

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