A famous YouTuber, now a promising new vocal talent, who sings in the great debut album of Icon of Sin! Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Raphael Mendes, the new Bruce Dickinson, as it has been said and written. His voice sounds exactly like the voice of Bruce Dickinson, however, all things show that a new star is born. I personally love Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson, so it is not a surprise that I am super excited with Raphael Mendes and his vocal work on the “Icon of Sin” album. So, it was inevitable to have a chat with Raphael about everything - please welcome Raphael Mendes, the new vocal hero from Brazil!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Raphael, you have just released your first album with Icon of Sin. Which are your feelings now about that?
I feel great. That was a fantastic work with my friends, Sergio Mazul (singer of Semblant) and Marcelo Gelbcke (guitarist of Landfall), with a fantastic label that is Frontiers Records. I am very happy, because that’s the style of music I really love.
The album was released approximately three months ago. Are you satisfied with how it goes commercially until now?
I don’t know about the numbers, because that is something, for which I haven’t talked yet with Frontiers Records. However, I keep watching the internet and I think that the album is going great.
I liked the album too! I wonder, Raphael, how would you define the style of the album?
Everyone who likes traditional heavy metal, will love the album. We have music, songs with powerful riffs on the guitar that will remind you of the great bands of the 80s. It is not a copy, of course we have the inspiration from these bands, for instance from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio. It is all inspired by these bands, I think we created a great work.
Who were the songwriters? And what about the lyrics?
It was Sergio Mazul and Marcelo Gelbcke. The two of them composed the music and Sergio wrote the lyrics.
How important was the contribution of Frontiers Records for the set-up of Icon of Sin?
Frontiers Records created the band, they contacted me and sent me an email, telling me that they wanted to create a project for me. Because of this, everything was made from zero. I didn’t have a band, so the band was created by Frontiers. They put me in contact with Sergio and Marcelo, who had decided to work with the songs, and after that I started working with them. And Frontiers Records was very important, because they told us what they want, we just followed the ideas that they had in mind.
So, is Icon of Sin a project or a typical band?
In the beginning it was a project, but then it became a band.
Should we expect a second album by Icon of Sin?
We are already working on the new Icon of Sin album. I don’t know when we are going to release it, but it’s in the works.
You told us that Sergio and Marcelo wrote everything for Icon of Sin. But which is the band’s line-up?
Yes, it is Sol Perez on the guitar, Caio Vidal on the bass, CJ Dubiella on the drums and Mateus Cantaleano on the other guitar. All members come from Curitiba, Brazil, but I am not from Curitiba, I am from another state of Brazil, Espírito Santo.
Which is the relationship between the members of the band?
Before the set-up of Icon of Sin, I didn’t know anybody, even Marcelo and Sergio, I didn’t know them. When I started to work the demos, I met the guys, Marcelo and Sergio, and after I recorded the album, I met the guys from the band, in Curitiba. So, I spent some days over there to shoot the videos for “Night Breed” and “Shadow Dancer”, I spent twenty days in Curitiba. Of course, we got out to drink some beers and talk about the band.
Who was the producer of the album? Who was responsible for the mixing and mastering?
The album was produced by Marcelo and Sergio. The mixing was done by Marcelo and the mastering was done by Alessandro Del Vecchio (the well-distinguished Italian multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer).
Raphael, let’s go now to some personal questions. When and how did you get into music and singing?
I think it was 2007, when I had my first band, but I used to play the guitar back then. As vocalist, it was in 2011, I had my first band, an Iron Maiden tribute band. I remember this was the first time that I decided to sing in a band.
Most people know you as the singer from Brazil who sings like Bruce Dickinson. How do you feel about that?
I feel great, because Bruce Dickinson is my great idol in music. I like it when people compare me with Bruce, you know. That makes me feel happy, because I have always liked the way Bruce sings.
Do you try to sing like Bruce Dickinson or it comes naturally?
OK, I will try to explain to you how I turned my voice this way. I started singing because of Bruce, of course. When I heard him singing, I said, “wow, this guy sings so nice, I have to sing his way”. I just tried and I noticed that I had that kind of voice. The tone was similar, something like that, and I started to improve it. So, I can say that it became natural, I don’t know how to sing another way.
Have you ever taken voice lessons?
No, never, I mean, I just learn by myself.
Before Icon of Sin, people knew you as a famous YouTuber. How did you decide to record this kind of videos and upload them on YouTube?
Yes, it was with my friend Fabio Lima, who is a famous YouTuber in Brazil, with more than one million subscribers in his channel. I just had some amateur videos with my Iron Maiden tribute band and this guy, Fabio, saw a video of my band playing and he sent me a message on Facebook, calling me to do an Iron Maiden song, “Stanger in a Strange Land”. So, it was in 2016, the first time that I posted something on the internet, you know, this kind of videos that people call “collaborations”. After this I created my channel, but I didn’t have a big knowledge of editing videos and recording. I was trying to learn, and after that, I started posting my videos edited by myself. The first video of the “What if Bruce Dickinson was the singer of …” video series was on Fabio Lima’s YouTube channel. I was in his house with some friends and we were playing some tracks, with me singing with the voice of Bruce! It was the first time we made a video like that and many people liked it, so I brought it to my channel.
Apart from Bruce Dickinson, which other singers do you admire?
Michael Kiske, Ronnie James Dio, Freddie Mercury, I can say these.
Which is your favorite Iron Maiden album?
That is difficult, but I always answer “Somewhere In Time”, it is a fantastic album. “Stanger in a Strange Land” is one of my favorite songs.
Which is your music dream, Raphael?
My dream in music? I think it is to go on a tour in Europe and USA with Icon of Sin, that would be fantastic, that is what I would really want to do in the future.
You have cooperated with two famous musicians, on their latest projects – Timo Tolkki and Marius Danielsen. Can you give me some info about these cooperations?
Marius Danielsen’s Legend of Valley Doom project was the first internet project, in which I took part. It was 2016 or 2017, he called me and he asked me to do one song, so I recorded one song, it was “Crystal Mountains” from the second Legend of Valley Doom album. I am also on the “Legend of Valley Doom Part 3” album, I recorded two or three songs. And it was fantastic, because in the first album, for example, there were names like Michael Kiske, Blaze Bayley, Vinnie Appice, so I felt proud to be with these great musicians. I also participated in the new album of Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, which was released some weeks ago. It was fantastic, Frontiers Records called me and asked me to be part of the project. I was very happy, because I have always been listening to the Avalon albums, I think it is a great project. I was surprised when they called, and even more surprised, when they selected “Master of Hell”, where I sing, to be the first single! That was very nice.
Raphael, which is your advice to new singers?
I would say, if you want to do something that you really love, just do it. Do it till you get it. Because it is very difficult in rock music, especially in Brazil, but you have to keep trying. Only that way, you can reach your dreams.
Finally, Raphael, is it an ambition of yours to release a solo album?
Hmm, I don’t know yet, but who knows in the future! I don’t know, the focus now is on Icon of Sin, we want to release the second album and want to create an album better than the first one.
After some significant line-up changes, Rebellion has just released its new album, the fantastic “We Are The People”. The German heavy metallers are more passionate and energetic than ever and deliver some extraordinary new songs. Myth of Rock didn’t miss the chance and spoke with the band about several, interesting subjects. Rebellion was represented by guitarist Fabrizio Costantino, who gave some really clever answers. Proceed and you will see for yourselves!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Rebellion is releasing its new, ninth album. How do you feel about that? Which are your ambitions for this album? Yes, it’s pretty cool to be part of this. Personally, it is my second album but in this case the songwriting was a little different. Rebellion has twenty years of band history, so of course we wanted to reach old Rebellion fans just as much as we wanted to make a modern metal album. And then, there’s also the subject of the album which is kind of sensitive to say the least. So tying all of this together we are pretty happy how it turned out.
Where would you trace the differences between “We Are The People” and the previous Rebellion albums? How much different does Rebellion sound on this new album?
Since the lineup has two new guitar players and a new drummer, there are some musical influences that you may not find in the older albums. My song writing, for instance, is very death and black metal influenced, so you’ll definitely hear some tremolo picking on this album. I think every Rebellion album has a distinct sound to it. Maybe it was because of Covid and the lack of gigs, but with “We Are The People” we wanted to sound like a modern metal band. Does that make sense? I mean, some bands sound like an orchestra on CD. Some sound very sterile. We just wanted to feel like listening to a band again.
How would you define the music style of Rebellion? I would say that it is teutonic heavy metal with a modern touch. Do you agree with me?
You know, it is interesting for me to hear that. I have no idea why we should be labeled teutonic. It is not a musical category. It just pins us to a certain place of origin or ideology in the worst case. I think I’d agree with you on all the rest. Allthough, there are influences like I said before that aren’t really used in heavy metal with a modern touch, haha!
Which would you say are the trademarks of Rebellion?
That pretty much every album is designed as a concept album. The second trademark is probably Tomi (Göttlich, bassist and mastermind of Rebellion). He is our mascot, haha! As a historian he has some profound understanding of the subjects he writes lyrics about.
When and where was “We Are the People” recorded? Which was contribution of Uwe Lulis to the new album? How would you describe Uwe Lulis as a record producer?
We started recording, I think, in November last year at Uwe’s Black Solaris Studio. And man, Uwe is such a great producer. Especially Martin (Giemza, guitars) and me, as the guitarists were shitting our pants. The great Uwe Lulis is producing our album. You better be well fucking prepared! And then he is such a nice guy. If something didn’t sound right, he even showed us different techniques on guitar and it worked out instantly. Other than that, he was also curious about our own style of playing and gave us the freedom we needed. Great guy, really.
Who did write the songs (music and lyrics) of the new album? How is usually a Rebellion song composed?
Most of the music was written by Martin. Tomi wrote most of the lyrics. The lyrics for “Verdun” and “World War II” were contributed by our vocalist Micha (Seifert). Oh yeah, the music to “World War II” was written by Uwe Lulis. A little tap to the hat since he was also a founding member of Rebellion, when Tomi and him parted ways with Grave Digger. I wrote “Vaterland” and “Gods of War”. “Shoa (It Could Have Been Me) ” was written by me and Martin. So you see, basically everyone involved with the band contributed to the album. It really was some team effort!
Αs far as the lyrics of the new album are concerned, I know that there is a political concept. Can you present this concept to us? Are there any symbolizations, any metaphors, any messages you try to send through this concept? Typically, I am not a fan of authors explaining their intentions. An album is never released into some sort of cultural vacuum and things that we may have intended in a certain way, may trigger the listeners in a totally different way. And I think that is awesome. Nevertheless, there are some musical ideas that I just loved on the album. “Verdun” for instance is a very special song in Rebellion history. The main riff is basically how we interpreted the troop movement of the Verdun battle. Slowly going back and forth only interrupted by machine gun firing. If you want to analyze our songs, I’d love to read about that!
The new song “Vaterland” is inspired by the national anthem of Germany but uses completely different lyrics. How/Why did you decide to that? Remember what I said about the intentions of an author? “Vaterland” is a good example for that. I wanted to write an opener for the album. A song about the French revolution. So I used a musical quotation of songs that were used back then. The hymn part used to be a commentary on the French revolutionary song “Ça ira”. When I presented the song to the band, Tomi was immediately struck by that part and instantly had lyrics in mind. I was very surprised that it didn’t have anything to do with what I intended, but I liked the way the song became a little cynical all of a sudden.
Do you think that an artist should by politically active/sensitive?
I think we have no choice, to be honest. I mean, everyone is free to ignore their environment once in a while, but as adults people should have some sort of political standing. And actually I must admit, it seems these days the kids are politically more active than most of the adults. However, what I am far more concerned about is the lack of ideological criticism nowadays. And that counts especially for the entertainment industry. That is why “We Are The People” isn’t always feel good riffs and loads of choruses to sing along. Sometimes you need to be disturbed to reflect on your habits. That sounds so arrogant, I’m sorry! Fun is also political!
The new album cover is amazing! Who did it? How is it connected with the concept of the new album? Björn Gooßes did the cover. We told him about our idea to cover European history. We had some ideas and he just did what he wanted and we are very happy about that. Love the art work, too. On the LP it looks even better, because its bigger!
There were lately some changes in your line-up. Can you tell us what really happened and how did the new members affect the final sound of the new album? Hi, I am Fabrizio and I am a new member of Rebellion! I mean, I said it earlier, we were doing quite the work on the album, so I like to think that we are pretty responsible for its final sound. But in the end, everyone gave their two cents. The whole band (even Sven Tost, although he is the drummer) arranged the songs together in our practice room and of course Uwe helped us finding a fitting guitar sound. Tomi always had an eye on the overall concept and also made sure we would still sound like Rebellion.
How are things for the classic heavy metal scene in Germany nowadays? Culture is dead at the moment. Thanks to Covid and not very helpful German politicians. Maybe, I just don’t know, I have no idea.
Can you name five rock/metal albums that have defined you as a musician?
Definitely more than five and a lot of non-Metal-albums, but: Lamb of God – “As The Palaces Burn”, Machine Head – “Imperium”, The Faceless – “Planetary Duality”, Necrophagist – “Onset of Putrefaction” and The Black Dahlia Murder – “Miasma”.
How did the coronavirus lockdowns/quarantine affect you as humans, as professional musicians and as a band?
We were a little more cautious of course, but other than that it didn’t really affect us too much. We were lucky. As a band, it made us record an album without ever having had gigs together. Actually, that is weird.
Which are your future plans?
Gigs, Gigs, Gigs! We cannot fucking wait to get on stage again. We have a Germany tour booked starting at the 24th of September. And we hope there won’t be any lockdowns killing our plans again. We’ll keep you updated on our social media!
Send your message to the fans!
Thanks for making it this far through the interview! If you get our new album “We Are The People”, take a night off, listen to it from beginning to end, maybe in a bathtub drinking something you like, send us a picture if you want and well ... I hope you’ll enjoy it! Stay tuned!
Having released a killer melodic metal album, “Final Days”, Orden Ogan is ready to taste success. The metal community shall reward Orden Ogan, since the German melodic power metallers have just delivered us a bouquet of shockingly beautiful metal songs, which sound so fresh, so intriguing, so compelling. We are talking about a Teutonic melodic metal force, which takes us on a ride over the fields of power metal, beyond boundaries, clichés and tags. Myth of Rock, amazed by Orden Ogan’s melodic metal skills, talked with Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann and learned a lot of things about the band, its music, the new record and so many other interesting things. Will you join us in this ride?
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
After a lot of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, you are finally releasing your new album, “Heart of the Android”. Why are your feelings now?
I am feeling great! Actually, most of the delays have not been because of the coronavirus pandemic, but because we had terrible problems during the production process, it felt almost like somebody didn’t want us to get this thing finished, you know. We had at least fifteen to twenty situations that threw us back for like one week each, or something. During the drum recordings, to start with, I had to go to the music store five days in a row, because we broke something down, we broke a microphone, we broke cables that we couldn’t replace … Then I had some terrible noises on the guitars in my studio, so I had to go to another studio and work there at the night. When I was back in my studio and having finished all the guitars, obviously everything was fine again. So, a lot of these stuff happened. The worst thing in the end was that basically, my mixing sessions died, I don’t know why, and we were not able to recover that, so I basically, after the first song was already released, I had to remix everything to the point that it sounded the same like the first three songs that we had already been mixed, which is actually virtually impossible to do, it is almost not possible to do that. But still, the record now sounds like it is one record that really works together with all the tracks. And yeah, I am super happy to have it finally out and to be finally able to show it to the fans. I mean, there are a lot of bands, who are postponing their releases, because they can’t tour, but I don’t think that this is the right approach. There are so many people out there, who maybe are not feeling great right now, at the moment, with this situation, and if we can at least make the situation better for our fans by just releasing new music that they can listen to and laugh, then that is the least thing that we can do.
Seeb, did you produce the new Orden Ogan album?
Yes, this is my main job, being a music producer. I started back in 2010 with the “Easton Hope” album (the second studio album of Orden Ogan), it was the first album that I completely produced and mixed and everything. Then, basically it started when other bands came to me as well, asking if they can record at my place or if I can mix something for them and stuff, and back then I really thought to my myself, OK, where do you wanna go, do you want to work with the small bands from the next town, the next village, or do you want to be working with the really great acts in the metal scene. I mean, for me the way was clear and so, I really had to sit down and really really practice a lot to get to a point that I could compete with all the top guys, mixingwise, … it was a lot of work for a couple of years, haha. But now, I really feel comfortable, and in the last years I have worked with bands like Rhapsody of Fire, Brainstorm, Ross the Boss, Asphyx ,I did the live record with Riot, stuff like that, … Yeah, so I recorded, engineered, wrote everything, mixed, mastered, everything, basically there was nothing that I haven’t touched in this process.
Oh, you also wrote all the songs of the new album!
Yes, most of it… I did couple of stuff together with Dirk, the drummer, and also some songs and some parts are based on ideas of the other guys. But putting everything together, making a song out of it, that was my job.
Where do you draw inspiration from? You are doing so many things, basically everything!
I am getting this question for this album, during this period, during these interviews, it is interesting!!! I never got this question before, which is funny … in my case, in my head, it is just music, 24/7, for as long as I can remember. When I was two years old, I was already singing along to the oldies that my father was listening to and stuff, you know. There are people who are playing instruments, and there are real musicians. Our drummer, Dirk, for example, he is like the guys I am talking about, he is a real musician! Put him down on a chair, like somewhere, and it doesn’t take five seconds and he will start drumming on his legs, stuff like that, haha! Like I said, It is just music in his head, it is the same with me. So, it is not really that I really have to draw inspiration from somewhere, it is just always there, it is always surrounding me. Coming up with new ideas for the new songs, it can be that I am walking on the street and sometime a melody comes up to my head and I am singing it to myself, … It happens that I may sit on the couch, playing the guitar and there will be a riff, and I say, “OK, great, I should do something with that”. It also happened a couple of times that I woke up in the middle of the night, like three o’ clock in the night and have this song that I have dreamed about. And then I will sit down at the computer and start recording it, before it is gone. So I can really say that if there is something like inspiration, then it is basically everything that you come across in your life.
Could you please compare your new album, “Final Days” to your previous one, “Gunmen” (2017)? In my opinion, the new Orden Ogan album is much heavier and more melodic, at the same time!
I think the Orden Ogan records are all a bit alike … there has always been this super specific sound, you know, writing songs that sound Orden Ogan. The harmonies, the melodies, stuff like that. You will absolutely realise and understand that this is an Orden Ogan album, if you listen to it. In comparison now with “Gunmen” … First of all, the production got a lot better, and heavier than ever before, it is probably even the best mix I did in general in my studio. And I think that the new album is more diverse … Actually I wouldn’t necessarily say “heavier”, because you also have these pop - ish songs like “Inferno” for example. You also got a tune called “Let the Fire Rain”, which starts with this classic 80s heavy metal riff. You also got a ballad on there, you didn’t have a ballad on “Gunmen”, “Gunmen” was more like a really straightforward heavy metal record. But also of course, you have songs like “In the Dawn of the AI” and something like “Hollow” that are longer and more on the progressive side, “Hollow” is possibly like the heaviest track that we have ever written. If you ask me, I would say that “Final Days” is more diverse than “Gunmen” was before.
I think that this new album, will be your breakthrough album.
It always depends a bit on what you consider to be a breakthrough, haha!
I mean, I think that it will be your most successful album worldwide.
I hope so, though I really have to say that “Gunmen” for us was a super successful album, we felt a big push with that record. We played our first real headlining tour throughout Europe with the support acts, Rhapsody of Fire and Unleash The Archers, which are both not small bands on their own. There were many shows sold out … we did also our own small cruise on a ship, on a lake that was sold out in 24 hours. The final show of the “Gunmen” tour that was sold out with 800 people, I think, like 18 weeks before the show! We played all these great festivals, we played in Japan, we’ve been to 70000 Tons Of Metal, we played in ProgPower festival in USA. And so we really felt that there was a lot “moving” with “Gunmen”. Especially for me, my main goal is already achieved anyway, because I am making my income from Orden Ogan, my whole living. I could do just Orden Ogan or just the Studio. I mean, I am in a super comfortable situation, because when we do a little bit of a break with Orden Ogan or a forced break, like right now, I can do just the studio stuff, but I don’t have to rely on the studio stuff. When we are on a tour with Orden Ogan, then I don’t work in the studio. For me that’s a great situation, so the main goal is already achieved. But! If you are saying that this is going to be our most successful album so far, I won’t argue with that! It is fine, haha!
Where do the lyrics of the new songs refer to? Is it only science fiction?
The whole record is science fiction themed, there is an overall theme for the record. We always do that. In the beginning, when we had the album title, “Final Days”, we thought that it was a strong name for a record, we really liked it. In the beginning we thought, we would do ten songs with ten different situations of how mankind could find its end. I think that the first lyrics that had been written were in the song “In The Dawn of The AI”, which talks about Artificial Intelligence that takes control and then ultimately destroys mankind, then we had “It is Over”, which is about a huge asteroid hitting the earth for the last time. There was also a song about a killer virus that it was already written in 2019 and we decided not to put it on the record, we thought that it might be not so appropriate, but it didn’t turn out as it was planned before, because there were a lot of other songs that are more personal or have other themes. What I like a lot, what I did in the past a lot and I will continue to do, because I think it’s a big part of the fun for me, is that I will pick a semantic field, a field of words that are connected to the overall theme and then I will build metaphors with that, which actually means something totally different. An example, we got this song, “Black Hole”, which of course is a word which you associate with science fiction and space and stuff, but the song actually is about the feeling that the wait of your own depression is dragging you down to the ground. Also the song “Heart of The Android” … most people thought the song is about the question if artificial intelligence, a robot or a computer program can develop some sort of a personality, once it is sophisticated enough, I mean that is the obvious thing, what people think, but actually is about a person, who feels that he just has to function like a machine, because people are expecting from him to work properly…I really like that a lot, it is big part of the fun, there are a lot of people, coming to me, after shows, saying “ohhh, I just understood what this song is about! Four years later! Can you imagine?”! Yes, that is always great, I always laugh with it, haha!
Can you tell me about the radio broadcast that can be heard on the “It Is Over” song?
Yes, the song is about a giant asteroid, hitting the earth, which ultimately destroys all life on our planet. A few people in the story have made it and get away with some spaceships, which go to Mars, in order to establish a colony there, and this radio broadcast is the basically the last radio broadcast on Earth, where all the nations are talking to the people. We thought it would be an amazing idea to do that in, if not all, at least in some of the big languages of the planet. The main thing that you can hear is English, but it is also in German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, we used some friends from all over the world, who recorded their voices for that, I think it is an amazing moment in the record, it is one of my absolute favourite moments in the record.
Let’s talk now about the changes in your line-up!
Yes, of course.
Firstly, you have focused only on singing.
That means that you didn’t play the guitar in the “Final Days” album.
Oh, I played the guitar, while recording, because I wrote most of the stuff, it didn’t make sense to teach the other guys how the riffs are supposed to be played. And, whereas the others are really really great solo and lead guitar players, I focus a lot on really nailing rhythm guitars, you know. That absolutely made sense. But I have to tell the whole story, otherwise it doesn’t make any sense. In 2019 I broke my thumb, and I couldn’t play the guitar. But we were then basically starting with the festival season, so it was two weeks before the festivals and we really didn’t want to cancel, we really wanted to do the festivals. So, Niels Löffler, our bass player, who is actually a great guitar player, obviously moved from bass to guitar, to play my parts, it was obvious that we would do that, since he is a great guitarist, as I said. So we did the first couple of shows with other bass player, I was just singing and people seemed to like it so much, that a lot people came to us saying, “ohh, this is amazing, you should keep it like that, because Seeb can run around and talk to people and do more bullshit on stage, it just feels better!”. Our record company said that, a lot of the press guys, even the Powerwolf guys came to us, I think it was at the Summer Breeze Open Air Festival, and said “Oh, you should keep it like that, because it is great”. I felt like a fish in the sea as well, so I said OK, if everyone likes it and we like it, then there is no point in not doing it. That was the obvious thing. So, we needed a bass player, and that was actually super simple, because we were just thinking about who could do that and the only guy who came into our mind was Steven Wussow, he is the former bass player of Xandria, the female fronted symphonic metal band. We had been on tour together, he is a super great guy, amazing bass player, beast on stage, so that was obvious. When we were in the rehearsal room talking about that, we said, “Who could do that?” … “Steven!”, so we gave him a call and he was like, “Hmmm, I can’t come over, mmmm” … super unenthusiastic, basically! The fun thing about that was that, actually, it is a big thing to bring in a new guy to the band, but for us it was super clear that it had to be him, and also for him it was super clear that it had to be Orden Ogan. We felt that it was inevitable. That was easy, the more complicated thing then was that we also had the impression that we had some problems coming up with our guitar player, Tobi (Tobias Kersting), that started already in 2018. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but, sometimes in your life, things change in your private life, so that you are not able to have all the energy and the time to do other things that you really love, because sometimes stuff just goes wrong in your life, you know. We didn’t really want that to happen, but it looked like it was …, it had to happen and so, Tobi has gone on a long vacation now. It was very, very difficult for us to come up with an idea of who could possibly do that on guitar, because, I mean, it is not exactly technical progressive death metal what we play, but still on guitar it isn’t easy, especially if you are taking into account all this shredding stuff that he had done for the solos, and it is really tough, if you want to nail all the rhythm guitar parts. That is the first thing, we had to find a guy who is able to play that and then, the other thing is that in our case, we are very likely the nicest band that you will ever meet, because everyone is super down to earth, super relaxed, there is no ego bullshit going on at all, everyone is always in a good mood, we are always joking about each other and stuff … everyone is super grateful that we can do what we do, we love what we are doing. So it is really tough to find somebody who is not a diva, a guy who really understands how everything works. There was nobody coming into our minds, and then, I got a friend, he gave me a call, and said: “Hello, I’ve heard that you have some issues there, what about Patrick Sperling?”. I had just seen the guy once, I didn’t know much about him, so my friend explained to me that Patrick looks like a young version of Zakk Wylde, he plays like a young version of Zakk Wylde, he is living thirty minutes from your place, he is a big Orden Ogan fan, he is a super nice guy and he is able to tour. I answered, “This sounds like winning the lottery! Let me give him a call!”. I gave him a call and the first thing he does is laughing at me! I asked him why he is laughing and said: “Ahhh! Don’t think I am a weirdo or something, but I was somehow expecting this call to come at a certain point. Then I told him: “Ohh, ok! Then you know what the question is!” and he replied:”Yes! And I am in!” Hahaha! That wasit! … He is a great guy, phenomenal guitar player and is the strongest Orden Ogan version, the best version Organ Ogan have had.
In the new album you have two special guest appearances, Gus G (guitar, solo, Firewind, ex – Ozzy Osbourne) and Ylva Eriksson (vocals, Brothers of Metal). Can you give me some information about this guest stars?
Orden Ogan has been growing a lot, I make my living from that, like a lot of people who make some money from the band, but I’ve never viewed Organ Ogan as a commercial product. I don’t really care, I mean it is great if it is that way, but I don’t care if it is 450,000 people listening our songs on Spotify or if it is just 4 people listening on Spotify, I would do these records anyway, because this is what I love to do, this is what comes from the heart. It sounds super cheesy but it is true. When it comes to guest appearances, it was never about namedropping or finding the biggest names or something. It was always about what the musician can bring to the table. It is an improvement for the song. I don’t think I have to talk more about Gus G, because obviously everybody knows that he is one of the best guitar players on the planet. That basically just derived from a joke, because when we felt that we had some problems with Tobi coming up, we were basically just kidding, saying “OK, if he can play the solos, we should find a guest guitar player”. Niels, our guitar player, who had been on tour with Gus G, told us: “Ahh, can I ask Gus?” and we answered “Ohh, yes, it would be awesome”. I think between this conversation and the final solo of Gus G there was just a couple of days. I mean, it sounds stupid, when I put it like that, but it is obvious that it is an honor for us, he is one of the best guitar players in the planet, his performance on the song is amazing, it is an honor for us to have Gus G, the former Ozzy Osbourne guitar player, the guitar player of Firewind and other super successful stuff, also a great solo artist, a great guy by the way, I knew exactly what we would get, you know. For Ylva now … We knew that in the song “Alone in the Dark” there had to be a female voice in the second verse and the second chorus, because it was written from two different perspectives. There were a lot of names thrown around, of female singers who could possibly do that. She was suggested by AFM Records, I think, I listened to all the singers we were talking about and I also I listened to her, I thought “If she could do that with a really fragile, low, melancholic voice, that could be really amazing” and so, we gave it a shot, and when she sent back her tracks of her performance, I was super blown away. I think it is amazing, she really nailed it, I don’t think that any singer in the world could have done that in a better way, differently maybe, yes, but not better. I think the performance is perfect as it is, we are super happy.
Finally, Seeb, could you please tell us about the Final Days Tour? I think it is planned for February 2022.
Yes, it is the third time that we postponed it. The first tour was planned for September 2020 with Orden Ogan headlining and special guests Grave Digger and Rage, which would have made a fantastic German metal package, I am also really looking forward to maybe bringing this on the stages sometime in the future again. We had to postpone it to April 2021, but the other two bands’ schedule didn’t match, so we had to bring Brothers of Metal and Windrose, which are two bands we really wanted to take with us on tour anyway. This is another nice thing about Orden Ogan, by the way. We can go on tour together with many bands, both the older, bigger bands and the super young, the super new bands. Our target audience includes the young and the older people. That’s what I also like about Orden Ogan… Yes, now it is postponed again to February 2022, and I actually think this time it is possible. I personally didn’t believe that there would be new shows this year, still not to this point, but I think February 2022 is absolutely possible. Most people will have been vaccinated until then, so I believe we will have concerts in February 2022.
OK, Seeb, thank you so much, it was an honor talking with you!
Lupe, the singer of Mosquito, a skilled musician of the Greek dark wave/alternative/art rock scene, is coming back with his new, sophomore solo album, titled “Dark Room”. Bedazzled by the beauty of his new songs, Myth of Rock came in contact with Lupe and had a nice chat with him. Lupe’s answers, interesting and to-the-point, will help you understand more his music and lyrics. Shall we enter the dark room?
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Almost a year has passed since the release of your debut solo album (“Burn”). How do you see that album now?
This album marks the founding of the solo project ''Lupe''. It is a subconscious and spontaneous expression of thoughts and feelings which ended up meeting the cause of its creation. Ι feel it as the introduction to the vast world of composition and production, in a way that I can now build a balance between the true expression of emotion and the most "professional" management of my music, because these days, a musician is invited to project his work in a world of infinite stimuli that is based on image.
You have finished working on your second album as Lupe, titled “Dark Room”. Can you introduce us to this sophomore album, please? Where would you trace the differences between the first and the second Lupe album?
Division, Anticipation, Acceptance, Disclosure. "Dark Room" is a fairly different album from the first one. The element of experimentation is there, but more consciously, as well as, it is the first time I actually write lyrics. The theatrical style and the usage of electronic but also classical instruments and harmonies, also adds a progressive rock tone. It is a concept album having the voice as the dominant instrument.
Which musicians played on the “Dark Room” album?
Guitars in “The Corridor”, “Eyes Cold”, “Torment” were played by Nikitas Kissonas (Methexis) and in “Yet” by James (Mosquito). Clarinet in “Dark Room” was played by Yannis Georgopoulos.
Where and when was “Dark Room” recorded? Who did the mixing and the mastering? Which were your artistic priorities/goals during the whole production process?
The album was recorded and mixed by me at my home studio (ML Studio) and mastered by Ilias Doumbakis. The most important goal for me was to find the best balance possible between the pure expression and the professional sound. On the other hand, I had to have total control of this process and that's why I took over the mix. Another thing that mattered for me was the independence of composing and recording any time. So I recorded almost all instruments using the best libraries possible and at this point, I would like to thank my friend George Golegos for his important contribution. Finally "Dark Room" was an important step for my evolution as a vocalist and as a composer.
How would you describe the musical style of your solo albums? Where do your lyrics refer to? What does inspire you to write music and lyrics?
I name this style “Gothspel” and it is a mix of art rock, darkwave and alternative. There are no written lyrics on the first album, for they are the result of improvisation. Nonetheless, I can now say that “Burn” was the prophet of ''Dark Room''. In "Dark Room" the lyrics mention the acceptance of the separation from a vast and futile love. Generally, I get inspired from many things unconsciously and the lyrics are coming out through improvisation.
Your music is dark and atmospheric. Why is that? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
I am a very optimistic person and I love to live and create nice moments. I think that the music is keeping the balance. There’s always a light for me.
Which emotions and thoughts do you express through your songs?
I am expressing all of my thoughts. Music makes no exception, in my opinion. That is one of the main reasons why I believe that music also has healing abilities.
What did help you shape your personal identity as an artist, your personal way of singing and composing?
Firstly it was my band Mosquito. Also Jargon (Verbal Delirium) with whom I' ve spent many hours listening to music and finally the fact that I graduated from the National Conservatory, gave me the opportunity to experiment with harmony and finding my identity as a composer. Last but not least these are some musicians who made the difference in my music mindset and feeling - David Bowie, The Cure, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, The Muse, Pain of Salvation and more.
Which is the news from the Mosquito camp? When should we expect the new album?
The new album of Mosquito is already in the recording process. The album will be released approximately in September 2021.
You have just released the debut EP of your side project, Onism. How was Onism formed? How different are the songs of Onism, compared to the songs of Mosquito and Lupe?
Onism was formed when Luna and I were improvising and playing some music in my studio one year ago. We created four cover songs and then we decided to start this new duo music project. After the EP, we just finished our first album, which is going to be released on July 1, 2021. All the three projects have their unique sound and feeling. The difference is huge and that is the point of having other projects/bands. Different instruments, people and emotions are leading to different songs. The only thing they have in common is the need for expression.
Apart from a singer, you are a vocal coach. When and under which circumstances did you start teaching?
I just wanted to offer my knowledge to people who either are trying to express themselves or want to create their own professional vocal identity and career.
You are a gothic/dark wave artist. How do you see things nowadays for the goth scene? Are there any good new goth album releases?
I believe that there are many good releases nowadays. The thing is that almost none of them are going to be heard widely. Both the music industry and the listeners are constantly pushing artists to care more about their image and less about the music quality and originality. In fact, today every new sound is considered as underground music. I think that the word gothic is a very misunderstood term. Of course there are good releases nowadays. But unfortunately you have to search for them. Some great examples of the new darkwave scene are the albums “A Hero’s Death” by Fontains D.C. which became popular and “Garden of Lies” by the greek band Grey Gallows.
Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown – a reason to get depressed or a chance to get expressed?
For me this difficult situation was a chance to see things clearer and to get expressed.
You have played a lot of times live in concert. How would you describe yourself on stage? How important are concerts for you?
With the continuous vast growth of technology, any person can release an album these days. Live concerts are the only event where an artist shows whether he/she’s real or fake. So, they are the most important thing for me. I could not describe myself on stage, because it feels like I just got into the huge world of music and I have many more miles to walk.
Your message to the readers of Myth of Rock!
Thank you for your time and I hope to see you soon on stage! Thank you very much for giving me the chance to share my thoughts. Stay tuned!!!
Per Wiberg needs no introduction. His status as a hard rock/heavy metal artist speaks for itself. His incredible musicianship, multi-dimensional creativity and so much varied works throughout all these years that he has been active, have placed him in a special way among the music fans, who consider him one of the most important artists of our era. Myth of Rock had the opportunity to speak with him, actually one day before his new EP “All Is Well In The Land Of The Living But For The Rest Of Us Lights Out” was released, about it, but also about his career highlights, inspirations and his early days with Boom Club and Death Organ. Enjoy!
by Antonis Mantzavinos
Hello Per and good afternoon!
Good afternoon Antonis, I think I am going for swimming after we are done with our interview, the weather is fantastic today! How are you doing?
I am fine thanks, the weather lately in Stockholm is pretty nice and warm, I agree. Thank you very much for accepting the invitation of Myth of Rock for this interview. How are you doing these days with Covid-19? Music has probably kept you busy and a little bit away from the pandemic itself.
It's all cool, thank you for having me. I am fine, no worries about my health, everything is good. Actually, yesterday I got a slot for vaccination, so I am really happy to be able to get vaccinated next week with the first shot. It feels a tiny step closer to the end of all this situation. It seems that they are doing ok now with the vaccination, the previous phase went quickly so now it’s our turn!
If that is ok with you, I would like to start with your early days and your relationship with music: who were the artists that you mostly listened to, when you were a child/teenager and which ones of those influenced you later in your bands?
Oohh…! That would be a very long list actually…! My parents have always been into music a lot, so I have always been surrounded by music as a kid. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, lots of John Coltrane, Neil Young, etc. I was always surrounded by good music. My first 45” that I got from my parents was one of Jimi Hendrix with the song ‘Freedom’ on the one side and ‘Angel’ on the other side. That was my first record. And that has certainly influenced me and still does. I think Hendrix is one of the key musicians for me, one of the big reasons I am playing music at all. But also, hearing Miles Davis as a kid… I mean, I don’t want to say that some sort of music is more advanced than other music, but Miles Davis stuff late 60s-early 70s, a lot of improvisational music, I mean it’s easier for a kid to get stuck with a chorus or a melody, so...
But just the fact that I heard music like that, I think that it made a lot of stuff easier for me later, a lot of music does not sound ‘weird’ later on. And even if I did not know that as a kid about Miles, I have realized that now, after so many years. It’s like a gateway to accept a lot of different kinds of music out there. And then of course, when I discovered Black Sabbath… That was the heaviest stuff I have ever listened to.
What was the first song/record of Black Sabbath that introduced you to this band?
The first one was with Ozzy, and it was ‘Never Say Die’, the first album that I was listening on my own, so to speak. That was in 1978, I was ten years old, I like it a lot, because maybe it was my first contact with Black Sabbath in that way. I had heard Black Sabbath before, because back in those days, people were listening to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and all those great bands. That was like pop music those days, it was very popular to the people. Obviously, I had listened to ‘Paranoid’ and other songs by Black Sabbath, but when you are ten years old, you start listening to stuff on your own free will, so to speak. And this album has an unnecessary bad reputation I would say. It’s a really cool album. And for me all Black Sabbath albums are classics. I like all Black Sabbath eras, regardless of Ozzy, Dio, Gillan, etc.
That’s very interesting to hear and I relate to it. Let’s stick to the past a little bit more. The very first bands you played in were Boom Club and Death Organ, the latter has been one that I personally enjoy a lot listening to. What is the story behind those two bands? Any interesting information about them?
Well, let’s start with Death Organ. That was back in 1992, it was an idea that came up to me and one of the singers, it was an organ bass and drums band and death metal vocals. Around that time I was listening to a lot of death metal, like many people in Sweden did, haha! We thought, why not starting an organ trio with death metal vocals! That had not been done before, at least to my knowledge, so it was something new. I asked some of my friends to try out some new stuff I had written. It kinda worked, we had a blast out of that! We rehearsed the whole first album, that was not in Stockholm, but in Borlänge. We started playing gigs around there, some friends of ours who had an independent label called APM, wanted to release it, they were like a progressive rock label, so they thought what we were doing was a little bit like Atomic Rooster meets Entombed, I don’t know! It was a cool band, I am still in touch with all those guys, they play different stuff in different bands right now. We did two albums, in 1995 and 1997. And the first album was recorded with Peter Tägtgren from Hypocricy, so that was really cool. Boom Club was a little bit earlier, they were a three-piece and they did not have a singer, same city as well, Borlänge, a small town, everyone knew each other, especially if you were doing music. They did not have a singer and then they asked me, I said, ‘I am not a singer’ and they replied, ‘That’s great!’, so I thought I would give it a shot … I only did vocals for them, did not play any instrument. They played alternative rock with hints of metal stuff, like Jane’s Addiction. It was like Red Hot Chilli Peppers meets Anthrax! We only did one album, it was fun and a necessary band for me, I don’t think I wouldn’t sing in bands, if it wasn’t for that band. We were not great, but it was a good learning experience, we had a lot of fun too.
Let’s move on a little bit in time, but also move from Dalarna to the south of Sweden and Spiritual Beggars. How were you involved in the beginning with Spiritual Beggars? How did it all start with you joining Michael, Ludde and Kryddan?
It was all due to a mutual friend of ours, because they come from the southwest coast, and I come from a different part of Sweden. So, I didn’t know the guys before, but a friend of mine, from the same city that I come from, he had signed Spiritual Beggars and helped them in management and label issues, and it was via him how it all started. And then, me and him together went to Dynamo Open Air in 1996, to party and have fun, but he was also going there to meet Spiritual Beggars, they were playing there in that festival. We went there, we arrived – due to bad traffic – when they were walking on stage. We could not see the performance. But I hang out with Mike the whole day, actually, me and Mike had been writing to each other well before that, talked on the phone, via our friend – who was also called Mike. We had already established a little bit of a contact. I had received a demo of Spiritual Beggars and sent to Mike a demo of Mojobone too. But Dynamo, that was the first time we met in person. We talked and drunk beer that day, we hung out and talked about music, and after that, we continued to talk for a while. Then, they asked me if I was interested in playing keys on a track or two on their next album. And I said, “of course!”. In those times, you should go and visit the band physically, because you could not send music over. So, I drove to Gothenburg where they were recording ‘Mantra III’ at Fredman Studios, and we just recorded a bunch of stuff for two days basically. And it was first they wanted me to play in three tracks, ‘Superbossanova’, ‘Euphoria’ and also I think it was ‘Send me a Smile’, those were the songs we started with. And then it worked really well, Mike was happy, Fredrik was happy too. We just thought while I was, there it was better to record many tracks instead of only three, sitting around and doing nothing. And if they don’t like during mixing, then they can just take it away. So, I ended up playing in the whole album pretty much.
Thank God for that!
I am pretty happy about that, of course! It was a fun couple of days, and it was also the first time I met Fredrik Nordstöm of course.
Which was your first ever gig with Spiritual Beggars? Do you remember anything from that event?
That was a one-off show in London, like a showcase show in a pub, it was us and I am not sure if Orange Goblin played also on that day, I think not... but it was us and another band, which I am trying to remember the name… I can’t remember now… There were lots of media people, more or less like an invite only show, not an open gig. It was a super fun show to play, we did not that at the time of course, but after that show we could hear a lot of ‘noise’ about us. At the time Spiritual Beggars were not the band that people could expect anything, I don’t think Spiritual Beggars had ever played in the UK before either, so that was the first UK show, people did not know what to expect from the band, it was a really cool evening. For me, I put that gig on the top 10 gigs I did with Beggars, it was the first and it was kind of an electric feeling, it has a special feeling in my heart for sure.
In my opinion, the ‘Mantra III’ and ‘Ad Astra’ period of the band is my favorite era of Spiritual Beggars. Could you kindly give us the overall feeling in the band at that time, how the band evolved from a three-piece group to have you as an integral and vital part of it? And I guess, you started travelling a lot towards the south probably...!
Definitely I did! Then we rehearsed more than bands do now. Since all of them were living in Halmstad, they had their rehearsal room, so it was very easy for them to get together and practice, and I was going there just before a tour or something like that. I think there was a difference between ‘Mantra III’ and ‘Ad Astra’, because when they started to write music for “Mantra III”, they did not think they would have keyboards also in the band, and the material was written under different circumstances. But when we started for “Ad Astra”, I was already in the band, I had done the tour for “Mantra III”, it Is a different concept when one more guy/instrument is in the band. It was a very nice and cool period, we got some really nice tours as well, played in big festivals. It was a wonderful period. For example, supporting Iron Maiden and touring in Spain and Portugal with Entombed, that was really cool at that time.
Speaking about Spiritual Beggars, is there something planned for the near future?
Not actually… Nothing on the horizon at all. Everybody is busy with bands or projects, I mean, I constantly talk to Mike, but the later years, with Beggars, we have not planned something new actually. We did a lot of stuff in the latest years, within a short period of time, especially between 2010 and 2016. We had time then, so we said, “Let’s do it”. I will not be surprised if one day we will decide to say: “OK, let’s do it”.
You have played with so many different bands in your career, either as a full or part time member, as a guest in tours or live shows, where you have left your music/artist footprint. To me this is quite special, and I believe that you have the ability, through your influences or the bands you like to listen to, to incorporate all of these into great pieces of music, no matter where you have participated. How difficult is it for you to change in between these bands/projects, and how challenging it is for an artist to be so multi-dimensional?
I don’t think of it like that actually. I am interested in so many different music, and I grew up listening to so different stuff. It’s not difficult for me to adjust to a situation to be honest. And also, I am fortunate enough to play with bands and people that I like. And when you play with people that you like, it’s usually very easy to cope with and manage each situation. I guess being a touring musician it’s definitely not for everyone. I think for some people they struggle a lot being on tour, even though they like to play the show, so it’s quite difficult. I’ve always been doing layout graphics, design etc. (Hippograffix). That’s what I have been doing in between music. But I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to play with professional bands, in the sense that they make their living out of music, albums, touring, etc. I am lucky to combine all these different bands and projects and be also able to live out of music. Sometimes it’s difficult with planning and travelling, etc., but to me it’s worth it all the way. I’ve only been playing music during my whole adult life, so… I’ll continue to try and do this as much as I can.
Please, continue doing this, because this is for our own benefit, the benefit of the fans! Now, let’s turn the subject a little bit and go to another band you are active, King Hobo. This band is a fantastic example of what happens, when great musicians come together and play music that is so enjoyable and so inspiring to others. King Hobo have only released two LPs, but when this happens, it’s happy news for the fans. Give us a bit of the background behind your participation on this fantastic group. How did you all come together, whose idea was it and how has it been so far?
It’s me and Thomas who plays guitar in Kamchatka and then also Jean Paul who plays drums in Clutch. With Spiritual Beggars, we toured together with Clutch in 2003, for the ‘On Fire’ tour, we shared the bus on that tour and as you can understand, there was a lot of music talk on that tour. We got to know all the guys, I love Clutch, since the “Pitchfork” EP (1991), a band that I really liked for long. Me and Jean Paul talked a little bit about making some stuff together. We met again and toured together, when I was in Opeth, a couple of years later. Then we hung out during a festival tour in the States with Clutch - on that tour, we spent a lot of time off the actual gigs of our bands, and talked a lot. We said: ‘We have to do something together”. Early 2007, Jean Paul e-mailed me and said ‘I got a couple of months off’, and I had too, so we arranged to meet in Sweden. Jean Paul travelled to Sweden, I rented a house, got a friend with recording gear, I asked two friends of mine to join us, Thomas from Kamchatka and Ulf, the bass player, if they would have time, to come over for a week, record and see what happens. And that’s how the first album happened! We were four people on the first album and then only three people on the second album. We did the second album in Varberg, on the west coast, and we did it on Kamchatka’s rehearsal room, so Jean Paul stayed after a couple of Clutch festivals in Europe, and we did that album in four days. It was different, because on the second album I played bass (on the first one I played guitar and keys) so, it was a different setup. In the case of the second album, we recorded the music and just shelved it for years actually. I felt like: ‘No, we have to do something of this, I don’t like to have music laying down in drawers’. There is no business plan behind, there is no schedule for King Hobo, and this is cool. We played one show in Gothenburg Sticky Fingers, in 2013, which was really cool, Jean Paul stayed in Sweden after touring with Clutch, and it was really nice! Now when we toured with Clutch, Graveyard and Kamchatka in December 2019, Jean Paul came on stage, and we did one King Hobo song every night! I would love to have a couple of shows on our own, you know, proper shows, I don’t think this is the last you have seen from King Hobo…!
Even though I consider you a great bass and guitar player (with Kamchatka or Mojobone), I personally enjoy you more behind keyboards (don’t ask me why, haha!). Which one is more challenging for you and what do you prefer playing the most, either live or in the studio?
It depends on the band I could say... I wouldn’t love to play keyboards in Kamchatka, I love playing bass there. The last five, six, seven years, I mostly play bass in bands live, with Candlemass for example. I love playing bass with Candlemass, it is so much cool and fun! They are amazing guys and a fantastic band. I played keyboards with Candlemass as well before, it’s different I guess. It doesn’t matter so much for me. The most challenging is guitar, because it’s been so long since I played guitar with a band, so, timewise this is quite challenging for me. I play a lot of guitar when I record stuff on the studio, but I haven’t played guitar live for quite a few years.
Coming to the new EP, I must say that even though I see similarities with the previous LP, there are new elements with a similar interesting dark atmosphere but the approach on this one is slightly different, maybe more experimenting, incorporating other elements also. This is quite heavy and dark, it brings to me in all four songs, gothic elements, a flair of industrial sound, I can see influences of course from Hawkwind and Pink Floyd (the latter on the guitar leads and solos), it could also be a beautiful soundtrack of a dramatic film – to give also a cinematic dimension. Could you please provide us a bit of how this album has evolved since the LP, which were your influences and what was your goal – music wise - to achieve?
When I started with the EP, I wanted to write one long song. That was my intension, to have one long track. Since the EP title is fairly long, I divided it into four tracks/sections. I think it still makes sense to listen to it as one piece. When I started recording it, I thought that I would try more acoustic instruments, because I wanted to try to play live, like a small setting with acoustic instruments, this could be a good way to start playing in small gigs, that setup would really help. But then, after a while, when I was recording, I said ‘No’… I wanted to do this EP like the first album, with a proper band setting, guitar, drums, everything. So, I asked a friend of mine to play drums, maybe that’s why it’s different because the original intention was to make more of an acoustic thing, but it did not turn out that way. And also, there is the third part or the third song, whatever you may call it, it is an improvisations section, which is new to me, to work on such thing, I basically set the timer for 6 minutes and did this improvisation into the piano. That was a fun challenge, because I recorded the piano first and then I added everything afterwards to adjust it and fit the improvisation itself. So, that was a new, but fun way for me to work. Maybe I will do more stuff like that in the future, it was really fun and cool to sort of play piano like that, because it’s nothing that I have done with any band before.
Taking the opportunity for the new EP, I really like your vocals on your solo works, where you have certainly more freedom to experiment and challenge yourself from that perspective. How intriguing is it for you to sing and how challenging is it also?
It’s always a challenge, vocals is the biggest challenge I believe. The voice is the coolest instrument of all instruments, no doubt about it. But it’s also the most difficult. I like doing vocals, but I think it’s really difficult. It takes time to prepare and get ready to do vocals. It’s a lot easier for me to record bass, guitar, keyboards, I just sit down, and I do it. But with vocals, it’s a little bit different. I think I learn something new every time I do vocals. And for both my LP and EP, the vocal style is a bit different compared to King Hobo, there the material is different, and the vocal style adjusts accordingly. It’s difficult to not sing rock vocals! That’s a challenge, but I enjoy musical challenges, it’s definitely the vocals the most difficult part for me to record.
You are also the mastermind behind Hippografix and all those incredible pieces of art throughout these years. Did you study this art in school, did you start it on your own? What is the background for Hippografix?
I was like a lot of kids, who during school years, drew some stuff. Later when I started playing with bands, I was interested in art covers, I thought like entering a totally different world, for example the cover for ‘Never Say Die’ of Black Sabbath. My favorite album cover since I was at school, it was the more detailed fantasy related cover, like ‘Destroyer’ of KISS. But then like the late 70s, there was this design company (Hipgnosis) that made covers for Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, they did also ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ for AC/DC, those were so cool, because they did not look like the music, they were totally different. I always thought for example that ‘Presence’ of Led Zeppelin was really cool and struck me always, just a regular family sitting on a table, you could not tell whether that was a science fiction thing or what else. I always liked also the cover for ‘Wish You Were Here’, fantastic cover. I guess that interest developed in me the will to do poster and cover art myself. Then in the 80s, as a teenager, I started doing flyers, posters etc. I continued from there, I don’t have an education as such, I just worked on that by my own. Looking back at it, I certainly could have benefitted more, if I had the proper art education. I still like enjoying doing it, it’s a fun thing, and I am very fortunate that people still ask me to help out with artwork.
What are your next plans? Recording with any band in the next coming months?
To be honest, it might be possible to play a few shows in Sweden, in the summer, if its outdoors, or it might be possible in the fall, to have some gigs, depending on the situation of course. But not a regular tour will happen until next year. It will take the time it is needed. Let’s hope for the best! I’ll just continue to record stuff and try to finish as much as I can. I have finished recording basic tracks for my next full-length record, which is going to be different because we recorded it live in the studio, me and two other friends. It will be a bit heavier and noisier than the EP and the first LP. I haven’t added vocals or keyboards yet. Usually when you record live in the studio, it’s going to sound a bit more wild. We’ll see what happens… I hope to finish that during the summer and then there is only vocals left on an album that me and Martin Axenrot (drummer of Opeth and Bloodbath) have done which is something I am now doing. That’s also going to be finished this summer as well, so, let’s see what happens!
Last but not least, I wanted to ask you about some favorite things in your life, not necessarily related to music, just ten random things!
Favorite Country to visit for holidays.
Favorite restaurant, either in Stockholm or abroad.
Ima sushi restaurant in Hammarby Sjöstad.
Favorite hobby to do, when not being busy with music.
Reading or watching a movie, or sports, especially hockey and winter skiing.
Oldest rock/metal t-shirt on your wardrobe.
I’ve sold away or lost most of my old ones, I don’t know… I always throw away shirts after a while, I don’t have a mountain of shirts like I used to! But I have to say that Motörhead shirts are always great!
First ever gig you attended as a fan.
ABBA in 1975 with my dad.
Favorite/most special memory from all tours you have been to.
Royal Albert Hall with Opeth, pretty amazing and insane to be part of a band with death metal background playing in such a ‘sacred’ place.
The record you listened to most recently, either on your stereo or Spotify.
That was during my walk, an album I haven’t listened to for quite a while, “Angel Dust” of Faith No More.
Favorite place to go for running/jogging.
Very close to my home, south of Stockholm, fairly close to the Globe, there are beautiful running tracks, and there are several places to swim in the summer, I love it.
Favorite book you have read.
I’ve been bad at reading lately, there is a book “As serious as your life: Black Music and the Free Jazz revolution, 1957-1977” by Val Wilmer, a book about the jazz innovators at that time, where the jazz musicians were considered the ‘punk innovators’ of their era.
If you could choose only one artist per instrument, which ones would you choose to play together in the same band? Guitars: Jimi Hendrix, bass: Lemmy, vocals: H.R. from Bad Brains, drums: Billy Cobham, keyboards: Jan Hammer. That would be an insane band!! They could be playing a long Hawkwind type of thing!
Thank you so much Per for your time to have this interview, I truly appreciate that and hope to see you in a Stockholm gig, when this whole Covid thing is over!
Let’s hope so, thank you as well Antonis, have a nice evening, bye bye!