CORNERSTONE

CORNERSTONE might have released one of the best melodic albums of 2016. Without ending up too sugary they’ve managed the balance between bite and kiss. Anders Ekdahl ©2016

Do you notice that there is an anticipation for you to release an album? Have you built a large enough following for people to eagerly await a new album?
Michael: Yes, definitely. We’ve released “Somewhere in America” back in 2011, and it is an excellent AOR-album. In 2013 we did the Charity-EP for the “Smalltown Boy”-project… although the song entered the charts, this whole thing wasn’t a great idea. It wasn’t Cornerstone music, we created it for charity – a good charity – but I’m not proud of it musically. So it was quite clear for us, that we have to do something in the like of “Somewhere in America”, and I guess, “Reflections” is a huge step forward. It’s a better produced album, which is probably a result of the production of Harem Scarem-Mastermind Harry Hess, and people at the concerts and online told us, how much they like the album. My personal goal was, to top “Somewhere in America”, and I guess, that worked out fine

Is it important for you that a new album picks up where the previous left off? How important is continuity??
Michael: Looking back into the history of the band, the band developed from an Indie-/Alternativeband into an AOR-band. Our first effort, “Head Over Heels” was an Alternative-album with a bit of AOR in it. At “Somewhere in America” we’ve turned that combination around, and with “Reflections” we’ve done a pure AOR-album. It wasn’t a planned thing, I guess this is quite natural, you’re getting older, and it isn’t that interesting anymore, to play four chords with a kind of “Fuck You!”-attitude, like we did on tunes like “Changed” or “Leave” on our first album. Now we dressed this “Fuck-You!”-attitude into a well produced, Keyboard-oriented arrangement *laughing*. I guess, we matured as persons and also as musicians. Of course, we’ve always tried out things on our albums, also on “Reflections”: for example, “Whatever” is an orchestra-piano-ladden ballad, which could be played in every Lovesong-show on BBC Radio 2, same with “Sooner Or Later”, which has some Sixties-influence. It was fun, but also because of Harry’s production, the spectrum of the whole album became a bit more focused, and I mean that in an absolutely positive way.

Was it hard for you to come up with a sound for this new album that you all could agree on?
Alina: No. Steve and Michael were writing most of the songs together and the drummer and I were thrilled about the good work they did. We all love the songs and we tried to do the best we can do to transfer our emotions to our fans and into our music.

We live in a world that is becoming more shallow for every year that passes Is it important for you to have a message, something you can stand for and carry forward? How important are the lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
Michael: For me it’s always important, to give the lyrics an “universal” message, so in case someone hear it, he (or she) could say: yes – that’s me, this song is about me. Of course I wrote everything out of my personal point of view, but on “Reflections” the lyrics were more important than on the previous releases: Alina and my relationship with our partners ended up in an unfair and very hurtful way pretty much the same time, and we also had more or less the same experiences. So it was kinda natural, that we wrote about those things. And this is, what “Reflections” is about: looking back, express your feelings and experiences. The whole album is a story: “Nothing To Lose” is a pretty sarcastic introduction, and then the whole story started: Party, fun and dancing at “Last Night”, the emotional crisis at “Heart On Fire”, “Whatever” and “True Confessions” are pretty much two sides of the same medal, one time out of Alina’s, one time out of my sight. “Northern Light” is about leaving the past behind, “Brother”, “Sooner Or Later” and “Believe in Me” are pretty much positive efforts to concentrate on the people in life, who are standing behind you – always and without any questions. “Once” is the perfect last song for the album: “You once were a friend of mine”. No more word to say. I wanted to create something like “Dust in the Wind” from Kansas, a masterpiece, that has the most profound and emotional meaning with as less lyrics as possible.

Even if there are tendencies that album art work is becoming less important I feel that a great cover can break or kill an album. How important is the cover art work for you? How much do you decide in choosing art work?
Alina: It is pretty important for us. We tried several different covers before we decided on this one. We even talked about the colours because we wanted to emphasize our emotions and feelings about the album.

How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? Are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans?
Alina: Of course we could have released our album without a label but the people at Atom Records have been supporting us from the beginning and we can always count on them. We are relieved to know that they will always have our back. Artistically we can do whatever we want, and it’s hard to ask for more as an artist.

I guess that today’s music climate makes it harder for a band to sell mega platinum. How do you tackle the fact that downloading has changed how people consume music?
Alina: I can understand that the people are taking the easiest and cheapest way to get the music they love. We do our best to not upload our music on several websites. Our fans can buy the CD’s online or in some markets or at our concerts, and of course download it legally on iTunes, amazon and so on.

Does nationality matter today when it comes to breaking big. Does nationality play a part in if or not you will make it big internationally?
Michael: Except in our homecountry Austria, I don’t think so. For example, look at System of A Down: they are from Moldawia. Ok, I don’t think about Borat or vampires, while talking about this country, but it’s a bit exotic, and they are mega-sucessful. Being completely honest, it’s more difficult for an Austrian Band in Austria, then abroad. People here tend to bully their own bands, so we have decided to concentrate on the markets, that are more open-minded, musically. Especially in the UK music is part of the culture, and our tunes were always well received. As an Austrian artist you have to become successfully abroad first, before you’ll get any acceptance or respect in your own country. Also Falco and Opus made it in the states first, so I guess this is also our way – building up a fanbase in Europe and the states.

I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when you’re out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
Michael: I guess, this has something to do with the attitude: older people want to support the band, so the download it on Itunes, amazon, etc. or buy the CD. They younger ones pretty much grow up with the attitude, that music is something, they’ll get for free, and that’s a problem. If we like a song, we might check the artist on Spotify – like you do – and then buy the album. If the younger generation like a song, their first thought is, where and how they can get the song for free. I can remember this one joke on Facebook, where people buy a cup of Starbucks-coffee for 4$, worth a few pennies, without thinking about it, but are not willing, to spend 1 or 2$ for a song, that costs thousands of dollars to produce. Maybe the comeback of Vinyl will change the attitude a bit, I hope so.

What does the future hold for you?
Michael: 2016 was a nightmare, workingwise, and all of us need a rest to care about our private lifes, families, friends, etc. From April on we’re starting playing gigs again, and slowly starting to write new tunes, but no stress: for the moment we have enough about studios, recordings and so on, but I guess the hunger will appear again *laughing*. In case you want to support Cornerstone, the new album “Reflections” is available at amazon, iTunes, etc. – we have to pay the rents for our Villas in Los Angeles and tank our Limousines, so this is kinda expensive… *laughing*. Seriously: to find out more about the band, please visit www.cornerstone.co.at and www.facebook.com/cornerstoneaustria Thx and cheerio!

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