EMPIRE 21 is the kinda name that doesn’t really give away to much about the music the band plays. Which leaves you to explore their sound on your own. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
Is the band name a biblical reference or a game reference or a sci fi reference? What is it about?
(Andreas): We usually like to keep people thinking about the band name, but a great clue would be to look at the song titles and the lyrics. Let’s just say it’s not a game reference…
With what intentions did you start EMPIRE 21?
(Andreas): The intention was to bring something unique to rock and metal music, which is more or less what every band wants. We felt like there was the potential for something awesome, and that our particular blend of styles and musicianship could result in some pretty groovy music. Also, we feel strongly about the message in our songs, and there’s no hiding that.
Does it help that you have track records from other well known acts to sell the band’s music or is that more of a curiosa for the more nerdy of us music lovers?
(Andreas): It’s a good thing, in that it exposes us, initially, to a lot more people. There are always going to be Narnia, Harmony and Darkwater fans who wants to see ”what CJ or Toby is up to this other band”, so that’s a plus. But it doesn’t change the fact that we have to do our job and deliver quality music and performances, something we strive very hard to do. We have every intention of making our own way.
What is it that you want to say with your album cover? How important is the graphic side of things?
(John): We pretty much gave Markus free reins with the graphic concept. If I remember correctly, this was his first suggestion, and we all liked it. The “bird theme”, with the birds on the cover and the wings in the booklet and on the record, felt spot on right from the start. Birds are a classic symbol of hope and the ability to be lifted from the troubles of ones surroundings and soar over them, themes that can be found running through a lot of the lyrics of the record. The graphic side of an album have always been important to me, and to the rest of the band I’m sure. Growing up with the album format, the graphic concept were an important part of the package and the total experience. I sure hope it will continue that way even if the future formats of music change.
How much time and thought do you give the lyrics? How important are they?
(Ricard): We would never convey a message we don’t support or believe in, so lyrics ARE important. They get a lot of attention. As a singer I’m more focused on the the lyrics than on the music.
I am more of an album guy and not so much a song guy. Do you structure the songs like an album or are they just random songs thrown together?
(Andreas): Our debut album certainly isn’t anything like a concept album, but a lot of thought has gone into the way it’s structured. We all grew up appreciating great albums, and the way they impacted the listener. So, naturally, there’s a reason for the album ended up the way it did. We hope that people listen to the whole thing every once in a while, even though one song’s enough to get your energy level up…
Is digital killing the album like we know it? What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
(Andreas): There could very well be divided opinions within the band on the pros and cons of digital vs physical, but we all like the physical album format. CDs and vinyls are a big part of how we connected to music back in the day. Needless to say, the business of music and the reality of music consumption HAS changed, and there’s no point in ignoring that. We sell both physical and digital, and of course, everyone’s going to use the format they like best. It’s probably a mistake to assume that no one buys records anymore, just like it’s a mistake to assume that everyone does. There’s room for both.
How do you use social media the best to get people to buy your stuff and not settle for single downloaded songs?
(Andreas): As for social media, we try to use that to interact as much as possible with fans and friends around the world. When we go somewhere to play, it’s not unusual to shake the hand of someone you’ve talked to on Facebook, for example. It’s an awesome way to make friends around the globe. When it comes to selling albums, we hope that all the nice reviews we’ve gotten, and the testimonies we’ve seen from people who own the album, make it clear that this is a great album. We think it’s really consistent throughout, and there’s no ”filler” on it. Also, we try be pretty clear about our stance on Facebook and other places: Do listen to us (and other artists) on Spotify, and by all means check out our videos on YouTube. But consider buying the album, too. Not only is the quality and the experience a step above, but it also enables us to possibly record another album. Surely that’s something fans of great music want to support?
How much of a touring band are you? Is playing live still the best way to get people to experience your music?
(Andreas): We believe strongly in the importance of playing live. As much fun as recording albums is, its all about getting out there, sharing our music and getting to know people. We haven’t toured that much yet, as a band, but we’re hoping to do a lot more of it. It’s hard work, but it really energizes you, too. Not many things compare to that. So, hopefully we’ll be touring more in the near future.
What future is there?
(Andreas): Well, that depends on what happens next. Obviously, we feel like we have a good thing going, and the reactions we’ve seen so far to both album and live shows would seem to substantiate that. But it’s all about getting our music out to more people. We’re so grateful for all the people around the world who tell their friends about us, and for the radio hosts who have picked up on our stuff and play our songs. All we can do is to keep playing and writing the best music we can. And hopefully that means we have a future.