GRAND DESIGN

I didn’t realize it when I planned this interview with GRAND DESIGN but I actually got Janne Stark to answer it. Who’s Janne you might ask. He’s the dude that was in Overdrive and wrote the most comprehensive book on Swedish hardrock and heavy metal. But this is all about the band. Anders Ekdahl ©2016

How different is it releasing an album compared to a demo where there were no real pressure?.
-A lot more work and effort goes into an album, compared to a demo. When we do demos we use programmed drums, don’t really put that much effort into making things sound “perfect” or making the mix sound like a final album, plus we don’t master the demo. When we do demos it’s just for either internal use, to try out song ideas, or it’s to check interest from labels.

What response did you get on your last album? What was the weirdest response you got?
-We got great response! The previous albums have received great reviews, but this one topped the previous ones. It’s been almost only 9-10/10 or 4-5/5. The weirdest response was that someone said Def Leppard should sue us for stealing their sound.

When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-It’s actually not weird at all. It’s really, really fun to finally play the songs live in front of an audience and to see their reactions. We love playing live, and we love playing our own songs for people who appreciate and know them! It’s just so much fun!

Do you feel that you have to follow in the foot steps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for example?
-Well, we don’t want to deviate too much from our sound or style, yet we wanted to change it up a bit not to get stuck in the same rut. This album has a bit more edge to it, slightly heavier and I think it has some stronger choruses. The lyrics are still the same carefree party-have fun-make love kinda stuff.

Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-I do, actually. And it really shows when you play at a festival and you meet all the other bands. It doesn’t matter who has sold more or less albums, there’s still a very cool and friendly atmosphere backstage. No animosity or unpleasantness. People are friends and hang out together. It’s like a soccer game with just one team!

When you have found a sound how hard/easy is it to come up with songs that fit into the sound?
-It’s actually much easier once you have found your sound. Before you have come to the point where you know what the band is going to sound like, when you write different types of songs and before you record an album that defines the band and the sound, it’s much harder. After three albums we know exactly when a song idea is right or not.

What influences/inspires you today?
-For me it’s a lot of different stuff. I’m a huge record/CD collector and I still buy tons of stuff ranging from forgotten 70s heavy rock rarities to modern metal, AOR, stoner, classic hard rock, southern rock etc. What inspires me is when I find a new band that sounds original, that have their own sound or have put their own twist to things. For instance bands like Black Debbath, Twelve Foot Ninja, Clutch and The Devil In California.

We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-From what I’ve heard vinyl sales are increasing, but I don’t know about CDs. It very, very tough these days. The business sucks big time and it’s basically because of a few things. People upload and download your music and there’s nothing we can do about it. Even though our music is available on iTunes and all digital sources, if it’s for free people rather download it and rip off the bands. Spotify pays only pennies. People say “so, if people download your music you’ll get more gigs”. Sure, but the problem is all bands wanna have gigs, and there are not enough places to play, plus clubs don’t pay you enough to break even. We’ve sometimes been offered petrol money and a case of beer. Some clubs even demand 25 % of your merch sales, which is basically the band’s profit. I’ve been playing in recording bands since the 80s and the business has never been worse than now. I’m however fortunate enough to have a good job that pays my bills and since I genuinely LOVE to play I can afford to do this! I do feel sorry for the younger bands and musicians who wanna make a living out of music.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I’m all old school, vinyl and CD, myself. I never download and I never even buy digital music. I wanna have a cover or a booklet, a physical product that I’ve paid for, not just a file in my computer. I wanna browse through my record shelves, see something I haven’t played in a while, put it on and re-discover music, not just click on a file in iTunes. Sure, I use Spotify, but mostly to find bands and music I may have missed.

What lies in the future?
-We’ve just started working with a new booking company, so hopefully something will happen. We’ve got some offers to play in Italy and Brazil that we’re hoping for and we’re playing in Chicago in October. We’ll also start to record a new album in the fall.

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