With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to . Anders Ekdahl ©2018
What pressure is there in releasing an album compared to a demo? Do you feel that there is a sort of pressure to succeed when you release and album, that it sorta is for real now?
-There is no difference between an album and a demo with regard to ‘pressure’ and I personally think the era of the demo is gone unless someone is actually asking you for it. There is probably a lot more stress on the demo because usually the budget and gear are not up to par with a full studio, but with better and better home studios on the rise, some demos are achieving polished status. As to the pressure to succeed, I have come to the point in my career where I understand the difference between ‘big production music’ and ‘music’ itself. I have taken two 5-year sabbaticals from both because I didn’t understand the difference. You really need to make that separation because ‘big production music’ will always be a gamble on the entry level, whereas you can hold music from cradle to grave. My best advice, never lose the music no matter how shitty the industry gets and you’ll be okay. Unfortunately It took me a lifetime to figure that out
When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
– I am not one for doing anything in a small way. I stepped back in because JD (bass) and Jeff (drums) from Black Label Society got on board with my project. That was a game changer and Sean (guitarist) was the catalyst for everything. That’s all we did throughout 2017 and the debut ‘Monster’ turned out very well for a groove metal album. The immediate goal is to create a return that you can sustain yourself with and be viable to those who love your work. Sounds like a plan, but it’s not easy. A lot of parts have to be running smooth and you have to trust your team and your instincts. Surround yourself with good dedicated trusted people and be tenacious. You are going to need to be. There is so much garbage and cronyism in this business. I am still to this day shocked by what is being considered ‘great’. Some of it is appalling to those of us who still treat our trade as a craft.
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?
– There is nothing greater that seeing fans singings the words you wrote. I have taken that for granted in the past, but never again. It’s everything. Beyond the money and recognition we all fight for, having the fans know your songs is the power base – the meaning – the depth. You are reaching them, and in the end, that is everything!
Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work for everything so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
– Yes and no. I think the cover art and the brand really do need to be consistent. I want my fans to be able to see something they haven’t seen and then say, “That looks like a THN album.” Even though they haven’t seen it, they recognize the feel, the symbolism. They know because it is locked into their subconscious. The music should always strive to get better. It is up to each band to define what that means. For example, I think “Monster” is strong for a groove metal album, but now that we have found our niche, I am looking for perfection and timelessness going into the second album. You will never lose the groove as that is the genre, but you go for better in that field each time you set foot in the studio!
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
– Of course. It really is a small world and while there are tiers to that world, we are part of the hard rock/heavy metal community. At this point in time we all need to be helping each other and lifting each other up. That’s critical today for all of us.
How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
– I don’t really think about it. It’s more like Sean and I sit down to write and we keep what works and throw out what doesn’t. In the writing process the scrutiny is built in. It’s second nature. If our ears our pleased we run with it. For me, the days of trying to follow any trends are long dead and gone.
What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
– I am an old school power singer and I love that singing is coming back into today’s heavy rock. As too any message a band may wish to convey, that is up to them, but I will say whatever message you decide to run with, make sure it is honest, genuine, and from the heart. Your fans will pick up on it and so will others who have never heard your music. Believe what you are putting out or you will be labeled superficial. That is not necessarily an overt thing. It’s like bad acting – the same applies to songs. If it isn’t ‘real’, people will pick up on it. They may not even know why, they just won’t be interested in you. Keep it real!
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?
– The industry is what it is. Due to the internet and downloadable music, where could it go but where it is at now? The money heyday is over. As musicians we are never going to see that again. That is the negative. The positive is that people are creating again, breaking the rules of ‘commercial value’, and becoming true artists again. With the machine no longer dictating how you need to ‘do it’ or ‘create it’, it leaves the field wide open for original thinking with regard to creating music again. It’s like the 70s, without question the most innovative time in rock history. It is a top priority for me to re-examine song structure and make sure I am not following patterns just for the sake of those patterns. Why? What is the purpose? You made a six-minute song with a ton of groove and you are thinking it’s too long? Before you make those cuts, ask yourself why. If you can’t come up with an answer that makes sense to you as the creator then you’ve got no business cutting it. That is something I love about where we are at today. The integrity of the song has gained power over the historic ‘radio play’ requirements. Sure, I listen to the Nu-metal music sometimes on satellite radio, but I can’t listen for long. Too many bands are still adhering to those rules and they are all starting to sound the same. It doesn’t mean they are bad or without talent, it just means they may need to break out of the cookie cutter set up by the label or producer.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
– It’s convenient to download, but I remember when I very young, when the album cover art was almost as important as the music contained within. There is something of meaningful sentimental value in an actual material product as opposed to just the music out in a digital cloud somewhere. Liner notes, lyrics, photos – those cannot be overridden by the download. That is just my personal opinion. I believe that’s why we are seeing the resurgence of vinyl.
What lies in the future?
– Currently we are planning our 2nd studio album. It feels like we are walking into a laboratory. We are not coming out until we have created a destroyer. Each song will stand alone, and each will be undeniably good or that song will not be recorded. Every note, every groove, every beat, every vocal and lyric will be scrutinized and torn apart. The goal is to create an album that you play and after listening to it you open your eyes and realize you’ve destroyed your entire house!