TOLEDO STEEL is a British heavy metal band that really rocks the socks off you. Answers from Richard Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Do you feel that is has gone the way you intended when you formed back in the days?
-When we started, I don’t think we thought too far into the future about how things would pan out a few years down the line. We just had a lot of drive and energy to write our own songs and get up on any stage we could. I would say though that it’s certainly gone better and further than we could have ever imagined though. We’ve always believed in the band since day one but certain things like being signed to a great record label and playing shows abroad regularly was not something we could have imagined happening in the future when we started. Musically it’s gone the way we’ve intended for sure, we haven’t had to ever compromise on our sound and we’ve had no major disagreements between us on the direction of the music we write and play.
How do you feel about your latest recording? Did it come out the way you expected it to?
-Prior to entering the studio, we were a little bit against the clock with finishing up the writing on a few tracks so there was a small amount of uncertainty but I was confident it would all come together as one coherent solid piece of work start to finish! It’s maybe a little bit heavier and more raw than I expected but I think this works well for a debut full length. It’s a statement of intent!
Do you feel that you by now has found a sound that is the band and that you can build on it ?
-Ye I think so! For our first two independently released E.P’s we would constantly be compared with the likes of Iron Maiden. I love Iron Maiden as much as the next heavy metal fan but you don’t want to constantly hear about “who you sound like”. People drawing comparisons is inevitable but at the same time you want to try develop as much as of your own identity as possible! We’re not reinventing the wheel by any means but I feel that “No Quarter” has an overall solid heavy metal sound that retains our own identity. You can hear the influences but the inspiration draws more on the genres characteristics itself rather than outright ripping off other bands.
Is having a message in the lyrics important to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-Having a message within any song is important for sure! Writing lyrics that carry a message that mean something to you will only lead to a more powerful emotive performance and a stronger vibe that the listener can hopefully catch on to.
Our songs have always covered a variety of topics, some are based on our own personal experiences and opinions and others are maybe a little more fantasy based. We’re not gonna be writing songs about trolls and hobbits just yet but it’s sometimes nice to write about things that don’t necessarily deal with day to day life and our own reality.
How important is the cover art work for you? Can a really cool cover still sell an album in this day and age of digital download?
-I think that cover art is still massively important because it gives the band and that specific album a identity that people can really be drawn in to. It will no doubt help with selling physical copies! If I love a specific album and it also has great artwork, I’m going to be even more proud to buy a physical copy and display it in my collection!
Why is it so hard for bands that come from places not the US or UK/Sweden/Scandinavia to break big? What is success to you and is it something you’d like to achieve?
-I think that it isn’t easy to break it big whatever country a band is from, there’s so many variables that determine what will make a band more successful. There’s no doubt going to be parts of the world where it will be harder to get out there so I do hear what you mean though. Success with regards to the band would be for us to consistently draw good crowds of people wherever we play and be able to tour more frequently and for longer periods of time. We also want to continue to satisfy our own creativity with what we write and hopefully the listener will continue to like our output too! This will in turn allow us to take it out on the road and have a great time playing live, this in my mind is success within the context of being in a band.
Today the competition is harder. You got plenty of digital platforms for new talent to display their music How do you do to really stand out in a world where everything but the music is blind to the listener?
-People always want to hear well written/well performed music and if people come across you and they like what they hear, you do need a image to back it up you’re right! Social media is a real powerful tool for this. Ultimately the music is the most important thing but you can’t neglect the bands identity and image either. I’m not into the idea of bands being obscene or overly controversial just to attract attention. Great Live Photo’s, gig/album reviews and well thought out genuine posts on social media help give a identity and personality to a band than can back up the music! It’s gotta be well balanced though.
What is your local scene like? How important is a national scene for a band to be able to break out and make it international?
-Even though we don’t all live in Southampton, that’s where we are based and mostly meet up. It’s pretty good here actually, we play our local rock pub “The Firehouse” pretty regularly and Matt Dobson (our drummer) puts on shows there too fairly often. He always makes an effort to bring out of town bands to keep it interesting too. There’s also quite a lot of bigger bands passing through now and playing the bigger venues. I think it’s massively important for there to be a scene within your own city and country because it helps with creating a buzz that raises the chances of getting the opportunity to start breaking out more and playing further afield.
Rock and metal has come a long way since the early 70s but still some people’s attitudes towards it seem to be left in the stone age. How accepted is metal in your area? Is it like in Finland where it seems to come with the mother’s milk?
-Heavy Metal within the U.K is definitely not within the mainstream by any means but it’s also not completely underground. In my opinion though, it should be a lot bigger than it is because of the history that England has with rock and metal music.
What does the future hold for you?
-We’re gonna continue writing new music and record a second album of course! “No Quarter” hasn’t been out long though so in the meantime we’re going to continue playing as many live shows as we can to promote that! We also want to be able to return to as many places as possible but also visit as many new destinations as we can too. That includes the U.K and abroad of course! We are a live band that loves being out there on stage! There’s also a video for one of the album tracks that we’re working on right now and it will be released in the coming few months! We’re excited to get that finished off and put up online of course! Pushing the band out there as far and wide as possible is the main goal!