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Fireworks Magazine Online 40 - Treat
07 June 2010
The Scandie rock scene has experienced something of a revival in the past few years, with band such as H.E.A.T., The Poodles and Eclipse carrying the torch and delivering some fine albums. But now it's time for those guys to move over because the Masters are back! Treat's 'Weapons Of Choice' best of CD appeared in 2006, featuring the new song 'I'll Burn For You' that hinted that the band still had plenty to offer. Roll on to 2010 and eagerly anticipated new album 'Coup De Grace' is here, the first studio release since 1992. And it's definitely been worth the wait, as Treat have delivered an absolute classic! Guitarist and main writer Anders Wikstrom gives us the inside story. Asking the questions: Ant Heeks and Bruce Mee.
Reviews for 'Coup De Grace' are extremely positive . Do you think you have exceeded expectations with this album? In fact, did you have any expectations? It's a different sound to 'classic Treat' - did you have a gameplan in mind?
We´re very thankful that people seem to understand what we set out to do, namely, a well crafted heavy and melodic album without fillers. The only expectations we had were our own and not based on what the media would think or sales figures, and still is.
Treat reformed in 2006 for the Weapons Of Choice compilation and tour, but why was there such a delay before releasing this album?
Because we weren't sure we had the vision needed for a new album back in 2006. It took some soul-searching and inspiration to come up with the songs and making it happen. I have so many other ongoing projects all the time - we all have - so, I really needed the time to complete this without having to compromise on the song quality.
You have said that the vision for this album has been 25 years in the making. How much has your perspective on life changed since 'Scratch And Bite' to get to this point?
What I mean by that is, this is actually the first album we´re in total control of the outcome. I mean we recorded and produced it ourselves, as well as chose the songs, cover artwork and so on. Thanks to understanding record labels, who were waiting patiently for us to finish this up, it took it´s time! But, Frankly, who cares how long an album takes to make when the album's out and enjoyable??
What influenced the title 'Coup De Grace', and the intro piece?
The title itself has a little dark humorous feel to it, and is not meant to be taken deadly serious, kind of "Last nail in the coffin lid" type of thing or an extension of the "Weapons of Choice" title. The intro started like an idea for the opening song 'The War is Over' but ended up very like a movie score music piece, which we all liked because it's out of the ordinary! Built to create an afterthought. However, the song 'The War is Over' is not about war at all, but about ending and moving on from a bad relationship.
Who came up with the idea for the artwork?
The idea came from a guy named Anders Fästader, who also did all the cover artwork. We wanted a classic scenery with, again, a little humorous setting where we looked like battled and bruised soldiers from a long time ago, back from life's battlefield but still alive and well, haha.
How hard was it to record an album that sounded contemporary, and yet still manage to sound like classic Treat? The new album is very much guitar-orientated, and many songs have an undeniable Gotthard feel to them musically. Has co-writing with the Swiss boys for their last three albums had any influence of your writing for Treat?
We didn't set out to do a contemporary album at all, we just choose the songs we felt most comfortable with and I really don´t think my way of writing songs has changed that much since I started. Writing with Gotthard for instance ... I´ve also written stuff for bands like the Scorpions, The Backyard Babies and many more that sounds totally different from this, so if people make a connection between Gotthard and Treat it´s basically because we share views on how good melodic hardrock should sound and that's why we still collaborate!
With so many great songs to choose from, was there any particular reason you chose 'Roar' as the first single?
Frankly, we could have picked 3 or 4 different songs for a first single. 'Roar' was picked by our Swedish label Universal, but we´re gonna be releasing more singles in the near future so.. My bets for single #2 would be either 'Skies of Mongolia' or 'We Own the night', both great songs on their own.
What is the song 'Paper Tiger' referring to?
In the big picture, it´s about the fear-mongering powers that be, who via the mainstream media tries to dumb us all down and keep us consuming and feeling separated from each other. I believe humankind has a very beautiful future ahead, if we just manage to break out of this controlled matrix and realise what our true nature and potential is.
The reason I put the lyrics in a father and son scenario is based on childhood memories, of stories my dad told me and words of wisdom I really didn´t get until I was grown up. The song is basically about letting go of fear, and always follow the path of the heart.
There are some interesting co-writes, Rudolf Schenker on 'Skies Of Mongolia' and Gotthard's Steve Lee on 'No Way Without You'. How did these guys become involved, and who else contributed to the songs?
Me and my main songwriting buddy for 12 years, Fredrik Thomander, hooked up with Rudolf already in 2006 to write songs and we kept in touch and the result so far is 'Skies of Mongolia' on our album and 'Lorelei' and 'The Best is Yet to Come', also co-written with Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) on the new Scorpions album 'Sting in the Tail'. Steve Lee, we´ve been working with since 2004 and their 'Lipservice' album. 'No Way Without You' was written at the same time as we wrote 'Shangri-La' together for Gotthard's 'Need to Believe' album. Fredrik has co-written 5 songs, Mats Leven 4 songs, Patrick Appelgren 3 songs with me, and the only outside song we picked was 'I´m Not Running', which was written by Swedish guys Harry Sommerdahl and Per Aldeheim (Def Leppard amongst others). I really like to co-write songs and I do all the time. The only song I wrote on my own for this album is 'Breathless'.
Are there any other songs on this album that you are particularly proud of?
I´m really proud of the whole album, and we´ve already managed to sneak in at least get 6-7 new songs in the liveset, haha.
Were there any songs left over from the writing/recording sessions that may still see the light of day?
Oh yeah, we did 16 songs and 14 are on the album, but there's a bonus track on the Japanese version called 'Turn the Dial' as well. There´s a lot of stuff I started, but didn´t finish up, that might see the light of day in the future, who knows...
How does the recording process differ between the eighties albums and 'Coup De Grace'? Were you all in the studio at the same time?
These days, no! We wanted to do a great album, that takes time if you don´t choose to do it the romantic "all guys in the same room for a week or two" way! We started out cutting backing tracks together as usual, then we went to our separate studios and did bass, guitar and keyboard overdubs. I did all the lead vocal recordings with Robert in my studio and me and Patrick did basically all the backing vocals with some help from Nalle, Jamie and even Mats Leven thrown in for good measure. I mixed the album with Fredrik Thomander and another great friend of ours, Peter Mansson.
When it comes to performing live how will you approach the setlist? There are so many great songs on 'Coup De Grace' that deserve to be played, so how will you balance them with the classics that the fans will expect you to play?
So far so good! The songs we play from the new album fits perfectly with the older songs and judging by the audience reactions so far, they agree!
You are touring Europe with The Poodles and H.E.A.T. Are there any plans to come back to the UK? After your Firefest set last year was cut short we missed out on 'World Of Promises'!
The European tour is gonna be killer I think, good bands and friends together. We will be back in the UK soon, promise! And we will play a full 90 minute set for sure!
After all these years do you still enjoy performing live?
That´s the reason we reformed the band in 2006! It´just got a little more serious than that lately, haha.
Treat were one of the bands that were effectively killed off by the Grunge scene when it emerged in the early nineties. What are your thoughts on that particular genre?
There were some really strong talents and bands that came out of that genre: Soundgarden, Alice In chains and of course Nirvana, although I´m a much bigger fan of Dave Grohl´s Foo Fighters since.
Illegal downloading is destroying the music scene, but the Internet is also a useful tool for communicating with the fans. What are your views?
I don´t think it´s destroying the music scene, but It´s devaluing music as such, and that's the problem! The social networks like Myspace and Facebook is really good to keep in touch with fans on a daily basis, But if illegal downloading people only knew the hardwork and time and money out of our own pockets we spend to make an album, they might think twice before calling everything "free". Just because it´s possible it doesn´t mean it´s right! Unfortunately the overcrowded live scene will eventually suffer from this too, people just can´t afford to go to all the shows all the time!!
Treat are rightly considered to be a leading light of the Scandie Rock scene. How does it feel to be part of a movement that has produced so many much-loved bands?
We proud of the fact that we actually was a part of this from the start! And we do have a trademark!!
How long do you think we'll have to wait till the NEXT Treat album?
I really don´t know when and if there will be another Treat album in the future. We take it day by day nowadays, if we feel inspired in a year from now we might start working on a new album, who knows. Let's see how 'Coup de Grace' is recieved by the fans!
Thanks for your time, any message for Fireworks readers?
We really want to come back to the UK soon! We are very thankful and humble about the reactions we got at the Firefest shows, until then, God bless ya all and Rock on!!