Fireworks Magazine Online 62 - Interview with The Deander Expression

THE THEANDER EXPRESSION: An interview with Andree Theander

Interview by Brent Rusche

At times, the sheer volume of music that is released into the marketplace can be dizzying. However, little more is satisfying than a new artist to unleash something that leaves nothing short than an indelible impression. For me, that has recently manifested itself in the form of 'Strange Nostalgia', the debut from Sweden's The Theander Expression. Although my initial exposure to them was nothing more than a video clip teaser posted on Facebook. I was immediately captivated by the excerpts on sample and knew that this was going to be special. For those of you who want to enjoy a well-constructed, pithy album, look no farther than 'Strange Nostalgia.' Lyrics, compositions, musicianship and production weave together seamlessly to deliver an album with absolute class. The diversity of the tempos, moods and unforgettable choruses are all held together with blazing guitar solos which only enhance this inspiring debut. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Andree Theander himself, the mastermind behind this brilliant effort.

BR- Although you probably don't remember my initial message to you, I would like to reiterate that you have been the first guitarist since I laid the guitar down over ten years ago that has inspired me to dust it off and play again...

AT- You know, I remember that message. It was wonderful to read and am very happy for it!

BR- Being that Herman Furin plays drums on 'Strange Nostalgia,' it would be no surprise that you have some connection with the gentlemen in Work Of Art. How long have you known them and what about Herman's drumming impressed you enough to give him the nod to record the album?

AT- Prior to this album, I actually did not know any of those guys. At the time, I was actually searching for a singer by posting on Internet forums but it was Herman that initially sent me a message and said, "I'm not a singer, but I'm the drummer in Work Of Art..." I love Work Of Art and think that they are one of Sweden's best bands in many years. I thought it would be great to have an awesome drummer like him on the record. He is a really nice person and I love his drumming so he got the job. I didn't know him at first, but I do now! [laughs]

BR- Not only do many of them resonate with me, the lyrics from every song appear to be deeply personal. As much as the lyrics are quite uplifting, many of the songs speak of introspection: personal/internal struggle as well as relationships with others...and not so much in a romantic way, but more generic relationships with other human beings. What is your "wellspring" for inspiration and/or what situation(s) do you find yourself in where you are the most creative lyrically?

AT- I was hoping I could answer that more specifically, but I really don't know. First of all, it is pretty hard to write lyrics because I want to do it as well as I play the guitar or as well as I compose the music. However, I haven't practiced writing lyrics as much as I have practiced the guitar. I also like lyrics that mean something and that mean something personal. I'm not a fan of lyrics that don't carry a message..."I love you, blah, blah, blah..." [laughs] Inspiration can happen at any time for me. Whenever it happens, I try to remember it and/or write it down...and then I have to force myself to write a complete lyric around that thought, line or idea to make it finished and fit within the context of a song...but it doesn't happen naturally as compared to when I play the guitar.

BR- How long have you been working on material for what is now known as 'Strange Nostalgia?'

AT- That is also very hard to say because some ideas like the melody line of the chorus to 'Mr. Know-It-All' has been in my head for almost 10 years. It's a mixture of old ideas with new ones. It's hard to say exactly how long it has taken to complete the album.

BR- So, it could be considered somewhat a documentary as it covers such a huge timeframe in your adult life.

AT- Yeah, I guess you could say that. That is a good description of it.

BR- Simply put, your guitar playing is brilliant...from choice, supporting rhythm playing to head spinning solos, your execution is effortless. Regardless of how many notes you are able to reel off, your melodicism remains paramount and not just a flashy display of technique. How did you come to pick up the guitar and develop your technique and who stand to be some of your biggest influences?

AT- First of all, thank you very much. I am very happy that you like the melodic part of the playing because I am simply a sucker for good melodies. For my influences as a guitar player, technically is Steve Vai who comes to mind first. He has been a huge inspiration for me as a guitarist. I love his playing. I don't think my playing sounds very much like his because I don't do any of the unconventional things he does, but there is a lot of technique that comes from his influence. Additionally, John Petrucci from Dream Theater and of course, Yngwie Malmsteen.

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BR- How did you come to initially pick up the guitar?

AT- Well, many people get surprised when I say this, but the first inspiration for me was the punk rock band, Green Day. That was when I was about 9 years old. At the time, a friend was telling me about this band and we went to his parents' house, borrowed his brother's CD of 'Dookie' and it just caught me completely. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. However, it could have been any guitar-oriented music at that time. I just thought that the electric guitar and rock music was something I could see myself doing. So, after hearing that style of music, I told my parents that I wanted an electric guitar and got one for my 10th birthday.

BR- That is pretty amazing to see where you are now and to learn that it was Green Day's 'Dookie' which provided the impetus for you playing the guitar. How did the influences that inspired you to develop your technique to such a high caliber start to enter your world? What, when and who did you hear that caused this transition in your musical development?

AT- I still really like Green Day and other music [genres] outside from what I do myself because I love the melodies but at some point, I wanted to take it further. So, I started to study other kinds of music and other guitar players. It was then that guys like Steve Vai, Yngwie and those types of guitarists entered my life. When it comes to bands like Toto, those influences came many years later. I wanted to do something more than to just play power chords and create nice melodies...I wanted to play solos. I also started listening to heavier bands like Iron Maiden and Metallica. With those bands, there is much more guitar and guitar and technique than with the punk rock music. I think that was the first step in wanting to play solos.

BR- As far as I'm concerned, you deserve to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside those guitar greats you just mentioned. How much practice did you do to develop your chops and how do you keep them in such sublime form?

AT- Whoa! Again, thank you. You have to put in a lot of time and least, I had to do that. I learned a lot about that from John Petrucci. I'm sure you are familiar with it, but his 'Rock Discipline' video was a huge influence. Paul Gilbert is also a huge inspiration and I've learned a lot from him as well. He is one of my favorite guitarists. I spent a lot of time much time? It is impossible to say! [laughs] I put the most time into practicing during my middle teenage years. I spent many, many hours practicing almost many as 10 hours in a single day.

BR- How long, with whom and how did you ultimately come to study at MI (Musician's Institute) in Los Angeles?

AT- Well, it was through the university in Sweden that I attended. A group of us had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and study there for one semester. If it weren't for the school, I couldn't have afforded to do it myself. While there, I studied mostly with Jeffery Marshall and Jeff Richman.

BR- I know this is a terrible question to ask because they all stand to be your favorites, but what are some of the songs on 'Strange Nostalgia' that are particularly important to you?

AT- Yeah, that's hard to say, but the first track, 'My Conception Of Life' turned out great with the melodic guitar solo containing that fast, arpeggio section along with Christian [Headgram's] voice. I also very much enjoy, 'Like A Chameleon' that Goran Edman sings. I think it is that song which was the most perfect for his voice on the album. If I had to decide, however, it would be those two tracks.

BR- Was it difficult securing a record deal for The Theander Expression and why did you choose to sign on with Avenue of Allies?

AT- No, it wasn't very hard. Avenue of Allies was very interested with signing The Theander Expression as well as a few other labels. Avenue Of Allies seemed to offer the best deal for me personally, as well as being the most interested in adding us to their roster. I simply think they were the best choice and they have been great.

BR- In the iTunes/digital download world of purchasing a single track versus an entire album, how much thought was put into album sequencing?

AT- Well, I love albums as a single piece of art, so that is what I wanted to accomplish. However, I am aware that this is not always how it works today but I'm very happy when people listen to my music in any form. I wanted to make an album in the classic sense. And yes, I did put a lot of thought in how the songs were ordered, but could not be specific as to why or how it turned out the way it did! [laughs] I simply went based on my own personal feeling and where I thought the song fit best.

BR- The album features two singers, the well-established Goran Edman and newcomer in Christian Headgram. Since I am not familiar with him, what has he done and how do you know Christian?

AT- The first time I saw Christian sing was on the television show, 'The Voice - Sweden.' I contacted him after that. He does sing in a few bands in and around his hometown, but nothing that has become familiar to a large population. He has been singing most of his life and is just about the same age as me, so hopefully we can continue with this band and take it further.

BR- Now that the record is released and hope that you are pleased with the result, what is next "on the menu" for Andree Theander?

AT- I hope that we can really make this [project] a live act and start playing live. I have also started to write new material and would really like to make a second album. I also want to compose something entirely new...something different from The Theander Expression, together with other musicians. I write a lot of music, some of which I am not sure will fit within the framework of The Theander Expression. I just write too much to make The Theander Expression albums. However, I also would like to say that I would like to take The Theander Expression further...playing live and make a follow-up recording with this band.

BR- Any final thoughts you would like to share, express and/or inform the readers of Fireworks Magazine / Rocktopia that we haven't covered?

AT- No, I don't think so right now. I just want to thank you for this interview and for all the kind words. It is almost hard to believe all that you is very nice to hear. Thank you.


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