Fireworks Magazine

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Mason Hill

The New Noise On The Hill: An interview with MASON HILL

Interview by Wolf Gant

Here at Fireworks / Rocktopia we pride ourselves on always being on the lookout for "The New Noise", but just occasionally, one band or two just takes you by the throat and demands your attention. One such band in the last year has been Glaswegian's Mason Hill, who have been winning competitions left, right and centre and picking up some very good responses along the way. So now, just a few days after their fabulous support to Inglorious at London's prestigious Islington Assembly Hall, London and their subsequent signing to Frontiers' Records, Wolf Gant sat down with guitarist James Bird and vocalist Scott Taylor to celebrate signing to Frontiers and that wonderful support.


Mason Hill Interview


Nice to speak to you guys. We're talking now as you've just recently signed to Frontiers Records and recently made your London debut supporting Inglorious...But, first, a little history.....You formed back in 2013, but the seeds of Mason Hill were planted as far back as 2008. What inspired you? Was it the new bands that were then making waves – your home town of Glasgow is certainly a hotbed of musical variety - or were you inspired more by the classic artists?

JAMES: "Well, Scott and I have been playing music together from pretty early on. We were basically put in the same music class when I moved to Glasgow from Derbyshire, and it just went from there. I think we were into more or less the same kinds of music that inspired us both; bands like Black Stone Cherry, right through to Alter Bridge; but we were also, at that point in time, into bands like Lamb Of God, so it was a very wide spectrum of different bands and styles. There was actually a band called Logan who were from Glasgow too. They were really making waves at that time."

Considering where the band has progressed to now, and the way you've achieved that (which we'll come to in a minute), where do we see you now in the overall picture of the band?

JAMES: "I think we're still improving. Right from when Scott and I created the band, and through time with Craig (McFetridge – Drums), Matt (Ward – Bass) and Marc (Montgomery – Guitar), it's always helped to progress the band overall. We're constantly improving our live performance as a unit, and from here on we just keep working towards getting better and better in order to take very opportunity coming our way."

SCOTT: "Totally agree. As the main songwriters, James and I just keep working on material, as the bigger picture needs to be the songs and how they work."

You started pretty much 'in house'; the two-pronged attack of an EP in 2015, and live shows; but which of these was to you the stronger priority?

JAMES: "Difficult to say. On one hand, we were a very new band lacking experience on the live performance side of things; but in order to get gigs, we needed the songs recorded to showcase ourselves. It's really hard to say which had the stronger priority but I think I'd need to say that the EP perhaps held the strongest priority."

SCOTT: "Great question Wolf! I agree with James that it's a very difficult choice, as both are just as important as each other, but I think I have to agree with James. Although the live performance is key, without the EP and the songs on that, we'd have never got this far."

The self-titled EP was just four tracks, so what was the criteria behind picking those, and which do you both feel sums you up the best?

JAMES: "I think it would be fair to say that we both feel "Survive" and "Where I Belong" sum us up the best. "Survive" has the hard hitting, heavy riff with a catchy chorus, and on the other hand, "Where I Belong" is the slow number, the one that pulls on your heart strings in a very genuine, authentic way. We wanted to have a balance of 3 hard rock songs with 1 'ballad' if you will, as it showcases our diversity, without taking away the fact we are a strong rock band."

Describe if you will, the feeling of actually standing in the studio, recording with a named producer such as Sandy Jones? Many young bands find it a daunting task and it isn't always the most successful?

JAMES: "Sandy is superb! We got on with him so well that it just made the experience so easy and so much fun to do. Scott and I had done 3 demos back when we had started the band, so we weren't entirely new to being in that environment, but it definitely had a lot of buzz behind it just knowing we were recording the debut EP."

SCOTT: "Speaking for myself personally, I was so excited to go into the studio and record with a named producer such as Sandy. As a band (myself, James and Craig were basically the band at the time), we took to it and loved being in the studio. Sandy's professionalism and skill just made the whole experience flow so easily. The EP has helped us so much so we can't thank him enough."

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Now let's talk about one specific trait that the band possesses that stands out for me, and that's the competitions you've entered (and won); The Highway To Hell – Hard Rock Hell Competition, and the Scottish Section of the Surface Festival Competition, which led to a gig at the 02 in London, being prime examples? What do you feel swung the judges in your favour and would you recommend other young bands go down the same route?

JAMES: "Well, we actually entered the Surface Festival Competition as our old band, prior to forming Mason Hill, but it was a key moment. At the time, we were just teenagers looking for gigs and crowds to play to, which that competition gave us. We ended up getting to the final and winning it, which led us to play the London 02 show!"

"I think what may have stood out to the judges at the time, is perhaps the fact that although we were always one of, if not the youngest guys throughout the competition, we were playing to the same standard as bands much older than us? I would only recommend something like that to young bands if they are just starting out and want some gigging experience."

"The Highway To Hell Competition however was quite different, as we did that last year after being asked to participate. Again, I'd say it's great for gigging experience, but it's really important as well, as there is so much networking availability at Hard Rock Hell, between the organisers and all of the bands involved...."

SCOTT: "For me, any competition that can help a young band reach a new audience is definitely something we would recommend. The Surface Festival basically taught me and James how to be professional musicians. Up until then, we had had very limited experience, so it taught us what it is to be around and involved in gigs of that professional nature. The Hard Rock Hell competition then was such a great opportunity for us to network with bands and those involved. Networking is such a key factor to music."

"I think what might have swung the judges, is the energy and excitement the band has, where the passion on stage is clearly visible."

Right, now, let's just pick a favourite track of ours to talk about in a bit more depth.... And, it's your favourite "Survive" you'll be glad to hear. Tell us where the ideas come from on that one and if that is 'typically' MH going forward?

JAMES: "I actually wrote the riff to this song when I was about 18 or something, and the chorus maybe when I was about 20. I had just kept it banked, as I knew it would prove handy some day in a song! Over time the rest of the music just came to me. I think the final part added to it was the bridge, just before the solo, which Scott just hummed at first!"

"For me, this is a really good example of the sound Mason Hill will have going forward. Whilst it maybe shows us to be youthful, it still has some basic fundamentals that give off a Mason Hill sound. We aren't closed off from evolving and maturing as we go along, but it's a really good 'entry point' if you like."

Any others you'd recommend people look out for live or recorded?

"I feel the best Mason Hill songs to check out now are the ones being written right now for the album! Unfortunately, there won't be much chance to check these out on-line until its release, but we will be testing them out at various gigs!"

Yes, those shows... You have quite a few prestigious live shows coming up (Winterstorm later in the year - again with people like Graham Bonnet, who I know you've played with already - and Wildfire next month to name just two), but given the album isn't due until Feb. 2018, what are your plans going forward for the rest of the year?

JAMES: "Well, we're not actually playing Wildfire this year, however we have some really great shows lined up, true. The show with Inglorious, at their album launch in London, was absolutely fantastic and I'm so happy we got that chance. We are appearing at the 'Boardie Walk Takeover' part of the Download Festival in a couple of weeks, then we have Planet Rock Stock at the end of the year, Winterstorm, and of course, our second headline show in our hometown on August 5th."

SCOTT: "Yeah, we do have a few prestigious shows coming up and it's a really exciting time! There are a few more in the pipeline we are excited about too, but aren't able to speak about them yet!"

"Our plans for the rest of the year are pretty much focused on writing the upcoming album, scrutinising every song and ensuring the detail and quality will be the highest we can give, to make sure we live up to the hype as we start this musical career!"

Sadly, this has to be back pretty fast, but please sum up where you guys are now? The management deal with Shock City has led to so many opportunities for you, and now of course, there's the Frontiers tie-in, which was announced just prior to that fabulous night with Inglorious? So, what are your realistic targets now do you feel?

SCOTT: "Well, as I've said, we will be focused mainly on making the record, but you're right. Our management deal with Shock City, and now the record deal with Frontiers are major assets to the progression of Mason Hill, and we will really continue to work together to keep the rise of the band going. We feel we now have a chance to show what we are about on a larger scale, so in my opinion, the journey is just beginning."

It's an oft used phrase in this business – "The Next Big Thing" – but I think, as anyone who witnessed the band the other week at the Inglorious show, or who took time at the last Ramblin' Man Fair to check the guys out will testify, this band do indeed have the key ingredients, i.e the songs; and do have the swagger and the grit in equal measures to succeed. So, if you see their name on a bill near you, then do go and have a butches. You will not regret it.

Fireworks Magazine Online 79 - Interview with Can't Swim

CAN'T SWIM

Interview by Mike Newdeck

Can't Swim came to prominence really quickly. Starting as a solo project when band leader Chris LoPorto impressed a record label with some demos cooked up on a laptop the only way has been up for the fledgling band with ensuing tours in the UK and a debut album 'Fail You Again' released recently. Mike Newdeck chatted to Chris about the prominent rise of the band from the humble beginnings in New Jersey.


Cant Swim - Interview New
You're pretty much a fledgling band how are things turning out for you so far?


Well I was doing music as a hobby really, I was never really song writer and I never played guitar either. I was primarily a drummer who'd played in a million bands. I was really doing stuff for fun, goofing around after school on my laptop and I learnt guitar from messing around rather than learning it in the normal way. Once I had got a grasp of things I then went onto writing songs and then Can't Swim kind of started. I made some demos which I sent to a few friends and then Pure Noise got to hear it and wanted to be part of it. I was totally unexpected.

So you're basically a band of drummers and ex-drummers?

Yeah that's right, I did the drums on the first release, then Danny and I split it on the full length and now we have Andrea a friend of mine playing. We're a bunch of drummers masquerading as guitar players. We're not the most gifted of drummers but we like to write good songs and leave it to Andrea who's more dynamic and tight but it helps to have lots of rhythmic people in the band.

Do the band share information about how to get the best out of each others instruments?

Well. every band member plays every instrument to varying degrees. On the album the bass player played some guitar parts, I played some of the bass. Our producer and guitar player wants to always get the best performance out of the band and so it's horses for courses. One player gives a straight down the meddle performance another might give a more groove feeling to the sound and we then use whichever fits best for that song. I play my guitar in a pretty rough style which suits a other songs. Pride for our instrument and parts goes out the window, it's more to do with getting the right end product. Maybe on the next album I won't play the guitar at all. We have toyed with the idea of Danny using different instruments live to give us a different soundscape but generally we stick to our own roles although we do freestyle sometimes by playing our parts differently.

Female drummers seem to be the trend at the moment?

Well, we didn't consciously pick a female, we just wanted to keep the band as friends rather than bring a stranger into the set up. We went to high school with her and she lives on the block so she's a great friend. When the vacancy for a new band member came up she was first on the list.

Working with friends is a double edged sword though isn't it?

It can be like being in a marriage with all the strains associated with that; I had that in previous bands. In Can't Swim the dynamic is far more easy going and supportive and we're all in it for the same reason and we don't have individual goals. In fact the band has probably brought us closer and we're like a family when we're on the road. In previous bands there'd be a n argument over where to eat.

The dynamic no doubt helps the writing process?

For sure. The first release was just me and I did everything but for this release everyone is involved with their differing personalities. That way we get more emotion feeling and personality in the music as well as an increased openness because we all know each other so well. We're all very open to criticism and many bands fail if their not. We're not defensive about anything. An idea becomes Can't Swim only once it's been through the modification process.

How about media criticism, are you open to that?

Well we know our limitations but we just do what we do as a band and outside criticism doesn't really come into play. I do like inducing emotion in people though negative or positive, it's all good but ultimately it's about your own team being happy.

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How has the band progressed since the last esp musically?

Well this is more of band really rather than a solo project. My guitar knowledge is limited and so the rest of the band have more to offer in terms of chords and making the sound fuller. The e.p was meat and potatoes whereas this album is complicated and there's more vocal interplay. It's different lyrically too; the e.p was more to do with a specific relationship whereas now it's more varied in its subject matter.

Did the album turn out how you expected it to?

Well I never thought that the first five songs that I did would ever leave my laptop and even now doing the full length I still had shaky legs, it's unbelievable but also truly beautiful. Everything has exceeded my expectations

What opportunities are there for bands in your neck of the woods in New Jersey?

I'm very out of touch with the local scene really, probably because I'm in my late twenties. I'm unfamiliar with this type of genre. Growing up we had loads of bands play this area but many of the clubs have closed down now which is a shame but I'd imagine that there's still a scene as we're so close to New York. Can't Swim don't do anything locally and we've played more times around the rest of America than we have in our home state. Our first gig was in Maine with Four Year Strong.
I lose sight of us being from around here sometimes because we started touring straight away. Ohio is a state that we play often and we've played in the UK more than around here, it's crazy.

UK and European bands aspire to being big in the U.S Can't Swim is operating in the opposite direction isn't that a bit odd?

It's luck, fate, call it what you will but all I know is that you guys seem to like us over there; we always get enthusiastic responses when we play there. I'm really not sure why we're liked in the UK, it's a bit of a mystery. Sometimes I wish that I was born there really it would make things simpler. We've talked about moving over there before not only for the music but also for the economic and political reasons. We were in the UK when Trump got elected and so we really wanted to stay. It's a great country and I suppose it would make sense to move here if we're going to tour. The Descendants did a similar thing they moved to Chicago because they were touring the country so much.

Touring costs money and Pure Noise is only a small label do they finance it?

Well it's all worked out in the budget and the label are incredibly supportive of us, they don't just hand us a million dollars though. We have enough to play, tour and eat so that's more than enough for now.

Can't Swim has a live raw edge on the latest album and a sense of realism was this conscious?

It really comes from inability. I can't hit all the notes I'd like and so I suppose it comes over as realistic, and that's what it is really. We play to our strengths and it all came pretty natural to us being that way. Combine that with a producer who wanted a genuine performance and that is what comes out. We're not a polished pop punk outfit and we don't want to be. There's no autotune, compression or tricks, it's just us.

Pop punk bands are usually upbeat, bright and breezy, Can't Swim is far more angry aren't they?

I think again that comes from what a find natural to sing. In fact I find it easier to yell rather than sing and so I think we tailor the music around that aspect. The other thing is that if you can't sing in a particular way in the studio it won't be possible at a gig.

From what you have said, is the band name a reflection on your insecurities as a singer?

Well in first grade I was very nervous about speaking in front of people and the teacher went round and asked everyone what their defining feature of their life was. I really didn't know what to say and the kid before me had said that he loved to swim so in a nervous voice I just said that I can't swim. Everyone laughed and twenty years later I thought it would be a great name for the band.

'Fail You Again' is out now on Pure Noise

Fireworks Magazine Online 78 - Interview with House Of Lords

HOUSE OF LORDS

Interview with James Christian by Steven Reid

Melodic Rock masters House Of Lords may have a history that stretches back to the late eighties, but with their output since the turn of the decade being just as strong as their classic-era albums, this is one band refusing to live off past glories. Their latest offering, the enigmatically titled 'Saint Of The Lost Souls', is the perfect bridge between the band's early keyboard heavy sound and the guitar led approach recent albums have been built on. What has never changed though, is the unmistakable voice that has always been the House Of Lords calling card. Fireworks speaks to the man behind the mic, James Christian...


House-Of-Lords


Although they've always evolved from album to album, House Of Lords have, with one notable exception, always stayed true to the core Melodic Hard Rock sound that their fans love. However, with their new album, 'Saint Of The Lost Souls', there's a stronger focus on keyboards than there's been for quite some time in the band's catalogue. "The return to a more keyboard leaning sound, was not intentional but just a way to mix it up," the band's lone original member, James Christian, explains. "We have a fabulous guitar player in Jimi Bell so there is no shortage of choices, but the songs this time around all seem to be complimented by having keys on them. I have always loved the sound of keyboards on songs, but it is not always necessary to have them so prominent in the mix. After the amount of CDs we have released, nothing is etched in stone. I am open to moving in the direction that the song takes us. I'm not concerned about staying within any guidelines just to keep the sound consistent to what people expect. That's not writing, that's calculated writing," the singer continues, giving an insight many bands would do well to take heed of. "We have in the past been reviewed where the person reviewing the CD will always compare it to the last or first CD we have done. What a crock of shit. Each CD should be different. We feel we are in a good place to write what we feel is keeping us motivated."

As you'd expect, the keyboards on the album are excellent, the only surprise being that for some time now House Of Lords haven't had an official keyboard player in their ranks. Internet chatter has suggested that Jeff Batter, who James worked with previously in both Arc Angel and Cannata, has been involved, but we all know how reliable the internet is... "Actually Jeff did not do keys on this CD," James reveals, dispelling the rumour. "But he is and always will be one of my favourite keyboard players. The guest keyboard players are Michele Luppi (Whitesnake) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Frontiers perennial go to guy). The rest were done by yours truly. I am not a monster keyboard player but I hear what I want and I am able to get that across thanks to working with such great players such as Greg Giuffria and Jeff Batter." And there isn't a better example of the album's keyboard prowess than the excellent, and dare we say it, Progressive song, 'Reign Of Fire'. It's also one of the standout moments on a thoroughly excellent album. As James reveals, the song was part natural evolution, part cunning masterplan. "This song took on so many forms before being finished. When I received the track from Jimi it was more of an AC/DC type track. As much as I loved what he did I could not bring myself to a chorus which moved me. So I rewrote a few chords to the chorus which I was only intending to use as a tail to the end of the original. Somehow I was able to come up with a melody in the chorus of just two chords that made the whole thing work. Sometimes accidents happen and this was really a welcome one. The mini Moog on the chorus however was completely intentional. I grew up on that mighty sound and wanted it somewhere on the CD. This was the perfect song."

However, with all this focus on keyboards, we're being hugely unfair to guitarist Jimi Bell, who has really outdone himself on this album. Something James completely agrees on. "Jimi is a force on guitar," he says, proud of the talent House Of Lords has it their disposal. "I sometimes look to my right on stage and realise how much sound he covers on stage. He has a guitar in his hand even when he is not on stage. Always playing, always working on the next great riff to be made into an HOL song."
Aside from James and Jimi, the band has had a really solid line-up for quite some time, so it's been a bit of a surprise that bassist Chris McCarvill is now no longer in House of Lords... "The parting of ways was because Chris had an offer to work with Dokken and he also wanted to concentrate more on his Maxx Explosion project," the singer explains, talking about the outfit that both his ex and current bandmates Chris McCarvill, Jimi Bell and drummer BJ Zampa rather excellently fill their non-HOL time with. "We wish Chris the best as he was an important part in the rebirth of House Of Lords."

However, as one Chris waves farewell, so another is introduced to the House Of Lords faithful in the shape of new bassist Chris Tristram. "Chris is a seasoned musician from the same 'School of Rock' we came from," James says of his new bandmate. "His last project was working with Jack Russell's Great White! He is an easy going guy, which fits perfectly in our family."

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And another part of that family is James' writing partner on this new album. "I teamed up again with Richard Hymas who also was my co-writer on 'Precious Metal' and 'Indestructible'," James adds. "He is amazing to work with and a no stress type of guy."

Long a band with a fearsome live reputation, if there's one question their fans will want to know the answer to, it's whether House Of Lords will be hitting the road in support of their new release. "Yes," the frontman says enthusiastically. "Our first show will be in August at the Hair Metal Heaven Festival in Hull UK. Hope we see everyone come out and support this awesome lineup of bands," and with the likes of Vain, TNT, Disneyland After Dark, Treat and Danger Danger also on the bill, he's not wrong.
For the band's many British fans it will be too good an opportunity to pass up, especially when you remember that House Of Lords had to cancel some of their UK dates a few years back. "You know things happen in life that you really have no control over," the singer mentions honestly. "We can only hope that fans in UK know that we were more disappointed than anyone, we don't like backing out of shows and I hope we never have to again."

Key to the success of two House Of Lords albums, 'World Upside Down' and 'Come To My Kingdom', the keyboard playing and songwriting of Jeff Kent touched the life of many Melodic Rock fans and beyond. However, as James remembers, the one-time HOL man, who sadly died last year, also played an important role in his musical life. "Jeff Kent will always be remembered in my life. Jeff was one of the first guys to hire me as a session singer before I was even in House Of Lords and together we recorded some my songs, that one day I will release. He was an extraordinary person and artist. I Love him and miss him dearly."

Much though House Of Lords is always James' main focus, over the years he's also released some excellent albums outside of the band. Something we can, thankfully, expect to continue in the shape of a future solo album. "Yes, I am working on one now," he confirms. "It is my passion to write and record as much as I can while I can still do it." Although don't expect the prolific singer and songwriter to pop up on one of the countless 'project albums' that make up a huge number of Melodic Rock offerings every year. "One offs are not my thing," the singer says by way of explaining why one of the biggest names in the genre hasn't appeared on this type of release. "I don't mind doing a a song on a CD but one offs rarely do anything but fill some time. I like being part of a band. Working together and knowing the guys who you record with. I'm a creature of habit that way."

Never a band to simply slap a name on their albums for the sake of it, House Of Lords always look to give their fans something to mull over and as their leader confirms, 'Saint Of The Lost Souls', an album that's set to be one of 2017 most enthusiastically received releases, is no different. "The title has deep meaning to me because of the message; St Jude is the saint of lost souls, the saint of hopeless cases, in your hour of need it is this saint that you will call out to," James explains of a topic clearly close to his heart. "If you are someone who has faith it can be reassuring to know he is listening."

House Of Lords will be appearing at Hair Metal Heaven in Hull over the weekend of August 25th, 26th & 27th and their latest album 'Saint Of The Lost Souls' will be released on March 24th through Frontiers Records.

Fireworks Magazine Online 78 - Interview with Tokyo Motor Fist

TOKYO MOTOR FIST

Interview by Paul Woodward

So, what do you get if you put Danger Danger vocalist Ted Poley and Trixter axeman Steve Brown in the same room? Tokyo Motor Fist, that's what! The combination of these two extremely popular Melodic Rock musicians has many fans anticipating what should be a stunning genre album! Fireworks speaks to Steve Brown...


Tokyo-Motor-Fist


I suppose my first question has to be about the name! It has already caused much discussion in some circles. So how did you and Ted come up with Tokyo Motor Fist?

Oh Yeah, everyone loves it! A true legendary band name. You have The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC, Motorhead, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and now the world has Tokyo Motor Fist. All Hail THE FIST!

I have to admit you teaming up with Ted Poley came out of the blue, so how did you come to be working together on TMF?

It all started about a year and a half ago. Serafino from Frontiers asked me if I'd do a project with Ted. It was very easy to say yes because Ted and I have been friends for close to thirty years. We both grew up in northern New Jersey, very close to each other; we have that Jersey Brotherhood thing. The guys in Trixter and Danger Danger came up in the Tri State area music scene around the same time so there is plenty of history. After Ted signed up I knew exactly who I wanted for the rhythm section: Greg Smith on bass (Alice Cooper, Rainbow, Ted Nugent) and Chuck Burgi on drums (Rainbow, Billy Joel). These guys are incredible people.
What's working with Ted like? He's well known to be quite jovial and energetic?

Ted was fantastic to work with and produce. He is very professional so it makes my job easier. He would drive up to my studio once a week and we would track three or four songs in a session. We drank a lot of coffee and told a lot of bad jokes.

Who writes the songs for Tokyo Motor Fist and what was the song writing process like on this album?

I wrote, produced, mixed and engineered the whole CD. The song writing process is the same I've been doing for years. I usually start with a cool riff on guitar or a killer melody idea. I'm really proud of this album, I think it's some of my best work to date.

Obviously taking two well-known Melodic Rock musicians from two beloved genre bands, did you feel pressure for the songs to combine elements of both Danger Danger and Trixter – or did you write songs free of direction?

I knew it had to be a combination of all the bands we ever played with. I think we accomplished that and even went to places musically that some people wouldn't expect. There was no pressure at all because the sonic vision and the songs were in place before we started recording.

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Can you tell me about some of the songs, are there any tracks with specific stories or meanings behind them that you think fans would be intrigued by?

'Pickin' Up The Pieces' is a mid-tempo rocker that is about someone who helps another person try to see the good in life, even though they are surrounded by darkness. 'Love Me Insane' is a slamming fast rocker that tells the story of a volatile relationship. 'Shameless' is a feel-good song about living life with no regrets. 'Love' has a Def Lep 'Hysteria' vibe to it and the message is simple...give some love to everyone. 'Black And Blue' is about wanting somebody very badly but not getting there without some bumps and bruises. 'You're My Revolution' has incredible drumming from Chuck Burgi, a slamming rocker that deals with someone's undying devotion to another.
'Don't Let Me Go' is a dark ballad that features a stellar vocal by Ted. The song is about someone who is in a bad state of mind and is needing help. 'Put Me To Shame' is a classic 80s style hard rocker and one of my favourites on the CD.

'Done To Me' is a slow pounding rocker that sings of desire. 'Get You Off My Mind' is a song about how hard it can be getting over a relationship that has ended and 'Fallin' Apart' is an upbeat rocker that sings about losing a best friend and the after effects.

Are TMF a studio band or is there any chance of live shows?

Right now, we are just a studio Supergroup but we all have agreed to do some shows if it's the right situation. We have talked about doing about half the Tokyo Motor Fist album and add in hits by Danger Danger, Trixter, Rainbow and Ted Nugent – we would kick ass live! I hope we get some offers.
Is Tokyo Motor Fist an ongoing collaboration between you and Ted or is this a one-off album?

I'm not sure. Right now we are waiting on the release of the CD. Let's see what the fans think and maybe we will make another album.

With you working with Ted it made me think of other potential 'dream team' collaborations. Is there anybody from the '86-'92 era you'd love to work with in the future, and why?

I'd love to produce and write with Jon Bon Jovi. I think we would create some incredible music in the style of the 'Slippery When Wet' era. Our fans would love that. Always cool to dream!

Fireworks Magazine Online 78 - Interview with Eclipse

ECLIPSE

Interview By Brent Rusche

Founding member and principle songwriter for the massively successful Eclipse from Sweden, Erik Mårtensson is a jack-of-all-trades capable of writing, recording, playing and singing on everything he pens. Eclipse's latest album, entitled 'Monumentum,' shows he has absolutely no plans of slowing down. The album features eleven high-octane tracks which possess all of the characteristics that fans have come to expect from the band: intense rhythms, massive hooks, world-class production and lyrics which promote a positive message. Sitting down half a world away in NYC, Fireworks had the pleasure to speak with one of Melodic Rock's shining stars.


Eclipse


Congratulations on being chosen to open up for Aerosmith and Alter Bridge when they play Madrid this summer. How did you manage to secure such a coveted opening spot?

The whole thing started with fans in Barcelona, Spain. We had been playing in Barcelona for quite a few years and each year we played, our audience grew. Last year, the fans in Barcelona asked the promoter responsible for the Barcelona Rock Festival to book us over, over and over again until he simply couldn't say no. He booked us for the event in 2016 and the gig was a huge success. The agent responsible for hosting the entire festival ultimately booked us on the Aerosmith gig as well.

That gig stands to be the largest audience you will have played to date. With such massive exposure, will the band prepare any differently for such a high profile gig or will you use the same conventions as when preparing for any other show?

It would be the same preparation that we would make for any show. It is to go out there and do the best that you can possibly do. Under the circumstances that you have to work with, you have to perform the best that you can do while having a good time. If you think too much about it, then I think you are screwed! [Laughs]

I have always loved the immense energy and fast paced flow of each Eclipse album and 'Monumentum' is no exception. Besides 'Hurt,' which is really a power ballad, do you consciously refrain from bringing a softer side to Eclipse and save those softer moments for other projects?

No, not really. When I write for others I am focusing more on making just a great song. Like the Nordic Union album...you can of course hear the Eclipse references because I composed almost every song but I am always trying to do something different. I don't want to sound like Eclipse when working with other artists. Eclipse is expressing my personal taste in music and the style I want to do. We always write for ourselves and don't think how people will react.

Who are few songwriters that you have admired that you would say have influenced your writing?

For main influences as far as writing goes, they are bands and not necessarily individuals. I'm a "band" guy but if I needed to pick individuals then I would say David Coverdale since he has been the main songwriter for Whitesnake, the Young brothers from AC/DC and Bryan Adams have all been huge influences. Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P is also a great influence. I've also been getting a lot of inspiration from Dave Mustaine from Megadeth. It may seem far from what I'm doing but is not that weird when you think about it. The guitar work of Dave, the melody and chords from Blackie and the "cock and balls" singing style and attitude of Whitesnake combined with melodies that I like. I think it actually makes some sense.

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As the lead singer, what frontmen have been inspirational to your vocals and stage presence?

For the voice, it would be Joey Tempest (Europe) and Eric Martin (Mr. Big). For the stage presence it is without question David Coverdale.

If you do not want to comment, I completely understand. How has the passing of your father changed you both as a person and as a musician? What life lessons did he impart to you that informs every decision that you make?

I am going to give a cliché answer to that and the reason it is a cliché answer is because it is probably the way everyone thinks when people lose someone or if they have an illness themselves. You need to enjoy life. Life is now. Make the changes you want to change. For me, one radical decision we took was moving our family from Stockholm, where it didn't feel like home, and back to the village where I grew up in the countryside. Before he passed away, we had all of these reasons why we shouldn't do it. Where we were, there were all the cinemas, the restaurants and the people. When something like that happens, it takes away all of those small, silly things that really don't mean anything and you start to focus on the big picture of what's important. Family, enjoying life, doing what you want and stop being so cowardly about making big changes. Musically, I don't know if it has changed anything but I don't think that I am as scared about anything anymore. You go for the big thing and you go for the stuff that you know is really important.

Since you always seem to have your hands in multiple projects simultaneously, what other artists are you currently writing for and/or in collaboration with?

At the moment I'm currently mixing the new Ammunition album. I am mixing a Swedish band this week and next week I am mixing a band from Spain. There will be a lot of touring with Eclipse coming up and there are also some really interesting productions coming up but nothing is official yet so I cannot say which ones they are. Three or four really interesting projects are on the horizon. My plate is full until late 2018 or the beginning of 2019.

Being booked out for the next year to year and a half is a wonderful accomplishment.

When you are in the middle of it all you really don't enjoy it since you are so stressed and think it is too much. But it is truly a privilege to be able to do this. I've be fighting for it for so many years and I know there are so many other people out there who are also fighting every day to make a living in this music business. For me to make a good living out of doing it is truly a privilege and I'm fully aware of that fact.

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