Metal-Temple.com Interview with Marten Andersson of Starwood
Marten, greetings form Metal-Temple.com magazine! Letís start with the "feedback" the band has received so far for the "If It Ainít Broke...Break It!" debut, from both the Music Press (a real pain in the ass - sometimes, and in some countries...) and the Rock fans worldwide.
Thank you, itís good being here. Well considering when we started rehearsing and started working on these songs, we really didnít know what and where we were going. A year later and here we are talking, with positive reviews and some great fan praise. You gotta love that!!! If our music is not for you, just turn it off. We are going to make the next CD and video even better. Hopefully we get on a good tour as the topping on the cake.
Do you feel satisfied enough with the final "product"? You know, sometimes all the hours spent in a studio isnít an easy task, depending on the time you have and the people (producers etc) you have to work with to reach the desired result. Really, some info on the studio and the general recording process would be useful. Whoís behind the production?
I think every musician has been in a situation when there is time constraint in the studio or you have to "settle" for something you are not 100% happy with. In this case we are very happy with the outcome, of course there are always a couple of things you learned from the experience and will do different the next time around. Overall I think itís a great CD. The whole process took about 5 months with pre-production, recording, mixing and mastering. We had pretty much unlimited studio time so that made it a lot less pressure on all of us and it gave us the opportunity for to be active in the recording process. The final mixing and producing was done by our singer Lizzy and our drummer Joey Scott.
Really, whoís behind the tunes and lyrics? Are we talkiní íbout "team work"?
On this CD, lyrics and the music ideas came from Lizzy. He brought in the ideas; we ripped them apart and put them back together. The outcome is what you hear on the CD.
So, on to the music itself: "Leaning heavily on the decadence and brilliance of 70ís rock icons like Cheap Trick, The New York Dolls and Kiss, and in the same vein as the new school era of rock like Brides of Destruction, The Darkness, Velvet Revolver and The Vines, "If It Ainít Broke, Break It!" is a high octane, stripped down recording that pays homage to the power of Rock", reads a post on the bandís official site. Was the kinda noise you would put out quite obvious, the first time you jammed together? I mean, many bands try to find the "vein" during their very first rehearsals.
We picked inspiration from our favorite CD collections and just let it happen in the studio. When we started working on this, we had not heard of The Darkness, Velvet Revolver or Brides [Of Destruction] yet. It was not until we started mixing the CD when these bands started coming out and getting heavy airplay. I think the timing for our type of music is perfect.
Whereas many newly formed bands try to dig more deep into progressive/complex sounds and rhythms, guys like you with a long-standing experience (individually) stick to the classic raw, "unpolished" in-your-face Rock sound with catchy yet "spirited" melodies, brief solos and average track durations. So, you think itís the "back to our roots" situation?
Each guy in this band has many influences but when it comes down to it, we are all for plugging straight into a Marshall stack and crank it to 10. Personally it feels great not having to worry about nailing harmonic minor scales at 200 miles per hour, itís all about having a ton of fun on stage and being a performer.
Something that just crossed my mind: No ballad is featured in "If It Ainít Broke, Break It!"! How did that happen?
We worked on many different type of songs for this CD. We had a few ballads type songs, we wanted to find the right mix and we ended up going with an up beat high energy rock ní roll album. The ballad will be on the next CD. [Laughs]
Is it true that Asiaís keyboard legend Geoff Downes was a guest musician? How did you come to this cooperation? Though - I must admit - itís two different styles weíre talking about... But, maybe that ainít a disadvantage?
Yes itís true. We were excited when we heard he agreed to do it. Our manager, Adam Parsons is also the manager for Asia. Asiaís music might be different but Geoffís background is straight-ahead 70ís type of music so he knew exactly what we were looking for. Couldnít have worked out better. The guy is an unbelievable musician. I am pretty sure he laid down some keys on a couple of more songs as well, that may appear on our next CD.
Did you have any difficulties trying to "adjust" the roughness of the music to todayís production standards? You know, with all this technology shit it doesnít seem easy sometimes to develop the sound you want, trying both to preserve its Rock íní Roll "origin" but also to "fit" in a more 21st Century sound.
No problems there, we recorded this CD pretty straightforward even though we are using Pro-tools and other modern technology. We didnít over produce it so I definitely think it has the roughness that it deserves for the kind of music we are doing.
Speakiní of witch... Metal Blade Records "hosts" primarily traditional Metal bands or extreme acts. Do you feel thereís "space" for a more-or-less Raw Rock band like Starwood? Are satisfied so far with the labelís support/promotion?
That is true, however, Metal Blade had bands like The Goo Goo Dolls before us. They have Kingís X and it worked out well for them. To me it just shows that they are willing to take chances. I am told the whole staff loves it over there.
Tell me, Marten, were there offers from other labels also? I mean, each one of you carries a "strong" CV!
It was never an issue; Metal Blade Records was our first choice.
So, Marten, tour plans! Are there any? A brief set of U.S. dates has already been announced, what about an extensive tour? Europe or Japan, also? I read several "thumbs-up" critics in several European/Japanese magazines/webzines, so it seems lots of people would like to see the band live!
We would love to take this over to Europe and Japan. Our manager and the record label are looking for touring opportunities as we speak. Itís tuff since we are a brand new band on the scene and there is not a lot of bands that is compatible with the style of music. Keep checking our website because I know there are things in the works.
Really, what should someone expect from Starwood performing live? I can imagine witnessing a 45-year-old father in his "Destroyer"-era Kiss worn T-shirt next to his Velvet Revolver-devotee teenager kid. Starwoodís music seems to "apply" to more than one generation!
I love to see that and we have seen it, in various places around the world. 16-year old kids having our shirts on, itís awesome. These songs were made to play live... they are even stronger live. We have got a great response from every show so far. People are getting into it, singing along. The live show is a ton of fun. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. Get ready for crowd participation!!
Will there be any unreleased songs or cover versions as "fillers" for a more proper set list? I bet the crowd would die to hear a N.Y. Dolls or Ac/Dc classic cut!
You have to come down to find out. There will be surprises. It also depends if we are an opening band on a tour. An opening band usually gets between 35-45 min on stage. That gives us enough time to get up there, play our songs, kick some ass, and get off stage. Like I said, come and check us out, there will be plenty of surprises.
A video clip for the song "Subculture" was "shot" in late 2004. Rather "street"-wise, I should say! Still, how much "airplay" do you think you can gain? Back in the 80s, rock videos used to be a great promoting "tool" but what about now?
Tons of people are downloading it off our site so itís difficult to tell but people are checking it out for sure. It has gotten a great response on places like Yahoo/Lunch. I am told itís getting submitted to places like Headbangerís Ball. We are scheduled to do another video for "All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends" and that video will be getting sent out to everybody we can send it to.
In general, do you consider Starwood to be a "project" or is it a "full-time" band? Many artists come and go into bands/projects these days... Or, does it depend on the whole impression the band will "expose" through e.g. this year?
This is a full-time band. Itís too much fun to not have it any other way.
íNuff said, I guess... Marten, thanks for your spare time! Weíre now looking forward to witness the Starwood energy on stage!
We canít wait to get out and kick some ass on stage. Thank you!!