Is This A Global Warning? Mike Andersson Speaks Out!!
Sweden is well known for its excellent quality Metal music, with the likes of some awesome musician's both in guitarist, vocalist and drummers, these guys really have what it makes to create perfect music. With the likes of melodic bands such as Europe, Treat, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tad Morose, and the hard edge bands such as Candlemass, Dream Evil, At The Gates and so on... there is no wonder why Sweden is 1 of the greatest countries for Metal music, along side Germany, U.S.A. and of course the UK. Not to forget other fine countries who also create some fine Metal music. Cloudscape on the other hand, are a new bread of Swedish Metal, who have released 3 albums to date. With the line up been: Mike Andersson (vocals), Bjorn Eliasson (guitar), Patrik Svard (guitar), Haynes Pherson (bass) and drummer Roger Landin. these 5 guys are awesome musicians that create some incredible music, that is full of energy and passion. The band have released the following albums: Self Titled in 2004, 'Crimson Skies' in 2005 and their current new album 'Global Drama' in 2008. Each album flows with extreme passion and love for each song, and their new album to me is the finest Progressive Metal album of 2008. If you like the likes of Whitesnake, Fates Warning, Yngwie Malmsteen, Queensryche, just to name a few then you get a perfect band in the name of Cloudscape. I caught up with the guys at this years Bloodstock festival here in the UK to chat with front man Mike Andersson about the new album and the history of the band. So sit back and enjoy the interview, but remember this is a global warning to all!!
Mike it's a pleasure to meet you again, the finest time was Prog Power UK, great show that years but a short 1. Now you're back to the UK shores and playing the Bloodstock festival. So let's start by asking you about the formation of the band. When did you form and who formed the band?
"Well Jason, its nice to meet you. We formed the band back in 2001 by all the members really. We started writing songs in 2001 up until 2003 and in 2004 we got a management agreement with Roasting House and we went into the studio to record our debut album. It was later on released in Japan by Marquee/ Avalon and Metal heaven in Europe."
How did you all meet up then Mike, was it through collage or music ads?
"We all met up pretty at school. Where we live is not really that big of a place. We have placed in various other bands and in 2001 we all got together to form Cloudscape. We have been old friends for many years."
What band was you in before Cloudscape?
"I was not in any official bands to be honest. I was in a couple of local bands and one called 'Crustailier' and I had a band going with the 'Darkane' members. One of them was also in 'Majestic', who released some albums on Massacre records. We started a band called 'Samonus' in 1987/88 but we never got any kind of record deals and we sounded like shit haha!! It was a fun memory."
So who are Cloudscape's influences and how do they reflect within the music you are creating?
"Well my main influences are: Yes, Kansas, Rush, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dream Theater, but I never write songs to sound like the bands I enjoy listening too. As for the UK bands from the 80's I like: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, are my main influences. I also like different styles of music, like Soul, Funk and the 70's disc music and Classical music."
Classical Music is a very big thing in Scandinavia isn't it and it seems to jell well with Metal Music.
"I think Yngwie has a lot to do with that, he brought out a lot of Classic music and combined it into Metal/ Rock music. I think that Sweden is not very far from Germany and I also think that a lot of classical master pieces come from Germany like Beethoven."
It's strange because the German bands don't sound classical, whereas you guys do!!
"I know, its very strange but I don't have the answers the that (laughing)."
Moving on, who are you're vocal influences as a singer?
"Well it would have to be David Coverdale (Whitesnake), the original singer for ToTo, and newer singers I like Russell Allan (Symphony X), Jorn Lande."
Just how many demos did Cloudscape record before the debut album?
"I think we only recorded 4-5 songs in total. We recorded the songs in our home studio and sent them out to various record labels but we were not so lucky enough to find a label. Then we signed a management agreement with 'Roasting House', who had daily contacts with lots of record labels all over the world. Thank's to them we found some good labels to promote the band."
So why did you decide to have the name 'Cloudscape' for the band? What other names did you have in mind?
"I think that name 'Cloudscape' fits the style of our music and it is not rain but a nice formation of of sun and cloud. I think it is also a dark name for the band and Roger our drummer came up with about 50 band names. So we had a meeting within the band and we tried to choose the perfect band name. I managed to get it down to about 10 names and it became more difficult to choose the right name. We decided to send the names to our manager to decide what name was the best for the band. We decided on 'Cloudscape'."
Lets talk about the debut album, why did you decide to self title the album and does the art work reflect with the music?
"Yes I do feel that the artwork does reflect within the bands name. It is very purple in look and I think our artwork by Mattias Noren (Prog Art) does a really good job. I think we give him some ideas and he creates images from what we have told him. So he made the 1st one purple in colour and the 2nd one with red colour's and the new album was just done on the basis of our album title. He is a great artist. He listened to the pre-production of the new album to give him some ideas for the album cover. So in the end he did a global cover with the planet earth and lots of strange things going on."
I really do think you're debut album was an impressive release, lots of good melodies, vocal harmonies and some great tunes. Do you feel it was hard to make a 2nd album equally as good?
"Well you always try to make a better album that you did with the 1st or the album before. To us, our new album is the best one, but when we record the next one I am sure that will be our best album. I really don't see the point in doing a new album if you think the last 1 was the best. So we always try to take a step forward by making a better album than we did with the last one. It's about bettering yourself with each album you release, and we try to find out new thing about improving our self's with every new album we create. Each album has a different mood swing but still managing to keep the same kind of melodies. Our new album 'Global Drama' is quiet different from our previous album because there are more Heavy Metal songs, and more darker but it's still Cloudscape. There are also more songs which are more Progressive and more atmospheric."
Are there any songs from the debut album that you particularly like and why? Any that you don't really like either?
"Well we are proud of all our album really. I really do like 'Under Fire' as a personal favourite and the crowd just love that song. I really can't say dislike any of the songs from that album. As a debut album I think it sold rather well, I think the labels were ok with us been a debut band for their labels. None of us had any experience within the music business, but our albums did increase with each album we recorded."
Do you think you were promoted enough for you're debut album? Do you feel the label did enough for you?
"I think the publicity was ok, and we now have a new label for the new album and new distributors helping the band which is a added bonus. I think we have a bright future ahead."
Moving on Mike, lets talk about the 'Crimson Skies' album. How do you see that album as a progression from the debut album?
"I think there is a lot more of a progression with this album. I think we found our own sound for that album and I think it is a little bit more melodic but still a little bit more darker than the debut album. it is an extension of the debut but in a better way I think. Now we have taken a step further with the new album, to a new level."
With most debut albums the songs are mainly demo material released to the public. Do you think the 2nd album is more rooted towards you're own sound? Meaning you have finally found our own identity?
"Yeah I totally agree. There were 3-4 songs which I wrote for other local bands and before we even decided to find our own style we were not sure if we wanted to use those songs. I don't think the songs on the debut were that unique, but the songs on the 'Crimson Skies' are more unique and the new album is even more unique."
What was the reason why you left 'Heaven Metal Heaven' records?
"Well it was more or less left because our contract was over and they wanted to create a new one, but we got offers from other labels so we singed to a new label in Germany called 'ZYX' and 'Golden Core'."
Are you happy with the way they are looking after the band right now?
"Yes we are totally happy with the way they are looking after the band and the music. We are still curious to how the label is marketing any band and us and they also have a better distribution company around the world. I hope we have a bright future with the label."
The new album is titled 'Global Drama', why the title? Is it anything to do with the way our planet is slowly been destroyed?
"Yeah pretty much so, with the global warming, wars, pollution, and we are not a political band but still we don't close our eyes. The songs on the new album are very varied. Some songs are very dramatic, including the lyrics and there were many reasons for choosing that title for the record. I came up with the title for the album and I wrote down a few suggestions and showed them to the band . We had to choose the title 'Global Drama'. The album cover certainly does reflect the title of the album."
Where was the album recorded and by whom? Also are you happy with the way it has turned out?
"It was recorded at 'Roasting House' studios were we did our previous albums and the producer was Pontus Lindmark who has worked with Jorn Lande and a few others. Yes we are totally happy with the way it has turned out."
How writes the music ands lyrics within the band? Is it done as a team effort?
"Well lets say I write 65% of the lyrics and Bjorn write the rest. I am writing some of the lyrics and Roger is writing some of the lyrics and Patrik and Bjorn is too. I started writing songs for this album just 2 weeks after we finished recording the 'Crimson Skies' CD. I think it has taken about 1 and a half years to write. We just compose songs as soon as we have ideas, the only difference with the composure wise is, I am now more emotionally involved in the song writing and more planned towards any album. There are 12 songs on the new album and we have filmed a video for the song 'Cloak & Daggers'. There's a song called 'One Silent Moment' features bagpipes, which we felt we wanted to ad because we wanted a Scottish feel to the song. I played the Bagpipes on the keyboard and then our producer found a guy from Demark who is 17 yrs old who then recorded the bagpipes for the album and we took of the keyboard imitations."
I believe everything so going extremely well for the band right now? Also how important is it for you to be playing the Bloodstock festival? This isn't the 1st time you have played the UK, the Prog Power UK last year was you 1st show in 2007. How does it feel to be back, but playing outdoors for a change?
"Yeah it is, things are going going really well for the band. Yes this is our 2d time here, the Prog Power was great for us and gave us the opportunity to show the UK audience what we are about and to be playing such a cool Prog Metal festival was a added bonus. As for Bloodstock, it's a great festival, everybody is nice to us and the kids seem to like our music. We played at 11am in the morning and after the 2nd song the kids really got into our music, so it made us feel a whole lot better."
I noticed that you play keyboard samples live on stage, don't you think it might be better to have a hired keyboard player?
"Well we have been asked this before, you see 5 of us are so close friends so we don't feel like we could invite a new member to the band. We don't use keyboards to play solos but only to keep the atmosphere when we play live. We are a guitar based melodic Metal band."
What's the future plans for the band, besides recording future albums? Are there any more festivals this year planned?
"Well we don't have any tours planned right now, we would love to hit the road and play some live shows. We have enough songs now to play a long set, maybe as headliners and co-headliners."
Have you been approached to play the Prog-Power U.S. yet?
"Well we have been approached but nothing is for sure yet. We did play the Swedish Prog Power festival this year. The organizer for the Prog-Power U.S. is certainly interested in us, its just a matter of time and waiting really."
Do you have any plans to release a live DVD with home footage etc...?
"Well we have some bonus material and we are filming everything we are doing, including this interview right now Jase. We have some footage from the Prog-Power UK from last year with interviews etc... We don't have any live footage yet that we feel is suitable, but we are working on it."
If you had the chance to come back to the UK, who would you like to tour with?
"I think it would have to be a band that suits our music, maybe Symphony X, Dragon Force, Pagans Mind, as long as its a band that we can share the stage with and interact with the fans that would be so great!!"
Moving on Mike, I have noticed that you have recorded some solo project, please tell me more about those.
"I did the 'Planet Alliance' with Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe), Bobby Daisley (ex Ozzy Sabbath), Anders Johansson (ex Yngwie, now with Hammerfall) on drums, and it was a great project. We have talked about doing a 2nd album in the very near future. It all boils down to what labels are interested in releasing it. I also sing in the band called 'Silent Memorial', and they sound like Dream Theater, and very good songs, there from Switzerland. The album will be released in late 2008."
Well Mike it's be a great honor to finally interview you and talk about Cloudscape, do you have anything to say before we finish off the interview?
"Yeah keep on reading and supporting Jason's website, it's really cool and he totally supports real Metal music. To our fans, thanx for your support, we appreciate their support and we really hope you enjoy our music."
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