Revenge of the Black Smith - Interview with Bobby Holmberg Speaks Out
One of Sweden's best kept secrets are about to releases their long awaited new album for 2009 entitled 'The Metal Machines', which I have heard some samples which my good friend Bobby played me, and I tell you folks they fucking rock!! Black Smith were formed back in 1980's when they released their debut release titled 'Gypsy Queen' in 1985, which was soon followed by 'Tomorrows Mystery' in 1986 and later on with 'World Victim' in 887. As I have not heard these releases, I really can't judge them but I first discovered the band when they released 'Once Upon A Star' through Massacre records, and that album blow me away. Much so I had to interview Bobby when I was doing the Fanzine. Now I have the pleasure of catching Bobby almost 9yrs later to find out why they broke up and to what the future hold for the band. 'The Metal Machines' is going to be one hell of a great album for 2009, and Bobby tells me more. So sit back and enjoy the Metal Machine as he tells me more!!
OK Bobby, thanx for calling me, it's been a long time since we last spoke. so I better ask you how much of a success was the 'Once Upon A Star' album for the band?
"Yes it has been a long
time Jason since we last spoke, 8 years ago - damn!! Well the last album
was a success for the band indeed in so many way expect for the paper work with
the record company. The music and the creating of the music was a great success
and we gained a lot of respect especially here in Sweden and we were really
happy about that."
You had some problems with your old label Massacre records, what happened?
"Yes we were on Massacre and I guess we never got all the paper work done and they tried to hold off the sales figures from us and so and we know the label sold really well down in Spain. We were changing managers in the later 90's and and we had pretty good right to our contract etc.. and Per and myself left everything in the hands of this manger we had back then who we thought was taking care of our interests. As soon as you let the grip go a little bit that is when things tend to go wrong with snakes out there and that is why we had a bit of bad luck back then. At the same time we have learnt from this past fuck up and so we learnt a really good lesson from this."
It has been 8-9 years since the 'Once Upon A Star' album was released, why has it taken you so long to get this new forthcoming album out, 'The Metal Machines'?
"Well that happened was, we were playing on releasing our old stuff with a Japanese label which was JVC/ Victor and a big publishing deal with the Japanese magazine 'Burrrn', which was the original plan & and as we started to record the album it sounded better and better and a bunch of people in Europe wanted to have it released as well, which was the 'Once Upon A Star' and the previous albums. So we decided to chance the plans and Per and my self 1st purpose was to put the band back together or a band together. So in the end it turned into something else which was good, with the band luck with our old management and the paper work which is so important and if you had a good product you must get paid for it. I lost so much money that I had to sell all of my guitars, and everything!! I think I lost about £50.000-70.000. My regular job couldn't help me out as the damaged was already done and the whole band went through a crisis and we all went different ways. What we should of done was together to play live as we can kick everybody's ass on stage. We are much stronger live now then we were back then. Per got married, and me leaving Stockholm and moving back to our old head quarters in Sweden made a couple of years pass. We have had a bunch of lawyers sorting out all the bull shit that needed to be sorted out with Massacre records. We are finally free from Massacre records contract, which took us so long to get out off, that was another reason why we have taken so long to release a new album. We did not want to release another album with them because they did a bad job and we had no choice but to wait all this time before we could even think about starting to record a new album. We also did not want them to have this new album because of the way things turned out, so we waited until now!! We knew the sales figures were much higher than the label told us. We also felt that our new album was the strongest album we have recorded and I tell you Jase, it's going kick some serious ass!!"
Did you ever have any material wrote for say 1-2 albums in the period that it has taken you to get out of the Massacre contract?
"Yeah, we had about 1-2 albums worth of material within the period of 8yrs gap. We had new songs coming at us from the left to the right and 2000 we had the next album already finished in writing but we had not recorded any of it, the next step forward.... We actually had all the songs recorded as demo, but we are going to keep some of them for the new album just re-record them, and were keeping about 6 songs for the new album. We also have the material that we have written recently in the last couple of years which will also be added to the new album."
What will you do with the old songs that you will not use Bobby?
"Well, might use them in the near future, we will see about that. Per and myself are well developed for each other when it comes to writing songs. We can pick up a guitar and jam were we will find a new song or develop an old song or riff. The most important thing for us is, to have a red thread and honour the real metal or fake it like so many other bands do, we want to make it real with screaming vocals and shredding guitars."
So what's the bands current line-up these days?
"It is still the same line-up and the 'Once Upon A Star' album. The new album which will be out in 2009 has some serious drum sounds I tell you man!! Big drum sound and we hooked up with the guitarist from Meshuggah, called Fredrik who had a new project and he had a drum sample library and we used some of his stuff on the album for 'Once Upon A Star', there all sampled drums. They started a company called 'Tune Track', which is has a product called 'A drum kit from hell' or 'ez drummer', which are one of the biggest names in the world."
Since the last album what have the band members been doing before you decided to record the new album?
"Well our bass player Phil went to college and is now a scientist, so he does research on the welfare of the woods, fields etc... the environment. As for Lars, he left the band and in 2000 as he didn't feel like he had a central roll within the band. He is one of the best sound technicians in the world. He has done the sound for bands like Meshuggah, Pain, Hypocrisy, In Flames, and many other bands with Europe and the U.S. and festivals. He is a live sound engineer and he is a great guitar player. Playing keyboards in Blacksmith was not the key roll for me, so that is why he left the band."
Ok moving on now... were here to talk about the forthcoming new album 'The Metal Machines', so why the title? Where there any other titles for the album too?
"We chose the title because of the title track. Per and myself wrote that song to honour the Judas Priest song 'Painkiller', but we wanted to screw up the tempo and turn up the heat. It's a little bit faster, and different and Judas Priest fans will love this song. We have a studio here now called 'Crime Lab' which is 4-5 miles away from the Saab air force base and it is really loud at times with the jet fighter flying over. I guess the title for the album just came out of nowhere, as you could hear them every time we took a break. It was the only title we had for the album is was just the perfect name!!"
So what's the artwork like for the new album?
"Well we are waiting to do the final recording for the album and in summer a lot of good things are going to happen with the artwork, promotion. For the front cover we are going to have a beautiful woman in front of the blacksmith, were she will be holding the hammer smashing one of my guitars. She is so beautiful her name is Elin, she is a page 3 girl over here in Sweden and glamour model and she will be wearing very little on the cover haha!! When people first see the cover they will go and buy it and then wank lol!! She will also be transforming, one of her legs will be kind of like 'The Terminator', a cyborg. We also wanted to illustrate something very Swedish with the Vikings, the swords etc...but very metallic."
So what are some the songs called on the forthcoming album?
"Well we have some titles such as 'Collector', that song is about a guy who collects war trophies and is a typical metal song. 'Don't Dream Evil', which is a ballad and is kind of a James Bond type of theme with very dark vocals. other songs are 'The Devils Crossroads', it is a blue type song with is de-tuned, kind of a blend of Zack Wyld and Judas Priest and Accept. Other titles are: 'Playground Of Our Youth', and the demo title for that song was called 'Teenage Wasteland' and I wrote the idea about kids these days been into drugs, fast cars and been close to death all the time and I found a site called mydeathspace, which is really freaky and it is a site for people who were on myspace but have died, kids dying at a young age and you could see the day they were logged in the day before they died. Its not a sick site, its all done with taste. I mentioned this to per and he hated the title 'Teenage Wasteland', which the Who had a song called the same. So we re-wrote the the lyrics and re-recorded the song and it has turned out to be a great song. Another song is 'Today is A Good Day To Die', and it is not as gloomy as it sounds. We wrote that song in honour to the Indian warriors of the U.S., who went out early when the sun had risen and they looked up to the skies and if they thought they were not ready to die then they would not win the battle. In other words if you can't give 100% then you shouldn't do it. Next is 'Eye Of The Storm', which is a big song with heavy riffs and we wanted to work with a lot of arrangements with the big drums and heavy bass and we gave Per some space. Next 'Man Or Machine', which poses the question to were does humanity go from here? Do the machine take over with the computers etc... Next is 'All The Way To The Sun', which is a up-tempo song and that song is very modern and is a little bit like Judas Priest's 'Screaming For....' and we also have a song called 'Scream' and Per usually sings the highest when he is either drunk or hung over. When we laid the vocals for the title track Per and the band got drunk the night before and we got really shit faced lol!! So next day we got up early to record the song and Per did his bit and it sounds fucking awesome!! We have a foundation for the songs now and some other songs that we will chose which will be suitable for the new album. In total we have 10 songs and we might ad another 4 to that."
Where is the album recorded and the songs you have played me are they the official finished songs?
"Yeah the album is recorded in my own studio and the songs are the foundations for the basis and some of the songs have final vocals but are not mixed. When we record we might do 4-5 takes on the vocals on certain parts and we will take an exert to listen too and make a choice on the right vocals. The big guitar work is about to start now and I have to find the right guitar sound first. I am going to spend about 2 weeks laying down the guitar parts and then we will continue doing the vocals and the drums."
So when do you expect to have the album released?
"I hope to have it done and released in early 2009. We want to re-release the old albums and re-mastered them before the new album comes out. They are 'Gypsy Queen', 'Once Upon A Star', 'Tomorrows Mystery'. Our manager is trying to get us a good distribution for those albums before we release the new album."
What labels are you looking at for a deal for the new album?
"Well we have been taking it easy but I have been speaking to some Swedish labels here about releasing the new album, who have international offices. We have a promotional package which should be coming together soon. We will get a better deal this time around that's for sure!! We want to make sure that the label supports us with advertising and gets out on the road and sets up interviews for the band."
Is the album a darker and more aggressive to that of our previous albums? Also will there be a promo video?
"Yes it is, it's a mix of both as we like to write songs which have a wider spectrum and it will be dark with a positive note! We do hope to release a promo video for this album. We have a good feeling about this album, especially in the U.S. as we have a big fan base out there. We get a lot of phone calls and mail from people in the music business over there. (ED: I thought that Europe and Japan would of been a bigger market?) Per and myself write most of stuff, we write not only for the die hard metal heads but we have found out that a lot of women like our music too and we can take any of our songs and play it just on the guitar and vocals and make it work."
Will there be a live DVD in the works?
"We do have some live footage from previous shows, and when we have time we will try and get something together for the near future. We have to get the albums out 1st, that's important to us."
So what are your future plans as a band?
"Well our future goal is to have the album released in 2009, and I hope to tour Europe and the UK too. We don't plan on making the next album 8yrs after, as we want to record a new album maybe in 2010."
Well Bobby, it was great talking to you once again, do you have anything to say to your long awaited for this new album? I want to wish you all the best for 2009 and the future, let's hope that Blacksmith will reign in 2009!!"
"Yeah, thanx for the interview Jase, it's been a long time brother!! I am sure we will meet sometime in the near future at long last. To our fans, thanks so much for your support and for keeping the flame of the band alive. I hope that you will all enjoy 'The Metal Machines' when it is released. Stay METAL!!!"
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