The Beginning of a New Era - Mike Andersson speaks Out
Swedish Progressive Metal act 'Cloudscape' have been around since 2001 under the name of 'Doctor Weird' but soon changed their name to Cloudscape which suited the bands musical direction. Having released 3 previous album, the bands debut self titled back in 2004, a great debut album which was followed up by 'Crimson Skies' in 2006 another fine album which saw the band play the Prog Power festival in the UK and in 2008 the band played Bloodstock among other festivals for their finest album ( in my opinion) 'Global Drama' a classic album a masterpiece. Now the band return with only Mike Andersson (vocals) and guitarist Patrik Svard been the only survivors of the band. Mike and Patrik is now joined by Daniel Palsson (guitars), Hakan Nyander (bass), Fredrik Joakimsson (drums). With the new line up it was only right to call the new album 'New Era', this album has been picked up by U.S. label Nightmare Records, a great label who specialize in Progressive and Power / Melodic Metal. Over in Europe 'Roasting House'. I managed to have another with with my old friend Mike Andersson about the new album and why Hans, Roger and Bjorn left the band. The new album is great and if you haven't yet discovered the band I suggest you do so. Here is what Mike had to say to the following question.
Hey Mike it's great speaking to you once again, how are you? So let's start by asking you
"Yeah Jase how are you my friend? Been a while since we met but good speak to you. So let's start the interview off by asking you why Hans, Roger & Bjorn left the band?
"Well it's good speaking to you again Jason, and the answer to your question is that the last 4 yrs have been up and down with the band and in 2009 Roger and Hans left the band because of personal circumstances and a few months later Bjorn left the band. It was hard at first to carry on with the band but we were trying to find suitable replacements and we tried different musicians so it was a hard time for us really. We even thought about taking time out from the band for a little while till things got better. (Ed: Are you still friends with Hans, Roger and Bjorn?) Yes we are good friends, there were no bad feeling between us, they did not leave the band because they didn't get on with us, it was just personal issues for them. Bjorn has a new band called 'Warnot' which I do some singing on the album along with other singers on the album. Roger is not doing too much right now, as for Han's he is still playing the bass and he also sings in a band, who are working on a album, it's a little like Cloudscape but no so much Progressive as we are, it sound good though.
But later on we auditioned Fredrik right away and we knew we had the right drummer for the band, we tried 3 different bass players before we ended up with Hakan and when it came to guitar players we went through 4 - 5 guitar players and we did try the guitarist for 'Supreme Majesty' who released some albums for Massacre Records. he was a great guy but we needed somebody who would fit into our music and as a personality too.
Are you happy with the current line-up then? I presume you are?
Oh yes we are, we have found new inspirations and we all feel more relaxed and all the dark days after the departure of the old line up has gone has made us stronger. We are really happy now as we speak. It works in friendship and musically too. (Ed: is the age of the new members younger than you and Patrik?) The band age is similar to Patrik and me really. I think Fredrik is the youngest in the band, he is like 6-7yrs younger than the rest of us."
Looking back at your previous albums which are your favourites and why?
"Well it is hard to pick a favourite album, because all of our albums I am proud of and every albums has it's special place within the bands history. Looking back to the previous albums I would say 'Global Drama' was some kind of special kind of work because we worked differently record and making that album and I think it showed in the finished product."
Would there be anything you would change about any of the previous albums?
"Well we are pretty much all happy with the previous albums but I think maybe the 1st album was a little too much strongly mastered in the mixing process so the dynamics disappear a little bit and if I could re mix the album it would be this album. (Ed: would you ever reconsider re-mastering that album then?) Well it is now out of print and I think you can only get it from Japan or the U.S. and of course we would love to re-release that album and the 2nd one 'Crimson Skies'."
Moving on what found memories do you have of Bloodstock & Prog Power UK when you played the festivals?
"Well meeting you was one of them (Ed: cheers Mike) meeting finally in person and the whole experience of playing Bloodstock and I think playing that festival is one of my favourite performances and we had a really big crowd considering it was like 11am in the morning and the feedback after the show was incredible. I can't fault Bloodstock at all, we would love to play there again next year. Prog Power was also a great experience and I loved the venue there and it was our 1st gig in the UK, we didn't do any other shows around that time in the UK which was a pity."
So lets talk about the new album 'New Era', how long did it take to record the album? Also where was it recorded?
"Well the drums and vocals were recorded in 'Roasting House' studios the same studio were we have recorded our previous albums but the bass and guitars were recorded in different studios but in the end everything is mixed and mastered at Roasting House. I think it took about 2-3 months to record starting in spring 2011 and finished in June/ July 2011. The song writing process took it's time and the lyrics are pretty much wrote by myself which deal about reality and down to earth subjects with some science fiction lyrics like 'Voyager 9' & 'Into The Unknown' & 'Kingdom of Sand'. Most of the lyrics are about human things & relations."
So which songs from this new album are your favourites and why?
"I am proud of all of them albums and songs, with this album it differs from day to day depending on my mood but I like at the moment 'Voyager 9', 'Seen it all Before, , 'Kingdom of Sand' but tomorrow they might be different."
I guess the title speaks for itself? A new band so a 'New Era' is the perfect title right?
"Yes you are right, so when Patrik and myself decided to continue with the band and when we found the new members it felt like a new era and starting up again. It was 4 yrs ago since 'Global Drama' and that was another reason to title the new album 'New Era'. it was the only title we had and everybody in the band loved it."
I still think to this day that 'Global Drama' is a superb album, its just perfect not a bad song on the album. Do you think you will ever beat that album in the future?
"Thanks Jase, I know you like the album. I am very proud of that album and it is a really thought out album and well planned album in a different way if you compare it to the 1st 2 albums. For that album we were looking for the whole package with good dynamics and variations among the songs."
I have noticed Mike that since you recorded 'Global Drama' you have added that Middle eastern music feel to your music, sort of like ambient, why is that? It certainly suits your music.
"Well I have always like the tone of music even if 'Global Drama' might of been the 1st album to introduce it too and when Yngwie played it back in the day I loved it then and other bands. I think it has a mystic feel to it and with songs like 'Cloak & Daggers' and the new album 'Kingdom of Sand' it has the feel to it."
I have noticed that the new album has a darker approach, why is that? The song 'Share your Enemy' has the growling vocals, why was that?
"Well there is no particular reason for that, I got the idea for that with the growls and in the end we asked Peter Wildoer from Darkane who also played on the latest James LaBrie album and he is a good friend of mine. He was very happy to do the growling on that song. Then we have the song 'Your Desire' were I sing the verses pretty brutal and I love to excises my voice and try different approaches. (Ed: Would you be influenced by Black Metal music then?) No I am not, it's not my thing."
The song you were just talking about 'Share your Enemy' was a shock to me, I was not expecting that sort of thing from the band and so it took me a little longer to get into the album.
"That song in particular is not that different but for been Cloudscape it's a little different but mixing the vocals with growls has been done before for about 15 yrs with bands like Soilwork."
Has the album been getting a good response so far from the fans and press?
"Well I have not ready any bad comments about the album and the reviews for the 'New Era' have been overwhelming so far which is really cool."
How do you see this album as a progression from the previous albums? It seems a darker album to me, do you agree?
"Well the way I see it is that it a little bit easier to listen too for a new sound for Cloudscape and the last album 'Global Drama' is more varied and it might be harder songs to swallow kind of speak but the new album has more songs for every one, for the progressive fans, and the metal fans as well."
Looking at the artwork I presume it was done by Mattias Noren at Prog Art, am I correct in saying that? What other ideas did you have for the album besides this one?
"Yes you are, well we gave him to full access to the album and for him to create the imagines he thought would be suitable for the album. He listened too the songs and created some imagines from the songs. We are totally happy with the way the artwork turned out."
Have you ever thought of using Mattias with Travis Smith together for the next album? What would be very interesting.
"Well I don't know Travis work that well but I think it maybe a good idea for the next album, I will mention it to the band and both Travis and Mattias for sure."
Let's move on now as I believe you did one song for the 'Star One' project how did that come about?
"Well I had known Arjen a little bit since we met in Holland in 2005 and we have kept in touch and in 2009 he sent me an email asking if I would like to do vocals on a song which appeared on the bonus CD, he sent me 2 songs to which I could choose the song that suited my vocals and it was a real honor working with him and I hope I get the chance to work with him again in the future. I would love to do the next Star One album for sure!!"
So lets talk about the Full Force band, how do you compare the music of theirs to Cloudscape? Is there any similarities?
"Well in my songs you can hear the way I sing and I do bring some Cloudscape to Full Force but at the end of the day Full Force is straight ahead metal with strong hooks."
For those people who don't know who is in the band could you please tell me. Are you happy with the results of the new album?
"Yeah we have Anders Johansson from Hammerfall on drums, Stefan Elmgren (ex Hammerfall) on guitar, Tommy Larsson (ex Heed) on bass, Stefan Rosqvist (guitars), and myself. Oh yeah I am really happy with the new Full Force CD."
So when will we see either Cloudscape or Full Force touring?
"Well if Cloudscape we are sorting out some festivals for 2013 but with Full Force we have different booking agents and I am sure things will happen there too very soon. (Ed: Do you have any plans to return to the UK soon?) Well we really hope so but we have nothing planned yet. We would love to support Kamelot or Symphony X.
What labels are you signed to for Cloudscape in Europe?
"As you know we are signed to Nightmare Records in the U.S. and in Europe it's Roasting House Records and our distribution is Sound Pollution."
I don't understand why the bigger labels like AFM, Inside Out haven't approached you, why is that?
"Well we have approached them but it was the wrong timing and stuff like that, so it's all about timing really."
I guess you have been getting some awesome reviews? Besides mine been totally shit haha!!
"Yes I didn't think your review was shit haha only joking it and many more were awesome we haven't had any bad reviews so far yet. I know you love the last album so I was pleased that you like the new one too."
How did you hook up with Lance at Nightmare records?
"Well when we had released our 1st album I had heard rumors that he really liked it and so I contacted him after the release of 'Crimson Skies' and he was interested in working with the band. Everything with Lance is going great!!"
You recently did a video for the song 'Your Desire' are you happy with the way it turned out?
"Oh yes we are, it turned out really well and I think the fans like it too."
Do you also feel the timing is right for the band to release a live DVD?
"Well we have hopes but there are no plans to this day."
Well thanks my friend for doing the interview, best of luck in the future and please stay in touch. Do you have anything to say too your fans?
"Yes thanks for your support, we hope you like the new album and we hope to tour soon. Great speaking to you again Jason, take care."