Interview with Gus G & Snowy Shaw

“Dream Evil are a newly formed band which was formed by ex King Diamond drummer Snowy Shaw, producer Fredrik Nordstom, Gus G, Peter Stalfors & Niklas Istfeldt. The band recently released their 2nd album in such a short time for Century Media Record’s titled ‘Evilized’ which is a great follow up to their debut ‘Dragon Slayer’. For those who don’t know the band’s style of music, well if you’re a fan of bands such as Riot ‘Thundersteel’ among other Power Metal acts then I’m sure you’ll like this band. Here is what guitarist Gus G had to say to the following questions, in the meantime check out the bands music, I’m sure you’ll like it. The interview has been updated recently with Snowy Shaw answering questions abiut the forthcoming album, thanx Snowy. Also visit the bands website - see my linx."

OK Gus, my first question is what made Fredrik want to become a producer?”

“I really do not know, I think it was all down to the fact that we started work like most people on a 4 track. It later on went to a 8 track and so on… He recorded a band called Ceremonial Oath’ and later on ‘At The Gates’ came to his studio and one thing lead to another. In the mid to late 90’s he was a very busy producing and he recorded the debut ‘Hammerfall’ album. He also plays with bands and he is always busy and when we met we talked about doing this band and now the timing was right to put it together. I do not know if he will produce the next Dream Evil album, because he was very nervous about recording the debut album. It is hard for him when he recorded such albums like Dimmu Borgir albums etc.. We think he did a great job in the end.”

“So what came first for Fredrik, his guitar playing or producing?”

“Well I met him in 99 in Greece and he told me that we wanted to be the guitarist in the band, so I took a trip to Sweden to meet him to talk about it. In the beginning we talked about it but we really did not think it would come off. So when we decided to record the album Frerik said he would do it because we could not find a suitable producer for the album.”

“What band was you in before you formed ‘Dream Evil’?”

“Well I was in 2 bands actually, one of them is called ‘Mystical Prophecy’ which is Power Metal. We released an album on B-Mind Records. I also have my own band called ‘Firewind’, which is more guitar hero stuff, it’s melodic metal and I write all the music. The album is released on Massacre Records & Leviathan Records. Fredrik was on vocation in Greece when I met him and he was producing an album by a Greek band, who later broke up. I knew the Greek band and so I was introduced to Fredrik.”

“So what year did ‘Dream Evil’ actually start up?”

“Well it took a while because Fredrik & I wrote 4 songs in the beginning and we had some friends helping us out with the drums etc… We did 2 demos, and the first one had songs like: Heavy Metal In The Night, The Prophecy and a couple more I don’t remember. We formed in early 2000.”

"Were the songs on the demos different to that on the debut album? If so in what way?”

“Yeah I guess they were, and the ballad ‘Losing You’ sounded totally different on the demo. We also had different musicians on each demo so I guess that is why the songs came out different. Later on Fredrik called up Niklas Istfeldt, who did the backing vocals for the 1st 2 Hammerfall albums and asked him if he wanted to sing on the album. He seemed interested and agreed to give it ago.”

“Where did you find the rest of the line-up for the band?”

“Well Niklas was playing in some cover bands in Sweden with our bass player Peter and Niklas brought Peter into the band. They were playing 70 & 80’s Rock & Metal songs. Fredrik had met Snowy a long time ago and we really need a great drummer, so snowy was the ideal drummer we wanted in the band. Snowy agreed to give it ago and he likes what he is doing.”

“What did you think of Snowy’s old work with King Diamond?”

“Well to be honest I was really into ‘King Diamond’s” music that much, although Snowy is a great drummer. I much prefer ‘Notra Damn’, Snowy’s other band on Osmose Records, their strange.”

“So when did you record the debut album?”

“We actually recorded it in March 2001 and the reason why it took so long to be released was because we were looking for the right label who would promote the band properly.”

“Who came up with the bands name and what other names did you have in mind?”

“Well in the beginning we were called ‘Dragonheart”, but there seemed to be so many bands with ‘Heart’ in their names, so we decided to change it. Our label Century Media came up with the name ‘Dream Slayer’, but we did not want that for the bands name, we were saving that for the title of the album. It was strange because we were listening to this Dio album and the song "Dream Evil” seemed like a good name for the band, so we found the perfect name for the band.”

“So who are the bands influences and how do they reflect in your music?”

“We all have different influences as there are 5 of us, Peter likes a lot of ‘Queensryche’, I like a lot of ‘The Scorpions’ & ‘Yngwie Malmsteen’. Fredrik is into ‘Thin Lizzy’, ‘Accept’, we all like the 80’s metal like Priest etc… I do think they reflect in our music in one way or another, as you may hear.”

“Ok Gus, let’s talk about the artwork for the debut album & also the title, were there any other names for this album?”

“No this was the title for of the album right after we heard the Dio album’s. I guess we could of called the album ‘Dream Evil’ if we were called ‘Dragon Slayer’ (laughing). Alex Herman did the art work from Germany and he has done covers for ‘Iced Earth’, ‘In Flames’, ‘Sodom’ etc… We are very happy with the way the album cover turned out. I think it is a brutal album cover and some people think it is a Black Metal cover, which is not—ha!!”

“What do you think to artist’s like Travis Smith, would you ever use him in the future?”

“I really like his work, he is a great artist. I do not think his work would suit our style of music at all, but still I have a lot of respect for him.”

“How long did it take to record the album?”

“It took about 2 and half months to record in 2001 and we are very happy with the way it turned out.”

“What do you think about musicians been producers? Do you think they should stick to been a musician or produce as well?”

“I really don’t know, I do not think many bands produce their own albums. It is very difficult for a musician to record an album he is in, sometimes it can do harm for the band, on the other hand it can also do some good. It all depends on the musician if he feels confident or not.”

“Are the songs wrote as a team effort of as separate musicians?”

“Well Fredrik and myself started to write the songs in the beginning, we wrote 4 songs & when the rest of the guys came in we did the rest. Well all write the music and lyrics together now.”

“Do you feel that it is better because you all work as a team?”

“Of course I do!! It takes a lot of strain off just one person. There are no Ego’s within the band.”

“So what are the songs about on the debut album?”

“Did you know this is a concept album? (ED: No!! I have a promo copy of the album) So you will not know the whole story then Jase? It is a story based upon a king and a dragon, and the king is wounded by the dragon and he falls into eternal sleep, so he find his best warrior to find the dragon and to slay him and bring back the dragons heart so that the king will become strong and better again. It’s a typical epic story.”

“Are there any songs on the album you like & dislike and why?”

“I don’t think there are any songs that I do not like on the debut album, I think one of my favourites is ‘Kingdom Of The Damned’. I do not have any least favourites on this record.”

“Are you happy with your label so far?”

“Yeah so far they have been very supportive towards us.”

“OK Gus, how well did the debut album sell for the band? Also did the label promote you enough?”

"Dragon slayer sold very good for a debut. I’m not sure of the numbers exactly though. I think CMR did a good promotion and marketing job.”

“Did that album see the band tour much to promote it? Did you play another other festivals besides the Swedish festival with Halford? I bet that was fucking awesome for you? Did you meet any members of Halford? Also who else played on that bill? Also who did you play with if you toured on your own?”

“We also did Wacken Open Air and a few other Swedish festivals. Sweden Rock was a very cool festival to play! We didn’t meet any people from Halford, but it doesn’t matter. We had a great time. We also did a headline tour in Japan last October. We just finished our first European tour with Hammerfall and Masterplan for our “Evilized” album.”

“Did the album receive good press reviews?”

“Yes, we got rave reviews worldwide!”

“What songs stood out for you on the debut and why?”

“It seems like songs like Chasing the Dragon, Chosen Ones, The Prophecy and Heavy Metal in the Night were especially loved by the public.”

“So what did you all do after a tour and the album was finished? Did you record anything for Firewind 2nd album or Mystic Prophecy?”

“I’m currently working on the 2nd Firewind which should be released sometime this Autumn. Mystic prophecy has been searching for a new record deal. We finally signed with Nuclear Blast and our second album will be out June 16th.”

“Earlier on in the interview we did on the phone you said that the debut album was recorded in march 2001, how long was it before you wrote songs for the 2nd album?”

“We started making songs from the summer 2002 and after.”

“Where did you record the 2nd album and were you happy with the end results?”

“We recorded at Fredrik’s own studio, Studio Fredman. Yes, we are very happy with the results, Fredrik is a very good engineer. He also did a great mixing job.”

“Why the title and cover for this album? Did you have any other titles & covers in mind for this new album?”

“I came up with the title “Evilized” and we already had a couple of songs that were about evil dreams and so on. In the beginning we had an idea to name the album “The book of Heavy metal” but I guess we’ll save that idea for the future.”

“Is the album selling well? What have the press said about it?”

“I think the album’s selling much more than Dragonslayer right now. We entered the Swedish charts at Nu. 55! Both press and fans seem to love Evilized so far.”

“What are the songs about and which ones do you like and dislike and why?”

“I like all of the songs in the album. This time our lyrics are more realistic and not fantasy stories like on the first one. I will not go into describing each song separately cause it’s better if the people interpret the lyrics the way they want.”

“How do you compare this from the debut in the song structures and lyrics?”

“I think we learned how to arrange songs better and we learned more about musical direction,etc. However, the music isn’t changed that much. It’s the same style that we played on the debut.”

“Do you plan on recording any tribute songs for the future? If so who which tribute albums?”

“No plans for that as of now.”

“You are on or have just come off tour, how was it and who did you play with?”

“We toured with Hammerfall and Masterplan. It was a great experience and a very succesful tour! Every night was sold out!!!”

“Are C. Media supporting the band the way you expect to be treated?”

“Yes, no big complains so far.”

Do you have any new songs for the 3rd album already wrote, if so what are they called?”

“We have a lot of music written in general and we did a lot of songs while being on tour. But we don’t have any titles yet. I think we have a song called “Samla Bajs” which is a Swedish working title and in English it means “collecting shit” I think………!!!!!!!”

"OK Snowy, could you tell me why you decided to call the new album 'Book Of HM', it's a well chessey title but like you & I we are true Metalheads. The title totally sums up the 80's dont you agree? What other cheesey titles did you have, maybe 'The Gospel According To Dream Evil' not Spinal Tap hehe!! The music also reflects with the 80's like bands like Accept, Priest, Saxon, Dio, among others do you agree this album has all those influnces?

(S) "Definitely, add also a great deal of Scorpions and Manowar.. Regarding the title, It´s like an manual in the fine art form called heavy metal. All the clichés are there, that is what Dream evil is all about."

"So does the title reflect in the music, if so in what way? What inspired you to write songs like this, what bands were the band listening too from the 80's to make such a classic 80's sounding album?"

S) "All those you mentioned and then some. We all grew up with this kind of music in the 80s, except Gus who was born in 1980, but has done a great deal of catching up.

"I have noticed that this album is less Power Metal, do you agree and if so why did you decide to make the songs less powerful in the Power Metal form and more powerful in the Heavy Metal form?"

(S) "What is power metal anyway? I think Pantera called their music power metal when they first came and they sound nothing like Hammerfall, Stratovarious and those bands that I have hardly heard myself. I think our label finds it  easier to sell it to the masses if you put a tag on it saying it´s either this or that that happens to be in fashion for the moment. To my ears it has always sounded like old school poodle metal with dungeons and dragons type of lyrics."

"Could you tell me what the cover concept is and who did the artwork? What other covers did you have in mind and are you happy with the way the cover turned out?"

(S) "Don't you have a promo copy? It looks like that, the front cover. This time around the digipack and the booklet looks fucking awesome, with lots of cool footage from the incredible video, that Patric Ullaeus directed. I started out doing the artwork, hammering the letters into a metal plate and so on. All of us liked it but Century media insisted on using their own graphic guy…probably since he´s on the payroll anyways he he. The front cover is so and so but I can honestly say that this time the rest of the layout looks super fucking cool.  So check it out"

This is a total fistbang mania album with just chunky guitar riffs and pounding drums ( love it!!), was it Fredrik who produced it and are you happy with the way it turned out?"

(S)"I don´t know how to say this or even if I should, but I prefer listening to the rough demo rather than the final mix.  I wrote 27 songs for this album and have put down so much effort in the making that of course great expectations comes with that, but things rarely lives up to those expectations do they. Yeah, Fredrik produced and mixed it."

"How long did it take to record and are there any special guest's on the album if so who? If you did not have any special guests who would you have liked to have on this album and why?"

(S)"We  requested Nigel Tufner but couldn´t track him down, then Benny Hill, but he wasn´t available… I think he´s dead. Well, we spent two months in the studio maybe, the previous album was done in two and a half weeks in total.  We had lots of guests on this album, Mats Olausson – the keyboard virtuose ended up playing on seven songs. Metal Mike  from Halford and Painmuseum delivered a good metal solo, and the mysterious wizkid Råberra Axelsson did an awesome solo. Moreover Andy -Ozzy sound-a-like from the new Swedish band Hellfueled and Stefan Elmgren from Hammerfall appeared, and last but certainly not least James Onedin on saxophone in a duet with Adrian Vandenberg on jew's harp."

"What are the songs about like The Sledge etc.. and do the songs reflect in the music, if so in what way? The song 'No Way' has a Ozzy feel esp with the vocals, is somebody inpersentating Ozzy's voice?"

(S) "Yeah, that´s Andy whom I mentioned, he´s awesome and the more drunk he gets the more he sounds like Ozzy. The lyrics I won´t spell out, I think it´s better to have the listeners do their own enterpritation."

"How long did it take to write the songs & are they wrote as a team effort?"

(S) "Different small groups of two or three normally, but I'm a lonewolf or so they say, so I did 20 some on my own, and was put to write all the lyrics basically. All in the dream evil concept of course. It didn't take that long to write the songs actually. Fredrik came to my house with a simple basic riff and I came up with the vocal melodies and the rest, basically. As soon as we were done with the basic structure of a song we instantly recorded a rough sketch in my homestudio. We simply put a mic on a basic drum set, then I did the guitars and sang the melodies with improvised jibberish cowboy English, all in one take. Then Niklas would come over and check whether the key would fit his vocal range or not, in order to get the ultimate result. In my opinion the vocals on top of everything is the most important part, so if he feels comfortable singing it, it´ll probably turn out sounding good.  We changed that around in a few occasions. Although it was done quite fast, we spent a lot of time getting the basic structure perfect because that is all that matters in the end. I know it´s a cliché but a good song is still a good song with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. For this third album we talked about getting together and try out the songs in the rehearsal room before going into the studio, but it didn't turn out that way, this time either."

"What are your fav songs and least fav and why on the new album? I think the title track turned out good."

How do you compare this album to the previous 2 albums?"

(S) "It´s definitely our best album, and probably the best metal album Dream Evil will ever do."

"The album also features I believe a Ltd DVD with it, tell me a little bit about it, was it recorded @ Sweden Rock and what other bonus material comes with it?"

(S) "No, not at Sweden rock but from all over the place where we have played during 2003, most of it is from Japan though, where we had a guy following us around all the time. Also there is The making of the album from the studio. It all is very funny to watch. Like for instance when the english cops had me bend over after their drug sniffing dog picked up a strange scent from my pants! The killer video will also be included."

"When will we see the band touring and will there be dates in the UK?

(S) "The sooner the better, we had a great time in London last year. I will probably play both with Notre Dame and Kee Marcello´s K2 at that cool Camden club Underworld (where we met last) within shortly."

"Well Snowy, thanx for doing this up-date interview, do you have anything to say 2 your fans and myself?"

(S) "Stay evil, I hope to see you all on a tour all over Great Britain soon. Thanx to you Jason,.."

“Anything to say to your fans?”

“Yeah thanx for sticking by us and we hope you like the new album. Thanx for the interview Jase, best of luck with Friday 13th”

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