Interview with Magnus Karlsson

Last Tribe are yet another unique band form Sweden who could be compared to that of 'Lions Share', 'Section A', 'Tad Morse', 'Nation', 'Ynwgie' & 'Artention'. The band have released 3 albums to date and their new album 'Uncrowned' is an awesome melodic metal album with balls, mixing hard edge metal with Progressive elements A truly awesome band with vocals by Rickard Bengtsson sounding close to that of Andy Esberg from Section A. I managed to get some questions to guitarist and founder member Magnus Karlsson to find out more about on of Sweden's best kept secret's until now, here's what he had to say.

My 1st question is, when did the band form and who formed the band?

"I formed the band somewhere in the year 2001. It started more like a solo project for me but later it became a real band."

Has the line-up been the same up until the debut album? If not who replaced who?

"It’s the same line up on the Uncrowned and Witch dance but on the first album Per Wallmark played bass and “Doffe” was our drummer. They where replaced with Dick Lövgren and Jaime Salazar."

When you first started to get the band together, was it hard to find the right people? 

"Yeah. I needed people that could nail their parts real fast in the studio because we wanted to keep the budget small when we recorded the first album. Most of the musicians I know are really great but they don’t play metal so I had to search hard for the right guys to do the job."

Besides having Richard as the singer, who else did you audition for a singer? Do you agree he sounds somewhat similar to Andy from Lions Share/Section A? Also how did you hook up with him and had you heard his voice before?

"I got a couple of demos from my management with different singers. When I heard Rickards voice I knew that he would suit perfectly for Last Tribe. He had only released one album with Armageddon and that was in Japan so I had never heard his voice before. I really love and I think you have a point when you compare his voice with Andy."

As a singer who are his influences and who are your guitar influences too? 

"I know that Rickard admire Glenn Hughes voice and Dio of course. My guitar heroes are mainly Steve Vai, Steve Morse and Allan Holdsworth but when it comes to heavy riffs Tony Iommi is second to none."

What about bands, who influenced you and how to they reflect in your music?

"I grew up with all the bands in NWOBHM like Maiden and Judas and I still listen to them a lot. I think that my musically roots is in that music. But I listen to many different styles such as Folk music, Jazz and fusion."

How would you best describe your music? To me it’s classic Swedish Metal with hints of progressive & Power Metal elements, somewhere in between Artention, Yngwie, do you agree?

"I think melodic metal with progressive elements is a good way to describe our music. Maybe there was some Yngwie stuff on the first album but nowadays the neoclassical approach are almost gone."

I heard you went to a music scholl, what was it called and how long did you study for? What about the rest of the band, were they also at a music school? 

"It was the university of music here in Malmö and I studied there for five long years. Both Jaime and Dick went also to different music schools."

What other bands were you in before forming this band? I heard you were in Midnight Sun, so why did you leave them? What about the rest of the band, what bands were they in too?

"I never left Midnight sun the band just died for some reason. I think it’s because the albums didn’t go so well. The band leader Jonas Reingold plays in many different projects and tours a lot with Flower Kings. And Jaime joined me in Last Tribe."

So why the name Last Tribe and what other names did you have in mind?

"When me and my friends listened to Heavy metal in the eighties and the grunge music came and took over I saw as us the last tribe that dressed as hard rockers and listened to “real metal”. So Last tribe is a tribute to all my metal friends.  And all the great bands that did the awesome music then. So I didn’t have any others suggestions on names."

Do you think the bands name reflects within the music? If so in what way?

"Yeah, I think the name suits the music well. There’s a “mystic” touch in the music and the in name as well."

So how many demos did you do before you released your debut album? Where they for sale if so how many did you sell and what trax were on them? 

"Actually no demos at all I just started with the pre-production right away because I already had a deal with a management."

What labels did you shop the demos too? Also what did Frontiers offer you which was better from the rest?

"The Management took care of everything and I trusted them to choose the right label for us. I know they have mostly softer AOR acts but I don’t care about that if they do a good job."

Are you happy with them and how long is your deal with them? 

"Yeah it works well and the deal is that we only take one album at the time."

OK so lets talk about your debut album ‘The Ritual’, why the title and cover? Where there any other covers and titles in mind?

"I practice a lot of guitar then and it was like a ritual to get up every day  and practice scales. That’s why I called it the ritual and there is one instrumental track on the album with the same name. I wanted the cover to be in a Egyptian style because it felt cool at the time."

What songs from that album stand out for you & why? Are there any you dislike and why? 

"The ballad Falling and the progger Flying high have always been my favourites from that album. I’m not so satisfied with the song One of a kind. It didn’t turn out the way I wanted. The ritual album was ok but it was on Witch dance Last tribe showed its real face."

How long did it take to write the album and are you happy with the end results? 

"It took me six months or something then we did some changes in the studio. It’s the first album I ever wrote so it was a great feeling when it was finished but if I listen to it today I think that I could do it better now."

Did that album, sell well for a debut and what sort of reviews did you get? Did you get a  lot of support from your home town and country? 

"The reviews where awesome. It was hard for me to understand that people from all over the world where enjoying our music. But I’m sorry to say that that it did sell quite badly and the support here in Sweden didn’t exist."

Ok so now lets talk about the 2nd album, so why the title and cover? What other covers did you have and titles for that record?

"I chose the name Witch dance only because it was a great song to have as a title track. This time I was much more satisfied with the music but the cover was a disappointment. The only thing I can blame it on was the very small budget we had for the cover."

Where you happy with the end results? Also what trax stand out for you  and why and least fav trax and why?

"I like all songs on this album but if I had to choose it would say Wake up the world and Agadir."

How do you see this album  as a progression from the debut? 

"The Ritual where mostly leftovers from “Midnight sun”. I wrote the songs so they would suite the voice of Pete Sandberg. Both Witch Dance and the Uncrowned are written for Rickards voice so I think they are sounding better."

Where was it recorded and did it take a a long time to produce it? If you could who would you consider having a s a producer and why?

"It was recorded in 'Roasting House' studio here in Malmö and it took about two months to record and produce it. I produced together with Theo that worked with Pain of salvation, Majestic and Midnight sun and that worked really well. He’s a real pro and knows what I want it to sound like."

OK so now lets talk about the new album, so why did you decide to call the album the Uncrowned?, what other names did you have for this album? Also covers in mind?

"There are so many great people out there that don’t get what they deserve. They are all uncrowned kings and queens. They never give up and this album is dedicated to them.  But as always there is more than one interpretation when you listen to Last Tribe. The cover is made by Niklas Sundin on Cabin Fever. He’s made covers for Arch Enemy and In Flames amongst others. I just told him my idea and it turned out to a great thing right away."

Does the title and cover reflect in the music?

"Yeah, especially in the lyrics."

How long does it take to write the music and lyrics and are they wrote as a team effort?

"This time it took about a year. I wrote all the songs on my own except for Only the innocent that I wrote together with Rickard."

What songs from the new album stand out for you & why? Any trax you think could have been better if so which ones and why?

"Sacrifice is the best song I ever written in my own opinion and there is the best guitar solo I ever don as well. I’m actually really satisfied with everything on the Uncrowned."

How long did it take to record it and where? Are you happy with the end results?

"I wanted the new album to be heavier and more “metal” sounding. So we did put a lot of hard work in the production. Rickard did get more space for his voice this time. It’s a little bit thin on the “Witch Dance” album. I wanted it to sound big and heavy at a low volume and if you turn the up volume I hope the listener are going to be worried about if the speakers gone break. I have listened a lot to the latest Night Wish production and I think they did a really good job and I wanted something like that. This is the third album that I work with Theo at Roasting House studio so it’s getting easier and easier to get the sound that suits Last Tribe. It took about two months in the studio to finish it."

Would you say that this is the band darkest album to date? Also how do you see this album as a progression from the 1st 2 albums?

"It depends what you mean by “dark”. I agree if you mean the heaviest album to date."

Are there any special guests on this album, if so who? 

"No we managed it on our own. I thought of using some guys for backing vocals but I did it myself."

What bands have you played or toured with?

"None. But its hopefully gone change."

Who would you like to tour with within reason?

"Well Dio would be awesome."

Have you played any festivals? If so what and are there any plans to tour Europe and the UK next year?

"We haven’t played so much live because we didn’t have a booking management. The most important thing for us right now is to get out and play live. Now we have a new booking agency. So we can’t wait to play live. I really hope were have a new booking agency. So we can’t wait to play live. I really hope were gone do a lot of festivals this summer. All the dates will come up on our site."

Well Magnus, thanx for the interview, anything to say?

"Thank you very much Jason,  I really hope to see all our fans on tour soon. Remember, do you like melodic metal are you a member of the LAST TRIBE."

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