Bad Habit is a Swedish melodic rock/hardrock act led by Hal Marabel who I recently had the pleasure of interviewing. We talked about the new album [hear-say] and the history of Bad Habit but we also talked about many other topics.
Interview by: Anders Sandvall
Pictures of Hal Marabel by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Stefan at Zink Music for the promo pictures provided by Frontiers records
Hi Hal, how are you? I thought we could start off right away and to begin with I was wondering if you could tell us the story of Bad Habit? When you began and who’s the members were back then and essential stuff like that because this is the first time you are featured here in metal-rules.com.
Sure, I always wanted to play in a band and after playing in several rock bands on the amateur level, I felt it was time to put together something more ambitious. Doc Shannon and I started experimenting with arrangements and harmonies until we had the basis for what was to become the “Bad Habit” sound. We recruited Bax (who we knew from before), Patrik (then called Stevie) and Jan Andersson (original drummer) – who both came recommended by others. In May of 1987, we had the band ready to record the first demo, which actually became the debut mini-album “Young & Innocent.
How come you named the band Bad Habit, what’s the story behind that name?
Well, contrary to what some think, we never had many bad habits to start with. The name was more of a statement, a description of the music – rock with an attitude. At the same time we wanted to portray the softer values hat we also represent, so I guess the name only reflects part of what we stand for as a band. Then you get used to the idea and it all becomes a natural part of things….
You’re debut EP was called YOUNG AND INNOCENT and came 1987 and after that you have released 5 CD’s until this date, why so few albums during such a long time?
Traditionally we have always taken our time when writing and recording. No particular reason I think, but rather having so many things on our agendas, really didn’t allow for working exclusively with Bad Habit at one particular point in time.That’s why it’s so interesting that the [hear-say] only took a total of 6 months to both write and produce.
Do you think Bad Habit have developed musically throughout the years and if so in what direction?
Oh yes, Each and every album has represented a very special period in our lives and musically they stand very much on their own. They all have different sounds but still recognisable and memorable harmonies. Also, we learned a lot about recording for each of the albums produced, and this experience lent itself very well when producing the new album.
Which albums have sold the most and have you done a lot of touring through the years?
Don’t really know which of the albums that has sold the most but I think it would either be “After Hours” or “Adult Orientation”. We haven’t done a lot of touring over the years as we have been very occupied with other things than music at times. However, we have played a number of gigs here and there and actually now feel quite eager to get out and do some gigs.
Are the older albums still available in the stores today and are there any plans on re-releasing them now?
I think that the previous albums are quite hard to come by and that’s one of the reasons that we re-released all three of the previous album – as improved versions.
Who owns the legal rights to the older albums?
I own the mini-album + the new album but in between this, they are owned by certain record labels, due to poor contracts from our part. However, we could choose to re-record any of the older songs and by doing so also create a new product which we would then own ourselves.
Is there any common role model or person amongst the Bad Habit members that have inspired you in any way?
I think that the common inspirations throughout our history, have been bands/musicians such as: Journey, Toto, Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen but several others as well.
What have the media and fans to say about your 1998 album “Adult Orientation” and do you remember how many gigs did you do on that album?
For this album we only played two gigs as the band was already set to take a break before actually releasing the album. The feedback was initially mixed since the “harder” fans were a bit surprised over the mellow direction of the album, particularly after the “Revolution” album. The “mellower” fans reacted quite positively it seemed.
Have you been on different labels on every album? I mean your last album was released by MTM Music and this one by Frontiers Records.
Yes, different labels actually releasing the albums. However during “Revolution” and “Adult Orientation”, we were signed to the same core label Blackbird Records.
Why aren’t you still signed to MTM Music and why did you chose to sign on for Frontiers Records?
Well, when we decided on making the new album, back in January, I also started scouting for suitable labels. As I know how long it takes to make things happen and prepare for a release, it was crucial start early if we wanted to see a release of the album before the end of the year. I actually first met the guys from Frontiers at the Firefest gig in Bradford in March but I already had a clear view on what I felt they represented as a record label. They have a good distribution network and a very “driving” attitude that I like. We’ve got off to a good start so we’ll see how things go…The deal with MTM was just for one record with option for another but we chose to not use the option…
Are you satisfied with the work Frontiers have put down on the album regarding promotion etc?
Yes, like I mentioned above, they have a good distribution network and the album is actually available where it’s supposed to be. We’ve had loads of reviews (most very good actually) and interviews – so yes, I am pleased so far.
What have you and the other Bad Habit members been up to since 1998?
Well, we felt a bit “tired” after struggling with the recording of that album as well as not having very much label back up. We felt that we’d like to do other things for a while… “A while” turned out to be 7 years!!! As you might know I also have a project called ARENA Sweden and we released our debut album in 2003. Sven and Patrik are in marketing, Bax is a Flight Captain and Jaime works as a full-time musician. Last year, we had a guest spot with a local cover band where we play 3 old Bad Habit songs. We had so much fun doing it that we started talking about making a new album. Everyone in the band was ready to work together again… so, now we’re back again… full of energy and ready to rock….
How long did it take to write and record your new album [hear-say] and why that title?
They album took exactly six months to both write and produce.
The title of the album has a double meaning:
1. Hearsay = Rumours. The interesting balance between “Don´t believe everything you hear `cos you´re gonna hear a lot” and on the other hand “If you hear a rumour enough times, you´ll find out that there usually is some truth to it”. This is a very interesting idea that we all should try to keep in mind.
2. Hear-say = First listen, then speak…. We are blessed with two ears and one mouth for a reason – we should listen twice as much as we speak. If this was the case, there would be a whole lot more loving going on and less fighting…. The visual on the cover illustrates this well I think. If you look closely you can see that there is a focus on the ear and mouth with pointers between them.
The album was recorded in V.I.P Studio in Malmö, Sweden, is that a well known studio and who else besides you have recorded albums there?
It’s my own personal studio where we do all pre-production and recording.
Why did you pick Jonas Reingold as a producer? Did you knew him from before? What makes him such a good producer do you think?
There was some debate about this among some in the industry, which producer we should use and a few were suggested to us. Let me put it this way….. there was never any doubt in my mind about who to use. Although Jonas own music is on the more progressive side, he has a long experience within rock and hard rock. What I like about Jonas is that he on the one hand is a great musician but on the other, also a great technician/mixer. The fact that he has such a broad musical background -is a very powerful combination. Which makes him a great producer. His touch was exactly what was needed to help realise our vision of how to sound this time around.
How would you describe what kind of music you play?
A mix of the typical BAD HABIT harmonies with heavy guitars,
a groovy drum beat and mellow keyboards landscapes, packaged in a modern wrapper…
Who’s done the cover art-work and do you think it represents what’s the album is all about?
It was all done by an artist I know and yes, I really do feel that it encapsulates the new concept very well in that we’ve taken a very basic approach to rock but packaged it in a modern way which is exactly what the visual concept also suggests. The painting is originally a photo that has been re-vamp into something completely different.
One of the strengths that Bad Habit have are the ballads, do you work especially hard on writing good ballads?
No, not really – we work as much with these as the other types of songs.
Do you think that older fans of the band are going to appreciate [hear-say]?
I think the fans that liked “Revolution” will probably like [hear-say] a lot. The more melodic fans will probably have to give it a few listens before they get the new approach.
I think that a few songs sound a bit “popish”, what do you think of that? Was it meant to be a few softer songs as well on the album?
We arrived at the following conclusion: All songs should have prominent guitars, no matter if a melodic or heavy song. All songs, no matter how heavy, should have a recurring melodic part such as the verse or bridge. All songs should, regardless of style, have a heavy and groovy drum beat. This meant that we would try to bring the melodic and heavier songs together in the full production.
Have you read any reviews yet? What have media said about the album?
Oh yes, about 70-80 so far – so the interest has been enormous.
Are you satisfied with your effort on the album or do you think you should have done anything different now that you look back on the recording?
Wouldn’t want to change anything, we are so pleased with the result and it matches what we set out to do – perfectly….
Do you have any particular favorite track on the album? If so which one and why?
Hmmm, hard to pick out any one song but some of the favourite ones include: “To Love You”, Walk Of Life”, I Want To Know” and “Take Control” as I feel they have that extra edge that lets me listen and enjoy them over and over again.
Do we have to wait a long time for the next Bad Habit album?
As it stand now, we plan to record and release during 2007.
How many albums are you signed for at Frontiers?
Mutual option after this one, so we’ll see what happens.
Are there any plans on going out on the road now that the albums is out?
We are discussing a possible tour together with another act – around Europe this Summer. A few local gigs are planned and we have our minds set to try for some festivals as well…
Something I’ve noticed when I listened to the album was that your singer Bax sounds a bit tired, how come?
I don’t agree, I think he has a strong fire on the new album, more heavy sounding than before. However, he doesn’t sing as high pitched as before, if that’s what you mean…..?
Can you agree with the comment that BH is considered being an all star act?
Hmmm, don’t quite understand what you mean but if you mean that the band members have been or are still part of other record producing constellations – I guess you’re right.
Where in the world is the new album released right now? Is there any dates when it’s coming out in the U.S. or Asia for example?
The album is release in Europe and Japan + a few other smaller markets as well.
What are the plans for Bad Habit for the rest of 2006? And what are the plans for Hal Marabel for the rest of 2006? You are also involved in the band/project ARENA Sweden, what’s happening with that?
Like I mentioned, we’re looking into doing some gigging with Bad Habit, the new ARENA Sweden album will be recorded and hopefully release later this year. Also, I have engaged in a song writer/producing partnership with Jonas Reingold, my producer. The plan is to have 10 new songs ready to be sent out after Summer. Then we’ll see where they land. A part from musically, there are a lot of other activities that I’m involved in as well.
Finally thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions and is there anything you’d like to say to the readers/fans outthere?
Just “Thanx kindly” to those that have bought the album and I hope we’ll get the chance to come play nearby…. Keep on rocking and never lose the faith.