Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Merrygold
Interview and Pictures By Anders Sandvall

Here is an interview with Merrygold singer Selma and bandleader/guitarist Per, about their band and what the future looks like for the band.

Would you like to tell us a bit about the band?

PER: We are a five piece band, two guitars, no keyboards, female singer up front. And of course: We rock like hell. Here are the members:

Selma: Lead vocals
Staffan: Lead guitar & backing vocals
Per: Rythm guitar & backing vocals
Bollack: Bass guitar & backing vocals
Adde: drums

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Was it hard to find members for the band?

SELMA: No, I donīt think so. Per came in contact with Staffan who recommended me and so on...

PER: Yeah, that happened just before Christmas 2000. I already had contact with a drummer and then Staffan got hold of a bass player. The first rehearsal was held January the 5th 2001. Since then we have had only one major change, and that was when we lost the bass player and the drummer, almost at the same time. It was at that point in time that Adde and Bollack joined the band.



What has happened since you did you first live gig last year?

SELMA: Per came in contact with EMI Publishing in Denmark and they signed us, which was a big thing for Merrygold.

PER: Yes, well, we actually got signed the very same week that we had our first live gig. But to fully understand the major changes within the band that has happened during the last year, you have to keep in mind that the first line up was not at all about forming a touring band but to record a bunch of songs that I had written. As the rehearsal work progressed we realized that there was more into this than just recording songs like some studio musicians. And so the next step, and the natural test of us as a working unit, was of course to step out on a live stage. Doing so, we understood that the band was actually going to work, and that, if we put all our eggs in one basket, there could even be success heading our way. Since that first gig, what has happened is that we have scrutinized everything we’ve done, both on stage as well as in the rehearsal studio. We’ve been working really hard, trying to mould us together, being one phenomenon, delivering one experience, finding a unifying sound.


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Why have you chosen to call the band Merrygold? Does it mean anything?

SELMA: Per came up with the idea, and we liked it. Merrygold sounds good to pronounce.

PER: Yes, I came across the word, though differently spelled. It had a nice ring to it so I suggested it to the other members. And yes, it has a hidden meaning.



Personally I think that your music sounds much harder live than on the record I have heard. Live your music sounds much more like melodic hard rock compared to the record where it sounds like it’s influences by melodic hard rock with the foundation in harder rock, what is you comment on that?

PER: Don’t know what to say. That’s your impression, I guess.


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What do the other members in the band think about having you (Per) write all the music/lyrics?

SELMA: I’m glad that Per has the enormous gift of writing so good music, so I leave that responsibility to him with all my heart...

PER: I don’t know. Let the pot maker make pots, let the carpenter be a carpenter. For instance, I don’t try to take the place of Selma. Or any other member in the band for that reason. And further; I’m not like some tyrant. We always arrange the songs together. It’s a joint venture. We make alterations in the basic form, speeding things up (usually), cutting things not needed, shortening or extending the form; sometimes even changing the order of things. And both Staffan and Bollack, and even Adde, comes up with things that make up for good co-writing. Hopefully we can get that good balance in the future where we can take hold of everyone’s creative potential to the max and yet still be able to keep that unifying sound of Merrygold.


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Where do you find inspiration to your music? Are the lyrics about anything special? If so what?

PER: I’m not very political. I’m a humanitarian. I’m not sociological. I’m psychological. I also like extreme situations. Situations that dare you. Especially the situations that makes you grow within if you learn to master them. My lyrics are many times made up as a conversation. It’s mostly about relations to other people. Music is an emotional art form, and being anything but emotional feels silly for me. OK, I like Rage Against The Machine, and I like the Punk movement for its strong political leanings, but it doesn’t work for me. Actually I’ve been there. Politics doesn’t interest me that much anymore, though.


What do you listen to at home? Do you have any influences when it comes to lyrics/music writing?

PER: I listen to everything but country. I think I have one country record at home. This is also strange: when I played in a hard core punk band, I very much listened to classical music and Beatles (of course I listened to Punk rock as well), and when I was into my progressive rock phase I listened to folk music and Hungarian gypsy music. I always seem to track up things to listen to that is very remote from what I’m presently doing. Influences in song writing? Well, anything that is authentic. Anything that is for real. And I also like aggressive things. It’s like you swallow your pride, or your shortcomings, and you swallow and swallow, and then suddenly BANG. It all spills out. That kind of aggression. Iggy Pop has it. Sex Pistols has it. Nirvana has it. But then of course that aggression has to be tempered. Just listen to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Hendrix. You follow me? Like for instance Beethoven, when composing by his piano forte he got too exited, to carried away; he simply went over to a bucket of cold water which he always kept in his chamber and dipped his head and his hands in it. To temper himself, to stay cool.


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How did you end up on the record company EMI?

PER: We’re not on the record company part. We’re on the publishing part, still negotiating. It’s been a quite complex ride, you know.



How would you describe what kind of music Merrygold plays?

PER: The best music around. No, but seriously: White transatlantic hard melodic rock.


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Have you got enough material for a debut album?

SELMA: We are loaded with Merrygold material.

PER: Yes, we’ve got plenty more than can be fitted on an album.



How does it work to be a female singer in an all-male band?

SELMA: Oh, I love it! They respect me and I respect them of course.


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Is there a big difference between working with just females, as you did in Starz, than to work with just guys?

SELMA: There is a slight difference between male and female. In general the atmosphere and the attitude is better between men. Women are... well, known as complaining bitches...



On some of the songs I think that you can sound a bit un-inspired, how do you comment on that?

SELMA: ????


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Do you have any female singer role models that you look up to?

SELMA: Louise Hoffsten, Tori Amos, Aretha Franklin....



How does it feel to be the “face-out” to the media?

SELMA: I’m proud to sing in merrygold, thereby I’m so very proud to show myself to media.


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What are the rest of the plans for 2003?

SELMA: More gigs, more fans, more Merrygold!


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Is there any more gigs planned for the rest of the year?

PER: No, nothing planned, but of course we will find some good places to play at.



Have you chosen studio or producer yet?

PER: We have a producer. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we have even found the studio.


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When is the debut going to be released?

SELMA: As soon as possible...

PER: Dead right.


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Is there any plans on doing a real tour when the debut is out?

SELMA: Of course.


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Is there any plans on launch Merrygold outside Scandinavia?

PER: The world is quite small nowadays, and I don’t think that any record company with acts of international importance would glue themselves to home base, so of course Merrygold will find its way internationally.


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What does the future look like for Merrygold?

SELMA: Hopefully good!

PER: Can’t be anything but good, you mean.



Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Metal-rules.com?

SELMA: Keep on Rocking boys and girls, cause I will!

PER: A cool site. Keep on rockin’. Join the Merrygold parade. Check out our website (www.merrygold.org),  listen to some of our music.


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Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

SELMA: Thanks and rock on....

Band Website: www.merrygold.org