Lars Chriss of Lion’s Share

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Lars Chriss of Lion’s Share
Interviewed by EvilG in Feb. 1999


Metal Rules!!:
First of all can you tell me about the Judas Priest tribute CD that you were a part of in 1996?

Lars:
We were in the studio to record our second album “Two” when Century Media told us they wanted to sign us. They were putting the tribute together at the same point and felt it would be a good introduction to include us. Judas Priest and their management had to approve every song on the first volume and actually said that our version along with Devin Townsend were among the absolute best. We all grew up with Judas Priest so this was truly an honor.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Why did you pick the song “A Touch of Evil”?

Lars:
We are mainly a Black Sabbath influenced heavy and almost doomy-sounding band, so it felt naturally to pick one of their heavier songs instead of their trademark faster material.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Even though you did an excellent job covering the song I remember wondering why you choose a not so classic Priest song as opposed to say something older?

Lars:
That song fits our style perfectly and we had a lot of fun coming up with the Lion’s Share written middle section instead of just copying the original note for note. Compared to a lot of the other bands, I feel we contributed to our version and made it sound both Lion’s Share and Judas Priest.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Why did you re-record the song and put it on your new CD – “Fall From Grace”?

Lars:
A lot of fans asked us to include it on one of our albums since they didn’t want to buy the whole tribute-record just because of one or two bands. We were going to include a re-mastered version on “Fall From Grace”, but due to the break with Century Media we actually had to re-record it due to legal circumstances.

 

Metal Rules!!:
If you had your time back would you of done any another Priest cover song?

Lars:
No.

 

Metal Rules!!:
What did you think of the 2 “Legends of Metal” CD’s as a whole? Anything on there blow you away?

Lars:
I think everybody agree the second is much weaker compared to the first one, however Angra did a good job covering Pain Killer, Fates Warning did a good job, Rage, Testament.

 

Metal Rules!!::
Would you consider Priest to be one of your major influences?

Lars:
Absolutely. We all grew up with the 70′s-80′s metal and Judas Priest must be regarded as one of the biggest and most influential metal bands ever.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I hear some influences on your new CD that range from Dream Theater / Queensryche to bands like Black Sabbath and even some 70′s progressive bands. What bands would you say have helped shape your sound?

Lars:
Black Sabbath for sure, Queensryche, Megadeth, Ozzy and as you mentioned some of the 70′s progressive bands.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Can you tell us all who the current members of Lion’s Share are and from what background, bands, and influences they have brought to the band?

Lars:
Pontus Egberg:
Bass – The newest and most bluesy guy in the band. Listens to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, King’s X etc. Did study at M. I. (Musicians Institute) in LA and have recorded with ex-Yngwie drummer Bo Werner in the band Steamroller.

Andy Engberg:
Vocals – A big fan of Tony Martin, Glenn Hughes, Ronnie James Dio and Geoff Tate. Made a CD with Danish band Twilight just prior to the re-birth of Lion’s Share (1993) and before that he was in a doom band called Sorcerer along with Johnny Hagel (Tiamat, Sundown, Cinnamon Spiral) and Rickard Evensand (Its Alive, Southpaw).

Johan Koleberg:
Drums – Probably the “wimpiest” guy in the band. Have recorded with AOR-bands Frontiers, Talk Of The Town and Thomas Vikstr?m (Brazen Abbot, Candlemass, Talk Of The Town). Listens to KISS, Rush and TOTO.

Kay Backlund:
Keyboards – The guy that formed Lion’s Share with me back in 1987. Influenced by Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Black Sabbath, Phenomena 1, Vince DiCola and various movie soundtracks.

Lars Chriss:
Guitar – Well that’s me. A die hard KISS fan since I was 8 years old and nowadays eat, shit and breathes Black Sabbath (especially DIO era). My guitar heroes are Gary Moore and George Lynch. Have recorded an album as a guest musician with Cinnamon Spiral (Johnny Hagel-ex Tiamat & Sundown).

 

Metal Rules!!:
Are all the members of the current line-up full time members, or do they have other side projects?

Lars:
We are totally devoted to Lion’s Share and are not interested in side projects. If we feel like playing just for fun we all have cover bands to perform with, Pontus in a Top 40 kinda band, Andy in a mostly Yngwie and double bassdrum metal cover band, Johan and myself in a KISS tribute band called KYSS (complete with make-up & costumes).

 

Metal Rules!!:
How would you say that Lion’s Share’s style has progressed since you formed?

Lars:
We are much heavier today. We started out as a very melodic band back in 1987 (Y&T, Gary Moore etc), reached the peak of our progressive side on “Two” and are now what I believe is a perfect mix of heaviness and melody spiced with some small progressive parts to make it stand out.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Do you think your sound will continue to become more aggressive and dark?

Lars:
I don’t know. The songs tends to get their own life when you start writing them. We don’t want to repeat ourselves so the next thing is often a reflection to what we’ve just done, we’ll see.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I know that “Fall From Grace” was released in Feb.99, but it was actually finished quite some time before it was released, so has the band written any other new songs since then? What have they been sounding like?

Lars:
I have approx. 10 different basic ideas (future songs?) to work on. They all have 2-4 riffs that fit together, but I have no idea how many riffs that will be added or replaced. As far as the other guys I don’t know, we have been busy making a Rockymentary kinda thing for Japanese TV, and separate videos for Unholy Rites and Remembrance. We are just about to start the rehearsals for an Italian tour and a possible Japanese ditto.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Since the formation of Lion’s Share in 1987, have you reached the levels of success that you had hoped to when you began?

Lars:
Musically the new Lion’s Share album is far better than I ever could dream of back in 1987. Sales wise the timing for a melodic metal band could have been better than to release albums in the mid 90′s. The grunge and hip-hop trend of the 90′s really put the melodic and well played music in the back seat. Thank god things have started to change and music like ours will hopefully have another peak in a near future.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Does it ever get frustrating being in a band and having to fight for a place in such a fickle musical marketplace?

Lars:
Of course, it’s very frustrating. However, we’ve always done what we believe in, no compromises. We have made the music we would like to hear, ’cause we sure couldn’t find it in the trendy record stores. Regards to all our fans that have kept us going.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Have you ever thought of packing it and trying something else? (I hope not!)

Lars:
I started out making music for myself, I still do. The day I don’t feel like writing a new song, making another album or simply feeling like I don’t have what it takes then I’ll pack it in, not because of a stupid overgoing trend.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Besides saying that your music sounds like “Lion’s Share”, how would you describe your sound?

Lars:
If you like Black Sabbath, you should definitely check us out. Our style is a blend of heavy/doomy riffs, catchy melodies, some progressive elements, well played and well produced classic metal.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I know that many bands don’t like labels but would you call Lion’s Share “heavy metal”??

Lars:
ABSOLUTELY! And I’m damned proud of it too.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Do you think that heavy metal thrives and is much more exciting when it is kept “underground” as in not on the billboard charts or all over the radio/TV?

Lars:
To me the music is the most important thing, underground or all over the place. There will always be good bands, they’re just harder to find. If metal music charts and the media is there, so will the record companies be and from my point of view metal could only benefit from that.

 

Metal Rules!!:
You mentioned to me previously that when the band went into the studio to record your third album (Fall From Grace) that you record company (Century Media) had big economical problems that resulted the termination of your contract….Can you elaborate on this….Why did this happen??? Was the label not happy with the way the new recording was sounding? (I can’t understand why they wouldn’t love it!!).

Lars:
It had nothing to do with the music at all, actually they never heard a note. They asked us to deliver a new album, everything was okayed, the studio, engineer and the budget. We entered the studio and the owner told us he wouldn’t let us record until C.M. paid their previous invoice. The engineer told us he hadn’t got his advance C.M. promised to send him. C.M. told me everything should be taken care of ASAP, so they paid half of their old studio debt? We heard that they were ordering their employees to either quit or agree on lower their monthly salary. We got confirmed from their US office that they were in deep shit. Since we weren’t happy with them anyway, we saw our chance to get away from four options, so with the help from the engineers lawyer and the MD of the studio they were forced to either pay or let us go. After three weeks of negotiations they agreed and we finished the recordings on our own.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Was the parting with Century Media on good terms, or were bridges burned?

Lars:
I have talked to them after this and the owner Robert, told me he was very interested in hearing the new album since “I should still consider him a fan of Lion’s Share”. I also approached them with an offer to buy the only Lion’s Share album they own “Two”, but we could never agree on the final details, so obviously they must believe in the band since they’re not selling it.

 

Metal Rules!!:
So now your back on a Japanese label (Avex Inc.)…how did you hook up with them??

Lars:
We signed with the BURRN! publishing company, and they made the arrangements.

 

Metal Rules!!:
I’m sure this is excellent news for you, and for fans in Japan, but how will Avex be able to get your music heard or noticed outside of Japan?

Lars:
Avex did license the album for Japan only, so right now we are negotiating with American and European labels about a licensing deal for the rest of the world. The best way to do business is to license an album, by doing this the rights always returns to you after 3-5 years and then you can license it again and again. Our first album is for example available for licensing again after being released by Zero (Japan), Long Island and Century Media (Europe). The rights always returns and right now neither of these companies are allowed to sell it anymore.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Why are there so many good bands without a deal in North America when Japan laps it up immediately?

Lars:
Things have been really bad for metal bands on the American market ever since grunge and hip-hop made it big over there in the early 90′s. The scary thing about Japan is that their economical situation gets worse and worse for each day. Many bands that have released albums and sold quite good there before, can’t get a contract anymore. This is not only related to the metal scene, but to the overall Japanese and Asian business markets.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Is metal in general just more popular over there or what??

Lars:
Japan is very good, Europe is growing stronger for each year as well. America is maybe a little bit too “media and hype” sensitive. In Asia and Europe people are less concerned about being hip and cool and simply don’t give a shit if they don’t fit in. As soon as the American media decides that metal is cool again, the market will open up big way.

 

Metal Rules!!:
How can someone find your CD in North America? Is there an address that people can write to or something?

Lars:
WILDSIDE Imports have all Lion’s Share albums listed (including the new one) at: http://users.netonecom.net/~wildside/wsi7tabl.htm. At our homepage www.ronnerdal.se/lionsshare we have a bunch of links to on-line stores you could try, but by just giving the album catalog number any store can order it for you. AVCB 66060 LION’S SHARE “Fall From Grace”

 

Metal Rules!!:
Have any other labels shown interest in picking you up?

Lars:
Yes, besides the usual metal labels we even have interest from Columbia and CNR in Europe. However we want to make sure we sign to the best company possible to release what we know is a damned good album. We are sick and tired of labels that can’t reach out to our possible fans. If people don’t like us that’s fine, but you should at least have a chance to hear us first.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Will you be touring in support of “Fall From Grace”? Where will you play and with whom?

Lars:
We did four tours (Saxon 2 times, UDO, Iced Earth & Nevermore), on the last album so I’m sure we will tour this time as well.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Being from Sweden you must be surrounded by allot of bands that fall into the category of the “New Wave of Swedish Death Metal” as I’ve heard it called…what do you think of this growing seen??

“We have NO death metal scene here at all and as far as I’m concerned there has never been one.”

Lars:
This is a funny thing because I often get this kind of questions when doing foreign interviews. We have NO death metal scene here at all and as far as I’m concerned there has never been one. I know there are a lot of Swedish death metal bands that have contracts in Germany, but living in Sweden you don’t know a shit until you open a German fanzine.

 

Metal Rules!!:
How big is your brand of metal in Sweden today?

Lars:
Melodic metal is coming back here as well. KISS are HUGE and a lot of the people that grew up with classic metal are now working at radio and TV stations. The best part however is that I see a younger generation that are into this kind of music. I was at DIO concert recently and were expecting to see a bunch of 30-35 year old males, but the place were packed with girls and boys in their early 20′s.

 

Metal Rules!!:
What newer bands are there from Sweden that you personally enjoy?

Lars:
A band called Human Race. There are a lot of talented musicians in Sweden, one good example is this dude (Max Martin), that used to sing in a metal band called Its Alive and now he’s one of the biggest producers in the world with both the first and second spot on Billboard at the same time.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Back to your newest CD……where did you get lyrical inspirations from?

Lars:
Andy writes about fantasy stuff, nothing really personal or political. The most important thing for us is the music.

 

Metal Rules!!:
Can you please tell me what the song “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” is about?

Lars:
That song was written by City Boy, so I don’t have a clue but it’s a great song. It was actually included on a sampler that came free with Germany’s biggest metal magazine Rock Hard (Feb ’99).

 

Metal Rules!!:
Why did you call the CD “Fall From Grace”?

Lars:
Andy wrote the lyrics to that song, and I thought it was a cool title for the album. It was easy to picture the cover with people (fallen angels), getting kicked out from heaven.

 

Metal Rules!!:
As this is a title that has religious connotations I’ll ask you this…what are your own beliefs on the subject of religion?

Lars:
We have no opinions as a band regarding religion or politics, Lion’s Share is all about good music and having fun. As far as each member in the band, I don’t have a clue.

 

Metal Rules!!:
In closing, is there anything you’d like to pass along to the readers of Metal Rules!!?

Lars:
We want to thank all of our fans for their love and support. For people that haven’t heard us, please visit our official homepage www.ronnerdal.se/lionsshare and check us out. We also want to thank Metal Rules for the award and for this interview.

Keep the metal alive!

 

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Posted in 1999 | Comments (0)




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