The Swedish rock/hardrock act The Poodles have taken Sweden by storm and now it’s time for the band to conquer Europe. They have recently finished off a support tour with Hammerfall and Krokus through Europe and now it’s time for the rest of the world to know more about The Poodles, this is what lead singer Jacob Samuel and I talked about when we met up for a chat.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Anders Fästader at Hagenburg Law & Management for setting up this interview
Promo pictures are from the bands homepage
Hi Jacob, I know you’re a really busy man these days and it’s really nice of you to take the time off to talk to me. Let’s start off with talking about your recent European tour you did with Hammerfall and Krokus, how was it to tour with those guys? What was the absolute highlight from the tour?
Best was that we elevated the experience along the way. It’s always difficult to know as an opening act if the audience likes us or mostly think we’re taking up their time. But we have over a hundred great gigs in Sweden behind us and we kind of knew that every night we had to win the war all over again. After the first concert in Copenhagen we were mighty surprised by the reception. Then it was back to Stockholm and on to Europe. There we noticed the audience singing along and cheering more on certain places. So to give you a short answer: The best thing about the tour was that we made an impression, that we got heard and seen. That is exactly what we want.
Which show was the best/worst The Poodles did in your opinion?
In places with few people it was kind of hard to walk up on stage and on the contrary if there was a crowd. Yet we were always satisfied after the show. Either we are easily amused or we evolved along the way…
The Poodles and Krokus switched places in Stockholm and Gothenburg and you were then upgraded on the playing list, how was those gigs compared to the rest of the tour?
Huge difference, Sweden is our home arena, we’ve played everywhere and sold gold and platinum. We truly enjoyed playing the big arenas. The difference is that in Sweden we have the audience on our side. In other countries we need to earn their love. Anyone can play in front of thousands of loving people. It’s the roads there that separate us.
Your debut album was released in Europe the day before you kicked off the tour, how has the European press responded to your album? Have you read any reviews?
Absolutely fantastic! Good reviews on the whole. In Sweden we’re a band that challenges the limits. Here everybody knows who we are but no one can place us. We are played too much in mainstream radio to be “real” heavy metal and we’re too much heavy metal to be a “real” mainstream pop band. But we want to be in that twilight zone. We’ve been playing heavy metal for fifteen years and know the rules and the conventions attached. One of the basic ideas of The Poodles is to dare to break new grounds. In the other countries we’re reviewed based on the album, not the band.
You’re going to tour more in Europe when the tour is over, are you’re main focus set on conquer Europe now?
We feel good playing a lot. We fight more during the periods without gigs than we do when we play twenty gigs a month. So we prefer to play everywhere all the time. Soon our new single is released in Sweden and we hope to tour this summer. When the album comes this fall we will play more in Europe. We are as focused on Sweden as on Europe but nice requests for gigs outside of Sweden comes first.
Are there plans on releasing the album worldwide?
Yes, if you ask me the plan is definitely worldwide. The album is released in somewhat thirty countries in Europe, Russia and Japan. We’ve heard rumors of South America and the US. We can only continue playing and hope for the best.
The album is called METAL WILL STAND TALL, why did you call it that? I think the title can be a little misleading because your music can’t be labeled metal, or?
It’s a remark to the ones who doubt and a reminder to the ones who love us. As I said before we don’t fit anywhere in Sweden and it was therefore exciting to bring in Tess from the disco group Alcazar to sing Metal Will Stand Tall. She is a hard rocker girl at heart, a huge Motley Crüe and AC/DC fan and show off a young Bon Scott vocal that fits the song perfectly. We wanted a title that awoke questions rather than answers to what kind of album it is.
How would you like to describe what kind of music The Poodles play?
Distinctive hardrock with the purpose of strengthening people. We wanted to invoke courage into the listener and make them feel good.
Could you even imagine that the album could be as successful in Sweden as you did last year?
No. We hoped but we didn’t think “Night of Passion” would make us celebrities over night and sell platinum, crazy and awesome.
Do you have any idea on how many copies the album has sold so far?
Inches from gold in Sweden and no idea overseas.
Last year you entered the Swedish final to the Eurovision Song Contest, how come?
After 15 years in the business we decided to put all effort into the largest there is in Sweden – and most wrong move for a hardrock band. It was an extremely fun trip to make. Ask The Ark that won this year. It’s only cowards that are afraid to break new ground.
You have released three singles so far from the album, any plans on continuing releasing singles? And which one has made it highest on the charts?
No more singles from the first album though we will release a new single from the new album this fall.
“Night of Passion” sold gold. “Metal Will Stand Tall” and “Song for you” also gold. Looks pretty good on the studio wall …
There’s a story behind single number three, the money earned from the single goes to a special place, can you tell us about that?
It goes to an organization called “BRIS” (Children’s rights in the Society): We have a lot of children among our fans. All band members are fathers and we felt that we wanted to give something back to the children that don’t have as good a situation as our own children.
You did tour through the entire Sweden both once and twice last year and now you have played for the European audience as well, do you think there’s any differences between the Swedish and the European fans?
Not much. In our case everything from families to metal fans comes, outside of Sweden only metal fans. So far anyway.
The major parts of the songs on METAL WILL STAND TALL are written by outside songwriters, why have you hired in songwriters instead of writing the material together in the band?
We write songs continuously and all in our gang keep their ears open to new things. When it’s time we’re very democratic. Best song goes before who should receive the royalty check. Next album contains mostly songs I’ve co-wrote.
There are two covers on the album, one of the old Ultravox songs “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes” and one cover of the song “Metal Will Stand Tall” originally made by your old band Midnight Sun. Is Ultravox a favorite band amongst the members? And why make a cover of your own song?
Ultravox is good, but not a favorite band. We wanted to see how far we dared go in that direction. Felt exciting to record it but it’s no longer played live.
Are there any bonus stuff featured on the European copy of the album?
On the Japanese version there is an acoustic version of Night of Passion. The European version has a neater package but the same songs.
When I met you in Copenhagen when the Hammerfall tour did start you said that you were in the progress of making new material, how far have you come?
All is almost done. One more song remains then all should be mixed, mastered and of course the usual fights over covers etc.
You as well tell me in Copenhagen that Jonas Raingold has written some for the new album how much have he done this time?
The first single is co-written with him. The rest I’m not sure about since the song list isn’t done yet.
Do you know when and where the up-coming album is going to be recorded? Who’s going to produce it?
Matti and Johan will get on it again. We all felt that we had at least one album in common. Next album will be a collected version of the debut. More of all the good stuff.
Have you once again used outside songwriters or have the band wrote the material this time?
Some comes from outside songwriters but I’m involved in most of it.
How come you chose to call the band The Poodles, it’s quite an original name for a rock/hardrock band.
That was the whole reason: “it’s quite an original name for a rock/hardrock band.”
We look for the excitement in the opposites. Want to look what’s in between the cracks of the beautiful and what broken conventions can give.
Who formed the band originally?
Kicken, the drummer. Then I came and the two Pontus at the same time.
All of the members are well known and very experienced musicians with history in famous Swedish acts, is The Poodles now the member’s main priority or are you involved in other bands/projects as well?
To be a Poodle is a full time job.
How is the co-operation with your label Lionheart? Are you pleased with the promotion etc the label have put into the album and the band?
They’re good. We are their only hard rock act so they are extra fond of us.
How many albums are you signed for at Lionheart?
Maybe one or two more. Our manager says we have a good deal. I play, write and sing til’ someone says stop.
Have this label released your debut as well in Europe or which label as done that?
AFM in Europe, King in Japan and Irond in Russia are our faithful handymen.
Are The Poodles going out on a summer tour in Sweden? And what are the plans for the band during the rest of 2007?
Tour this summer, release an album this fall and then tour some more.
Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to the readers and fans?
We’re coming, we’re coming. We’re happy, hungry and ready for some more.
Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck with everything in the future.
Thank you. Nice talking to you and thank you all for reading.
Read the cd review of the debut on the LGR section of albums
More info about the band