Roastinghouse Recording Studio
16/10 – 2007
By: Anders Sandvall
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Pictures by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Mike for the new promo pictures of the band
Promo pictures on the band by: Mattias Noren
On a beautiful autumn day I was one of the first members of the press to get the first sneak preview of the new Cloudscape album in the Roastinghouse Recording Studio located in downtown Malmoe.
I met up with singer Mike Andersson producer Pontus Lindmark and drummer Roger Landin in the studio. I was there to listen to Mike who laid his vocal parts this day for the parts that he was not happy with.
The day started with Andersson listening to the stuff he wasn’t thrilled with in a certain part that Lindgren plays for him. It’s a really laidback atmosphere in the studio and everyone is talking and coming up with new different ideas all the time. I chose to be a watcher this day and stay in the background letting the guys do their work without me interfering. Lindmark works calmly but intensly and doesn’t rush anything.
Singer Andersson sounded a little strained in his voice but with the thought of the early time – 10.00 – he sounded great as always. Andersson had a note with bits and pieces he wanted to adjust. The work proceeded during the day as Lindmark in tandem with Landin ran the production with a steady hand. The guys worked pretty fast but still with a lot of feeling which I’m sure going to be heard at the album.
Drummer Landin and I got to talk outside the studio and I asked him if they always work this fast in the studio. He told me that he started it all with recording his parts in September and that most of everybody’s parts now were ready and set to go. Guitarists Eliasson and Svärd were gonna do their lead parts at home and then bring the tapes to the studio.
Even though Andersson had a lot to do and focus on he still let me take pictures of him in action. That’s how focused he was. He didn’t let anything disturb him at all.
The Roastinghouse Studio has been renovated since the last time I was there. They have also updated the studio gear a bit but everything was still alike.
When Andersson was finished I got to listen to a rough mix of a song and smaller parts of other songs and what can be said about the new Cloudscape album then? Well, it’s a little hard to say anything about an entire album when you only heard one song but I can say that the song I heard sounded a lot like the good old Cloudscape we have learned to love. The song had some really energetic melodic parts along with heavier influences that really made the song justice. It sounded really interesting and if the album is gonna sound anything like the song I’m not gonna be disappointed at all.
Before I left the studio I got a brief talk with both Andersson and Lindmark about the studio work which resulted in the interviews down below. Read and Enjoy. And a big thank you to the always nice and friendly Cloudscape for letting me be a fly on the wall this day.
First up… an interview with Mike Andersson.
Mike thanks a lot for having me in the studio today. When did the recording of the new album start?
Hi Anders. You’re welcome .
We entered the studio on September 3 to begin recording the drums. We have more or less been in the studio every day since then (except for weekends).
Has every member been in the studio when you have recorded?
We haven’t been there all together at the same time. Back in the old days the whole band had to be in the studio during the drum sessions but, nowadays we record the songs in our home studios (demos) and adds a click specifically made for each song. We import those files into the real studio where the album shall be recorded (in this case the Roastinghouse studio) so, Roger Landin (drums) have all pre-recorded instruments in his headphones during his recordings.
How does it work when you record an album? Do you use pre-recorded demo to play along with?
In a way yes. All keyboards that we use in our songs on our albums are recorded in mine and Bjorn Eliassons home-studios. We bounce each synth sound + a clicktrack for each song and burn the files on CD-R´s or DVD-R´s and bring them to the Roastinghouse studio. They import all files into their recording system. We also import pre-recorded rhythm guitars but, those files is only there for Roger to have a descent feel in his headphones during drum sessions. All synth files come from our demo recordings of the songs. When it’s time to enter the studio we shape the files up and change sounds and arrangements if needed etc etc etc…
After all drums are recorded ´Haynes records his bass, then Patrik and Bjorn records the rhythm guitars and last but, hopefully not least I enter the studio to record the vox . This time we have recorded the rhythm guitars on 4 different amplifiers + modules in order to be on the safe side when it’s time to mix the album and to be able ´choosing the best and fitting sound for each song. It took some extra time to do this of course but, it was definitely worth it.
Did you rehearse a lot before you went into the studio?
We rehearsed quite a lot during the last months before entering the studio. We started to compose the new songs in early 2006 after we finished the recordings of “Crimson skies” so, as long as we have song ideas that we believe in there’s no reason to pause . The songs are written between February 2006 to July 2007 so, we haven’t stressed anything .
It’s gone pretty fast to record this album, for how long have you been in the studio altogether? Did you expect the recording to go so fast?
The recording process has gone according to plan. We have been in the studio every day since September 3 except for weekends so, I don’t think that we have worked very fast. We have been very critical and more conscious during the recordings this time. We have been critical during our previous recordings as well but, this time we have been exceptionally critical and accurate in order to find the right atmosphere in each song even in the early recording stage.
Do you have a lot left to record?
Only the guitar solos…
Drummer Landin was also here in the studio today, what does he work with besides beating the hell out of the drums?
He’s there to make coffee to the employees that work in the Roastinghouse studio and management, he, he.
Is it a lot of work left with the mixing and the mastering? Is anyone in the band going to participate in that work?
Roger will be in the studio during the mixing of the album. As we speak I think 50% of the album is mixed. When the whole album is mixed we (band members) will listen to the whole album and write down our thoughts and things that might come up that we want to have changed production wise. Pontus then fixes the things he agrees on as a producer of the album and as soon as everyone is satisfied the album will be mastered.
Are you gonna do that job in this studio as well?
The album will indeed be mastered in the Roastinghouse studio as well.
When do you think the new album is gonna be available in the stores?
There are no release dates settled yet but, I’m sure it will hit the stores during spring/summer 2008.
You have worked together with producer Pontus Lindmark this time, how is it to work with Lindmark?
He is an awesome producer and he brings our music to another level. He has great ears for our kind of music and puts a lot of effort to shape up the songs a few inches compared to how we planned from scratch as composers. He always has creative ideas as a producer and adds his touch to it in a cool way. He produced Crimson skies as well so, we knew what to expect before entering the studio….a crazy guy filled with crazy humor, he,he,he.
The fact of the matter is, I wish Pontus all possible success as a producer because, he is awesome to work with and he have a lot of knowledge and skills and he is very down to earth which is important for the atmosphere in a recording studio. He is state of the art and his name should be mentioned among the bigger producer names.
How involved is Anders “Theo” Theander in the album?
Have you decided which song you’re gonna do a video to?
Theo haven’t been involved very much in this recording but, I think it’s better that Pontus answers this question.
We haven’t decided which song we’ll film a video for but, there will indeed be a promotional video eventually…
Have you decided in which order the songs are gonna feature yet?
Nope. But, we have decided which song that will be the albums opener (it was written for the purpose) but, except for that we haven’t discussed the track list yet. We have a few ideas but, nothing serious yet + we want Pontus suggestions as well.
Here are some questions to producer Pontus Lindmark.
How is it to work with Cloudscape Pontus?
It’s a lot of fun! Of course there are frustrations involved now and then, but I think it’s really inspiring. We are all on the same level both personally and musically and the process is very effective.
You have been involved in the last three albums by the band so far, are there any differences with the work you have done on this album compared to the other ones?
My role has become bigger in three steps. On the debut album it was my boss, Anders “Theo” Theander that was the actual producer. I did most of the recording and engineering but under Theo’s direction. During “Crimson Skies”, the procedure was almost the same but I had a lot more influence. This album I produce myself, with Theo’s approval of course – he’s the executive!
Are there any differences between working with a metal band like Cloudscape and other acts you’ve worked with?
Eeh, well…all bands are unique! I would say there are two sides to working with a band. First, I have to learn the “social vibe” of the band – the way they are talking and living and their relations to each other and music in general. Secondly, I have to learn professionally what is important to the musicians. For instance, while one band despises a close miked drum kit, another band is totally dependent on triggered drums. I’m never surprised of what the bands call their “musical reality”, and it’s my role to mix those prejudices with what I think contribute to a selling album.
Cloudscape is quite typical in the metal genre – biggest guitar sound ever and fattest drums and everything else fat and big. I think that’s what keeps the genre going, hehe.
Metal is one of the genres I think is a bit too rigid actually…
What other bands have you worked with?
During my years at Roastinghouse I’ve worked with Pain of Salvation, Last Tribe and Pathos to name a few in the harder category. And a whole lot of unsigned bands which I hopefully can brag about in a near future. I’ve also produced pop/rock bands such as MonRoe, LeGrand and Caitlyn, which all have a bright future in Japan for sure!
Do you feel that Cloudscape is listening to your suggestions and opinions when it comes to the album?
Yeah, absolutely, and they better do!
What do you think of the recording so far? Has it been fun and relaxed?
Yeah, it’s been really smooth. I think the most time consuming aspects are my new ways of recording the instruments, but they will surely pay off Once in a while I have to remind them that we are creating a whole product, not just a blend of single musicians. That can be a hard transition sometimes, when the members usually are “just the drummer” or “just the guitarist”. In the studio, you have to get the big picture – that is what the fans will hear!
Are you going to mix/master the album as well?
What is you biggest asset as a producer do you think?
In general, I would say that my strongest ability is the ability to catch the essence of the band, blending it with my own preferences and then blending that with what’s hot on the market. I’m good at sounds and live instruments, and I’m good at feeling what’s important to a band in a specific genre.
Landin is also sitting beside you today, what can you say about his work?
He’s been great! He’s a good friend and we are both drummers. And it’s always nice to have someone beside you that loves music but doesn’t work in a studio for nine hours a day. The “amateur” opinions are always the most important to me!
If you feel that something isn’t good when it comes to the music or production can you say that to the guys or does Cloudscape decide everything that concerns the music?
I think I’ve been harsher than ever actually, but they haven’t beat me up so far
Guitar players Svärd and Eliasson are gonna do their parts at home and bring the tape to you. What are you gonna do with their parts? Are you bringing it all together here?
Yeah, they are doing their solo parts at home and with friends. I think it’s really good that they can take the time they want, drinking a whiskey or whatever and then I just get the audio file and adapt it to the mix. The guitar solos are not that crucial in terms of equipment, we know the deal. It’s actually what we have done on the other albums too.
What do you think the fans are gonna think of the new album?
A couple of tracks are without a doubt more controversial than ever. I think we will have a couple of “love or hate” reactions on this one. Mike has entered a new level vocally here and there (which I think can attract the fans of Soilwork and Mercenary for example) and there are more 7-string guitars. Eliasson has taken his songwriting into a more atmospheric level while Andersson is more brutal than before. This brings another dimension to the band. Without hesitation it’s the best one so far!
Thanks a lot both Mike and Pontus for the studio session today. Good Luck with the album, I’m looking forward to hear it and talk to you soon again, Mike.
Thanx a lot Anders. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
//Cheers: Mike Andersson and Pontus Lindmark
Read the Cloudscape CD reviews from here