Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Lars Chriss for arranging this interview
Thanks to Metal Heaven for the promo pictures of the band
I’ve read that it was you who first came up with the idea to start a new band/project, is that true?
I really don’t remember. It’s hard to say because we discussed this over a period of time and after a while the idea of Road To Ruin formed.
And is Road to Ruin a band or a project?
It’s a band. We are all very busy in other projects/bands but when it’s necessary we come together as a band.
When did you and Chriss seriously started to write material to the album? And how long did it take to write the album?
It all started when Lars Chriss (Lion’s Share) and I was writing songs for Lion’s Share. But some of the song ideas that came up didn’t fit the Heavy Metal style LS was going after for the new album. We started to write the songs in 2005 and it was mastered this autumn so I’d say around two years.
How did the drummer Thomas Broman end up in the band? Was he the obvious choice or did you cast many people for the position as drummer?
He was our first (and only) choice. We felt that he would fit perfect in the style of Road to ruin. Both Lars and I have known Thomas Broman for some years and really like his drumming.
His work on the album is awesome!
And how come you choose Alfonzetti to be the singer of the band?
Lars has known Matti for several years and we both really like his voice. So we just called him up to see if he was interested. We thought his voice should be perfect for the way we wanted Road To Ruin to sound like. We also wanted a singer that could write good melodies and lyrics and bring in his own ideas in the band.
Was it hard to convince him to be in the band?
We gave him some demos and after he heard them he said yes! I think the timing was perfect because he said that he had thoughts about sing in a hard rock band again.
You recorded parts of the album in you and Chriss studio, where are the studio located and how come you did it all in your own studios? Was it because it was the most convenient for you?
At the time Lars had a studio together with Johan Kihlberg (former president of Kiss-army Sweden) located just outside Stockholm. But that studio doesn’t exist anymore. We used our own studio and equipment because we know how it works and we can get the sound we are looking for.
In which studio did you record the remaining parts of the album?
Matti recorded his part (vocals) in his own studio and that was great because that saved us all a lot of time. That also gave Matti the possibility to write and record his part without any stress.
Were there many labels that were interested in Road To Ruin?
Metal Heaven was actually the only label we contacted.
You signed on to Metal Heaven, can you reveal how many albums you are signed for and how come you picked Metal Heaven?
We are signed for one more album. We picked Metal Heaven just because we felt that it would be the best label for Road To Ruin. They were also interested enthusiastic from the start.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album? Do you feel you should have done something different on it now that you look back?
Well, we are still doing promotional work for the album and it’s too early to say if it sells good. The album is being released in Japan on January 23. US, South-America and Russia will follow. So it’s still a lot of work to do before we can say anything about the outcome of the album
Who has done the cover artwork, what do you think of it and does it have any special meaning?
Mathias Nord made the cover-artwork. It might have some meaning but I personally like it just because it’s a cool picture. The man that holds the dices is the same guy that made the “Emotional Coma” cover.
I think Road To Ruin plays retro hard rock, but how would you like to define your music?
The idea with Road To Ruin is to celebrate the music we listened to when we grove up. It’s a celebration to bands like Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Whitesnake etc. – but in our own way and with our own songs and sound.
How did media respond on the album?
Very good! We got good reviews and articles in various rock magazines. We also got a lot of airtime in different radio stations. So I would say the response has been great!
Is there any difference in how the Scandinavian press and the European press have responded on the album?
Not really. We play classic hard rock either you like it or not no matter where you’re from. It seems like most of the press understands what we are doing and what style we are going for.
Do you think that fans of Lion’s Share are going to appreciate Road to Ruin?
There are a lot of Lion’s Share fans that really like this album. And we are two members from LS so of course they will find similarities – especially the guitar-sound! – And hopefully they like it!
Any plans on going out on tour or do some shows whit Road To Ruin?
If the right offers comes up. The best would probably be to support a bigger band to reach new fans or go with a tour package with bands in the same style/size as Road To Ruin. It’s all a matter of planning.
Do you think you’re going to do a follow up album anytime soon?
I personally would love to do another album and I think the guys would like that to! It’s been great to work with these guys and everybody has brought something musically that made this album turn out so well.
Where does the name Road To Ruin come from?
It’s just a name we liked. We came up with a lot of names but after a while we had our winner and that was Road To Ruin. We also managed to get a nice logo out of the name.
You’re playing both keyboards and bass on the album, how are you going to solve that in a live situation, I mean you can’t play both on stage?
That’s right. We will hire a keyboard player when we hit the road. We do have a keyboard player on two songs on the album and that’s Lars Pollack who plays the Hammond organ. Lars Pollack has also played with Glenn Hughes, Brazen Abbot and HTP.
Have you got any offers to play live?
There’s been some interest. And we also have some ideas in the band that we discuss.
Give me three reasons why we should by the Road To Ruin album?
1.If you’re into classic hard rock and a fan of groups like Whitesnake, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy etc.
2. If you like high quality hard rock with one of Sweden’s best singers!
3. It’s a great album that celebrates the classic hard rock-music of the 70s and 80s.
Some questions about Lion’s Share
And let’s talk a little about your other band Lion’s Share, how come you joined the band in the first place? Did you know Chriss from earlier?
I met Lars Chriss in 2004 when we were involved in the Swedish “weather” band Spridda Skurars. The famous Swedish weatherman Paer Holmgren put Spridda Skurars together for Sweden rock-festival 2004. We got to know each other and started to write songs together. Lars was looking for a bass-player for Lion’s Share so I jumped the train…
How has 2007 been treating Lion’s Share do you think?
Very good! A great new album is out and we have done big festival gigs in front of thousands of metal fans. It’s been a great comeback-year for Lion’s Share.
You played at Sweden Rock Festival this summer how was that?
The show was great – and we had a real good time there!! We also met a lot of fans on the signing session after the gig. It was a success! It was our first major gig after the release of “Emotional Coma” so it was like a big release-party – on Sweden’s biggest rock-festival!
What have the highlight from 2007 been for Lion’s Share in your point of view?
Sweden rock was great but somehow I think Magic Circle Festival (Manowar’s own festival) was the highlight of the year. We played in front of 10000 head banging metal-fans on the biggest stage I’ve ever been on. We have two songs from it on the new Manowar double DVD that’s out now on Universal in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
What have the future in store for Lion’s Share? Are you going to do more live shows next year?
At the moment Lars, Patrik and I are writing new material for our next album. We also got some gigs booked in the spring/summer next year. “Emotional Coma” will be released in the USA, January 29 on Locomotive Records.
When can we expect the next Lion’s Share album out in the store?
It’s planned to be released on October 3rd 2008.
You did a sneak show at a small club in Stockholm just before the new album, EMOTIONAL COMA, came out. How was that?
It was real fun! We got really close to the audience because the club was quite small and it was great. After the gig we had time to talk to a lot of fans and friends.
Have the older fans of Lions Share welcomed you to the band?
Yes, the fans are great and it’s been a true pleasure to hang out with them after the shows. Hope to see you all soon!
Do you see any problems with your labels not being based in Sweden when both of your bands are Swedish?
Not really. Today you can sort things out via mail or by sending files through internet.
Have you done a lot of press for LS or have Chriss done the main part?
I’ve done some but Lars has done the main part since he is the founder of the band.
Can you reveal anything on the next LS album, like any song title, the album title or what’s it going to sound like?
We are going to continue the straight on metal style. The songs we’ve written so far are full of energy with great melodies. We have fast and furious songs together with mid tempo metal songs. Check it out on October 3rd!
Why have LS played so few shows in Scandinavia do you think?
The band has done a lot of gigs in Scandinavia in the past – check out tour dates on our website. www.lionsshare.org. This spring and summer we did some shows in Sweden and Norway; we also did a “mini” tour. Of course we would like to do more gigs but it takes a lot planning to organize that.
Where in the world have LS its biggest fan base today?
It’s hard to say. But I guess Germany is important because it’s a lot of metal fans living there. And we had a great audience and met a lot of fans at the Magic Circle Festival this summer in Germany. Our fan club is however based in Sweden and so is our fan club-president Peter Rönnqvist. Check out the fan site at: www.lionssharearmy.com
More background about the Sampo himself
Finally, let’s talk about you Sampo. What acts have you been involved with prior Lion’s Share and Road To Ruin?
I was a member of the Swedish metal band Crawley in the early ‘90s. In 1995 JJ Marsh (Spellbound, Glenn Hughes), Ola Strandberg (Spellbound) and I started a band called Frog that mostly played covers of 70’s hard rock-bands. I worked with Glenn Hughes between 1995 to around 1996-97. I’ve also worked as session-musician both in the studio and live. In 1999-2000 I did two Scandinavian tours with the US country rocker Rob Ryan. And then you have a number of bands and projects over the years – the list goes on and on. Besides playing the bass I have been writing songs for some Swedish artists and bands (including a Grammy-winner). I have also been writing music for Swedish national TV – SVT. I have study music at the Royal Music College in Stockholm for four years and I have a teachers-degree in music.
You play both keyboards and bass, which instruments do you think you’re handling the best?
I’m a bass-player but I play some piano/keyboard and guitar. For the harder keyboard-parts on the Road To Ruin album we did hire a keyboard player for two songs (Lars Pollack) as I mentioned earlier. I’ve always been interested in other instruments – but the bass is my main-instrument! I actually started out as a drummer when I was a kid.
For how long have you played bass and keyboard?
I’ve played the bass since the teen years. Keyboard is something I picked up home at my parents piano.
Do you have any particular role model or idol that you looked up to within the music scene when you were younger and that made you start to play on your own?
There were a lot of bands that I liked – and still like! But Kiss, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin was the bands that really inspired me to start playing music.
You have played with the legendary Glenn Hughes. For how long did you guys play together and what’s it like working with the “voice of rock”?
I worked with Glenn from 95 until somewhere around 96-97 as I mentioned earlier. I wrote songs together with Glenn for the albums “Addiction” and “The Way It Is”. I also played bass in his band on a European tour in ‘96 and a Japan tour in early ‘97. It was a great experience to work With Glenn Hughes both as songwriter and a touring musician. His got an amazing voice that seems to last forever!
Do you have any other projects or bands that you’re involved with besides the ones already mentioned?
No! Two bands are enough at the moment!
What are your plans for you, Lion’s Share and Road to Ruin in 2008?
We plan to release the next Lion’s Share album on October 3rd. So right now we are writing new songs for that. We will probably hit the studio in March/April. There are some gigs booked in May/June/July and as I mentioned earlier “Emotional Coma” will be released in USA January 29 and South-America and Russia will follow. So we are going to be very busy the next year.
Thanks a lot for answering my questions, have a great new year.
Thanks a lot and have a great 2008!
Read the CD review of the new kick ass album here
Read the CD reviews of Lion’s Share here
More info about the band