Nation Beyond is a brand new project put together by Debase guitarist Jonas Karlgren and Facedown bass player Joakim Hedestedt. I met up with mastermind Karlgren one cold evening in the Debase rehearsing space and studio in Malmoe. Here is a long interview that I hope can make you interested in Nation Beyond. At the end of the interview the drummer Johan Helgesson came to join us and tagged along for the interview. The album was released last year in Europe and now the album will be released in the USA, Canada and Australia. Enjoy…..
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Pictures of Jonas and Johan by: Anders Sandvall
Live pictures on Jonas and Johan from the archives of: Anders Sandvall
Transcript by: Ulrika Henriksson
Thanks to Nation Beyond for the promo pictures of the band.
All promo pictures are taken by: Malin Benemark
Hi Jonas, what’s up? I have a couple of questions here with you’re name on them, are you ready for a close-up of Nation Beyond and Jonas Karlgren?
Hi Anders, I’m fine, hope you are too. I’m ready to answer the questions you have lined up for me.
Let’s take it from the beginning. When did the idea to bring Nation Beyond alive take form and was NB something you had thought about for a long time?
Well let’s see. In 2007 it was three years ago I first started out writing material on my own and in the beginning it wasn’t meant to be anything special, I just wrote for my own personal pleasure. I had a lot of different projects going on then but somewhere down the road me and Jocke thought it would be fun to play together. We are childhood friends but we have never played together because we have been busy with our ordinary bands (Jonas with Debase and Jocke with Facedown) but one day we came up with the brilliant idea to form a rock/metal opera, which was our dream at the time. I have for many years been trying to sneak in keyboards in Debases music but the rest of the guys have never liked that idea. I’m more into grand and epic sound pictures than the other guys in Debase so one day I simply sat down and played around with a keyboard and recorded some of my basic ideas on how an album of my dreams would sound like. Then I asked my fellow Debase member Micko to program drums on a song I’ve done and it sounded so damn great that I asked if Johan could add some real drum play on to the song. After that it all rolled on and I took in Nielz (The Drugs) on vocals and his voice fit perfect to be singing Jocke’s lyrics, even Micko was excited and he is a hard man to impress. The first song that was made was “In The Ashes” and then followed “The Last Deceiver” if I remember everything correct.
Was it a given that your friend Jocke Hedestedt should be a part of the band?
Absolutely, as I said earlier was it an old dreams of ours to work together and in Nation Beyond we saw that opportunity come alive.
Where does the name Nation Beyond come from? Were there any other name options that you rejected?
That’s all Jocke’s idea, he works a lot with designing booklets and such stuff and he had already came up with the name of the band as well as the bands logotype etc. I didn’t have any input but luckily for him I loved his work . And I do think the name fits right into the concept of the album.
How long did it take to write the album?
From starting writing the songs to the finish product it took about 3 years. I sat many evenings and nights after work in the studio and just wrote and wrote and came up with new ideas for the music. It was a hard time but we had decided to go through with this idea no matter what so it was only to struggle on. But it was also a lot of fun to write my own material and turning our dream into reality. It took 3 years when but if we haven’t had our other bands to focus on it maybe would have taken us one year. But I can promise you that it won’t take three more years before we have the next album ready Anders.
You have written the music and Hedestedt has written the lyrics, was that something you agreed on from the beginning?
No it just came out that way because Jocke is much more experience with lyric writing. I’m not a lyric wizard I’m more suited to write music.
Did Jocke have any input when it came to the music?
Jocke had to OK every music piece before I went on, so he had saying in how the music should like too. But we did the music and lyrics separately because we live so far apart. But I can imagine it was hard for him to work like this because first I wrote the music and then he had to jump into the music and build a story and a lyric to and around it.
The album is a theme album, what is the theme?
Well we took the decision quite early that we wanted to do a concept/theme album and at first we wanted the album to sound like a soundtrack to a movie like Road Warrior and Mad Max or some of the older classic. It was maybe not the most original idea ever but that was how we felt and we wanted to write about what’s happening in the world today with the crazy guy that leads the USA. And if you think hard isn’t it totally impossible that what happens on the album happens in reality.
Jonas, you live in the southern parts of Sweden and Hedestedt is situated in Stockholm. Have you experienced any problems with living on such long distance from each other?
No, no problem at all. We haven’t been able to rehearse as much as we want to but we are effective when we get together. Sometimes have Frank Sander replaced Jocke on jam sessions but we haven’t done any live show so far. If we ever do a live show we’ll solve those problems if they occur.
Tell us who appears on the album, how did you choose which people you wanted to work with?
It is 2 guys from my other band Debase Micko and Johan. The vocals is run by Nils and Sara. I just wanted to work with good musicians and these guys and girl are really good. I knew I wanted to work with Micko but on guitar and not on bass because that’s Jocke’s instrument. As it is today we have keyboards on backtrack which isn’t the ultimate solution but it will do for now. I knew I wanted Nielz from the get go and the first rehearse we had together, he such a great singer. And Sara has been active in the music scene since the 90’s so she was the perfect choice for Nation Beyond.
The lead vocals are shared by a man and a woman. Was that how you wanted it to be in the first place or was that something you decided for along the way?
It was something that appeared during the writing process. I didn’t have any idea on bringing in a woman on vocals at first but I felt that something was missing in certain tracks and felt it could be fun to top it off with a female touch. But the decision to take in another singer came pretty late in the process and therefore Sara doesn’t have so much space on the album. However you will be able to hear more from her on the next album.
Now that you know how the both singer’s sounds together do you have any plans on bringing in any extra singer on the next album, like Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia I mean?
Well I had plans on that on this album but Jocke were against that, but maybe we’ll do it on the next album.
The album is titled THE AFTERMATH ODDYSSEY which is a bit depressing title or at least it makes you think, how did you come up with that title?
We are both responsible for that title actually; I wanted the album to be called something with aftermath and then came Jocke up with the entire title so everyone was happy . It may be a depressing title but hey, it’s not a cheerful album.
When I put on the album I hear a dark progressive and symphonic kind of metal which is excellent, how would you describe what kind of music Nation Beyond plays?
I could not describe it any better than you Anders and I do agree with you. I know that someone has labeled melodic metal which is totally wrong and I don’t know where that comes from.
Were you well rehearsed and prepared when you went into the studio?
No actually we weren’t. I knew how I wanted it all to sound like and simply told people how I wanted them to play or to sing. Everyone was free to speak their mind but at the end of the day was it me and Jocke’s project so they had to obey us and then especially me.
Did you and Jocke send demos to the rest of the members in order for them to learn the music?
Yes, we had done a pre-production on every song except for one so that the guys had time to learn the songs but I also sat down with them and told them how I wanted it to sound like and how they should play.
You’ve recorded the album in Stomp Farm Records, where is the studio located and what do you think of the studio?
It is located in Malmö and I really like to work whit those people who runs the studio. It’s run by Micko and Frank, the drums were recorded in Debases Studio and the rest were recorded at Frank’s so we used two studios. We are the first band/project to record an album in Stomp Farm Records.
You together with the Debase colleague Micko Tweedberg and Frank Sandberg have produced it all, how was it to produce your own album? Have you done any production work prior THE AFTERMATH ODDYSSEY?
It was really nice to do this album. And yes I have co produce the Debase album together with Micko. But I have to correct you, Frank hasn’t produced the album he’s engineered it. It’s been fun to produce and it has only been Jocke’s and my will this time. When you’re in a band there are like 5 people that want it to sound in their way etc. This time has the most stubborn guy won and that’s me ha ha. I have been along for the entire ride that means I was involved in the mixing and the mastering and Jocke has been a part in certain parts of the mixing and mastering.
What does the rest of the band think of your production? Are they happy with you as producer?
Yeah I really hope they are, I haven’t heard any complaint ha ha at least not yet. But if we had recorded the album today I think we had done it in a different way. Now we know what hazards there are with producing an album and sometimes it was a really hard work to say the least.
What do you like the most, producing or playing guitar?
I have to say producing and writing material. I still love to play the guitar but to write is quite new to me and I just love it. Sure it’s fun to go out on tour and to get feedback and support buy the fans but the industry is so harsh nowadays and now that I have wife and kids it fits me better to sit at home or in the studio and write or produce. I’m getting old man ha ha.
Do you have any current plans on continuing producing other acts?
No I haven’t but I take requests I know that me and Jocke are gonna produce the next NB album but sure, if it comes up any exiting project or band that wants me as a producer I’m in.
You recorded the album with no back up from any record label, how come you did that?
Simply because we didn’t want anyone to say what we should say or do or how to act, we took a chance and even though it has cost us a large amount of money it was totally worth it. We wanted to have total artistically freedom which we only felt we could have if we financed the album ourselves. Then the thought was to sell in a final and ready concept with a logo, band name, album etc to a label. But as I said, it did cost us quite a lot of cash.
Is Nation Beyond a band or a project today?
It’s a band, we maybe don’t rehearse three or four times a week but we’re still definitely a band. And we’re currently in the progress of putting together a live act now. And hopefully are everyone that is featured on the album be available to be on stage. But we are quite a few members and everyone has jobs and families on the side so I can understand if everyone can’t make it, sad but true.
What do you think of the album? Do you feel satisfied with the outcome of would you have done anything different in retrospect?
I am proud of it and no it is the best we could do at that time.
I’ve read in the bio that the song “Soulmates” was released as the first single before the album came out, where has it been released and what kind of respond have you gotten?
No single because the label fucked it up.
THE AFTERMATH ODDYSSEY came out late last year in Europe, what reviews have you got so far?
The media has been handling out both positive and negative judgments. The album hasn’t gone so well in Scandinavia but it has gone much better in America and Canada. It’s fun because it’s the first time I have released an album overseas and the respond have been overwhelming so far. And when it comes to Europe has the U.K been most positive towards the album. But we are satisfied overall, it could have been better in certain ways but it also could have been hell of a lot worse.
Is it any differences between how the Scandinavian press has greeted the album compared to the European press?
Oh yeas, the Scandinavian press has been a lot more skeptic compared to the European press. Maybe our music doesn’t appeal to certain Swedish rock journalists but that’s life. Overall have we gotten a better greeting in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.
How come you signed on for Burning Star Records? Where is the label based and what do you think of your co-operation so far?
We got the best offer from them, the label is based in Greece.
What do you think of the job the label has put into the promotion etc?
I’m not happy at all; it could have been done much much better. The distribution label Sound Pollution has done the part Burning Star has paid for but no we are not happy at all.
For how many albums have you signed on for and who own the legal rights to your debut album?
We have signed on for only one album for the European label and we own the legal rights to it. The label has bought the legal rights to release our second album but this is more Jocke’s area and not mine.
You said earlier that you had plans on doing three albums, is that something you still are focused on doing?
No I take one album at the time. But we writing new material so we have to wait and see.
Are there any current plans on doing a follow up album? And if so are the same people gonna be on the album?
Jonas – Yes and yes. The same people are gonna be featured and it’s gonna be a theme album as well. The story continues on. Jocke is gonna be more involved in the music writing process that I know. The next album is due to be released sometimes during the winter in 2009.
Johan – We’re throwing ideas back and forth right now and planning our next move.
Is the album available world wide today?
I know it has been released in Europe and in Scandinavia but I haven’t seen in out yet. It’s also available in England and in online stores.
Is Nation Beyond heading out on the roads soon? Any plans on doing a longer tour?
Jonas – We have to wait and see what kind of offer we get but of course we’re hoping to be able to play as much live as we possible can. But NB is a pretty large production and as I said earlier is it quite hard to get everyone at the same place at the same time. We have had a request of going over to USA and it would have been extremely fun to go there but time will tell.
Johan – Well, I play wherever there is beer available. But just as Jonas says is NB a huge production to pull off and a big challenge as well. When we were out with Debase it was only to play rock’n’roll on a stage but this is something different.
If you’re going out on the road who is gonna take care of the keyboards, I mean you have plenty of orchestral parts and samplers on the album?
As it is now we’re gonna cheat and use backtrack, but we search for a real and alive keyboard player.
Are you gonna have a release party for the album?
No we did not have that this time.
Besides Nation Beyond you’re also a part of Debase, what’s the status in the Debase camp now?
Johan – Debase isn’t dead but the members are busy with other stuff at the moment but we all miss the band. But for the fourth time we are standing with no record deal which sucks. The members are busy with bands like Nation Beyond, Paul DiAnno, Wit and Facedown but after that it would be fun to do something with Debase. We get along much better now than before.
Jonas – We have burnt the candle in both ends and therefore it was fun and quite a relief to do something outside Debase for a while and that was necessary because we didn’t want to split the band.
I know Debase is about to celebrate a decade in the business this year, how are you gonna celebrate that?
Jonas – You never know.
Johan – Have we been around for so many years? The only thing I can say is that it’s uncertain how we gonna celebrate it.
Do you have any contact with the rest of the Debase besides Helgesson and Tweedberg that also plays in Nation Beyond?
Jonas – Yes, I doesn’t meet singer Michael so often but that mainly depends on that we live in different places. I talk to Sigge all the time and we all got together when Micko had a housewarming party some time ago.
Johan – Me and Sigge was at a Y&T concert and we are better and closer friends now than we ever were in Debase.
For how long have you played guitar? Do you have any special role model or idol that you look up to within the musical scene?
Well, I think I have played for over 20 years now, I like guitarists such as Chris Degormo on Queensryche but in the beginning my idols were Jake E Lee and Randy Rhoads. And because I’m not Yngwie Malmsteen I had to do something different, like writing epic music ha ha.
What made you decide to play guitar?
Cause it is METAL.
Have you been in any other band besides Debase and Nation Beyond?
Daylight, Dash the Mazz, Melissa
Are you involved in any other acts besides the ones already mentioned?
No not at the moment, I’m too occupied with NB.
Where do you find inspiration to your music? Why don’t you write lyrics as well as music?
I start out with drinking a few beers, then I turn on the keyboard or the guitar then I drink some more beer to see if any inspiration turns up. That’s how it always works.
On the next Nation Beyond album do you think you’re gonna be more involved in the lyrics?
I’m not so good with writing lyrics that doesn’t come so easy to me, I’m more a music kind of guy. I have never been that interested in writing lyrics to be honest.
Well, that’s about it for me. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Debase- Nation Beyond- Jonas Karlgren lovers out there?
Jonas – If you buy the album I promise you we’re gonna come and play.
Johan – To every Debase fan I’d like to say – hang in there. The band is not put asleep. To every N.B fan I’d like to say that we are eager to come out and play and we’re gonna do a hell of a show.
I wish you the best of luck with Nation Beyond and I really hope you’re going out on the road soon so I can catch you guys live.
Jonas – Thanks Anders for this interview
Johan – Thanks so much Anders and nice to see you again to day.
Read the new hot debut album in the database of CD in metal-rules.com
More info about the band