Bad Habit are the undisputed kings of AOR/melodic hardrock. The band is now back on the scene with a brand new release titled ABOVE AND BEYOND. It has taken the band 4 years to follow up their previous studio album so I decided to meet up with bandleader and guitarist Hal Marabel to talk about the new and long-awaited album.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures taken by: Mikael Lindström
Thanks to AOR Heaven for the promo pictures of the band
Hi Hal, are you ready to once again be interviewed by metal-rules.com? I thought we could begin with talking about the brand new Bad Habit album ABOVE AND BEYOND.
Hi, Anders let’s go.
How long did it take to write and record ABOVE AND BEYOND?
Well, all in all with writing and recording, it took about 10 months. A few songs were actually written during the recording.
When was the decision made that you were gonna do a new Bad Habit album?
In late 2007 we started discussing making another album and a few months later we started the demoing process.
I know that you usually write most of the material in the band, have you written the main part of the material on ABOVE AND BEYOND as well?
Yes, most of the songs but there are also a few songs by Patrik, our bass player – as well as one song from Bax, our singer. I think they fit well with the concept and style of the band.
Of course, we arranged them in such a way…
When I interviewed you last time you said that there was gonna be a new Bad Habit album out during 2007, but that didn’t happen, why?
Bad Habit has always been a band where the timing has to be “right” and as we all have other careers, we’ve waited until the mood and creativity was there… Like I mentioned above, we did start the process in 2007…
Where does the title ABOVE AND BEYOND come from and does the title have any special meaning to you?
Yes, it is all about going above and beyond anything you’ve ever done before… becoming better and stronger. I think the album cover design displays this in a good way.
You did record the album in V.I.P Wonderclub Studio in Malmoe Sweden, is that your studio?
Yes, this is my own studio where I always do most of the actual recordings before taking it to the mixing studio, Reingold Studio. It works very well to do it this way as it makes for quite a relaxed recording environment, which improves the recording end result.
Jonas Reingold has produced the new album; he did also produce your previous album, how come you wanted to work with him again?
Jonas and I work very well together and complement each other well. It’s is almost like we finish each other sentence when we listen to a track and decide which way to go with it…
What do you think is Reingolds strongest feature as producer?
He’s very perceptive and intuitive in his listening, as well as being very methodical when working with the sound and arrangements.
Were any of the members present when Reingold mixed the album in his own studio?
Only Jonas and I – the others have full confidence in leaving it in our hands.
Do you think that you and Reingold are gonna continue working together in the future?
Oh yes, we have our songwriting/producing project called Soulcandy Music, where we write songs for others e.g. The Poodles… who have several gold and platinum sales with some of our songs.
Bad Habit’s got a studio blog on their website, how many people read the blog?
The blog was only really current while the ongoing recording process but we left it there so that other could read about it out of interest at a later stage. It seemed to be well-appreciated.
Who has done the cover art-work? And what do you think of it?
I did it through my design agency V.I.P. Wonderclub, and it was designed to fit the purpose and concept of this particular album, which I think it does…
I think that ABOVE AND BEYOND feels a little heavier compared to your previous releases, but despite that it feels like you haven’t lost the essence and the core of Bad Habit, was it the aim the do a heavier album this time?
The previous album [HEAR-SAY] had a heavier approach and the new album was more geared in the AOR direction. That was the plan and goal as we set out to produce the two albums… Also, the production is quite different, where the previous album had more of a high-tech sound and the new album a more ‘airy’ and crisp organic sound…
Do you think you’re older fans are gonna appreciate the new album?
Yes, the true “die-hard” Bad Habit fans love the new album… At least that is the feedback that has been coming in since the release…
When you turn on a Bad Habit album you can straight away tell that it’s an album by Bad Habit and I think you have managed to stay true to your own sound through the years, has it been hard to go your own musical path and don’t listen to what’s “in” or not at the moment?
I think all bands have periods where they might worry a bit whether or not their sound and songs will appeal to their audience but Bad Habit have always managed quite well to stay true our original concept and style.
Are you happy with ABOVE AND BEYOND? Personally I really think you have managed to capture the true AOR/ melodic hardrock sound that I feel Bad Habit is all about.
Yes, we actually feel exactly the same way, we set out to deliver our core style and sound, and I think we managed to do it the way we intended.
Sven Cirnski is an amazing guitarist but I think he’s sadly underestimated in the world, what do you think? Lead singer Bax Fehling does also an amazing effort, what do you think of your bandmates efforts this time?
I feel that all musicians in the band an exceptionally good at what they do, each in their own way… and yes, they are underestimated to a certain extent.
Do you have any favorite track on ABOVE AND BEYOND?
My favorites tend to change but right now they are:
“I Don’t Want You”, “Just A Heartbeat Away”, “Let Me Tell You” and “I Need Someone”.
Which album have so far been the most fun to record with Bad Habit?
The new one, it’s been very relaxed and fun to record it.
You did shoot a video to the song “I Don’t Want You” what can you tell us about that video?
The video was shot by the famous Oresund Bridge (bridge to Copenhagen). It was shot in October so it was actually quite cold although it looks very Summery and warm.
Is that song gonna be released as a CDS?
The video, and the others we have produced over the years, will be part of the DVD we’re releasing after summer… The DVD will also include live clips and some other footage.
Are you going to shoot more videos to songs from this album?
Yes, we will shoot another video shortly for the track “Let Me Be The One”, a bit more of a sentimental song which this time will have a story to go with it…
Have you read any reviews of the album yet? What has the media said about it?
The reviews have mostly been overwhelmingly positive. However, some of the heavier magazines/webzines obviously think that the album is a bit too soft for their liking – but we knew that they would..;)
Have you had a release party for the album yet? If so when and where did it take place?
No, not so many good places to have a release party in our home town of Malmoe, but we will do sort of a release gig on June 27 at a private party, although this is a bit after the release.
Do all of the members in the band live in the Southern parts of Sweden?
Yes, either both Lund and Malmoe.
Were there any songs that didn’t make in on to the final album?
Yes, there are always a few songs that are left aside for the final recording/production.
This new album is a master piece within the AOR/melodic hardrock if you ask me. What do you think about that?
That’s very nice to hear… We feel good about this album as we really like the sound and overall production as well as loving the songs.
You released your previous album on Frontiers Records and now you are signed to AOR Heaven, why did you change label?
Frontiers were a good label for us at that time and AOR Heaven was suitable for this album… it is all about timing and what feels right in the moment.
How come you inked a deal with AOR Heaven? Were there many other labels that were interested in you as well?
We approached AOR Heaven for this album specifically since we felt that they are a good and dedicated AOR label for melodic rock.
Are you happy with being signed to AOR Heaven?
Yes, we’re pleased with them so far.
Is ABOVE AND BEYOND released world wide today?
It’s released in Europe and Japan.
You are listed as one of the executive producers of the album, does that mean that you have own the legal rights to the album?
Yes, and AOR Heaven has the license for Europe for an exclusive period.
Doc Shannon is also one of the executive producers, but isn’t he one of the co-founders of Bad Habit?
Yes, although he hasn’t been in the band for a while, we still have contact (he now lives in the US) and his musical opinions are still very valued in the band. He contributed with his feedback throughout the production.
Are there any plans on trying to take on the American and Canadian market?
If we get some interest in those regions, we would of course be happy to explore the options around this.
How is it with the Asian market, are you going to try to conquer that too?
Well, like I mentioned above, the album is out in Japan and the first feedback is positive, so we’ll see what happens there…
You are also involved in the project ARENA Sweden, how are things going with that project? When we spoke a few years ago you said that a new album was gonna be released, what happened?
There was an album thought to be recorded in 2005 but instead I focused on the Bad Habit [hear-say] album. But right now I have started work on the album which will probably be out beginning of 2010. This time with a new singer and perhaps another surprise….
You have written a lot of songs together with Jonas Reingold, is it fun to work with him?
Yes, we work very well together and have a similar musical background with classical music and hard rock… Also, we share the same sense of humor
Have you written songs or material to other artists besides Bad Habit?
Jonas and I started recently our collaboration Soulcandy Music, and so far we have placed several songs with The Poodles, who have sold both gold and double-platinum in Sweden with our songs. Their new single “I Rule The Night” is also one of ours. Other than that, we have several songs that are now out on pitch at the moment and hopefully they will find their home in the near future….
I know you have got your own page on Facebook, own homepage and your own personal MySpace page are you active on internet?
Yes, I am very active on the web as I feel it is a perfect opportunity to both build the network and get in contact with interesting people across the globe…
What do you think of the MySpace forum?
I like MySpace but I do feel that they need to improve their platform functionality slightly…
Is the band member of MySpace?
Yes, we’re at: http://www.myspace.com/badhabitvip
The previous Bad Habit album came 2005, what have the band members been up to in between the releases?
Well, we all have other careers so we’ve been quite involved with these…
Have the members been involved in any other band/project in between the releases of your previous album and ABOVE AND BEYOND?
Jaime, our drummer work as a studio musician on a full-time basis and last year Sven, our lead guitarist released a solo album called “Truth”….
You held a releaseparty when you released your previous album (HEAR-SAY) in Malmoe, how was that and was it fun to perform live?
That was a fun gig… all our friends were their and everybody had a great time… Also, the songs worked very well live
Have you been out touring a lot since the last album?
No, we haven’t done any actual touring, just scattered gigs here and there…
I know there were plans on heading out on a European tour on the last album; did you go out on tour?
No, we didn’t go through with it in the end… Other projects as well as family issues put this on hold.
All of the Bad Habit members have also got regular jobs on the side, is it hard to find the time to work, recording albums and play live with the band?
It’s a bit of juggling sometimes but with a bit of coordination, it usually works out.
Do you read everything that’s written about the band?
I try to read as much as possible in order to get a good view of what both fans and critics think about the band and our music,
Bad Habit is considered as an iconic AOR act today, how does it feel to be considered an icon?
This is of course very flattering… we know that the AOR community is particular of the kind of music that they take to their heart… so it’s a privilege to be considered to be at this level.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
When we will come to their hometown and play…
Are you happy with what Bad Habit has achieved so far?
The band is achieving what we set out to do… to earn the respect of AOR fans across the globe… a few here and there adds up you know… ; )
According to your website you’re currently working on a DVD, tell us more about that?
Yes, we felt it was time to collate material we’ve gathered over the years – and share this with the fans…
You are gonna perform at the Firefest Festival in England in October, how does that feel, are you exited?
Very, last time we could only do an acoustic gig due to a missing drummer… but this time, we go all in….
Are you gonna do any more live shows now that the album is out?
It all depends on the feedback and any opportunities that will appear…
Are you gonna do any festival shows this summer?
Unfortunately we’re a bit late for these as most of them were booked ages ago but we’ll see what happens.
When can we expect to find the next Bad Habit album out in stores?
Don’t know at this point in time… right now I’m writing the new ARENA album + songs for the next Swedish Eurovision Song Contest, so this is what’s on my mind right now…
You did re-record three of your previous albums, are they available in stores today?
REVOLUTION and ADULT ORIENTATION were re-mastered + added with bonus tracks
Where in the world does Bad Habit got its biggest fanbase do you think?
Well, the countries from where we’ve received the most feedback throughout the years are: UK, Germany Spain, Italy and Japan.
What would you like to say to the people who haven’t discovered Bad Habit yet?
Please feel free to listen to our latest album and see what you think… hope you’ll like our music.
Give the readers three reasons why they should go out and buy ABOVE AND BEYOND?
In my view, it’s our best album so far, and encapsulates everything that Bad Habit is all about… our core essence and musical style…
Well, that was all for me, thanks a lot for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I wish you all the best in the future. Take Care.
Thanx you very much for your time Anders…
More info about the band