Singer/bass player Martin Hellgren and guitar player Mårten Sandberg – Clonecircle
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures of the band taken by: Peter Nielsen
Thanks to the band for providing the promo pictures
CLONECIRCLE is a Danish act that recently released their second studio album BEHIND THE WIRE. The album is amazing and I love their Gothic Industrial Metal and therefore I thought it was time for the rest of the readers of metal-rules.com to check out the band. Martin Hellgren who plays bass and sings and Mårten Sandberg who takes care of the guitar had a sit-down together.
Hi guys how’s it going? Hope you are ready to take this interview with me and metal-rules.com?
We’re all fine and ready!
BEHIND THE WIRE is the name of the new album from your band Clonecircle – could you tell us a bit about the album like when and where it was recorded and how long the recording process took?
The recordings took place in our own studio in our hometown Randers in Denmark as they did for our first album. We’re always spending time recording demos in the studio, so when we’re finally ready to finish the album, we have a lot of tracks that’s already half way there, and we only need to record the rock band and then tune it all up and do the mix.
How long did you work with the album before you began the recording?
As mentioned we always work with new tracks in the studio, and because we have our own studio facilities – where we’re also rehearsing – we’re able to record anytime we want. So the recording process is in fact a tool for us when we write the tracks so in a way were always writing rehearsing and recording at the same time.
Your previous album SUPERIMPOSED came out in 2006, why did it take you so long to follow up that album?
It’s true that we’re not the fastest writers but we’re also our own hardest critics so it actually takes us a long time to be satisfied with the songs, because we work for so long on each track.
Who writes the material and what are the lyrics about?
The first initiatives to a song normally comes from Hellgren or Sandberg, be it a riff, a melody or lyrics. After that it’s a work in progress where the band try to find the feeling of the song. Then we work a lot on the computer to make the arrangements and the additional keys and beats etc.
The lyrics are mostly written by Hellgren and often deal with mass media and how it affects us – of course dramatised to fit our needs…
Where do you find inspiration to write material?
The inspiration is often found in the absurdities of the modern mediascape and the current common culture, but any dark corner of existence can spark an idea. Some songs are general statements while others reflect more personal experiences.
How come you decided to name the album BEHIND THE WIRE? Does the title have any special meaning for you?
The title BEHIND THE WIRE for both the album and the title song is a reference to the way our comfort and safety may become a prison of the mind. Are we walling out the bad stuff or imprisoning our selves “behind the wire”…?
Who has done the cover art work and what do you think of it?
As with most things CLONECIRCLE, the cover art is also done within the band. Hellgren is a master of designs and drawings and he has done the cover art work, mostly by hand. The theme is a futuristic vision of how life decays “behind the wire”. The cover depicts some possible characters of this prison world and how – like the moth – you seek the light only to find that it may burn you.
I have found that your music have been labelled into goth metal, industrial metal and dark metal but how would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
We ourselves have labelled our music Gothic Industrial Metal, and that’s probably the closest label you can stamp on to it. It’s a mixture of the music we ourselves listen to, and you can hear the mixture of old school and new metal in it as well as elements of industrial beats and pop keyboards.
Do you think that your music have developed since the release of SUPERIMPOSED, if so in what way?
The music has indeed developed over the years. We started out with much simpler and monotone songs in the beginning, which of course shows on Superimposed. The newer songs have more depth and maybe also a bit more melody to them that’s probably the biggest change since Superimposed.
The album was first released in Denmark and then in the rest of Europe. What did the press think of the album, have you read any reviews of it?
Behind The Wire has gotten mostly good reviews – and some not so good – and that’s from all over Europe to Australia, Mexico, to the US. Were always interested in reading them because it’s always fun to hear what other people think of the music and we take in the criticism as well. Some don’t understand the music, which is fine, but someone may have a point that we agree on, be it good or bad.
Is there any difference in how the native and foreign press have written about you and have treated you?
No, that’s almost on the same level, mostly good, some bad and some in between.
You featured the title song “Behind The Wire” on MySpace before the release of the album – what did your fans think of the song?
The song “Behind the Wire” has generally been well received, even by people who don’t necessarily like the whole album. Our fans quite like the song – at least that’s our impression. And we like it ourselves…
Did you throw any release party for the album?
We didn’t throw any release party. Mainly because the album was released in Denmark and the rest of the world on different dates.
Have you shot videos to any of the songs?
We did a promo video for the title track “Behind the Wire” and again the band has made it all. We did the manuscript, the video shooting, the editing, casting and all in between ourselves. It’s a lot of work but actually that’s something we look forward to do in the band.
Have those songs been released as singles as well?
As you mentioned “Behind the Wire” was the first song of the album to be released, and was the first single, but I these days we don’t put out singles it’s more like promos to the radio and the press.
There are a lot of programming and keys on the album who’s in charge of that? And who is gonna take care of that in a live situation?
We do everything you hear on the record ourselves, the programming and keys are all played by us, and we add them to make the atmosphere and feeling of the songs stronger and more powerful. When we play live the tracks runs from a hard drive. This allows us to blend the full experience of the recorded sound with the live feeling of the band.
Is image important to the band?
Our image and the way we perform and stand out is very important to us! We are the creators of the universe of CLONECIRCLE, and we take it very seriously to maintain the universe intact so you’ll never see us doing reality TV photo shoots or what ever without it being under our own control.
The following statement can be read in your biography “Clonecircle has a very visual appearance both on stage and in the music, where theatrical elements and creation of modes within the soundscape are key components” what’s your comment on that?
We have a very visual approach to making music. We like the songs to be like little sound tracks that creates pictures in the listeners head. So we use sound effects, scrambling beats, dramatic lyrics and so forth to create the moods end feelings that we envision for the song.
Many artists often thinks that their latest album is the best one they’ve done is it also so in your case regarding BEHIND THE WIRE?
Why it’s always like that must be that the current album is what the band just worked on and have the fresh feel for, and it’s also like that in our case. It’s not that we don’t like the old album, but the new one is just a more fitting statement of where we are right now.
Mr. Hellgren I think that your vocals sometimes sounds a lot like Alice Cooper’s have you heard that before?
Yeah, It’s been mentioned and it’s actually quite on purpose. Especially the song “Behind the Wire” was done with Mr. Cooper in mind, since the almost spoken theatrical verse seemed very much in his style. Think of it as a tribute.
How was it to record in Popshit Recording Studio where is the studio located?
As we mentioned earlier Popshit Studio is our own studio where we also rehearse so it’s just perfect, like being home all the time. And we can work when we want to.
Who has produced the album?
Hellgren and Sandberg are the main producers in CLONECICLE, but we all have a saying in the band, so it’s all a democratic process.
How was it to produce and mix your own band and album? Wasn’t it hard to stay objective?
It’s sometimes hard to always have to be focused, and not leave the main decisions to an external producer. But the way we work it wouldn’t be possible to have an external producer, because we do so many things in the writing process, which is key to the feeling and atmosphere of the final songs.
What do you think are you’re strongest feature as producers?
In the case of producing our own music it must be the total control of where we want the music to go, and of course our knowledge of the music and lyrics. And we are very open to change. No one has a holy riff or sacred melody line or whatever, that can’t be touched. It’s all about making the songs work.
The drums was engineered by someone else and in a different studio why? And where?
As we do almost everything ourselves, it was a nice way for us to have an external engineer on how the drums should sound, and Kent Olsen is one of our friends from the hometown, and we could use his brand new studio for the recording. He did the sound but we produced and recorded it ourselves.
What did the rest of the band think of having you guys as producers?
As we are the main writers in CLONECIRCLE we also have the most knowledge of how the songs should sound. And we’re also able to put a lot more work into the project, than the other two. So were all fine with the roles. Everybody has a say anyway, be it in rehearsal or recording because of the continuous nature of our work flow.
Have you co-produced other acts or albums besides your own?
As we do have the studio and do not use it all the time, Sandberg is also producing for other bands as well. These bands are mostly local bands from our hometown, and friends of us.
Jacob Hansen took care of the mastering how was it to work with him, I mean he’s a legend?
We first met Jacob as a musician, when we played alongside him and his band INVOCATOR, he’s a great guy and is also the producer of MERCENARY, whom we have toured with in Denmark. So when it came to the mastering of BTW, Jacob was glad to do it, and we were very glad to have him do it.
How did you came in touch with Hansen and do you think that you’re going to work more with him in the future?
As mentioned we met him on the road and of course we knew of his work with other bands. He would be our first choice to master any of our productions. And he really is a great musician and have a great understanding of music in general.
From what I have read did you record the album back in 2009 but why did it take so long to get it released?
It was time for us to change label, and that always takes time.
We didn’t stop making music and producing the album, just because we were looking for labels – besides we also needed an album to present to new working partners.
You released your debut album on Midget Records but then later left the label why?
The label basically couldn’t do anything for us that we ourselves couldn’t do, and our contact at the label, who was the only one there who had any clue to our music, was fired. So it was time for something new.
Were you without a record deal a long time before you joined forces with MSM Production?
MsM Production is our own label, the company is based on Sandbergs one-man-company, and we have all rights to everything we do. So what we actually needed was a distribution and marketing partner, and that took us a while to get, but we finally joined up with TARGET Distribution, how was an ideal partner at the time.
For how many albums are you signed for at MSM Production?
We’ll stick with MsM as long as we don’t have a better offer. In that way we’ll have the full control of what we do.
Are there any plans on releasing the album in North America or Asia in the near future?
We are looking for distribution partners in those territories, or a label that will put some effort in making some noise for us out there!
MSM Production is co-operating with Target Distribution how is the co-operation go?
Since MSM and CLONECIRCLE are basically one and the same, cooperation with TARGET has been easy. TARGET has done a great job for us getting reviews all over Europe, but it’s a tough business getting attention out there, when you don’t have the big marketing budget.
Is it possible to purchase BEHIND THE WIRE physically anywhere in Europe or is it only available for downloading?
Well you can go to your local CD Pusher anywhere in Europe, and make them order the album from the Target Distribution network, that’s no problem, but to get the shops to put it on the shelves is another deal. CDs are not selling what they used to…
But of course you can always order it anywhere on the digital network. It is available in from the major online stores.
Now it’s time to get some info about the band, when and where was the band formed and who is the founder?
Hellgren and Sandberg formed the band as a studio project in 2003, as we have both known each other for years living in the same small town. TY and KK joined the band as we developed the music to be more of an live act than a studio act, that was in 2005.
Where does the name Clonecircle come from?
CLONECIRCLE is originally a computer programming term. In fact we didn’t know that when we cornered the name. We just went for the ring of it – and the fact that no other bands share the name.
Have any of the members been parts of any well known acts prior to Clonecircle?
We have all played in different kinds of bands, spanning from Punk to Rock and Hard rock, reggae to electronica and pop bands, some quite successful, some not.
Has there been any changes in the line-up or is this line-up the original one?
No we’re the all original line up, with no changes.
Have you toured and performed a lot so far?
We have only played in Denmark so far, and is looking for a booking partner outside Denmark, who can bring us to other countries.
Where in Denmark are the band from and how’s the metal scene doing where you live?
We all live in a small town called Randers,in the part of Denmark called Jutland the town is the 6th biggest in DK and have a very good live music scene. Not only in metal but also in Rock, pop, indie and others.
Do you see any problems in the fact that you’re not living in the capital Copenhagen when it comes to work with music?
Yes, Denmark is a small country but has a lot of internal fights between the areas and the music scene in Copenhagen has a life of it’s own compared to the rest of the country. So it’s harder to get fans from Copenhagen when you’re not from there.
Do you have a solid fanbase in Denmark?
We have a small fanbase, but the main thing is that our kind of music does not have a big scene in DK. We do however have a lot of followers from all around the world and have around 17.000 MySpace friends.
You did a show at the one day festival Midwinter Meltdown in January, how was that?
It’s always great to play at that festival in our hometown, and here we have a steady group of followers. You can see most of the concert on our YouTube channel.
Did you try any songs from the new album on the audience during that show?
We mainly played songs from BTW, but we had one brand new song in the set, and it was all taken very well by the audience.
Why don’t you have a website? I noticed that you have both a MySpace and Facebook site but not a website?
We do run Clonecircle.com – but we saw that the way to get attention was through other channels, so the site just links to MySpace. Today you need to be on MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and the lot, where people have fast access to your music and who knows – maybe we’ll build up the site again someday.
Who runs the MySpace and the Facebook site?
We manage those in the original honest old school way of actually getting in touch with friends and fans ourselves.
Do you think that those sites is a good tool for bringing out your music to the masses? Do you see any disadvantage in putting out your music on the internet?
We absolutely think that sites like that is a good thing for bringing our music out in the world, it’s the only way to reach that kind of audience without using a hell of a lot of money. On a pirate site we saw that our album was downloaded 35.000 times and in some way that’s a good ting, of course it’s bad that we don’t make money of it, but hey, we also want people to listen to our music.
There are hardly no info about the band on the net why is it so?
Well, we’re not a typical metal band, and not a typical Rock band, we’re kind of somewhere in between it all, and people that listen to our kind of music will always find us, but the press, the media and live scene doesn’t know where to put us, so they tend to not write about us a lot. But we’re there and so far we have around 30 reviews of BTW around the globe.
What’s the main priority for the band at the moment?
We’re writing new material for the next album or maybe for an EP? With online media being the only viable option to distribute music, there’s actually no reason for making a full length album – unless you want to. So we’ll see what it’ll be.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get?
Not a lot, we answer questions on the MySpace site mostly – if anyone wants to ask us something we’re there. There are no general questions as such.
Are you currently working on new material for a new album?
We’re writing new material for the next album or maybe for an EP.
Do you have plans on touring in Europe or in Scandinavia any time soon?
We are on the look out for booking partners to get us out in the world, and we do have talks with some companies, but no concrete plans yet.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy BEHIND THE WIRE?
It’s dark and haunting, has some great songs on it, and it rocks!
What do you have to say to the unlucky bastards that haven’t discovered Clonecircle yet?
Open your ears, eyes and minds. If you enjoy dark tales, great songs and loud guitars you’re missing out!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you all the best in the future, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Just a big rock on from us! It’s you people out there that keeps Rock’n’Roll going and that’s a thing that only works when you share it!