J.K Impera band leader/drummer – Impera
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Khalil Turk at Escape Music for the help to get this done.
Thanks to Escape Music for the promo pictures of the band
Promo pictures of the band is taken by: Tallee Savage
Impera is a brand new Swedish act led by drummer J.K Impera. He has gathered an all-star line up with Tommy Denander on guitar, Mats Vassfjord on bass and last but not least the incredible Matti Alfonzetti on vocals. The debut called LEGACY OF LIFE came in late October and I got a hold of J.K Impera in order to talk about the new album, about the band, the amazing line up and the future of the band. Read more about the latest hardrock band from Sweden.
Hi J.K how are you today? Thanks for taking the time doing this interview with me and metal-rules.com. Are you ready to begin?
Sure, let’s go
Lets go back to the beginning, when was the band formed and how come you wanted to create a band?
I’ve started the band 3 years ago after a conversation with my good friend John Corabi (ex Mötley Crue) and the plan was that John would handle the vocals and I would dig up the rest of the band, unfortunately John´s busy schedule prevented him to participate so I started from scratch and it was quite easy actually, I just went, who is the best guitar player in Sweden? Tommy Denander. Who is the greatest singer? Matti Alfonzetti and so on. And it helped that I’ve none all the guys for over 20 years.
Was it easy to find members to the band?
Very, I just phoned the first three guys that came to mind and everybody said yes right away.
It’s quite an impressive group of musicians you have join forces with, are you happy with the line-up?
Yes, this is my dream-group. To have Tommy, Matti and Mats in the group means you don’t have to worry about if they are gonna give you 100% because they always do.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Impera plays and was it given from the start that you were going to play that kind of music?
Yes, I wanted to make an album that I would buy. No nonsense just rock. To describe the music I would say it’s a mix between Kiss, Whitesnake, Van Halen and some Judas Priest.
Is Impera a democracy or are you the undisputed leader when it comes to making decisions that concerns the band?
Everybody has a say but in the end I’m the ruler ha ha ha, and so far it seems to work.
Is Impera a band or a project?
Definitely a band.
How come you chose to name the band Impera? Does the name have any special meaning to you personally be side that is your name?
The name Impera come’s from latins Imperator and it mean’s commander or leader so I thought it was quite fitting for a band name.
I’ve read that you said “There’s no keyboard player, no nonsense, no fuzz, just rock’n'roll” what do you mean with that statement?
I just wanted everybody to know that we are a drum, bass, guitar and vocals band, I have nothing against keyboards in fact, I write all my songs on keyboards and guitars.
How come you didn’t include two guitarists in order to create a fuller sound?
We don’t have to when we have Tommy and I like the idea of four-piece bands like my biggest influence Kiss.
The members have all a common interest when it comes to Kiss, do you think the music of Impera have anything in common with the music of Kiss?
If you are a Kiss fan you will probably recognize some of the tunes.
How come you’re wearing a sort of make-up when the rest of the guys doesn’t?
It’s my way to tribute the god of thunder Gene Simmons.
When did you start to work on LEGACY OF LIFE?
Almost four years ago.
Have you written all of the music and lyrics?
Tommy, Matti and myself wrote pretty much everything. Lars Chriss (Lion´s Share) mixed it and I produced it.
What are the lyrics about?
Girls of course.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
5 or 6 I’m not sure.
How come you named the album LEGACY OF LIFE?
It’s a tribute to my father, he past away three years ago and the album is dedicated to him and his legacy.
Who has done the cover art-work? What do you think of it?
I think it’s amazing and it’s done by Carl-André Beckston.
There aren’t any ballads or remotely slower songs featured on the album was that a planned move?
No, when we decided which songs we wanted to use for the album and it’s always 10 songs on a Impera album (old School) It became these, we didn’t even reflected that there was no ballads among them.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the songs?
Not for the moment, maybe for the next album.
Have you and the band felt any pressure from your label to achieve anything extraordinary with LEGACY OF LIFE?
Not at all and that’s because the album was almost complete before we got signed and we got signed because the album is extraordinary ha ha.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album or do you feel you should have done anything different in anyway in retrospect?
I’m very happy about the way it came out and I think it’s the best debut-album I’ve heard in many years.
The disc includes about 40 minutes of music do you think that motivates the price of a CD today? I mean it’s pretty expensive to buy CD’s in stores today.
I think so because the cost to make an album is pretty high and thanks to all downloading all over the world the chance to get the money back is pretty slim.
Have you recorded any bonus tracks for the Asian or the North American market?
On the Japanese release there is one bonus track and it’s a cover of Sweet’s “Sweet FA” that I recorded some years ago with Bruce Kulick on lead guitar and John Leven on bass among others.
Did you throw any release party for the album? If so when and where was the party held?
No, Tommy and Matti was on tour at the time.
I know you released a single that was featured in the paper Sweden Rock Magazine here in Sweden, tell us about the single?
The single included three songs from the album, Turn My Heart To Stone, Shoot Me Down and a special acoustic version of Tell Me that came out really god.
Have you read any reviews of LEGACY OF LIFE in media? Do you care what the critics and media have to say about your work?
I’ve read a lot of reviews from all over Europe and Japan and most of them are great and I care a lot what the press has to say especially when it’s a debut-album.
Where was the album recorded and how long took the recording process?
Nowadays everybody have their own studio so the album is recorded in four different studios and it took almost a year, mostly because Tommy and Matti was on tour with other bands during the making of the album.
Who has produced the album? Are you happy with the production?
I produced and Lars Chris mixed and co-produced the album and it came out precisely like we wanted it. Lars did an amazing work and we actually call him the fifth member of Impera.
What is Chriss’ strongest feature as producer?
He is very painstaking and strict and I love that side of him, I’m very strict myself but I can get bored when things doesn’t happen fast while in Lars case, he can work a entire night just to find the right bass sound. You have to admire a guy like that.
Who did the mastering/mixing and where was that done?
The mastering was done at Masterplant in Stockholm by Mike Lind and Lars mixed it at LS Studios also in Stockholm.
Were any of the members part of the mixing/mastering process?
No, but I was in contact with Lars the whole time.
Do you have any special memory that you can share with us when you guys were in the studio?
Unfortunately no memories and that’s because everybody recorded in their own studios. A funny thing is that the first time the band got together was for the photo-session for the booklet.
Do you think that you and the band is going to work with Chriss in the future?
Absolutely, as I said earlier, he is the fifth member ha ha.
Was it easy for you to land a deal with your label?
Yes it was. When Lars had mixed one song we send it out to a lot of record labels and Escape Music was interested right away.
How come you chose to ink a deal with Escape Music?
First of all, Escape Music is a great company with a lot of great bands and it helped that Lars know the guys and have worked with them before.
For how many albums have you signed on for with EM and are you happy with the work the label have put into the band and the album so far?
At least two albums to begin with. They have done a great job for us putting our album out there and they work hard to let magazines and radio know about Impera all over the world.
Does EM distributes the album in the rest of the world or are you co-operating with any distribution label?
Escape is taking care of everything for us.
Where in the world is the album released at the moment?
Europe and Japan, I think there are plans to release it in the US next year.
When is it about to hit Asia and North America?
Next year I hope.
Is LEGACY OF LIFE available to download legally anywhere?
Everywhere, Spotify. Itunes, Amazon and so on.
Many bands and artists thinks it’s hard to work in the music industry today especially when it comes to releasing your music, what are your feeling towards downloading music and Spotify?
It’s OK if you download legally but the sad thing is that you don’t get paid that much but it’s better than nothing. I have never downloaded anything and it’s because I’m a huge movie and music collector and I want everything to be original.
Many of the members in Impera is also involved in other bands do you think that is going to be a problem when Impera is going out on tour?
We have talked about that and next year Impera will be number one.
Are there any current plans on heading out on the roads soon?
During next summer we will attend a lot of festivals in Sweden and the UK.
Do you have any festival shows confirmed for next year?
Yes but we won’t reveal anything until the hole tour is booked. Sorry.
Do you think it’s important to be active on the various social forums on internet?
Absolutely, no question about it.
I noticed your website doesn’t contain much info etc is it under construction? Who runs the website and your Facebook page?
Yes it’s under construction but it will get a lot more stuff on it soon. The same guy that takes care of Kiss Armys web-page Marko Rouvinen.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
They will always know about the guys in Kiss, I’ve known the band for over 20 years. And they are wondering if any of the Kiss members will play on an Impera album in the future.
What are the plans for Imperia during the rest of 2012 and for 2013?
Right now we are working on the next album that we are hoping to release next summer and during the festival tour we will film some of the shows so hopefully there will be a DVD release next winter.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy LEGACY OF LIFE?
Great songs, great musicianship and overall an amazing band.
What do you have to say to the unlucky ones who haven’t discovered Impera yet?
There is still time, where gonna be here for many years to come.
Well, that was all for me for this time. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Please visit us at www.impera.org or on Facebook.
Again thanks for taking the time to make this interview. I wish you and the band all the best in the future and hope to see you on the road soon!!
My pleasure, see you soon.