Singer Mike Andersson – Cloudscape
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Birgitt Schwanke at GerMusica and to
Micko Tweedberg at Roastinghouse for the help.
Thanks to Roastinghouse Records for the promo pictures of the band
At the end of the summer 2012 the latest studio album by Cloudscape called NEW ERA reached stores. It was the fourth album by this Swedish melodic/progressive metal acts and for this interview I once again hooked up with singer Mike Andersson to talk about the brand new album, line-up changes, and much more. Enjoy!
Hi Mike, really nice to talk to you again. I hope everything is fine with you. Are you ready to begin the interview?
Hey Anders. All is well with me and it is indeed nice to talk to you again. I am ready as ever to start this interview.
I thought we could begin to talk about the new Cloudscape album. How long have you worked on the album?
We have worked on and off since the release of our previous album GLOBAL DRAMA 2008. 2 of the songs “Silver Ending” and “Before Your Eyes” are actually written even before “Global Drama” was released in 2008. Global Drama was recorded in late 2007 so, we started to compose songs right away after completing the recording session so, in other words, we have worked in a very comfortable and nice tempo to create NEW ERA.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
There were a few that didn’t end up on the album but, that’s simply because we already had a “maximum” of songs that we decided to include on the album.
You usually write the main part of the material have you written everything this time as well? Have the other members any say when it comes to the material?
This time I shared the songwriting responsibilities with drummer Fredrik Joakimsson. I think he wrote 5 songs and I wrote 7. Everyone in the band have a say when it comes to the material. Me and Fredrik provide with the songs and the others listen and share their thought. Some songs sometimes gets re-arranged in the rehearsal studio by the other members in collaboration with the songwriter so, even if me and Fredrik write the songs everybody is equally important and have their say concerning our songs.
Has the band felt any pressure from fans, media, record-labels, and so on, to deliver something extra ordinary this time around?
Absolutely not. The only “pressure” we had was to create a monster album which we believe we did and the feedback from fans and media have been nothing but fantastic and it feels great to deliver a great sounding album to our fans and receive so much top notch feedback and kind words from our fans about New Era.
Do you think that the musical direction of Cloudscape has changed any with the arrival of new members?
Yes, a little bit it have. We still “sound” Cloudscape but we believe our music is a bit more accessible for the average metal fan this time around. Many of the songs are more direct and have a more catchy feel in the choruses. Still progressive but, maybe not as much and this was a deliberate decision we took.
Where does the title NEW ERA come from? Does the title have any special meaning to you and the band?
I think it’s the most “speaking title” we’ve ever had;). The album title simply comes from the fact that we have gone through some member changes the past years so, we are entering a new era in many ways;)
Who has done the cover art-work to NEW ERA and what do you think of it?
Once again we hired artwork phenomenon Mattias Norén (ProgArt) to do it. We are really damn satisfied and the pages in the booklet is really cool. Everything Mattias have done for Cloudscape is out of this world astonishing!!
From what I have read, Patrik Svard does all of the guitar solos, why does he take on them all?
Patrik does all guitar solos except the first solo in “Before Your Eyes” which is recorded by Daniel Pålsson (The Scorned) who was a member of Cloudscape during the recording session and some months before that. He was replaced by Stefan Rosqvist during the time we mixed NEW ERA so, therefor Stefan appears like the guitarist on the album and Daniel is noted as additional guitars. Daniel wasn’t a solo guitarist so, that’s the reason Patrik recorded all solos except the first solo on “Before Your Eyes”.
It’s a bit confusing who plays the second guitar at least in the material I’ve read, who plays second guitar? (Questions about members and line-up are coming later on in the interview.)
Like I said in the previous question it is Daniel Pålsson that plays the second guitar on the album but, during the time we mixed New Era he decided to leave the band due to personal circumstances and he couldn’t put priority to Cloudscape.
In the song “Share Your Energy” you have featured a really well known drummer on growls, who is he and how did he end up growling with Cloudscape?
It’s the Darkane drummer Peter Wildoer who also caught some fame due to his contributions as a drummer and growler on Dream Theater vocalist James LaBries second solo album (Static Impulse). I am a friend of Peter since childhood and the first band I was vocalist in as a teenager included Peter on drums (the band was called “Zanines” 1988 – 1991) and we went to school together so, he is a close friend of mine. I heard his growling for the first time on Darkane guitarist Christofer Malmströms solo album under the name “Non Human Level” and later on James LaBries album so, instead of growling myself we thought it would be cool having Peter doing it who obviously have the skills;)
The new album have more keyboard playing than before I think, is that correct?
No, not if you ask us. There are a descent amount of keyboards but, rather less than on our previous albums ;).
As on the previous album there are some oriental influences on NEW ERA to where is that coming from?
I LOVE exploring different countries music and especially music from Egypt and middle east folk music etc etc. I love to put these touches in our music or some songs I might add;).
With NEW ERA I think Cloudscape leans towards a little more melodic metal approach rather than progressive metal, what are your thoughts on that?
That’s correct. We keep some progressive elements on some songs but, in general New Era is more straight forward melodic metal.
Do you think that the old fans is going to recognize the Cloudscape-sound?
Absolutely, no doubt about it. Even if we have changed a bit we still “sound” Cloudscape.
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs?
We have filmed and released 2 music videos from New Era. The first one was the song called “Your Desire” which was released around the album release in July, 2012 and the second one is the song “Before Your Eyes” which was released a few weeks ago.
NEW ERA has gotten some great reviews in media, congratulations. Do you care about what critics have to say about you and the band?
Thanks. Of course I care but, it depends how the review is written. A good review for me doesn’t necessary have to by a high grade review if the review is constructionally written where I can find ideas or learn things I can experience the review to be a good one even thou it might not “raise” the album but, if a bad review is bad because the reviewer basically don’t like the music or genre Cloudscape play I consider it a waste of time reading it and it doesn’t affect me if you know what I mean. There are times I find a “bad” review where you learn that the reviewer prefers listening to bands like AC/DC or MOTÖRHEAD…those bands are great but, if a reviewer more or less only like these kinds of bands I find it hard to see the reviewer liking the progressive or melodic era of heavy metal…
Many artists consider their latest album as the best one yet, what do you think of NEW ERA in retrospect? Are you happy with the outcome?
Of course I am. I am proud of all albums we’ve done and every album have a special place in my heart. If New Era is the best one well, the outcome is exactly what we were aiming for but, if it’s the best one is up to You and our fans to decide.
Did the band had any release party for NEW ERA? If so when and where was it held?
Nope this time we didn’t arrange a release party. There’s no particular reason for it we simply focused on other things this time
Studio & production
Where was the album recorded and who is the producer?
This time we hired producer Micko Twedberg in order to reach a different sound and production. We have worked with Pontus Lindmark on all our previous albums and he is totally awesome but, we wanted to try a different producer this time to broaden our sound and Micko gave New Era a perfect sound after our goals and what we wanted to achieve in collaboration with Mickos thoughts as a producer and engineer. The drums and vocals plus mix and mastering is done at Roastinghouse Studios, Malmoe (Sweden). The rest of the instruments are recorded in various recording studios.
How was it to work with Twedberg and what’s his strongest feature as producer?
I think he is very innovative and have lots of cool ideas and is really easy to work with in all kinds of ways. In many ways he works similar to Pontus Lindmark but, still different. He did a great job with New Era:).
What’s the biggest difference between working with Tweedberg compared to Pontus Lindmark who produced your previous album?
It’s really hard to say they are so different but, in the same time so alike can’t answer that. Both are great anyway and it’s cool to work with both of them.
Who did the mastering/mixing? Were any of the band members part of that process?
The mixing and mastering is mainly done by Micko Twedberg with a co-producing hand from Anders “Theo” Theander.
The guitar solos was recorded somewhere else, where and why?
We recorded the guitarsolos in our home studios and that’s how we’ve done on our previous albums as well, no stress, no clock ticking just recording the best possible solos in a calm way and day that fits the mood and inspiration.
During 2009 left both the drummer as well as the bass player the band. Why did the leave?
It was tough times for Cloudscape during 2009. We even discussed whether to put the band to rest or to continue. Luckily we decided to find replacements. Our drummer and bass player left due to personal circumstances and it has nothing to do with us being enemies or something. Their life situations made them decide to leave and we are still the best of friends.
Was their departure expected by you and the rest of the band?
Our former bass players departure was a little expected.
And during 2010 left the guitarist, why did he leave and was it hard to deal with all these departures?
Björn Eliasson left more or less because of same reasons like Roger and Haynes plus he wanted to 100% focus on his solo project (Warnot). Of course it was hard times. We auditioned a bunch of musicians and after a while it was kinda hard keeping focus on who to invite to the band…playing “old songs” over and over again. Like I said, it was a “let go” or “pursue” situation for the band.
Did you and Svard ever consider putting the band to rest during that time or were you determined to continue?
Read above;). We almost laid the band to rest but, luckily we didn’t now we’re back more inspired than ever!!
Was it hard to find new members? Did you held auditions or how did you find the new musicians?
Our drummer (Fredrik) joined for a live show as a guest because, Roger left only a month before that live show. The rehearsals and the gig went flawless so, afterwards we recruited Fredrik as a permanent member in Cloudscape. We held a few auditions with various bassplayers and guitarists and eventually we found the perfect matches in Håkan Nyander and Stefan Rosqvist.
Why did you chose the new trio in the first place? What made them the best members for Cloudscape?
Great personalities and musicians is the only reason. We work perfect together both as musicians and as friends which is an important thing in Cloudscape.
Do they also come from Helsingborg?
Stefan comes from Helsingborg but, Fredrik lives in a village just outside a town called Lund and Håkan lives a few kilometers outside of Malmoe.
Is any of the new members part of any other band or projects besides Cloudscape? If so do you consider that as a problem or anything?
Everybody is and it’s not a problem at least not this far:).
Do you have any contact with the old members today?
Absolutely. They are still very, very close friends and Roger was my best man when I got married in 2010 for example. I sing a few songs on Björn Eliassons album under the name “Warnot” together with a few other cool singers for example.
Palsson who joined the band in 2010 have now chosen to quit, why?
Because of his family situation plus he wanted to solely focus on his own band (The Scorned). We are also still great friends and have contact.
Has the process with the change of line-up been stressful?
During the times of departures and auditioning have been kind of stressful and hard to deal with I mean, we had to audition three spots in Cloudscape that’s kind of stressful ;).
Are you and Svard happy with the current line-up?
Yes, we are happy as hell and top notch satisfied.
Label & management
The previous album GLOBAL DRAMA was released by Golden Core/ZYX Music but now you are signed to another label. Why did you leave Golden Core/ZYX Music?
We aren’t signed to another label. Roastinghouse Records handled the Scandinavian territories for GLOBAL DRAMA but this time Roastinghouse Records handle all Europe together with distributor “Sound Pollution”. The contract with Golden Core expanded and we decided not to renew it.
Was it hard to find a new label and how come you inked a deal with Roastinghouse Records?
The music industry today is really hard and it ain’t an easy thing finding a good, working label that does a good job for the band. We choose to have Roastinghouse Records handling it 100% this time because, they did a good job with GLOBAL DRAMA in Scandinavia.
Roastinghose Records is working with the promotion company GerMusic in Europe. How has it been working with them?
GerMusica is a good promoting company. We used to work with them during the years we were signed to Metal Heaven between 2005 to 2007.
Does RR distribute your album outside Sweden? If not do you co-operate with any distribution label?
Sound Pollution handles the distribution all over Europe.
Where in the world is the album released at the moment?
Everywhere except in Asia. Nightmare Records handles the U.S and Canadian territories.
You are working with Roastinghouse Management are you happy with them so far when it come to booking shows etc?
We are happy with Roastinghouse but, they don’t work as a booking agency we have other people and companies doing that part.
Are you happy with the work RR have put into the band and into NEW ERA so far?
Absolutely the feedback from fans and media have been great this far.
Cloudscape were also signed to Metal Heaven back in the days, what is the main difference with working with these three labels?
Metal Heaven didn’t at that time focus much on the internet marketing which our latter label does. Metal Heaven did a great job advertising in magazines and stuff and Roastinghouse Records focus more on the media channels via internet which also is a great thing.
Who own the legal rights to all of your albums today?
Roastinghouse and Cloudscape.
Is NEW ERA available to download legal anywhere?
Sure thing iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc.
Now and then
Why has it taken you so long to follow up GLOBAL DRAMA from 2008?
Basically because of member changes and also 1 year of “time-out”.
Have you done any touring with the new line-up so far?
No tours but a bunch of live shows. Progpower Europe (NL),Oslo (NO), Helsingborg (SE), Landskrona (SE) etc.
Do you think it’s important to be active on the various social forums that’s available on the internet?
Absolutely it’s important to be in the feed so to speak
Are there any plans on trying to conquer the North American or Asian market anytime soon?
We have been signed by Nightmare Records in the U.S since day 1 and still is so, we’ve already “conquered” that part of the world hahahaha. But, Asia is a different story. We hope to release New Era in Japan, Korea and China in a near future. The only Cloudscape album that is previously released in Japan is our debut album from 2005 via Marquee/Avalon.
Where in the world does the band have its biggest fanbase?
I think Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.
Are you happy with what Cloudscape have achieved so far?
Everything can get better of course but, we are satisfied and we have put Cloudscape firmly in the map of heavy metal. Everybody may not have listened to us but, most of the metallers nowadays at least knows about the bands existence.
What do you think of the music industry of today? I mean with all the downloading, spotify etc?
The legal downloading is cool even thou I’m old fashioned and prefers the CD format. Spotify is cool, iTunes etc etc etc. But, the illegal downloading sucks.
Are there any plans on going out on tour next year or do you have any festival shows booked so far?
Nothing booked just yet but, we have plans and of course we will enter a bunch of stages during 2013.
Why have the band done so little touring these past years? When you look back on the years with the band would you like to have done more shows or tours?
Of course we would’ve love to have a better “history” when it comes to touring and stuff but, it’s basically because we haven’t worked with good booking agencies. The best one are already occupied with the bands they already have and it’s a bit struggling to find goof booking agencies willing to put the time needed for Cloudscape. But, nowadays we do have a booker that this far have done a good job so, hopefully we will get more live opportunities from now on.
I read something that about Cloudscape having a song featured in an XBOX game, tell us about that?
That’s correct. The opening track called “Mind Diary” from our previous album (Global Drama) is featured on Rockband 3 as download from Rockbands official website suitable for xBox 360 consoles. A cool thing I must say
How come there aren’t any info about the past guitarist Rosqvist on your website?
The official website have been unmoderated for a very long time but, that will be changed. But, the best thing to do is to follow Cloudscape on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cloudscapesweden) .
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question they ask you?
We get fans from fans. Sometimes really often and sometimes not that much. The questions vary a lot and most of the times the fans are praising the band and doesn’t ask questions. But, a common question is of course about live shows getting autographs etc.
When can we expect to find the next Cloudscape album out in stores?
In around 2 years hopefully. We will right now focus on promoting New Era as much as possible before aiming for the next album.
For those who haven’t discovered Cloudscape yet what would you like to say to them?
Don’t hesitate to purchase our albums. Melodic metal with progressive touches at it’s best;).
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy NEW ERA?
Well do you have any final words to share with the fans and readers?
Thanks for reading this interview…hope to see ya on the road. Spread the word about Cloudscape and please visit us at www.facebook.com/cloudscapesweden CHEEEEEEEEERS
Thanks for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band all the best in the future.
My pleasure Anders. I wish You the same and RAWK ON!!!!
Cheers: Mike Andersson
Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/cloudscapemetal
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/cloudscapesweden
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/roastinghouse?ref=ts
Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/soundpollutionrecords
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/germusica