Coldspell – Band leader/guitarist Michael Larsson
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Khalil Turk at Escape Music and to Escape Music for the promo pictures of the band.
Promo pictures of the band taken by: Johan Ylitalo
Live promo pictures taken by: Christoffer Olsson, Maja Larsson and Johan Ylitalo
From the very north of Sweden comes the melodic hard rock act Coldspell. The band recently released its third album titled FROZEN PARADISE and I hooked up with bandleader/guitarist Michael Larsson in order to have a chat about the new album. Besides the album, we also spoke about the bands past present and future and what lies ahead for the band in 2014. For some reason haven’t I heard the band before but when I heard the excellent FROZEN PARADISE it was a must for me to check out the band and their brilliant melodic hardrock music. Enjoy.
Hi Mikael, thanks for taking the time for the interview. Lets begin to talk about the brand new Coldspell album FROZEN PARADISE that was released in September. How long did it take it to write and record the album?
Hi Anders, I’m the one to say thanks for interest in my little brainchild. Well the album took its beginning in Sept/Oct 2012 and did some demos then. We started recording it in mid December and I guess everything was done by the beginning of march 2013. The fact that it took a bit more time than expected was due to the fact that we recorded it in 2 studios. When it comes to the writing procedure its not easy to say when it started as I guess I write music all the time but I can say that It’s a huge puzzle and lot of pieces to get together.
Is it you that writes all of the material or is it a team effort?
Yes I’m the main songwriter and do all the music but when it comes to lyrics there are more people involved like my wife , the drummers wife and some old friends of mine – so you see its more like a sort of family reunion thing. Niclas also did some writing. I’m not that strict when it comes to pre-production and putting it all together is a team effort , I mean who plays the drums better than the drummer. If not having to much done when it comes to arrangements/pre-prod it leaves more for the creative side and you don’t get stuck in some stiff rules when enter the studio. It should be fun and everyone needs to get their personal touch on what they do.
What are the lyrics about?
Hate to disappoint you but its not that much about sex drugs and RR ha ha! Mainly its about life in general , some stuff can be related to personal experiences but the lyrics for songs like “Life has just begun” for example is written in frustration after that tragic shooting at Utöya in Norway and that school shooting in US. Somehow along the writing process I realized that it was a lot about doing the best out of this so called life and that could be referred to the fact that I had some people near me that are no longer with us.
The previous Coldspell album came 2011, what has the band been up to in between the release of that album and this one?
I guess when trying to sum up what we been doing it feels like we been a bit lazy but we had a lot to do between these 2 albums when it comes to keep the machinery going and writing new stuff .
Are you the type of songwriter that comes up with ideas all the time or do you have to lock yourself into the studio and write 24-7?
I guess I have my periods when I hardly could leave my guitar as the ideas pops out 24/7 and then there’s times when I think about selling all instruments and give it up cause I think I’m an idiot ha ha.
What are you inspired by when you start to write a song?
Could be many things but for example when I get to our little house on the country, creativity seem to be on top!
Whats does the title FROZEN PARADISE come from?
Can be referred to where we live I mean we have a long winter up here but when its cold and winter it can still be very beautiful. So we have our sort of Frozen Paradise up here in the north of Sweden. Could also be the fact that our so called paradise mother earth is not in the best shape and we don’t do much to make her feel better
Who did the cover art-work to FROZEN PARADISE? Are you happy with it?
Yes I’m very happy with it and its Eric Philippe from Belgium who did the artwork for the Out from the cold and Frozen Paradise album.
Do you think that fans of your earlier work will appreciate the new album?
The only thing I can do is to hope. I think we haven’t changed style or anything, its still in the same direction – melodic hardrock with a little twist of metal. My intention was to have an album that was a bit tougher and a bit more heavy and I hope the fans see this new one as the natural next step for ColdSpell
Do you think that the band has developed anything music-wise since the released of the previous album? If so, in what way and direction?
Like I mentioned, the new album have a bigger sound and is a bit more heavy but still very melodic and that should be the keywords for us – heavy and melodic.
The band threw a release party back home to celebrate the release. How was the party and did the band perform?
Oh It was an amazing evening you should have been there. Yeah we played a full live-set with some old stuff and I think 4 songs from the new one.
I have only read positive reviews regarding FROZEN PARADISE, congratulations! Does the band care about what the media and critics have to say about their work?
Many thanks and yes I have to say that we have been lucky enough to have some fantastic feedback on all 3 albums. Of course we care about that – if media and fans like it then we are more than pleased and when having good reviews and feedback you get truly inspired to carry on and write more stuff and also come out and play these songs live cause that’s when they sound the best
I know that you have shot a video to the song “Paradise” please tell the readers a bit about the video?
That video was recorded by Micke Lekrans at Hamnfestivalen in Luleå last summer and we felt that we want to have a video that is mainly done when rehearsing and playing live cause that’s what we love to do. Sometimes when doing this video’s with some stories can be a bit frustratred, cause when we like to see a video we like to see the band play.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs?
Yes we will have a video out in the beginning of 2014 and have plans to do at least 3-4 from this new album.
I have to say that you and singer Swedentorp does an amazing job and that your guitar play is brilliant on the new album. Are you happy with the members efforts?
Many thanks for kind words and yes I’m more than pleased, more than you could ever ask for. We have a new bass player since Feb 2013 and Chris sure bring some new energy to this band.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Coldspell plays?
Guess its very important these days to have a word for what style you are playing – it was a bit easier back in the days when it was either hard rock or Metal, ha ha. I would describe ColdSpell as a melodic hard rock band with a lot of 70 and 80´s influences and with a twist of metal on top of that. Heavy, edgy but still melodic!
Studiowork, production and mixing
In which studio was the album recorded?
Drums and rhythm guitars is done at Studio Underground in Västerås and vocals / rest of the guitars is done at Studio claustrophobic in Gävle. All keyboards is done back home.
Does the band gather and record together in the studio or do you do each part on your own?
Its more like building from scratch in the studio and do drums and rhythm guitars as a first step but I’m there along the procedure and keep an watchful eye on whats going on ha ha
Who produced the album?
I’m the producer so it sure has been a couple of sleepless months before it all was done. The album is co-produced by Pelle Saether at Studio Underground. We have worked with Pelle on all 3 albums.
On earlier albums have Tommy Hansen done the mixing parts and he also mixed this one. What’s it like to work with Hansen?
This is the 3rd album with Escape and with Tommy so you can say that the trilogy is now complete. I think Tommy has done a massive job behind the knobs when it comes to mixing and he sure Is an important piece in this ColdSpell puzzle. I use to call him the wizard of knobs.
Were any members parts of the mixing process?
Just me along with Tommy.
Do you think you’re going to work with Hansen in the future?
As I said we have now done 3 albums with him and maybe its time to try something else or maybe not. Future will tell.
Label and management
Was it easy for the band to land a record deal?
I really like the fact that it was Escape that called me and wanted to sign us so it wasn’t that hard .
Were there many labels that showed interest for the band and how come you chose to ink a deal with Escape Music?
Escape seem to be a good label with great bands and they where very eager to work with us and that felt really good. We had a few other labels interested but this was the most interesting.
FROZEN PARADISE is the bands third album on Escape Music. Do you feel that the band has gotten a higher priority now that you are “veterans” at the label?
Yeah maybe, cause I know that both Barrie and Khalil are huge fans of ColdSpell and somehow along the way they seem to be proud of having us on the Escape label.
Are you happy with the work the label have put into your albums and into the band so far?
They have been very concerned that we should work with the best when it comes to mixing and artwork and I’m very pleased with that. Guess they have done what they could regarding promotion and all that but as I use to say – if a band doesn’t do 100% they cant expect a label to do 100%. Record labels work on an album for 3 months tops and then it’s the bands interest to keep it alive and I feel that I have done my fair share of hard work when it comes to that
Is Escape Music releasing the album world wide?
Sorry to say that we didn’t land a deal in Japan. Escape released it in Europe with distribution all around the world.
Is it possible to buy your old albums today or are the out of print?
Yes it is I know they are in stock.
Do you see any problems in the fact that Escape Music is based in England and not in Scandinavia?
I have worked with labels in Sweden and I don’t think there’s much difference , the only problem is that its far away when having meeting ha ha
Is it possible to download FROZEN PARADISE legally?
Yes its possible on iTunes, Amazon and some other sites.
Are you currently working with any booking agency or promotion company?
Since a few months back we work with a booking agency from Holland / Germany that have central Europe territory and they got some interesting stuff going on for 2014.
You founded the band back in 2005 was it hard to find members to the band?
As I moved from Uppsala to Kiruna in the late -90′s it takes a while before finding the right people to work with, guess me and the bassplayer on the first album started a few years before 2005 but 2005 was the year when we where a complete band
Was it given from the start that Coldspell was going to play this kind of music?
Oh yes cause my intention when starting this band was to start work on my songs and ideas and make that backpack of songs and riffs a bit easier to carry. It was time to get my little brainchild formed as a band
Have any of the other members been involved in other bands or projects besides Coldspell?
Yes Perra for example played drums in the Swedish band Crawley in the 90′s and Chris is a member of Scarpoint and Hellinor as well.
What did the media and fans think of your debut album INFINITE STARGAZE from 2009?
I still remember , it was totally mind blowing when reading the first reviews and did get feedback from people all around the world. In general we did get mainly great reviews and ended up on several album toplists for 2009.
The band went through a change in the line-up in 2010 when two members left the band band. How was that? Was their departure expected?
Its always sad when things like that happens but in this case it was expected as one member had a job that wasn’t possible to combine with this band situation and I guess the other one did loose his interest. So there was no drama in it still friends.
Was it hard to find new members when they left?
To be honest, no! I had my dear friend Kebbe in Uppsala and we played in the same band back in the -90′s and he said yes right way. The same thing goes for Perra. When our drummer left a month before enter the studio to start record the out from the cold album I called Perra and he said hell-yeah, ha ha
You come from the very north of Sweden in Kiruna and Johansson and Lindmark lives in Uppsala which is located a really long way from Kiruna. How does that work when it comes to rehearsals and so?
I guess we know each other pretty well when it comes to music so its all about being prepared when we get to meet and then have a very intense rehearsing.
Did OUT FROM THE COLD from 2011 do better than the debut album and has it sold more copies?
A lot have happened in the music business when it comes to buy cd’s since 2009 and I think the first album did sell a bit better than the second , but I think that has to do with the fact that people all of a sudden didn’t buy cd’s as they use to.
Where does the band name come from and does it have any special meaning to you and the band?
It was my wife that came up with that name as she worked at the Icehotel at the moment. Think it’s a very proper name for a band from the land of the ice and snow. ColdSpell could be referred to “köldknäpp” in Swedish.
The band hasn’t toured much, why?
We had a few chances but unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that. At the beginning it wasn’t easy to combine families , job and this band thing. I can say that we been trying to get some touring the last couple of years but there are many bands that fights over the same possible support slot. At the moment we work real hard to get some touring in Europe and to get back to US as well.
Do the members have any special artist or band in common that they are inspired by or look up to?
Guess that there’s a bunch of bands to mention that we have in common like Dio., Rainbow, Whitesnake ………
Can you live off the music or do you and the band have regular jobs besides the music?
We have regular jobs, otherwise it would have been not that easy to bring food on the table some days, ha ha
It gets really cold and dark up in Kiruna during the winter. What do you do when it’s freezing and the temperature drops way below zero?
Then we do the Sauna and howl at the moon, ha ha. Winter is very beautiful up here and kinda majestic from time to time as well.
The band went over to USA and performed at Melodic Rockfest 2013 in Chicago how was that experience?
We had such a great time and I have to say that when coming to US it feels like coming home. Seem to really like what we are doing over there. It was 3 amazing days with some dedicated fans and bands. You get really humble when knowing that people came all the way from Singapore just to meet and see the band.
Why did you only do one show when you were in USA? Why not take the chance to do a tour or at least a few more shows?
We didn’t have anyone book us and it was more job than expected to get that tour thing going. But it was a great festival and thanks to that we are going back as it seems in April/may.
The band has got a really good and informative website, who runs it?
Well thanks, at the moment Its me, myself and I.
Is it important for the band to be active on social forums and connect with the fans through internet?
That’s where you connect and I guess you could say that I am very active when it comes to that. Realized already when Myspace was most popular that this is where you need to be if you like to reach out. I had the opportunity to get some friends for life thanks to these forums. I mean – a band is nothing if it wasn’t for the fans and people around you.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question the band get from fans?
Yeah I do, but I made a promise to myself when released the first album and that was to answer or get back to everyone that writes and I think I managed to do that even if its hectic job from time to time.
Are there any plans on doing a longer tour next year?
Yes it is and that’s what our booking agency is working on at the moment
The band got two festival shows booked next year at HRH AOR 2014 in Wales and Väsby Rock Festival in Sweden, are there plans on doing more festival shows next year?
That is just the beginning – we like to do everything that is possible to do as we love to do these songs live and get to meet all friends/fans out there.
How would you like to describe what fans can expect from a show with Coldspell?
An energetic band that literally do “rock til they drop”, ha ha. For us its very important that the audience really feel that we are doing this together with them and not there to do some sort of show case.
Is there any interest for the band shown in Asia and North America?
Especially in North America that seem to be our place. There’s interest from Asia as well but not in the same way as US.
Are you happy with what Coldspell have achieved so far?
I am but you know what its like – more wants more, ha ha.
What would you like to say to the ones that haven’t discovered the music of Coldspell yet?
Theres a jungle out there with awesome bands and artists so I know its not easy to reach out to each and everyone but if you like melodic hardrock with a little tougher/heavier sound then ColdSpell is waiting for you to join the family.
I think that the album is phenomenal and could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy FROZEN PARADISE?
Support the band so we will keep blasting out more albums and if you get this album we will be one step closer to rock your socks off. And the main reason to go grab this album is that you are hardcore fan of Melodic Hard rock with a dose of Metal
Well, that was all for this time. I wish you and the band all the best in the future and do you have any words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Many thanks for your interest and for doing this interview. Words of wisdom will be – Peace, Love and Hard rock!
Facebook Page www.facebook.com/pages/ColdSpell/164708699316
Youtube Page www.youtube.com/mickecoldspell
Myspace Page www.myspace.com/coldspellsweden
Facebook Page www.facebook.com/pages/Escape-Music-Ltd/433090353431796
Myspace Page www.myspace.com/soundpollutionrecords
Facebook Page www.facebook.com/soundpollution