Bass player Swede, guitarist Marvin Flowberg and drummer/bandleader Mike Cameron Force – Enbound
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Inner Wound Recordings for setting up the interview and for the promo pictures of the band. Promo photos taken by: Robert Elmengård
Enbound is the name of a Swedish melodic metal act that released their second album titled THE BLACKENED HEART in November 2016. The bands debut album AND SHE SAYS GOLD came in 2011 and I was curious to know why it has taken the guys so long to unleash the follow up. If you read the interview you’ll learn more about the work with the album, about the guest appearances, who the new singer Lee Hunter (Work Of Art) is, how it was to work with legendary producer Jacob Hansen, and what the future has in store for the band. If you’re interested of hear something new, fresh, and different in melodic metal, Enbound has something for you.
Here are what bass player Swede, guitarist Marvin Flowberg and drummer/bandleader Mike Cameron Force had to say….
Hi guys, thanks for taking the time for this interview today, how are you?
SWEDE: Thank you Anders and Metal-Rules.com, it’s our pleasure and just fine thanks, we’re all feeling quite satisfied at the moment. Hope you all feel the same, we recommend anyone trying it out!
I thought we could begin with talking about the brand new Enbound album THE BLACKENED HEART that is about to hit stores. For how long have you worked on the album?
SWEDE: Perhaps for longer than what’s usually expected. Five years, about. While there was personal issues involved and we can skip those, we decided early on that we should let it take the time necessary to achieve the result we wanted. For some time at the end, it was repetitive so say to everyone wondering about it that we still were working on it. But now that it’s out, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, way more and better than we’d hoped, it feels a lot better, a lot. Thank you everyone for putting out with us, and thank you that you like it so much!
Who writes the lyrics and the music and what are the lyrics about?
SWEDE: For The Blackened Heart the main composer and lyricist is Mike, with an everlasting support by us leftovers. For our first album, AND SHE SAYS GOLD, we wrote more together. This is how it turned out this time and we really don’t care – everyone’s input and personal style makes Enbound what we are in the end. The lyrics are mostly about feelings, emotions and so on. What they might mean, is up to each one to decide for themselves.
Is Enbound a democracy where everyone have a saying when it comes to the material?
SWEDE: Yes. We put the ego to the side and try find what’s best for the particular song. The main writer has a veto to use if ever necessary but that has never happened. We discuss things openly and with respect and it is the one main big agreement we have. It makes a very creative and pleasurable work flow possible.
Your debut album AND SHE SAYS GOLD was released back in 2011, why has it taken you so long to release the follow up?
SWEDE: Like a bit just mentioned there were some personal matters involved. But the main reason, and really for real, we took our time. We did not leave anything for chance. One could always argue blah this or that about any part of a song or maybe even a whole song not being your taste, please go ahead, it’s mandatory in music, and we do it too about the music we consume ourselves. But in our world and regarding what we wanted to do, we thought everything through the best we could before releasing it.
SWEDE: Yes in the sense that the songs on TBH are more sounding a-like than on ASSG. TBH is probably what ASSG was supposed to sound like. We believe in ASSG, we like our debut in many ways and you can hear it is us. Though sounding-wise is stretches out over the horizon a bit, so to speak. And the song writing is probably more solid and worked through on TBH. We believe in both albums, they are cool in their own way. TBH might be packaged as a whole a bit better though.
What did the fans think of the lyric video to “Falling” that was released in October?
SWEDE: For being a lyric video they seem to think it held a better standard in general. Most reactions were, luckily for us, regarding the song itself though, which was very well received, thanks all!
Falling [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]
How come you named the album THE BLACKENED HEART? Has the title got any special meaning for the members?
SWEDE: It had to contain the word black, heh, since this is the second part of our black and gold theme. And as you might know, ASSG had its main focus on the gold. The mood is getting darker here as well, on TBH, so it needed such a title.
The artwork was made by Stefan Heilemann, what do you think of it? Does it reflect the bands music and approach well?
SWEDE: Sorry but no, the layout is made by Stefan and some additional graphics. The artwork was made by Niklas Lundberg and the photography by Robert Elmengård. Stefan used Niklas cover artwork to make the rest of the booklet layout and graphical content. We think all did what was expected and delivered something just as professional one would expect. We pitched our ideas and they made them true. Very competent and creative people. So yes, they all left their personal fine stamp and also made sure it reflected the entire approach.
If I read further down in the biography it’s said that Robert Elmengård and Niklas Lundberg who created the artwork, who was in charge of the entire cover and booklet?
SWEDE: That would be us then, haha. But no everyone had their saying in their respective possibility to do something personal with our ideas as the base. As mentioned we pitched our ideas, and they got free hands in the sense to create something from those ideas. Niklas made his kind of cover from our ideas and it was basically spot on from very start. We gave some feedback. Robert understood what we were aiming for with the photos and being an awesome photographer he set it up perfect. Stefan then with this material made the booklet layout and some graphical touches of his on top.
Linnea Wikström (Kamelot, Therion) sings on “Falling” and Mike LePond (Symphony X) plays bass on “Feed My Flame” how did those two end up as guests on the album?
SWEDE: Our Mike (Cameron Force) reached out to both and just asked. A deal was set and they performed. Nothing special about anything really here.
SWEDE: That could be a “yes”. We really wanted to collaborate with at least someone. It’s fun. We’re glad Linnea and Mike said yes, believe they delivered killer performances and thankful for them doing so.
I read description of your music as being power metal and melodic metal but how would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
SWEDE: Melodic hard rock and metal. My personal opinion is that we are not power metal. I could be out of my tree here but to me power metal includes a LOT more straight 16th notes for longer periods, for one thing. We do include that at times, and perhaps songs on ASSG has more of that than TBH. But we have two albums now, and to me TBH is not power metal. I also do not like being too strict in categorizing things, it controls your mind and you lose the ability to embrace. Categorizing absolutely have practical benefits but when it comes to music, one should listen to it with an open mind and heart, not cluttered with any one else’s description.
SWEDE: Because it functions as being additional. We take its purpose seriously but not seriously enough to have someone do it when our focus is on what we do already have. And Mike and Lee are skilled to do it neatly, and they got the equipment. I actually played piano for over a decade before primarily focusing on bass, so who knows, I might punch some keys sometime.
Do you think that fans of the debut album is going to like THE BLACKENED HEART as well?
SWEDE: Seems very much so, better than we’d hoped. You can hear its the same band playing, but with a more polished sound and all to it. There are never any guarantees on the feedback from the crowd, and we are careful on what to expect but hopefully they should like it. At least some, please?
SWEDE: Probably because we didn’t feel like doing any song in particular. I can’t even remember any discussion, hah. There was so many ideas to choose from for this album too, maybe it just fell off the wagon naturally. Maybe we’ll do one more for the next round, who knows.
I think that the band really delivers some fresh and inspiring new music with a lot of energy and vitality, are you happy with the outcome of the album?
SWEDE: Thanks a lot! And Yes I must say we are. We put a lot of effort and thought into every aspect of TBH, and as everyone noticed yes it took some while. So shame if we didn’t deliver after all that time, haha!
SWEDE: I actually don’t know. We ponder a lot over what each song need. I guess that the length is just a plain side effect of every “real” decision we make for the songs. So maybe “no” is a better answer here.
What are the longest song “Twelve” and the shortest “Give Me The Light” about?
SWEDE: “Twelve” could be about inner torment. GML could be about noticing the surroundings not being able to understand that someone else set their path for them. Maybe.
The album contains 10 songs and clocks in on about 41 minutes which feels pretty descent, what do you think?
SWEDE: Yeah pretty descent, thanks! Those were the ten out of many who we saw best potential in. Maybe 13 could have made it, max. But 10 is a good number. Now that you’re mentioning it for me, we did not want to make a too short album, but not to long either. So when it did clock at 41 we felt quite satisfied.
SWEDE: Sure, something like that is needed for the balance. We are not a mangle-thru-it-all band. We can be diverse, and want to be. Writing easy paced songs are just as natural to us as shredding.
Have you read any reviews in the media of the album, what do the critics have to say about it and do you care about what they write and think?
SWEDE: Yes we read most I think, because it’s fun, and many many of them are giving us great reviews and that’s very nice of course! Some very few can make you wonder if they really listened, but hey, you cant please everyone. It’s their loss, heh. The best and most fun are those where you really can tell they did listen. Then is also does not matter if the grade was specially high – they at least respected our work. And we sometimes spend a few minutes discussing bits from them but then we move along and continue to write music.
Do you agree with the following that can be read in the bio about the album – “THE BLACKENED HEART has a nice mix of heavy and up tempo songs. Some songs has a more aggressive modern metal tone and all with their own strong and grasping melodies”?
SWEDE: Sure! That is not our phrasing but we like it, it seems fair and sum up what we wanted to achieve pretty good.
Studio, production and mix
Where was the album recorded and who produced and mixed it?
MIKE: The album was recorded in five different studios and was mainly recorded by me. I produced and mixed the album with inputs from the rest of the band. We all have about the same equipment, or well aware of any differences, so we know what to do and can explain quite easy what to adjust.
Could you describe a day in the studio, are all of the members there at the same time recording or does everyone drop in now and then to put down their parts?
MIKE: Some times we meet up in Linköping at Mike Cameron Force studios but most of the time we send files over the internet and take a dialog when we have parts to listen to. While meeting in person is the most efficient, not counting any hamburger breaks, we have no trouble being creative in sending files and talking on the phone to make a song complete.
How come you chose the famous Jacob Hansen master the album and were any of the members part of that process?
MIKE: We really likes his work so we contacted him and asked if he had the time to work with us and he really liked the music and had the opportunity, so we had a very good work flow. His name came up in the beginning of the recording so we’re glad we could keep the plan.
Where did the Linnea Wikström and Mike LePond record their parts?
MIKE: Linnea came over to Linköping for a day’s visit and recorded the backing vocals in MCF-studios. And Mike LePond recorded his bass in the US and sent us the files just. They are both professional so it was a one take recording basically. Very impressing!
How long did all the studio work took?
MIKE: We recorded and mixed at the same time, so it took about those five years mentioned. Not everyday of course but we did about 100 different mix versions and 60 pre-mastering versions on every song before sending them to Mr. Hansen. We just had to do this to have the sound we aimed for and ended up with. We tried many different kinds of stuff just because we could. That’s the nice part with having your own studio. But also a time killer… So the actual recording was the easy part.
Label and management
Was it hard to land a record deal and how come you chose to ink a deal with the Swedish label Inner Wound Recordings?
SWEDE: We reached out to a few and got two propositions in return. Inner Wound not only had the better deal but presented it fully and serious from the start so we totally fell into his evil trap. This is the part where I do the usual classical Artist VS Label bashing, right?
SWEDE: Yes I believe so. What I value the most though, is the ability and opportunity to create the music I want to create. I feel Emil of Inner Wound is supportive in that.
How many albums have you signed on for at IWR?
SWEDE: The two you know of.
What are the benefits with having a smaller label as IWR backing you up? And are there benefits with having a label that is based in Sweden and not in Europe?
SWEDE: I haven’t got any clue. IWR is my one and only experience with record labels. Any guessing of mine would probably just sound dumb to those who have more XP.
Does the band co-operate with any booking agency or management at the moment?
SWEDE: Short answer, no.
SWEDE: H*ll yes, check it out everyone!
Are there any plans on releasing the new album on vinyl?
SWEDE: Yes there are plans for that, vinyl is awesome.
Mike Cameron Force, you formed the band back in 2006, how come you wanted to form a band in the first place and was it given that you were going to play this kind of music?
MIKE: No actually we wanted to play Some Kind of Monster but another band already took that title. It was supposed to be something less technical from the beginning. Also with less background stuff going on, so basically just drums, guitar, bass and vocals. We don’t play the most difficult kind of music but not the easiest kind either. I think we have landed quite well in what balance we have regarding that.
Was it hard to find members? Who was the first on board and when did the rest join?
MIKE: Swede was the first guy on board. Actually didn’t know that he was a bass player until I saw his 5-stringed bass tattoo long time after I befriended him. Haha, we had met many times through a mutual good friend during early teens and up, life is funny sometimes. Marvin replaced our former guitar player. He was 16 when he joined the band I think. He is also a person I grew up with in the same little town, Fristad. Marvin was into black metal and jazz too so Enbound was a perfect fit for him in between that! Lee joined the band while we recorded the first album. We didn’t have a singer when we started the recordings but he joined up right in time for the vocals, like a good omen, hehe.
Did you have a lot of songs ready for the band or began you writing when the band was formed?
MIKE: We started to write when we formed the band. We have now a lot of songs left over, but we write new stuff all the time. Some older-than-Enbound ideas have found their way into Enbound also, but they are very few compared to the fresher stuff.
In 2000 singer Lee Hunter joined forces with you and he’s a part of the band Work Of Art, do you see any problems or difficulties in his participant in that band?
MIKE: Well WOA was not very active when he joined us and I don’t see any problems that he is involved in other bands. He is a talented guy that probably is on over 200 albums/songs and involved in Eurovision Song Contest, among others. So I rather see that he has a lot of experience which we sometimes can use in cool ways. He also is a really good producer and mixer too. He knows his stuff.
MIKE: Some of us have to work in other bands to make a penny. We all have our side projects and stuff to help every day life.
He is a really skilled singer who has been a part of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, been in TV shows like Let’s Dance, Eurovision Song Contest and worked with musicians like Bill Champlin (Chicago) and Joseph Williams (Toto) have you seen any of the things he’s been a part of?
MIKE: Actually the first time I met Lee was in Enbound’s home town Borås when I still lived there. I was in a song contest at the same venue and Lee was in the main event of the evening. I some images in my head from that day. He was playing bass actually. We didn’t know that we where going to play together four years later, haha. I have seen him live a few times and he is really outstanding no matter what kind of style. Sometimes I also hear him on TV or radio too, sure.
Where does the band name Enbound come from? Who came up with the name?
MIKE: It’s just our own made up mantra, from bound and unbound. Like yin-yang, bound to metal, with an open mind to everything outside. The O-symbol in our logo represents this.
Why have you chosen to take on artists names?
MIKE: Cause we can…heh.
What happened with guitarist Jonathan Nyberg and singer Marcus Nygren who participates on the 2008 demo YOU ARE NOW FOREVER ENBOUND?
MIKE: We had to go separate way cause we wanted different things. No hard feelings.
Where in Sweden do you guys live?
MIKE: We live all over Sweden. Hörby, Borås, Linköping and Stockholm. Marvin is the nomad, he is moving around… but the last time I checked he lived in Hörby, I think.
What is your remaining impression of the recordings of the debut album AND SHE SAYS GOLD?
MIKE: We were pretty young in terms of producing, and ASSG is a milestone in our lives regarding that. I think we all became more mature in creating music after the recording of ASSG.
Is it correct that you began to work on that album in 2009, but it wasn’t released until 2011, why?
MIKE: Like I mentioned, we didn’t have anyone on vocals at first. And Mr. Ljung wrecked my bass drum… on a Sunday!
What did media think of the debut?
MIKE: On a scale, around 7 out of 10 I would think. We got a lot of nice feedback and some quite good advice! We read almost everything out there but sometimes the feedback has no connection to the music. It’s a focus on less important stuff like…our names. But after ASSG I picked up a few nice tips that we didn’t think about. Constructive feedback is always nice!
The bio states that songs like “Combined The Souls” and “Under A Spell” is considered as classics in your genre, do you agree?
MIKE: Haha it has to be at least 20 years old to be a classic song, right? Swede didn’t like the song Combined the Souls at first, so luckily for us we recorded it anyway. But classic or not, it’s not for us to decide, I think we, as in ourselves, can’t relate to our songs in that way. We can listen to them and find pride of our own work though – or not, haha, and learn from it.
The famous Swedish singer LaGaylia Frazier made a guest appearance on the debut album in the song “Frozen To Me” how did she end up on a metal album?
MIKE: I saw her on a trailer for a Swedish TV-show. She had a gold metal plate armor and sang Bon Jovi – It’s my liiiiife, hahaha she killed her competitors in that trailer with her voice. Amazing performance and amazing person! So I contacted her and we found a song that she liked and we met up in Stockholm and recorded. It was lots of fun. Thank you again LaGaylia!
The band also recorded a cover of the Michael Jackson song “Beat It” on the debut, why did you chose that exact song? Is Michael Jackson a favorite amongst the members :)?
MIKE: Hmm yes. MJ was pretty much hard rock sometimes and we have all always liked him. This song has major hard rock potential which I honestly think we prove – but it’s all MJ’s credit! It was finished before he passed, and it was quite unreal to get the news. It made us very sad.
How did the Asian market respond on the debut?
MIKE: Not so much as we would have hoped but we have some die hard fans from Asia 🙂 And it seems to be growing.
Does the members have any common band/artist you look up to and are inspired by?
MIKE: Many! From Metallica, Dream Theater, Queen to jazz saxophonist Sune Persson, and black speed metal, and so on.
Past, present and future
The content on the bands website is pretty limited like there’s no info where you’re going to play or news about the band, why?
MARVIN: We wanted to keep the website as clean and simple as possible. With info about our albums, band pictures and info about the band members. Then there are links to more social and interactive sites where we also can be found. There you can find the latest news and updates.
Who runs the website and do you think it’s important to have a website these days as a new band, I mean there are other social forums to reach out on like Instagram or Twitter etc?
MARVIN: Swede runs the website. I don’t know if it’s important really, but I like having a website. You can have your own design and make it 100% Enbound. The most important stuff is there and some info that you can’t find on other sites.
Do you receive a lot of e-mail from fans? What’s the most common question they ask you?
MARVIN: Yes. The most common question the past five years was “When are the new album coming out?”. Now when it’s out, we mostly get peoples opinions and small reviews of the album, and questions if the album is available in different formats etc. We like to read it!
MARVIN: We have no live plans at the moment.
Are you booked to perform at any festival next summer?
MARVIN: Nope, we have nothing booked right now.
Would you like to head out on the road in Europe?
MARVIN: It would be fun to do that sometime! We’ll see when and if that happens.
Any plans on heading over to Japan to perform or promote the album?
MARVIN: No plans on that either at the moment, sorry. But it sure would be nice to go to Japan in the future!
What can you tell us about the video shoot to “Give Me The Light”? How was it to shoot a video and what’s the story behind it?
MARVIN: It took two days of shooting. The first day we did the story with actors at an office. It was very fun, I like shooting videos and be a part of that process. On the second day we were head banging like crazy for hours, so the day after we all had massive neck pain! We did those band scenes at an old theater. I think the story can mean different things to different people. It can make you aware of life style. Aware of the squirrel wheel. Triggering thoughts about the meaning of life. Why have we chosen to do what we do in our lives? Is this the best for ourselves and for others?
Give Me Light [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]
Any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs?
MARVIN: No. We actually shot a music video for “Get Ready For”, but we weren’t satisfied with the result due to different factors, so it never got finished and released. But we did a lyric video for that song instead. And also a lyric video for Falling. Both are on YouTube right now.
Is music videos as important today as it was before back in the MTV days?
MARVIN: Back then it was a big privilege to have your music video on MTV. Only a fraction of all bands got that opportunity. Nowadays everyone can upload whatever they like on the internet. So that’s not as exclusive. But I still think a music video is important, because you have something visual to show. Another format. It can give extra life to the music and be an extension of the artistic expression.
Get Ready For [OFFICIAL AUDIO]
Even though I’m a pretty enlightened person when it comes to metal music I have never heard about Enbound before, what do you think that depends on?
MARVIN: Well, we don’t have a huge promotion budget and we don’t tour the world full time. That’s probably the biggest reasons, I think.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered the music of Enbound yet?
MARVIN: You have to discover the music of Enbound! Now, haha!
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy THE BLACKENED HEART?
MARVIN: Quality. We worked really hard making everything as good as possible. Both all the details and the big picture. Versatile. There’s something for everyone. It has catchiness and depth. Visual. A nice visual package to have in your collection. The artwork, the band pictures and the design.
Well, that was all for me and metal-rules.com today, again thanks for making the interview and I wish you all the best in the future. Hopefully you’re coming to a stage near me soon!
MARVIN: Thank you so much for having us! It was a pleasure talking to you!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with readers and fans?
MARVIN: You are now forever Enbound!