Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures taken by: Tallee Savage, Partik Hellstrom,
Tim Tronckoe, Thomas Mead and Pamela C Navorro
The Swedish metal act Fatal Smile is ready to attack again with their fourth album called 21st CENTURY FREAKS. This time around I had the pleasure of talking to the bandleder/guitarist Mr. Y. We talked about the band, the new album, the past and present and future of the band. Since this interview was conducted, the band released a video for their second single “My Private Hell” and the band is confirmed for a tour in USA in 2013. Enjoy.
Hi Y really nice to talk with you again, are you ready to kick off the interview?
Hell yeah man, nice talking to you again. It's been a while so let's go!
21st CENTURY FREAKS is the title of the brand new Fatal Smile album how long have you worked on the album?
It seems like forever! We've been on tour got like forever and have been working in hotel rooms, tour buses, airports and bars during the entire World Domination Tour. Demos for like 20 songs were recorded like two years ago and after we finally had time to go into the studio we did post production like forever since we really wanted this album to be "The Best Of The Best"...
What are the lyrics about this time and who has written the material?
Mostly written by Blade & Alx & me. As with World Domination some lyrics where written, or co-written by our good friend Paul Sabu.
Were there many songs that didn't made it on to the final edition of the album?
We have three more mixed and mastered that we didn't end up putting on the album. I guess they will be bonus tracks on future singles. The track "Hip M-F" was a bonus on the "Welcome to the Freakshow" single. That track has a kick ass guitar solo by our dear friend Douglas Blair of W.A.S.P.
You have worked with Paul Sabu - how did he end up working with Fatal Smile?
I've been a big fan to Paul since his solo album is back in the day & I know he'd been written some awesome songs for Madonna, David Bowie, W.A.S.P. Alice Cooper just to name a few. So I just shoot him an mail & simply asked if he wanted to help me out with the lyrics & melodies. And this was just before I found Blade on vocals & I had kicked my former vocalist from the band.
So it ends up great as fuck & we've been working together on some songs on this album as well.
Do you think that the band have developed when it comes to the music if you compare 21st CENTURY FREAKS with your previous albums? If so in what way?
Well, I think this one is a bit more like our NEO NATURAL FREAKS album when it comes to productions. WORLD DOMINATION was basically recorded live. Since we wanted to do a really "simple" kick ass album with no big production & with just a "raise your fist in the air" kind of a live feeling...to get the "on stage & kicking" vibe. 21st CENTURY FREAKS is like a "concept album" but without a theme. We wanted to make it like one track with no silence between the song with intros & outros on every song. It's really well produced, worked through the whole fucking album just to make sure every inch is perfect. When the last one took two weeks this one took almost two years. And this we have done everything ourselves since we wanted to make it the ultimate FATAL SMILE album from scratch to mixing. And we're really proud of the result.
Why did it take so long for you to follow up WORLD DOMINATION that came out 2008? what has the band been up to in between the releases?
As I said we toured our asses off. The World Domination Tour took us around the world in 360 gigs, and that's not done easily. Also, we worked a very long time with this album to get every little thing exactly the way we wanted it.
You have shot a video to one of the songs - could you tell us what the video is about?
Yeah, the video is for the first track on the album: "Welcome to the Freakshow" a song that is all about us, what we do and what we are - mother fucking FREAKS!!! A touring mayhem that people pay to see, take pictures of and be amazed by, just like the "freaks" in the old traveling "side shows" back in the day. Think about it, we are the freaks of the 21st century. The video is produced by Owe Lingwall, one of the very best video producers there is! If you haven't seen it I strongly recommend a visit to youtube right fucking now!
The band was earned a gold album in Sweden for the single “Welcome To The Freakshow” how did that feel?
Fucking awesome!!! People say it can't be done anymore, so it's a great feeling to prove them we're right & they're wrong!!! I've always said that everything is possible no matter what. Who dares, it wins!!! ;-)
The single was featured as a bonus in the Sweden Rock Magazine what did the fans think of the single?
We packed it with four tracks including a song we always do live; "Hip M-F". This is a track we've always done live but never recorded. People always ask what album it's on and since it isn't on any, we said let's put this motherfucking song on the single...
And we got amazing feedback for the single, worldwide & that's fucking cool!!!
What songs are featured on the single?
Hmmm…. eh… I think "Welcome to the Freakshow", another kicker from the new album "Judgement Day", "Hip M-F" and a remixed version of "Run for your Life" from WORLD DOMINATION that we thought needed a "face lift".
The last song on 21st CENTURY FREAKS is written by Blade and is a tribute to Ronnie James Dio, was Dio a source of inspiration for the band?
Actually it's not written by Blade. I wrote the music like almost all the songs in FS & the lyrics is written by Blade ;-)
But hell yeah, he was/is a huge fucking influence for us & have been since the Sabbath, Rainbow & Dio days...! For all of us! And even more since we toured with him and really fell in love with his kind and gentle ways. He is a great spirit and one of the nicest souls I've ever met. When we were on the way home from a long tour with Queensryche we got news of his sad departure and really broke down. So I wrote a piano piece in that sad mood & that same night I wrote those lyrics and sang the song in my studio back home at around 4 AM. That original recording is available on iTunes etc. Just a piano and a voice. The version on the album is a new recording and a full on power ballad. Our very first ballad ever!!!
Who has done the cover art-work and what was the thought behind the cover?
Yeah, just like earlier albums the cover artwork is done by our dear friend André Beckston of "Monowasp" & me. He's such a fucking genius and really knows what we are about & we worked things out just to make it exactly the way we wanted it.... The pics where shot by Tallee Savage and edited by Mathias Savage Wilmenius. We wanted to have a cool cover with the band since we haven't had that since the first album "Beyond Reality" back in 2002. And since we're suck a visual band we thought that it would make sense doing it...and it really did!!!
In retrospect are you and the band happy with the outcome of the album?
Hell yeah!!! It's our masterpiece & there's nothing I would like to change on this album. It's an album that you can listen to a thousands times & still be able to hear new things & the songs is written to last forever! This album is so far our very best & it is a EPIC album, that's for sure!!! Pick it up & give it some spins & you'll see what I'm talking about.
Have you read reviews in the media regarding the album?
Yeah, lots of them and they're great as usual! We've had lots of 10/10's and already they're voting the album as "Album Of The Year" even though it was released in May. So that's fucking awesome & it feels like people finally understand what it is we're trying to do and what FATAL SMILE is about. And that feels fucking great!
Do you and the band care about what the critics have to say about your work?
Well I used to do that back in the days. But now days we simply don't give a fuck since we know what we're doing & what our music is about & how we wanna sound & if people doesn't understand that then I feel sorry for them. BUT we sure care for the awesome feedback we got so it's simply as this: great review = we do care, bad review = Fuck you for not understanding great music & what it's all about!!!
Did you throw a release party to celebrate the album? If so, when and where was the party held? Did you perform?
We had plans for an official release party but couldn't find the time in the schedule so we celebrated with the label, our close friends, our crew and sponsors. Mr Jim Beam was there so we where not in any condition to play ha ha.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Fatal Smile plays today?
Hmm. That's a good question but I guess we're simply playing FATAL "Fucking" MUSIC. That means kick ass hardrock with HUGE balls & attitude from hell. That's what our music is all about.
I think that the new album sounds more heavier, rawer and edgier compared to earlier releases with Fatal Smile what do you think?
Fuck yeah, you've got that 100% right!!! So right on it bro.I think it's just a natural way to go for us...Bigger & better!!!
WORLD DOMINATION was released by Locomotive Records. Were you happy with the work the label put into the album? Why did you leave LR?
Locomotive crashed along with 90% of the business! The record industry is suffering since new generations feel that everything is free for grabs! Sure, they did a pretty good work. But then again they fucked us really hard since they did crash their fucking European label exactly the time they were supposed to pay our royalties. That's what I say is perfect timing from their side.
So, we didn't get a shit. So tell me, ain't this lovely music business grand??? ;-)
Who owns the legal rights to WORLD DOMINATION today?
We do! We got them back from Locomotive! We have our own label, FS Records that license it to several different labels for sales and distributions worldwide. And it works fucking perfect!
Were you without a record deal for a long time and what label are you signed to today?
We release our stuff on FS Records and license it to different labels. In Europe it's we're working with GMR Music and we just signed a US deal with Spectra Records. So we didn't even searched for a label for the new record since we don't think anyone actually need a label these days. We'll maybe if you wanna get ripped off then you'll need a label ;-)I mean there are a few really good labels left today.
You're back at GMR Music Group that distributes your album how's that?
GMR is really great to work with & they're really honest and trustworthy. They have never fucked us up the ass and that's a great thing in this music (monkey) business... So, let's hope it continues that way ;-)
Is 21st CENTURY FREAKS released worldwide today?
Only in Europe, it will be released in USA & Canada on Feb 19, 2013. And we're working on a Japan release as well.
Is it possible to download the album legally anywhere?
Fuck yeah on all download sites like iTunes, Amazon etc.
Are you currently working with any booking agency or management?
I'm dealing with all that stuff on my own since we've always refused to sign an exclusive deal with anyone since we know it hurts to be fucked up the ass! It's way better to be free and handle all that things on our own since then we know it's done & that it's done in the right way that we want it.
Where was the album recorded and who has produced it?
Once again I produced the album & our drummer Philty engineered and we mixed it together. We recorded it in many different studios for different parts. We're really happy with that since we could really do it the way we wanted it from start to finish.
What's it like to produce your own band? What does the rest of the band think of your producer skills?
Well. Since I'm a kind of "control freak" I really need to be involved with everything when we're recording a new album. I've been co-producing BEYOND REALITY & NEO NATURAL FREAKS & I produced the WORLD DOMINATION album. So it's a really natural thing for me since I simply think I know what I want & how to get it. Hmm don't know what the others think & actually I don't really give a fuck since I think everyone seems to be really happy with my work so far. So that must mean I'm doing something right in the end ;-)
Have you produced other bands besides Fatal Smile?
No, that would be cool but I simply don't have time for that since I'm doing all the other stuff for FS & it's more than a full-time work just to keep this fucking "circus" rolling. But you know there's no rest for the wicked. But maybe I'll find some time for producing bands in the future. That would be cool!
You have also mixed the album, did you do that on your own?
It was mixed by me & my drummer Philty, since we thought sometimes 2 is better than 1 and it worked our really great.
I've read that the band brought in a jury that decided what mix you should use, what was that? Which mix won and who did the various mixes?
We had like 8 different people that did a "testmix" of one song and then we had them all played up for some people without letting them know who's been mixing them and it ended up that Philty's & mine mix was the one that they thought was the best one.
Philty is listed as executive producer does that mean that you recorded the album on your own and with your own money without any back-up from a label?
Yeah, we simply just decided that we wanted to do the ultimate FATAL SMILE album so we did everything from recording it to mixing it and we're really satisfied with the result. There's no way I would like to change that & there's nothing I would like to do different.
How long did it take for the work in the studio?
It took 11 long months to do it. It was the longest 11 months in my life since I we had to do exactly everything and working from morning to late every day. Sometimes it was pretty frustrating when thing's didn't work out the way we wanted & things fucked up all the time. But we managed to get it through and that feels really great now.
Since WORLD DOMINATION was released have the band gone through a member change, what happened with drummer Zteff?
Yeah, Zteff didn't want the same as we wanted regarding touring and stuff...So we simply had to move on as always in the "FS camp" and release him from his duties in the band...
Do you think the member change have affected the music in any way?
Was it given to take in Philty on drums?
We had like over 120 drummers that contacted us from all over the word and wanted the drummer job. At the end we tried out 6 drummers and ended up with Philty that was pretty given at the moment.
Since the beginning, has the band gone through some changes in the line-up but is the current line-up a solid one do you think?
Changes in life, business & bands is always good. Since it all happens for a reason and things can always get better, don´t you think?? ;-)
And hell yeah, we're rock solid and as I said you should "never say never" since things & stuff sometimes changes in every person's life. But I really hope the current line-up will be the last one for my band...
The band toured heavily on the previous album do you have any idea how many gigs you actually did?
We toured like crazy and did more than 350 shows in like 2-3 years. That was so fucking fun even though it's really tough being on the road for 2 months with the same 5-6 guys in a bus & spend like 24 hours together. And when you're back home it's like heave but after a week or two you're starting to get restless again and you wanna hit for the road again it's like a drug you know.
The band performed at many festivals like Sweden Rock, Wacken Open Air and Hard Rock Hell to mention a few how was that?
Festivals is always great to play since we get to hang with a lot of friends & it's really nice to play outdoors & feel the wind in your hair & we also can use our whole show with bombs, pyro & fire throwers. Fire in the hole!!!
What does the band like the most - playing in clubs or at festivals?
It really doesn't matter at all since we just love to be on stage, no matter what!!! Just give us a stage & we'll give it fucking all from the start to the end. We love playing clubs AND festivals.
You call the years in between 2008-11 the mayhem years why?
It's was simply just about: Sex, drugs & rock'n'roll. We're happy to be alive and still manage to do this even if we sometimes "fall off the wagon" from time to time.
Alex got injured in Copenhagen a few years back what happened?
We flew down to Copenhagen one day before we should play to hang with some friends & we had a huge party & got drunk as fuck & Alx ended up falling down from the stage (when he was doing some "moves" with some chicks...) & crushed his knee cap. He was in hospital for 12 weeks & had 6 surgery's and got titanium & steel screws in his knee & it took over a year for him to recover. But now he's 100% recovered & stronger than before. But not sure if he's much smarter though ;-)
It's about 2 years ago since Ronnie James Dio past away do you remember what you were doing when you got the news of his passing?
We were on our way back home to Sweden after our European tour with Queensryche and I got a text message from a friend saying that R.J.D. had passed away. That was so unreal & sad to hear since we all really loved that "little man with the big voice". Fuck cancer & obviously there's no justice in life since he passed away way too early. R.I.P. When we got back home I wrote a song for him on my piano & Blade wrote the lyrics the same night. It's called "For The Last In Line". If you haven't checked it up please do that since it's a beautiful song.
The band has been support act to Dio two times - how was that?
Yeah, that was so fucking cool since I've been listening to Ronnie in Black Sabbath, Rainbow & Dio & he's always been my favorite singer of all time. We had a blast & I've never met a man with a bigger heart & soul. I mean he's been in this "business" for ages & he still did take time to hang with us & was such a nice person.
Which Dio album is your favorite one?
It's a hard one but I would say it's HOLY DIVER followed by THE LAST IN LINE.
The band hardly did any touring last year why?
Simple answer: we spent 11 months recording & mixing the new album. That was a epic fucking year since me & Philty did everything from recording it to mixing it. But we fucking got it exactly the way we wanted it to sound like & we're damn fucking proud of it.
Do you think it's important to be active on the various social networks and forums on internet?
It sure is. But since I have pretty lazy band members & I'm way to busy to take care of that we're running a bit slow with that. But I'm doing my best to keep it up with the biggest forums etc.
You got a really good looking website who runs it?
I designed it together with Jan Yrlund from www.darkgrove.net
He's awesome & I agree that our new website is fucking awesome!!!
Alex is also involved in the band Days Of Anger but are the rest of the members in Fatal Smile involved in any other acts besides Fatal Smile?
No, simply because there's no time for that.
The band have already done a few live shows how has the fans responded on the new songs?
Fucking amazing!!! We feel a lot of new energy from the fans during the new songs since it feels like the fans been listening to the songs for ages & know every single word and that's a really nice "confirmation" for us and a great way to say that our new album kicks major ass!!!
Have you done any headline shows so far or have you been out as support?
We've done a lot of headline shows during this year & played some festivals & I guess we'll continue with that next year & maybe team up with some friends on tour.
Are there any plans on heading over to North America and tour?
Hell yeah, since we love North America & they love us we simply have to get our asses back there for a tour. We're working on that & will have some news regarding this early January next year.
Is there any interest for Fatal Smile in Asia at the moment?
Yes there is and we're dealing with some labels in Asia & hope to have it all sorted out early next year for a Asian release.
Where in the world do you have your strongest fanbase?
We have a great fanbase in Europe & even a stronger fanbase in the US and we're trying to get back to the US for a tour this spring.
Fatal Smile have been in the industry for quite a while now, how do you think the music industry has changed over the years? Is it for better or for worse?
We'll, I guess for us it's pretty much the same since we're always been doing pretty much everything on our own. So I don't see that much besides that maybe the advance payments from labels have been smaller. You know, it's a long way to the top but we're fucking still climbing.
It has become really popular for bands to launch beer, vodka and wine does Fatal Smile have any plans on launching any beverage or so?
Hahaha...We'll I guess you should "never say never" but we're not into that kind of shit. No disrespect for the bands that does that but that's nothing for us. But we might "thinking outside the box" & we'll be selling our urine in nice bottles so people can enjoy a nice "golden shower" with a FATAL SMILE.;-)
Are you happy with what the band have managed to achieve so far?
Fuck yeah, I'm really fucking proud and happy about that but I'm far from satisfied since I have a vision in my mind and I'm really hard to please. Like I'm almost ever, never satisfied and always aim/want for more. I've been working my ass off just to get here and I'm still working my ass off just to get THERE!!!
No rest for the wicked you know ;-)
When can we expect the next album from Fatal Smile being out in stores?
I think we'll try to have it out next winter but it all depends on how much we will be touring etc. But I've already started to write a lot of new stuff so we aim to get it out then no matter what.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy 21st CENTURY FREAKS?
1. It's one of the best albums that's been released for the last decade.
2. It has it all: huge balls, larger than life sound & kick ass songs that will blow your mind!!!
3. Support your local music dealer, BUY THE ALBUM NOW!!!
Well, that was all for me this time. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Hell yeah, a million thank's to all of you for the endless support during the years, YOU ARE THE BEST, FUCK THE REST!!!
Keep it up & make sure to catch our "Freak Show Tour" in a venue near you & always remember: Who dares, it wins!!!
Thanks a lot for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band the best of luck in the future.
Thank YOU for taking your time & see ya soon!!!
Peace & Love, Y