Lion’s Share has, after 6 years of silence, finally released their new album entitled EMOTIONAL COMA. I hooked up with mastermind/guitar player Lars Chriss and here comes answers to everything you could possibly want to know about Lion’s Share.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Lars Chriss for the promo pictures of the new lineup taken by: Mattias Nord
Thanks to AFM Records for the promo pictures of the band
Why did you put the band on hold at the beginning of 2000?
Actually it was in December 2001 after the “Entrance” album and the dates we did in support of it. I was taking care of everything regarding the band and we had been doing the album tour, album tour thing for over 8 years, so I more or less overnight hit rock bottom and felt totally burnt out. I desperately needed a break to re charge my batteries to remain sane. Playing music simply wasn’t fun anymore. I feel that the break did me well and that for example I’ve become a better guitarist during this six year period.
How was your last album, ENTRANCE, from 2001 greeted by the fans and media, do you remember that?
The reviews very really good and we got many new fans that appreciated it was more straight ahead and not as progressive as before.
Altogether you made 4 albums before the band were put on ice, who owns the legal rights to those albums today?
I do. I own all masters and the band name as well. This is why the other guys couldn’t just get another guitar player and continue when I decided to take the break. This was one of the reasons the break was so long as well. I wanted all licensing contracts to expire so I would have total control over the complete Lion’s Share catalogue.
Are there any plans on re-releasing those albums today?
AFM wants to release a Best Of with re recordings by the new/current lineup first and then release the original 4 back catalogue albums later on. Right now my focus is on promoting “Emotional Coma” and then I will start writing for the next record so we can have it out hopefully next Fall.
You are the only remaining band member, how was it to start over again with only brand new members?
Great! These guys were hand picked by me to fit in both musically and on a personal level. Patrik joined in 2003 and Sampo in 2004, but we didn’t go official with it until much later. This gave us plenty of time to see how well we worked and got along together.
Did you ask the old members if they were interested in participating in the “new” Lion’s Share?
No! None of them really fit in with the sound and direction I was going for either. For starters I wanted a more busy and modern sounding drumming style. I wanted to bring more energy to the songs. My riffs also screamed for a more aggressive vocal style. The new guys were hand picked for this record and sound.
Have you still contact with the old members today?
With some of them, sure.
What can you tell us about the new members? Have they been members in any famous acts prior to Lion’s Share?
Sampo Axelsson has toured with and written a couple of albums with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), in the 90s. Richard Evensand has been a member of Chimaira, Soilwork, and Therion etc. Patrik Johansson has done some session jobs with Wuthering Heights and Space Odyssey and is also a member of Astral Doors.
I’m familiar with lead singer Patrik Johansson since earlier, and I know his one of the hottest singers around at the moment, how did he end up in Lion’s Share?
I heard and MP3 on the net right before his first ever album with Space Odyssey came out. I got in contact, we hit it off and he joined the band in 2003. We have been working towards this LS comeback ever since, but not officially in the beginning to avoid pressure from fans and media for a new record. We wanted to be able to work un-disturbed until we felt 100% ready for the comeback.
What have you been up to in between the “break-up” with the band?
Since I was burnt out I didn’t do much at first. Then I played with some friends just for fun at Sweden Rock Festival. First with Ian Haugland (Europe) and the other staff from a rock radio station called 106.7 Rockklassiker. Then with the most famous weather man in Sweden, Pär Holmgren (Swedish national television SVT). This was actually how I got in contact with Sampo Axelsson since he was in that band too.
I produced, wrote for and played on an album called Audiovision “The Calling” with Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie, Journey, and Talisman), Bruce Kulick (KISS), Mic Michaeli (Europe), Thomas Broman (Hughes Turner Project, Electric Boys), Michael Höglund (Thunder), Tony Franklin (Whitesnake, Blue Murder) and others. It was the solo album from Narnia singer Christian Rivel that he hired me to do and that took about a year too. I went to sound engineering school (SAE), practiced guitar etc. In many ways I just tried to get back the fun into playing music again. The break got longer than I originally thought. Then when Sampo joined we started writing a lot of songs. Well over 20 for Lion’s Share plus a side project in the style of Gotthard, Kingdom Come, Deep Purple Mk3, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake etc called Road To Ruin (www.roadtoruin.org). Matti Alfonzetti (Jagged Edge, Skintrade), is singing and Thomas Bromas (Hughes Turner Project, Electric Boys, John Norum, MSG), is drumming. It will be out on Metal Heaven in late October.
Have you got any numbers on how many copies the Lion’s Share’s albums have sold until today?
Not really. Probably around 100 000 or something like that.
Let’s talk about your new album EMOTIONAL COMA, when did the work began on that album?
I had some ideas around the time I put the band on hold and then kept on writing in periods up till we went into the studio. I guess we started working more focused after Sampo joined in 2004.
How long did it take to write the album and who’s written the music and lyrics?
The songs were written during a five year period. I had about 12-13 songs when the other guys joined and then we wrote another 10 or so together. When Sampo joined he and I started writing the music together. Usually with one of us coming up with a riff to start off the session. We’re a riff band you know. We make sure the songs are great with just the riffs and arrangement even before we write the melody and lyrics. For this record I wrote like 95% of the melodies and Patrik wrote all lyrics. We have no set rules about this though. We continue to work until we are happy with a song. Sometimes we go back and rewrite parts and sometimes it’s just like the song writes itself right away.
What are the lyrics about?
Patrik decided to write pretty dark and brutal lyrics for this album since he felt the riffs and music was pretty dark as well. I think he get much of his inspiration from TV news, daily news papers, books, movies. Many of the songs are based on a true story.
How come you signed on for AFM Records? Are you happy with the promotion etc the label have put into the album?
I’ve kept my eyes on AFM for a couple of years and felt they would be perfect for our kind of music and for this comeback. It was the only label we sent any music to, so we are happy they wanted to sign us. The guys working there are really great and it feels like I’ve known them for years.
For how many albums did you sign for?
Can’t remember. Three I think….?
Why did you title the album EMOTIONAL COMA? Does the title mean anything special?
We obviously had to name the album so we took a look at all the song titles and picked the one we thought fitted the best. This is always the hardest part for us when making an album. To name it! That’s probably why the first two are called “Lion’s Share” and “Two”…
Ronny Lahti has done the production, how was it to work with Ronny? And what’s his strength as a producer do you think?
Ronny is great. A total pro that’s been around for ages working with the best and biggest artists in Sweden. He also did “Fall From Grace” with us. We didn’t want to have the triggered drum sound like everybody else these days. To me that stuff sounds far to close to using a drum machine. It’s a pity it’s so rare to hear acoustic drums recorded in a big room today. We wanted the dynamics from a really great drummer. This record sounds like a real band playing together.
In which studio have you recorded the album?
We worked in different studios around Stockholm. The guitars, bass and vocals were recorded in a smaller studio and the drums and mixing was done in bigger and more expensive studios.
How long did you where in the studio and record this new album?
It’s hard to tell since we worked in periods. When we mix we usually do one song per day. The drums were probably done in 7-8 days. We did like 2-3 bass tracks per day. Same thing with the rhythm guitars and vocals. We had the luxury of having our own studio to play around in as well so I’m sure we spent more time than we would in a shit expensive studio had we been in there all the time.
The drummer Richard Evensand are playing on the album but he’s not gonna play live, who is gonna take his place when you play live?
Our friend Stefan Norgren will do the summer festivals with us. He’s been doing a great job filling Richard’s shoes but we are still looking for a permanent drummer officially.
Who has done the cover artwork and does it mean anything in particular?
We wanted a mascot figure like Iron Maiden’s Eddie so we told our friend Robert to play around with some drafts and then he came up with this figure that we really liked. We will use this mascot for other covers too, for merchandise etc. The shirts, posters and backdrop look stunning with this image. I’m sure some kids will check out the album based on the cover alone. We are really happy about it.
You have done a cover of the Angel Witch song “Sorcerers”, what do you think of it and are Angel Witch a common favorite band within Lion’s Share?
Yeah, we love that first album from Angel Witch. We received an offer to be on a tribute to AW, but we thought the song evolved into a Lion’s Share song so we decided to include it on “Emotional Coma” instead. We had real fun coming up with the arrangement. We played around with e-bow and stuff. I think it fit perfect with our own songs and Patrik is very pleased with his vocal performance on it.
Did you have many songs that didn’t make it on to the album?
Yeah. We had to draw the line at some point otherwise we would just have kept on writing and writing. It was very hard to decide what should go on the album and not. We tried to make a balanced record. Each song should contribute something new to the whole picture. We wanted diversity, but within a certain sound. I’m always coming up with a lot of doomy, Sabbath sounding stuff, but we wanted to concentrate on more energy and up-tempo songs for this album. We’ll see when we start writing for the next album how much of the leftovers we will return to. I haven’t listened to any of it since we started recorded EM, so it’s gonna be real interesting to return to that stuff later when we have to start thinking about the next cd. We recorded one more song for the album that we didn’t have the time to mix called “TV Preacher”.
I think Lion’s Share have gone through some musical changes with this album. On the older albums I think you played more melodic hardrock with lots of keyboards and grand choruses, EMOTIONAL COMA leans more towards heavy metal with certain doom and progressive parts. How would you describe what kind of music you play now?
It’s hard for me of course. I don’t think the riffs or melodies are that different. I’ve always been influenced by Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Accept, Saxon, Rammstein, Megadeth etc. This time we didn’t use keyboards which I think is the biggest difference. Also we wanted a more modern drumming style that could bring more energy to the songs. Patrik’s voice is pretty raw and brutal and the songs are more up-tempo overall compared to in the past. I’m a metal guy at heart, I grew up with the NWOBHM stuff. To me this record is like returning to my roots. To the style I started out playing before I began writing with a keyboard player and got influenced by bands like Dream Theater.
What do you think older fans of the band are gonna think of your current musical approach?
So far so good. A song like “The Edge Of The Razor” could have been on any of our records really. Sure the production is a bit more edgy and in your face, but I think every fan will hear the trademark Lion’s Share sound in there anyways. It’s been 6 years since the last record so I think it would have been different no matter who was in the band. I never wanna do the same album over and over again. I think all 5 records differ from each other actually. The one closest to this one is probably “Fall From Grace”.
You have made a video for the song “The Edge Of The Razor” has it been picked up by any TV-channels?
Yes it has. It’s on the DigiPak limited edition of our album as well (together with a bonus track) if people want to check it out.
Bruce Kulick, Glen Drover- guitar and Mats Levén- vocals appear on the album, how did they end up there and do you know them from before?
Mats Levén is an old friend and he also did the backing vocals for our first two albums, so that was a no-brainer. His voice blends really well with Patrik’s and he’s a killer guy. The studio where we did most of the demos was co owned by the former KISS Army president of Sweden, so when Bruce Kulick was in Stockholm to do a KISS Expo he suggested we invite Bruce to the studio to do a guest solo. I’m a KISS fan since I was 8, so of course I wanted a former KISS member on my record. Glen Drover from Megadeth, I’ve known for a couple of years after working with his other band Eidolon. I asked if he could do a solo and he agreed. Eric Peterson from Testament was working on a solo too for “Bloodstained Soil”, but unfortunately we had to start mixing before he was done.
You did a shorter gig at a club in Stockholm before the album was released, did you play any new songs then and how was it to be on stage?
Yes, we needed a warm up gig so the new lineup could be together on a stage before the summer festivals began. We played one old song and I think five new ones.
You have also recently played at Sweden Rock Festival how was that?
Awesome! A lot of people both at the show and the signing session.
Do you have many shows booked this summer?
We’ve already done some Swedish festivals and we just came back from Germany after playing Manowar’s Magic Circle Festival in front of 10 000 people and then we’ll do Metal Heart in Norway with Queensryche, Testament, Dimmu Borgir, Candlemass and others.
Are there any plans on heading out on the roads on a real tour now that the album is out?
In this business it’s all about timing and going out with the right package. We’ve gotten a couple of offers but right now nothing is confirmed. We’d rather go out with a bigger band to win over fans every night at bigger venues around Europe rather than playing clubs ourselves like we do in Sweden (September 13 – Stockholm, 14 – Gävle, 15 – Sala). I suggest people check our web page www.lionsshare.org for updates.
Do you see any difficulties or problems with the other members being involved in other acts besides Lion’s Share?
Of course the ultimate thing is to have all members 100% devoted and on stand by all the time, but almost every musician these days have several projects going at the same time. With a bit of good planning ahead there shouldn’t be any bigger problems.
Are you involved in any other band/projects besides Lion’s Share?
Yes, Sampo and I just finished an album in the more classic hard rock style that will be released in a couple of months on Metal Heaven Records called ROAD TO RUIN. Check out the web page at www.roadtoruin.org
When do you think we can expect the next album with Lion’s Share be out in the stores?
It all depends on the inspiration but we will start writing in October and hope to have a new album out next September or so.
Give the readers some reasons why they should buy EMOTIONAL COMA
This is awesome Classic Heavy Metal. Well written, great musicianship, good production and something well worth checking out for any true fan of Metal. An e-card with samples and product info at www.fanbay.se/buy/index.asp?movie_id=1897&company_id=39
That’s all for me for this time Lars, thanks a lot for answer my many questions and good luck with the band in the future.
My pleasure Anders!