Singer Mike Andersson – Cloudscape
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to GerMusica for the promo pictures of the band
Promo pictures taken by: Raimo Gedda
Additional live pictures from the archives of: Anders Sandvall
VOICE OF REASON is the brand new fifth release from the undisputed kings of progressive/heavy metal, Cloudscape. The album was released at the end of January and their previous album came out in 2012. The band have always released albums quickly so why they had such a gap in between albums was one of the questions I brought along to singer Mike Andersson. With VOICE OF REASON the band worked with a producer they haven’t worked with before in Anders Theo Theander, however the album was recorded in the same studio they recorded their previous excellent albums; RoastingHouse Studio located in Malmo, Sweden. Read on to find out what the band is up to now that the album is released… enjoy.
Hi Mike, it’s nice to talk to you again. Are you ready to kick off another interview with Metal-Rules.com?
Hey Anders. Absolutely…lets get going 🙂
The brand new Cloudscape album, VOICE OF REASON, was released in January. For how long have you been working on the album?
We started working on it shortly after the release of “New Era” in 2012. Song ideas just keep popping up; there’s no reason to “wait” when inspiration drives you.
What has the band been up to in between the release of the previous album NEW ERA from 2012 and VOICE OF REASON?
Well, a 3.5 week long European tour with Danish symphonic/prog rockers Royal Hunt was surely the “main thing” where we visited 17 cities around in Europe. It was a blast and a great thing for Cloudscape after all these years. It turned out to be a success. 🙂 Apart from that we have mainly been working on VOICE OF REASON.
Up until now the band has been very active with releasing albums, why did it take three years to release VOICE OF REASON?
I have no really good answer on that except for us being involved in a few other projects and the fact we didn’t want to “stress” VOICE OF REASON. We needed a longer break. But, now we’re back to rock and you will not have to wait another four years for the next album!
As usual you have been very active with writing material, where do you find inspiration to write songs and what are the lyrics about on the album this time?
When it comes to the lyrics, 9 out of 10 times I write lyrics that the common man can relate to in one way or another; not much hocus pocus. The inspiration for the music is like it’s always been…inspired by life, experiences, holidays, moods etc etc etc…
We didn’t write that many songs this time because we had a certain goal from the very beginning on how we wanted the album to turn out musically. Of course, there are a few songs that were put to rest in a hidden folder. 😉
Could you describe the song writing process within the band? Who does what?
It’s me and drummer Fredrik Joakimsson that write the songs for Cloudscape. We work separately and when we have a finished basic song idea to present the guys in the band, we work with it in the rehearsal room together.
How do you go about writing a song? Do you start with the music or the lyrics?
We always begin writing the music.
Do you all gather and rehearse the new songs as a band or do you send music files and such to each other so that everyone can learn the new material?
We do both. When a song is finished we send the song to each other to listen to it. After that we get together in the rehearsal room to work on it instrumentally.
This album is the first one where the album is named after a song in “Voice of Reason”. You’ve never had that before, why did you name the album after the song and why did you choose to name the album after it?
The song is epic and stands for what Cloudscape is about musically. The lyric has a good message about common sense: what is common sense? Is my common sense the same as yours, for example? Listening to the voice of reason might be very different from human to human depending on your background, where you come from, and how you are raised.
With NEW ERA the line-up changed, did the new members bring in some new influences to the Cloudscape camp?
They brought new inspiration to the band for sure but new influences? I don’t know, maybe a bit more “straight forward” thinking musically.
What’s the thought behind the cover art work, done by Mattias Norén?
You have to ask him, hahahaha. ;- ) Well, voice of reason…you always hear this inner voice when you try to reason about things…those megaphones are the amplified voices of reason.
The album contains 8 songs and clocks in around 50-minutes; was it your intention to make a long album?
Actually this album is the shortest we’ve released and that actually was our intention. We wanted 2 longer tracks and a bunch of songs with standard length and limited the amount of songs to 8 to stay around 45 – 50 minutes. Our previous albums pass 60-minutes, I think.
“Voice Of Reason” is 11:49 long, what can you tell us about the song; what’s it about?
Like I explained earlier it is about “common sense”. We talk about the voice of reason but, the voice of reason is different from person to person. My voice of reason might not be like your voice of reason. Still we define “voice of reason” to be a red thread that is the same for all humans that have a voice of reason, but, in reality that’s wrong. Sounds deep but, it’s quite simple actually. 🙂
And “In Silence We Scream” is 9:25; what is that song about?
This song is about a mother’s fear for her child ending up wrong in life.
What is “All for Metal” about?
It’s our love song to our fans and to metal in general. With this song we praise the genre.
I think the music on the album is best described as progressive/melodic metal, how would you like to describe your music?
We describe it like you…melodic metal with some progressive touches.)
Do you think that older Cloudscape fans are going to like VOICE OF REASON?
Absolutely! Of course musical taste is different from person to person but with this album we, in a way, go back to our earlier days but also widen our style into new territories. Thus far the album has been very well recieved among our fans. 🙂
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs?
Not as we speak actually but who knows…
You haven’t released any lyric videos to any of the songs yet, why?
Hehe, well, to be honest I don’t know. Once we settled on a release date ,time just ran away so, well, I have no good answer to that.
If you look back on the album are you happy with the outcome?
Oh yes!! I Think we achieved what we wanted and reached our goals with it. It’s a very “fat” album and at times kinda bombastic…that’s what we wanted.
Is it correct that you performed the song “A New Design” on the tour you did together with Royal Hunt? What did the fans think of the song?
That’s correct. The song was really well received by the audience and they loved it.
You usually plays all the keyboard parts on your own but now you share it with Joakimsson. How does that feel?
Same like before, when Bjorn Eliasson was in the band he recorded the keys on his compositions so, it’s like it’s always been but, with Fredrik instead.
What did the media and fans think of the first single “All for Metal”?
It was awesomely received and it also reaches out to the more average metal fan that might not be too much into prog-metal. Still it has the typical Cloudscape elements…it did really well.
Have you read any reviews of the album yet? Do you care about what media has to say about you and the band’s work?
Of course we’ve read reviews. In general, most of the reviews we’ve read have been really awesome. But, naturally there are a few more mellow reviews too…there always are. But to say we “care” about what media thinks…I don’t think so. It’s fun to read but a review is still what that specific reviewer thinks about the album no matter if it’s a good review or a bad one. Of course it’s fun when we read good reviews; it would be strange otherwise! 🙂
What do the fans think of VOICE OF REASON?
As far as we know they love it!! Much better feedback compared to NEW ERA.
On previous albums you have always held release parties in your hometown of Helsingborg but this time you chose to host the party in Malmo, why?
It just happened that way…we more or less were invited by My Dear Addiction to have this release party in Malmo with them since they were releasing a new album too and Malmo is a cool city and in a way, our second home. 🙂
The party was co-hosted by another band called My Dear Addiction who also released their album. How was the party and why did you choose to be the first band out on the stage?
It was a nice evening even though it was in the middle of the week. We were invited to join My Dear Addiction at this release party so they were the “boss” for the event and that was ok with us of course, so they wanted to perform as the last band on stage.
I saw the show and thought it was great, how was it to play the new songs live?
It felt great and we think they work really well live.
The album was recorded in RoastingHouse studio, how was it to record there this time? How many times have you recorded there now?
Well, the drums were recorded in the RH studio and it was mixed and mastered there. The rest of the instruments were recorded in various studios closer to our respective homes. It’s always great to work with Theo and RoastingHouse…they always deliver a professional and good sounding mix/master. After all these years we’ve worked with them they have never let us down or done something half-hearted.
Both Anders Theo Theander and Fredrik Joakimsson produced the album, who took on the biggest part?
Theo definitely took the biggest part in production…Fredrik was like the band-representative, overseeing things and colloborating with Theo.
How was it to work with Theander?
Fantastic as always. 🙂
NEW ERA was produced by Micko Twedberg; what’s the biggest differences between working with Twedberg and Theander?
They are both great guys and professionals. When it comes to mixing and mastering, there’s not many that top Theo’s experience after hundreds of albums he has worked on over the years so, I think you have the answer there. But it was certainly a cool thing working production with Twedberg on NEW ERA to have some different aspects and inputs to our music.
Were any of the members a part of the mixing/mastering process?
We had our inputs after he presented the mixes but he was the sole engineer in the studio.
The guitars weren’t recorded at RoastingHouse; why not and where were they recorded?
They were recorded at SR Guitarstudio which is owned by our guitarist Stefan Rosqvist. It’s closer to home and a perfect place for our guitarists to work together on recordings.
How long did the production take?
It took quite a long time. The album was completely recorded in early 2015. After that, Theo worked in a relaxed tempo to try out different mixes until we found a sound that we thought was perfect for this album. No stress…completely hand made in a calm way.
Label and management
You’re still signed to RoastingHouse Management; are you happy with the work they put into the band and the new album so far?
Absolutely but, the actual label work is done by Dead End Exit Records (a metal division of RoastingHouse).
RH has a new division in Dead End Exit Records which is where Cloudscape is signed. What’s the difference between working with RH and Dead End Exit as record label?
They are more or less the same company. The difference is that Dead End Exit is run by Micko Twedberg to focus on the label side of things in their metal roster. But, RoastingHouse is still the company that makes the bigger decisions. It’s a small label but with lots of heart and devotion to the metal scene.
Dead End Exit now hosts all the former metal acts that were previously signed to RH; are you happy with that solution?
Absolutely…I think it’s better for all parties and everyone involved.
Micko Twedberg is A&R and Creative Captain at Dead End Exit Records, how is it to work with him?
It’s great! He has ambition and heart for the label and their roster. He’s the perfect man for the job!!
Cloudscape must be the metal act that has been with RH the longest time?
I think so, yes. 5 studio albums plus a limited “Best of” album marks Cloudscape the band to work with RoastingHouse the longest time and that is cool.
The band is also co-working with GerMusica, how’s that?
That’s cool…we have worked with them since our debut album was released in late 2004. It’s good to have a company that directs interviews and stuff and they are doing a good job.
Are there any plans on releasing the album on vinyl?
Oh yes. We definitely have plans but, it’s a thing we will finance ourselves when it comes to pressing the vinyls. Hopefully our label will release it for us and do the “technical work” for it to distributors and stuff. However, we have a serious plan but we need to wait until June to see the band’s economy so we can make this plan a reality.
Who own the legal rights to the older albums today?
I think RoastingHouse has the legal rights to all albums nowadays. Otherwise, it’s Metal Heaven and/or Goldencore Records.
Are there any thoughts of re-releasing any of the older sold out albums again; I’m thinking about the first and second album?
There are no plans as I know of right now but it would certainly be awesome if it happened considering we are an active band playing those songs live. But, all our albums are available at iTunes, Googlemusic and Spotify so, that’s better than nothing. 🙂
Who is distributing and releasing the album in North America and Asia?
We have no distributor in Asia…but, CD vendors over there have the EU edition in stock probably from our label or Scandinavian distributor. Dead End Exit covers all Europe and America this time.
All of the Cloudscape albums are available at Spotify but are they also available at other music services?
Absolutely…Google Music, iTunes etc.
Is the band still contracted to Nightmare Records in USA/Canada?
Not since NEW ERA. But, it’s always been a business between RoastingHouse and Nightmare Records.
When we spoke the last time NEW ERA hadn’t been released in Asia yet; has it been released there now? Is the new album going to be released over there?
The new album is available to purchase from Asian web stores but it’s not released by a certain label there. NEW ERA was never released there and the only album in our discography that was released by a label there was our debut via Marquee/Avalon.
Do you currently work with any management?
Nope, all work goes via our label Dead End Exit Records.
Past and present
How was it to be out on the road with Royal Hunt?
Awesome, awesome, awesome. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done musically. What a cool journey with such great guys.
During that tour you released BEST OF..TOURING EUROPE WITH A BLAST FROM THE PAST, what did the album include?
It’s a very limited “Best of” album with songs from all our albums plus a special version of “A new design” which later was released on VOICE OF REASON.
I haven’t seen the album in stores, was it only sold during the tour?
Indeed, it’s available digitally at Spotify and iTunes but the physical CDs were never released in stores.
Would you like to have performed more live with the band than you have done so far?
Absolutely…being on stage is one of the best things I know. Rocking the crowd and seeing those fists in the air; we love to perform live!
Did the band do any live gigs during 2015?
Yes, we did a very few. Malmö, Helsingborg, a support gig for 220 Volt.
Some of the members are also involved in other acts besides Cloudscape, do you see any problems or difficulties with that?
Absolutely not. I have side-projects too and also my other band Fullforce INC.
Does the band have any festival shows booked for the summer so far?
We have one festival gig scheduled in Alingsås on June 4 (Prog night).
Are there any plans on heading out on tour in Europe or Scandinavia now that the new album is out?
There are no plans right now but we certainly hope to tour Europe again of course…plus going to the U.S for shows. It would be awesome meeting our fan base there.
The band is pretty active on the social forums, do you think it’s important to be active on the internet?
Absolutely…in todays music industry you need to be active EVERYWHERE. It’s a hard business nowadays if you wanna reach out to the metal scene.
Who runs the band’s website? It’s really nice looking and informative.
Our bass player is doing the main adjustments there and some features are synchronized with the Facebook site.
What’s the most common question the band gets from fans?
In my experience it’s “when will you perform live in my town/country”.
Are you a fan of Motorhead and do you remember what you were thinking when you got the news of Lemmy’s passing?
I was never a big Motörhead fan but, I loved Lemmy! His passing was truly sad and he had a good vision of life even though he drank quite a lot. He was, and is, a legend that’s reached out to billions of people around the globe no matter whether you like him or not. “Killed by Death” and “Ace of Spades” are my faves from Motörhead.
Which Motorhead album or era is your favorite?
I like the NO REMORSE album with “Killed by Death” and “Ace of Spades”.
Have Motorhead had any impact on Cloudscape as a band?
Not really….at least not musically. But, Lemmy had impact on mankind.
What would you like to say to those who haven’t heard Cloudscape yet?
Check us out!! It’s never too late…our latest album VOICE OF REASON is waiting for you in a store close to you. 😉 The more fans we have, the merrier journey in the metal world.
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy VOICE OF REASON?
It’s metal, it’s melodic but heavy, it’s a damn good album. 😉
The band has been active since 2001 and celebrates 15 years this year, are there any plans on doing something special to honor that?
Actually no plans. better to celebrate when our debut album turns 15 in 2020.
Well that was all for now, do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers? Thanks again for taking the time for this interview, I wish you and the band all the best!!
All the best to you too Anders….nice talking to you again!
To all metallers out there…please check out Cloudscape and join our community at Facebook. Melodic metal with little progressive touches here and there…Heavy and melodic and some power…check us out…STAY METAL!!
Yours sincerely: Mike Andersson (lead singer)
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/cloudscapesweden
Instagram Page: www.instagram.com/cloudscapeonline
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Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/DeadEndExit
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