Band leader and guitarist Thomas Hansson – Stormburst
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Birgitt Schwanke at GerMusica PR for setting up the interview.
Thanks to AOR Heaven for the promo pictures of the band.
Coming out of Sweden is melodic hard rock/AOR act Stormburst, who are in the process of unveiling their second album HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN which is due at the end of August. I had the pleasure to talk to one of the band leaders and guitarist Thomas Hansson (Six Feet Under, Keen Hue, Steam) about the new album, the arrival of the new drummer and why the band haven’t done so much touring until now. Enjoy…
Hi Thomas, how are you doing today? Are you ready to kick off the interview?
Hi there and I’m doin’ fine thanks. Yes, I’m ready so shoot.
What made you and bass player Kent Jonsson decide to put a band together back in 2014?
Kent was playing covers in a duo and band prior to that and he was getting tired of it. He thought it was time to try original songs again, so he called me and from there we started. It didn’t take long before we were a full line up and could try out new song ideas. I wanted to play electric guitar again after mostly sitting at home with the acoustic.
Was it easy to find band members to join forces with you?
Yes, but it took a little while to get keyboard player Peter Östling to join as I remember it but we persuaded him to join and he eventually did. Kent had been in the same band (Keen Hue) as our lead singer Lars-Åke and it worked out very well with him directly so we started writing songs and tried them at rehearsal.
Three years later in 2017, the debut RAISED IN ROCK was unleashed. What did critics and fans think of it?
I remember it getting pretty good reviews overall from the press as well as the listeners but there’s always someone who doesn’t like it. And there’s always room for improvement too so I think we have matured when it comes to songwriting and arrangements. It was our debut album and we were trying to find our style but it’s a good effort for what it is.
Did the band do any touring or single shows on the debut album?
Yes, we had the release party with a show at a restaurant called Side in Vansbro. There were lots of people so it went very well. We also got to do a gig at the festival Sabaton Open Air in Falun. It was an afternoon show so it was still daylight and hard to do a light show but I remember a crowd of young guys from Stockholm singing along to all the songs. That was fantastic. I met people from Australia as well as Japan so it’s a pretty big festival.
In 2019 drummer Peter Ytterhag left the band, was his departure expected and do you have any contact with him today?
Yes, it was expected since he was busy with so many other things and I think he wanted to go for a heavier metal style direction sound-wise. I think Lars-Åke and Kent are still in contact with him and we wish him all the best of luck to his future endeavors.
Pelle Hindén (Eternal Of Sweden) joined, to replace him, how did he end up in the band?
Pelle is also the drummer in Metal band Eternal Of Sweden and we all know him from past bands and projects. When Peter decided to leave we already knew Pelle as a great drummer and that he was interested so it was an easy replacement procedure. We started rehearsing with him and it clicked right away. He’s very easy to work with and likes the same kind of music so we were lucky in that regard.
New album HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
When did you began to write material to the new album and who write the music and lyrics?
We write songs pretty much all of the time and we all participate in the songwriting process as well as the making of the arrangements. However, this time around it was mostly me and Lars-Åke who wrote the songs. It just turned out that way but Kent has several new songs who will most likely make it on the next album. “Tonight” is probably the oldest new song so to speak. It was written back in late 2016.
Highway To Heaven (Official Video)
Do you think the band has developed musically, if you compare the new album with the debut? If so, in what way?
Yes, I think we have developed quite a bit when it comes to making the music, arrangements and the lyrics. We have to keep this balance in the band between hard and soft musically as well as light and shade lyrically. I think that makes it more interesting to the listener as well as to us as musicians. I am more satisfied with the guitar playing and solos this time around too.
What are the lyrics about, judging by the titles many are about love?
They are about life in general and love is of course a big part of it. But we’re not afraid to touch the dark matters either and what’s going on in the world, we just don’t want to get too political. The title track “Highway to Heaven” and “Closer to Heaven” are both songs about the dream of a better life, from different points of view. The refugees in “Highway to Heaven” just want to leave their war torn country and find a peaceful place to live. The rich, middle aged man in “Closer to Heaven” just wants more things and more money. The ballad “Miles Away” is about my mother, I’m starting to lose her to dementia.
Were there any songs that didn’t make it onto the final edition of the album?
We have recorded so many songs and demos in these six years that there is a load of material. We had to go back and listen to the old songs who were finished but we chose to go for the newer one’s as we like them better. There are some good one’s like “Stay For the Night” but we’ll see what happens with that one.
Why did you call the album HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN, does the title have any special meaning to the band?
Lars-Åke wrote the song “Highway to Heaven” and I thought it could be the title track and name of the album. The older you get the more you start to think about death it seems and we’re all heading that way. The end station on this journey called life is the same for all of us, we just don’t know what it’s like there and what comes after.
The biography labels your music as melodic hard rock/AOR, but how would you like to describe what kind of music you play?
I pretty much agree with those terms but I’d like to say that we play Classic Melodic Hard Rock with elements of AOR. It’s a very traditional style of rock, guitar based but with pretty much use of the Hammond organ sound, like Boston, Deep Purple, MSG, Rainbow and Whitesnake.
Run For The Light (Official Video)
I really enjoy the album and think that especially keyboardist Östling and singer Hansson stand out. Hansson’s vocals actually remind me a bit of Klaus Meine from Scorpions, maybe he’s heard that comparison before? 🙂 Are you happy with the outcome of the album and your band mates’ efforts?
I am very happy with the way this album turned out, musically as well as sound-wise. The guitar sound is very organic and I found the tone for my solos, inspired by legends like Michael Schenker and Gary Moore. I think all of us did a good job and we often hear the comparison between Meine and Lars-Åke. Especially in the higher register you can hear it and I don’t mind, as I’m a real Scorpions fan.
Past and present
From what I understand, the band haven’t done a lot of shows or touring so far, other than what we’ve talked about already. Have you done other gigs as well?
No, there hasn’t been much interest in the band when it comes to live shows. I don’t know why and it’s even harder now with the COVID-19 situation. I hope that will change and that we at least get to do a festival gig or something like that. We’re a good live act and should get to prove it now that we have another album out.
Is it correct you’re about to throw a release party for the new album? How are you going to organize that with thought of the current restrictions due COVID-19 here in Sweden where only a maximum of 50 people are allowed to gather at the same time?
There is not going to be a live show at a pub with people in the audience, it’s going to be a digital live stream on the Stormburst Facebook site, Friday August 28th at 20.00 CET. I have a bad back at the moment so no live performance but there will be videos, interviews and people will be able to ask us questions.
Your Facebook site has about 800 likes so far, do you think that amount is going to increase now with the release of HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN?
I truly hope so but I have invited most of my Facebook friends now and still it’s hard to get more likes. The other guys have done the same so we’ll see.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Stormburst yet?
If you like Classic Melodic Hard Rock and AOR with a nice production then you should really give it a try. Check out the videos on Youtube and see/hear for yourself.
Could you give the readers and fans three reasons why they should buy HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN?
If you buy Highway to Heaven and Raised On Rock you get the complete Stormburst discography so far.
If you haven’t started collecting CD’s, you can do so by buying Highway to Heaven.
If you like the music, then support the artist and buy the CD.
That was all for me this time around, once again thanks for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band all the best and stay healthy and safe! Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers..
Thanks for having me and here are my final words of wisdom borrowed from Elvis Presley:
I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend. Without a song.’ So I keep singing a song.