Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Johan Haller at Wild Kingdom / Sound Pollution for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Wild Kingdom for the promo pictures of the band
Promo pictures taken by: Anders Fästader
Swedish glam/sleaze legend Zinny Zan (Easy Action, Shotgun Messiah, Zan Clan) is back with a new album, LULLABIES FOR THE MASSES, due to be released in late May 2022. Prior to this, he’s released three albums in Swedish with singer-songwriter music but now he’s back to singing in English. Along for the ride are producer/songwriter/guitarist Stefan Bergström (ex-Skintrade) and bass player Hogge Calmroth (also ex-Skintrade).
I had the pleasure to talk to Zinny Zan about the Swedish albums, working on the new album, the record label he’s working with, and why they chose to cover the Depeche Mode song “It’s No Good” on the new album. We also touched on the guests that appear on the album and what is next for the band. In the coming weeks Zan will announce who the touring band will be, so watch out for that. Read on to see what he had to say.
Hi Zinny, thanks for once again talking with me and Metal-Rules.com. I hope everything’s fine with you, are you ready to kick off the interview?
First off, what have you been up to the last few years during the ?
I have been working on our new album, LULLABIES FOR THE MASSES, together with my partner in crime, guitarist Stefan Bergström. I also have been hanging around my house with my kids.
Going back a bit, what kind of response did you receive from fans and media regarding 2017’s Swedish-language album, ÄR NI KVAR DÄR UTE, released under your own last name, Stagman?
I got a great response singing in my native language. It made me do two more albums in Swedish, MODER JORD (2018), and KEJSARENS NYA KLÄDER (2020).
It was a pleasant surprise to hear you sing in Swedish, how did you came up with that idea?
I have kicked around the idea for maybe 10 years, and for some reason it was time in 2017.
What did everyone think of the following Swedish albums?
All three Swedish albums got great reviews and good radio airplay in Sweden, but also England for some reason, despite me singing in Swedish.
Was it hard for you to properly promote KEJSARENS NYA KLÄDER due to the pandemic?
Yes, that was really not the best timing. I released the album Feb. 27th and a couple of weeks later the pandemic was a fact and really killed a very good album with great potential.
What about the unplugged storytelling show you did that you had to postpone a few times, how did that go?
When we finally got to it, it was a success and was voted ‘Concert of the Year 2021’ in Sweden, which really says it all doesn’t it? (Laughs) Incredible response, and a little bit of a magic night.
The label that released your albums is GMR Music. Are you happy with the work the label put into you and your albums?
I know the people at GMR and yes I have had a great relationship with them from day one. Of course the album could have done and been promoted even better but let’s also understand that when you are a smaller record label, you don’t have the same perks as the dragons do and that’s the truth of it.
I’ve read that you’re currently in the process of writing your biography, is that correct? How is it going, when can the fans expect it?
Yes I am, but again life interrupts quite often (laughs). Its hard writing your memoires while living at the same time (laughs). Right now I have been too busy with the album, videos etc., but I will continue writing. There’s not much left I would say, but a release will not be within this year I think.
Are you going to tell us everything about your life and career in the book or are you keeping anything private? I mean, you have an extended career so I guess there are a lot of stories to be told. 🙂
I will tell a lot of stuff that I believe is interesting to the reader and be 100 % honest with it; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful in my life. Of course there are so many stories that I can’t see how I would be able to fit all in.
You’re mostly known for your work with Easy Action, Shotgun Messiah, and Zan Clan. What did fans think of that you suddenly releasing singer/songwriting material in Swedish?
I would say that most of my supporters were fine with it and liked it. There are, of course, those that didn’t like those albums but I never heard much about that. On the other hand, I gained a lot of new supporters that were surprised that I could write and sound like I did in Swedish.
What do you think of the re-union with Easy Action, run by Kee Marcello and Tommy Nilsson?
If they want to do that they are entitled to do so. They made a AOR album that some people really like so why shouldn’t they do a reunion? I had no interest whatsoever to see or hear it but that is just due to that particular music isn’t interesting for me.
Any plans on re-unite again Zan Clan anytime soon?
New band, new members
When did you make the decision to sing in English again and what led up to that decision?
It was my companion Stefan Bergström, who also played a lot on my Swedish albums and also produced a few songs for it, who asked if the two of us should write some good rock n’ roll together in English. When we did it really clicked and we just continued. We are constantly writing together these days.
Is the new album a continuation of CITY BOY BLUES (2002)?
No, I wouldn’t say so. That album was me in 2002 while this new album is me & Stefan and the band for 2022 so there is a difference.
Is CITY BOY BLUES sold out today or are there any copies of it left to purchase?
I don’t have the slightest idea to be perfectly honest with you.
Besides the obvious reason, why did you choose to name the band Zinny Zan?
It was Stefan Bergström that came up with it actually. I was kicking around with different band names but Stefan said “ Zinny, they know you out there so lets call the band Zinny Zan and it will be a lot easier”, so we did.
Is it a project or a band?
It’s a band!
Was it hard to find members to the band?
Yes it was! Since the album is very versatile, you therefore need musicians that are just as versatile; that was not easy.
One of the first members that joined forces with you were guitarist/producer Stefan Bergström (ex- Skintrade) and bass player Hogge Calmroth (Skintrade). Is Skintrade active today or are they on a hiatus?
As far as I know they are on hiatus and Stefan and I are looking ahead at least two years. There is no sign of Skintrade or anything else with in that timespan in their lives.
According to the info sheet, the drummer position is vacant, is that correct? Are you still looking for a drummer?
No, we have a drummer now and will soon make an announcement! We also have news on percussion, keyboards, and back-up vocals and that is Martina Axén, formerly of Drain STH.
Are all of the members solid in the line up or are anyone session musicians?
They are all solid.
The new album LULLABIES FOR THE MASSES
When did you start working on material for the album and how long did it take to record?
Stefan and I started writing in the fall of 2020. Right after that we understood that my last Swedish record wasn’t gonna go anywhere with live gigs, touring etc. due to the COVID situation.
Did you write all of the material by yourself or did you co-write with anyone?
Stefan and I wrote everything together, except for the Depeche Mode cover.
Are all of the songs on the album newly written or did you use any older material as well?
All the songs are newly written.
Heartbreak City (Music Video)
Did you feel any pressure, returning to singing in English?
Absolutely! I had to be on top of the game and make my best performance ever; that was my goal.
Did the pandemic put any obstacles in the way of the recording process?
Yes it did, but we managed to work around it. Of course there were times when we couldn’t see each other etc.
Were all of the songs you wrote put on the album or were there any songs that were left behind?
We had around 14 songs but we both agreed upon that 9 songs would be enough for a first album from us. That means that we do have great songs already for album number two. We chose 9 songs that would fit together on the album but still would make it versatile.
What made you decide to cover Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good”, are you a fan of the band?
I am not a big Depeche Mode fan, neither is Stefan, but the song is great and we heard potential to make it even greater with our hard rock touch, so we went for it! We loved the idea just because it is so unexpected.
It’s No Good (Music Video)
Martina Axen, drummer from Drain STH, makes a guest appearance on that song in the video. Does she play drums on that song as well?
No, she is not playing that song on the album but she is now a member of the band and will be playing percussion, keyboards and even vocals.
Are there any other well-known names that make appearances on the album?
Yes: Nalle Påhlsson (Treat, Therion etc.), Johan Koleberg (Zan Clan, Therion, Wolf, etc.), Håkan Måsen Persson (Skintrade), and Jolle Atlagic (The Quill, Electric Boys) all appear on the album.
What are the longest songs “Goodbye To Yesterday” (3.58), “The One” (3.55) and “Bombs Away” (3.50) about?
Its all there in the lyrics. “Goodbye To Yesterday” is about love lost, walking alone again through life. “The One” is about finding that certain someone and you want her to be yours. “Bombs Away” is about my earlier way of living making me experience a very close to death experience where I should have died but for some reason I am still here, even if that means that I now have to take medication every day for the rest of my life.
How would you like to describe the kind of music you play on the album?
To me this is rock n’ roll. Some might say hard rock and maybe it is, but I don’t want to label it! It’s just music that we love to write and play but its definitely rock!
How did you came up with the name of the album, LULLABIES FOR THE MASSES?
I was questioned about Swedish politics and Swedish media some time ago and I criticized the media for sugar-coating things and the situation in our country and I said the phrase, “they’re just there to sing lullabies for the masses!” I liked the phrase and it stuck with me.
Who did the cover art?
The cover was made by Anders ”Nippe” Fästander after an idea Stefan Bergström had. The picture of me is taken by photographer Kristian “Heat” Reuter.
The info sheet says you want to “turn on, turn in and rock out”. What’s your comment on that?
Nope the info sheet says, “Turn On -Tune In-Rock Out!” That is a slogan I came up with. I stole it from Timothy Leary, author, psychologist, and pro-drug speaker, who had the slogan “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out!” I just stole it and changed it a bit.
Do you think your old hardcore fans will appreciate the new album?
Yes, why shouldn’t they? (laughs) I do believe they will love this album.
When do you think you can present a full solid line up for the band Zinny Zan?
Before the summer starts!
Studio and production
Is it correct that you recorded the album in July last year?
We recorded it in different phases and places, so no we didn’t do the entire album in July 2021.
Who produced the album?
Stefan Bergström produced it and I was co-producing a bit, but it was just minor things from my end so this is the work of commander Bergström.
On the pictures taken from the studio on FB it was only you and Stefan Bergström pictured, where are the rest of the guys?
That is correct! That was just because at that time we didn’t know who would stay and be permanent and who wouldn’t, so we only sent out pics of the two of us.
Who mixed and mastered the album and where were those jobs done?
It was mastered at Cutting Room in Stockholm by the master Björn Engelman who also produced ABBA’s latest album. So he went from ABBA straight in to Zinny Zan. Björn’s work is no less than fantastic.
Why did it take you so long to release the album?
All music artists are suffering today and are waiting months in order to get their work on vinyl. I believe today it’s a wait of 7-8 months to get your work on a vinyl, that’s why.
The band is now signed to the Stockholm-based label Wild Kingdom. What made you choose them?
They gave us the best offer and also, we’ve been talking for years that we’d one day work together, so now was the time
Why did you choose to end the co-operation with GMR Music?
GMR Music and I have done some very good work together and one day we might work again. For this international release I got a very good offer from Wild Kingdom / Sound Pollution.
Was Wild Kingdom your first choice of new label?
We were in talks and negotiations with 3 different companies but after sitting down with Wild Kingdom/Sound Pollution it was pretty clear where we wanted to go.
Are there any differences in the way GMR Music and Wild Kingdom work?
Its not my job to compare the two since they are given different opportunities, even if they both signed me. The strategies for my Swedish albums are different than the one with this band. I like both companies and that is also why I work with them.
Are you happy with the work Wild Kingdom have put into the new album and the band so far?
So far so good, but now comes the real work with the album release!
Wild Kingdom releases the album both on CD and on vinyl. Are you a fan of the vinyl format?
I am a fan of vinyl and also of CD. I have learned to like CD’s as well even if vinyl still is number one.
Besides black vinyl, the album also available on white vinyl. How many copies of the white version are there?
That will be a question for the record company to answer. Stefan and I just chose the colour, but I don’t know for how many copies.
Is the album going to be available on Spotify?
Yes and on all streaming music services available such as Tidal , YouTube Music, and many more.
With thought of your extended career and many years in the business, what’s your opinion towards streaming music and the way record labels have changed their work through the years?
Streaming companies, and also the record labels, are making great money today so the only ones standing on the short end are the music makers, which is absolutely crazy, but as long as we do not manage to unite no one will give us back the fair percentage of our work.
Who owns the legal rights to CITY BOY BLUES today?
Is there any interest shown for the band and the new album in the USA and Asia? I mean, you have a lot of fans world wide surely long to hear new music from you. 🙂
I have done more interviews, pod casts and radio station advertising with the U.S. than with all of Europe for this upcoming release. There is a good interest from Germany, England, Italy etc., but nothing compared to the U.S. It shows that the Americans never forget who have toured their country; and I lived there for some years as well. I highly appreciate my supporters all over the world but I can see that the Americans are the ones that are the most curious about this new release from me and the band.
Past present and future
Please tell the readers how the February 2022 release party celebrating the first single went. Were there a lot of people? Did the band perform live?
Actually, it was for the 2nd single since the release party for the first got cancelled due to COVID. It was a nice and cozy night out with a lot of close friends and supporters that I’ve made a close relationship with over all these years. We showed the video a few times, talked about it, and then mingled around. Later I even played some acoustic stuff, but not from this album.
At the moment the band’s got about 1,300 followers on FB. Do you think that number is going to increase with the release of the new album?
I do hope so!
Who runs the FB page and is the band active on Instagram or somewhere else on the internet?
We have one person that runs our FB page and then I am also very much there as well. We are also on Instagram.
Why doesn’t the band doesn’t have a website and why is there so little info about the band on FB?
We decided that right now we will only work via Facebook and Instagram, but when it takes off we will start our own website. Pictures, info, and merchandise will come but we have had tons of things to do during these past months and it takes time. We will have this up and running very soon.
“Heal the Pain” and “Nobody Gets Out Of Here Alive” were released a while ago, why didn’t the release videos to the singles?
“Heal the Pain” will be released as a video, but due to my illness it has been heavily postponed. You will see it soon.
The album is due to be released at the end of May; any plans on heading out on tour or play some shows this summer or winter?
We are in the middle of trying to sign with a good booking agency, so lets see. We are absolutely ready and willing to play anywhere at this stage.
Are you currently working on material for a new album?
Stefan and I are continuously working on new material so I think we have a whole new album already! (laughs)
In my, and many others opinion, you are a living legend… how does it feel to have touched so many people with your music through the years?
I am very humbled by you and others words calling me a living legend! Yes, I have dedicated my entire life to music, that’s true, and I have stayed in the business through thick and thin but then again I just can’t see myself doing anything else because music means so much to me. Besides, without the supporters I wouldn’t have been anything so thank you and my hat’s off to you!
Recently the world lost both LG Petrov and Hank Von Hell, which are massive losses for the music industry. Did you know any of those guys personally and what did you think when you heard of their passing?
I knew both of them, but I was not a very close friend to either of them. We knew each other and spoke once in a while when we met here and there. It is of course devastating to see a friend and colleague die much too young. Unfortunately that seems to happen way too often in this business, so I have come to live with it in a weird way. I have lost many friends early and that hurts. Maybe I take it in a calmer way since I even lost my parents early on. When you have lived half your life without your parents, you’ll get a different perspective. You know that everything, at all times, is up to you and no one else because there’s no one there to save you.
What are the plans for Zinny Zan during the remainder of 2022?
World domination! (laughs) The whole band would love to go out on a long tour, play our songs, and meet our friends and supporters! That is a dream we would like to come true for this year.
What would you like to say to the unlucky ones who haven’t heard the music of Zinny Zan?
Give it a try! Turn On -Tune In-Rock Out!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy LULLABIES FOR THE MASSES?
If you love rock with great guitar riffs, a good beat, and lyrics from real life telling you 100% true stories, you should really buy our new album!
Well that was all for me and Metal-Rules.com this time. Once again thanks a lot for taking the time making the interview. It was an honor speaking to such a legend! I wish you and the band all the best in the future and really hope to see you live in action on stage. Do you have final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?
Anders, always a pleasure and hope to see you as soon as we get out to play! To all your readers and to our supporters we’ll say, always stay true to yourself and never give up on your dreams! Enjoy life as much as you can cause there is no second ride !