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Janne Stark (Overdrive)

Interview with Janne Stark from Overdrive
by Grigoris Chronis at 18 April 2008, 1:46 AM

Swedish 80s Metal heroes OVERDIRVE's new album caught me by total surprise. Not only did I not expect a new release by this notable 'classic' Metal act, but Let The Music Do The Talking proved to be an excellent 'comeback' CD. Janne Stark speaks for the reasons Metal fans should pay attention to what OVERDRIVE (still) has to say to the Metal world!

Janne, hello from Metal temple mag! Well, it was a great surprise to see a brand new OVERDRIVE full-length album after all these years! I can recall some sporadic single releases the previous years but - to be honest - I did not expect a full return! How does it feel?

Hi! Well, we didn’t really expect this either, haha. It feels really great, especially after having received such outstanding reviews! To be honest we were kinda nervous how people would react!

How did you decide to gather and record a new album?

At first we only reunited for a one-off show at the anniversary of the 80s festival Rockslaget in 2003. Then we received an offer to play at the Headbangers Open Air \[fest], and more offers came in, so we decided to continue. At first we had no plans whatsoever of making a new album. When we got the offer to play Sweden Rock we figured we wanted to have something new to offer, \[that’s] why we recorded the 5-track MCD Resurrected, with four old re-recorded songs and one new. We then received an offer from Lion Music, and figured we’d take it and do a new album.

First of all, the title speaks of itself. Did you choose this specific title to show something, e.g. OVERDRIVE is back, so let them talk or enough with the Music Industry shit, let music talk or just a re-phrase of the classic AEROSMITH song? These three estimations I did come up with, to tell you the truth.

The title track was actually written already back in 1983 and the title was a pun on Joe Perry’s album title Let The Music Do The Talking. When we started working on the cover I came up with the idea of an old warrior locked up in a cave where he was fighting his enemies and thus he let the Metal do the talking. After this I actually re-wrote the lyrics to fit the cover more.

Janne, I was rather happy to see OVERDRIVE did make the prefect choice for the vocals duties. Per Karlsson; I first heard him in UNCHAINED’s same-titled album (2005?) and found him rather remarkable, but in Let The Metal Do The Talking I think Per’s doing a helluva job!!! How did you come in contact with him? Is he the singer in the Ressurected EP (2006), too?

It all started after the first reunion gig in 2003, where we used the original singer, Pelle Thuresson. Three weeks before we were playing at Headbanger’s Open Air he decided to quit, and refused to do the festival. We didn’t want to cancel so I talked to Mattias Osback (singer in my other band LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, and also bass player of UNCHAINED), but he was occupied that weekend. He however suggested Per. We called him, sent him some songs and he was all up for it. It worked out perfectly and he was our man! Yes, Resurrected was his first recording with OVERDRIVE. At first we did it just as a demo to see what the old songs would sound like with Per on vocals.

As for the music in the new album: I feel some songs are old ones, right? If yes, where they outtakes from the 80s, or just songs you wrote later on but did not ever record?

About half of the songs were written between 1983 and 1985. They were supposed to be on our third album which never happened. As we had the old demos and we liked them, we figured why not use them. We just made some slight re-arrangements. We also wrote the lyrics back then, so it’s the original lyrics, except for the title track.

How easy was it to decide you’ll carry on the ’classic’ OVERDRIVE sound? You know, many ’classic 80s’ bands do tend to carry along with the ’modern world’ requirements in songwriting/instrumentation.

At first I was not sure about doing a new album at all, because of what you say. However once we decided to do it, we figured we’d go for the old OVERDRIVE recipe, but with Johan Blomstrom’s mixing we’d get a more modern touch to the sound. I mean our old style is not that much different from new bands like STEEL ATTACK and HAMMERFALL.

I think, anyway, you achieved some ’fresh’ air due to the - honestly - great production.

Yes, I’ve been working a lot with Johan and he’s a real wizard. I’ve recorded several demos and songs in his studio and I really like the way he immediately hears the way we should sound and the way he captures it. I think he managed to get exactly what we wanted, an in-your-face powerful production with the old OVERDRIVE touch.

Janne, who’s responsible for the beautiful cover? Nice colors, too.

I came up with the idea of the front cover, and CA Beckston aka Monowasp made the painting and all the backgrounds. I then did the layout setting all the text and adding the band photos in the background and middle. CA is a really great artist.

Since I do not have the lyrics of the album, does the cover relate to any song(s)?

Yes, it’s all about the title track. It’s about this crusader who goes to a foreign country to fight, but gets caught by an evil enemy and cast into an old well where he spends his days in darkness, fighting off his enemies. Kinda computer game goes 15th century.

Since Let The Metal Do The Talking has already been released for awhile, what’s the feedback so far? From both the Media and the fans?

We are extremely happy with the incredible feedback we have received. Of all (around 30 reviews) I’ve read I’ve seen two that have given it a low grade. Apart from these they’ve all been between 7-10 out of 10. We just received 83/100 in Burrn!. I just hope people support the bands and labels and buys the album or download, instead of ripping it.

Do you find it easy enough to keep both your own ideals when writing music but also keep an eye on what ’classic’ Metal fans would expect from a band like OVERDRIVE?

To be honest when we got into the writing mode and had decided we would use the old re-recorded songs as our guideline, we wrote what we felt not thinking about anyone in particular. When we had all songs finished we selected the ones we felt fit best together as an album. The ones we excluded were either too close to another track or diverted too much from the others. The writing process was quite easy, and it was also quite easy to choose which tracks we would record.

As for Lion Music: did they find you or vice versa? I do not recall Lion Music flirting this much with the ?s Swedish Metal’ sound, and was caught by surprise seeing you inked deal with them. Are you satisfied so far?

I had been working with Lion Music before. They released Change Of Track by my other band LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, and I also play guitar on First Chapter, Second Verse by ZELLO, which was also released by Lion. Lasse, of course, knew what was up to and said he would like to release the next OVERDRIVE album, based only on what he had heard on the MCD. We are very happy with Lion Music!

Janne, you’ve scheduled a worldwide release for Let The Metal Do The Talking, as I read in your site. The Japanese release - as I checked out - will include the Resurrected EP as a bonus. Lucky Japs! What about the rest of the world?

Yes, the Japanese version on Soundholic, which has just been released, contains the tracks from Resurrected as bonus, plus a different booklet. The rest of the world however gets the video for Back On The Hunt as bonus.

Is there a chance the new album will receive a vinyl release, too, for us the romantics, xa xa?

Well, we’d sure like to if any label would be interested! I’m a vinyl freak myself, and I still buy them.

As for gig dates: what’s up? Have you lined up any gigs or it is too hard to get on the road? Any fests up there in Northern Europe, maybe?

Right now we don’t have any booking agency or anyone helping us with this side of things, so not much is happening there, I’m afraid. We have a few shows lined up for the summer, but not much, I’m afraid.

Just one question for the 80s OVERDRIVE years: Do you feel you were unlucky enough for not reaching bigger audiences with both the Swords And Axes and Metal Attack albums? In brief, apart from the poor promotion/distribution which was the main obstacle (in your opinion) preventing OVERDRIVE from getting widely known, in Europe at least?

Well, Metal Attack actually sold around 20,000 copies, which was pretty good here in Sweden. Swords & Axes sold approximately the same, and was also licensed by Banzai Records in Canada (who ripped us off, too). Of course we would have loved for the albums to be released on a more ’worldwide’ label, but we were pretty happy with the sales at the time. It’s quite funny, however, that it wasn’t until 2004 we got to play in Germany!

Thanks a lot for your time to do this interview, Janne! Really hope Let The Metal Do The Talking will be the point of actual rebirth for OVERDRIVE! Anything you’d like to add?

We hope all our old fans will like the album, and also that we will find a generation of new fans that will carry the torch! We also hope to see all of you, hopefully on tour! So, join the Metal attack, raise your swords and axes and let the Metal do the talking!


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