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JJ Rockford (VII Gates)

Interview with JJ Rockford from VII Gates
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 29 March 2009, 11:55 AM

JJ Rockford did answer to METAL TEMPLE's questions about the latest VII GATES album despite the fact he is no longer part of the band. So, let us see what he had to say.

Interview with: JJ Rockford from VII GATES

 Greetings from METAL TEMPLE webzine! So, how did the new year find VII GATES?

Very fine I suppose. Planning a promotion tour in Sweden this spring.

 Please take some time to introduce the band to our readers. What is the origin of the band's name?

I, JJ Rockford, started the band the autumn 1999, when I moved to Halmstad for my studies together with the bass player David Agnsviks. Mick and Criss joined a few months later, together with Criss' friend Niclas (guitars)… First months were mostly devoted in building a new rehearsal room, far away from our neighbors; we had been thrown out from our first rehearsal rooms, after three reports to police about playing too loud. On the following summer, David died in a car accident but we decided to move on. We recruited Magnus Jacobsson to play the bass guitar. In the beginning of 2001, Niclas quit and Robert Makek came in. We recorded our first demo, When Gates Are Opening, which was pretty well received. We were offered a record deal by -as we soon found out- an infamous record company Shark Records, if we could proved that we had enough material to do a whole album. This lead to the recording of demo #2, A Dark Room Of My Mind. We were offered to release an album, but turned the offer down. In summer 2001, we recorded demo #3, The Madman Inside.

We got really good reviews on this one and eventually were offered a record deal from Sound Riot Records. We recorded the album Fire, Walk With Me in the summer 2003 that was released the following spring. We got amazing reviews this time, that probably were better than we deserved. Until this point, everything had went on pretty smoothly. But soon, we noticed that Sound Riot weren't to keep their part of the deal. So, we terminated the contract and signed a new one with Lion Music. But we had started to feel a lack of motivation. The recording of the new album didn't went that quick; 3-4 years, depending a little of how you count. Finally, we finished it in the spring of 2008. Later this spring, I moved to Stockholm. We first agreed to continue with the band on distance, but only a few months later, the other guys decided to fire me. So, now I started a new band, CROWN, feel most welcome to visit us at www.crown.nu.

 In your webpage you say that In Hoc Signo Vinces took you 3 years due to some problems. What was the nature of those problems and how did you get beyond them?

We had decided to record the drums in one studio about 40 kilometers from Halmstad, and then the rest in my own studio. But due to some technical problems, we decided to recording everything in the drum studio. But as we could only use the studio at the most 3-4 times/week, and the fact that the songs changed very much, things took some time. We struggled a lot with the motivation as well but we didn't rehearsed much this time. Someone was always in the studio.

 Taking into account that the album was for 3 years in the making, can you say that it sounds just like it did during the composing process?

I don't know really… I had my visions about how it should sound when we started, but our producer had -sometimes- a completely different point of view. Sometimes to the better, sometimes don't (in my opinion). But when you work very much with such things, it gets really hard to judge if a change will make the song better, or just different. Or worse. Personally, I don't know. They sound different compared to when we started to record at least!

 Why didn't you release an EP or a single to fill this time gap, really?

We weren't really planning to take so long of course… We thought that we were just about to finish the album during the last 1,5 year or so :).

 Who was responsible for the music and who for the lyrics in the new album?

I have written everything, music and lyrics. But as I said, the producer changed pretty much, and of course the other guys contributed in shaping the songs, by playing like they do. I think everyone in the band has a very distinct style.

 What was your composing process? Do you compose the songs in the studio or you start the record sessions after the music has been composed?

I had the songs completely finished even before we started to rehearse on them. Then we tried to learn that way and then started to discuss if there were something which we need to change. But I don't know if they still work like that now.

 What is the meaning behind the album's title (In Hoc Signo Vinces)? Does it connect to the lyrics in any way?

The English translation would be something like In this sign you will conquer. So it's more connected with the cover than with the actual lyrics :).

 The album has been out for a while, are you satisfied with the response from the Media and the fans?

Yes, the reviews have been pretty ok. We got very good reviews with the first album; It would have been hard to beat that. Of course we tried, but honestly I think it rather resulted in overworking at least parts of the songs. So, it might take some extra time to get into the album.

 In your MySpace page you say that you are collecting all the album reviews; do you actually read all of them? How do you feel when you get a negative one? Have you ever tried to contact the person who wrote a negative review or wrote something that you felt was wrong?

YES. I really try to read everything that's written about us. Negative reviews are no problem, people are free to think whatever they want about our music. The only times I can get irritated is when someone who obviously doesn't like the genre at all, still feels that he/she should write a review about it. It would be like, if I should review hip hop albums. There wouldn't be many high marks there, that's for sure.

 In your website you have only one live date booked; so, what are your touring plans?

We don't play much live, actually. Have been to lazy!

 You also had some distribution problems with your debut; have you solved them? Are there any plans to re-release it through Lion Music?

Yes, it was kind of frustrating having released an album that got so good reviews, but without people being able to buy it… We have discussed about re-releasing it, but nothing settled so far.

 What is the next step for VII GATES? Do we have to wait three years for the next album?

Hehe, hopefully not. I'm pretty sure they will be quicker now, when they don't have to play my complex songs. And you can also look forward to several recordings from CROWN, which will be in the same genre. We are planning to release a few singles and an EP this spring/summer, and then record a full length album this autumn.

 Thank you for your time; feel free to add anything you like.

Thanks for taking time to read through this, and feel free to contact me anytime about anything in www.myspace.com/jjrockford.



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