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Marten Andersson (Starwood)

Interview with Marten Andersson from Starwood
by Grigoris Chronis at 21 February 2005, 3:36 PM

How many of you have ever heard of Lizzy Borden's 80's Heavy Metal tunes? I bet quite a lot. Now, how many of you know who Starwood are? What? Not many? Well here's a hint: Same band, different day! Was that helpful enough? If it wasn't…well…Metal Temple interviewed Starwood's bassist, Marten Andersson, concerning the band's (Lizzy Borden) modern look and sound, following the release of their debut album, If It Ain't Broke, Break It. And here's what Marten had to tell Grigoris…

Marten, greetings form magazine! Let’s start with the feedback the band has received so far for the If It Ain’t Broke…Break It! debut, from both the Music Press (a real pain in the ass - sometimes, and in some countries…) and the Rock fans worldwide.

Thank you, it’s good being here. Well considering when we started rehearsing and started working on these songs, we really didn’t know what and where we were going. A year later and here we are talking, with positive reviews and some great fan praise. You gotta love that!!! If our music is not for you, just turn it off. We are going to make the next CD and video even better. Hopefully we get on a good tour as the topping on the cake.

Do you feel satisfied enough with the final product? You know, sometimes all the hours spent in a studio isn’t an easy task, depending on the time you have and the people (producers etc) you have to work with to reach the desired result. Really, some info on the studio and the general recording process would be useful. Who’s behind the production?

I think every musician has been in a situation when there is time constraint in the studio or you have to settle for something you are not 100% happy with. In this case we are very happy with the outcome, of course there are always a couple of things you learned from the experience and will do different the next time around. Overall I think it’s a great CD. The whole process took about 5 months with pre-production, recording, mixing and mastering. We had pretty much unlimited studio time so that made it a lot less pressure on all of us and it gave us the opportunity for to be active in the recording process. The final mixing and producing was done by our singer Lizzy and our drummer Joey Scott.

Really, who’s behind the tunes and lyrics? Are we talkin’ ’bout team work?

 On this CD, lyrics and the music ideas came from Lizzy. He brought in the ideas; we ripped them apart and put them back together. The outcome is what you hear on the CD.

So, on to the music itself: Leaning heavily on the decadence and brilliance of 70’s rock icons like Cheap Trick, The New York Dolls and Kiss, and in the same vein as the new school era of rock like Brides of Destruction, The Darkness, Velvet Revolver and The Vines, If It Ain’t Broke, Break It! is a high octane, stripped down recording that pays homage to the power of Rock, reads a post on the band’s official site. Was the kinda noise you would put out quite obvious, the first time you jammed together? I mean, many bands try to find the vein during their very first rehearsals.

We picked inspiration from our favorite CD collections and just let it happen in the studio. When we started working on this, we had not heard of The Darkness, Velvet Revolver or Brides \[Of Destruction] yet. It was not until we started mixing the CD when these bands started coming out and getting heavy airplay.  I think the timing for our type of music is perfect.

Whereas many newly formed bands try to dig more deep into progressive/complex sounds and rhythms, guys like you with a long-standing experience (individually) stick to the classic raw, unpolished in-your-face Rock sound with catchy yet spirited melodies, brief solos and average track durations. So, you think it’s the back to our roots situation?

Each guy in this band has many influences but when it comes down to it, we are all for plugging straight into a Marshall stack and crank it to 10. Personally it feels great not having to worry about nailing harmonic minor scales at 200 miles per hour, it’s all about having a ton of fun on stage and being a performer.

Something that just crossed my mind: No ballad is featured in If It Ain’t Broke, Break It!! How did that happen?

We worked on many different type of songs for this CD. We had a few ballads type songs, we wanted to find the right mix and we ended up going with an up beat high energy rock n’ roll album. The ballad will be on the next CD. \[Laughs]

Is it true that Asia’s keyboard legend Geoff Downes was a guest musician? How did you come to this cooperation? Though - I must admit - it’s two different styles we’re talking about… But, maybe that ain’t a disadvantage?

Yes it’s true. We were excited when we heard he agreed to do it. Our manager, Adam Parsons is also the manager for Asia. Asia’s music might be different but Geoff’s background is straight-ahead 70’s type of music so he knew exactly what we were looking for. Couldn’t have worked out better. The guy is an unbelievable musician. I am pretty sure he laid down some keys on a couple of more songs as well, that may appear on our next CD.

Did you have any difficulties trying to adjust the roughness of the music to today’s production standards? You know, with all this technology shit it doesn’t seem easy sometimes to develop the sound you want, trying both to preserve its Rock ’n’ Roll origin but also to fit in a more 21st Century sound.

No problems there, we recorded this CD pretty straightforward even though we are using Pro-tools and other modern technology. We didn’t over produce it so I definitely think it has the roughness that it deserves for the kind of music we are doing.

Speakin’ of witch… Metal Blade Records hosts primarily traditional Metal bands or extreme acts. Do you feel there’s space for a more-or-less Raw Rock band like Starwood? Are satisfied so far with the label’s support/promotion?

That is true, however, Metal Blade had bands like The Goo Goo Dolls before us. They have King’s X and it worked out well for them. To me it just shows that they are willing to take chances. I am told the whole staff loves it over there.

Tell me, Marten, were there offers from other labels also? I mean, each one of you carries a strong CV!

It was never an issue; Metal Blade Records was our first choice.

So, Marten, tour plans! Are there any? A brief set of U.S. dates has already been announced, what about an extensive tour? Europe or Japan, also? I read several thumbs-up critics in several European/Japanese magazines/webzines, so it seems lots of people would like to see the band live!

We would love to take this over to Europe and Japan. Our manager and the record label are looking for touring opportunities as we speak. It’s tuff since we are a brand new band on the scene and there is not a lot of bands that is compatible with the style of music. Keep checking our website because I know there are things in the works.

Really, what should someone expect from Starwood performing live? I can imagine witnessing a 45-year-old father in his Destroyer-era Kiss worn T-shirt next to his Velvet Revolver-devotee teenager kid. Starwood’s music seems to apply to more than one generation!

I love to see that and we have seen it, in various places around the world. 16-year old kids having our shirts on, it’s awesome. These songs were made to play live… they are even stronger live. We have got a great response from every show so far. People are getting into it, singing along. The live show is a ton of fun. I promise you, you will not be disappointed. Get ready for crowd participation!!

Will there be any unreleased songs or cover versions as fillers for a more proper set list? I bet the crowd would die to hear a N.Y. Dolls or Ac/Dc classic cut!

You have to come down to find out. There will be surprises. It also depends if we are an opening band on a tour. An opening band usually gets between 35-45 min on stage. That gives us enough time to get up there, play our songs, kick some ass, and get off stage. Like I said, come and check us out, there will be plenty of surprises.

A video clip for the song Subculture was shot in late 2004. Rather street-wise, I should say! Still, how much airplay do you think you can gain? Back in the 80s, rock videos used to be a great promoting tool but what about now?

Tons of people are downloading it off our site so it’s difficult to tell but people are checking it out for sure. It has gotten a great response on places like Yahoo/Lunch. I am told it’s getting submitted to places like Headbanger’s Ball. We are scheduled to do another video for All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends and that video will be getting sent out to everybody we can send it to.

In general, do you consider Starwood to be a project or is it a full-time band? Many artists come and go into bands/projects these days… Or, does it depend on the whole impression the band will expose through e.g. this year?

This is a full-time band. It’s too much fun to not have it any other way.

’Nuff said, I guess… Marten, thanks for your spare time! We’re now looking forward to witness the Starwood energy on stage!

We can’t wait to get out and kick some ass on stage. Thank you!!


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