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Mikael Dahl (Crystal Eyes)

Interview with Mikael Dahl from Crystal Eyes
by Grigoris Chronis at 08 October 2005, 1:46 PM

Well, if you don't want to jeopardize your good ol' taste for Heavy Metal music, it's bands like Crystal Eyes and albums like Confessions Of The Maker you can - and must - count on. I was impressed by their latest release and wouldn't miss the chance to have a brief talk with Mikael you want it, you got it! Dahl 'bout music, gigs and the usual Metal shit that turn us on! To cut a long story short…

Mikael, hello from Metal magazine!


The first thing I’d like to comment on, your latest studio effort (Confessions Of The Maker), is the impression I got from the overall atmosphere (apart from the music). I think that the result of this great album was a mix of several factors rather than just the Crystal Eyes musicians. You must have had a helluva time while recording plus a great team work!

Well, the recording went very well this time and lasted for about one month. The difference this time was the recording of the drums in another studio and the fact that we could record full time in our own studio. Last time it took seven months and we could only record in the evenings because of our normal day jobs. Everything was mixed in our own studio and I’m responsible for the final mix. I agree that the sound is more powerful and clear and this was exactly what I tried to reach. Even if I was responsible for the mix, I must make clear that I couldn’t have done it without Claes Wikander, our bass player, because he’s a real wizard on computers and technical stuff.

Well, is Daniel Heiman a permanent singer now for Crystal Eyes? He did a great job in the new album and I think he surely fits in Crystal Eyes! No more Lost Horizon for him? Will Heed be his top priority in the near future?

A couple of weeks ago we made it official that Daniel won’t be singing with us anymore because he wants to dedicate all his time to his new band Heed. This wasn’t what we wanted in the beginning and it’s just sad that it all didn’t last longer than one album and one live appearance. But hey, we won’t give up and we’ll of course find an even better singer. We’ve already received a lot of recordings from different singers and many of them are more than interesting. It’s just a matter of time before we find the one.

I wish you so! To the music itself: Do you believe that Confessions Of The Maker has the potential to drive Crystal Eyes more ’upwards’ especially in relation to Vengeance Descending, which is anyway a fine album?

This time I really focused on what’s right for the songs. I took away everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary and tried to get it more straight and in your face. Vengeance Descending was very good but I guess there was a little too much of everything. Maybe I’ve grown as a producer. I’m sure Confessions Of The Maker will convince a few more metalheads.

Mikael, I’m - in general - glad that Crystal Eyes do not tend to reduce the 80’s guitar feeling in favor of any neo-Euro Power Metal keyboards or endless harmonic vocals. You seem to walk fine on the thin line between power and heaviness.

The reason that me and Niclas Karlsson started Crystal Eyes in 1992 was that we wanted to play the same kind of Heavy Metal as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, Black Sabbath etc and that will never change. I really don’t like all those new bands that drown their records with tons of keyboards because it really kills the music. I don’t think using keyboards is wrong in itself, but today many seem to think that more is better. There are a few parts on our recordings with keyboards but you’ll never miss them live. I guarantee that we’ll never have a keyboard player in Crystal Eyes and we will always be a guitar driven Heavy Metal band.

There’s definitely a variety in the new album, meaning up-tempo tunes mixed with mid-tempo classic Metal songs and a general tendency to cover all requirements an average Heavy Metal follower would have. How much are fans an influence for every new Crystal Eyes album? Do you feel restricted sometimes, ’divided’ between something you’d possibly want to experiment on and the stamp that Crystal Eyes has achieved during all these years of career?

I’ve never cared for what others like to hear or what would sell or anything like that. The only thing I care for is that I like the songs myself. The songs just come into my head and when I have enough songs we make a record. I think the variations between the songs are just natural because of all the different influences I have.

Really, what’s the feedback you’ve received so far from the fans and the Press concerning Confessions Of The Maker?

I haven’t heard anyone say that this isn’t our best album yet. So that’s got to be good!

Confessions Of The Maker points out Crystal Eyes’ desire to show clearly that Sweden also ’exports’ other Metal bands apart from the Melodic Rock or Death/Black Metal ones. Heavy/Power Metal used to be famous in Sweden in the 80s’.

I’ve never thought about it like that because when we started in 1992 there wasn’t really anything but Grunge everywhere. We don’t want to compete with anyone, we just want to play the music we love.

Anyway, I think that traditional Metal countries (Germany and the rest of Central Europe, Italy, Greece and Spain) will ’treat’ you nicely, since it seems you have quite a good reputation over there!

Well, we have received great reviews from everywhere and I hope that we can soon come to some other countries and play live, which really should be the next step for us now.

Mikael, Confessions Of The Maker marks another album with the Heavy Fidelity label. Do you feel satisfied with their support? Are they going to re-release the two first obscure albums sometime in the future?

Yes, we’re satisfied with them. They bought the rights to our first two albums and they have just released them at the same time as Confessions Of The Maker.

Crystal Eyes on stage: Let’s talk first ’bout the Sweden Rock fest. Maybe the biggest European Hard/Heavy fest and Crystal Eyes was there. Just share with us anything you can recall regarding your appearance, plus the fans’ reactions!

It was really amazing to open for this great festival. Right before the gig we did an interview for the Swedish television in the middle of the audience. The expectations were very high but the gig went more than well. The gig was filmed by a professional camera team and one song is going to be released on a Sweden Rock Festival DVD later this year. The response was great, not just from the hardcore fans but from the whole audience. Since we opened for the festival we had a much larger audience than a band our size could get otherwise. I really hope we can go back there next year or the year after.

As a music fan, which artists/bands did you have the opportunity to watch on stage? I bet there were many of your idols performing live there.

I saw Dio, Motley Crue, Saxon, Magnum, Helix, Sammy Hagar etc but I missed Accept the first day. Damn that beer…

So, there must be a set of shows - as we speak - for the promotion of the C.O.T.M. album, right?

Since we’re looking for a new singer, we won’t perform until we’ve found someone. I don’t think there will be any gigs until we’ve finished recording our next album, which in fact will be quite soon.

Mikael, living in the Internet days of our world it seems that - at last - bands and fans can come really close enough. There’s mutual ’feedback’ and I think this can only be for the best of music. Your opinion? I guess you use the Net as much as possible?

I think it’s a great way to spread our music around the world and I spend a couple of hours with it everyday myself but it really is a two edged sword when it comes to the record sales.

Sweden offers a great level of quality in Hard Rock/Heavy Metal music, be it Hair Metal (sic) or Extreme Black. How would you explain this? Does it have to do with school education or anything similar?

I have no idea but maybe it’s because of the long ice cold winters when there’s nothing to do but stay inside, practice guitar and write songs!

Speaking of Swedish bands, can we have a brief ’Top-5 Swedish acts’ of all time in your opinion?

Europe, Yngwie Malmsteen, Treat, Talisman and Candlemass.

Mikael, thanks a lot for your spare time. We truly wish all the best for the band! Your last thoughts?

If you’re a singer looking for a band, check out our website and if you’re not then check it out anyway!


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