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Stormburner's Mike Stark: "To be honest, I wrote the lyrics to “We Burn” inspired by the raid on Lindisfarne which I had read about before the Vikings series, but it was the TV-Show that inspired me to write those lyrics"

Interview with Mike Stark from Stormburner
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 November 2019, 11:15 PM

Devotion for the past may look to various folks as a weakness, not really getting into the groove of the new age. Well, sometimes entrusting one's soul in the glorious past, may bring out fortune, talent depended of course. The Swedish Stormburner, which recently made themselves known in the underground, are slowly rising to fulfill their destiny as a tough traditional Heavy Metal band without limitations of power. Steinmetal had a great talk with Mike Stark, the band's vocalist, about the new album "Shadow Rising", signing with Pure Steel Records, Manowar, Heavy Metal and more…

Hello Mike, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Hello Lior, I agree, it is great to have a chat as it has been a while since we last spoke. Regarding my wellbeing I am doing great; currently having a cerveza in Spain while doing this interview. Life is good hehe

I think it was back in March, last year, when you introduced me to Stormburner, and you left me with a lot to hope for. More than a year later, came in the presentation of your debut album, “Shadow Rising” from your label Pure Steel Records. However, before we continue to journey the album, what can you tell of the formation of Stormburner? How were you, under the sign of the warrior, united for Heavy Metal?

Yes, I remember when I sent you our single release for “Men at Arms” in the Facebook Messenger. App, this must have been like 18 months ago.

Regarding the formation of the band it was I who put out an ad in a local musician’s group and Tommi replied to it, we then decided to meet over a few flagons of mead and discuss what we could do. By the end of that night we basically had decided on a multi-year strategy with both short-term and long-term goals. We then started to look for the other musicians and it took about 6 months for us to complete the lineup after several auditions.

The plan was to have the album released in December 2018 and I believe I told you this back then but due to different circumstances everything was delayed with a year. We decided in the last minute that some of the songs did not fit so we had to write a few more, we also had to change the studio and producer which all worked out well, but things took a lot more time.

When it comes to influences, Manowar are the first to hit, especially when it comes to your guitar playing style, themes and vocals. Are you still a strong devoted follower of Manowar, no matter what happened earlier on in Hellfest Festival in June?

Both Tommi and I hold Manowar in the highest regard and I can also speak for him by saying it is our number one band. With regards to Hellfest I don´t know what really happened but I do know that Joey puts the fans first so he must have had a reason for cancelling the show. Manowar have always put a big chunk of their revenue stream back to the fans in terms of massive productions, state of the art sound system etc. Both Eric and Joey are great people, great musicians who love their fans. With this said Stormburner is not a copy of Manowar, of course you can hear our influences in our songs and Manowar is one of them. We have really tried to make our own sound and we also have a formula (Secret Stormburner Sauce) that we use in a lot of our songs and this is the way we structure the songs and we will stick to this formula for eternity.

When I first heard that you signed to Pure Steel Records, I thought to myself that it was only natural, like a match made in heaven, a home for old schoolers, and you are it. How does it feel to be signed by this label group? What can you tell about the promotional process made by the label for “Shadow Rising”?

Yes, you are right. It is a perfect match made in Hell (or Heaven) for us and they were our label of choice from the start and everything works and feels great. Tommi and I decided this in our plan when we first met that we would aim to work with Pure Steel. We then recorded a few demo songs which we sent them, and they returned an offer for a record deal a few days after. Pure Steel does great promotion for us, they really believe in the album and have done all we could have asked for and much more.

Overall, how do you feel about the digital promotion nowadays? Do you believe that it is possible to substantiate an opinion through listening to digital files instead of what went on just a decade ago, which was through physical copies?

I see where you are going with this and I believe that digital promos are great, but a physical product is by far the best. However, with the low sales of CD´s today it is not a viable option for labels anymore. Also, a trend that I believe is happening with digital listening in general is that a lot of people are listening to a song for 30 seconds then they switch to the next and then the next and so on. I like it the “old school” way to put a record in the player and then listen from start to finish. A lot of the best songs by both new and old bands might not stick for the first few listens so with the current trend a lot of gems are being missed.

 “Shadow Rising” is the picture of what is traditional in Heavy Metal, one of the reasons why all of us are Metalheads, feeling that electric charge when a pounding track is looming from above. While largely the worldwide Metal scene has gone into a modern form, and I am not referring to sound, what motivated you to go old school, resurfacing past ghosts right in the face of unbelievers?

I completely agree and I also like that you take the sound/production out of the equation because a great production can still sound traditional. It doesn´t have to sound like an old tape cassette that has been played 10,000 times. Regarding your question about us going “old school” this is mainly because this is the style of music that we also listen to. I can of course enjoy “Modern” Power Metal and listen to it, but it is not where my heart is. If I as a singer have to put my heart and soul into every single song and performance, I have to really believe in what I do so I could never make a 100% performance in a more modern band because there would be lack of belief and emotion from side and these things are hard to fake.

When you play songs out of “Shadow Rising” with your band mates in a rehearsal, what do you feel exactly? Do you as if you are invincible against the world? How empowered do you feel?

Ha-ha, you are spot on, this is the kind of power and emotions we aim to inflict upon the listener and we of course feel the same way ourselves when we play our songs. Everyone in the band goes “All in” on each song at every rehearsal.

From what I can tell, the main theme that guides you through the “Shadow Rising” is your Viking heritage. What has been fascinating you when it comes to your people’s history unless Vikings simply fit the Metal standard and are cool enough?

Yes, you are very observant and correct on this one as well. Not all songs are about Vikings but probably 80%. Both Tommi and I share a great interest in our ancient History, and we have a mutual friend “Andreas Forsgren” who is one of the most respected archeologists in the Nordics on the Viking Age. We had “Mead” nights with him where he would give us private lectures on Viking History. Very cool.

Are you perhaps a fan of the Viking series in the History channel? If so, are you excited due to the coming new season in December? Are there elements in the series that also inspired you while writing the lyrical content for “Shadow Rising”?

Yes, I have been a big fan since the first season was launched and I am super excited for the new season that is coming. It is so well produced, and the storyline is just amazing. Well, I have learned that it is not historically correct in many aspects but hey, it is a fictional TV show and I just love it. To be honest, I wrote the lyrics to “We Burn” inspired by the raid on Lindisfarne which I had read about before the Vikings series, but it was the TV-Show that inspired me to write those lyrics.

“Shadow Rising” can be regarded as a drop in the sea of albums, sharing qualities as yours. However, what do you think makes this album a standout in comparison to others?

There are many great albums being released constantly by a lot of great bands so it very hard to get through the noise. It is hard for me to judge our own music like this as I am very biased, ha-ha. I do believe, however that we have made a very solid release that is consistent from start to finish. We do not follow the “modern” trend but we also don´t follow the “old school” trend where the production must sound old. We do play traditional Epic Metal but with a “modern” production

Within the music of “Shadow Rising”, which aspects received better focus while writing the material? Will you be continuing with the same approach for your next endeavors?

Hmmm. I would like to think that all aspects received the same focus but of course the choruses are the key part, and these are mostly written first and then we base everything on this. We will continue in this way for sure.

How would you describe the songwriting on “Shadow Rising”? Is there a singular songwriter in charge in the band or is it rather a group effort?

Tommi, who plays rhythm guitar and co-founded the band with me, is the main song writer. He usually gets a melody for a chorus in the head, records it on his phone and sends to me. Then we also have Mats who is our lead guitar player who contributes in this process with great riffs as well as melodies and solos. I believe on the next album Mats and Tommi will most likely write most songs together in Mats home studio. I write the vocal melodies and the lyrics except for most chorus vocal melodies which Tommi writes.

Here is a hard one for you, which of the album’s tracks makes you violently press on repeat? Please elaborate on your pick

I am a B-side guy and it have always been like this. I managed to get a song from the B-side as our first single by convincing the others that this was a great idea. Ha-ha! My favorite songs on "Shadow Rising is probably" “Into the Storm”, “Ode to War”, and “Demon Fire”

 “Shadow Rising” sounds destructive, meant to crush. What is your opinion of Ronny Hemlin’s production efforts on this release? Will you continue working with the guy for your next album? Did he give you a hard time while recording the album?

Ronny Hemlin is a Demon Producer and a great friend of mine; we were together in Steel Attack many years ago back when I played the drums. It is very relaxing working with him, and he produces in a great way suggesting different thing and approaches that we ourselves might not have considered. We will continue to work with Ronny on all our future releases both for music and music videos which he also does. He did give me a hard time but in a relaxed and easy way so there is never any stress but he really pushed me farther than I thought I could go with his usual comment “Try it, you might like it”. I can recommend Ronny to all Heavy Metal bands that wants a great studio. He does everything from recording to mixing and mastering as well as Music Videos. His studio is named Studio Claustrophobic so go to his Facebook page and check it out.

In your view, what is a live performance of Stormburner? What is for an attendee to expect when you guys are coming to shatter the stage?

At a Stormburner concert we aim to give the audience a crushing experience full of raw power and energy, we give 100% and I usually must lay down after a concert for an hour due to exhaustion. Heavy Metal straight in the face!

Talking about live performance, what have been the reactions of your followers for the songs? And, to your recently released lyric video?

The common word that we have been told by fans is that “You guys play REAL Heavy Metal the way it is supposed to be played; we want more of this!” With regards to the lyric video it is basically the same reaction. We are told that it is raw, unleashed power. Chaq Mol from Dark Funeral wrote on his private Facebook page where he shared our Lyric Video and I quote. “This is the best new metal band there is today, this has more attitude with great vocals than the rest”

Are there plans for an official filmed video of one of the songs? I think that filming “We Burn” is a must if you’d ask me

We have already recorded a music video to a song which will be released in a couple of weeks. We recorded this at “Alsnu Vikingar” which is a sorority that have built an authentic Viking Long House as well as ships and smith in at Adelsö outside Stockholm. Adelsö is next to Birka and many Viking kings resided there. We also have two Vikings fighting with swords and axes in this video; and guess what, it is produced by the one and only Ronny Hemlin.

Here is a general one for you. It has been said that Metal music is beyond being a genre, yet also a religion, a way of life. It was also found that listening to Metal actually calms people down. What is your take on these notions? Is Metal still a way of life?

YES! Metal is a way of life and it gets people from all around the world from different backgrounds and religions together in the joy of Heavy Metal. Heavy metal is cross cultures and is larger than life. It is according to me the only Music Genre that builds this community which is not toxic. I mean, I have friends from all over the world and we share the common ground in Metal, and we understand the sheer emotion that only metal can bring. Metal is the only way to live!

What are your plans to support the debut? Where are you headed in 2020?

We will see what happens, we do hope we can jump on a tour in 2020 to support the album. We do have one show planned on Friday, December 13th at the famous Pub Anchor in Stockholm. This will be a release show and we will play the whole album.

Mike, I wish to thank you for this interview. You made an iron fist and I thank you for that. Cheers mate and good luck!

Thank you Lior for this and all the work that you are doing and have been doing for the global Heavy Metal family for many years past and many years to come.

BURN THE STORM!

Much appreciated mate, salute!



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