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Tungsten's Anders Johansson: "I think it is great since I can terrorize them to, and from, gigs as well as backstage with long monologues of what they should do or not do. I think they sometimes regret that they have me in the band."

Interview with Tungsten from Anders Johansson
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 September 2019, 11:23 PM

Family matters, yes, also in Metal music. Though it is not the first time the families are involved in Metal bands, yet to actually have a band with one's next generation, that is quite a treat, yet it might be also a headache. Tungsten was formed by ex-Hammerfall's drummer, Anders Johansson, along with his two sons, and here they are with a debut album, "We Will Rise". Steinmetal talked to Anders about how is it to form a band with family, his appreciation of the boys, the new album and more…

Hello Anders, it is a massive honor having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hello, thank you! It is an honor to be with you. I have been doing well: Every year you manage to keep the Grim reaper from doing some grim reaping is a good year.

Since your departure from Hammerfall, after quite a long tenure of 15 years, you have been part of various bands and project, even recording with Manowar their latest EP. However, I believe that the one project / band that you hold dear is that one you formed with your sons, Tungsten. How this band did come to be?

I was recording and was on tour with my sons in another band (Hulkoff) and I realized that they now are grown up and that they can manage to play in a studio and live situation. When forming Tungsten we wanted to create something a bit different. There are so many bands in so many genres and it is nearly impossible if you sound like 76 other bands. More about how we thought later down.

How does it feel to work with your sons? Do you think that “keep it in the family” style band is the best thing ever, enjoying both family and music at the same time?

It makes things easier. They live close by and we rehearse in my studio. I think it is great since I can terrorize them to, and from, gigs as well as backstage with long monologues of what they should do or not do. I think they sometimes regret that they have me in the band. On the other hand, I teach them about the music industry, economics, touring, equipment and all that so it is good for them to have someone with 39 years of experience.

Tungsten is releasing “We Will Rise” via Arising Empire. Before getting to know the album better, I wonder regarding signing with Arising Empire. The band’s style is more or less Power Metal driven, even though in a modern fashion, yet I don’t seem to fit Arising Empire’s genre roster that is in the pattern of Hardcore / Metalcore. How do you think that this label fit you guys? Why not strive for Nuclear Blast?

Arising and Nuclear has basically the same guys and distribution. When signing to Arising I contacted my old buddy Markus Staiger, that I knew from my days with Hammerfall. I knew he would like it and his crew would be great for us. On other labels we might not have had the personal touch and vibe we now have and we might have been forgotten among all their other bands.

Though the chief riff writing of “We Will Rise”’s music was generated by your sons’ brainstorming, do you perceive Tungsten as your version of how you wanted Hammerfall to evolve in your time with the band?

Hammerfall is a pure heavy metal-band. True metal. Hammerfall once tried to slightly wear of their concept on the album “Infected” and the fans wouldn’t have it. The music was the same more or less but the look changed. “Zombies! Where is Hector!? What is this shit!?” Hector came back and all was forgiven and forgotten. So no, in Hammerfall I liked it the way it was. Hammerfall is more or less Oscar’s and Joacim’s brainchild. They had an idea to form an old school heavy metal band. They drove it their way, against the music that then was popular. They did a good job. I wouldn’t want to interfere with their concept. I sometimes wished the music was slightly harder, but I never said anything of course.

In Tungsten I’m much more involved even though the millennials are the driving forces. Mike, the singer, is involved with the lyrics and he and Nick is spending a lot of time to get the best results.

What do you think are the main elements in the songwriting of “We Will Rise” that makes Tungsten stand out in comparison to various albums released nowadays in the same style proximity?

I think we have tried to make sure all musical elements are ok. And we tried to color the music with scales that are not so common in metal. We also put in completely non-metal-concepts and made them metal. And it is all mixed in with steady beats and industrial sounds. Then again, there are just 12 notes to a scale and many of them sound “jazz” so we aren’t that different. But different enough to stick out a bit. It is necessary since there are so many great bands.

How would describe the songwriting process of “We Will Rise”? Would you say that it is a joint effort or merely a work of 1 or 2 musicians bringing out ideas for the others to carry out?

The millennials (sons) do most of it for sure. No doubt. Sometimes we do something joint in the rehearsal space.

Tungsten’s voice is no other than Cloudscape’s Mike Andersson, which have been proving himself as a mighty vocalist. How did you convince him to tag along for the ride? Do you see him as the permanent voice of Tungsten?

He is the only choice. He is easy to work with and has musical talent. Has energy and is an easy going guy. He is also a music fan and he wanted to tag along just for the sake of music. When we started we didn’t talk about records and such. Just make a cool song or two.

The artwork of “We Will Rise” instantly reminded me of earlier Hammerfall cover arts. Was it made by the same artist or is it merely the same motif? What can you tell about the artwork?

Yes, the same guy. Andreas Marshall. It was Markus (Staiger) who wanted him. We wanted an ugly green sunken boat. But Markus was so happy and energetic so we went along with him. Andreas has his style and it looks like Blind Guardian and Hammerfall. I think it is cool that you can tell that the artist has a recognizable style. He probably put a little extra HF in there just because it was Staiger and I who he knew from before. The guy on the cover is called Volfram.

"Volfram… a guardian of time and space, a traveller thru the future, past and present time. Good nor evil, crossing dimensions, he is a messenger, executioner and a judge. A ghost, a wraith and a savior to some. While defending the castle halls in a twilight world he says…We Will Rise!"

Tungsten btw means Heavy Rock (stone) in Swedish. It is a heavy metal. An element. The metal with the hardest surface and highest boiling point. We aren’t the hardest band but we have the hardest name. J

What would you say is your favorite tracks out of “We Will Rise”? Which of these tracks means more to you than others and why?

I like "We will rise". "Animals", I like most of them though. This is unusual for me. I usually only like two songs on each album.

What are the plans for the band regarding playing live? Will it be a touring band or mainly for local or standalone shows?

We want to play as an opener for a nice and cool band. We have to see how the people react to the record, if they like it, it is so much easier to get an opening spot. Standalone shows are also an option. We have already started to record album two so then we have to play a few of these or the show will only be 50 minutes.

Let’s go off topic for a bit. You probably heard of the stuff that has been going on between Hellfest Festival and Manowar regarding the last minute cancellation. Now, since I don’t wish to cause any friction between yourself and the band, I am not asking regarding your opinion regarding the events. However, I do wish to know if you think that this type of occurrence symbolizes an end of an era, when it comes to that generation of Metal gods and not just Manowar?

Yes, there are legal reasons which makes it not possible for me to answer, thanks for understanding. I saw this from Manowar’s point of view. All I can say is that things never are the way they first seem. But in the end all cards will be on the table and people will know the truth.

In general (has nothing to do with Manowar) I feel that old school people (like me) and the millennials are very different. I come from an era where it was normal to misbehave, fight in bars, and smash hotel rooms, and rental cars. This is totally unacceptable today. My sons shake their heads but kind of smile when I do strange things that are second nature to me.

I think the metal gods will still be playing as long as there is someone that want to listen. 30 years ago my brother Jens and I talked about the future of metal and we thought (wrongly) that metal would become a small special club scene like type of occurrence like the jazz-scene is now. But metal is stronger than ever. And luckily we were wrong.

To which bands have you been listening to lately? Any band that you would say is the next thing in the market? And recommendations for the readers perhaps?

I usually put on Spotify and browse around in modern metal. Then I pop back to classic rock. Then I listen to fusion. Then prog metal. Then classical music. I like it all… as long as it is (to me) good.

Anders, I wish to thank you for the interview. I think that this endeavor of Tungsten can go quite well and become something great. Keep up the good work, cheers.

It is I who thank you for taking your time to prepare these nice questions.



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