So as I set out to cover Sweden Rock Festival earlier this month, one of the bands I really wanted to sit down and talk to was Sweden’s own Eclipse. This is a band I have been listening to since 2015 at the suggestion from a Swedish friend of mine who has a good eye on the Swedish rock music scene. Eclipse is on Frontiers Music Srl label and currently has a release out called Armageddonize.
Since hearing them I’ve been talking to everyone I run into about them. This is a band with a good sound that’s been one of the most original sounds I have heard in some time. While being original, I do hear things in their music that I can relate to many of the bands I grew up with, not saying that they are using or mimicking their sounds, but that I hear unexpected familiar sounds. For example, with the vocalist Erik Mårtensson, I from time to time hear a bit of Survivor’s Jimi Jamison’s vocal tones in his voice. Something you can’t copy, but is there naturally. Something I find very unique in a world today were so many of the band’s sound like everyone else.
So North America (and any of our other worldly readers), let me introduce you to the band Eclipse. If you’ve not heard of them yet, it’s becoming my mission to make sure you do. These guys have a great musical talent that you need to become familiar with. They’ve yet to have a USA or Canadian tour, but I did find out that they are scheduled to perform at Chicago’s RockNSkull festival on October 29, 2016 for their first ever USA show. I will link the ticket link at the bottom of the interview so you can grab tickets. Photos from Sweden Rock Festival are also posted below.
So before I get to the interview I need to put the word out there to all the concert promoters and booking agents in North America, Eclipse is not working with anyone here yet, so do the fans and yourselves a favor, book Eclipse as soon as possible!
I had the chance to sit down with Erik Mårtensson (Vocalist), Magnus Henriksson (Guitar) and Magnus Ulfstedt (Bass) after their performance at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 8 in Sölvesborg, Sweden to ask them all about the band so that I could share with you who these guys are and what they are about. Hang in here with me as the interview is longer than usual, but I think you should really get to know these guys and see what they are about. A short interview just wouldn’t cut it. Once you get to know these guys and their great music, I believe you will also become one of their fans. So let’s talk to Eclipse.
Yesterdazenews: First off I have seen your video, I am Magnus. That’s fantastic and fun!
Yesterdazenews: Eclipse has been together since 1999, on and off?
Erik: As a thought, not as a reality.
Magnus H: We met and started making music in 1999.
Yesterdazenews: Eclipse has 5 albums?
Erik: Yes. Two of them really suck.
Magnus U: The last two (joking and lots of group laughter).
Erik: We’re not there yet, but I wouldn’t say the last album sucked. (Laughter)
Yesterdazenews: How would you say your sound has evolved since band conception?
Erik: Well, we sucked when we started. Now we are pretty good.
Magnus H: I think we found our own sound on the third album. We had been experimenting more with songwriting and kind of found our own way to write and making rifts and song melodies then that’s when the Eclipse sound started to evolve I think. For every album after that I think it sounds more and more Eclipse.
Erik: On the third album which we considered the first Eclipse album. The first two albums, it’s the Eclipse logo and name but I think that is the only thing that is Eclipse. The sound was not Eclipse. We almost ended the band and kind of restarted it, control+alt+delete on the whole thing and started over. We decided, this time we will make music we like and we don’t care if other people like it. We didn’t think so much about what others wanted from us. The main thing was what we wanted to do and that was kind of how everything started. That’s when we actually started enjoying what we do. For every album, the few songs on the third album that actually had it’s own identity, we kind of built our sound around those few songs. With the last album we tried to cut out the influences we had and tried to focus on what we were doing. It’s not rocket science but we wanted to find our own way of doing classic rock.
Yesterdazenews: Your current album, Armageddonize (deluxe 2cd edition released on 2016-02-05) has been out a little over a year (2015-02-20). How do you feel this album has done for Eclipse?
Magnus U: Very good for our genre. It was placed number six on the Swedish metal charts, metal and hard rock charts.
Erik: With the album before, I think it took us from being something that sounded like everything else to something that got it’s own identity. I think this one kind of nailed it even more. This is the album where people have started to take this band seriously. These guys are for real. They really mean it.
Magnus U: Funny thing is “Bleed and Scream”, people thought it was an amazing album and when “Armageddonize” came out they thought, Eclipse will never top “Bleed and Scream”, but we did.
Erik: There’s no pressure on the next one… (laughter).
Magnus U: But the two songs we’ve got sound pretty good.
Magnus H: But to answer your question, “Armageddonize” has taken us very far because we are still playing from that album. We are still getting booked for festivals and tours and we get offers all the time.
Erik: It took us to a new level.
Magnus H: Yea and today new people are still finding the album.
Magnus U: And because we were on Melodifestivalen (for readers outside of Sweden, Melodifestivalen is a Swedish television song contest show that sends the overall Swedish song winner to the next level contest called Eurovision), that’s why we did the deluxe edition of “Armageddonize”.
Yesterdazenews: So the new song “Runaways” that you performed on the song contest, is that part of something new you have been working on? Are you working on new music now since it’s been about a year and a half since the last release?
Erik: The “Runaways” song, we were invited to do this Melodifestivalen/Eurovision thing. We didn’t send a song into Swedish television asking to be part, we were invited.
Yesterdazenews: Ah so you were invited, because I was going to ask you how you came up with the concept to join Melodifestivalen’s contest.
Erik: We were invited. At the moment we were, just a week before they contact me/us we were going on our big European tour and I said, “We have no songs at all”. We were crammed with work before he tour and no chance we could write a new song, well not a good song anyway. So I was working on an album with Ronnie Atkins from a Danish band called Pretty Maids. The product was called Nordic Union and we had this one song and I the album was not done and I sent in the demo version with my vocals. They were like, “Oh that’s great, just cut it down to three minutes and send it to us and we’ll get back to you”. So that’s how it happened. The short version of the song. There is a version with Ronnie’s vocals on it.
Magnus H: It wasn’t supposed to be an Eclipse song.
Erik: When we found out we were going to be in Melodifestivalen we turned it into an Eclipse song.
Magnus H: We arranged it as an Eclipse song.
Yesterdazenews: I imagine it would be hard for anyone else to remake that song now. It’s kind of Eclipse’s song now.
Group: Oh yea, yea, absolutely it is.
Erik: On the box set, in the future we are planning a box set and of course we will have the Ronnie Atkins version. (Group Laughter)
Yesterdazenews: After your appearance on Melodifestivalen, do you feel you got a boost in your fanbase or do you feel the fanbase is still the same as with the release of the album?
Magnus H: Not what we hoped for, but we had a tremendous boost. If you look at Spotify we got 30,000 new followers just in Sweden. That’s quite big.
Erik: I’d say it turned out with what happened afterwards it was kind of what I had expected and more. The thing is people who have never heard of us still like our music. They discovered us and that is the main thing. We never tried to make anything out of it because in Sweden it’s a very bad thing, well not as much anymore, but it used to be a bad thing to be involved as a rock band. It wasn’t serious enough.
Magnus H: It’s not credible, but it is now.
Erik: People don’t care anymore. The thing is people just watched the show today (talking about their set at Sweden Rock Festival), lots of people and they recognized they are hard rock fans and they have seen us on television let’s go check them out and go see a great rock band.
Magnus U: My feeling on the stage was that our other songs got a great response, but “Runaways” didn’t get as much response as our other songs did. That was my feeling anyway.
Magnus H: It got good response but not as much as like, “Bleed and Scream”
Yesterdazenews: Would that maybe be because of the audience at the festival?
Erik: Yea, yea, they follow us. We were booked to this festival and everything we are doing this year, way ahead of Melodifestivalen.
Magnus H: I could actually see two camps in the audience today. There were the old Eclipse fans and the “Runaways” fans.
Group: Yea, yea, yea, probably. (All agreeing)
Erik: And there were actually younger women.
Magnus H: Finally. (Group Laughter)
Yesterdazenews: Eclipse has toured Scandinavia, Europe and Australia?
Magnus H: Yes most recently was Australia. This was our first time in Australia and we will be going to Chicago in October of 2016 to perform at Rock N Skull.
Yesterdazenews: So just to Chicago? Anywhere else planned in North America?
Erik: A normal band with any business sense they would book more gigs, but we love music and can’t really think of the business side of it.
Magnus H: We don’t have a booking agency for the USA
Erik: If we had any sense about it we’d have one, so booking agents, come and book Eclipse please. No offense to the USA, but we are going to Japan in September.
Yesterdazenews: Japanese fans are insane about their rock music! (Slang use of insane, meaning to be really excited about rock music, not an offensive use for any of our Japanese readers).
Magnus H: Two of our Japanese fans flew to see our show in Australia. It was great.
Erik: Two Japanese fans made more fuss over our music than five hundred Australians did. It was great.
Magnus H: There are some diehard fans from all over the world and they are great.
Erik: They give so much support to small bands like us, it’s just amazing. They give us the same credit as they would give the big stars. It’s not that I have a lust for people telling me how great I am. It’s just such a privilege to have someone be so dedicated to the music we make. Without the fans and the people loving the music it’s nothing.
Yesterdazenews: Well that answers my question then, because we’d love to have you out in Seattle or Vancouver, B.C. sometime.
Magnus U: If you book us, we will come.
Erik: Yes, if you book us, we will come. We have no USA promoter at all, so it’s like a blind spot for us.
Yesterdazenews: I did hear from Sabaton that they are coming over soon, you should come along with them. We always love tours with double the Swedish bands on them.
Erik: If someone could hook us up we would do it. That would be great. It’s not that we are ignoring the USA. It’s like a new world.
Yesterdazenews: It is and a lot of people in the States think, “Well these bands just don’t want to come here or they hate the United States so they just won’t tour here” and I am like no, no, that is not it. They just don’t understand how hard it is to get booked here.
Erik: No that’s not it. And Magnus H’s girlfriend is from San Francisco, so that’s definitely not it.
Magnus H: Yea, yea. The problem in America is the distances. Everything is so far apart, where in Europe you can go in a car and drive for an hour and a half and be to the next city. In the US you have to drive like 8 hours or more to get to the next city.
Erik: A lot of people are living on the coasts and the distances are long. Like in Australia, most of the people either live on the west or east coast and not many living in between so the distances are long to drive and you can’t just take your car and drive to the next city quickly.
Magnus H: That’s why Europe is still the strong hold for a lot of bands. It’s so easy to tour.
Erik: The scene is also a bit different in Europe than in the US.
Yesterdazenews: Oh absolutely. We have a grass roots movement to get the music scene back to where it used to be. There are believers in rock music that know it’s not dead and are doing what they can to get the word out about bands and that takes a lot of work. You have to get out there and talk to everyone about what’s going on in the rock music world, you have to promote it and tell people about the new or unheard of bands to let them know what’s out there and what’s right there around them. I talk to everyone I can about what’s going on. We all have to do that if we want to see rock music not only survive, but flourish. I hear from people all the time that say music is dead here when that’s simply not the truth at all.
Magnus H: We know there are a lot of people in the US who love rock music and we know who they are, but it’s hard to gather them all at the same festival.
Yesterdazenews: I have heard the same from the band Royal Republic (Swedish rock band) as well. They’ve said it’s got to suck to be one of their US fans and I have to agree. We want to see bands from Sweden and around the world here in the US. Yet we are dealing with our own fickle fans who want bands then either don’t support their tours or the promoter didn’t do a good job getting the word out on the bands tour and no one knew they were in town until after their show.
Erik: Well first off the hard rock scene started in the UK, what we consider the classic rock scene anyway. Then the US started having some great classic rock bands, but it seemed to stop because I can’t find them anymore. There are a few of them, but not like it used to be. In Europe it still lives and breathes. It’s a strong hold.
Yesterdazenews: Can you tell me what first brought you into music?
Magnus U: To get girls. (Joking and laughter) That’s what a lot of people say anyway.
Magnus H: Music brought me to it. I just got sucked into it.
Erik: We don’t have the typical answer. We love music. We do this because of the love of the music. We don’t do it to be on the front of the stage and everything that comes with that, like getting girls. That is not the case with our band.
Magnus H: Obviously, we aren’t making any money so that’s not the reason. (Group Laughter)
Magnus U: I think it’s what Magnus H. said, I just got sucked into it. I didn’t have a choice.
Erik: The moment I got my first AC/DC record, “Flick of the Switch” and I put it on and it was the first time I actually heard a guitar. I’d been listening to my older brother playing hard rock for many years before and I love hard rock but it was just music. Normal people when they listen to music hear it all, the vocals and music. But when I heard AC/DC I heard guitar and it sucked me in and I said I have to play guitar.
Magnus U: For me when I heard it, my dad is a musician and a record collector, I am a copy of my dad. When he played Rock N Roll I went berserk. I heard songs by a band called Darts, “Daddy Cool” (1977). Oh I went berserk, “Daddy cool, daddy cool”.
Erik: That’s why we started the band, we love music. That’s our main interest. We kind of suck at everything else.
Magnus U: We are not that bad in business. (Laughter)
Magnus H: There are worse examples.
Erik: Oh yes, there are worse examples but we are pretty bad. We just don’t care about that because the music is so important and these guys are the best musicians I’ve met.
Magnus U: There were so many times when we thought about giving up music, but the next day you are there, you still show up and it’s the next gig. I mean you are working on something and it’s going straight to hell and you want to give up and then you get a call, “can you go to this gig” and of course, we will do it.
Magnus H: Hell yea!
Magnus U: Because we love playing music.
Erik: I think the reason we are, we’re still a small band, the reason we are at places like these (Sweden Rock Festival) is the power of the music. It’s not being smart at business that takes us where we are. It’s because our music is starting to be so good that people can’t ignore us anymore.
Magnus H: I would say persistence is the key because we’ve been around since 1999 and we haven’t stopped yet. So we are gaining more and more fans every year.
Magnus U: If we were good at doing business, KISS would be our opening act. (Loud group laughter)
Yesterdazenews: So my last question is just from curiosity. What are you listening to right now?
Magnus U: I haven’t really heard anything lately that really sparks my interest. I guess the newest band would say I like is The Darkness and maybe Rival Sons. I’m not really following anyone right now, but I like them.
Magnus H: AC/DC, but I am really looking to hear something completely new and I am still waiting for that band to come along.
Erik: I’ve been listening to Billy Squire. He’s really cool and I’ve been finding inspiration in his music.
Magnus Henriksson – Guitar player
Magnus Ulfstedt – Bass player
Erik Mårtensson – Vocalist
Philip Crusner – Drummer
Armageddonize deluxe 2 cd edition is available now.
- I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry
- Stand On Your Feet
- Runaways (Album Version)*
- The Storm
- Blood Enemies
- Wide Open
- Live Like I’m Dying
- Love Bites
- Caught Up In The Rush
- One Life – My Life
- All Died Young
*Melodifestivalen song / bonus track added to the regular edition
- I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry (Live)
- Stand On Your Feet (Live)
- Wake Me Up (Live)
- The Storm (Live)
- Battlegrounds (Live)
- Breakdown (Live)
- Wide Open (Live)
- Blood Enemies (Live)
- Ain’t Dead Yet (Live)
- Bleed & Scream (Live)
- Breaking My Heart Again (Live)
- Come Hell Or High Water (Bonus Track) §
- Into The Fire (Bonus Track) §
- The Storm (Acoustic)**
- I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry (Acoustic)**
- Battlegrounds (Acoustic)**.
The Live tracks are all brand new and unreleased. Bonus tracks listed with “§” have been released only as a B-side of the “Bleed and Scream” CD single for Sweden Rock Magazine. Bonus tracks listed with “**” have only been released in Japan to date.
Here is the link to buy tickets to RockNSkull.
Full gallery of photos available at Facebook.com/yesterdazenews: