Silja Rock Cruise 2018 Preview and Interview with Silja Rock Founder, Magnus Scholander

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SILJA ROCK 2018 is preparing to set voyage in just over a months time! The 25th Anniversary Cruise will set sail for 48 hours of rock music on April 27th from Stockholm, Sweden headed to Helsinki, Finland and returning to port in Stockholm on April 29th! This years cruise is known as the British Metal Invasion.

What makes SILJA ROCK different from many of the other music cruises around the world today? Most notably, it’s their variety of music.  There is a little something for everyone across the rock and metal genre.  Cruise attendees don’t get locked into just one flavor of the wide rock genre, they get bits across the spectrum and even some DJ music if they want to go dancing. They also get an 8 hour stopover in Helsinki if they want to explore the city.

There are many great bands on this years line up and a heavy hand of British Bands coming to rock the boat! You still have time to book your tickets for SILJA ROCK Cruise. You can book them directly here:

The 2018 SILJA ROCK Line up:
Ellinor Asp (SE)
Syd & Ekman (SE)
OZZY the coverband (SE)

I recently talked with SILJA ROCK Cruise founder, Magnus Scholander about the history of SILJA ROCK and what music fans can expect on this years cruise. Check out the full interview below and also a few comments from The Amorettes on a hot topic about a venue in England banning bands with female singers and their excitement for performing on this years SILJA ROCK. It’s all below.

Interview with Magnus Scholander, Founder of SILJA ROCK Cruise:

Magnus Scholander: People go on these cruises between Sweden and Finland, it’s like, about, 10 million people every year that goes the way around. And then, being brought up in Stockholm, going into the teens, the easiest way to party was going on these ships to Finland. Nobody checked your age, you know, and it was music, dancing, and you met guys or girls whatever you liked. It was the time of the year going over. During that little amount of time I just freaked out on the music. There was always trios with Polish people playing Finnish Tango. That was the only music on those ships. It was kind of boring for me, who was brought up with rock and roll. I ask why don’t you play any rock tunes and didn’t get very good answers.

But 27 years ago I started up and then my father was in the Swedish Navy, knew some people who worked on Viking Line, the other large company, so I got in contact with them. We made up the deed to go on their new ship, called Europe, for the maiden traveling, do this rock thing. But their company broke down. There was some difficulty with the economy in Sweden, the interest went up to 1,000%, every large company that hadn’t secured their money, just broke down. So I had to move this idea to Silja Line, the other big company, and after one and a half years, we had our maiden voyage.

Since that we’ve been going on for the 25th year now.

YesterdazeNews: So, with it being your 25th year, this year is kind of a little bit different. It’s kind of noted as being the largest British female heavy metal invasion for your year. How did you guys come up with the concept for it being more of a heavy metal invasion from females?

Magnus Scholander: Since about the first two years, it was about 60-70% of the travelers were male. There were so many men on board the boat and the booze you know, with the heavy drinking, it didn’t work the way I wanted. So, we started to ease it up a little bit, taking in other British and American blues rock bands from the beginning or that kind of music. So we started with some dance music as well. Then, within a couple of years, there was half of the audience, let’s just say, the audience was female. Like two or three years ago I started to listen to them, what kind of artists they would like to see. If they would like more female artists, and everybody said yes, that would be fun to have more women playing, not ballads, but more rock. More female artists.

So, I have a friend in England, Paul Newcomb, he’s helped me out. So, we decided, when we come to the 25th anniversary, I would like to have one big headline. Then we should be put at least half of the bands playing should be female bands, because the audiences are half female. That was my intention when I started this trip for this year on May 15th last year.

The way to find the girl groups was to go to UK and find them through my friend Paul.

Now, the fans, they’re going to come and enjoy the music, but Girlschool is not a soft rock band. They are really heavy metal, in your face.

Magnus Scholander: Yeah, I know. I know.


Magnus Scholander: But, I have other bands that are more soft, so. The thing with Silja Rock is, that it should be, we have eight bands on board and it should be something for everyone. It can be heavy metal. It can be plain rock. It can be blues. It could be Swedish folk music, but we have different stages. For me it’s very important that everyone get at least two or three hours of this 24 hour music, which they really like and enjoy. It should be worth the money they paid for this trip just to have this, then they have 20 other acts going on, it’s just a bonus, so they can find new music. Be inspired for discovering music, which they don’t listen to usually. So, this has been my point and it has been a success.

Over the years we are seeing so many different producers that has done different kind of boat trips with punk music, and they don’t survive. But, I think I have done the perfect mix. That’s why I’m still going after 25 years. I mean, it was so nice to hear Motorhead when they had the Motor Boat from Los Angeles. Lemmy said, the mother of all rock ships is Silja Rock in Sweden. He’s a great artist and he knew that and told the journalist that I was the one who started this thing up on ships.

That’s really cool.

Magnus Scholander: Yeah, it really is. I was invited with Color Line, to start between Norway and Germany cruise. So, we should bring all the old artists from Silja Rock. We did Silja Rock before from Wednesday to Friday. We should go Friday to Sunday from Oslo and Color Line owned 40% of Cunard Miami. So, they came over, they saw what I did. I had Wishbone Ash as one of the bands. They actually took Wishbone Ash to do their first rock cruise and it was a huge success. Since then, they have Monsters of Rock, 70,000 Tons of Metal, KISS Cruise, and everything. Just born out of Silja Rock, and I was the one who should produce the German line but I didn’t get it, it’s too bad.

What have you learned over the 25 years of doing a successful rock cruise? About the music and the fans, how they come together?

Magnus Scholander: What I’ve learned is, for me it’s been fun to see how they enjoy the meeting of people. They come from all over, they could be lawyers, doctors, working as a cashier at a shop, but everyone has an interest. It doesn’t matter who they are when they are there, they are like people, naked people standing there having fun. What counts is the music and that’s been an important thing for me because people are there and in a way are judged by their clothing and what they do, it’s the person behind it. It’s the same with musicians, everybody has warned me, “Don’t work with that one. Don’t do him because they’re a pain in the ass” and it’s been the other way around, always. I’ve had one problem over these years. There has been so many meetings, so many nice people, so many fantastic stories I could tell. What I’ve learned is, seeing and believing what people can do together, that’s been fantastic.

How long does it take you to set up every year’s cruise festival? When do you start working on it?

Magnus Scholander: Usually I start a month before. The trip up in April now, I started that one in April last year. And then I didn’t have 2017’s cruise started in May 12, but I started to plan the next year’s cruise then. When we leave Stockholm, we can offer next year’s cruise prices, dance and everything, so people know when they come home. They can go into my webpage and book tickets for next year.

That’s a great way to do it, to market it especially. When you guys sail you go from Stockholm to Helsinki. Do you stop along the way or is it just a cruise?

Magnus Scholander: We stop 10 minutes in Öland, that way we can do this thing tax free. We had to go to this island between the countries, bump into the island and out again. When we come to Helsinki we stay there for 8 hours, so people can go off the boat and visit Helsinki. During the day, we have all kinds of stuff happening onboard. Of course, every hour is planned with different music events.

Now, on this year’s line-up, you have some really great bands from the UK. You’ve got Girlschool, Legends of AOR, Rock Goddess, Fleetwood Bac, Syteria, The Amorettes are coming out. You’ve got some great mix of Swedish bands, you’ve got Pat Travers coming in from Canada. How do you pick the bands you pick from your local scene?

Magnus Scholander: Earlier, I did go out and watch music every week, but in the last 8-9 years, people send me YouTube clips, CDs, stuff like that. Sometimes I get out to see bands live as well and people call me up, “You have to have this band, Magnus. This is a fantastic band.” And I’ll say “Send me a CD.” I’ll listen and try to find out if this will work with the rest of the bands I’ve decided to put on. Most of the time it’s mouth to mouth, friends that I trust. This year we don’t have the theme, just tried to find different bands that worked together with the people that has bought tickets so we get a feeling, the Silja Rock feeling for it.

That’s great. I like the way you have the mix, and that you think about the people who are coming to your cruise being, whether it’s the men that are coming or the women, and the bands you have. I have to ask, we’ve talked to The Amorettes, there’s a venue in England that later last year said they weren’t going to book any bands that had females singing for them. We thought it was really strange to completely lock out bands because they may have a female in them. What is your take on that, when you hear other venues or festivals or anybody that says “If you’re a female fronted band, we’re not going to have you here.” Does that kind of boggle your mind?

Magnus Scholander: Yeah, it does, it does. Imbeciles. You can’t do anything without females. Either in the audience or the stage or anywhere. It doesn’t work. Society doesn’t work without it. We are equal in every way. I think Sweden has gone very far in that way compared to other countries, so, for me it’s strange how you can even say like that. I hope this guy gets no female, that no woman goes to that club, their boyfriends stop as well. It’s way in the 18th century or something like that.

The weird part of it was that the person who runs this venue is a woman. We were scratching our head. Her comment was she just can’t get people in there but, I don’t look at bands based on, okay, you’re female fronted or your gimmick is you’ve got women in your band. I look at the bands and I listen, I hear amazing raw music. And I don’t care if you’re a woman or a man. If your music is great, I wanna hear you. I just thought, how sad it is for that city and that venue to lock out these great bands that are making fantastic music, based on one simple thing of being gender.

We reached out to The Amorettes to see what they had to say on the controversy of banning rock bands with female vocalists and to ask them about SILJA ROCK and this is what they had to say:

What do you think about the banning of female fronted rock bands at Doctor Brown´s pub in Middlesbrough?

The Amorettes: The venue are only going to give themselves a bad reputation, and from what I’ve read the backlash has been huge. With this approach, they are potentially going to miss out on some great bands that make great music. With the number of female rockers increasing all the time, nonsense like this only serves as motivation to do even better!

The founder of Silja Rock Cruise has since long planned to have at least 50% of the bands at the 25th Anniversary in April 2018 female fronted or all female rockbands. Silja Rock Cruise calls this “The Largest Wave Of British Female Heavymetal Rock”. The Amorettes are one of these bans. How do The Amorettes feel about playing this rock cruise Anniversary ?

The Amorettes:  We are excited and proud to be on the bill for the 25th Anniversary! This will be our first time in Sweden and we know the Scandinavians love their rock n roll! We grew up listening to Girlschool and Rock Goddess and it’s nice to now be able to call some of them friends. It should be a great party!

Thank you to The Amorettes for chiming in! Now, back to our interview with Magnus.

Magnus Scholander: One of the most important, and this goes, is Ellinor (Asp). Totally unknown girl, which I found. She was playing guitar on a boat. I went and said to her, what’s your name and stuff like that, we started to talk and we found each other immediately. I said, I like your voice, I like the way you play. We had lunch, we talked, it showed up that she can play any instrument. You just place it in her hands, listen to another tune, she can play it. She’s brilliant. She’s fantastic. I don’t have words for it. She had a rock band, Hellinor, it was called. They went to LA, she won a gold medal in world championship in writing music and performing music. She’s one of a kind. So she means a lot to my audience who heard her before. But people like that, you don’t need anybody else. She really gets people on the boat.

I think that the more people hear, they are going to love her. What do you want to let people know that are considering coming out to Silja Rock and giving you guys a try, that haven’t done it before?

Magnus Scholander: I would like them to try this once, because I know they will be sold on it. There’s a very, very special feeling on board, which you don’t find anywhere else. You can touch it, you can take from it. And that’s before people get happy together and listen to this music. And if you don’t like one band you go to the restaurant to take a good dinner or drink, glass of wine. You can go dance in the disco or whatever. It’s special because it contains every kind of rock music, every kind of music at all. It’s a wonderful place to be for 48 hours. You shouldn’t miss it because on most of these cruises there’s just one special kind of band. It’s the KISS Cruise or the Heavy Metal Cruise. We have it all. That’s what I would like people to know.

Is there anyone you haven’t had on your cruise yet that you would love to have?

Sure, a lot of people. This year I’m still waiting for a sponsor, the ferry company. Gene Simmons, I’ve offered him money to come and he said yes. For the right kind of money I will come. And it’s not that much, so I’ve asked the ferry company, this is a unique moment for you to have one of the greatest artists ever on the boat. Bruce Kulick, them together we’d have KISS on the stage, and that would be fun. That’s one artist. Another would be Eric Clapton-

Oh, nice.

Magnus Scholander: He’d be fun to have. Another band I’ve asked for is Chickenfoot, they couldn’t come. Sons of Apollo, now. Either Gene Simmons, Sons of Apollo, or, one of them would be the headline, if things goes well.

Thank you so much. I’m really excited to talk to you about Silja Rock and hearing the history. I can feel the vibe of the music and passion for it. That’s what makes things so special about specific festivals and cruises is the passion that’s put in behind making it happen.

Magnus Scholander: It would be heavy work if I didn’t love it so much. It’s my child and everybody says, you don’t have to do anything everybody comes along. No, it’s not, I put out 1500 to 2000 hours every year to make this come true. You have to be, live with it every day, 24/7. You can’t just fool anyone just believe everything works by itself. You have to put in everything of yourself. It’s what Silja Rock is all about. It’s my soul.

That’s just amazing. I have a deep love and passion for music too and helping to make sure we’re talking about artists and keeping people talking about music and helping people along the way. It sounds like you have that same love for the music. It’s a lot of hard work but when you’re doing something you totally love it’s completely worth it.

Thank you so much again, Magnus, for talking to me about Silja Rock. April 27-29 is going to be a great time for a lot of people. Have a great cruise.

Magnus Scholander: Thank you very much.

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About Diane Webb 644 Articles
I am music fanatic, writer, photographer, music publicist and artist manager who loves to travel and has severe wanderlust. Music, travel and enjoying life is key! Follow my photography Instagram: @yesterdazenews Facebook: @YesterdazeNewsPhotography. Follow my publicity on IG/FB @playloudagency