Janne Stark is a busy man with a new Constancia album ‘Final Curtain’ out on July 10th on Melodic Rock Records, plus he is a member of Grand Design and Overdrive. All of this and he reviews and writes books on Swedish rock music and bands…
What have you got planned for the next few months e.g. recording, touring, etc.
- Well, we actually only met in person for the first time about a month ago for a band party and the recording of two videos for the new album and a photo shoot. We discovered all the guys in the band were really nice people, so now we’re trying to get something going for some live shows. I guess, once the album is out it will be easier. So, no immediate plans, but we’d love to get this band on the road! Funny side story – a friend of mine, Ken Hammer (Pretty Maids) mentioned in an interview he couldn’t grasp the whole thing of us not even meeting to record, but recording at various studios. When we finally met I had to FaceTime Ken, just to prove that we actually did meet now. His first comment was “Ok, so now you breaking up?”
Could you please take us through the songs on the new album ‘Final Curtain’ ? (e.g. song writing process, stories behind the songs etc.)
Like with the first album, it starts with keyboard player Mikael Rosengren sending me his ideas for songs, which is more or less finished basic structures and arrangements. He also has some ideas for vocal melodies and lyrics and then I come up with my ideas and lyrics. When we record the vocals, which was me recording David in his studio, he also came up with some vocal ideas. Here’s a run down of the songs and what’s behind them:
Don’t Tread – It’s a love song and about the vulnerability you feel when you’re in love.
Spectres – The inspiration came from the darkness of the riffs in the song and a show I saw on TV where some people were spending the night in a haunted house. It’s about that strange desire we have of wanting to be frightened. Some seek it more than others.
Way To Life – This was a story a friend told me, about a man, living on the street, one of those people you pass by every day. When he told his story it was the most heartbreaking I’ve ever heard. There’s so much more to some of those ragged people we just pass by and ignore. There’s often a really sad story behind their situation. It’s also about this person trying to get out of the hole he was in.
Live A Lie – It’s about a person, someone you think you knew, but when you meet after years apart has radically changed and lives a life which is so far from the person you thought you knew.
Hang Tough – Another story from real life. A friend’s partner got cancer, but had chemo/surgery and seemed to be free of it for years, but suddenly, without warning it struck again. Life is so fragile.
Lucidia – This is Mikael’s lyrics and it’s another love/betrayal story. Lucidia is a fictive person.
Hold On My Heart – A love song, dedicated to someone special.
Greyhound Therapy – I was on a bus ride with people I didn’t chose to be with and who, at times, annoyed the hell out of me. I came to think of King’s X track “Lost In Germany”, and felt this has to be just what they’re singing about. I however decided to put my own words to the experience.
Lies Within Lies – In every country, daily, we are being lied to. Politicians, corporations, government, they screw us and it seems there’s nothing we can do about it. You hear and read about it every day and it seems they lie so much there are even lies within the lies.
Little Fighter – This is Mikael’s lyrics and it’s a bout the complicated birth of his second child. He wasn’t breathing when he was born, but came to life and it ended well.
In Your Eyes – Another one dedicated to “that special person”.
Final Curtain – It’s basically about an old person who feels he has lived his life and is now ready to face that final curtain, but also wondering what’s behind it. It’s a about ending something and starting on something new, whatever it may be.
Wake Up Dreaming – This is a another story from reality. A “friend of a friend” had this horrible experience. She woke up in the morning having dreamed, but thought it was reality and would be angry at people because they promised things, but when confronted they had never even talked about it etc. Sometimes she didn’t know if she was asleep or awake, what was dream and what was reality. After seeing a doctor they found out she had epileptic seizures while she was asleep at night which totally messed her brain up. She got medication and became fine, but it was really messing with her head.
Trail Of Tears – Kenta, the drummer of my other band Overdrive has a huge interest in the American Indian culture and after reading about the horrors of the “trail of tears”, the forced relocations of the Choctaw Nation in 1981, I just had to get it out of my system.
How come there was such a long gap between this new album and 2009’s debut ‘Lost And Gone’? How did you hook up with Melodic Rock Records?
-The gap was basically because we were all very busy with other projects and time just went, until we all finally had time to start digging into the new material. This time however bass player Michael Mueller had a full schedule with Jaded Heart and decided to step down (he does a guest spot on “Trail Of Tears”). We decided to get a Swedish bass player (Linus Abrahamson, also in Andromeda) to make it easier to rehearse and do live shows.
We recorded all the songs and David mixed the album. We then sent it out to a bunch of labels. We received interest from 4-5 labels, but taking all things into consideration (promotion, economy, network, passion), we decided MelodicRock Records was right for us. I’ve met Andrew a couple of times and I know he’s a passionate and driven guy who really lives for melodic rock.
Were you pleased with the response to the debut album from reviewers and fans?
Oh yes! We received some outstanding reviews, which was awesome. Unfortunately the geographical distance made it a bit harder to follow it up with live shows etc. I hope we can remedy that this time, if people like this one as much. I’m really excited to see what people think about the new album.
What have Grand Design got planned next?
We have some shows planned in the summer and we have just signed with a Danish booking agency, SSM Music, which will hopefully get us even more gigs. We’re also recording a new video in September, re-issuing the debut album in the fall and recording three new songs (covers, just for fun).
Is the gig/live scene in a better state than say ten years ago? There seem to be a lot more bands touring, however not many are newer bands and is there a healthy live scene in Sweden?
There are about the same number of stages to play, but nobody wants to pay for a band to play anymore, unless you’re a cover/tribute band. Only a few months ago we were offered a club gig for “petrol money and a case of beer”.
Even the new Opera house in Malmö (which cost a fortune) wanted musicians to play at the opening ceremony, for free. I have a hard time imagining the bouncer, bar people or cleaning staff would want to work for free, but the musicians are supposed to?
We’ve had to turn down three short tours this year because we, simply, couldn’t afford it. It still works for the bigger bands, but for us in the middle segment it’s tough. CDs aren’t selling and the clubs aren’t paying us. It’s tough, but we love doing it and take every opportunity we can afford.
As a reviewer yourself, when making music in the various bands you are in, do you ever think how a reviewer will write about the music? How did you first become involved in reviewing?
It’s funny, after finishing an album I listen to it 5-6 times, each time with “different ears”. I try to imagine what a certain type of people, or even a specific person, will hear and think about it when he/she listens. So yes, definitely so. It’s also something I think about when making the artwork, coming up with a title etc. I try to avoid someone coming up with the obvious puns that the “wrong” title/artwork might suggest.
I actually wrote my first review already in 1979 as a local morning paper invited “guest writers”. I reviewed my favorite albums (Goddo, Sir Lord Baltimore, Y&T, Legs Diamond…). My serious writing started in 1990 when a Swedish magazine, Backstage, asked me to start writing for them.
Outside of music what do you enjoy doing?
Well, music is such a huge part of my life, most of my time I play, record, listen and write, but I also love making artwork, travel with my wife, then there’s the house, garden and I do have a full-time day job as a technical writer/project manager. I just started working on a new book as well, this time I’m documenting the history of Swedish hard rock.
Message for you fans…
We really hope you you will give “Final Curtain” a chance and that we may have the privilege of coming to play for you live!
Interview by Jason Ritchie
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.
Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
Tweets by Get Ready to ROCK!