RockUnited.Com spoke with Peter Broman of Amaze Me, an AOR group that just released a new album after a 15-year break...

Seeing the name Amaze Me on an album made me jump back in time a bit; why resurrect the moniker rather than create a new, modern identity?

“That's a good question! The decision to make an album really was taken from a very egoistic point of view. I wanted to get back in time and feel those good vibrations you had back in the 80’s. I went through a divorce from my wife of 14 years to start with, which made me go into a "retrospective mood". And, another really bothering thing was that I was actually finding it harder and harder to find inspiration making music!!!?? . . . (Now you can hear the Hitchcock strings, hahaha, eh?)…..”

“Anyway, my plan was to find that non cynical joy again and get some fun back into my life! If by "modern" you mean contemporary, I can't see how this genre will ever get up to that level there again. We took away that possibility when we were busy destroying the ozone layer with all that hairspray, during the 80’s, hehe! And that's also why I think it's so liberating making this music. I don't have to put my brain into "cynical-mode", as I have to do when making contemporary music or when making commercials. This music comes from the heart!”

Amaze me is a very insular project, with you playing all the instruments and writing the songs - did you not want to call up friends to help out?
I think you can find the answer to that in the answer to the previous question? Amaze Me was and is the breathing-hole for me, where I can do something purely out of love for AOR music. Since that relationship is so personal I have never thought that I had to aim for a commercially fantastic result. I could of course get a musically better result involving great musicians but then I would have lost the meaning of Amaze Me; me personally having fun and going down memory lane.”

“That said, if you read the song writing credits you’ll find the name Pernilla on 3 of the songs. She's my new girlfriend and it was great fun to involve her in the song writing! Also, choosing Conny as singer again was a result of a friendship going back into the 70’s.”

Since the last album the internet has taken over. How has this affected your approach to promotion?
“I didn't really expect anybody to care that much about an Amaze Me album but it has been fantastic to realize that there are people out there that actually do!! I didn't have a clue that the scene was so alive on the internet and that even made me finally join Facebook! People have been nagging me for years about that, haha. I'm trying to get a following on Facebook now, through the "Amaze Me Band". And, I've started to make parts of old songs like "You Say You Never Cry" available. I put out an old unreleased demo of a song called "Time", and right now I'm doing a very "free" version of an old song called "God’s Gift To Woman". I'm wondering if the version I'm doing of that song has the sound of what you call "modern" . . .?”

“Also there's an acoustic version of "Guilty As Sin" up on-line. If I do another album, which I think I will, it would be great to communicate on the internet from the start.”

How did you first get together with vocalist Conny Lind?

As I said, Conny and I go way back. We both come from a small town called Mora in the middle of Sweden. Mora was "breathing" hard rock back in those days (70’s), so listening to rock and starting a band was the obvious thing to do! Conny was a Rush fanatic back in those days and could play almost all their songs on drums. That's how I heard about him in the beginning. We became friends and he played the drums in a band we had. We moved to Stockholm in the middle of the 80’s and after a few years sadly, the band split. Conny was getting more into singing and when I made a few rock songs I asked him if he would like to demo those. He did so but I didn't bother doing anything with them until I was approached by a guy asking me if he could send them to Japan. I said, "Amaze Me and find a deal"…., so he did!!! The Japanese asked me what our name was and I said "Amaze Me", haha. That's the weird and true story of how our name came about!”

 What have you been doing in the 15 years between Amaze Me albums?

“I've been making songs in different genres and writing for other artists. Also, I've been making music for commercials, sound-design, producing commercials, writing scripts for commercials and more. . .”

 Why did the band "break up" so to speak?

“I don't think there was a "break up" as such, ‘cause I guess I didn't realize there were that many people who cared about Amaze Me. "Break up" to me is what big bands do, but we just found better things to do, like making money, haha. We had problems with the record company at the time, which of course didn't put the joy into Amaze Me, and since AM is all about having fun, for me - I guess that was a big reason for taking a 15 year break?”

How has it been working with AOR Heaven for "Guilty As Sin"?

“Great… I haven’t told anyone about this really, but we had a signed deal with Frontiers last year and they wanted to release the album at the end of 2013. I felt, for different reasons, that I wasn't interested in waiting that long though. Since my original plan was to release an album through AOR Heaven, it felt great when Georg agreed to release the album in May. I really admire people like Georg and his wife Monika that struggle to keep the scene alive! Frontiers and a few other companies are also doing great work too!”

What tracks are emerging as fan favourites?

“That's really interesting ‘cause I think it depends of what type of song and sound you consider AM should be doing? Modern, tougher, faster, slower, the rock sound from 2013, a "loudness war”, as I call it, on the mastering and so on? I've seen a few guys writing reviews talking about drum machines, which is really "interesting". I guess triggered drums are considered to be drum machines by some in this scene? I asked the Australian guy Andrew about that and he said he would take that statement away from his friendly, heart-warming review . . ., haha, but I don't think he bothered. Anyway, I didn't worry about “thinkin' through” a certain rock album formula this time, meaning that there should be a certain amount of up-tempo, tough, ballads, etc. I took the opportunity to release a master that was softer, like back in the vinyl days. Don't blame Martin (Kronlund – who mastered “Guilty As Sin”), for god’s sake, blame me! hahaha.”

“I Think "Can't Stop Loving You", "Lost In A Dream", and "Guilty As Sin" are a few songs that have been chosen, but as I said, it depends what type of song and sound you consider AM should be doing!”

What are the chances that we'll ever hear them live?

“At the moment, I would say the chances are slim. I'm enjoying life in the Stockholm archipelago with my wonderful "Rock boat". I've had a dream to have a boat for some time and I bought an Aquador 26 HT last year, which is 3.5 ton of boat! Considering I've never driven even a small boat that was a real challenge I tell you! haha. I'm having my guitar, my family and good friends over and this is as good as life gets, he said, “smiling from ear to ear", haha!”

What differences have struck you between working on and releasing this album and the last?

“Well, as I said, I've realized that there actually are people out there listening to AM and that there are people that like what we are doing and are supporting us! It's really great to see that there is a lively community of AOR fans. It’s incredibly inspiring!”

Are there any AOR bands that ‘float your boat’, as you say, in 2013?

“I really love what Erik is doing with W.E.T. and Work Of Art are great! But, to be honest, I don't have the whole picture of what the scene looks like these days. I also like bands like Dead By April for instance. And, Tommy Denander is a GREAT guitar player! Lots of Swedes there . . .!”

What is the best thing about doing another Amaze Me album, then, finally?

“Basically, I'm writing in a style of music that is easy for me to write since it comes from the heart without any cynical "money making reason!”

Interview by Alan Holloway
Photos from Amaze Me Facebook page