BLACK PAISLEY - One of the new Classic Rock bands out there from Sweden with their latest offering to the Gods of Metal. This time with a new lead guitarist, the former ELECTRIC BOYS member Franco Santunione. In the Autumn 2014, the band started the journey towards a first album. The Black Paisley Project started out as a spinoff from StephMetal - a Swedish cover band that had existed for many years featuring Stefan Blomqvist (vocals, guitar), Jan Emanuelsson (bass), and the now returning drummer Robert Karaszi (from the debut album 'Late Bloomer'). The band won the Swedish 'Company of rock' in 2009 and gigged frequently both in Sweden and abroad. "Rambler" is actually Black Paisley's third album already (since the debut back in 2017) and simply read on to find out more about the recording of Rambler and the band. Here to answer all the questions: Mr. STEFAN BLOMQVIST and Mr. FRANCO SANTUNIONE...
How would you describe the difference in working on previous albums, and now with Franco Santunione (Electric Boys).
Would you say it's been a difficult process? To create, produce, and compose songs as the newest member of the band?
FRANCO: It was more than easy to adapt to Black Paisley's process and environment as a new guitarist and member. The guys are good and passionate musicians, and a desire to change the musical direction a bit more towards heavier guitar-based hard rock but keeping the big choruses which fits me like a glove. The picture quickly became clear to me how to build, rebuild, increase tempo and change the songs to a heavier sound after listening to the song ideas that the band had started to work with. We tried out and added my ideas together in the Paisley Headquarters. I have a readymade process structure that I developed earlier on when I wrote songs for EB and produced Hemicrania and Cirkus Prytz blues album. As a producer, you need to find all’s best musical qualities, energy and skills in every instrument. Everybody has to do the best and we have managed to bring this out with the new BP album Rambler I must say.
Kindly tell us something about the writing process and what you're trying to capture on the album.
STEFAN: The writing process was similar to the first albums, meaning that I write most of the ideas and lyrics as demos to the band, sometimes only on acoustic guitar and rough vocals. When Franco joined, we jammed, wrote the arrangements and concluded the songs together. Franco brough along some new riffs, harder style and faster pace in general. The aim for this album to have the existing Paisley listener to recognize the style but within a tougher environment.
What's the main difference between Electric Boys and Black Paisley? (Conny wrote 100% of the songs?)
FRANCO: I have always been a driving force and involved in all creative processes working with EB. Especially in the arrangement and the producing part. I have also been a songwriter on a couple of songs over the years for them. I always send 4-5 finished demo songs before each record. So, the experience I got from these overall sessions and my role as a producer with the bands mention above I for sure bring with me. The difference in Black Paisley is that I was given the responsibility as producer and been involved in the entire process from recording, mixing and mastering. And of course, I have received great support from Martin Karlegård who has been the technician on the record and all the whole band has contributed to the sound.
Did you find it more or less challenging to compose another Black Paisley album?
STEFAN: It was a very natural and smooth process this time. We quickly found a formula which allowed us to conclude the album in just a few months. Earlier we’ve been recording over a longer period and perhaps 2-3 songs at the time, which made the first albums more sprawling stylewise than Rambler which is more uniform in style and sound.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live guitar sound' in the studio, and how would you describe yourself as lead guitarist?
FRANCO: My sound is pretty simple. I use a 69a Marshall Super lead 100w and a JMP 800 100w (stereo) that is a bit remodded by Folkesson which gives the basic distortion and a Fender twin reverb "blackface" 78 that gives a little more body to the tone. I blend these together into a good unison sound wall. I have a few guitar effects and pedals that I used in the studio and for live purpose. The most common is the wah-wah pedal and some delays. I've always been a Gibson-guy and had that brand faithfully since I started playing guitar. As a guitarist, I see myself as a blues/rock guitarist where I have Joe Perry and Jimmy Page as idols. I have never stuck to the fast shredding technique that all other guitarists got into in the 80's. I'm not in that competition. I try to listen to what the song needs in a guitar and solo way to be able to give the most out of me, where I can perform from my vision and my box.
Your latest effort is entitled 'Rambler' can you explain the meaning or concept behind this?
STEFAN: It’s actually an evolution of the album titles and artworks on one similar theme of the skull and a growing plant, representing the band’s development. “Late Bloomer” with the newly sprang flower shoot, “Perennials” was the baby flower and now “Rambler”, which is a climbing rose. One day we will have an old oak….
Are you old-school or up-to-date (studio/recording-wise) and what's the secret behind a good production?
FRANCO: I use both old and new recording technology to create sounds and try to see the total picture in the final mix and mastering process. Old technology such as large SSL/Nieve boards with 2-inch tape recorders are classic and gives a good stable tape compressed basic sound (if it’s affordable). Transferring the recorded files from tape or recording it in ProoTools or Logic is also good because it can be done quickly and the work in these tools are faster and easier with all the software apps and available technics. The secret to a good production lies in not using too many overdubs for all instruments in terms of channels. If an overdub is needed the instrument must have a contributing addition to the song to give the arrangement a specific color to the song. I prefer to build the sound with real drums instead of a sampled drumkit, (or both) it also applies to guitar overlays to use real amplifiers and not apps and not add too many channels overdubs. I have a line of techs that help me do this job. Martin Karlegård who was studio technician and co-producer, Robert Pehrsson at Studio Humbucker who mixed and Classe Persson (CRP recordings) who has mastered Black Paisley's new album Rambler.
You're keeping it Classic Rock? You wouldn't change anything just to suit the music industry?
STEFAN: Yeah, that’s our DNA and we wouldn’t go that far from it. Don’t think the music industry is taking much notice of us but we are growing our fan base quite quickly anyway. I believe there is an opportunity in the market for new and a more modern Classic Rock out there, as the same bands still dominate the radio and festival bills year after year.
How important was Bob Rock to you personally? Did you learn any tricks of the trade?
FRANCO: He meant a lot when we recorded the American version of "funk o metal carpet ride" (5 songs). I could not dream of the possibility to be produced by such a well-known producer. He pushed us very hard to do our best performance out of each song in a positive way. He always said that a strong song melody with the lyrics are the most important components in a song. This is where "everyone" starts off from and sings along with. So, if anyone in the band comments on that percussion or some other instrument is not loud enough, I always say that as long as the song is in place, it works super. And of course, the overall sound must always fit and help the song to lift. Otherwise, it was a common recording with a traditional mic set with drums/guitars/bass/vocals in a large studio room with a SSL board and a lot of funky microphones in Little Mountain Studio Vancouver 1990. We did meet a lot of rock stars during the time of the recording because the studio was well attended by other rock musicians who would record their next album with Bruce Fairbairn/Bob Rock.
Regarding the band-name. Are you basically massive fans of Bon Jovi/Sambora? (your thoughts about Jovi's latest album?)
STEFAN: Love the 80’s Jovi and Sambora’s first two solo albums. The Fender signature guitar we named the band after was sought after when I was a kid. Kind of lost track of Jovi after that, but still like the fact they are still writing and releasing new stuff.
Looking back at your 80's/90s. How's your relationship with former mates at Glory Bells, Electric Boys? (any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from the Bells/Boys years that you can share with us?).
FRANCO: When you mention and talk about the band Glory Bells we do see each other once a year and have dinner together and talk about the past and what we are doing today. The singer Glory North passed away Feb 2008. With Electric Boys I can tell you an anecdote that I did do a break in with my credit card at a after party in Beverly Hills. We were out dining with Depeche Mode (Martin Gore, David Gahan) and Teresa who worked at Vision Management was dating David at the time but somehow, she had lost her home keys. So, I just took out my credit card and open the front door. Finally, I was able to impress and show them who I really was, a criminal Swede from Stockholm - Hornstull. It was like a scene from an American movie.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
STEFAN: A tip for you who like to collect cool music releases, in connection with our album release, there will be a limited edition of 150 numbered CDs with 7 "gatefold and 20 pages booklet and signed by the band. This can only be pre-ordered via our shop on the website. Earlier order gets a lower number.
FRANCO: It will for sure be a busy final of 2020 for us in Black Paisley, with single releases first out is “Without Us” out on all streaming platforms at 6th of November. The album Rambler is out 11th of December. A great Christmas gift to all Black Paisley fans, be sure to pre-order at http://www.blackpaisley.se/webshop And finally hats off to Martin Karlegård, Robert Pehrsson and Classe Persson, I am super proud of the result that become Rambler.
Interview by: Urban Wally Wallstrom
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