"All About The Album - 15 Questions" - a brand new section at the RockUnited site where any recording artist with an recently released CD is confronted with 'album' questions (15 of them, duh!). If you'd like to have your material up here, email: urban "at" rockunited.com (simply replace "at" with your standard @ )
HION MARTELL: "Will Cure Any Disease"
HION MARTELL - "Will Cure Any Disease" simply reeks of seventies rock and bluesy meat and potato hardrock with just a hint of Glam. Yep, it's a rather classy Swedish release by a band which monicker is a tip of the hat to the world famous cognac. Personally, I find this to be quite similar to the band Jerusalem at times (not quite sure if the band agrees though). Read on and find out more about the album, the band and their influences, here's their guitarist/vocalist,: CHRISTER NILSSON...
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
Christer: Overall the reactions have been really positive. Generally speaking reviews from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have been super, while some of the UK reviews have been a little less enthusiastic. The album also gets a fair bit of airplay around Europe.
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
Christer: Well, I wouldn’t quite say we are on a Chinese Democracy timeline, but not that far away from it actually. From the first demos to the last mix it probably took about three years. But to be honest there were a lot of things going on in the band at the same time. People left and people joined. Once we had current line up it was pretty easy to find a musical direction we all wanted to go in. The songs came rather quickly after that.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to entering the studio?
Christer: We always aim at finding a timeless sound. If you listen to something from the 80's it’s often very tainted with all sorts of digital sound crap. We didn't want that. Production wise, I often go back to the Stones' album Steel Wheels. Even though it was released in '89 it still sounds pretty timeless to me. I would also use anything recorded by Niclas Frisk (Atomic Swing, Sweet Chariots) as a really great reference.
What kind of input did the producer have during the process?
Christer: During the process we involved a lot of people. Once we had the demos done, we sent them to about 5 people we trusted. We listened to their feedback on the songs, their suggestions for producers etc. We then picked out the guys we wanted as producers. And when we were in the studio, we did it pretty much their way. That's why we got them in the first place. We’ve always produced ourselves before, so we thought it was time to try something new.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
Christer: You're always supposed to say that your new album is your best ever, aren't you? To be honest there might be one or two things I would have done differently if I had the chance. But hey, that's why you keep going, to make an even better album next time. It is however by far the best HION MARTELL album we ever made.
Did the producer (you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
Christer: When we recorded in the Mar-Len studio we recorded on analogue tape using a Neumann U47 microphone. That was a bit old school. And the result was really great.
How did you go on about capturing your 'live sound' in the studio, or perhaps you didn't
Christer: The tracks we recorded at Sideside (Sundsvall) and Mar-Len (Färila) were recorded pretty much live, with all of us playing in the same room at the same time. Of course we laid down the vocals and solos and stuff afterwards. The tracks from the Blue Basement were recorded more instrument by instrument, playing after a click track.
Please inform us about your favourite songs and lyrical highlights and why?
Christer: Can I pick all twelve songs? A nice pair of songs are 'In The Meadows' that Ulf wrote and 'Don’t Mess' which I wrote as a sort of answer. His song is about someone falling in love. Hope and all that. My song is about what happens when things don't work out and you break up. Lyrically I also really like 'Wasting Time'. It's about that feeling that you really should have accomplished a lot more than you have. Thinking about all the success you could have had if you just had tried a little harder, made some different decisions and so on.. But then you start thinking about what you actually have done with your life, and you realize that it's not bad. Not bad at all actually.
Any overall theme of mood that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
Christer: I don't mind if the lyrics come out a bit tongue in cheek. There has to be some sense of humour in the stuff we put out. We are not out to change the world. We just want to put a smile on your face as you lift your glass and say 'Cheers'.
Does your vision for coming up with music get affected at all by time?
Christer: All the time. I hear something I like, and then I try to incorporate that in our music, giving it that special Hion Martell twist. But in the end our music rests on a solid foundation of simple good time rock & roll. And we should try doing anything else. Believe me, we have tried. And it did us no favours. After you have been playing for a while, you find out what works for you and what doesn't.
Did the record company interfere with anything on your "sound" and songs?
Christer: Not one bit. We asked them which song they wanted as a single ('Built As A Boxer'), but apart from that there has been no input from them as far as the artistic side of things is concerned.
Are there any 'crazy' behind the scenes anecdotes from these sessions that you can share with us?
Christer: I'll tell you what. We're really a bunch of boring guys. We don't do drugs, we don't drink that much, we are all family men and quite sane. We are like inverted Ozzy Osbournes if you like. Only ladies who are passed their expiration date flash their tits at us at gigs. But we have a great time and Ulf is great at cracking jokes. The rest of us just try to keep up.
How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
Christer: I would say that there is a certain air of 70's glam rock in our music. Coupled with hard rock and some boogie. We through in a few medium tempo numbers for good measure (and I happen to be a complete sucker for sentimental lyrics, like the stuff Eagles do). Ulf sings two songs, and he's got a bit of a Lou Reedy kind of voice, so Velvet Underground are sometimes mentioned as a reference. Basically there is nothing new, but it's fun. And I would like to think that the way we put things together gives us a pretty unique sound.
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
Christer: Speaking for myself I would probably list The Sweet, Deep Purple, Frank Zappa, JJ Cale and perhaps Thin Lizzy as my Top 5. My brother Håkan, who plays the drums in the band, is a
die hard Kiss fan. Keyboard player Peter always raves about Meat Loaf and Elvis. Stefan, our bass player, is in to heavy stuff like Type O Negative. Guitar player Ulf and I are probably the ones with the most similar taste when it comes to music. I suspect his Top 5 would include other bands and artists than mine though. Like Tom Petty, Dylan, Nick Lowe, Police and such, that I also really like, but further down on the list.
If there's anything you'd like to add, say, please do:
Reader, If you are in to bluesy meat and potato rock and roll, with a retro/rootsy kind of sound, then HION MARTELL might be the band to check out. We are not here to preach or to put an end to world famine. We would really like to end all wars, but we
can't. So we just want to rock, and to put a smile on your face.