Interview conducted January 27 2018
Interview published February 15 2018
"Not one single Ammunition song could ever fit
an Eclipse album."
Norwegian/Swedish melodic hard rockers
Ammunition put out their second and also eponymous album on January 26th
and already on the following day Metal Covenant got to sit down with accomplished
songwriter and guitar player Erik Mårtensson to listen to what he
had to say about the band's latest stuff.
Tobbe: Åge Sten Nilsen's Ammunition
is today simply Ammunition and who's idea was it to get rid of that initial
epithet and why did it happen?
Erik: The reason is that Åge doesn't want
a solo career; he wants a rock band. Åge Sten is big in Norway,
but outside of Norway he is more or less completely unknown, you know.
Tobbe: If you look at the songwriting. To
what extent do you personally take part in writing the songs?
Erik: I write a lot of it. But so does Åge.
I would say that we write about 50 % each. He writes more of the lyrics,
since it's him singing. It's his words that are going to come forward,
you know. He's got his sense of humor in the lyrics. It's ingenious,
I like it, I think it's good. But it's not so stressed here in Ammunition
in comparison to Wig Wam, which really was tongue-in-cheek, you know.
Oftentimes here the subjects are on a more serious note. To me this
is kind of liberating, because this is not AOR or melodic rock in that
sense, but just rock music. And I love that, rock music, so it's liberating
to write it, because with Eclipse there are kind of certain frames we
will stick inside and we have really set up so narrow frames of what
is Eclipse and what is not Eclipse.
that's a good thing, in terms of definition, because I think a band
should have a defined type of music. But with Ammunition I get to kind
of play Guns N' Roses and pretend to be Slash, you know. And above all,
I personally play almost all the guitar solos on the album, so I'm the
solo guitarist instead of being the damn singer. The damn singer, you
know. Bad idea. Maybe I should tell people who want to be a singer to
not do that, because being a guitarist is so much more fun.
Tobbe: The album is self titled and that
to me is very unusual on the second record. It's like it's something either
for the first album or a later album where it would maybe mark a fresh
Erik: Yes, really lame actually and maybe you're
right. We probably didn't even talk about it, so I guess that's why
it has no title. In Eclipse I run a lot of the creativity and songwriting-wise
I do the same in Ammunition of course, but nevertheless it's Åge
who is the band leader in a sense. You can't run everything, you know.
So besides the creative process I take a step back here.
Tobbe: What comes to your mind when you're
going to write a song for Ammunition or for Åge's voice?
Erik: Well, we're making the songs together.
We write everything together. I can come up with a riff just like that.
It's not like I come to him with a finished song. With Eclipse it's
more like "Here boys. I have written a song.".
Tobbe: Have you kind of like taken the good
stuff from the first record and tried to implement it on the new one in
Erik: I think we have let go of the rules even
more and tried to do what we think sounds cool without really thinking
about anything. I mean, on the first record we had just gotten to know
each other. We didn't know who the other one was and he did his thing
and I did my thing, but now we have made a thing where it's not Åge's
band and it's not my band, but we have ended up somewhere in between
and I think that is a whole lot more interesting.
first one is very much classic rock, whereas now I think we have found
our own ways and sound and we are kind of like trying to purify what
Ammunition is. I think it's very important to find something that is
unique in the project and not just do a thing great, because that's
not enough, you know. There must be something personal in the record.
Tobbe: You're doing pretty much everything
that surrounds the recordings, but if an outside producer/mixer was free
of charge, or maybe would kind of follow your own rates in a sense, would
you consider using that someone for the job then?
Erik: Absolutely. Definitely. It would be great
fun. I don't know what would happen really, since a producer often is
handed something and is the one who is kind of cutting the diamond.
But our vision of what we are trying to reach is so clear and I'm not
sure what difference it would make for Eclipse or Ammunition, you know.
Since I produce records, and that is part of my profession, I have the
ability to see the entirety; like what will happen in the end, you know.
I'm not just the musician that goes in only to do my thing, but when
I lay down the guitars I also wear a producer's hat.
Tobbe: Are you never ever worried about
the different bands or projects coming out too similar? Like too much
of the Eclipse style in the Ammunition music.
Erik: No, why should I worry about that, really?
I write for Eclipse and I write for Ammunition, so it's not that strange,
you know. It's like a painter, or whatever. Well, just like everyone
else I have my style, and I think that's a good thing, isn't it? I would
say that this is a compliment. And I wouldn't say that anything in Ammunition
sounds like Eclipse, but I would say that it sounds maybe like Erik,
since it's probably my part of it, you know. And in Ammunition I do
stuff that we would never do with Eclipse and we travel paths that we
couldn't even dream about in Eclipse. Not one single Ammunition song
could ever fit an Eclipse album.
Tobbe: Is there a way for you to kind of
rate your own songs between the bands? Like "The songs I made for
Eclipse are better than the ones for, like, Ammunition or Nordic Union.".
Erik: I don't look at it that way. Think of
me as a carpenter and I build a kitchen in this house and then in the
next house and it's not like I'm thinking "This door should have
been there.", but you work at one place at a time and you do your
best possible. You can't do it better than doing the best possible.
When I write for other people, I never deliberately save something that's
great for later, but I do my absolute utmost every time in order to
do great stuff, you know. The quality of the music varies of course,
but I'm nevertheless doing my best.
it's funny, Åge and I wrote a song for Ammunition, but it felt
like Eclipse, so we ditched it because it didn't fit. We just put it
away, but picked it up later for Eclipse, but it didn't feel entirely
right there either, so now it's on the new W.E.T. album instead. [Earthrage,
out March 23rd] I had forgotten about that song, but I kind of sifted
through the archives and "What's this? Yes! This is it" This
is perfect!" and in the end it became Calling Out Your Name.
Tobbe: Even if I think that the record was
recorded quite some time ago, was there ever a question whether Wrecking
Crew would be put on the album? [Last spring Ammunition took part in the
Norwegian qualification to the Eurovision Song Contest with this song.]
Erik: The record was already done when that song
was picked. We did the mix to it in the very last minute and it was
sent to NRK [Norwegian broadcasting company] because someone at NRK
had heard the demos at Åge's place and "You know, this should
be on TV.". So it wasn't originally written for the contest, but
it was on the album. It has a new mix and a different arrangement because
we had to cut it down to 3 minutes.
Tobbe: Even though it went well for you
guys in the qualification round, if you look back at it now, could you
have picked another song, or was this the best choice in the end?
Erik: I have not a clue. They just thought the
song was good, you know. The timing was bad too, because we were going
to release Monumentum with Eclipse and this didn't fit in at all, but
it was like "Next year they're not going to ask us and this is
a great thing for Norway, so let's do it. Hard rock on TV. Go for it!".
Tobbe: Did this contest do anything for
Ammunition, or are you at the same level as you were before, if you know
what I mean?
Erik: The fees increased a lot, but on the other
hand we couldn't play, because we were out with Eclipse all the time.
So we almost didn't play any gigs. But we finished in second place and
we were just a couple of thousand votes away from winning. That's nothing.
We were thinking that as long as we don't finish last it's all right,
so it was quite shocking and as we were sitting at the table it was
like "No win, for hell's sake.", because in that case I would
have had to go from the final show on the tour with Eclipse and straight
to the finals in Kiev [Ukraine].
also: review of the