Half an hour after Cloudscape's
successful gig at Sweden Rock Festival I got the chance to speak with
vocalist and front man Mike Anderson. It
was a nice and interesting interview that revolved around the past, present
and future of Cloudscape and Mike himself.
Hawk: The new album Crimson Skies has just
been released. How has it been received so far?
Mike: It has been received really, really well!
After the debut the reactions were ok but this time it has actually
been much better. A few days ago I checked the charts at Ginza Records
here in Sweden and found that Crimson Skies were at the tenth place
in the chart for bestselling hard rock albums.
Personally I find Crimson Skies a bit more progressive, dynamic and darker
than the debut. Do you agree and if so, is it intentional?
Hawk: Crimson Skies is actually quite a
grower if I might say so.
Hawk: I have read that the songs on your
debut album were written under a long period of time. Was it hard or pressuring
to write an entire new album in such short amount of time?
Mike: No, absolutely not. We were extremely
inspired and we still are because we have already started writing
for our next album. We don't force the writing process at all. Me
and Björn, the other song writer of the band, both have ideas
all the time so it's no problem at all. I also would like to add that
we finished the debut album in the summer of 2004 but since the release
got delayed it actually has passed two years between the first and
Hawk: About the production, I think Crimson
Skies sound extremely good. What is the secret?
Mike: Pontus Lindmark! He is working as a producer
and engineer at Roasting House studios where the album were recorded
and he is responsible for how the record is sounding. Anders "Theo"
Theander is also partly responsible but more as an advisor, he was
more practically involved on the debut album than this time. When
we started the recording session we told Pontus about a couple of
specific things that we strived for, such as how the drums should
sound for instance. Pontus took it from there and contributed with
his own ideas about the production.
About the brilliant album cover made by Mattias Norén, did you
have a specific idea or concept that you told him to follow or did you
leave him with free hands to draw whatever he felt like?
Mike: The only instruction we gave him for
the debut album was that we wanted it purple and this time red. He
also got the demo for Crimson Skies to make it easier for him to get
in the right mood in his creative process. Apart from that he has
been free to do almost whatever he wanted. We have no way near had
something to complain about, he is extremely good!
Hawk: I recently noticed that Cloudscape
has landed a record deal with Nightmare Records regarding the American
market. What are your feelings about this?
Hawk: Can you tell us little about the history
Mike: Well, the history of Cloudscape is in
fact quite unique. In 1992 a band called Doctor Weird was formed,
without me in the band. In 1996 I was asked to join as their new keyboard
player and I decided to join since I wasn't involved in any other
band at this time. In 2000 we actually played at Sweden Rock Festival's
demo stage but just hereafter the band split up mainly because the
lack of a record deal. When I listen to the recordings today I also
can understand why, not that it's bad in any way but noting spectacular
either. The sound of Doctor Weird was by the way a lot more progressive
than Cloudscape. After the break we decided to reform the band with
a new band name and me on the vocal spot. We also decided to throw
away the old songs and started to write new material for a fresh start.
We recorded some new songs and sent them to Roasting House and they
liked what they heard and from there you know the story.
Hawk: I'm a bit curious about the song
writing process of Cloudscape, do you have a certain pattern you tend
Mike: I write my own songs by using the keyboard
to program drums, bass, keyboards and my vocals on top of that. I
record the songs at home and Patrik is helping me out adding the guitars.
Björn Eliasson, the other song writer of Cloudscape, works in
the same way and the vocals is done by me from scratch. So far we
are sharing the song writing 50/50 but we never work together because
we are both to stubborn, ha, ha
Regarding the brilliant show I just saw you perform here at Sweden
Rock Festival. The first thing that came to my mind when watching was
that the performance was extremely tight. Do you rehearse a lot or what?
- Mike: We rehearsed
a lot more in the early days but nowadays it's only once a week. We
have played such a long time together and we know each other quite well
by know. Maybe that's the secret.
Hawk: How important is the lyrics?
- Mike: Important
of course but not as important as the music and the performance. I'm
only partly responsible for the lyrics in Cloudscape but the ones I
write usually evolve around matters that people can relate to.
Hawk: What about tours or upcoming concerts,
what's the situation in that field?
Hawk: Which song is your personal live
- Mike: Phew
Judging by today's gig I have to say Will We Remain, but also Shapeshifter
and Breach In My Sanity felt very good. But if I must pick one my is
Will We Remain.
Hawk: What about the band members of Cloudscape,
are you spending time together on your spare time also or is it just the
music that brings you together?
- Mike: The band
members are my closest friends and I think I can speak for the rest
of the guys in that aspect also.
Hawk: The future of Cloudscape, how do you look upon it?
Mike: In the near
future we would like to get some more gigs because we would love to
play live a lot more that we have done so far. Apart from that we
have, as I said earlier, started to write for our next album and hopefully
we will take the next step from there.
Hawk: I would like to talk about some other
matters about yourself rather than Cloudscape. You are involved in an
exciting upcoming project called Planet Alliance. How was that project
Hawk: Who is writing the songs for this
Mike: There are
actually four song writers in total! I have written four songs, Magnus
four as well, Janne Stark has contributed with one song and Bob Daisley
has written two. I have gotten the honour to re-arrange Bob Daisley's
songs because the versions we got from him were very, very bluesy
which didn't fit the overall sound and some adjustments had to be
Hawk: This sounds very exciting; can you
describe the musical direction of Planet Alliance?
Hawk: Do you have a release date for the
- Mike: I recently
talked to the record company and as it looks right now it will probably
be released sometime in September.
Hawk: I just recently read that you also
are involved in a Swiss band called Silent Memorial. What's the story
about this collaboration?
Mike: They contacted
me by e-mail and their presentation caught my interest. I have been
contacted by a lot of unknown bands but usually I delete these mails
instantly. When I investigated Silent More a bit deeper I discovered
that they released an album in 1998 with Thomas Vikström on vocals
and that made me even more interested. I got in contact with them
and they sent me some demo tapes and what I found was that their music
was extremely progressive, much more progressive than Cloudscape.
It actually sounded a lot like the early stages of Dream Theater.
The fact that it was something quite different from Cloudscape was
also the reason why I decided to jump aboard; otherwise it wouldn't
have been interesting at all. I simply felt that it was a challenge
for me personally. Anyway, the album is recorded and is just about
to be mixed. We have no record deal at the moment so I have no idea
when it will be released though. We really hope there will be some
interest because the quality of it is high.
Hawk: How do you look upon the climate
for progressive metal in Sweden or the rest of the world of today?
the way Cloudscape sound, I believe that the climate in Sweden actually
is quite good. But if you think of the bands that are more progressive
I think it is the other way around. There are hardcore fans out there
but in general I believe that Scandinavian people are not so interested
in the most progressive bands. But when you come to Italy for instance
it is the total opposite because there it seems to be more popular
the more progressive the music is.
Hawk: When did you start to sing? Have
you been taking singing lessons?
Hawk: Have you been singing in a lot of
rock bands since the early days also?
Mike: Yes, my
first serious attempt in the music business was a band that actually
included a couple of members that you nowadays can find in Darkane,
Peter Wildoer was one of them. The band was formed in 1987 but in
the early nineties Peter got more and more interested in death metal
and then we decided to break up and go our separate ways.
Hawk: What inspires you both as a singer
and a song writer?
I tend to get more inspiration from the nature, the weather, a beautiful
town, special places etc. rather than other music. But if you want
to know which bands I prefer listening to I would like to mention
Yngwie Malmsteen, Sympony X, Yes, Kansas, Porcupine Tree, Saga and
much more. I listen to a lot of music that belongs to a lot of different
Hawk: Can you name the band of your dreams
that you would be the vocalist for, if you could use the possibility to
choose dead musicians as well.
Hawk: Which was the first rock/pop record
Hawk: Which was the last album that really
knocked you out?
Hawk: Name the three best albums in rock
- Mike: Yes - Close
To The Edge, Kansas - Masque and Rush - Hemispheres, but I also would
like to add Yngwie Malmsteen - Trilogy so there you have four!
Hawk: What's your biggest live experience
as a spectator?
Hawk: My final question, do you have any
other interests apart from the music?
- Mike: First and
foremost it's my family and I also love reading books. But apart from
that it's the music that dominates my life.
Hawk: Well, thanks Mike and good luck in
- Mike: Thank you,
it was nice talking to you.
See also: review
of the gig the same day at Sweden Rock Festival »»