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Interview conducted January 27 2018
Interview published February 5 2018

"My goal is of course to make good stuff and it's not like there's a limited number of good songs."

Metal Covenant met up with melodic hard rockers Eclipse's multi-talented frontman Erik Mårtensson just minutes before the band's Saturday night show in Upplands Väsby in the Northern outskirts of Stockholm.

Note that besides Eclipse, Erik also makes music with Ammunition, whose new record was out on January 26th, with W.E.T. who releases a new album on March 23rd and with Nordic Union where he revealed that he and Danish vocalist Ronnie Atkins of Pretty Maids have started to get together to possibly make their second album.

Tobbe: So what's happening in the Eclipse camp right now?

Erik: Well, we have been out on the road for the last one and a half weeks. Germany, Switzerland and now two shows in Sweden.

Tobbe: I've probably asked this before, but couldn't you guys put some more effort into touring?

Erik: We toured pretty frequently last year. We did a three and a half week tour through Europe, and we did a Spanish tour, and we were in England, and we did a lot of festivals. So we played a lot last year. You know, a lot, and it was even like "Now it's time for a break.". So we even took one and a half months off.

Tobbe: Was that really time off for you or were you doing other stuff then?

Erik: Well, I didn't just sit at home doing nothing. [Laughs] It wasn't a break like that. Not like vacation, you know. But we play pretty often. You know, we can't be everywhere. We receive requests and we just can't fly in/fly out all the time and it's pretty exhausting to be out, so we almost have to focus on "Where do we have our fanbase? Where do we wanna build?" and prioritize our time. Spain is a territory we prioritize since it's going really well there and we're trying to build things up in Germany, you know.

Tobbe: You personally and both Magnus's [Ulfstedt, bass and Henriksson, guitar] put a lot of time and effort in both Ammunition and W.E.T. and is there a really, really good reason why you don't put all focus on Eclipse? Do you have a real, good damn reason that I will really buy?

Erik: You know, I will say that the time I put in W.E.T. and Ammunition doesn't affect Eclipse at all actually. What the hell, I've got to do something in between and I just can't sit there navel-gazing, you know. Absolutely not. And keep in mind: I work with this. This is my job. This is what I do, you know. The studio is always filled with activity. I've got two careers: I've got Eclipse, the artist career, which I see as the volatile and the one that works here and now. But what I will do until I retire, if not miracles happen with Eclipse, and what I can see myself do until I get old, is to work within studio and a way to get a life within music for me.

Tobbe: Do you realize what a confined life you will have? With the studio at your home and not playing in a band anymore. Like just walking 50 meters between the house and the studio?

Erik: Do you realize how many idiots I won't have to talk with? [Laughs] But I just got a running watch, so I run a lot. I live at Sollerön, an island, and it's hardly a metropolis, you know. It's incredibly beautiful. But I ski, both cross-country and alpine and I work-out a whole lot. (Sollerön is located in Lake Siljan in Dalarna, a province in central Sweden.)

Tobbe: The last two Eclipse albums [Armageddonize, 2015 and Monumentum, 2017] received great reviews from pretty much every melodic rock related magazine, really. So how do you handle the pressure and the demand that will definitely be there when you will put out another record?

Erik: I don't think about that, whatsoever. I really don't give a crap. We always make a record that I think is good. If I think it's good, then it's good enough to me, you know. You will never know what people think and if I start thinking about doing stuff because other people will like it, then you're doing it for the wrong reason, you know.

We do it because we like it ourselves and if other people like it, it's just a bonus. I've always said that and I will always insist on that, you know. I believe it's the only way you can do it and if you try to satisfy everyone else and it's a total flop, then you have sold out totally and you just stand there with your pants down, you know. It's better to do what you love and what you think is good. I mean, the worst criticism doesn't come from magazines, but from myself. I'm my own worst critic, without a doubt. The guillotine falls on a daily basis, you know.

Tobbe: Those two albums are pretty similar to each other too and if you're looking at a coming record, would you dare to diverge from this sound or will you follow the same track since people obviously like it?

Erik: Yes, it goes down really well. And if we got any criticism on the latest record: Everyone thinks it's awesome, but at the same time they say it sounds like a sequel to Armageddonize. But still, you make the record you have inside, you know. You can discuss things back and forth until forever, but at the end of the day when you sit down and write, then the good songs are the ones that make the record and if the next record happens to sound like Armageddonize and Monumentum, then so be it. As long as it's good, you know.

But I nevertheless feel like there's a difference between those records, and Monumentum has a value in itself and many things, songwriting-wise, I think I have improved considerably. A lot of it is in the little details, you know. But of course you can mix the songs from the albums in a sense, but at the same time there are several completely new things on Monumentum. But it's me singing, it's us playing and therefore it sounds Eclipse, because we are the ones doing it, you know.

Tobbe: Do you have any stuff at home now that could qualify as Eclipse material?

Erik: Yes. We have started to write a little and we probably have 4 or 5 songs. Really great songs. I think it will be a certain difference, because I'm not exactly the same guy that wrote the last records. You're mentally in different places and I've listened to a lot of folk music in the last couple of years. It hasn't really been implemented before, but now I feel like I've been listening to it to such an extent that it's starting to sink in a little bit, you know. So now it's even starting to take effect in the way I write the songs.

Tobbe: But I think there already are some small elements with kind of a mix between, let's say, folk music and something Irish in a few songs.

Erik: Absolutely. The Downfall Of Eden on the last record is such a song. The melodies are actually Dala melodies, really. Like folk melodies. And then I've grown up to Irish… Well, what the hell, I haven't listened to Irish folk music; I have listened to Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy and that's kind of my Irish heritage, you know. [Laughs] And then I try to mix it up with a little bit of Dalarna. But there are strong connections between Irish and Swedish folk music. At least, you know, a lot of the Swedish folk music is very melancholic in tone.

Tobbe: When was the last time you talked to Ronnie Atkins [Pretty Maids vocalist] about doing some Nordic Union gigs?

Erik: I talked to Ronnie Atkins the last time two days ago. We're talking about making another record, you know. But gigs… We have absolutely talked about doing gigs, but we haven't gotten further than just talking about it and both of us think it would be really fun. It would work out great and we got a whole lot of requests, so it's something that we will do. But, with regards to what you're saying, our focus is on Eclipse, you know. And now the Ammunition record is out, so it would be impossible, and focus must be on that one too, as much as possible, but even there, they [Frontiers] know Eclipse is flying now. We've been doing this for so long and finally we got wind beneath our wings and people come to our shows, you know.

Tobbe: The offers you get for Nordic Union, will they pay off as good as with Eclipse?

Erik: If I should be completely honest: We have received a lot of requests, because people always ask us if we want to do the gigs, bet we have never talked about money. So no one has come to us and said "You will get €10000 or €25000 if you will play.". So these hasn't been anything like that. You know, we played on a festival in the USA, Rock N Skull, a fucking shithole festival. A disaster and I was furious with the guy who arranged it. He arrange those hit and run festivals. He prints a flyer with a lot of really great bands, that he never has booked and "unfortunately" all of them just happen to cancel. I wonder how he sleeps at night. I think he went to jail. For real, you know.

Tobbe: About the record with Ronnie Atkins and Nordic Union that you mentioned: Have you talked about the direction of the album or will you just go for kind of a chapter 2?

Erik: Well, honestly we have probably 5 or 6 songs already done for it, I think, and Ronnie has already laid down vocals on a couple of them. But, without revealing too much, it's not really carved in stone whether there's going to be a record or not and now it's all about business and not about the creativity. It looks promising and I would say there's about 50 per cent chance that there will be a record. This time, if there will be a time, I'm letting Ronnie do more of the lyrics. I want him in the creative process, because the more you participate, the more you make it your own. We will try to get together, if there will be a new record, you know.

Tobbe: You put out a lot of records nowadays, but as long as you continue putting out good quality records, it doesn't matter how many you make.

Erik: My goal is of course to make good stuff and it's not like there's a limited number of good songs. I mean, if I hadn't been asked to do the Nordic Union songs, they just would never have existed. When I now made those 5 or 6 songs, it's not like they didn't make it to the Eclipse record. It's not like that at all, but they simply wouldn't have existed. Some people seem to think that you have like a storage room and every time you make a song, you pick out a bag from it and in the end there's nothing left, just like your money before you get your salary.

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