Interview conducted November 19 2021
Interview published November 25 2021
"I don't know if I'm allowed to say this, but
we're doing a new Nordic Union record with Ronnie Atkins."
Swedish melodic hard rockers Eclipse
new album Wired was out on October 8th and in my personal opinion it's
just another terrific album that is cementing the band's position as one
of the top acts in their genre. After the band played a 7-song set for
a P4 radio broadcast in Stockholm before 30 invited guests on November
19th, Metal Covenant got to chat for a while with frontman Erik
Erik Mårtensson - vocals, rhythm guitar
Magnus "Mange" Henriksson - lead guitar
Philip Crusner - drums
Victor Crusner - bass
Tobbe: To what extent do you think that
Wired follows your outlined course?
Erik: Well, you know, outlined course
like that is just post-construction. We have no outlined course and
we simply do what we think is good, you know. So that would be the outlined
course, that we do what we think is good. That's our criterion, really.
But it's more playful, a little bit faster, more energy, and in a way
it feels like the band is rejuvenated and a bit hungrier.
Tobbe: Do you have some kind of formula
for songwriting and kind of a board where you check mark that you've included
this and that in songs that your fans dig?
Erik: No, absolutely not. We actually never think
about the listeners. We're just thinking about cool songs, that we like.
As soon as you start thinking about what others want then it's so easy
to just hit the ditch, you know.
Music is more than ever consumed by listeners. I mean, far from every
listener, but at least by many. So do you as a musician feel that you
have to kind of update yourself and your music?
Erik: Some people say "Bleed & Scream
is the best album and now they've gone too far away from that one.".
But we have done those songs. We did them, you know, when we were 10
years younger than today and we thought that kind of stuff was fun to
do. I have no interest in doing such an album again. We've done that
album, and we can play those songs live, so there's no point of doing
I think it's more interesting to add things that
we maybe need live, especially when you make a setlist, you know. Those
type of riffs are completely gone on this record. There's nothing of
Bleed & Scream left, so to speak. But that doesn't necessarily mean
that we can't do that later. If we would think it's fun, then we could
do such riffs again. For that type of songwriting we have kind of reached
the finish line. I mean, we could run another lap, but the finish line
has already been crossed.
Tobbe: You and Mange since a few years back
live in different parts of Sweden and in what way does that affect your
Erik: Not at all, really. Mange goes to my place
in Dalarna and then we write together. So he's up there for a few days,
or a week or so, at a time. So that's how we do it, like book certain
weeks when we meet. Sometimes we write for a week and not a single good
song comes out of it. That has happened several times.
On the other hand sometimes we knock one out
every day. Saturday Night (Hallelujah) on this record was more or less
finished in, like, 30 minutes, even if certain details were changed
later of course. You know, sometimes all you need is just that little
spark of inspiration. And I guess that's why music is art too, that
it isn't just a fully industrialized process. I mean, I can write a
song every day. I can do that, but maybe they won't be so great.
Tobbe: Sometimes it seems like festivals
in your home country just detest your band. I mean, why does Eclipse's
name end up way further down on the posters than bands who are just able
to draw half the crowd that Eclipse does?
Erik: Well, that's peculiar. I don't know, but
we started rather early and we were both lazy and we really had the
trend of those times against us in some way. And we weren't so good
back then either. But it has taken a pretty long time for a lot of people
to accept that we maybe are a really good band.
I guess you don't support Swedish bands, as it's way more cool to support
an American band. But, you know, some bands are media sweethearts, and
certain bands rightfully so. But I mean, there are artists who are always
on TV. Singer/songwriters that almost have no listeners at all, but
they are always on every goddamn show.
On the other hand, we are on P4 today and that
is kind of like crème de la crème, you know. Just like
being in Mello [Qualification rounds to Eurovision], as you kind of
get the approval of the state. In a nice way, you know. I don't mean
that in a bad way, but more like it's kind of solemn to be part of this
Tobbe: You guys have a beer now, Eclipse
Wired Lager. Tell me how that happened. All from an idea until it was
available for people to drink it.
Erik: It was just a sheer coincidence. First
of all, I'm of course a total beer nerd. Both me and Mange used to work
at Systembolaget [Alcohol store] for several years in our low twenties.
We had Saturday Night and I wrote to our manager that this song would
be perfect for a beer commercial, and then he wrote to our booking company
in Sweden to check out if she had any channels into commercials.
But she misunderstood and thought we wanted to
make a beer. So our manager wrote back to clarify, but she was probably
so stressed out that she misunderstood once again and therefore set
up a contact to make beer. So we were like "Okay, let's make a
beer then." and so we checked out a couple of breweries and found
one in Leksand, just 30 minutes away from me, called The Beer Factory,
which is a small scale brewery and they make just 1000 liters a batch.
were stoked about the idea, and I was there, and we tried a lot of their
different beers, and there was one in particular that I really enjoyed,
which was one with a little bit lower alcohol level. So we raised the
alcohol level and also changed the amount of hop. A first test brew
was done, and then the real one was made and I'm really happy with it.
It's kind of hard to get your hands on. Systembolaget
orders it from the brewery, but it has sold out in 30 minutes each and
every Friday. So they order too few and run out of it. We haven't even
went out on our Facebook page that it's available to order, because
you kind of can't buy it.
Tobbe: Not that we have to talk about exact
money, but is one beer kind of equal to one streamed album?
Erik: No, actually we earn 0 kronor. I mean,
0. It's worse than streaming. But it's a small brewery and they have
high overhead costs and they put down a lot of time in this. A large
brewery makes millions of liters of beer and this one makes a 1000 and
it's also done manually. So they kind of don't make any money either.
It's more a fun thing to do.
It's just a collaboration where no one is making
any money really. And it's expensive for a reason [€2,90 for 33
cl / $3,30 for 11 fl oz], with fine raw materials and just the label
for them is more expensive than probably both can and content for a
large brewery. And they manually assemble the cap on every bottle, you
know. One at a time. But that's craftsmanship, and that's great.
Tobbe: Yesterday I talked to Mikko Korsbäck
of Insania and he told me that before Ola Halén became their new
vocalist about 20 years ago you auditioned for the Fantasy record on a
song that later became Carry On. Tell me what you remember from that moment.
Erik: I thought Insania was great, and at that
point they had their first singer David [Henriksson]. So I auditioned,
and I think I didn't get the job. I don't know what took place, but
I think they chose Ola, because Ola is more a high-pitched singer. I
am able to sing high notes, but that's kind of really not my thing,
to kind of like beep all the time, like Michael Kiske vocals, you know.
you know, Eclipse from, like, 2001 to 2008/2010 was barely existing.
Everyone thinks that we have been doing this for so long, but we hardly
did anything during those years. We did some stints and then we were
inactive for several years.
Tobbe: Of course it's hard to predict right
now with Covid-19 still around, but I read your itinerary and saw that
you guys would play a couple of shows in Germany and in Spain as well
as going to the Monsters Of Rock Cruise again, but is there something
else in the pipeline now in terms of live shows?
Erik: Right now it's pretty scarce, I would say.
I mean, all the festivals that we were booked for in 2020 are maybe
taking place, so. We have a little bit booked, but it's indeed slow
at this point.
Everyone is scared, you know. It's looks like
Germany is happening, but actually today our show on December 22nd in
Prague was canceled. Even ticket sales in Germany are slow, because
everyone thinks it will get canceled or postponed so no one is even
buying a ticket. We have hopes for a tour sometime in maybe March, April
or May. There are some discussions about gigs in Sweden, like when,
where and how, but nothing solid right now. It's sad, but it is what
Tobbe: To what extent do you write music
for other bands or artists today?
Erik: Well, it's a little bit on and on. It's
more like entire records I get to do, to write the whole record, or
to be involved with the production and to write songs.
Tobbe: Are you employed by Frontiers?
Erik: Absolutely not.
So it's more that you get paid for what you do? No matter if it's songwriting,
mixing, or whatever.
Erik: Yes, record by record.
Tobbe: So you're not Alessandro Del Vecchio
on Frontiers whose name is on more or less every record?
Erik: No, absolutely not. I think they wish
I were. But I'm very picky.
Tobbe: So how many times have you functioned
as a ghostwriter for bands?
Erik: That has actually never happened. Maybe
I should start doing that. [Laughs] You know, it's a whole lot of work
to write music to, like, AOR records. At lot of work, but not so much
in return, you know. I have done that many times before, but during
the last couple of years Eclipse has been in focus.
Tobbe: What really happened with the Timo
Tolkki thing about two years ago? You know, when he accused Eclipse of
copyright infringement regarding his song Revolution Renaissance and your
song The Masquerade. He was pretty upset for a while back then.
Erik: Yes, he was very upset, and in a very
weird way. You know, you can put me on a lie detector on this one: "I
had never heard that song in my entire life!". It's, like, song
number 8 on some record, you know. [It's in fact the 10th and final
song on Revolution Renaissance's first album New Era.] I had never heard
And it has the world's most common way to play
a riff. I mean, I could find a lot of songs that contains such a riff.
It's definitely nothing revolutionary, but more a common thing. So he
was very upset, and us, not so much. It was a lot of talk about that,
but my answer has always been that if he takes offense then he's more
than welcome to make copies of Eclipse riffs. I won't say a word, but
I would just be honored, you know.
If I hear similarities when I get to hear that
people have borrowed from Eclipse
I mean, the whole way of writing
music is to borrow from someone else. For my entire career I have borrowed
riffs from others. It's how you learn to write songs, you know. It's
how you learn. You look at mom and dad and then you learn how to walk,
you know. It's the way it works.
in the end nothing came out of it. He did claim €500000. That's
a whole lot of money. And it didn't even become 5. And we have never
been in contact; never ever. With that being said, I have listened to
the song after that and it is indeed very similar.
Tobbe: So what else do you have in the pipeline
at this point?
Erik: Besides the gigs we are doing it's studio
work. I'm about to mix a record with The Cruel Intentions, a sleaze
rock band. Then I will also mix a new Therion. I don't know if I'm allowed
to say this, but we're doing a new Nordic Union record with Ronnie Atkins.
And that will be great. All the music is done and I'm writing lyrics
right now. Ronnie wrote some lyrics on the last record, but on the first
record he just wrote a little bit. But I think now we will return to
me writing most of them.
Tobbe: I don't know if I dare asking how
he's doing right now.
Erik: From what I know, he feels pretty well
right now. He has told me that he's like a volcano. When there's an
eruption then he's boiling, but as long as it keeps calm he's cool,
you know. He's not going to become, you know, a 90-year old man, but
at the moment he feels pretty all right. He tells me that his voice
is fine and so.
And I really like working with Ronnie. We're
a bit similar in some ways, like even if a song is great we're both
like "Okay, pretty good. It's all right." and never like "Wow!
This is awesome!". So when Ronnie says "It's actually pretty
good." then it's like a standing ovation.