» Erik Mårtensson - Eclipse
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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 Mårtensson.

Eclipse lineup:
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… Everything 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.

Tobbe: 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 it again.

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 co-songwriting?

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.

And 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 context.

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.

They 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.

And, 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 it is.

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.

Tobbe: 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 it.

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.

But 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.

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