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Interview conducted June 6 2019
Interview published July 28 2019

Swedish melodic rockers H.E.A.T's new CD/Blu-Ray Live At Sweden Rock Festival is out on July 26th. It was filmed and recorded in 2018 and about a year later, at the next edition of that festival, Metal Covenant talked to vocalist Erik Grönwall and keyboard player/producer Jona Tee.

Tobbe: What will the fans get if they buy your new live video/live album?

Erik: We have always been told that it gets rawer and a little bit more rock 'n' roll when we play live, in comparison to what we have earlier recorded, you know, and we have tried to capture what we ourselves think is good and also what we have been getting good reviews for. But it's to capture this live show, that we like to do, and it's a little bit of energy and a little bit of fire. We spend our whole fee on pyros, so I really hope that it will fucking do some good to us, you know.

Tobbe: It's been a year since this gig was taking place and doesn't it feel kind of distant now?

Erik: Well, in one way, yes. But Jonas has done an amazing job with mixing everything and it takes time to get it out. I think it's a reasonable timeline anyway. (Jona:) It just turned out the way it turned out, you know. And it's time to pick this thing up again, because now it's the right season again. It's been one year since we did that gig and it's time to get this one out. But it's great and it's a way to experience H.E.A.T if you aren't able to see us live. I mean, most people from Sweden have had the chance to see us, but to people on the other side of the globe where we haven't been playing, you know.

(Erik:) And I think this kind of stuff is in some way never dying. I mean, I still look at Pantera live from the '90s. It doesn't matter what year it was recorded. You know, as long as it has some kind of quality it's great to see over and over again.

Tobbe: You put out a live record [Live In London] about 4 years ago and now this one, and I'm not trying to be pessimistic now, but apart from the hardcore fans, hasn't the fans' interest decreased a little bit for live stuff?

Erik: You don't like to say this when you're an artist, but if you look at the business side of it, it's like if you can afford it and make it at least break-even to release it, then it's just great to make it happen. And you try to build on your strengths and we have heard from the fans that they want something recorded live and then it's even funnier to release it of course.

(Jona:) I kind of feel that a live album, with just audio, perhaps feels a little more like a filler than a Blu-Ray does. I think filmed material is more a commitment to some heavy shit. I agree with what you're saying in terms of a live album, like it's something they record on their cell phones during the gig and just upload it later. What we have done now is an ambitious attempt to try to capture a H.E.A.T show, you know.

(Erik:) The Japanese label wanted to release a "Greatest H.E.A.Ts" [2018] and, you know, Greatest Hits records feel just really weird. How many hits have we had, really? Not so many, I was thinking. But if the fans appreciate a live thing… You know, it's part of the reason why you're doing this of course. Surely there's a personal interest in doing this, but nonetheless you want to meet what the fans want. But anyway, in Japan it's more reasonable because there are still so many physical products there.

They have a tradition there with physical stuff, in a way. In Sweden it's totally unreasonable to put out a physical Greatest Hits record. It's like shooting yourself in the head, you know. But in Japan it makes sense, because they but a lot of physical stuff and that's part of that culture.

Tobbe: Do you make a slightly better performance when you're aware of that it's going to end up on video?

Erik: No, worse, I would say. (Jona:) I don't think we were thinking about it. (Erik:) I was thinking about it. It was really tough, I think. Like what I do now will be forever caught on tape and that's what you're stuck with. (Jona:) I wouldn't say that I was thinking about it. (Erik:) But you were hammered though. (Jona:) I was a little drunk actually.

(Erik:) I always feel dissatisfied afterwards when I know that it has been recorded. Maybe I'm pretty self-critical though. (Jona:) You sang amazing on this gig. It's just sick to listen to it afterwards. I mean, "How great are you able to sing live, when you're running around like that?". (Erik:) I was also pretty hammered. (Jona:) Yes, but it sounded awesome.

Tobbe: Honestly, to what extent have you polished this thing?

Jona: Not much. What's sick is that Erik is, like, you know, we're talking 100 percent live. It's sick. I'm just so impressed with how great he is. (Erik:) I re-recorded some parts, in the beginning of a couple of songs. (Jona:) Okay, let's say 99 percent then. (Erik:) But it was actually great fun. And it's great for your self-confidence as a singer too, to know that you don't have to go in and polish stuff.

(Jona:) You know, it's very live and raw. I mean, the sound, it doesn't sound studio album at all. (Erik:) Exactly. Sorry to interrupt you all the time, but… (Jona:) It's okay. I love being interrupted.

(Erik:) …if you're listening to Living On The Run, for example, which also was released as a single from the live DVD, you can hear that it isn't perfect from time to time. But if you listen to that together with the visual then you'll understand. You know, I'm out in the crowd, panting, and it's not so easy to keep the pitch steady. So it's very authentic.

Tobbe: What else besides the live gig is featured on this video?

Jona: It contains every music video as well. And then there's some behind the scenes extra material, like stuff from people's cell phones, and some interview clips, from the last record [Into The Great Unknown, 2017] and from tours. Nothing big, like 5-6 minutes.

Tobbe: By choosing to film this video on a festival, to what extent are you able to cut the costs by not bringing your own production?

Erik: You often compare hard tickets and soft tickets. Hard tickets is when you sell tickets to your own concert and soft tickets is, you know, you have your own crowd on a festival, but then some people who've seen some other band might check you out as well.

There's a large stage, a good production and it's very professional in general, so I would say that it makes things a lot easier to do it on a festival because you have people that take care of the major part of the production, for free, in comparison to if you have to set up your own production, hire stage personnel, PA and whatever.

So it's economically smart, yes, if that's what you were implying. But like I said, we spend our fee on pyros, so we didn't even get to break-even.

Tobbe: If we look forward a little bit. How far have you come with the work on a new studio album?

Erik: We're working a little bit different this time. Before, we have gone to the studio, had every song ready and then recorded everything in a row. But now we're writing some stuff during the process. The digitalization has, in a way, made it easier to work more flexible. So we have two songs already mastered and we keep on writing until September. So these 2 singles will be out late summer or in the fall. We will probably work on 4-5 singles and then the album will be out in the beginning of 2020.

Tobbe: Since you have 2 songs made already, is it possible to speculate what the whole record will be like?

Erik: Yes, absolutely. On the last record we were experimenting to some extent, I would say. We have experimented a little bit all the time for that matter, but we have realized that what we do best is hard rock, so it will be melodic hard rock altogether. It's pretty liberating. It's pretty easy to find yourself chasing the best song, but now we just write something that comes naturally and the writing process has become something fun.

(Jona:) I just think these two songs are cool shit. Really live compatible too, like we've always been. It's classic H.E.A.T, but perhaps one step up on the attitude. It will probably be a good mix in the end. We haven't decided which songs to use yet, but we have written a whole lot of songs. So we'll see what ends up on the album, but the two first ones are pretty energetic and powerful.

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