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.
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.
The Japanese label wanted to release a "Greatest H.E.A.Ts"
 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.
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
It's okay. I love being interrupted.
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
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
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
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.