Interview conducted July 30 2022
Interview published November 10 2022
"I think the years just pass by nowadays. I kind
of start losing track."
Swedish melodic hard rockers Treat
made an appearance at Skogsröjet this summer and Metal Covenant spent
some time with guitarist and songwriter Anders Wikström.
Tobbe: I saw that you had some technical
problems on stage. What generally lies behind that kind of stuff?
Anders: It wasn't so much technical, but guitars
that changed tuning in some mysterious way, which actually could happen
to anybody. After we were running through what we were doing, there
was nothing strange. So, new strings and temperatures.
And the guitars should really be out in the heat
for a much longer time, in order to become acclimatized to the conditions,
which we don't have time for on a festival like this one. Everything
just goes quickly in and out. So, that's usually a reason. But it wasn't
so bad. I'm so used with such things.
it looks like a big problem for a while, but it's just don't care about
it and switch to another guitar if there's time for it. I'm the only
guitarist and if I stop playing and switch guitar, you can immediately
hear it. If there are two guitarists, it's never a problem. But I overlook
these things. It's cool. Things like this happen.
Tobbe: Now, with about 4 months distance
past the release of your new album The Endgame, what might you tell me
about the record, that you maybe wouldn't have told people around the
time of the release?
Anders: Well, we put out a couple of singles
and we made some videos, and our idea was to keep this record alive
a bit longer, and we're still thinking like that, because we believe
that there are still some songs left that must be given a chance. With
album releases nowadays there is such a short attention span, so as
you release the album everybody is really interested and you quickly
end up in, like, "Okay. Next.".
As an artist that's kind of sad, because you
put so much effort into it. I've heard bands saying that they have to
push their product to a greater extent than what someone would think
because the time people focus on an album is so short. We have songs,
you know, that we would like to release and make a video for, or maybe
go in and change stuff, or whatever.
But, we have a Plan B for this album as well,
because we have our 40-year anniversary next year, and, even if we haven't
announced it yet, we have made sure that we have even more music recorded.
We have also talked a little bit with the record company, and we will
try to keep the album alive, but, we also have to add music, and that
we will do, for sure.
Tobbe: Someone told me that during an interview
before an album release, he was asked when the next album would be out.
Anders: That's stuff that we joke about, you
know. I must admit that that is a bit annoying, like, "But we have
just released an album" and people ask, "When will the next
one come?". It's like it's completely insatiable, you know. But
I understand, if you're a fan you want as much as possible. But it's
also the work, like, you know, the time and the effort that we've put
down on an album.
mean, of course, right now, it's okay, but when you're in the phase
of doing an album for two years, then we're like, "But please.
This is what's current now. We have in fact pulled ourselves together
and put down work on it.". And we're an album band, and we haven't
really embraced the thing of releasing a song each month, like the Spotify
way of thinking. But we notice that the more separate songs we put out,
the more we're getting added on different playlists and stuff like that.
And honestly, it's taken us a pretty long time
to embrace that whole way of thinking, if we have even done that yet.
You know, we started way back, like, "Okay, now we're gonna put
out an album.". And then we actually have an audience who likes
to buy vinyl and even CDs, which we are incredibly grateful for, because
that gives us a possibility to get a decent recording budget.
But there are downsides with that as well, because
people think that there are too few vinyls for sale, and people ask,
"I can't get my hands on a copy." and we say, "That's
for the record company to decide.". And now it's difficult with
the pressing of vinyl, because factories are going through difficulties,
and the waiting times have been very, very long, and there are a lot
of people in line, and the biggest companies get to cut the line.
But we're hanging in there. We actually had a
rather good meeting recently, about how we're going to keep working
with this album, and that's actually the first time that has happened
to us since we reunited, that we actually talked and took a Step 2,
you know. And not like, "The album is out. This is the first week.
And now it's over.", because that's no fun, and we will go out
and play, and keep things alive.
Tobbe: It's probably a good idea to put
out singles now and then. But the problem is, for people like me, I have
a hard time following that process. I want my bunch of songs on a CD.
That's easier for me, but perhaps I'm not representable for your fanbase.
Anders: I have seen many times in the last couple
of years that bands start to release songs for an album, where they
eventually end up with 7 or 8 singles before the album is out, just
to build things up. And many different approaches to launch an album
have been examined. And then in the end they release a full album. But
at that point there's not so much to explore anymore and you have almost
heard every song on the album, you know.
as a fan, when I went down and bought an album, I had maybe heard one
song and, like, "Now I'm gonna concentrate and listen to what they've
done, and see the entirety.". And that thing is partly gone now,
if you release too many songs as singles in the beginning. But I understand
the marketing way of thinking of it too, so.
Tobbe: And things continue to change. We're
still kind of in the early days of this.
Anders: Yes, that's how it is. Everybody is trying
to find a new way to kind of affect that, you know. And there are many
other different parameters involved as well, like it's important to
get on playlists, because that's stuff that generates a lot of streams
But that might be pretty misleading in terms
of how popular an artist is, because it's the quality of your streams,
from your hardcore fans and followers, that means anything. Because
those people are the ones that will come down and be there when you're
out playing later. If you end up on a playlist at a gym somewhere, it
doesn't say much about your popularity, really.
Yes, it's still in an early stage, to recognize
what is popular. And someone told me that music styles have become typical,
like hard rock has to a greater extent its own department, and pop has
its own department, which is large and broad. Different music styles
kind of have their own list nowadays. It's used to be like everybody
fought for places on the same chart, which doesn't mean as much today,
because they aren't based on some greater sales numbers, you know. But
they still exist, and it's a PR thing, so it's always great to get your
name on there.
Tobbe: As a musician, and especially as
a songwriter, it must be difficult sometimes, because, I mean, you guys
obviously dig every song on the album, but has there really been an album,
ever, that only has awesome songs? I mean, I can't name one album that
has 10 super great songs out of 10.
Anders: I agree with you, because it's like this,
if I may be a little bit fault-finding, that there are albums that come
very close, but there's always 1 or 2 songs that's like, "Well,
this one drove down the ditch a little bit. It doesn't have the same
quality as the other songs.". But they are always there, on those
I don't know what the deal is. It's been the case with every album I've
chosen as a favorite album throughout the history. There's always a
song I don't like. And, you know, I'm talking about albums that I have
truly worshipped, like albums, like, "Wow! This is in my top 5.
Yet there's a song on the album I don't like.".
So I agree. You've got a point. And I think that
some albums that were released during the greatest times of the CD era,
where suddenly albums had 15 songs instead of 10, were like, "Well,
those 2 or 3 songs shouldn't have made the cut.". Because the album
would have been greater that way.
But, you know, it's easy with hindsight. And
this goes for albums that we have made as well. There are songs that
shouldn't have been on the album. You know, when I look back at it thoughtfully,
like, "This album is great, but it would have been even greater
if we had removed those 2 songs.".
Tobbe: Maybe sometimes it's for the better
that a song or two aren't so great. Those songs kind of work as a breather.
Anders: Yes, because how will you be able to
appreciate the best songs if there isn't one who's a little bit worse
than the others? I mean, you can't win every time, and you can't pile
them up one by one. But if an album is so good that it only has a few
songs that's not great, then it's usually a strong album. And usually,
different people think differently about good and bad songs, you know.
And when the band kind of democratically is going
to pick songs for the album out of the songs that we can pick from,
then I'm like, "Okay. Not so many of the guys like this song. Kind
of strange. I think it's really strong. But, okay, 3 or 4 guys out of
5 don't like it, so it won't make it to the album.".
some time afterwards, they come to me, "We should have recorded
that song. It's really great, you know." and I'm like, "Yeah.
Why didn't you say so when I sent it the first time?". But that's
life. Things like that happen. So they have listened to it again, given
it a new shot, and listened to it maybe with a more interested ear,
you know. And the same goes for me as well.
It also depends on which mood you're in, like,
"I'm not open to this one today.". But then I get to listen
to the song on some other occasion, and then I'm like, "This song
is really good. I didn't see it like that the last time.". I sometimes
find that I change taste, you know. Like, I give it an additional chance
and all pieces come together.
Tobbe: I occasionally go back to maybe listen
to more, like, '70s, so I guess it's nothing strange with preferring a
little bit different music from time to time.
Anders: I grew up with the Black Sabbath album
Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, because my sister had that one, and I think
it's totally amazing, you know. So, let's say I had that one, and then
some other one, when I was little, like Paranoid, but there were several
of their releases I didn't check out.
But in later years I started to check out certain
albums. I recognize a few songs of course, because, like, "This
one is so well-known, so it's impossible to miss that one.". So
I listened to more of it, and, like, "Oh yeah. This is great.".
But concurrently I picked up a lot of other influences back then. There
wasn't room for everything, and I found my bands that I could in some
way identify to, like, "I think that is cool. They make a cool
And why? Probably because they also looked cool.
Like Kiss, you know, who combined rock and image. You know, everything
in one package. That was cool, so I gave them a shot. But there was
also a lot of British hard rock that was fantastic. Really good, and
really honestly made, and for real, and everything.
that era British music was the best, you know. There weren't so many
American bands with that certain quality back in those days. But then
other times came, with different styles. The '80s came, you know.
[Bassist Nalle Påhlson is in the same room,
jumps a minute back in the conversation, and chimes in]:
Nalle: You know, about removing a couple of songs
from an album, to make it stronger. I clearly remember the first time
I really noticed that, and I was thinking, like, "This is a really
long album. Does it ever end?", although I thought it was really
good. That was Def Leppard's Hysteria. Like, "Doesn't this album
ever end?". [Laughs]
(Anders:) That's a perfect example. And it's
really long. It's 73 minutes. [It's actually 63 minutes.] I had that
one. Well, knock on wood, I got it on an advance cassette. I wasn't
even allowed to write on it that it was the new Def Leppard album. I
got it from a girl. We were on the same label. She knew that I was into
Def Leppard. I think Pyromania is such an amazing album. So I wrote
"Top secret" on it. [Laughs]
And I remember, "Damn, this one is long.
Such long songs.". It was really like, "This one needs quite
a few spins to get into.". But it's awesome, because they have
done stuff that they hadn't done before. It was innovative stuff. But
I immediately felt, and I can point out 2 songs in an instant that should
be removed from the album: Love And Affection should be gone. And there's
Anders: Excitable, yes. If you remove those songs,
the album is absolutely fantastic. Those 2 songs are totally unnecessary.
I mean, they don't say anything, they don't make the album better, they
don't add a color, or anything, you know. But on the other hand, I don't
feel this about Pyromania. There is one song that is in the margin,
and that's Action! Not Words. That's the only one. Otherwise, I think
that that album is fantastic from start to finish.
Tobbe: It's quite funny. It was, like, 4
and half years between Pyromania and Hysteria, and that was like an eternity
back then. Today that's not so unusual. Different times, I'd say.
Anders: You know, there was so much talk about
that record, like, "It took 4 years to make it.". I remember
their discussions in the media, but that was just because they wanted
to fill that time with stuff so they had something to talk about. You
know, "The drummer lost his arm.". Well, that was a huge deal,
during the recordings. There were several other things that happened
during the recordings, that they gladly tell about.
I'll tell you what, I actually met them during the recordings. We were
actually recording in the same studio compound as them. They lived in
Holland then and when we were there, they were in the studio every day
working with B-sides to singles, which they recorded with a different
technician, because Mutt Lange wasn't there anymore. Phil Collen was
in our studio several times and listened to our stuff.
And I got to meet Steve Clark. Bless his soul.
And I mean, Jompa [Jamie Borgir] was playing a soccer video game with
Joe Elliott all throughout the day. It was a good time and I have fond
memories from that summer. But anyway, 4 years was a really long time.
But as you say, today no one cares. It's actually kind of scary. I think
the years just pass by nowadays. I kind of start losing track. You know,
like, "Okay. 2 years just disappeared. Oh yeah, that's the case.".
I'll tell you what. I had my guitar fixed for
the Organized Crime 30 years show and I was like, "I did that last
year, right?", but, "No, you did that in 2019.". It was
3 years ago, you know. So, what were we doing? Well, we have at least
been active. We have made the album. Writing songs, rehearsing, and
stuff like that. So we had stuff to do, but everything was kind of on
hold anyway. And I think you can see that in people's faces. You know,
people are starting to look worn out. [Laughs]
I mean, come on, this has gotten deep into people's
minds. This thing is a psychological wringer to get through for people.
Hell, you can't just get through this and, "Okay, let's now just
start over again.". No, it doesn't work that way.
Tobbe: My concern is whether fans will come
back. I mean, quite a few people are just now comfortably being at home
and will maybe never come down to the shows again.
Anders: Of course a lot of people think it's
great to go out and see bands again. But, there are quite a few who
don't do that. Let me put it like this: I'm pretty glad that we didn't
go out on some kind of club tour in May. I think that it would have
worked out rather poor, honestly said.
got some indications already last fall, where we were like, "Let's
maybe book a tour! The album will be out in the beginning of April."
and all the promoters in Europe just said, "Forget it! It won't
happen. You can't play. It's already fully booked since 2 years back.".
It's already booked, and they just postpone the gigs.
And now we have kind of a plug, as everybody
is out playing, and fighting for the same little space, and people have
less money. You can't make that work, really.
And we'll see what happens, because we haven't
really seen the end of this yet. We will see who is able to go through
this, you know. And maybe you have to reconsider. I know that many people
do that, like having fewer employees, this and that, and changing stuff
to make it work.
And now I'm talking about the ones who have music
as their livelihood. We don't have that. But I mean, there are people
who are very dependent on touring and who even have people employed.
Tobbe: And not only is it the pandemic.
I'm also thinking about us going into a recession in various places over
the world, with interest rate increase, rising costs, and this will also
affect the prices of concert tickets. The whole situation is kind of alarming.
Anders: Yes, we haven't seen the end of that
either, if I may say so. [Laughs] But of course. And it's also highly
uncertain if you can make extended planning, even if that depends on
who you are, you know. But it's really difficult for, like, mid-level
artists to schedule it.
But you're right, and this might hit back on
you in whatever shape or form, and maybe we will experience a snowball
effect. If somebody starts to hesitate and says that they can't do it
for whatever reason. But we'll see what happens soon. I think it's safe
to say that we soon will.