» Mike Andersson - Tungsten
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Interview conducted October 30 2021
Interview published November 92021

"I have some stuff in the pipeline, but I can't tell you about it right now."

Domestic restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus are pretty much no longer an issue in Sweden and bands have started getting back to the stages again. Metal Covenant was eager to grab an opportunity to talk to former Cloudscape and current Tungsten vocalist Mike Andersson as the latter band visited Stockholm in late October supporting power metallers Bloodbound.

Band lineup:
Mike Andersson - vocals
Anders Johansson - drums
Kalle Johansson - bass and harsh vocals
Niklas Johansson - guitars

Tobbe: Just yesterday [In Gothenburg] Tungsten played its first gig in a while, right?

Mike: Yes, the first in a month anyway. We were at Bornholm (Danish island) and played the Raise Your Horns festival in September. And it was great. You could notice that people had really longed for live music. Really fun, and great participation from the audience.

Tobbe: Yes, let's see about live audiences. Do you think that audiences will return to the shows? Or do you think that people maybe have become too comfortable with being at home during these, like, 20 months since the pandemic started in Europe?

Mike: I actually believe it's the opposite. That people really want to come back to live music. I mean, before the pandemic people were becoming more and more comfortable. You know, the live scene isn't quite the same it was. But I think an effect of the pandemic is that people actually are going to come down to the shows even more frequently than before.

I have noticed that during the whole 21st century the live scene has decreased a little bit. I remember playing with my former band Fullforce at Trädgårn in Gothenburg, as support act to Edguy, and it was almost sold out. I don't know, but maybe that place can hold up to 1500 people, or maybe more, like 2000. And then a couple of years later we played that same place together with Queensrÿche, on a Tuesday, you know, and there was maybe a third of that number of people there. Maybe there would have been more people there if it would have been on a weekend, you know.

But in the past that didn't matter, and even if it was on a weekday, people came down anyway. So that's what I mean. I think that that will come back to some extent. At least I hope so. That people now realize that they kind of need live music.

Tobbe: As soon as I see your band name, I come to think of the fact that a few bands have used that name before. Metal bands, hard rock bands, etc. Don't you think that this could be confusing to people and don't you worry about legal aspects as well?

Mike: Let me put it like this: When we decided to name ourselves Tungsten, we were searching, we were checking it out on Google, we were doing a lot of stuff, but found almost nothing. We found one little cover band in the USA, like in Cincinnati, or whatever, with 300 followers on Facebook. So we thought, like, "It's just a cover band so it doesn't really matter.", so we went for Tungsten.

But as soon as it became official, an old Swedish band popped up, you know. A smaller one, but anyway there has been a Tungsten in Sweden before. And a French one that's called Tungs10, you know. So we didn't know that before, and it came to us afterwards. But on the other hand we have the rights to the name now, so it doesn't matter who was first. We own the name, in Europe anyway. We heard something from the French guys, to a little extent, but since there's a different spelling, you know…

And we haven't become big yet; we're still a new band. We have quite a few followers on Spotify and so, and we have absolutely surpassed the other Tungstens in number of followers, or fans, you know.

Tobbe: The band has 2 younger and 2 older guys in the lineup, and after doing this together for a few years and a couple of records now, what's it like to work with such age differences in a band?

Mike: It's works great. Both Kalle and Niklas are very mature and already experienced guys in the industry, you know. They have followed Anders since the HammerFall days, as kids, so they have grown up with this in a way. And they're hungry, and they're driving forces.

They write the lion share of the music and then Anders and I put our own mark on it. It works, even though it's father and sons and a friend to the family. We operate as a band, we talk as a band, we have the same kind of low mood when we're tired, you know. But it works great, you know.

Tobbe: The albums We Will Rise [2019] and Tundra [2020] are each approximately 45 minutes long and what makes you guys stay out of the trap of making too long records that people get bored by after 70 minutes and 15 songs?

Mike: You know, we want it to be listenable for the masses. And then we have some songs that stick out, like Here Comes The Fall on Tundra, which is a bit longer and more epic, you know. But we want to stick to mostly 3 and 4 minute songs, that works on radio, like length-wise, and songs that people are able to connect to.

Like you say, it's rare that a +60 minute album is great from start to finish, so it's easier to make a 45-50 minute album where most of it works. It's self-explanatory, really. Unless you decide to just make two 20 minute songs and that's it. That would kind of be the progressive music fans' dream, you know.

Tobbe: It's been about a year since Tundra was out, and just a year before that We Will Rise was out, and now, obviously, another year has passed, so will we soon see another Tungsten record out?

Mike: Yes, the third record is already done. Just yesterday we revealed its name. Its name is Bliss. The artwork is done and the layouts for the CD and the vinyl editions are soon to be done. It's the same people. Andreas Marschall did the artwork and Rainer Kalwitz is doing the layout.

We haven't an exact release date yet, but the company has a release plan, so unofficially without mentioning a date, it's going to be out next summer. On the other hand, the first single will be out in late January. So instead of releasing 2 singles before the album, we will extend the number of singles this time, during a longer period of time, and we hope to be out on a European tour around the time for the release date of the album.

Tobbe: Can you reveal something about the record, or should we wait with that for another 6 months?

Mike: Well, you know, let me say it like this: I don't want to utter the classic words "It's the best we've made.", even though I would personally think so. It's just a little bit plastic to say that. But stylistically we have kept, you know, the folkish, like with We Will Rise and The Fairies Dance, in some of the songs. But then we broaden ourselves a little bit and try unexplored ground.

So it's absolutely no copy of our two first albums, but it's another step forward, and, as I experience it, sometimes darker and a little bit heavier in fact. But also at the same time some of the songs are on the contrary a little bit softer, yet with very strong melodies, you know.

Tobbe: Do you have any kind of long-term plan for the band? Like, do you talk about the future in a long perspective, or is it more like month by month or year by year?

Mike: The band is on a long-term basis, in everybody's way of thinking, you know. Okay, Anders is a couple of years older than me, and I'm not a youngster anymore [Anders is 59 and Mike is 47 years old], but, you know, we don't talk about some kind of end, but we hope that we will grow. Maybe not be on tour for 300 days a year, but come up with some hits. Well, it sounds stupid, but yes, earn something off it, and be able to feel that we've done something good, you know.

Tobbe: So the dream of making it big and being able to make a good living out of it never goes away, does it?

Mike: No, it doesn't actually. And I mean, Kalle and Niklas are still young, and in the beginning of their career, you know. But we haven't talked about it in that way, like "In 10 years this and that…". That's not the way we're thinking about it, but it's more like we're just going for it and doing the best we can, and doing nothing half-hearted, but everything is 100 per cent, you know.

Tobbe: Anders has been drumming for Manowar for a couple of years now and he's also out touring with his brother Jens playing jazz, so is Mike Andersson doing anything else besides Tungsten at the moment?

Mike: Not at the moment, no. And I'm at peace with that. There were periods where I had both Cloudscape and Fullforce and even more. So if I'm doing something else now it's guest appearances. You know, recording stuff. I have some stuff in the pipeline, but I can't tell you about it right now. You'll have to keep your eyes open.

But I'm all right with this situation. You know, I have a family, a wife, my son is a grown-up, our stepson is in the soccer age and I want to spend time with him too. So it feels perfect, this way, you know. And Tungsten takes quite some time too. I mean, in the last couple of months we've met more or less every Friday, for various reasons, like photography, filming videos, a gig, you know.

Tobbe: It's about 4 years since it became official that Cloudscape would be parting ways and how is your relationship to Cloudscape's old members today?

Mike: You know, it's good, and especially with Patrik Svärd. You know, we knew each other for many years even before Cloudscape too. We've always played together; well, at least since '95 or '96. And after Cloudscape we even had a cover band together [Rock Brigade], that we did just for fun, playing metal and hard rock.

But we've put that band to rest, and when that happened it was the first time since '95, or '96, that we didn't play together. But we keep in touch, everyone of us. On Facebook we still have a so-called Cloudscape chat room, you know. I mean, if we would reunite… I'm not saying that it's not going to happen, because you never know. But it's not in our plans, even though somewhere my heart maybe wants to do it.

But you have to be realistic to yourself too. I am one of the reasons that we put the band to rest. And it has nothing to do with the members, because we all still love one another. We're still really good friends, even with the old Cloudscape members as well. But it was the whole industry. It just went away after we started MK II [About a decade ago.].

Like, every record release, instead of stuff increasing it went the other way, even though I knew that the albums were good, like getting good reviews and stuff. But they weren't given the promotion they should have been given. We were on really small record companies, you know, that actually almost weren't record companies.

But anyway, no hard feelings at all. We have members that, you know, want to start it up again, but everyone respects… So, you don't know. In 10 or 15 years maybe I'll get the urge, but right now it's not in our plans.

Tobbe: But you never said that it was over. You kind of said that you were going on an indefinite hiatus.

Mike: Exactly. "We put the band to rest officially, but we'll leave the door ajar."

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