– First off thank you for answering to our interview. How is the band currently doing with the release of your new album?
MATS: No problem. We’re doing very good thanks, doing some press now and will be going into rehearsal mode soon, should be fun!
– Before starting to dig into this opus, I would like you to comment a little bit how did the idea of recording a new album after your previous full-length from 1997 arise.
MATS: Having been sort of out of action for the last 3-4 years, we wanted to give the band another shot because we thought we still came up with some great music, but needed a great voice to take the songs all the way. So, to make a long story short, we contacted Anders, we started writing some stuff together, and we all agreed we were on to something good, and we had to do this. 🙂
– This new record is entitled «Walking in Starlight». The cover artwork caught my attention, as it reminds me to that old «Eye to Eye», occupying the logo the whole cover, but of course with a different background and title. Was this something you did on purpose to show trademarks of the band when it comes to do cover artworks or did it just happen?
THOMAS : That was on purpose. We looked at some pictures taken by our friend and astronomy photographer Göran Strand, to find something that could fit the title and asked him to put our logo into it. He’s taken some amazing photos and his pics have been picked as Image Of The Day on NASA’S website a couple of times, have a look here at some more of his work. www.astrofotografen.se
– I have had the chance of listening to the album and it has honestly made a good impression; a Hard Rock album with melody and good taste where we can still find the essence of 220 VOLT from the 80’s but with an updated sound. Are you pleased with the final outcome? Has it ended up as you expected?
THOMAS : Yes we are. I think it’s even better, definitely the best album we’ve ever done.
– On line with the previous question, nowadays there are a lot of bands that overproduce their album and end up sounding too mechanized, so it’s nice you are keeping that sound of the good old Hard Rock. Did you have a clear idea on how you wanted to sound or did you ever think about doing something different?
ANDERS: We write music that we like, there is a lot of experience in this band and all of us contribute with their own feeling and ideas. We never said that we should do this or that sounding album, we just made good songs that we enjoy. The song is the main focus for us.
– Another detail is that Anders Engberg has adapted himself really good to the band’s sound. I like the comfort with which he sings. What are your thoughts on the work done by him?
PETER: Anders is a fantastic singer and we really think this is our best album so far. I think he has given us a bigger sound with his big and warm vocals; he is phenomenal in my opinion. He is also a great guy and very easy to work with.
– Will there be any special edition of the album? in vinyl for instance, or any CD with bonus?
MATS: Don’t know actually, not that I’ve heard of. I think it depends on sales, if the album does good, it’s more likely.
– As I have the chance of interviewing you I would like to review a little bit the bands’ history. How, where and when did 220 VOLT born?
THOMAS: Mats and I decided to start a band in 78 and I think we had our first lineup early 79 playing in schools and youth clubs. In 1980-81 Mike and Peter joined in and in 82 we recorded our very first single Sauron/Prisoner of war, limited to 500 copies and released the same year.
– Your first album dates back to 1983, «220 Volt». It’s a good Heavy Metal album. How were those first
MATS: Thanks, I see it as more of a hard rock album though. We only had 7 days to record that album, and we also changed singer during the recording. So I always thought that album could’ve been a little better. We were only between 16-19 years old (Mike our then bassplayer was youngest , only 16 years and had to have his father sign the record deal), but I think we knew very well what we wanted to do, but we weren’t really good enough musicians to get the results we wanted. Influences were: Sabbath, Rainbow, Zeppelin, Purple, UFO, Dio, Thin Lizzy, Accept, all the classic hard rock and melodic metal bands.
– In 1984 and 1985 you released records such as «Power Games» and «Mind over Muscle», releasing an album per year, it seemed to be a good creative moment for the band. Please, tell us something about this period or those releases.
PETER: That was a great period for us. We were picking up more sales in more countries and were doing our first real tours. We did some domestic and some Scandinavian tours, for example with Nazareth 12 dates in 1984. After Mind over Muscle we toured a lot and that summer we got to play second bill to OMD at a large festival in Poland in front of 80000 people, broadcasted over the whole eastern block for the first time ever.
– I grew up in the 80’s and I would like to highlight the kind of cover artwork from back then, in the style of the ones of your early albums, which other bands from that period also had. Did you have back then someone working on them or was it different for each album?
MATS: We had different ideas and different people supplying photos or paintings, all based on our ideas. The “Mind Over Muscle” cover for example is actually a big painting, made specifically for that cover. For “Eye to Eye” we had an artist who came up with two covers, one pretty horrible and the one we ended up using. Anyway, there was this guy at the record company that put everything together for us for each cover, and even came up with the first logo in 1983, he’s done all covers except “Lethal Illusion” and he also pieced together “Walking In Starlight”, so we still use him.
– You had a 3 years hiatus until you released «Eye to Eye». In this album we can find a more melodic touch which was also present on your previous opus. How was this period for you?
PETER: That was also a very creative period, among other things we made a documentary for Swedish television and we had our first major hit with the song ”Lorraine”. The song stayed for 6 weeks at the Swedish single charts, peaking at no. 9 I think. We toured a lot and had the great opportunity to play support to AC/DC for 7 shows on their Scandinavian tour 1986. During this period we wrote lots of material for the Eye to Eye album, recorded all the songs once or twice. We tried out a couple of Producers, among them Lemmy’s son Paul Inder. In 1987 we were on the road playing a lot of shows and I also played on John Norums “Total Control” album.
– During the 80’s there were a lot of good bands hailing from Sweden, to the most well-known, such as EUROPE, RISING FORCE, HEAVY LOAD and NORTHERN LIGHT to some less known as MANNIYA BLADE, OVERDRIVE or REDSTORM. How was the Swedish scene back in those years and which bands did you get to play with?
MATS: There were lots of bands as you say, most of which you met every weekend at Hard Rock Café or the pubs you know! 🙂 In the 80’s there were no club scene in Sweden, not until late 80’s anyway, so we mostly played on our own tours in somewhat bigger places than clubs, or festivals or together with other bands. The one’s that come to mind right now that we played shows with were, Torch, Universe and Pretty Maids (they’re Danish though of course..)
– And outside the country, did you get to play some good tour or supporting important bands from that period? What are your best memories?
PETER: As I mentioned before, we got to do some touring with Nazareth and ACDC. One good episode I recall is that Darrel Sweet handing over his Ludwig signature snare to me during a gig where my snare skin broke. At the same gig I actually got to play congas with Nazareth on their cover version of JJ Cales “Cocaine”.
– Then you didn’t release something new until 1997, which was an album entitled «Lethal Illusion». Honestly, it’s the only album by you I don’t own. Why so much time without releasing any new stuff? And after this album up to these days, we were expecting a back then announced end.
MATS: The band didn’t exist between 1992 and 2002. Lethal Illusion was put together from recordings we did after Eye To Eye, we had lots of stuff. We only touched up a few vocal things and I think recorded some new solos. We never had any intention to put the band back together, that happened later in 2002 because of an anniversary and wasn’t really meant to be anything more than that. Then we got some festival and other gig offers and it sort of went from there without any real plan for a few years. This time it’s different though, this is a new chapter and we intend to do more.
– Something I tend to ask a lot to bands that are now coming back after so many years is that if your comeback has something to do with newer technologies and the easy access to music, including bands from the 80’s. Have you noticed the band dragging more attention from people thanks to the Internet?
ANDERS: We felt that 220 Volt had some good stuff to put out to the fans still. Of course it’s easier today making albums, some of the stuff was recorded by us in our own studios. We have the possibility to produce the kind of music we want without interference from record companies, maybe trying to get us to sound in a particular way. That freedom is important for us.
– And coming to the present and to your new album, is there already anything planned to support it and tour?
ANDERS: We are working hard to promote the release here in Sweden and abroad. We hope to have a set list rehearsed by November –December this year and if everything goes well we get the fans positive reactions to the album and they’ll put us on the road. We are confident and proud about the new stuff and for me as the new singer I am eager to show our fans, past and present, what the “new” 220 Volt is all about.
– On a view to the future, do you plan releasing more albums? Or is there anything you would like to do such as a DVD, a live album, etc.?
PETER: If everything goes according to plan and we get some attention so that we can do some bigger festivals. I really hope we can make more albums, and why not make a live DVD?!!