ECLIPSE is one of the best modern rock bands out there at the moment, tag them how you will, they manage to combine a real sense of melody and power, have a song-writing prowess that few can match, and somehow manage to pull in fans from rock’s disparate genres. It’s their consistency though that is so frightening. After the excellent ‘Bleed and Scream’ in 2012, the remastered, remixed, bonus-laden update of the out of print 2008 ‘Are You Ready To Rock (MMXIV)’ in 2014 and the magnificent ‘Armageddonize’ in 2015 here they come with their latest opus ‘Monumentum’. We caught up with chief song-writer and vocalist Eric Mårtensson to talk all about the new album.
THE ROCKPIT: Hi Eric thank you for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit, the last time we spoke you told me the new album was going to be good. MONUMENTUM though, is somewhat more than ‘good’ and it’s a great title for an album that delivers this big a punch. You must be happy with how it came out?
ERIC: Well I am. I’m happy with the album, and happy that people don’t think it sucks! You know how it is, you do an album, you do your best, but you never know what to expect when it comes out from either the fans or the magazines like yours.
THE ROCKPIT: It was always going to be hard ‘Bleed and Scream’ and ‘Armageddonize’ were both cracking albums and I honestly think you’ve topped that with ‘Monumentum’ you just seem to progress as a song-writer with each release, how do you keep that up?
ERIC: I always say it’s like any craft, the more you do the better you get and you make less and less mistakes. Plus you learn what to improve every time. And as I’m doing a lot of records for others and working with other bands I learn from them too and I bring that to Eclipse.
THE ROCKPIT: It must be hard holed away in the studio, writing away, then recording, mixing, mastering – at what point do you know you’ve got something truly special?
ERIC: I think it’s probably for me the same reason you probably like it – it’s still interesting to listen to the songs. When I’m getting bored of the songs then I know ‘this is not good’. When we make the album those songs get thrown away, we just keep the songs we want to listen to ourselves. You might finish an Ok song but when you play it a few times you get bored of it, we can’t have that on our albums. You gotta have a feel for every song on the album, and kind of for the first time I think, well, (let’s just say) there’s no fillers on this one for me personally. I know that’s subjective but this is the first time for me.
THE ROCKPIT: I agree for me it’s just a case of what do I love most today, and it changes. And what really strikes me is the consistency, not only is there no filler there’s no weak track, which must be pretty hard when you’ve got to decide what to take out on the road and play live?
ERIC: Yeah, it’s been really hard, we had to have a vote! We had to choose six songs and it was so hard, so we’re probably going to go out with seven to play live because we couldn’t agree! But I think we’re still in a position where fans and the audience still accepts that we’re gonna play new stuff. We’re not like a Classic Rock band where you just want to hear the old songs. I think, as you say, we’re getting better so we can pay new songs and hope that they become classics.
THE ROCKPIT: So taking in what you told me first time we spoke, does this feel like album number six or album number four?
ERIC: It is album number six but if we go by what we are today for me it’s album number four. Because the first two albums you can’t buy them, you can’t stream them, we managed to almost make them disappear, except maybe from YouTube and places like that!
THE ROCKPIT: I did manage to track them (those first two albums) down, after we spoke last I was intrigued so I had to find them.
ERIC: Awww, they’re useless!
THE ROCKPIT: They’re not that bad, I was expecting something really awful but to be honest for me they just sound so different, like you’ve gone from sketching to painting?
ERIC: But you can see the huge difference between those and the newer albums.
THE ROCKPIT: The difference is quite striking, maybe around the time of that first W.E.T. album things seem to have changed?
ERIC: It’s maybe just before the first W.E.T. alum, the first really good album I think is ‘Are You Ready to Rock’ before that the old band had sort of disbanded, there was just me and the guitarist left. We didn’t know if we were going to quit for good or try again, we didn’t even like the albums ourselves and back then Melodic Hard Rock was so seriously out of fashion that people laughed if you played it. So we just decided to write songs that we liked. We don’t give a fuck about what other people want from us, let’s just do music for our own sake. And that was the big change for us, when we started doing what we wanted to do.
THE ROCKPIT: It’s interesting that for most of that time you’ve been with the Frontiers label, they seem to give you full reign to do what you like? Is it a case of just delivering the goods with no interference?
ERIC: Yes, that’s pretty much it. The first song they heard was when I sent the full mix to them. It was like “here’s the album, this is how it’s gonna be”. They have full trust that we won’t fuck up! (laughs)
THE ROCKPIT: For me what sets ‘Monumentum’ apart is not necessarily just the quality of the songs, as we said both ‘Bleed and Scream’ and ‘Armageddonize’ were great albums with great songs: it’s something about the edginess of the mix that really sets the songs alive?
ERIC: Yeah, I think so. I’ve been doing a lot of records lately and in the last three years since I did the ‘Armageddonize’ album I’ve been mixing so many albums and I’ve been getting better at doing it. But also after ‘Armageddonize’ we’d been touring a lot, more than we’ve ever done before and I think we took that live energy and put it back into the record, you know we played for our lives! We gave it all, and I think that paid off. The album, honestly was mixed in three days, the mix was done in panic! And somehow I made it work.
THE ROCKPIT: Let’s get onto the songs. One of the things I love most about the album is the diversity that works so well, Aside from the trademark sounds and the rockers there’s a lot of other things to love. There’s a great ballad on there, there’s a song with a Celtic vibe, which is cool, but where did it all begin? What was the starting point?
ERIC: The first track I wrote for it was ‘Born to Lead’ it sounds ‘very Eclipse’ with all the Whitesnake/Ozzy riffing and all the melodies, and ‘Vertigo’ was probably the next but after that I can’t really remember. We did the whole album in three months, so they were all written in a pretty short period of time.
THE ROCKPIT: And it was all written holed away in your studio? All written in the one big creative hit?
ERIC: Yeah. Pretty much.
THE ROCKPIT: Is that a new approach for the band, writing in that way?
ERIC: No we did ‘Armageddonize’ in panic as well, it kind of always ends up that way! We always say we’re going to start early, start writing songs so we won’t be panicked but as always you don’t do it till you really have to do it, it’s the same with every album I do. But that is kind of a good thing because all the Classic Rock acts did that back in the seventies, they were out on tour then it’s quickly into the studio, write an album, then right back out on the road again. I like that kind of ‘shoot from the hip’ attitude, you’re under pressure and you can’t analyse it too long, it’s just go for your gut feeling!
THE ROCKPIT: You work well under pressure obviously! ‘Monumentum’ is also the second album to have a play on words in the title like ‘Armageddonize’ it reminds me of ZZ Top and their Spanish-infused titles. Is that play on words something you’re going to continue?
ERIC: Yeah, maybe, it’s great because it’s either serious or fun, because Eclipse is the worst name for a band ever! I mean google Eclipse and I’ll tell you now you won’t get us! But try to google ‘Armageddonize’ and see what you will find! And hopefully ‘Monumentum’ will do the same. We thought it was a made up word too, but when I googled it I found it was Latin for Monument. So I thought it was brilliant having another brand new word only to find out its a few thousand years old!
THE ROCKPIT: You told us where the songs started, but where did they end, what was the final track you recorded for the album?
ERIC: I should remember that but it’s kind of like a blur! … Probably ‘Black Rain’. I think ‘Jaded’ and ‘Black Rain’ two very different songs – one very ’Pop’ and one very ‘Hard Rock’ were the last two.
THE ROCKPIT: And living with them all so long, do you have any personal favourite tracks?
ERIC: ‘Downfall of Eden’ is absolutely one of my favourites.
THE ROCKPIT: It’s a great song and a very different sound, I’d love to see where you go with that in the future.
ERIC: Yeah, I like it because it’s not one of those direct choruses either. It’s very moody, you get into the mood rather than just screaming along with the chorus. You can live with that song for a long time.
THE ROCKPIT: You’re well known for your great stage show, and I’ve never seen a bad review of the band and there’s already a host of dates to support the new album lined up. Can we expect more to be announced?
ERIC: Yes, there’s a lot more waiting to be announced. A few Festivals and an autumn tour to come, but nothing we can talk about yet.
THE ROCKPIT: And you finally made it into our neck of the woods last year, are there any plans for a return to Australia?
ERIC: I loved being there it was fantastic, I didn’t see a single thing I didn’t like about the country. We had a great time just sitting back, having a few beers and everyone’s so friendly, it’s so laid back. You have nothing to fear in the world, everything is wonderful, I love it.
THE ROCKPIT: You’d do a great job for the Australian Tourism board!
Eric commanding the stage with Eclipse live in Australia 2016
THE ROCKPIT: Just a few questions now, we’re grabbing from our social media “How do you feel your influences come out in your music?”
ERIC: They come through all the time, everything that I’ve been listening to since I was a kid kind of sticks in you and all of a sudden it comes out and it can be something from so many years ago and it just pops out. If you listen to all the albums you can hear it in there, but I think on the later albums it’s harder to hear the direct influences because we get better and better at doing our own thing.
THE ROCKPIT: And as a singer and a guitarist what comes first, is it the riff or the melody?
ERIC: When I’m writing it’s generally the riffs and then the melodies, but we can’t just do a song with great riffs and bad melodies so sometimes you can have the best riff in the world and you can’t find the melody, so it’s ‘trash can’ and you start over.
THE ROCKPIT: Was there a defining moment when you knew music was going to be your life or was it a gradual realisation?
ERIC: It gradually dawned on me. As a kid I wanted to be a professional moto-cross rider, I played guitar and I loved and listened to a lot of music, but what I really tried to do was become a moto-cross rider. But I had a really big accident when I was 18 and I was in plaster for like two months and I couldn’t do anything but sit down, drink soda and play guitar! And that is kind of the moment when music tool over from moto-cross. But it’s healthier to do music, not to make a living maybe, but I’ve been in an ambulance seven times.
THE ROCKPIT: And a final question from the internet: any updates on W.E.T. or Nordic Union?
ERIC: We are gonna do a third W.E.T. album it just got announced this Monday, so when Eclipse settles down I’m gonna start working on the new W.E.T. album.
THE ROCKPIT: If you could have been a ‘Fly on the Wall’ for the creation of any great album, just to see how it all came together, what would it have been for you? What would you have liked to have seen being created?
ERIC: David Coverdale doing the vocals for the 1987 album! Or maybe I’ve changed my mind, I would probably like to have been a ‘fly on the wall’ for the AC/DC ‘Powerage’ album.
THE ROCKPIT: An interesting AC/DC album, one of my favourites but not one many choose.
ERIC: I think it’s much better than ‘Let There be Rock’ that’s a great album too but with ‘Powerage’ every single song on that album is absolutely fantastic.
THE ROCKPIT: And the final question, ‘What is the meaning of life’?
ERIC: Live it while you can. You know, life is for the living and death is for the dead. You have one shot and then you’re dead, so if you have the privilege of choosing what you do in life focus on doing that. I think that is the meaning of life, enjoy it and make the best out of it!
THE ROCKPIT: Enjoy it and get on with it! A great sentiment. Thank you so much for taking the time today, and thank you for such a wonderful album, we’ve had it on rotation for a while now and the songs haven’t lost a thing. I think at the moment the last two songs are the ones I love most – I men ‘Black Rain’ is a beast of a song. Those, and maybe ‘Downfall of Eden’ are the songs that I think will have us in the future putting Eclipse up there with the best Classic Rock bands. I said in the review I thought it was an important album, not just for the band but also for Rock in general because you feel that the revival over the last few years needs a kick like that, you need to hear new music on the radio, music that’s as good as it used to be. New classics! I mean I first heard Eclipse in 2004 and to me that just seems like yesterday! I still class you as a new band even though the band is 18 years old!
ERIC: I know what you mean, I still think that ‘The Black album’ by Metallica is a new album! It’s a new Metal album! (laughs) or that ‘Rage Against the Machine’ is really modern! It’s so old now!
THE ROCKPIT: It’s been great to talk to you today Eric, thank you so much for your time and best of luck with ‘Monumentum’. It doesn’t matter if you’re 60 or 16 Eclipse is music all Rock fans can enjoy – no barriers!
ERIC: Thank you so much. Take care.