INTERVIEW: Michael Larsson – Coldspell

With three albums released so far the wait is over. Coldspell are ready to strike again with the brand new album titled “A New World Arise”. This is stunning recording that features 12 new songs of epic proportions and it’s going to put ColdSpell firmly on the map. This is Scandinavian melodic rock of the highest order and will be a strong contender for the hard rock album of 2017. We caught up with Michael Larsson to talk all about the new album and the hard road getting to the release of the biggest album of the year so far.

Mark: So let’s talk about the wonderful new Coldspell album ‘A New World Arise’ which to date has to be my favourite release of the year, and dare I say it your best work to date. You must be feeling pretty good at the moment?

Michael: Well you know what it’s like when you live with an album and you live with the songs for a long time from having this little embryo in your head when you start to plan the album and having a melody and having words and deciding what songs to focus on – it’s like a roller-coaster. One day you put everything in the trash bin and think it’s not going to be anything and then the next day you’re full of enthusiasm and you think, maybe, maybe this one is something – it’s like that. So when you’re living with something for such a long time it just becomes a strange kind of relationship. Then when releasing the album it, it’s just like any album, at least I think it sounds good and it’s something that I can stand up for. And if there’s one single person out there who likes the album, it’s just a bonus. To be honest when we had the album and released ‘Call of the Wild’ (the first single and video) and sent out the digital promos and everything I was out there in the country house and I was having a coffee and I was reading the review from the Rockpit and my wife came into the kitchen and asked “Oh what is it? What happened?” And I said what do you mean? And she said “Well you have a tear falling down your cheek, and I just said that I was so happy and proud. I actually said that when having a review like this I just said I don’t care if the rest is just shit, this one I will take to my heart so I’m just so happy that you liked the album and the songs and everything

Mark: Thank you so much, I’m absolutely humbled, it’s not often we get feedback and it’s even more special when someone that I admire tells me something as wonderful as that. That’s exactly why I started the website in the first place to let people know that there is wonderful music out there and that artists like you who give everything to produce it deserve all the credit in the world. Thank you. When I wrote the review I looked back on everything I’d written about Coldspell, everything I loved about ‘Frozen Paradise’ and how much I found in ‘Infinite Stargaze’ and ‘Out From the Cold’ and I’m awestruck that every single time I marvel at how much you’ve managed to progress with each release.

Mark: I know that you had a very hard time personally In the lead up to this album do you think that awful accident spurred you on even more?

Michael: I started planning and doing demos and all that in spring 2015 and it’s been a long journey. It’s like everything you plan to do when you think you’ll have an album out in 3 months or 6 months and then it takes so much more time, and when I had my accident, I think I had been draining myself with this whole music thing, I found myself playing more keyboards than playing guitars and that’s not me really, and it’s been necessary to be on social media and running the website and doing everything I can and even though it’s been loads of fun and you’re still working a day job full-time you realise that “hey wait, I’m about to burn the candle at both ends probably”. And then I had this stupid accident postponed it for a long time. But now I’m feeling a lot better and I guess I’m just happy to be alive because it was critical for a couple of weeks.  But I was back to my job by late May or the beginning of June and it’s only looking back that I realise that last summer I thought I was pretty good but now I realise that I wasn’t that good I was just full of shit and tried to convince myself that I was OK (laughs) but I’m getting better every day, every week, every month and some people say “Are you OK when do you think you’ll be able to start working?” and I think ,well Jesus Christ I‘m not dead I’ve been working for over a year now and they say “Oh really?” But some people are surprised when they see me and I say you seem like you’ve just see a ghost and they say “Well I didn’t expect to see you I thought you were still…” and I say what in bed or in hospital? (laughs) and I guess to answer the question the songs that I started to work on before the accident, I really do think that everything you go through in life, everything that happens, and I won’t say it happened for a reason but it happened and you just have to accept it and make the best out of it.   And I think that maybe gives some of the songs a deeper meaning, and I don’t know if it’s possible but for me it probably means more to me than earlier albums.

Mark: It certainly comes across in the real passion and energy on the album, which you probably wouldn’t appreciate as much if you didn’t know the story behind it all. I don’t often find myself saying this to bands on their fourth release but I think these might just be your best songs to date. When I first heard ‘Miles Away’ for example I just thought, wow his is timeless, it’s just something so much more than is out there at the moment and the acoustic guitars at the start of ‘Signs’ it’s a whole new  world.

Michael: I’m just so happy to hear that, timeless is a magic word.

Mark: But the best thing for me is normally when you hear an album the big songs will be up front and you’ll listen to those and think will they keep it up, but ‘A New World Arise’ is one of those rare albums that keeps on going and just never wavers in quality. In the second half of the album you have tracks like ‘Losing My Mind’ which might even be my favourite there.

Michael: It’s one of those songs that I’ve probably had in me for a long time. I just had to figure out when to do it, I had the melody and riff. You kind of have your little treasures or jewels that you think that it doesn’t matter if no one else likes this song this is just me and it’s one of those songs that people have said to me “Is that a good song to have on the album I don’t know?” But on the album I always want to have variety and not just when it comes to key and tempo and all that but also in having every song telling a different story. I don’t want you to listen to three or four songs and you know what the rest of the album will be. And I think that ‘Losing My Mind ‘is one of those songs that ain’t maybe a typical Coldspell song although it is a typical Michael Larsson song I would say. And that song probably has its inspiration from one of the bands that I do respect so much and that is Kings X.

Coldspell - A New World Arise

Mark: You can definitely hear a bit of that in there, not a band I really got into at the time, but one I certainly enjoy now along with KXM the band that Dug does now with George Lynch.  Tome I also get a real Ritchie Blackmore vibe, it sounds like something he might have come up with if he’d carried on doing what he was doing before he dialled it all the way back a few Centuries.

Michael: Wow, interesting. It’s maybe not a typical Coldspell song but it’s the only song on the album without any keyboards on it because I said there was no room for that, it’s just gotta be guitar driven from beginning to end and I guess its one of my personal favourite songs.

Mark: What’s the feedback been like so far, obviously we ‘quite liked’ the album, but what is everyone else thinking?

Michael: I think the feedback in general has been amazing we have released three albums before so everyone now has something to compare it with, and just because someone liked the first album, the second or the third it’s not obvious that they will like the album to come now. It’s still in the Coldspell style but maybe with a different twist and touch. But in general the feedback has been great and the ones that like the album really do like it, but that’s the thing with music it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. And if you don’t understand this hybrid thing we’re doing which is a mix between Classic Hard Rock, Melodic Rock, Metal and a little Progressive stuff in it, then it’s your personal taste, I don’t know maybe it’s stuck there in the middle somewhere it’s not typical AOR, it’s not typical Metal, it’s not typical anything really.

Mark: But it works so well, you’ve harnessed all the elements of the music I love personally and painted a new picture with them.

Michael: The thing with music when you write music or create music, no matter what people think the most important thing is to write the music, the songs and the album that you want to do and not what everyone expects you to do. That’s when music becomes real and actually means something.

Mark: The last time we spoke on the record the previous album was out and you were playing dates to support that are you getting back out on the road again soon?

Michael: Yes we’d love to do that. Living with these songs for so long and with the album about to be released and with all the great feedback it truly feels like the time to get out and play as much as possible. It will be my pack back time to this stupid accident and I need to prove to myself, and I don’t mean to sound boring but in March 2016 it could have been over and out for me so I’ve just got to appreciate every day and try to do the best out of it. Music means everything to me and it’s my passion in life and I really want to do this the best I can. Me and the drummer say we live right here, right now and we don’t want to wait till next year, or the year after or five years or whatever, it’s all about right here right now. We’re both kind of frustrated that we wish we had on the day the album is released, we wanted to have a tour planned ready to play Europe or America, but we’re still at the point where we’re still working on the shows and the tours and all that. It’s tough these days, I think back to when we released the first album and I think it’s even worse now. You need to have some sort of economy when doing a tour but you know what the business is like now, especially her in Europe, Scandinavia, no one buys CD’s, everyone has Spotify and it doesn’t put that much food on the table. Everyone wants to see big bands like Aerosmith on stage, but no one wants to pay anything and that’s just how it is. But we’re looking at every opportunity to do every possible show there is. And we will have to talk about Australia.

Mark: We certainly will. Here’s a question I started asking old Blues-men and as I was getting such interesting answers I now ask everyone.

Michael: Until now (laughs)

Mark: (laughing) If we had to put you on the spot and ask you to name one single song that really exemplified your feelings about music, it’s power and emotion what would that be today?

Michael: Oh God, that’s not fair! (laughs) I could say a song right now but I want to explain something first: as a musician and a composer and a guitarist and just as a lover of great music I guess I’m over it when it comes to style or genre, I used to say that I’m a lover of all kinds of music as long as it’s good. The song that puts everything together when it comes to my feelings, well I probably could mention at least ten or twenty songs that mean everything to me, but I think that one song, and it’s not that much about emotions, but it’s a song for me as a music lover, as a guitarist, as a song-writer it just says everything about what I stand for especially in this world where people say things like “You’ve gotta skip that intro it’s too long” or “It’s too long to the chorus” or “Do you need to really have a guitar solo that long?” it’s Rainbow from the Rainbow Rising album – ‘Stargazer’.

Mark: Wow.

Michael: That song for me is proof, and there are many songs in the genre of Hard Rock and Metal like that, but since the 80’s especially, it’s been all about the pressure for hit songs. Well I don’t give a shit about that ‘cause did Zeppelin think about that? Did Deep Purple think about that? Did Black Sabbath? Did Montrose? “Will this be played on radio? No then we gotta shorten the songs” No they didn’t they were only doing the things they wanted to do. So on a song like Stargaze if it was necessary to be seven minutes then it should be seven minutes, no more, no less, and I think that’s a typical example of something that shouldn’t work and shouldn’t end upon someone’s top ten list in this world – because it starts with a drum intro, the song is too long and the song has no actual chorus. But still it’s such an amazing piece of art and that’s what I love about it.

Mark: Now take it back even further back for us, what made you realise that music was going to be such an important part of your life? Was it a defining moment? Something you saw or heard? Or was it a gradual realisation?

Michael: I can still remember when I was a little kid and I as probably sick at home and I remember my mother worked at a store and she came home that day from her job and she had brought the album Deep Purple ‘Come Taste the Band’ and I was there with a fever with the ‘flu’ or something like that and I just put on that vinyl and listened to the album and it just blew me away and I think, though it’s not easy to remember as there are so many bands and so many moments but I have to say that when I heard an album the first time and there was just something in my head that said “Damn, I want to play the guitar and I want to do it like that” it was probably the Deep Purple ‘Made in Japan’ album.  But my uncle used to have this tape recorder, some sort of old fashioned thing and I wasn’t that old and he said to me “Well Michael you have to listen to this, this is good music” and he played Montrose’s ‘Rock the Nation’ (In Europe Montrose self-titled first album was released as ‘Rock the Nation’).  And that is one of those albums that I say all the time, that if we’re going to do a cover I would love to do a cover of Montrose and I’m still sad to this day that he (Ronnie Montrose) left us a few years ago and I’m still sad that I never got to see him or meet him or say hi, or let him know how much I appreciate what he did.  What was that ’72 or ’73? (It was October 1973) I mean listen to that production, listen to the sound of it, ‘Space Station #5’ I mean people can come up with any kind of production these days and think that it sounds better with tracked drums and guitar plugs and everything, and think that everything is just so clean and clear. But when you listen to the sound of that album, the dynamics, there’s no band coming up with production like that these days.

Mark: It’s a huge sound, and I think that your long-time partner in the studio Tommy does a pretty good job with you.

Michael:  He does a pretty good job, yes. And I guess I have to be pretty thankful to Khalil from Escape Music (Coldspell’s label) who said that I think you need to have the best and I think the best for you would have to be Tommy Hansen, I think he would really work good with you. He’s the best with that guitar driven, bassy hard rock with a kind of edgy sound, and I have to say that I am still blown away when I hear the first mix! When Tommy sent the first mix of the ‘Infinite Stargaze’ album that was one of those moments when I was totally blown away. I think we’ve had a great sound on every album and they’re all in the same kind of style but with a different approach, but there’s still something special for me about the mix of that first album and I still love it.

Mark: I completely agree and I think he’s grown along with the band as you’ve pushed things further. The traditional last question we ask is always the really easy one and I guess you might have thought about this during your recovery from the accident. What is the meaning of life?

Michael: well the meaning of life, oh my God, the meaning of life is to live life while you have it probably. I could be more clichéd I guess and say well music is the meaning of life but it’s more like music is a part of life, an ingredient. And I guess it was kind of clichéd to say it before the accident to say ‘carpe diem’, seize the day, but I realise it’s not a cliché if you men what you say when you say it, it truly is everything. So I’ll probably say that now, seize the day.

Mark: Thank you so much for talking to us today, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you. My mission is to get your music in front of as many people as possible and I hope that we can be a part of getting you down here one day soon.

Michael: Just so you know I’m your biggest supporter too at The Rockpit.

Mark: And thank you so much for giving us the premiere of the new video.

Michael: If anyone was going to get it I said to the management, it’s you guys. It means a lot to have people like you to be so supportive, you’ve always been there for us.

Mark: Take care.

Michael: We’ll talk again soon.

 

‘A New World Arise was released on Escape Music – September 22nd 2017

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