January 2002 - BACKDRAFT
For me, BACKDRAFT's debut "Here To Save Y'All" was one of the best Rock'n'Roll releases of 2001. The other ingredients of this good tasting refreshing musical brew are Southern Rock, Blues, a little bit of Country and the best of 80's and 90`s Metal/Rock. So I talked with Mats (b) and Rob (g) about the new album, their friends of Grand Magus and everything more. Let's Rock...!
Hey Mats, hey Rob at first how was your short tour through Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands? How were the responses so far and can we expect a longer tour in 2002, with maybe more dates in Germany?
MATS: It was great fun! Some of the shows were badly advertised but there were pretty good turnouts anyways, and we had a great time, so we will definitly try to do two or three tours of Europe this year, and many dates in Germany for sure. We don't know if it will be on our own or together with other bands. Our booking agent is working with Five Horse Johnson, Leadfoot, and Raging Slab, so there are definitly some opportunities...
Maybe any funny, good/bad stories about the tour for the readers?
MATS: First show was in LÃ¼beck, at something like a punk activist squat! We're not hard to get along with, but it was definitly a cultural clash when we got there. Our bus driver had an american flag bandana and these people were looking strangely at us... haha! And when they then served up a vegetarian dinner - our drummer's face went black. The show was cool though, and we treated really good by the people, had a great time! Even did a few reggae jams with some locals afterwards. It was also amazing to meet people at some of the shows wo had heard about Backdraft on the internet, ordered the album from some mailorder and then driven 100 kilometres just to see the show! That meant a lot to us!
You have also played together with Five Fifteen in Sweden. Are you a well-known band in Sweden or do you have more like an underground status? How many people went to the shows?
MATS: That tour was a bit of a disappointment. Both we and Five Fifteen have played around Sweden before and together we should be able to draw bigger crowds than that. It was just not very well booked and advertised. But kinda fun always, Five Fifteen are nice guys! We also did a gig with them last week in Helsinki that was real good! Crowds ranged from 10 to 250 people and there was a fair bit of mayhem! In stockholm we draw 2-300 people, but in other parts of the country we're very much underground. Usually around 100 people show up, though, which is absolutley great! And we we want to get out a lot more. You have to just keep on doing 'em all, one by one, going back the next time there'll be twice the crowd, and so on...
When I see live-pics of Backdraft, you must be a pretty energetic bunch of guys. Is it very important for you to play live and how are the bands preparations before a tour? Do you rehearse more like usual?
MATS: Playing live is what we like best, although we begin to feel that a mix of being at home, writing, recording, and going on the road is probably the healthiest way to do it... We always give our very best, and putting lots of energy into it, when playing live! We don't have "a show", we let the music do the talking. We usually rehearse twice a week anyways, so we don't need to make any special preparations. Sometimes we tweak a bit here and there, add a jam part or a new lead arrangement, to keep it fresh and fun! We have done a few new tracks, like Black Demon Preacher, Station, Snow Train etc. on the tours, and they tend to go down well. I like being able to try out new material live, to kick it into shape.
I think, it isn't able for you to live from your music. What about your daily jobs, when you go on tour?
MATS: I've been unemployed for the last six months or so, doing a little freelance work and just work for the band as a sort of a manager. Rev Soarthroat (vox) works in a music instrument store, Rob The Slob and Snejken (both guitar) works in a school and Nick The Dick (drummer) is head of distribution at a Swedish porno company.
For the people who aren't familiar with BACKDRAFT, when did the band get together, is it still the same line-up and what was the intention to form the band? Is it true, that your former drummer is now with Grand MAGUS?
ROB: Me and Jonas started the band in 1997. We felt that us two together with a band could hopefully do some real quality good hardrock. And at that time we felt that it was a huge lack of that quality rock'n'roll/hardrock in the music scene in Sweden, and the rest of the world too, for that matter...So we felt that we had a big mission ahead of us. Yes, in our first line-up Trisse of Grand Magus played the drums. He is very often our bus driver nowadays and we have a lot of respect for Grand Magus' music and we are obviously good friends with them as well. After we changed bass player two times and drummer once, the line-up was as it is today - perfect.
Before you've released your full-length there were three more CD-EP's that are sadly sold out now. Have you ever thought about a re-release and do you still like them?
ROB: If we hit big time and turns to down slack, not-able-to-make-good-music-anymore, old men in their 50's, yes maybe... Then maybe we release them once more and get some more money but for now we wanna focus on our record.
MATS: There are actually a few copies left of "The Goddamn Man EP", but those four songs are also on the album in better versions, so I see no real use in pushing that to people.
Let's talk about your very good debut "Here To Save You All". You've recorded it in the beginning of 2001 in Stockholm. How long did the whole recording session last and was it a spontaneous idea to re-record some tracks from the older EP's? How did you get the the deal with Lunasound Recording and is it only for one album?
MATS: We got the deal with Lunasound after we sent them "The Goddamn Man EP", and signed around the time we went into the studio. The deal is just for this album, but we're really pleased with Stuart so he might get another chance... I always thought you should put your best stuff on the first record, so we compiled the best songs from our previous demos and recorded them once more, since "no-one" had heard those demos anyways.
We tried to do it real quickly and spontaneously, capturing a live feel of all of us playing together at the same time. We did the drums and basic rythm tracks in one day, then it all dragged out with overdubbung, redoing guitar and bass parts, solos, vocals etc. We only worked nights, after our normal day-jobs, so it dragged out for a month or so until we were finished. It got some things I'd change now, when I listen to it, but that's not the point. An album is what it is when it's made. and that's that. Don't over-analyse is my opinion!
Production-wise you have made a huge step from the EPs compared with the debut. It doesn't mean, that the formerly releases are sounding weak, but "Here To Save You All" is much stronger and it has more drive. Have you recorded it in the same studio with the same producer and what do you think about this progression?
ROB: We did "The Goddamn Man EP" totally by ourselves, mostly in our singer's appartment and our rehearsel room, and I think it sounds great for being just that. But the album was recorded in a studio with a great producer called Per WikstrÃ¶m. With him we got that punchy muscle sound we missed on the EP:
MATS: It was a matter of getting it to sound like we do when we rehearse or play live. Just set up the stuff well, no bullshit effects, and BAM!
One thing, that I really like about the album is the variety of the songs. You've got very emotional and soulful songs like "Angels High" and mind-blowing rock tunes like "Penetration" and so on. Is it a natural thing about BACKDRAFT and is it important for you to capture this variety?
ROB: To capture this variety and dynamics, and still having a red thread so to speak, and unique sound, is what I call good quality rock'n'roll music. Too bad that not very many new bands seem to work on variety...
After all the reviews I've read, you've earned a lot of positive critics for the album. What's your opinion about it and are you pleased with the albums turnout?
MATS: I wish it had sold a bit more, but that's also a stupid statement. There has been some trouble with distribution both in Sweden and some other countries, but in general I think Stuart has done a very good PR job, getting reviews and interviews and so on. And now we're finally starting to play lots of gigs, so it'll pick up... You can't argue with the reviews, I'm really happy that everyone seems to like it, and that they have listened and not just pigeon-holed us as this or that.
One of the typical, but for me still interesting questions is BACKDRAFT's way to compose songs. Is everybody of the members involved and how important are jams for this process?
ROB: It usually starts out with a couple of riffs/ideas and we jam and arrange from there.For the arrangement part we all are very involved. That can be sometimes very frustrating and hard when we don't agree 'cuz we all have strong wills and integrity, but when we finally agree on a song the result often sounds great. Backdraft is very much a "band".
You're all excellent musicians and the vocals of Jonas are awesome. Gabriel of GL-Productions described them as powerhouse vocals, which marks the point. How long is everybody of you playing his instrument and when did Jonas discover his mighty vocals?
ROB: I think every one of us has played our instruments for a long time.
MATS: We're not that old, but we've been playing for quite a long time in different bands. I think what does it, is that we complement each other, we know how to make it sound good together. The amazing thing about Jonas is that he's the skinniest of all of us, still he sounds like he'd be a 350 pound redneck living in a swamp, shooting alligators and screwing his relatives!
Although you have a big influence of all the well-known Southern Rock bands, I can hear also bands like The Cult, Aerosmith etc. in your music. What kind of music have you grown up with and which decade of music is the most important to you?
ROB: I listen mostly on the great rock'n'roll bands from the 70's like Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Sabbath and so on. Yeah, Aerosmith was great in the 70's and The Cult was one of very few bands that was excellent in the 80's.
MATS: We all have very different tastes, although we have a common base that we all agree on, Jonas is 50's and 60's country & bluegrass, I'm 60's & 70's blues and heavy, Snejken is 80's glam and metal and Nick is more 90's oriented!
One fact, that is obvious to see is that you're an authentic band and I'm really glad that you aren't part of the overcrowded Scandinavian "desert/stoner" breed. How do you see yourself within the Swedish scene (if there's something like a scene)?
ROB: In between everything! We're not really southern rock or fit in the stoner swamp and we're not either in the speedy punk rock genre or classic heavy metal, but we have a little from all of this in our music. Except for the punk-shit. It's funny 'cuz in our shows it turns out to be both stoner kids and older guys in Skynyrd t-shirts. That's pretty cool.
What are your plans for 2002? Is there anything planned like a new album, singles, more merchandising etc.?
MATS: Right now we're about to go back, starting rehearsing and writing songs. We might do another album for release this fall, but we will not rush it! We will probably be doing a few shows in March in Sweden, and then maybe going to the US for the South Be Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. That'd really be awesome. Don't know for sure yet... There's also been talk of European gigs in April, May and the summer with all the festivals... So for the spring/summer we'll be out playing as much as we can.
I've mentioned Grand Magus in a question above. Have you had the chance to listen to their debut on Rise Above and do you like it? Aside of this, a tour with Backdraft and Grand Magus is one of my personal dreams for this year...
MATS: Yes! It's awesome! At first kinda liked the sound of their old demos better, but after having listened to it for two months straight I feel this is much more cohesive and powerful. It's definitly one of my favourites from last year! We would love to play more together, but it's hard to get evrything together, and now that Janne is with Spiritual Beggars also, I guess that the chance of us hooking up are getting smaller, but you never know...
Thank you very much for the interview and I hope to meet you this year on the road. Anything you like to mention at least?
MATS: Thanks to you and to everyone in the underground for their support! Backdraft will Return in 2002.
(All photos were taken by Ulf Magnusson)