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dinsdag 28 augustus 2007
Lion's Share Interview: An Emotional Comeback

Interview with composer, guitarist Lars Chriss of Lion’s Share in August 2007 - Additional text: Vera

Lion’s Share, the brainchild of guitarist Lars Chriss, has been in a kind of emotional coma for some years, but after solving all kinds of problems, Lars is back with a new line-up and a stellar record called “Emotional Coma”. He could rely on the help of eminent singer Patrik Johansson (Astral Doors) and drummer Richard Evensand (of Therion fame), while bass player Sampo Axelsson even helped him with the recording process. “Emotional Coma” turned into the most intense and heavy work of the band. No more multilayered keyboards, but hail to straight rocking guitars and power! It deserves a little more introduction by mister Lars Chriss himself!

Tell us something about the history of the band…

The first album was released 1995, and back then we were more into the progressive stuff and probably sounded like a mix between Black Sabbath (R.J Dio/ Tony Martin era), Dream Theater and Queensryche. We then signed to Century Media and did “A Touch Of Evil” for “A Tribute To Judas Priest – legends of metal Vol. 1” with Helloween, Testament, Saxon, Devin Townsend among others. We did a European tour with Saxon and in early 1997 we released our second album “Two”. Then we toured Europe with Iced Earth and Nevermore, plus did another tour with Saxon at the end of the year. More touring followed with U.D.O., Dee Snider, on our own etc. and we also did our first visit at Sweden Rock Festival (Manowar, Deep Purple, David Lee Roth, DIO, Motörhead, HammerFall), before our third album “Fall From Grace” was recorded. Right before it came out with did a month of arenas opening up for DIO, Manowar & Motörhead in a package called “Monsters Of The Millennium”. In 2001 we released “Entrance” and at the end of that year I more or less overnight hit rock bottom, feeling totally burnt out so I put the band on hold for six years.

What did you do during the break?

During the first year I was more or less in chock a thing like this could happen to me of all people. I was always the engine of the band being on top of everything. Back then I couldn’t understand why other people spent time going on vacation, raising children, caring about their day job careers etc. I suppose 8 years of doing this back to back finally caught up with me and I had to stop completely. After a while I bought a home studio and started recording some ideas again. At that point I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the songs but during 2003 I heard a sound clip of Patrik Johansson on the net right before the first Space Odyssey album came out. We got in touch and he joined Lion’s Share. I still wasn’t ready for the big race that releasing an album means with everything from the production to interviews and live shows etc, so we decided to not go public until we were 100% ready. Had we gone public the fans and media would have started requesting a new album and we had been put under pressure. In 2004 I was hired to do a one off show at Sweden Rock Festival with Sweden’s most well known weather man Pär Holmgren who is a huge hard rock fan as well. The guy in charge musically of the project was Sampo Axelsson, so after hanging out rehearsing and doing this show we hit it off and he joined Lion’s Share, again not officially.

Did you ever think of a definite break up of the band?

No. The support from fans through our fan club and from the official site kept me going. I also started coming up with some really great song ideas so everyone that heard them convinced me it would be a total waste to not have them released. I needed the break badly though to re charge my batteries.

Altogether you made four albums before the band were put on ice, who owns the legal rights to those albums today?

I do. I own all masters and the band name as well. This is why the other guys couldn’t just get another guitar player and continue when I decided to take the break. This was one of the reasons the break was so long as well. I wanted all contracts to expire so I would have total control over the complete Lion’s Share catalogue.

Why didn’t you keep any of the old members for this comeback?

None of them really fit in with the vision and sound I had in mind for this record. For example I was looking for a more “modern” and “busy” drumming style. I wanted to bring some more energy to the songs. As soon as I had some tunes written it was pretty clear that I needed a more aggressive vocals style as well to match my riffs. When you’ve been together for 8 years there’s always some luggage that comes along, so I wanted a fresh start without having to deal with any history (good or bad).

Patrik Johansson is apart from Lion’s Share also involved in Astral Doors and Wuthering Heights. Do you see this as a problem?

Patrik only have two bands. Lion’s Share and Astral Doors. Everything else he was hired to do as a session musician (see his statement). These days most musicians are involved in several different projects, so we don’t see this as a major problem.

What’s the vision of the band?

To write the kind of songs we would like to hear ourselves when buying a new record. To continue to write from the heart no matter what trends are going on around us. In a way we write the records for ourselves and hope as many people as possible have the same taste in music we do. Obviously to have fun and to keep the great friendship and vibe we have in the band right now.

Are there any old songs on the album or where they all written recently?

The only old song on this album is “Cult Of Denial” which I wrote the lion’s share of around “Fall From Grace”. I had some ideas like “Soultaker”, the verse riff to “The Edge Of The Razor” around the time I put the band to sleep in December 2001, but the rest were written between 2002 until we recorded the new album around new year ‘06-‘07.

Can you tell us something about each track on the new record?

I wrote most of the music to “Cult Of Denial” way back, but it wasn’t until now that everything clicked. The lyrics are based on a true story where some teenagers spread the word on different chat sites they were going to kill themselves. Instead of trying to stop this madness other youngsters encouraged them to go ahead and actually do it.

“The Arsonist” was one of the last tracks we wrote for the album. We needed another fast track and together with “Clones Of Fate” this is the fastest Lion’s Share song ever.

Glen Drover from Megadeth was kind enough to record a guest solo for the title track “Emotional Coma”. Great guy and killer solo. It’s a cool tune, very doomy and epic. The brutal and the beautiful meet in this song in a metallic symbiosis.

Any fan of Judas Priest and Accept should feel at safe with “Clones Of Fate”. This track is like a bullet train. Classic Heavy Metal the way we love it. It’s a description of a future world's decay and chaos, where machines and technical monsters have taken over.

When Bruce Kulick was in town to do a KISS Expo, he stopped by the studio and recorded two cool solos for “The Edge Of The Razor”. Unfortunately he was not able to be here for the video shoot we did for it. I think this song is the link between our old records and the new one. This song could have been on any of our records from my point of view.

Respect for other people is gone and the ones who run the show are the drug lords. “Toxication Rave” is probably the closest we’ve been to thrash metal so far. We’ve been fans of bands like Megadeth and old Metallica for a long time, so I guess it was about time. I had fun recording the guitar solo since it’s either dubbed or harmonized all the way through.

“Trafficking” is also a slightly new side to the Lion’s Share sound. Both aggressive and poppy at the same time. We are fans of bands like Rammstein, In Flames, Soilwork as well as the old school stuff so after blending all that stuff in our sick minds, this is what came out. The lyrics are about trading with human lives, humiliation and profit-thirsty pimps.

Inspired by the James Ellroy novel "Killer on the Road". About a mass murderer drifting around America killing people. “Bloodstained Soil” is the heaviest and most doomy song on the album. I’m a huge fan of Black Sabbath and Tony Iommi’s riffing style has had a huge influence on my way of writing since day one. In my book “Mob Rules” is the best album ever.

“Soultaker” was the first Lion Share song ever that Patrik sang on. I think we did another song that day named “TV Preacher”, but we never found the time to finish recording it for this album, but Richard did his drum parts and the vocals are done as well. Again any fan of classic old school heavy metal should be at home here.

Another song that’s based on a true story is “Hatred’s My Fuel”. A brutal story about a guy who killed his family and then ate them. We had some discussions if this song should be on the album or not. After playing all songs to different people we soon realized most of them though this track had the best chorus on the entire album, so we kept it. Think it was the mixing engineer’s favourite as well.

We all grew up with the NWOBHM style, and bands like Saxon, Tank, Samson, Anvil, Rods, Maiden and of course Angel Witch. About a year ago we received an offer to contribute to an Angel Witch tribute and we soon agreed on “Sorcerers”. This album got postponed but we had turned this track into a Lion’s Share song so it felt absolutely wrong not to include it on the album. Some time ago we had a listening session for journalists and many of the people there though it was an original Lion’s Share song, which is like the greatest commendation we could get.

You just played Scandinavia’s biggest Rock & Metal festival Sweden Rock Festival?

Yeah, it was our third time playing there. Awesome, big audience and many people at our signing session too. James Kottak from the Scorpions wore a Lion’s Share T-shirt when they headlined in front of 30 000 people, so it was very cool to see it on those huge video screens. Very nice guy!

What other shows are booked so far?

We’ve done a couple of warm up shows here in Sweden plus one festival the week before Sweden Rock. We will do more festivals in Sweden plus the Magic Circle Festival in Germany on July 7 with Manowar, Gamma Ray and others. It’s been a long time since we played Germany the last time so we are looking forward to that, plus seeing our friends in Manowar again of course. Then we’ll play the Metal Heart Festival in Norway with bands like Queensryche, Testament, Dimmu Borgir, Candlemass and many more.

When will you tour?

It doesn’t make sense to play indoors during the summer so we are looking at different scenarios for the Fall instead. By then the record is out properly and the fans are familiar with the new songs. In this business it’s all about timing and the right package of bands, so we are waiting for “the right” offer to come along. We would prefer to go out with a much bigger band as a support act so we can “win over” fans every night instead of playing smaller clubs to fans you already have.

How come you signed to AFM Records?

I had kept my eyes on AFM for a couple of years and though this would be the perfect label for our kind of Metal and our forthcoming comeback album. Fortunately the A&R Markus and I have a common friend, so when we were more or less finished with the album he just asked if AFM would be interested, and luckily they were! This was great for us since we didn’t have to send out any demos or anything to any other labels. I’ve met the guys at AFM a couple of times and it feels like I’ve known them for years. Real cool vibe, like we are a big happy family. Couldn’t be happier with our choice of label.

You have some great guests on the album. How did you get in contact with them?

Mats Levén is an old friend and he also did our first two albums, so that was a no-brainer. His voice blends really well with Patrik’s. The studio where we did most of the demos was co owned by the former KISS Army president of Sweden, so when Bruce Kulick was in Stockholm to do a KISS Expo he suggested we invite Bruce to the studio to do a guest solo. I’m a KISS fan since I was 8, so of course I wanted a former KISS member on my record. Glen Drover from Megadeth, I’ve known for a couple of years after working with his other band Eidolon. I asked if he could do a solo and he agreed. Eric Peterson from Testament was working on a solo too for “Bloodstained Soil”, but unfortunately we had to start mixing before he got around to finish it off.

Do you think your old fan base will accept the more raw and “in your face” direction of “Emotional Coma”?

I think the song quality speaks for itself and Lion’s Share fans have always appreciated the band for always delivering high standard in song writing, musicianship and production. Also I think there are songs on past records that are equally as hard. It’s just that the new line-up with a more modern, busy drumming style sounds more energetic. We hardly used any keyboards for this one and those always smoothen up the sound, plus Patrik’s voice is very raw and brutal. We have both new and some old songs in our live set and a song like “Unholy Rites” from “Fall From Grace” fits perfect with the new songs so I think most old fans will approve and hopefully we will gain many, many new fans as well. After all there’s a totally new generation of Metal kids around now that wasn’t here when we released our past records. Here in Sweden I see young kids everywhere with Maiden, Priest and Megadeth shirts, so we are very positive about this record.

Where did you record your new CD? Who was the producer?

It was recorded in different studios around our home town Stockholm in Sweden. We recorded guitars, basses and vocals in a smaller studio and the drums and mixing were done in a bigger more expensive studio. I have produced all our records but I always hire the best engineers around to help me with the sounds. We spend a lot of time and money to make the best album possible.

How would you describe your style?

Old school, classic Heavy Metal. We are mainly influenced by bands like Black Sabbath (especially with R.J. Dio), Megadeth, Judas Priest, Saxon, Accept, Queensryche, but also by newer bands like Rammstein, Soilwork etc.

The title of your new album is “Emotional Coma”; what lies behind the choice of name, what does the title represent? In addition, how does the really great looking cover artwork for the album reflect the title?

We wanted a darker cover and were also looking for a mascot figure like Iron Maiden’s Eddie. Something we can use for all our covers and make cool shirts and other merchandise with. The title was picked from the song titles we had recorded. We just looked at them and picked the one that fitted the best. Pretty much the same thing we did with “Fall From Grace”. In our case the hardest part of making a record is to come up with a title. This is probably why our first two records are called “Lion’s Share” and “Two”.

Additional text: Vera
Pics: Mattias Nord

[Aangemeld door Vera]

Geplaatst door Jany op dinsdag 28 augustus 2007 - 22:53:42
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