MILLION /B.J Laneby
Interviewed by Nicky Baldrian
Sweden's Million just seem to be getting more and more popular with each album release, yet when will the British audiences wake up and realise their awesome potential?
Their new album "Detonator" (the first with the bands new line up) has been gaining healthy responses throughout the music press and their recent appearance at the now legendary Swedish Rock Festival (which ironically never seems to get any coverage in any UK magazines) goes to show that the whole hard rock scene is alive and kicking.. which brings us to another point..
Recently a huge debate has been rising on the internet about a certain UK publication selling out and refusing to run articles on new hard rock bands and live shows in favour of what is trendy and in doing so has forced readers to look towards other magazines and labels to pull out of advertising, due to lack of support from the magazine.
I mean is Slipknot, Cradel Of Filth, Gary Newman and Jim Kerr of Simple Minds really to be under the term Classic Rock? I think not somehow and the magazine really needs to wake up as never has such an outrage been heard since Kerrang went grunge to kiss arse to Kurt Cocaine and Nirvana. They'll be featuring Wet Wet Wet next!!
Massive full colour import magazines such as Burnn (Japan's biggest), Rock Report, Heavy Oder Was!, Force Magazine, Slam Magazine, Rock It, and even Metal Hammer in Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain etc always give reports to the melodic rock and AOR scene of today as well as the "IN" bands, and as you will read below, bands as well as the fans seem to be a little upset that the only UK publication big enough to give rock the support it needs is now turning into Kerrang and totally selling out, in my personal view, there is room in any magazine to feature all styles of music, at the end of the day this is what the readers want and you have to give them what THEY the fans want not rehashed stories of yesterdays bands, how many more Ozzy and Led Zeppelin interviews do we need to read? If we want to read all the old interviews then we can go back to our old copies of Kerrang and Metal Force guys, we don't need to read them again!
Let's inject the new blood and the stars of tomorrow, lets face it, as much as I love Ozzy and Zep they can't keep going forever, they're old men now, rocks future surly lies in all the new bands and if the magazine doesn't support them now, then where will the scene be, 5 years from now? 10 years from now? ....as the old saying goes, ROCK WILL NEVER DIE!!! Read on.
Introduce the band members to us and tell us about your past history?
Ulrich Carlsson, leadvocals
Jonas Hermansson, leadguitar
B.J Laneby, bassguitar (that would be me)
Per Westergren, drums
Mikael Böhnke, keyboards / Hammond organ
I formed MILLION in 89, the first line up did 3 records together (new keyboardplayer for the 3:rd).
Those albums were: No.1 (1992), We Ourselves & Us (1994) and Electric (1998).
The new singer and guitarist joined us in 1999.
Since then we have released a best of compilation called Get Millionized, sumaring up the past also including some rare and new stuff. And now the new one is being released over the world, DETONATOR. Mixed by Simon Hanhart (Malmsteen/Bowie/Asia/Adrian Smith from Maiden a.o). Get Millionized & Detonator are the first albums for british label A2 Records. All our records have received great reviews and the reactions on Detonator have so far been truely fantastic. I´m very proud of the new line up!
Tour wise we´ve mostly done Scandinavian gigs in the past , toured by ourselves but also with bands like Magnum & Nazareth. We´ve also been to Holland -hey, hey hey Amsterdam!!!;-)
This year we´ve so far toured England for 2 weeks in February, seven shows with Oliver/Dawson Saxon and 3 headlining spots (we loved England and went down very well-we´ll be back!) Recently we headlined one stage at the major Sweden Rock Festival- great gig, huge audience and we received fantastic response! In the coming days we´re gonna do another Festival here in Sweden called Metal Madness for which we have invited our friends in O/D Saxon to come over and join as well. Having that in mind I expect it to be a big rock´n roll party (we had lot´s of fun together on the UK tour ;-)
Describe your music and tell us why we should buy your music?
It´s hard rock standing on the fundaments of the 70`s and 80`s but with the attitude of 2002.
No matter how hard and rough we sometimes play, we always have melodies and catchy hooks. So it´s the best of both worlds really We´re a band that see both Black Sabbath fans and melodic rock fans in the audience
us about your latest CD and how long it took to record?
at Jonsered Recording Studio. Everybody particapated in the process, but I had the role of executive producer. Then the label flew over with Simon Hanhart to check out the rough mixes and very much liked what we´d achieved. The result of that was a decison for Simon to mix the whole thing in England. Then the final mastering was done at Abbey Road, probably the most famous studio in the world. It was an honour to get to work with Hanhart, with all his major referencies (brilliant guy as well) and a dream come true to finish up the record at Beatles studio!
I´m very proud of Detonator! I think the whole album rocks big time and with this being the first album by the new line up- Who knows what we could come up with in the future!!?
Did you have all the songs written before you went into the studio or did you write in the studio?
All the songs were written before we started to record. Of course changes were made during the ride, but the songs were basicly there from the start.
Was it hard to choose the final running order of the CD?
Yes, I did a lot of alternatives but this one felt good and the band and the label agreed on it. A record has to have a certain flow, so You won´t lose interest. It has to do with tempos, keys, rhythms
How did you finance the record?
Our record label A2 sorted that out.
Pick your favourite song and tell me why it's your favourite?
I´m Your Blood is very personal to me so it has to be that one. I miss You Dad!
Which songs go down the best in your live shows?
All of them actually. Different nights-different favourites . we have a lot of crowd participating and singalongs etc so it´s fun! The hard part is to pick the songs for the set. We have 4 albums to pick from so a lot of favourites has to be left out As it is right now we base the set on the Detonator material, with a couple of "oldies" thrown in. We also do KISS "Deuce" as encore sometimes, lot´s of pyro and the whole shit. MILLION recorded Deuce for a KISS tribute album a couple of years back so it´s been a fun thing to have in the set -and yes the crowd usually love it .
played the Swedish Rock Fest this summer, how did it go and how was
the reactiopn towards the band and how were the other bands that day?
When several so called "name bands" had small audiences we had over 4000 at the front during our set. It was magic and we filmed it as well! The crowd sang, clapped and hedbanged like wild vikings. 10 minutes after the final song they still shouted for encores .Lot´s of people seems to want us back next year Great, great festival!
Other bands during the festival: Magnum was fantastic- they also had a "pretty good" reception. Goosebumps!
Hanoi Rocks was fun & rocking-now I know where Guns n Roses nicked their sound and image ,. I saw some of Biff´s version of Saxon and wasn´t too impressed-good band but too metal for a band that used to be classic rock - I think Oliver/Dawson SAXON is much closer to the original vibe the name Saxon demands, Ted Nugent was fun - but only saw 4-5 songs. Heard Bruce Dickinsons whole set from the backstage bar and it sounded good. Hey, I couldn´t see much of the other bands Had people to meet, autographs to sign and well some seroius partying to be taken care of;-) .I`m sorry that I missed Halford however -someone I wanted to see, I´m a big fan of him No-not in that way!!! ;-) Other bands on the bill included Motörhead, Doro, Status Quo etc .
Tell us a funny story from the Festival?
With all those bands at the same gig and at the same hotel there´s a lot of them I mean Motörhead, Magnum and Hanoi Rocks etc don´t say no to a party Defenately not MILLION either, I could tell you .But I´d better not give You any dirty laundry from those activities-behind closed doors! One funny thing however was during the Hanoi Rocks gig. Their singer Michael Monroe made a speach about absolutely hating skulls as a rock´n roll image Too destructive and black he said It was only that the guitarplayer on his right were wearing a black t-shirt with a big skull on it!! I don´t think Monroe was aware of that Not much else either b.t.w hahaha But they rocked and I smiled a lot during their set Rock´n Roll!
happens if you have an idea for a song and then when you finally record
it hasn't had the vision that was originally intended? do you shelv
the song or keep working on it?
Do you have a record deal at the moment outside of Europe?
We´re signed to A2 Records and they have the worldwide rights. Our hope is that they soon will find partners to release us outside Europé. .I know they are working on it and that there is interest from USA, South America etc but as it is right now, all those things are up to A2. Interested labels and distributors should talk to them. I also hope for Japan as we have been charting there earlier. Our first album was big there!
Great, great reviews! 6 of 7, 9 of 10, 95% of 100 etc etc We´ll see what happens when the video is out on TV and more tours will be arranged We are a L I V E BAND!
Your music is quite heavily influenced by the 80's hard rock era, which bands and artists inspire you guys?
What is the most important thing about your music?
That we could combine heavy rocking with strong melodies and do really good live shows!
I've been listening to the album since it came out, and its truly a great album that hasn't showed any signs of fading out, and I have many fave tracks. There is a diverse mix of styles how would you describe that and compare the album to your previous efforts?
What would you be if you wern't a musician?
Maybe a journalist, I like writing. I have a University education including information etc so maybe I would use that more As it is right now, I help other bands and manage the studio we record in, so musicbusiness is what I do besides MILLION as well
Who would you consider to be your audience?
People with good taste hahaha People who don´t follow the latest trend, just because MTV and radio insist on pushing for made up products. I´m proud that we have a lot of fans and that we see both teenagers and old rockers there, pretty girls as well as rough punters with Iron Maiden t-shirts in the front row.
I get e-mails from fans worldwide every day and internet is great with that. Talking to fans directly, no matter if they are from Romania or Greenland, New York or Leeds, is very inspiring and often heartwarming!
MILLION fans rocks! Hey, I want to tour the world NOW- I want to meet all those people!!!
Is there is still a future audience for this music, what would you say to magazines such as UK mag Classic Rock who seem to think that unless your Guns N Roses or Ozzy Osbourne that this music isn't marketable anymore, yet seem to think that bands like Slipknot and Cradle Of Filth deserve to be under the term Classic Rock?
If this music isn't marketable and can't sell a magazine like Classic Rock, where it gets to the stage that the magazine decides to abolish covering this music which made them the writers and editors they are today then why do you suppose that so many bands play this genre of music if it is not marketable?
It is marketable! The media just have to wake up! I hate the fabricated bullshit that are marketed to death today. A lot of today´s "stars" are just faces and characters selling a product fabricated from day one. Be it Britney or Slipknot .Pure bullshit with made up images . It´s so fucking synical and lacks heart and soul which real rock´n roll is based on. (and yeah maybe a little sex as well;-) There are lots of great bands around Show them some f*cking respect and let the people out there know that they exist!
Surly lack of exposure for a new band playing hard rock is a worrying factor that if a magazine isn't going to cover any new bands who need the exposure, then what is the point of playing this music when you could so easily perform what's "IN" and trendy and gain full exposure in said magazine?
It´s not a new problem though .I actually wrote a song about following trends blind, it´s on the second MILLION album We,Ourelves&Us back in 1994 and it´s called "Follow the trends"..Check the lyrics out J It´s understandable but not defendable when bands and musicians sell themselves . I don´t give one single penny for people like that! Me? I´m a rocker at heart and I can look in the mirror and smile (Well, Maybe not in the morning-but that´s another story ;-)
In defence of your own band, how would you sell your music to the editors of said magazine and what would you say to them for abolishing our favourite genre?
I don´t have to defend anything! We are the real thing! We mean what we do and we do it f*cking well! Let´s rock!
From your own experience do you think that the internet is a more powerful force than a printed publication or do you think both forms are as powerful as each other?
Internet is very powerful these days and I love it! Again: Time for magazines to wake up, You are supposed to write about real stuff, not fabricated shit! Rock´n roll, remember? As a fan I surely love reading about all the old good bands, which Classic Rock do well, but we all hope there´s a future as well, don´t we? Internet has brought us the future. Hope the magazines will as well, ´cause there is nothing like holding a good mag in Your hands filled with qualty articles about old and new. And finding new good bands is fun---You should try!
Can we expect to see your band performing live soon if so where and when and well try and be there to support you?
Yes we hope to come back to the UK in the autumn. Last time was great and now we know the fans are there, God bless You! There are also hopes for dates in Scandinavia, Germany and mainland Europe, it just have to be organised by a good agency. MILLION is a real live band, we even sweat for You!!!
Hopefully the U.S will happen as well. We´re ready to come over, just invite us!
What inspires the structures of your songs?
The initial riffs or the theme of the song and also the lyrics if You ask me. Then we go from there "This is a song that needs this kind of dramatic arrangement" "this rocker should just do that-ROCK-lot´s of guitar parts etc!" "this is a song about a priest who kills people- maybe we should throw that pop bridge to hell " stuff like that .
Many arrangements and parts of songs just come natural..We improvise a lot and let things happen when we write If it´s good, we keep it, otherwise we just throw it away.
We'll name some classic bands, and we'd like you to tell us what you think of them... The Who...classic pioneers I cried the other day when John E, their bassguitarist died Brilliant player and loud! R.I.P
The Eagles...I´m a fan! Great laid back music, brilliant musicians and Hotel California is one of the best songs ever written.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience...Talk about a pioneer! There wouldn´t be hard rock/heavy metal without him. Distorted guitarplaying, wah wah solos and biting the guitar strings I think I´ve heard and seen that many times done by others
;-) .If You say Seattle- I don´t say grunge. I say Jimi!
Van Halen...Brilliant band and another guitar maestro that made people follow.
Get Diamond Dave back now! (If not, Sammy will do). Mike Anthony is a hero of mine, ever since he downed a bottle of Jack then played a bassolo that just was a wall of distorison and then ended it all with throwing away the bass from the drumriser and jumping after it and finally landing on it (and he ain´t a thin guy ). All in front of 35000 at a stadium in Stockholm That bass and my attitude towards bassplaying in general never was the same after that!
Journey...Wheeeeeeeel in the sky-favourite song ! Great leaders in the AOR genre. Neal Schon is one helluva guitarist as well.
The Police...I have a couple of albums but I´m not a huge fan. Good musicians with some good songs written though. Roxaaaaaaaane
Deep Purple.....Heroes! What can I say Made In Japan is a hardrock bible type of record and I just love them. Seen them 8-9 times I think (first time on the European premiere of the Perfect Strangers tour, We cried like babies during Child of time It was too much) . and eventhough I prefere the Mk 2 line up with Blackmore, even this latest line up with Don Airey and Morse rocks. Saw them last august and Gillan even hit the high notes. They had a lot fun, laughed and joked the whole gig through while playing a great show. All of them are marvellous musicians. Lord is the Hammond Lord and when should I stop .Thank You for existing and thank You for the music. I wish I could rock that hard and laugh while I´m doing it at an age around 60!!!
Scoprions.....I was a big fan in the early 80´s In Trance, Tokyo Tapes, Black Out Always good live, but too many ballads in the 90`s Good liveband
Dokken....We´re the dreeeeeeeeeeam wariorrs ..Liked Under Lock and key etc Actually saw them one month ago with Norum here in Gothenburg. Was actually really good, I think .Unfortuntely a soap opera band with lots of "who´s in the band stuff"
Abba.... Pop Icons! Ulveaus and Andersson are fantastic songwriters .And finally I can tell the truth: When I was a small boy, I was in love with Agneta ..
If you were an unsigned band how would you go about marketing your product and what advice would you give to other independent artists with albums to sell?
Stay true to Your heart and soul. Work Your ass off writing good stuff and sweat Your pants off while performing.
Then double the efforts and hope for the best. At least You´re true to Yourself!
in your CD player right now?
If you could start your career all over again, what would you change?
Nothing!, I´m proud of what I´ve done so far. 5 albums released, getting paid for sweating on stage and have fans worldwide. The business and the world is hard to change, I just can stay true to myself and keep rocking!
With the album wrapped up now, what are your plans for the future?
We have a video coming out shortly. It´s shot and directed by Harrison Funk who´s a major guy, worked with Michael Jackson and Van Halen a.o. It´s filmed partly on a day off on the UK tour and partly live on the Sweden Rock Festival show. Hopefully VH1, MTV etc will open their eyes to it. Watch out for it, the song is "Shadow of the Cross" from Detonator!!! We hope to tour in the autumn, see earlier question
Hopefully Detonator will get a full worldwide release including the U.S. You deserve it and so do we;-)
Finally create a question of your own and provide us with the answer?
10 - one doing it and 9 on the guestlist!
(I know, I know, I know it´s an old one But, hey I´m just a dumb swede )
A big hello to all our fans worldwide! Keep those e-mails coming and see You on tour!
You´re the inspiration and make it worthwile! A double Jack&Coke to You all!!!
Our site is: www.million.o.se
Cheers and God bless,