Interviewed by Chris (Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Myglobalmind: Seems you’ve been on the out skirts of the business for some time, yet never truly stepped out there to the forefront. Now with the release of Oxygen’s debut Final Warning, it’s time to seize that moment and what a release it is! What is the appeal of working in the more melodic AOR style?
Tony: I have always been drawn to this genre. I grew up with melodious music, all sort of evergreens which my father daily played for us at home. AOR and Melodic Rock has been an important ingridient which has led me to express various emotions and moods in my music. It was therefore natural to finally get to this genre, which to a certain extent also influenced my music and musicality throughout the years.
Myglobalmind: How did Oxygen come to be? What set you on the path to form this band?
Tony: I met Roger Ljunggren (our guitarist) for the first time back in the 80’s when we planned to join forces, which at that time never led anywhere. We had a meeting again much later. It was summer of 2011 when Roger called me up and asked if I still was active in the music business and he wondered if I could consider to contribute to a recording for Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, it sounded exciting and therefore we recorded the song “Janitor Of Love” with our producer whom I became a good friend with, Marcus Persson (keys). Since we never heard anything from the Eurovision board we decided to create a demo tape containing 4 songs, so we asked Bengan Andersson (drums) and Thomas Plec Johansson (bass guitar) if they were interested in being involved and they accepted. There are also additional musicians on this album: Peter Andersson on bass and Rickard Carlsson on acoustic guitars.
Myglobalmind: Final Warning is absolutely stellar. I’ve not been moved by a new release quite like this in some time. It’s a perfect mixture of all the components that make AOR such a joy to be a fan of. What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
Tony: There are three songwriters in Oxygen. Ideas to the songs, music and lyrics emerge in each one of us. We then get together to complete the songs in its proper arrangement and execution. In many of the songs we have the ideas to the melody and lyrics emerged in an early stages while it took little longer for some others. Overall the process has gone very smoothly since we’ve been through all musical barriers and also been marked by the same type of music and that’s why I think we work so well together. As for the vocal recordings, everything felt so very smooth because Marcus has extensive experience in many studio sessions as a producer. The chemistry between us have to sue in order to do the best job possible. Marcus and I have the same references on what is a good shot with one that isn’t. This is something that is repeated when other instruments were recorded. It was simply a pleasure to be involved in the studio with everyone in this project.
Myglobalmind: For me, your vocals are truly the high point of the songs. There’s something about the quality of it that just works for me. Do you have any formal training?
Tony: I have no musical training but started early with the singing in different styles and genre of music. In the beginning I played and sang to my father’s vinyl records because I did not have any of my own. Early on I knew that the singing had a central place in my life which meant I could dream myself away for a while and I knew that singing was going to live within me forever. In the early 80’s I searched myself to the so-called music houses arranged by the county in which different groups in different genres could find an outlet for their music interests. It was in a similar house I got to sing through a real microphone in a real sound reinforcement system for the first time. I then also had the opportunity to join an act by the name of Zanity and that’s probably where my singing career began.
Myglobalmind: I also love the guitar work. It’s understated, but it fits perfectly in the context of the songs, and the solos accentuate the track. Roger Ljunggren’s playing matched with your vocals seems to fit the typical mold found in a lot of classic AOR bands with powerhouse singers and virtuoso guitarists: Perry/Schon, Atkins/Hammer. How did you guys hook up?
Tony: I met Roger, as I stated earlier, in the 80’s after I heard rumors that he was a real guitar virtuoso. I went many times to visit him. These visits were rewarding when we discussed the different styles of music and had jam sessions in the rehearsal room where we also composed song material in that basement. We met also after that period, but since I joined the other acts and moved to Gothenburg, which then resulted in our meetings did not occur anymore. The next time we met weren’t until Roger called me up that summer morning in 2011 and I am now glad that he did.
Myglobalmind: What songs are the most personal to you? I was rather partial to “I Remember” and “Anything For You.” “Gold From the Future” is another super catchy track I enjoyed, reminded me of early TNT and Europe.
Tony: It has along the way been various favorites from this album, but today it’s hard to just pick one. Since we all have been involved and contributed to all of the songs in one way or another so you cannot ignore the fact that this has resulted in delightful songs that we all feel strongly about.
Myglobalmind: How did you come to work with Escape Music? Has it been a good working relationship?
Tony: We contacted a label that for years has consolidated a strong position not only domestically but also reached out to the international music industry. This label has under many years had, and still has a great list of artists and acts with great success internationally and hopefully we can fit in on their high standards. Escape Music saw the potential in us and suggested a name change to OXYGEN and also about to steer the project in a path that made the project develop in its full potential, and for this we’re very much grateful.
Myglobalmind: Any plans to tour? I realize that it’s sometimes hard to hit too many areas being a new band.
Tony: As I see it the plan is to release the follower to the Final Warning and then maybe have a tour to follow up with, depending on how that album will be received. The primary goal for us is of course to play in front of a live audience.
Myglobalmind: How’s the response been to Final Warning?
Tony: The response from our fans and media has been great and positive in every sense. We are aware that our album is appreciated and have received great reviews along this journey, which we are very proud of. We have now a lot of more inspiration to begin the recordings for the new album.
Myglobalmind: Any final words you’d like to pass on to the fans?
Tony: First of all, we in OXYGEN would like to give credits to each and everyone for their support, reviews and kind words that we’ve received for this album so far. Our message to our fans would be like: Keep the faith alive until the next album that probably will be released somewhere around the summer 2013 and it’s our hope that we then meet at a gig somewhere where our roads will meet, but until then just Rock On.
With Best Greetings //OXYGEN.
Webzine Review for Oxygen – Final Warning