Interview by Adrian Hextall
20 years of hard rock and yet we still think of Eclipse as one of the ‘new breed’ of acts to have come from the country that gave us Europe and ABBA. Since 2008 when Eclipse delivered their game changing ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ album, following 2 ‘demo’ albums (according to lead singer and front man Erik Mårtensson), the band have rarely if ever put a foot wrong.
We spoke to Erik as the band launch new album ‘Wired’.
MGM:: You were one of the first acts to do the virtual concerts after lockdown started back in March 2020. I think you almost kick-started the whole thing and so many other bands followed what you’d done, but it made such a difference because we thought we wouldn’t get a concert again for a long time.
EM: Yeah. We were pretty fast doing one of those things. I think the whole the whole idea came from seeing everyone with acoustic guitar singing in front of their phone on Facebook. Doing all these live streams and they just, they didn’t do it properly. It was just a phone, super simple. It didn’t sound good or look good. So we thought ‘we can do it better than this’.
MGM:: Was it was it difficult to put together? Did you have any restrictions in Sweden?
EM: At that point there were no restrictions in Sweden. We’ve never had any lockdown in Sweden at all. It’s been more like, stay at home. Don’t go out and don’t hang out with friends, but it hasn’t been a law that you can’t go outside. There was a limit though, you couldn’t have concerts you couldn’t have this, or you can have that, but it was possible to do this. I think there were four or five cameras with people behind the cameras. And live editing as well.
MGM:: For those that attended, many bought the ‘Vive Le Quarantine’ t-shirt. Everyone wanted to do their bit for the band to ensure everyone came out of it OK.
EM: Well, we are a band and that’s the best thing about being a band. You you’re in it together. That’s why I don’t want to ever be a solo artist. You know, it’s a whole band thing. We help each other and we know everyone is behind it.
MGM:: The live experience fits with the new album cover as well. A shot of a stage, wired and ready to use. Even the opening track has the sound of a crowd waiting in eager anticipation for the band to start. It’s a reminder of what we’ve been missing for the last 18 months.
EM: Yeah. Absolutely. You start off with the riff that we play, kind of how KISS would have done it in 70s, super simple but a real floor filler. I remember when I when I put on those sound effects from the bar. I talked to the guys who really liked it. I really, really long for that sound again. I haven’t heard it in such a long time. It’s the sound all artists want, the sound of a lot of people having a good time.
As we write, the ‘Wired’ album release show will have taken place in Switzerland on October 9th. A venue chosen because as Erik tells us the band “chose a venue in the middle of Europe and hoped people would turn up.”
MGM:: For fans looking forward to a new slice of hard rock from the band, they won’t be disappointed. The pure ‘Eclipse’ sound is present and correct and if a .
EM: We released ‘Saturday Night (Hallelujah)’ last May. We figured we’d launch this with a real party rocker and the second one, current single, is ‘Bite the Bullet’ which is a more, classic, hard rock and metal sound. The riffing and style of Judas Priest or Accept but with our melodies on top of it.
MGM:: The way the album is being presented to people depends on the format people go for. The CD and Digital versions have an exclusive track and the LP also has its own unique track as well. Also the track listing differs. Is there a definitive order?
MGM:: It’s a neat trick. If you listen to an album long enough, especially on a CD, you start singing the next track before it started because it’s so well known to you, but if you mixed up the order, it actually pulls your attention back in a little bit, doesn’t it?
EM: Absolutely. And when it comes to streaming, it really differs how you listen to music. With the CD you have the opening and closing tracks that are key and you hope people will play it end to end. But with the with vinyl, you can have five songs on each side. People often play the same side over and over without flipping. With streaming, people have no patience of listening to whole albums at all. You’ve got to have attention-grabbing songs from the beginning. Otherwise people will turn off if you open it with a seven-minute song. Unless you’re Iron Maiden of course.
MGM:: Eclipse are celebrating 20 years this year (2021). Whilst I have a particular career highlight, I wondered what you think was the turning point for the band, the highlight that pushed you forward?
EM: If you go to music, I think the most important point in my musical career was the first two albums. They are really bad. They do not sound good. It’s poor song writing and that’s because we had no self-confidence at all. Melodic rock was so out of fashion, people thought we were complete idiots playing that music, even though it also influenced us. We didn’t think we were that good either. So we almost put the band on hold completely. We didn’t do anything for several years and then we decided (Magnus Henriksson and Erik), we decided that we would write songs that we really love, and we wouldn’t care what people thought. We didn’t have a record deal and or anything at the point. So we started writing songs that we really liked and the funny thing that happened is that when we just did the stuff that we thought everyone would hate everyone started to say they loved it.
Then in 2008 we released our 3rd album called, ‘Are You Ready to Rock’, and that was a turning point for us in our song writing. It showed what we could do if we just followed our hearts. That attitude has been with us ever since.
MGM:: A pivotal moment for me was also in 2008 when you stood in for Kenny Leckremo of H.E.A.T. at FireFest V. It was the first time I ever saw you perform, which then made me go and get what you refer to as the demo albums. When ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ came out, followed a few years later by ‘Bleed and Scream’ it really cemented the style and showed what you could deliver.
EM: By the time we did ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ we really had the confidence to play the songs and styles we were influenced by. You could hear Rainbow, Whitesnake and others. But with ‘Bleed & Scream’, we also started to sound like Eclipse.
I think with for every album, it sounds more and more like Eclipse. It doesn’t sound like Europe or Whitesnake, but you can hear the influences. We have many influences, but we have our own way of doing music, and that’s really something, I’m most proud of.
MGM:: When you’re not recording and playing with Eclipse or W.E.T., you’re also busy behind the mixing desk, not only for your own material but for many others who turn to you to produce and mix their albums as well.
EM: If you look back at those first two demo albums. We didn’t have a producer or anyone we could work with so we more or less recorded and mixed it ourselves. And I had no idea what I was doing, I’d never mixed a record before. So that was a real exercise in trial and error. So even though they sound like crap and the production is very poor, I learned a lot from doing them. I’d like to think I’ve been getting better and better at it for every other album I’ve done. I think other people realized that too. So they started asked me if I could mix their record, which it was fantastic. So nowadays. I make a living from that. That’s what I do for a living.
MGM:: Which presumably takes the pressure off writing and allows you to write at the pace that you enjoy so the albums aren’t forced?
EM: Yeah, exactly. I don’t sit down and write one song and then wait half a year or something like that and start writing another one. I’ll sit down and write and maybe I’ll come up with something. The process of writing that finds things for the next album comes when it needs to, and it takes maybe two years from the current one to the next one or something like that. It’s going to be written in a pretty short period.
In the meantime, enjoy the new release from Eclipse, ‘Wired’. Our review of it can be found below:
Erik Mårtensson , vocals, guitar, bass,
Magnus Henriksson , guitar,
Philip Crusner , drums,
Victor Crusner , bass ,