In this part of the Epic Metal Blog Birthday Special we enter Sweden. Last year, Starscape‘s debut Colony was one of Aidan’s favourite records, which kept him excited all year long. I am therefore very happy that Anton Eriksson (all instruments) took the time to chat with us about his band and all sorts of other topics on the occasion of my colleague’s birthday.
Today, my Epic Metal Blog colleague Aidan celebrates his 19th birthday. What bands were you listening to at that age? And what books, movies or series were you most excited about back then?
Anton: At 19, I was mostly into black and death metal. I had a big fascination for the Norwegian 90’s black metal scene in my teens, with the usual suspects Mayhem and Burzum as favorites. Shortly afterwards, I think I got equally enamored in early 90’s death metal, such as Morbid Angel and Deicide. This was all of course complimented with a healthy dose of classic heavy metal in the form of Maiden, Priest and Manowar. I think my late teens was also the period in which I seriously started venturing outside of metal into classical and electronic music, in order to seek out the same kind of atmosphere and epic feel in other genres. I’ve been a fan of Romantic classical as well as old school 70’s electronic music ever since.
As most readers of our blog know, Aidan is my colleague, but first and foremost a great friend. It is indeed music that brought us together. Have you also had many good friendships develop over the years thanks to your shared passion for music?
Yes, definitely! I would say that most, if not all, friendships during my teens were based on a mutual obsession with music in one way or another.
Aidan has chosen Colony as one of his favorite albums of 2021. How were the reactions in general that you caused with the record?
Overall, the reaction seems to be have been mostly positive! It’s naturally very difficult to evaluate whether the positive reviews amounts to a fair sample of listeners’ opinions. I think that those who dislike an album from an artist on our level tend to stay silent rather than to write a negative review about an infinitesimal underground band singing about space and stuff. Anyway, what’s important for us is that there where a few reviews (Epic Metal Blog’s review being one) which we really savor and which shows that we are onto something.
Can you estimate in which countries Colony was particularly well received?
Sweden, USA and Germany seems to stand out in terms of listeners. USA and Sweden both gets ranked high when it comes to listeners on streaming services. I guess this is quite natural, since we’re a Swedish band on a US label. A bigger surprise is that the country with the highest number of purchases of the physical release is Germany, but I guess this just shows that Germany has always had a good sense of what counts as high culture, haha.
Was there also a review that you were a bit annoyed about? Or was there a text that made you laugh?
Well, I don’t mind when reviewers disagree with us on aesthetic issues, such as our preferred drum sound, or my compositional skills. I do, however, get annoyed when reviewers make factually incorrect statements, like the notion that Per-Olof’s vocals would be out of tune; that’s simply not true. I believe more than one reviewer made the faulty assumption that they are. The vocals might not be to everyone’s liking, but you can trust our judgment when it comes to Per-Olof’s ability to actually hit the right notes. The same cannot always be said about the guitars, though, haha.
How do you yourself look at the record at this point? Many months have passed since the release – are you still completely satisfied with the final result? Or are there aspects where you say: “I definitely want to do that differently on our next album”?
I’m never satisfied, to paraphrase Judas Priest, haha! I’m always looking ahead, thinking about what could be improved upon next time. This mostly comes down to the composition of the music – I hope to be able to move beyond the more traditional verse-chorus structures in future releases. We hope to arrange new songs with a more interesting formal design to them, for instance by spending more time developing the same themes within a song, instead of just juxtaposing different musical ideas without any underlying connection to them. I also think that there is a lot more to be explored in the realm of keyboards for Starscape.
How often have you actually had the opportunity to play your new songs live?
Starscape is currently not a live band. While we don’t completely rule out the possibility of playing live, let’s say that concerts is not our main concern at the moment.
With which bands would you like to go on tour together one day? Dreaming is allowed!
Well, since we don’t currently prioritize live shows, this would definitely go in the dreaming department, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Maiden live every night, if we were on tour with them. That would also mean that I could pester Steve Harris with obnoxious questions about how to write epic metal songs like the man himself.
Are you already working on new Starscape songs?
We sure are! We have a full new album in the pipeline, as well as sketches for at least a third one on the shelf. The recording sessions for our second album were initially rather slow, but we are as of late back on track. It will contain some new elements, both in terms of songwriting and personnel, that we hope to reveal sometime later in the year. It’s safe to say that these are the most ambitious Starscape compositions so far and hopefully a worthy development from the debut. Conceptually, it’s a continuation of Colony, and there are probably some musical similarities, but we strive to take every aspect of songwriting to the next level.
There are many exciting metal bands coming from Sweden. Which band do you personally like the most? And do you have an insider tip for us? A band that we should definitely check out?
When it comes to active bands, I have nothing but the deepest respect for Portrait. Their dark take on classic heavy metal music is truly refreshing. As for the classics of olde, you cannot go wrong with Bathory, or Heavy Load. “A Fine Day to Die” and “Daybreak Ecstasy” are two of my favorite epic metal songs ever. The best contender for an insider tip that I have at the moment is the heavy/power metal band Defender, which released a single album in 1999 called “They Came Over the High Pass”. While the vocals and the production might put some listeners off, I think the songwriting is truly top notch epic metal.
The year 2022 is still quite young. But were there already releases from this year that could really inspire you? And which record are you particularly looking forward to?
I’ve only played it once, but the Luzifer debut is already stuck in my head. The new Hällas album is eagerly awaited – those guys never disappoint. I also think Enforcer is coming out with a new album this year.
Last question: Aidan is a person who is very interested in history. Which personality from Swedish history do you find particularly fascinating?
One that springs to mind is the inventor John Ericsson. Among other things, he helped develop the propeller. More interestingly, though, he designed the USS Monitor, which was an armored war ship for the North, which apparently played a non-negligible role in the naval battles of the American Civil War.
Anton, thank you for your interesting answers and your contribution to our birthday special for Aidan. We can’t wait to listen to your new songs!