This is the 'In The Spotlight' page. We venture up into the cold reaches of Northern Sweden, where the local heroes are Broke N Blue. They've been featured throughout this site, both on our MP3 page as well as a review of their recent seven track demo. They are perhaps an indication, and a good example of what the power of the Internet and MP3.COM can do to a budding outfit, calling on their talent rather than their marketing ability to get their material. We at HOTR are definite fans of theirs. Here is their current lineup..
Lars Abrahamsson - guitars, keyboards; Eva Abrahamsson - vocals; 
Peter Gustavsson - vocals; Ulf Westlund - bass, drums

Main man Lars Abrahamsson is still working on putting the finishing touches to the material which will make up their forthcoming album early in 2001. Editor George Thatcher gets a few words in with Lars.

HOTR: Thanks very much for letting us have a listen to your demo material. We are very impressed with the quality of Broke N Blue's material so far. You guys seem to be getting better and better. Whats the secret?

Lars: Thanks for that, it really encourages us to make even better songs for the future! I think the first songs were pure ideas, influenced from other songs, a riff or anything like that, but the new ones are more written exclusively for B-n-B to get a complete collection of great melodies for the full length album. I always write the songs with melody as a primary, but I like to get variation in style and to use the difference in the vocals of Peter and Eva. Another cause is that when you get a response from the audience, in this case via Internet and MP3.COM, you get excited and work even harder to do better songs all the time.

HOTR: We raved about your seven track promo earlier in the year. You've now got two new tracks 'I Will Be There' and 'Enuff'. It seems to me to be moving in a pure melodic rock direction, and not so pop oriented. Would that be a fair statement?

Lars: Well.. I wouldn't say so, it's more that those two new songs were the first ones to be finished in the studio, and sent around to labels/record-stores to show a hint of what the final product would be like. Right now I'm working on a track that is more westcoast/AOR sounding like some of the tracks from the seven track demo.

HOTR: I love them by the way. Is this the sort of stuff we may hear in the final selection towards your coming album?

Lars: Yes of course, the album will hold those two songs, most of the tracks from the demo in new recorded versions and then three or four new songs. Songs similar to the promo single could be 'Back Again' and 'Needed To Believe' for example.

HOTR: Eva's voice sounds so much more at home on these tracks. It's very catchy and radio oriented. How do you differentiate between material for her as well as for Peter (Gustavsson) your other lead singer?

Lars: Well, that's not so obvious sometimes... If I'm building the tune on a riff that is to be played in a certain key, I could use either vocalist, Peter is able to sing as high as Eva! Sometimes it has to do with the lyrics and the mood of the song who's doing the lead . I have a great resource here, since they both can do superb vocals on both soft stuff and harder pieces.

HOTR: You've got a new boy on the block in Ulf Westlund on bass and drums. How has he fitted on so far?

Lars: Very good! Ulf is a good friend and a good musician, he owns the Balans Studios where we're recording, so it was very natural with him playing the drums and the bass.He's fulltime bass-player in one of the top-coverbands of Sweden, De Sotos and he's playing with some of the most well-known artists of the country. Since he has recorded and produced a lot of music in his studio, it is worth a lot having him onboard when making this album.

HOTR: Are you thinking of introducing any new people into the mix for the album, or will it be purely an in-house thing?

Lars: Well, I'm used to arrange and play all instruments by myself, so I don't think there's gonna be additional musicians. It's very good to have Ulf in the project, then I can concentrate on the guitars and keys. Usually I always play the bass, and since I haven't been playing the drums for a long time, I normally use mididrums and loops. Drum-programming is rather time-consuming, and only a compromise in this kind of music, I think. Now we get the real thing on the album!

HOTR: I gotta hand it to the Swedes. By far the best MP3 material I've heard comes from there. The likes of Jar, Blind Alley. How are you going with stitching a record deal together?

Lars: There has been a lot of interest from both labels and mail-order stores, so there is definately a market for our music. I've had some offers but nothing is written yet. Until then, it's going to be an independent release.

HOTR: You know, from some of the artists we've spoken to, it's better to strike on your own in terms of a record label, and keep control of your material. Has this crossed your mind during your search for a suitor?

Lars: Yes for sure! I mean nowadays, when you put up your songs on MP3.COM and they produce and distribute your stuff all over the world, you've already got your record-deal! You get 50% per cd, and that's not a bad deal when your unknown and unsigned! Main interest in the coming album is from Middle Europe and there's maybe a deal for Germany, depending on the terms. Otherwise we'll release it as independent and if there's any distributors out there, just give us a call on the net...

HOTR: Apart from those nine tracks which you've put out as promo's, how many more do you have ready to go?

Lars: Now just before Christmas, we're laying the last tracks on two songs with Peter on lead vocals, and there's the closing track with Eva. This song is only in a raw-version now, and I'm very curious in what Eva will make this suggestive tune into. I'm also having a power-ballad in style of 'Heaven In My Hands' written for Eva, but I don't know if it will appear on the CD. It depends on the total mix of songs and the balance between them.

HOTR: What are you expecting the predominant style to be? That pop/West Coast feel or more of rock thing?

Lars: I'd say its' about 50/50, but some of the new tracks aren't finished yet and they are a more melodic rockers, so it maybe will lean a little more towards that melodic rock style.

HOTR: It's hard to say just what the market's leaning is towards AOR and melodic rock. Have you had any desire to perhaps change Broke N Blue's style and compromise with what's popular at the moment?

Lars: No way, I'm so tired of what's modern or hip at the moment. To me,it's all about music,and good music never dies, it's just the fashion that changes. When I'm writing songs, I try to catch the melodies in a way so you should be able to hear them now, or in ten years, still thinking "this is a nice song". Of course, the production and sound means a lot, but with lousy songs, it doesn't help no matter how good the package is.

HOTR: Have there been enquiries about getting a proper website together for Broke N Blue to increase your exposure?

Lars: Yes, I started out working with a homepage, presenting all my projects and different bands I'm joining, but then it all took off when I published 'Heaven In My Hands' on MP3.COM, and since then I've been busy recording songs and distributing demos to magazines, labels and listeners. When the album is out I'll put in an effort and make an official site with more info than what's available at MP3.COM.

HOTR: You've got all your promo material up on MP3.COM, how has the feedback been for you from out there in Web World? (ourselves excluded, you can read our rave review on the HOTR site).

Lars: Oh, without MP3, internet and all sites and Webzines supporting AOR, I'd still be sitting at home, writing songs to put in the drawer... It's an fantastic opportunity for all unknown bands and musicians to publish and spread their music worldwide. It's no use going the common way, calling all your record labels in the country and send tons of tapes/cd's just to get: "oh the music is ok, it's just not what we're looking for right now.." when you've got a potential world-market in your own computer. Thanks to HOTR and other similar websites such as Strutterzine, Catchy Hooks etc, people get aware of all the good music that is not coming from the big labels.

HOTR: I suppose I'd better ask the obvious. Do you have an anticipated arrival date for your debut album, and does it have a working title as yet?

Lars: No, no release date is set, but we're counting on Feb/Mar next year. It all depends on how we manage to schedule the studio-time. We're also playing live all the time with partyband SIXPACK, where Peter is lead singer and guitarist. The working title for the album is 'Northern Light', coming from the closing track. I think it's an appropriate title for a CD from a band high up in the chilly Northern Scandinavia...

HOTR: Well you're heading into the deepest recesses of winter, whilst down under, we're enjoying cold beers and barbecues and plenty of sunshine. I hope your home studio is warm, and I also hope that you're able to achieve your goal of getting an album out in 2001. Best of luck Lars, and we'll touch base early in the new year.

Lars: Thanks George, for showing interest in Broke-N-Blue, and for keeping the AOR/Melodic fire burning!!!



To read the review of their seven track demo, click here.
Visit Broke N Blue at their website:
To contact Lars Abrahamsson

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