BROKE[N]BLUE has been talked about a lot the past few years, since I made several reviews of their demos. Now this Swedish AOR band has released their official debut CD 'Northern light', a fantastic pure AOR album that will please all fans of typical 80s Scandi AOR, Female Fronted AOR and also people who are into BAD ENGLISH, FOREIGNER, JOURNEY, SIGNAL... The fact that their songs appeal to many people, is the fact that they have both a male and a female vocalist and all of their songs are very catchy. I urgerly ask you to buy BROKE[N]BLUE's debut CD. But first read the interview I had with leader Lars Abrahamsson...
Please introduce us your band, when
did you form BROKE[N]BLUE and did any of you play in bands before
Eva Eggesjö-Abrahamsson-Lead and
Peter Gustavsson- Lead and backing vocals
Lars Abrahamsson- Guitars, keys and backing vocals
Ulf Vestlund- Bass and drums
I've been writing songs in different styles for a long time, but never really made any effort to spread the material until late 1999.In december that year, I asked Peter Gustavsson, member of the band SIXPACK, which I’m playing with now and then, if he could do the vocals on a new song, a powerballad Bryan Adams style. The result was "Heaven in my hands". When I published that new song on mp3.com in early spring 2000, I wanted to see if there was any interest at all for this kind of music nowadays. Almost immediately, some Webzines (Strutters! a.o.) showed interest, and wanted to hear more. I also made a lot of e-mail postings to different contacts on the net. The interest grew, and I wrote some more songs, and made new versions of some older songs in the same style. My wife Eva, has been singing lead in a couple of bands I've joined, and of course she's been making the vocals on a lot of demos in our homestudio. I asked her to appear on some songs to put more width to the
material. I was very pleased by the result of using the two voices, and kept on writing new material. A 7-track demo was made and sent around to a lot of magazines, webzines and labels. The interest was so strong that we now decided to make a full-length-album. Ulf Vestlund joined on bass and drums and we began the recording sessions in his studio in nov 2000. Some labels were interested in the project and we finally signed a distribution deal with Maple Leaf Records.
About the past of the members, we all
have been playing in a lot of cover- and original-bands from late 70's up to
today. Ulf is the only one who's fulltime-musician, and plays the bass in top
coverband De Sotos. They are playing with wellknown pop-artists like Tityo,
Jessica Folcker and Andreas Johnsson. He owns Balans Studio where we've done the
recordings, and he's a great musician with a lot of knowledge to build our work
on. He also played this kind of music in the glorious 80's, so I guess he
enjoyed it, playing this stuff again! Eva and I played in different bands
together in the 80's and 90´s and Peter is leadsinger and guitarist of
cover/partyband SIXPACK where I play keyboards, bass and guitar as stand-in
whenever it's needed. SIXPACK also have their roots in melodic band "ANGELIZE"
which recorded some singles back in the 80's.
Can you tell us all about your fantastic debut CD?
Yes, I'm really happy that we could make this album, and that it has been so well recieved, both from fans and magazines. When we started the work in nov 2000, it seemed like it would be an fully independent release, but as the time went by, labels and distributors contacted us and finally we decided to work with Maple Leaf and HangLoose Records. The recordings were made between Nov 2000 and May 2001 at Balans Studio, owned by Ulf.
Ulf is the main-man when it comes to sound and production, and he did a great job creating the sound for the album. The whole project turned out to follow that "blue colour" concept, and so the cover, the bandname and the titletrack made it to an unit for the whole album. We also had some more bluesrock-influenced tracks on the demos, but after a lot of reviews, and as a result of the style of my new songs, we decided to go more for an pure AOR/Melodic album.
I've spent a lot of time to make the album an unit, and to find the right order of the tracks. Some says that after a couple of plays, they have to play the whole album through, with no track skipping. People say it's really hard to find a favourite song, and that is something that really makes me feel like we made a good job.
How did you get in touch with MAPLE LEAF RECORDS, your recordlabel and will the album be officially released in more countries outside Germany?
At first, the contact was made from Target Records and HangLoose Records. They really liked our 7-trackdemo and encouraged us to go on working in the same direction. Robert Pancur at Target Records was the one who set up the contact with Maple Leaf, thanks to him! HangLoose really liked the new promos as well and they wanted to be part of the main order for Germany. These guys got the exclusive right to distribute in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but they can sell it worldwide, non-exclusive, too. I'm dealing with Vinny Records for the Spain/ Portugal area and I also have a distributor in South Africa. There has been a lot of interest from Japan, and I know at least one shop/mailorder which stocks the cd. Since the cd was released in Europe, it's not so easy to get a good deal there, but we sell from here as well and I know HangLoose/Maple Leaf do too. In Sweden the big mailorder www.ginza.se recently added "Northern Light" to their catalog. We'll see if there will be any more deals coming up in the near future, the exposure of the album is pretty high right now.
Your music is pure AOR, which bands influenced you?
Since we all have been playing in the 80's, it's obvious that it has made a lot to the sound and songwriting. In my case, I guess it was from the beginning more the softer style like TOTO, Eagles, Asia and in the mid 80's bands like Europe and Foreigner, Bon Jovi and Journey.I also like the blues-influenced bands like Whitesnake, Coverdale is still one of my favourite vocalists. Later I really liked the albums of Giant and Bad English. All bands that I listened to from late 70's until the 90's influenced my songwriting, and some tracks on the album were actually written in 88-90, so they are really pure 80’s AOR! When it comes to describing Broke[N]Blue, some say a mix of Heart and Roxette, and I think that's a fair description. In other words AOR/melodic mixed with some Westcoast-influences but with a harder edge.
On the album we can hear 2 different
singers, a female and a male vocalist, did you choose to do this and can you
tell us more about these 2 great singers?
Hmm…well, it almost turned out to be two separate projects! The first songs were recorded with Peter, and since Eva has done a lot of vocals on my earlier songs, I wanted her to sing some of the new ones too. The mix was very well recieved by the listeners, but I guess the labels found it confusing… this was not the usual thing! I had some offers that suggested that I should split the project, but we had already recorded a lot of work, and I somehow felt that this was something that could be uniqe for Broke[N]Blue, so we kept on…and as you can read in all the reviews, that’s one of the things that people think is great with this album. It gives a new dimension and a great variety to the whole cd. I’m glad we didn’t break it in two!
The mix of the voices make the great variety, but our three voices are close enough to eachother to make the album "keep together". Regarding Eva and Peter, some ask me how I decide which voice to appear on which song. 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.
The past few years it seems like Scandinavia and Sweden in particular are the places to look for new AOR talent, how it that possible, of course the 80s with EUROPE and MALMSTEEN had a big influence and back then a lot of bands came from Sweden, but in the 90s the scene seemed dead, but now it is like AOR/Melodic Rock and Progressive Metal are really 'hot' in Sweden, can you as a Swedish musician explain how that is possible...
Well, one thing is maybe that Sweden always has been carrying a strong music-tradition, and wherever you go in this country, there's always bands playing and rehearsing at schools, pubs etc. It really is the main interest to many teenagers to play some kind of music, and as you assumed, the big names like Yngwie and Europe, Treat etc are still making influences to younger musicians.
Here in Sweden AOR/Melodic-rock has been struggling to survive during the 90’s. The live scene is minimal, although some of the best bands and releases comes from Sweden. I think the times are changing and we will hear more of this music everyday soon. Many radiochannels are playing pure 80’s music, and Broke[N]Blue managed to get airplay now 3 weeks in a row on a commercial channel in Sweden, RIX FM.
Worldwide this music is getting more and more exposure and I think there’s a wind of change blowing for this genre here too. The internet is a superb media to spread information, for both new and wellknown artists to get promotion at a lot of places and reach millions of people at one time. And it’s free most of the time to use this promotion, which makes it even more fantastic! Without the internet, "Northern Light" would have never been made.
Are there any touring plans to promote
No, sorry, but right now BnB is a pure studioproject. The main thing right now is to promote the cd and to get it exposed in countries, also outside Europe. The live thing will of course have to wait, and I don’t think we make any efforts there, unless there’s a major breakthrough or something like that. BnB has never played live together, but Ulf is playing live all the time with De Sotos, and the rest of the time he produces other artists in his studio. Me and Peter are playing a lot live with SIXPACK, so we’re really busy. Eva, Peter and I also have ordinary "non-music" jobs as well.
Are you already working on new material (if so, tell us about the songs and it's style, still AOR?)
Yes, there is new material for a possible second album, and I also have a lot of earlier written songs which could be used in the future. Some are at the demostage and some are not recorded at all. Now this will of course have to wait, since we're really busy promoting the debutalbum. When things slowdown a bit, we'll take a grip on that new material. We also don't want to hurry with a second album until "Northern Light" has gained exposure enough.
The songs are all in the same good ol' AOR/melodic style. I also hope I will be able to work more together with Peter regarding the songwriting too, he also writes a lot of songs, so I really hope we'll have time to develop that cooperation. We've been talking about co-writing songs for about 3 years now, but it's always lack of time…
What are the plans for the next coming months?
Right now we're busy with all correspondance with fans and distributors, and I hope we can settle some deals with some distributors in UK, USA and maybe Japan. Otherwise, we'll keep on selling the album through the mailorders around the globe. Later this year I will start with some new songs in the homestudio, and maybe we'll put down some tracks in Balans Studio too. It would be great to be more prepared for the 2nd album, I'd like to plan the whole thing from an earlier stage, and maybe be able to take some time off from the regular occupation.
Finally, do you have anything to add
to our readers?
Yes, we'd like to thank everyone involved in making this album possible, and thanks to all people out there downloading and spreading our music. Without all of you- no cd! To those who haven't checked us out yet: take a listen at www.listen.to/l.a.music or www.mp3.com/broke-n-blue and maybe you'd like to get your hands on "Northern Light" too!! Thanks to you Gabor, for taking your time with Broke[N]Blue, it's been a pleasure!