M.ill.ion interview

BJ Laneby bassist with M.ill.ion who have a new album ‘Sane And Insanity’ out now on Metal Heaven…

Hiya BJ… What are you currently up to at the moment?

“Hi Jason; good to hear from you! Our new album is out in a couple of weeks, so a lot’s going on. It’s called “Sane And Insanity” and is going to be a really special release for the band… Talk-wise, I’m doing a lot of interviews at the moment; we’re getting great reactions to the album; and playing-wise we’re working on a new set list for the upcoming shows. And I got a new Thunderbird bass delivered the other day too, so all is going well!”

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Could you take us through the songs on the excellent new album then? I’m loving it…. (e.g. story behind the songs, songwriting process etc)

“Thank you; I’m so glad you like it!! OK, I´ll try…”
“I’ve been in the band since day 1, but this album was very satisfying because it was very much a band process. Everybody brought something to the table on this one and we jammed much more than on the previous one (Thrill Of The Chase).”

“CRY TO HEAVEN” kicks us off and it’s a really cool opening track. I heard this great riff first in the middle of a demo Ulrich (Carlsson – vocals) had brought in. When he played it to me I said, “I have to have that riff! Let’s start a song with that!” And, we basically went from there. Basically, it’s Ulrich’s idea and lyrics, but we all added things to it. I remember we had a big problem with finding a good chorus, but I got the idea of bringing in an old one we had written for a song that hadn’t made it on to the “Kingsize” album originally? I think it was called “Hang ‘Em High” then? It suits the idea really well, don’t you think?”

“Then comes “EVERYDAY HERO”. One of the first tracks written and recorded for the album, it’s one of those songs that came together very quickly and naturally; on the first writing session, actually. Me, our drummer Per (Westergren) and Andreas (Grovle), our new guitar player, spent a weekend at an old house more or less in the wilderness….. We brought our gear and an old tape recorder and yeah, maybe some beer, whiskey and wine, Ha! Ha!? And we just went for it! Very, very good fun, very creative! The jamming was recorded, of course, and when I listen to those tapes today, I can hear a lot of ideas and songs that actually ended up on the final album. “Everyday Hero” turned out to be a favourite for all of us. That particular song is mixed by Tobias Lindell (who did Europe, etc..), and it’s amazing!”
“It turned out to be the first single and video too! The video is filmed in some old industrial complex, in our hometown Gothenburg, and there’s no “trying to act” going on; it’s just great energy HD shots of the band rocking out in a cool environment!”
“You can check it out here Jason! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HA05EcG-dA
“Hope you like it!”

“Next track is “TOMORROW NEVER DIES” and that’s an idea from our new keyboard player Angelo (Modafferi); we just developed it into this really melodic song. A bit of Magnum, a bit of Purple and a great M.ILL.ION song, I think!”

“I RAISE MY GLASS” –
“This is an old riff I’ve had from the early days that we worked out a new song for. Lyrically, it’s trying to say Cheers! to all the great musicians that inspired me in my life and that have gone upstairs way too early; Phil Lynott, Cozy Powell, Rory Gallagher, Brad Delp, Bon Scott, Ronnie James Dio, etc.. Those of your readers that buy the album can check out the booklet for more details about that. Looks like it will be included in the new set list too!”

“SANE AND INSANITY”, the title track comes next!”
“That’s a very powerful track which we recorded on the first studio session again. Ulrich had this great Sabbath-esque idea for it and sings his ass off on the track. Again, we all added bits and pieces that gave it interesting character; and I think Angelo’s keyboards really lift the song to another dimension! The most important thing must, of course, be that I play Wah… on the bass on this one! Ha! Ha! No, seriously, we think “Sane & Insanity” is a cool track and a powerful title for the album. It really stood up!”

“After that it’s “HELL´S GATE”…. That’s based around a great guitar riff that Andreas brought in, actually. Heavy lyrics and a rocking track that came together pretty quickly.”

“UNDER YOUR WINGS” –
“This is another song that changed musically through time to be honest. Looking back, we had a demo with this lyric back in the “Kingsize” days too (around 2004), but it had a totally different style back then. Great ‘true story’ lyrics from Per about him leaving northern Sweden for L.A., as a teenager, too! Totally alone! Within days, he ends up living at a very famous and inspirational musician (and singers) house and this is the story of what happened. Who is it? You have to check the booklet! LOL!!”

“FUEL TO MY HEART” –
This is actually one of my favourites on this record. I think it turned out really well. It’s another collaboration with all the guys involved. I had a basic idea of a soft intro and riff that, with everybody’s inspiration, really developed into this beautiful piece. Again, Per has written some very personal lyrics. And, some of the arrangements involve work from Martin Kronlund that just got worked out in the mixing part of the record.”

“The next three tracks are; ”DRAMA QUEENS” – one of the fastest and more intense tracks on the album. That’s real fun to play. It was another one of those song ideas that came right out of those first tape recording sessions I told you about earlier. Andreas’ riff and great drumming from Per! My lyric is about people in life that always seems to have drama surrounding them. Something problematic is always happening and although they are often good people when everything’s calm, they suck way too much energy out of you when it isn’t, you understand? And that’s often… Maybe you know the type?”

“TEST OF TIME” –
“Very much my song this, and I think it turned out pretty cool. A really good ‘Jammy’ vibe; very rocking and great playing from all involved. In the demo stage, it was called ‘Purple/Maiden’…., and that gives you an idea…? My lyrics are all about the ‘here-today/gone tomorrow’ artists that seem to pop up on certain TV shows and competitions every year/month, even week? It’s a possible set list candidate!”

“HATE” –
“To be honest, I had absolutely nothing to do with this one, apart from shouting the “backing vocals”. It’s an Ulrich and Andreas song. It certainly has some good parts but it’s not one of my personal favourites; then, you can’t love them all, can you?”

“And then, lastly, there’s ”SEIZE THE DAY”..
“Great song in my book, and I love the arrangement. I think it combines melody and great atmosphere, rocking pretty decently. The subject matter is: ‘everyday above ground is a good day. Take care of your life and those you love. You never know when it´s over…!”
“A really suitable album closer and certainly not a filler.”

You mentioned Martin Kronlund there BJ. How did he become involved in co-producing the new album?

“Simply, I phoned him up! The album is actually produced by the band, but it’s mixed at Martin’s JM Studio…. I spent 10 days together with him, and we got along great.”

What do you think he added to the album’s overall feel and sound?

“Well, I think Martin really understood what we were after right from the off and with his skills, translated this into a great sound. We were already aware of each other, of course, but somehow haven’t worked together before. It turned out that Martin and I shared a lot of common ground. We’re about the same age, have lots of the same experiences in both the music ‘biz’ and real life, and have similar tastes in music. And yeah: Humour too. Many laughs were had.”

“He’s a great professional and a really nice guy. He understood what I said and I liked what he did. I think the result is pretty obvious on the record.”

How did the band hook-up with the two new members Andreas Gavle and Angelo Modafferi?

“Well, Andreas is a youngster living in the same area as our singer Ulrich. I found out through Ulrich that he was a M.ILL.ION fan. And when I checked the Internet, I ran into some clips of him playing really, really good guitar. I talked to Ulrich about it and although he thought maybe he was a bit too young and inexperienced, he phoned him up to ask him if he wanted to audition? And, did he? LOL!!!”

“We had a bunch of recommended guitarists to audition, but Andreas stood out. We tested him on tour first. Our friends in Magnum asked us to be special guests for them on their last tour in Sweden, so we did those dates with Andreas. He stepped right into the fire and stood the test very well. He’s a fucking great guitarist with influences from blues to classic rock, and even to metal. He has great tone and melody, which is very important. Listen to guys like Michael Schenker and Gary Moore (R.I.P)…. That’s the way to do it in my book and Andreas has the feeling that all the ‘down-tuned-to-hell’ metal-guitarists around the world would just dream of. He’s got a great sense of humour as well; that’s very fundamental in this gang, and he really looks the part…., Ha! Ha!”

“With Angelo Modafferi, he basically answered an add in a music paper. Him and I got along really well on the phone and he sent me some cool stuff to listen to. Then I met him for coffee (or was it beer, maybe?) and we talked for hours, still getting along great. He then auditioned and we all liked the vibe, so he got the job pretty much straight away. He’s an experienced musician, has a great sense of humour and is a very sociable guy!”

Are there any plans to re-release the earlier M.ill.ion albums with extras such as unreleased songs, live versions etc.. It’s been a while since some of them came out!

“Yes, I’d like to do that! We have six “Decent!!” albums done and we are in talks regarding bringing them all out again! Watch our web page for more info about that: http://www.myspace.com/millionized

How easy/hard is it to get a decent run of live dates? Ideally, which bands would you like to tour with and why?

“It’s actually pretty easy if you’re prepared to play for nothing or even pay to play, Ha! Ha! Too many bands do that these days and it takes the value out of it. We’re certainly no ‘prima-donnas’ or anything like that, but after 7 albums we just want to be treated with some respect. Arrange the gigs properly and we’ll come and kick your crowd’s behind! It looks like many want us to come and play for them right now and we can’t wait! This M.ill.ion line up rocks, I can tell you! There’s a big chance we’ll be returning to the UK on this album too; I’m really looking forward to that. We’ve had a great time the three times we’ve been there before.”
“As to which bands we’d like to tour with… We’ve been playing with several bands that were very inspirational and rewarding, but on a bigger scale, maybe…..; Iron Maiden; because they have really big audiences; they’re British (we seem to get a long well with British bands and the fans), and it would be cool to chat with Steve Harris about basses. We seem to have some things in common: he’s the bass player; he started the band; he’s a football fanatic and, he’s a big fan of my buddy and hero Pete Way! Did I mention Maiden are great? Ha! Ha!”

“….Whitesnake… Great songs, great musicians & Coverdale is, of course, one of the all time greats. They attract both guys and females, and: I think many ‘Snake fans would appreciate us as well?”

“…..KISS… Getting to see the greatest show on earth every night seems alright to me, hey? Maybe we could attract some Kiss fans as well? They sold millions and we are named M.ill.ion, so there you go?”

“Then there’s also, of course, Purple, Sabbath, UFO, Aersomith, Journey etc…..”

“On a lower level, I think we’d do really well with bands like TNT, Pretty Maids, Gotthard (R.I.P Steve Lee!), etc..”

How has your style of playing changed through the years and what advice would you give to budding bassists?

“To be honest, I don’t practice that much and I’ve never had the ambition to become a technical virtuoso. Of course, I appreciate guys like Billy Sheehan, who’s unbelievable, but rock music to me comes foremost from the heart and your sex and it has to have energy and roughness. To me, it’s not just about perfection, mathematics or sports.”

“Listen to the style of the players you’re attracted to, and play along with the songs that get you rocking. And, find a good band to play them together with. Then you develop your own music from there. And, kick ass on stage! Who said the bass player must be in the background with the guitar high up, looking at your feet, eh?”

“Some of the guys that got me going originally were people like Phil Lynott, Geezer Butler, Cliff Williams, Roger Glover and of course Pete Way! He’s the coolest rocker! Gene Simmons is actually a very underrated bass player too. You can hear that he’s inspired by McCartney, and that’s no bad thing! Geddy Lee of Rush is brilliant and Lemmy’s distortion wall, is frightening… that guy is loud!! Very inspiring!”

“There´s thousands of better musicians than me out there but anyway; I have recorded seven albums with my band now and are sponsored by the greatest bass amp company in the world (EBS), so at least, I must have done something good?”

Do you think there’s been an upswing in interest in melodic/hard rock of late given the success of Journey via ‘Glee’, rock songs being used on games and specialist magazines like ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Classic Rock Presents AOR’ being published?

“Yes, and I hope it continues. Today the so called ‘alternative’ music is the mainstream and it’s time for rock to kick back!”

In this age of downloads and declining CD sales, has the Internet helped you to get your music out there or has it in some ways hindered it by websites offering free downloads etc.?

“Actually, I think it works side by side. I’m not blind; I can see that our songs are illegally available for download on many places on the Internet…. In one way, it’s good PR., spreading the news about us. On the other hand, I just hope that many people will buy the real album, get the booklet etc., as it’s the best way to support the guys behind the music. We worked our butt off and the production’s cost a lot of money. I download too, but I buy the actual albums when they’re out. If you don’t, people will stop creating new music. And we don’t want that, do we? We hope you appreciate our work!”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

“Having a glass of red wine; watching football (I’m a big Liverpool fan); reading as many books as I can find the time to, and of course, enjoying my family. We’ve got twin baby boys, born last year and I love them more than anything. I’m now the father of four brilliant boys, nearly half a football team? The Laneby’s! How cool is that!”

Anything else to add and a message for your fans…

“Yes… If you like what you hear, please go and buy the album. Cheers for Your support! Get in touch through our website which is: http://www.myspace.com/millionized……
…..And our Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Million-Band/151206321576792

“Hope to see you on tour! ‘Seize the Day’ everybody! Cheers to you Jason! Keep up the good work!”

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