“Are You Ready To Rock” is the third CD by ECLIPSE. Probably, between our readers there will be some people who don’t know you. Can you tell us a bit the ECLIPSE past, your beginnings, etc...?
Erik Martensson: Well, Eclipse was formed in 1999 and we released our first album in 2001 called “The truth and a little more”. That album was a very melodic AoR style of hard rock. After a few line up changes and many other things we moved to a new label (Frontiers Records) it took almost three years before we could release our second album “Second to none” in 2004. After that release the band atmosphere went really bad and we didn’t know in what direction we should take musically. So it ended up with the departure of all members except the guitarist Magnus Henriksson and me. We decided that we should write and play the music that we have always loved and listened to ourselves and the result is the new “Are you ready to rock” album witch points out a new musical direction for us as a band. And I can tell you it has never been more fun to play and write music as it is now. And I promise you that it will not take four years until the next release!
“Are You Ready To Rock” is a perfect title for the work. This CD is more Hard Rock than ever, fresh, with a lot of energy... I think a lot in TALISMAN, PINK CREAM 69 or RIOT, and others Hard And Heavy bands when I listen to the CD. What is your opinion? What did you want to do in this album? Since the first moment, did you think in this title?
Erik Martensson: After listening to the final mixes of the album I came up with the title and we all thought it matched the album perfectly. This is a new start for us as a band and we wanted to make the message very clear!
The production is powerful, specially in the guitars, but the melodic touch and the AOR atmosphere is still present in the keyboards. Who was the producer? Did you want to sound like you were on the stage?
Erik Martensson: Magnus and I produced the album. We wanted a really straightforward very guitar and drum driven sound. We wanted to keep up the strong and brutal energy the songs had and it ended up just as we hade hoped.
Two of my favorites songs are “Hometown Calling”, which is very Hard and dynamic, and “Millions Miles Away”, which has a classic sound I love, and the chorus is incredible. However if I had to choose a single, it would be “To Mend A Broken Heart”. This song has all to be a hit: modern sound, a catchy vocal melody... What is your opinion about these songs? Do you think “To Mend A Broken Heart” is representative of this album?
Erik Martensson: I’m really glad that you like the album and especially those two songs. “Hometown Calling” is a real favorite of mine and “Million Miles Away” is really an outsider on the album but a good one. It differs a little from the rest but it gives the album variation and that is cool. You are definitely right that “To Mend A Broken Heart” is a single. Just as you say it has all the classic melodic elements but it still has a modern package. I think it’s really reprehensive of the album. Strong melodies in a really tough and hard package!
One of the best things in this CD is that your sound mix the best from the past and the present time. There are songs more polished, others darker, but I think this CD can be love by young and old Hard Rock fans without problems. Do you agree with me? In your opinion, which type of public will prefer “Are You Ready To Rock”?
Erik Martensson: We didn’t think of who would buy or listen to this album at all when we made it. We just wrote and recorded the album that we wanted to listen to ourselves. We never thought of how it would be received by the fans, both old and young. It’s a very honest album it that sense.
The cover reminds me LOUDNESS a lot. Why do you choose this cover artwork to represent the music?
Erik Martensson: I actually got the idea during the recordings and we felt that this new album was a revenge for us as a band so we wanted a really powerful album cover. The cover is actually the Japanese War-Naval Flag and Eclipse went out into musical war with this album!
I think your voice and the guitars are the main characters in “Are You Ready To Rock”. There are Heavy riffs, stimulating solos, and your melodic and catchy voice. Do you want to maintain this line in the future, or simply do you want to show your Rock face this time?
Erik Martensson: This is definately a harder path that we have taken this time and we will continue this journey musically. So maybe we will dissapoint a few fans who want us to play the more AoR oriented rock we started out with as a band. Everyone in the band loves this new and harder style and it’s what we listen to ourselves when we put on a album at home.
Finally, if you had to make a brief review for “Are You Ready To Rock”, comparing it with your other works, how would you do it?
Erik Martensson: Stronger, more straightforward and timeless than before.
In this year Sweden have released a lot of good Hard Rock: H.E.A.T. is the first group that I remember now, but in general your country have a great number of things to say in this kind of music. Which groups do you like the most in the Sweden Hard Rock and AOR today scene?
Erik Martensson: I don’t keep up with the scene so much here in
. But of
course I have listened to H.E.A.T. and other bands that up and coming. But I must say that the musical scene here in
is better now that in many years. Sweden
It is curious, but the Hard Rock world is emerging strongest than ever thanks to two labels: Metal and AOR Heaven, and, specially Frontiers. Do you like the Serafino Perugino labor in this music? Do you agree with his form to do the things?
Erik Martensson: I can only speak for Frontiers, as it’s them we work with. But I must say that Frontiers has done so much for the melodic rock scene. While other labels constantly has turned down bands and musicians who play this style Frontiers has given new blood to a scene that was more or less dead ten, fifteen years ago. Hats of!
Erik, you are a producer too. In your opinion, a producer has simply to record an album or he must take part in the creation process too? Are you doing some production work for any band now?
Erik Martensson: I can only speak for myself in this too but personally I really want to be in the creative process while writing the songs as so much is done in that process. Just now I’m producing a new album for Frontiers Records with Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. I’m mixing the album right now and it will be absolutely fantastic. A true gem in the melodic rock scene!
You have a personal voice, in the chorus is very catchy and melodic, but you have an aggressive touch too in the rockiest songs. Do you compose all the vocal melodies? Do you think a good singer not only has to sing but also he has to be dramatic, to be part of the song? I have seen a lot of singers that are perfect technically but they don’t have enthusiasm when they sing...
Erik Martensson: When I sing I always try to do it in a way that fits the songs best. If it’s an aggressive track then I sing aggressive, if it’s a softer one I’ll adjust my vocal performance to that. I just don’t do my own thing and then leave it. I always push myself to give it all for the song I’m doing at the moment. But I always lay down the lead vocals very quickly. Often it only takes 30-40min to do the lead vocals on one song. I know singers that can keep on working for days on just one song but that are nothing for me. I just go for the first impression and stick to that. The vocals are the bridge from the music to the listener so it’s without question the most important thing in a song.
When ECLIPSE was born, the Hard Rock began to live a second youth. In the nineties this kind of music was destiny for a minority, but now there a lot of good bands again. What is your opinion? Which bands do you prefer now?
Erik Martensson: I’m really glad that the interest in this music is growing stronger. When you attend a hard rock concert today it feels like you’ve been transferred back to 1988 sometimes. People are starting to dress like they did back then. I like a lot of bands that are coming today. But at the same time I still listen a lot to the old classics from the 80’s.
I have ever said that nowadays any kind of music has many bands, but there is less selection between them. In the past, the label had to select the best, but now with a computer and Internet, everyone can promote his band without a label. Is this better or worst for the music? What is your opinion?
Erik Martensson: It’s hard to say. Personally it’s great for us as we have a smaller label and can benefit from Internet promotion. But it’s a lot of bands that release really crappy records. In this genre I think only a few releases out of hundred is really great. Many have bad production, weak songs and are just boring to listen to. But then there are bands like Eclipse...
Returning to ECLIPSE, which plans do you have for the band? Do you want to make some tour in the next future?
Erik Martensson: We are planning on live gigs as we speak. We have a few dated set and we have had offers for European tours but nothing is settled at the moment. When we know everything will be announced at our web site. But we will soon start to write new material for a new album.
Thanks a lot for your time Erik, if you want to say something more to our readers this is the moment!!
Erik Martensson: Keep on rocking boys and girls. Hope that you enjoy listening to our new album and see you on the road in a near future!