Its been 6 years since GI's last album, but now the melodic rockers from Sweden return to the scene. All of which means that Woody gets on the blower and catches up with main man, Anders Rydholm...
Hi Anders, this is Woody from Midlands Rocks, hope you are well.
Hi Woody. I am fine yes, and it's nice to do this interview with you. Thanks for thinking of us!!
Your band Grand Illusion has a new album “Brand New World” in the UK via the AOR Heaven Label. It has been six years since the last album, what are the reasons behind the long gap?
Well, basically, we’d ended the band in May 2005 because we felt the need to work with other people and it’s taken this amount of time for us to find a new level again and reconnect. We didn't really agree on the level of commitment needed to run the band at that time. Per Svensson (vox) and I have been working on lots of different albums together during the break up - Code in 2005 - 2006, Overland in 2007 and 4 albums with Japanese artist H.E. Demon Kogure, whilst Peter Sundell (vox) recorded an album with Torben Enevoldsen under the moniker, Decoy, so we were not idle, but we just needed time to refresh, I guess. I had been playing with Per since 1980 and with Peter since 1982, so we just needed new input, I think! It sounded so fresh when we got back together though! I don’t think we’ve ever worked so hard on an album!
I think a reunion was always at the back of our minds… but it was H.E Demon Kogure himself that really got the ball rolling. In 2008 (during a tour in Japan), Demon asked me to try and bring Peter and Per together to sing backing vocals for his third album, and as soon as Peter said yes, we both realised that we had missed working together, and we recorded a couple of new songs just to check out what would happen. The results were tremendous, so we decided to try to make that a full GI album and a comeback. “Brand New World” is the result!
I think the new album has a more commercial straight ahead AOR sound, compared to the previous albums, which have a more quirky and pomp fuelled sound. Was this a conscious decision to make a more accessible sound or just a natural evolution of the band?
Not at all. I think it's really only a natural development; Grand Illusion as it should sound 6 years later! The songs for the last GI. album, "Ordinary Just Won't Do", were written in 2003; it's totally impossible to get back into the same mood and feelings I had then and from where we left off. 6 years of working with other people, new impressions, new musical influences etc., is bound to have some effect. The way I arrange and the sound itself has changed since then. Our focus has been to do an album with songs that we ourselves felt constituted a great Grand Illusion album, and I think that’s exactly what “Brand New World” delivers!
You mentioned other influences there… Have you worked on or with any significant bands/albums during Grand Illusion’s hiatus?
I think I pretty much dealt with that question above… The Demon albums were particularly strong for me because I was producing in a totally different environment to working here in Sweden. It was a wonderful experience and led to Demon actually appearing on this album… In fact, it led to this album!!
So, how do you feel about how “Brand New World” has turned out and how do you think it compares to the bands previous output?
I don’t think you can compare them, but we all are very pleased with this album and I rate it very highly. Personally, I think this album and "View From The Top" are our best records…. But the musicality and musicianship is much better on this one. “View From The Top" has a glow and fire that is very engaging, this one has the same wonderful energy, but then, it's hard to compare them; you get tired listening to your own music.
What are your personal favourites from the album and any reasons why?
It really depends on what mood I am in. But the best four songs for today's mood are:
1) “Never Find Her Alone” – because it has a great melody and great vocal performance. It’s a song that really grows on you.
2) “All Out Love” – which is a simple, melodic song with a catchy melody and hook.
3). “Burning Bed” – because we had so much fun recording this song and it's really fun to play... I see it’s getting a lot of airplay too, which is nice.
Then, 4). “Forever With You” – because it’s simply one of the best ballads I have ever written with a great lyric!
Are there any musicians out there that you would love to work with now? Some of the guests on the record have impressive CV’s!
Yes, they were a real joy to record with. Greg, who did the drums, is an incredibly talented musician, and Tim Pierce and Mike Slamer (guitars) were wonderful inspirations. I’m a huge fan of both of them, as are we all!
There are many great musicians that I would love to work with, of course: Steve Lukather, Dann Huff, Michael Landau, David Foster, Bill Champlin, Mickey Thomas, Bobby Kimball, Richard Page, and that’s just to name a few.
I am very much influenced by the LA scene of the 1980's. It’s probably pretty tough to get hold of some of the people from that era that really inspired me, but you never know? On this album we got the chance to work with several of our musical heroes and it's a great feeling. I wouldn't mind working with some more if we could get the chance! Recording in LA. was wonderful, and I hope to be able to do it again!
How do you see the state of the Melodic Rock scene in 2010 and what are your opinions?
It feels like Melodic Rock is really coming back. The big bands are returning and there are a lot of new really good bands following on behind those with the guts to try to succeed. The problem is that most acts don't sell enough albums to make it economically possible to work full time on a band today, so you need to have something else, like teaching or production behind you, to sustain what you want to do. 3 weeks before the release of our album it was already out on the torrent sites? This is a hard blow for us financially and I think, most other bands have the same problem?
Would you change your style in order to gain more exposure and success?
Personally, I think it's too late for that now. We are too old to make it as pop artists or in any other style, really. We are what we are and we play the music we all like. I have written pop music, musicals, and classical music and I will continue with that too; it’s what I was alluding to at the beginning, where we were talking about working with other people and in other genres…. I like writing in different styles and a good song can be arranged in many different ways; it just has to have a great melody. Grand Illusion is a melodic band and will stay melodic!
Do you find being a musician within a scene with such a small hardcore fan base frustrating?
No. I am very proud of what we do and what we have achieved. Of course, we would like to sell more albums but this is the music we like and the fan base we hope will like us. Without the hardcore fans we would be nothing at all. We do this because it's fun!”
I know you have an exclusive appearance at this years Firefest, but is there any chance of the band playing anymore gigs in the UK in the future?
Why Not? Being a better and more active live band is one of our main goals for this reunion. We have actually just stared rehearsals this week and it has been a lot of fun. We actually rehearsed twice this week alone so its' a good start. If anyone is interested in having us play in the UK in the future, come along to Firefest, check us out and just give us a call!
What bands / artists are you currently listening too?
Right now, the latest new albums I have are Treat's new album and Crash Diet! My son loves this album and it's not bad at all... And today, I’ve also been listening to an old Kenny Loggins album when I was out for a walk this afternoon – that’s one of my personal, favourite moments for listening to music. Kids are great ‘cause they open your eyes and ears to new things. I don't have the time needed to check out as much new music as I would want but my sons help me, because they’re both musicians and they absorb so much of the new stuff that is out there!
What does the future hold for Grand Illusion?
I think, a much more active Grand Illusion!! Hopefully with many more albums and many more live gigs. The future looks really good now. We have our style and we will stick to that cause this is the music that we love. Great melodies, catchy hooks, lots of vocals and arrangements with a twist. Right now, I am writing new songs again and it's been a very inspired and productive time!”
Is there anything you would like to add or say to Midlands Rocks readers?
Yes... Just, please give us a chance and check us out on MySpace, YouTube or Facebook. There you will find lots of samples and we’d love to hear what you think. And if you have the chance, it would be great to meet you all at Firefest in late October!! We hope as many of you as possible can come down!!
Thanks and Take care!!