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Hal Marabel (Bad Habit)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 12:18 by Paul Woodward

Interview by Woody

MR: Hi Hal, this is Woody from Midlands Rocks in the UK; I hope you’re doing well!

HM: I’m good thanks Woody!

The new Bad Habit album “Atmosphere” has just been released on the AOR Heaven label; what has the initial response to the album been like?

Yes, it came out at the end of January… The feedback from the fans has been amazingly positive; and that’s also carried over to most of the media as well!! We’re very pleased so far… I think our slightly harder AOR style suits a wider audience in this day and age.

Has the album turned out as you had hoped? And what are your favourite songs on the album?

Yes actually the album turned out exactly as we envisioned it would… And that’s always nice… You always hope that what you initially hear (in your head) finishes up on the record!   As far as personal favourites, it’s hard to pick one since they keep changing all the time; but looking at the play counter on my Ipod here, the most played songs are: “In The Heat Of The Night”, “Words Are Not Enough”, “Everytime You Cry” and “Fantasy”. I like the hooks and the overall energy of those songs!!

Bad Habit hasn’t been the most prolific of bands in regards to how often you actually release an album, but this album follows hot on the heels of last year’s “Best Of” & the 2009 album “Above & Beyond”. Have you struck a multi album deal with AOR Heaven and hit a rich vein of creativity?

Well, it’s not so different really from any other band…. Our record deal set up is very strong; we’ve done the deal with AOR Heaven whenever there have been the right circumstances… But we always follow our creative flow, and I guess there’s just been a little bit more of it lately? There are key things that have created that….

Yes, I’m sure most fans of the band are happy that the band have been releasing more material frequently, I know I am! Why have there been lengthy gaps over the years in the bands activity?

Hard to say…. During certain periods in the band’s history, the urge to record has not always been there, you know? And when it isn’t, we didn’t want to force things… Nothing good comes out of forcing the pace or trying to do something that doesn’t feel perfect. So, we just wait for the next revelations to hits us, and pick up the stream then!

Atmosphere” is another fantastic album from the band, full of big choruses & heartfelt lyrics! The band in my opinion has always delivered classy albums and hasn’t released a bad album. Is it hard to maintain this level of quality?

Thanks, you’re very kind, but not really if you stick to your principles… Yeah, you’re absolutely right… Giving it your very best, obviously increases the challenge for the next time around when you need to either outdo your previous performance, or do something different; but I always like a good challenge and the band is as strong as it has been right now, so why not take advantage of this situation?

Also another thing, there are no two Bad Habit albums which sound the same, essentially it’s all in under the “Melodic Rock/AOR” umbrella, but every album has its own feel and identity. Is this something the band has always strived to achieve or just natural progression of the song writing in the band?

It’s natural I would say. Realistically, we never really know what to expect ourselves… but we do feel very confident in our ability, very comfortable in our ability to be flexible in our approach to melodic rock, and it flows from there... It would be really boring just doing the exact same thing, over and over again…

“Atmosphere” seems to have combined the heavier guitar edge of 2005 album “Hear-Say” with the smoother AOR aspect of the last album “Above & Beyond”. Again was this a natural progression for the band, or fan pressure to adopt a heavier stance to your music?

Again natural… There was really no pressure from any direction as to the direction or approach to this album… It was more a joint mindset in the band, that the approach this time should be heavier than on ‘Above…’, but yet, a bit more airy and melodic than on ‘Hear-say’….

My favourite Bad Habit album is “Adult Orientation”; will we ever see a return to that stripped down, pure AOR side of the band?

Possibly; I can’t really say… The “Above And Beyond” album was a spin-off to ‘Adult…’, having a similar approach in its production, but you can never re-create the exact conditions of something you’ve done before, so, of course, your output will be slightly different every single time!

I know this isn’t an easy question but is there much chance of seeing the band live in the UK in support of the new album?

That’s a tough one…We are in contact with some clubs around Europe (the UK included) so we sure hope so? If we can secure the practicalities, we’re off straight away!!

Do you get many opportunities to play live in Sweden? Are there more opportunities for Melodic Rock bands in your homeland to play live or is it pretty similar to how hard it is here in the UK?

Sadly, it’s pretty hard here too, unfortunately!! I’m hoping it can change - maybe it will if there’s enough bands out there playing, but it’s hard to get people to come out of hiding for live bands here, and the club owners are reluctant to book rock bands because of it!

One thing the band get accused of from time to time, is “fantasy” lyrics and that being a turn off. Personally some of the deeper lyrics you write are what draw me into the band; I don’t read them as fantasy at all. How do you deal with that criticism?

I haven’t heard too much of that feedback in our communication with the fans and the press, but I can definitely understand it if some people have had issues with our simplistic approach to lyrics over the years? The main reason for that is pretty much because there’s so much negative stuff going on in the world around us right now! We choose not to sing about it… We want our lyrics to have an air of hope and the positive, for things to come! We want to connect with the most powerful of all things more than the negative… Love is one of the most powerful things you can feel. We want to keep things simple…As they really are! There’s no reason to complicate things!

How songs about relationships, love and emotions are ‘fantasy’ is beyond me, Ha! Ha!. Yes there are bands out there that fall foul of clichéd lyrics, but then that’s not something confined to melodic rock. The top of the charts, worldwide, are topped by clichéd cheesy lyrics right across the board…. Do you ever feel like people, especially in the mainstream media, are out to put the band down just because you’re a melodic rock band regardless of the genuine quality of lyrics and music?

People will always like different things… Music included… Sure, sometimes there will be some not so positive feedback, but it’s all part of the real world and you need to be strong enough to deal with it. You just need to stay true to yourself and what you believe in, and in doing so, show people that nothing out there can touch you!

I saw you guys perform at ‘Firefest Friday’ a few years back and I thoroughly enjoyed your short set. I think the band did well despite the technical issues and bad sound on the night and the crowd seemed to love you. What was your FF experience like for you and how did you take the fans reactions that night?

Well, despite all the problems, it was still a great gig and we took great heart from the reaction because, despite the technical problems, the feedback from the crowd was excellent; the band was wonderfully treated and we really had a great time!

What music are you currently listening to?

All kinds really… and I think that this keeps me inspired as well? There is always something new to write about, whether it be for Bad Habit or for other projects?  I listen to everything from Metal to R&B; each genre has its own gems… And I never forget, a good song, is always a good song, no matter what the style is!

If Bad Habit could go on tour with any band at the moment who would it be and why?

Hmm, interesting question! I could picture playing with quite a few bands, but at the top of the wish-list for all band members? That one band? It would definitely be Journey right now! They have inspired us a lot and it would be one hell of a bill, that’s for sure!

Bad Habit have been around a long time and had some mainstream success early on; what have been your personal highlights of the bands progress over the years?

Well, there’s been some really memorable moments, but releasing the “Young & Innocent” mini-album, on a major label, was obviously a highlight… As was releasing our first full-length album ‘After Hours’. Our tour of the former Soviet Union ranks highly as well, and there’s been many, many more!

Also have there been some low points with the band?

Well, yes, of course…. We struggled with recording the “Revolution” album; many of the band members were going through some trying times during this period… And also, being sacked from Virgin was definitely a blow… But, we keep going, we came back stronger, so it’s all part of our experience!

I love the new album and best of luck with it! Is there anything else you would like to add or say to the Midlands Rocks readers?

”Thanks a bunch to everyone for supporting the band and I hope to see you ‘out there’ some time soon!!”