I know, the original OVERDRIVE ceased to exist over a decade ago. As you may remember, that classic line-up, consisting of Pelle Thuresson (vocals), Janne Stark & Kjell Jacobsson (guitars), Kenth Eriksson (bass) and drummer Kenta Svensson, released one mLP and two LP’s during the first half of the 1980’s, then vanished from the scene. Lately, OVERDRIVE has been in the spotlights again; both of their albums have been re-issued on CD (both with 5 bonus tracks) and former guitarist Janne Stark recently published his ‘The Encyclopedia Of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal 1970-1996’, a one of a kind masterpiece! Despite being extremely busy most of the time, having a full-time job, a family to take care of, being a part-time journalist, etc. Janne went way beyond the call of duty to elaborate on all of the above, and lots more! The emphasis of course is on OVERDRIVE’s early stages, but the period prior to that and Janne’s present occupations, plus what he has done in the meantime, are to be discovered in the following mega-interview as well. Read on and find out what ‘the crazy half of the fearsome guitar-attack’ had to say ...
Well Janne, what exactly did you do prior to the formation of OVERDRIVE in July 1980?
I started playing bass (!) at the age of ten. My first band I had together with Jörgen Aspring, who would later resurface in the re-united OVERDRIVE. We had the short and nice name of SGT. PEPPERS ONE AND ONLY LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. We did two gigs at Christmas parties. It didn’t last long; about a year later we split, and I and Pelle Thuresson started playing together. We were schoolmates and both of us were great SWEET fans. This was around 1974. We then formed FLASH, together with drummer Janne Gummesson and bassplayer/singer Ola Persson. We did some gigs at a local youthclub and at our school. We soon changed our name to TNT and, with the addition of keyboardplayer Magnus Pettersson, recorded a 5-track demo. Then Gummesson had a serious accident and lost hearing on one ear. At the same time we also sacked Ola. We then found drummer Ake ‘Age’ Karlsson and bassplayer Kenth Eriksson from local STATUS QUO-clones SILENCIUM. We changed our name to PARADIZE and started rehearsing in Magnus’s basement, doing songs like P.U.N.K. (NEW ENGLAND), Blue Collar Man (STYX), Davie’s On The Road Again (MANFRED MANN) and Sweet Thing (GODDO). We were very pompy and AOR-oriented back then. Late 1979 we recorded two tracks (Caress Of Steel & Coming Home) for a single that was released in 250 copies. The local heroes at that time were a band called OCEAN. I got to know their drummer Kenta Svensson and we wrote a feature about the history of heavy metal for a local fanzine. We found out we were both fans of old 1970’s hard rock bands like MONTROSE, BUDGIE, SIR LORD BALTIMORE, etc. and started talking about putting together a really heavy band. Consequently, Kenta and guitarist Kjell Jacobsson left OCEAN, while Pelle, Kenth and I quit PARADIZE. This was the beginning of OVERDRIVE.
What was the Blekinge music scene like back in the early 1980’s, compared to nowadays?
When Pelle and I started playing together, we both lived in Mörrum, a small town with about 2000 inhabitants, known for its great salmon fishing. Kenth was from Asarum, ten kilometers from Mörrum and about the same size. Kenta and Kjell were from Karlshamn, which has about 20000 inhabitants and is about ten kilometers from Mörrum and one kilometer from Asarum. When OVERDRIVE was formed, Sweden’s biggest rock association, called Rockslaget, was based in Karlshamn. We had 2000 members and there were about 40 bands rehearsing in the club premises. We arranged a big 3-day summer festival each year and had bands like THE EXPLOITED, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, HANOI ROCKS, SIMPLE MINDS, etc. playing. We also did a 3LP compilation in 1981, with local bands only. All of this lasted until around 1984, when the president, Kheiwe Axelsson, died of cancer. The whole music life kind of died. There’s still a music association, called Forum, and we (= LOCOMOTIVE BREATH, Janne’s current band) rehearse in their premises, but it’s not the same type of energy and will to achieve something these days. I’m also involved with the local summer festival, called Karlshamn Rock Festival. It was our fifth year this summer. I think we have put a bit more life into the local music life now, which feels good. A lot of musicians have moved from here to Stockholm though, about 550 kilometers away.
What exactly is your job at this Karlhamn Rock Festival? What is the festival like?
I’m the press manager. Musically, it’s a lot of retro-bands mixed with new acts, all between folk and metal. We’ve had bands like DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH, MOUNTAIN, FRANK MARINO, B.T.O., SWEET, URIAH HEEP, C.C.R., FLEETWOOD MAC, TROUBLE, PRIDE & GLORY, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, GEORGIA SATELLITES, BLACKFOOT, STATUS QUO, CLAWFINGER, DIZZY MIZZ LIZZY, FREAK KITCHEN, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, ELECTRIC BOYS, FAIRPORT CONVENTION, NINE BELOW ZERO, SKINTRADE, DRAIN, PAT TRAVERS, WISHBONE ASH, NAZARETH, KASHMIR, THE POGUES, and quite a few more. Obviously the festival is located in Karlshamn, on the Swedish south coast. Last year we had 9500 visitors/day. It’s a two-day festival, always around June 15th. There’s free camping, lots of activities, nice nature and only a five minute walk from the Karlshamn centre. We release a limited amount of low price tickets in December, then ticket sales don’t start until March.
You just mentioned the Rockslaget compilation; OVERDRIVE was on there as well. What other bands were featured? What was it like?
Rockslaget (= The Rock Battle) made a deal with a local studio and SOS Records. The other hard rock bands featured are MERCY, INTERACTION and OCEAN. It’s a 3LP and all the other bands are Pop-Punk-Synth bands. OVERDRIVE’s two tracks (Damnation Angel & Tonight) were recorded at the same time as Reflexions, but mixed by Olle Larrson (TORCH, etc. ). I guess our tracks here were a bit more melodic than on Reflexions. I think the edition was 1000-2000, or so.
Speaking of the Reflexions mLP, how many copies actually do exist? Did you ever consider re-releasing it (on vinyl) back in the 1980’s, after it had sold out?
There exist exactly 550 copies of Reflexions. We did consider a release through Neat Records in England, but nothing happened. We never really considered re-issuing it ourselves, we were too caught up in writing & recording the albums. We did talk about re-issuing it in the early 1990’s, but didn’t think it was of any great interest. Maybe a mCD issue in the future ... But the tracks are released now, as a bonus on the Swords & Axes CD.
Do you think OVERDRIVE’s career would’ve been different if you had signed with Neat in stead of Planet Records?
Neat might have given us a better channel to ‘the world’, but as I’m a friend of Mick Moore (AVENGER) and I know what problems they’ve gone through, lawsuits trying to receive royalty money, etc., I’m glad we didn’t. However, we had to get a lawyer to receive our money too, from Planet Records.
Do you have any idea what Mick Moore is up to these days? And what about Kim La Chance, who was mentioned on OVERDRIVE’s thankslist as well?
Mick Moore and I have been corresponding since the early 1980’s and we still do. He’s playing in a cover band, but has been talking about putting together a hard rock band. I was also corresponding with Kim, but I haven’t heard from her for ages.
Knowing that you guys had written/recorded a lot of unreleased material prior to Reflexions already, didn’t you ever think of releasing a full LP to begin with?
No, we never considered doing an album. We chose between doing a 7” or 12”. It was only meant for presenting the band to record companies, rather than sending a demo. Of course we wanted to do an album, but we wanted to wait and see if any record company was interested in us.
Some of the old OVERDRIVE stuff shows similarities with some N.W.O.B.H.M. bands, wouldn’t you agree?
Yes. When we started out, we played the following covers : One Of These Days (TRESPASS) Lady Of Mars (DARK STAR), Road Racin’ (RIOT), Ladies Man (APRIL WINE), Sympathize (AXE) and one by WHITE SPIRIT. So, you see we were influenced by both traditional hard rock and N.W.O.B.H.M. I was a big fan of bands like ANGEL WITCH, WITCHFYNDE, HORSEPOWER, TRESPASS, HOLLOW GROUND, JAMESON RAID, etc. I know several mags compared us to early DEF LEPPARD on Reflexions. I don’t mind such a comparison.
What do you think of this ‘recent revival of the N.W.O.B.H.M.’ then, and all these bands reforming?
There hasn’t been any revival of N.W.O.B.H.M. in Sweden, but I know there’s been a lot of CD re-issues & bootlegs. I think it’s great! I still have the old vinyls but, lazy as I am, I tend to play CD’s, and I still like the old 1980’s stuff. I like band revivals, as long as they’ve developed and have something new to offer. I hate to see a band that only play their old stuff, and worse than before.
I know you’re still satisfied with OVERDRIVE’s legacy nowadays. How would you compare all three releases, one to another?
Reflexions I’m actually still very satisfied with. Pelle sang really good back then. It was mixed by ABBA guitarist Lasse Wellander, which made it sound a bit thin though. On Metal Attack we had been more influenced by bands like Y&T, JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, ... and turned heavier. The mix is awful! The engineer/co-producer had never worked with a metal band before and drowned the production in reverb. Pelle was suffering from a throat disease and his voice was very limited. However the songmaterial was quite good, I think. We recorded and mixed it in 11 days. Swords And Axes is clearly our best album. Pelle’s voice was better. And the engineer/producer, Peter In De Betou, had taken a course in ‘instant heavy metal soundmixing’ and managed to give us a great sound. I still love the drumsound. I’m also pleased with the material. When we did the reunion in 1990, we tried to play some of the old songs, but we had a really hard time trying to figure out what the hell we were playing. Have a close listen to the music and you’ll find some songs are actually quite complicated. There was definitely quite a great progress between Reflexions-Metal Attack-Swords And Axes.
Who was this Peter In De Betou? Judging by his name, he must have had Dutch ancestors?
Peter’s real name was actually Olsson. He’s the son of Mats Olsson, who was the owner of Planet Records. He married a girl with the last name In De Betou and they took her name. I don’t know her original nationality. Before he produced our first album, he hadn’t worked with any hard rock bands, only pop and dance music. He’s now working at Cutting Room, a company that handles mastering, CD production, etc. They did the OVERDRIVE re-issues.
I think not too many people are aware that OVERDRIVE actually did record rough mixes for a third album, to be entitled Motorized Maniaxe. What direction were you headed towards on that material?
As you will have heard, we developed quite a bit on the tracks meant for Motorized Maniaxe. We were then a bit more influenced by (early) QUEENSRYCHE and VAN HALEN. On that recording we had also fired Kenth Eriksson and new bassplayer Zoltan Djember was a lot heavier in his style. We actually re-wrote one of the songs for LOCOMOTIVE BREATH.
Why was Kenth fired and why did Pelle leave?
The reason Kenth was fired was because he was simply not good enough. We wanted a really heavy bassist, which he wasn’t. There were also some personality differences. Pelle quit singing as he thought he wasn’t good enough. Too many reviews complaining on his voice made him take the decision. On the rehearsal demo for Motorized Maniaxe Pelle actually sat behind the mixing desk.
Around the same time there was interest from New Renaissance Records. Wasn’t this an extra motivation to go out and search for a new vocalist, and release Motorized Maniaxe after all?
Yes, I received 4 or 5 letters from New Renaissance, asking and even begging for new material. We tried our hardest to find a new singer, but I live in quite a small town and the good singers were all busy. At this stage the break-up process had also started, so our activity level at that time was very low.
Despite reasonable sales, overall positive reviews, obvious talent, OVERDRIVE never really ‘made’ it. Do you have an explanation for this?
Why were we never big? One of the reasons is the lack of interest from our label. I did all promotional work, sent out records, answered letters, etc. Another problem, or at least what was negative in the reviews, were the vocals. Things might have been happening more with David Coverdale on vocals, but it’s no use to cry over spilt milk.
What other bands did Planet release? Did they encounter the same problems as you had?
Planet released three albums by sleaze/glam band GLORIOUS BANKROBBERS (later MENTAL HIPPIE BLOOD), also TOMMY TYSPER & THE KIDS, GREAT KING RAT and a lot of pop bands. They also distributed Gull and Nems Records. GREAT KING RAT had to wait almost two years from when they recorded their album until its release. All the others have had problems getting their royalties. We received most of our royalties, but they still owe us money. They went bankrupt two years ago.
Are there any special gig/tour memories that you recall as if it was yesterday?
OVERDRIVE live memories … there are many. We used to have a great time on tour. Some of the most memorable ones, good and bad, are from our first gig in Copenhagen, Denmark with MERCYFUL FATE and SILVER MOUNTAIN, when a whole bunch of Hell’s Angels were standing on the frontrow, with arms crossed. They actually ended up digging heavily. Another time was when we played in Hultsfred, with ORION’S SWORD as support. The crowd was wild and the stage was really low, which resulted in people laying on the front of the stage, headbanging our footswitches on and off. The guys who were supposed to guard the stage were somewhere else and it was really wild. A few days later we find out a guy is suing us for SEK 5000,- (about U.S. $ 800) as his hand was burned by one of our bombs. The day after there were big headlines in the evening papers : ‘Rock show nearly ended in catastrophy’, ‘OVERDRIVE throws bombs on their audience’, ... The articles told about this guy who was standing about two meters from the stage and suddenly, when he sees a flash, throws up his arm in protection and a bomb hits his hand, which gets badly burned. This was impossible as the bombs were placed about two meters behind me, so I should have been burned down! We recognized the guy as one of the ‘guards’ . He had simply crawled back behind me to avoid the crowd and put his hand on the bomb. We were never sued and he didn’t get a dime. One time we were playing a disco. They had a P.A. ... four lousy speakers and a mixer with eight working channels. There was also a big pole in the middle of the stage. The manager kept coming on stage, telling us to turn it down all the time. One time we played in Stockholm, in front of the ‘musicians mob’, i.e. members from HEAVY LOAD, TRASH, TREAT, etc. standing in the back, arms crossed, looking for bum-notes and mistakes.
What did you do after OVERDRIVE split-up in 1985? And whatever happened to Kenth?
Pelle and I were childhood friends and I knew he was a great bassplayer, so when OVERDRIVE started falling apart I took the step to split the band and started to play with Pelle. This was in June 1985. We found drummer Paul Gustafsson (ex MERCY/HIGH VOLTAGE), who was an old friend of ours. We began playing under the name OVERHEAT. About a year later we were completed with singer Gernot Iversen, also ex HIGH VOLTAGE. We recorded some demos, but nothing really happened. After Kenth was fired, he joined INTERACTION, with whom he recorded some demos. After he was fired from them, he joined locals AREA, who had a track on a local compilation. He then quit bassplaying altogether and is now working with computer animations.
OVERHEAT was around for about five years. How come nothing really happened?
I got the same question from a Japanese magazine. I don’t know, really. Most of the time we didn’t have any singer, but we did record two demos with Gernot. We sent them around and did some gigs, but nothing happened. Maybe the timing wasn’t right ...
In the early 1990’s you also had an instrumental song on both Guitarheroes Of Sweden (1991) and Guitarheroes Of Sweden Part II (1992). How did all this come about?
The Guitarheroes Of Sweden CD’s were the result of the nationwide leadguitar competition Guitar Battle. Dick Bewarp, from the band BEWARP, was president of it all. Guitarists were to send him tapes. He picked out ten guitarists from 15 different regions and local competitions were held. The winners from these local battles competed in the national grand finale. The first year it was held in Malmö and the second was in Stockholm. The first year, the winner was Anders Moberg and the second time it was Patrik Belgrave from WILD ONE. The guitarists on the CD’s are mostly finalists, but some are competitors from local regions. Each one of us was to record an instrumental track at about three minutes length. The first year I recorded two tracks, so as I was a finalist the second year as well, I used the second track for CD number two. The musicians on those recordings were Pelle (bass), Peter Svensson (drums) and myself on guitars. We hadn’t played with Peter for two years, as he had moved to Gothenburg. I called him up and asked him. He listened to some old rehearsal recordings of the songs and we went to Malmö to record them. We met in the studio at 10 ’o clock in the morning, recorded and were finished at about 6 ’o clock in the evening. The CD’s were released in around 1000-2000 copies. The first one was on B.O.R.G. Music, the second on Dick’s own G.H.O.S.T. Records.
Around the same time you also hosted a radio show, right?
The Megaton radio show. Well, it all started when I was asked to do a two hour radio show as a summer host; they invite one person a day to do a show, where one gets to talk about what you want and play favourite records. They liked what I did and asked me if I wanted my own radio show, two hours of heavy metal a week, playing records, doing interviews, quizzes, etc. I did it for about a year, then I got quite tired of it, as I was very involved with both Metal Zone magazine and Backstage magazine, and at the same time we were re-uniting OVERDRIVE. It was quite fun though.
That was in 1992. Who was in that resurrected OVERDRIVE and what was it like?
The reunion was with me, Pelle (on bass), Kjell, Kenta and new singer/guitarist Jörgen Aspring. However, after one rehearsal Kjell left as he was too tied up with the blues band he was in. The material we did was mostly songs I’d written over the last years, plus some new songs we did together. Jörgen had been in the picture through the years. We had a band together already in 1977, then he and Kenta were in the bands E-TYPE and PRIDE in the late 1980’s. Jörgen, Pelle and I were also in the coverband COOLER THAN ICECREAM in 1990-1991. We did SAMMY HAGAR, FREE, STONES, TOTO, ... material then.
When and why did OVERDRIVE call it quits once again?
The re-united OVERDRIVE split in 1994. The reason is a bit complicated. In 1989 my favourite drummer, Peter Svensson, left OVERHEAT, as he moved to Gothenburg. We then said if he ever moved back we’d start playing again. He did ... and I left OVERDRIVE ... and Jörgen and Pelle went too. Now, Peter, Jörgen, Pelle and I were a band. We didn’t call ourselves OVERDRIVE, as we didn’t really fire Kenta. Anyway, after only six months, Peter’s brother, who was a bassplayer, got killed in a car crash. Peter quit playing drums and there we were again. We then decided to split up definitely. I got in touch with Kjell and we decided to jam. We found ex T FOR TROUBLE drummer Mats Brandström and ex E-TYPE/BLUE TOWN bassist Ulf Kroncell. We started rehearsing and finally in May this year singer Herman Saming walked in through the door, and LOCOMOTIVE BREATH was born.
And nowadays both Pelle and Kenta are in CROSSEYED MARY, right?
CROSSEYED MARY consists of Pelle (bass), Kenta (drums), Jörgen Aspring (vocals/guitar) and Pelle’s brother Jörgen Thuresson (guitar). That’s like OVERDRIVE without me!
What style is LOCOMOTIVE BREATH heading towards?
LOCOMOTIVE BREATH’s style … Well, you listen to our rehearsal recording, and tell me. I guess we’ve picked influences from all around, such as the old 1970’s bands, PRIDE & GLORY, traditional hard rock ... whatever we like. What I can say is, we won’t hook up on any grunge, hardcore or punk hypes. We’re all brought up on the good, old traditional hard rock ... Well, Herman is only 19, but he’s a great fan of bands like KANSAS, DREAM THEATER, etc.
When can we expect a first official release from LOCOMOTIVE BREATH then?
We’ll definitely record a 4-track demo this fall/winter. Actually, we’ve booked studio time in December.
Besides recording that demo, what would you like to achieve with LOCOMOTIVE BREATH? Are you still as dedicated as in the early OVERDRIVE years?
I guess, as me and Kjell are both family fathers with quite demanding jobs … he’s a mechanical designer, just like me, Ulf is a laboratory engineer, Herman and Mats are both studying, we all have too much tied up to give it all up for a boys dream just like that. We’ll record a demo, send it to some contacts I think are worthwhile, and see what happens. If someone says ‘We’ll pay for the recording of an album’, well I won’t say no! If however it would mean us having to pay or put a lot of time and effort into it, I guess not. Music is supposed to be fun, that’s why I do it. When it comes to writing and arranging songs, as well as playing live, we are just as dedicated and enthusiastic as in the early OVERDRIVE days.
Recently, you also got involved with this band ZELLO. How did that happen?
I knew Pelle Saether from the band SCHIZOPHRENIC CIRCUS. I sent their demo to Megarock Records, who then signed them. He had this project/band on the side. Pelle is a huge JETHRO TULL, KANSAS, UK fan and wanted to get some of his ideas out. He then formed ZELLO together with two keyboard players, a violinist, a bassplayer and a drummer. They recorded a mastertape in Pelle’s studio; he runs studio Underground, a professional 24-track studio. I hooked them up with APM Records and they had a deal. However, when I sent the tape to Mike Varney, he said he liked it, but missed out on the guitars. Pelle then decided he would do a guitar version as well, just in case. He then asked me to do the guitar parts. I went to his studio, started recording at noon and we were finished by midnight the same day. The first version is now out on APM Records, and the guitar version is recorded and ready if there’s an interested company. Anyway, it was fun to do.
Besides being in LOCOMOTIVE BREATH you’re also a music journalist. How did this first happen? Also, what kind of things do you design for a living?
The first thing I wrote was an article on the history of heavy metal in a local magazine in 1980. However, I didn’t really start until 1990, when I was asked by Backstage magazine to do an inside-story on Guitar Battle, the national solo-guitar competition. I then started writing, reviewing and was asked to do features for Kool Kat News magazine too. Then we started what was to become Sweden’s answer to Metal Hammer, Metal Zone magazine; approximately 80 pages, all colour, bi-monthly. It sold well and was very appreciated. But the publisher was a crook and it finally sunk the ship. I, Dave Constable and some of the other writers talked about starting something up again, but no-one had the time and energy. Now I’m writing for the A.O.R./Westcoast/Prog magazine Frontline and a local newspaper. Anyone interested in a freelance writer from Sweden? The writing is only an evening/weekend thing, as I’m actually a mechanical designer at Volvo, by trade. I design weldguns for the car industry.
You are also the author of The Encyclopedia Of Swedish Hard Rock And Heavy Metal 1970 - 1996. What made you decide to start such a huge task?
The reason I started was because I’ve always been a fan of Swedish metal; I’ve been in the scene myself, I know a lot of the bands and there simply wasn’t any collected work about Swedish bands. The idea started growing when I compiled a list of all my Swedish records on my computer. Thank God for computers! I mentioned the idea to Dave Constable at Megarock. He said ‘Do it! I’ll pay the printing.’ I then was in touch with Roger Holegard about his former bands NEON ROSE, TRUCK and WASA EXPRESS. He works at Premium Publishing now. He said they were into taking over the whole thing and Dave could take care of the export business. Said and done.
What kind of problems did you have to face while trying to compile this encyclopedia?
There were actually quite a few problems, such as : 1) I have a record by a band, definitely Swedish and definitely hard rock, but only stage names and no contact address. How do I get more info? 2) How to get hold of ultra-rare records & covers? 3) You talk to three members from a band and get three different stories ... who do I believe? 4) Some people promise they’ll send records, info, ..., but nothing ever happens.
There’s also a bonus CD with the book. How did this happen and could you elaborate on what bands/tracks are on there?
I wanted the book to have a little bonus, so first I thought about including a CD featuring rare single tracks. However, I had a lot of unreleased demos with EUROPE, ELECTRIC BOYS, 220 VOLT, CRYSTAL PRIDE, etc. So I thought, why not try to get these instead. First I got the CRYSTAL PRIDE song. I had been in contact with EUROPE earlier and contacted the members, who were more than willing to give me the track Rainbow Warrior. I was in touch with their publishing companies in Sweden and England, Sony Records, Joey’s manager, etc. and all of them gave me an OK. Now the problem was I couldn’t find the DAT-tape. Finally we ended up using a cassette-copy. When I had EUROPE I had no problem getting others. The tracks on the CD are, in no particular order : * NOVEMBER Nobody’s Hand To Hold - Sweden’s first hard rock band. This track is one of the few they did in English. Previously only released on a mega-rare 7” in France, in 1971. * EUROPE Rainbow Warrior - previously unreleased demo. * 220 VOLT Disappointed - unreleased demo, recorded after they had left CBS. Their best track ever! * RADIOACTIVE (featuring Tommy Denander) Remember My Conscience - this track is from the famous recording Tommy did with TOTO as back-up band. It will however not be on the forthcoming RADIOACTIVE album. * CRYSTAL PRIDE Find The Way - a new track, recorded in 1995, showing the band is better than ever. * YNGWIE MALMSTEEN Aftermath - previously released as a single bonustrack in Japan only. I talked to Yngwie on tour in Sweden and he was all for the idea, but couldn’t do anything on tour. I called him at home on January 15th. I was to master the CD on the 22nd. He said ‘Okay, I’ve got a track, call my manager Jim Lewis.’ I called him, faked the agreement and four days later I had the master. * TALISMAN Love’s Gone - this track is a previously unreleased leftover from the last album, Life. * NEON ROSE Come On Everybody - this track was only released as a flipside on the band’s first single. Extremely rare. * THERION In The Desert Of Set - they recorded this song especially for the CD. It was later re-written, re-arranged and re-recorded for Teli. * CLAWFINGER Better Than This - this song was previously found as a European single bonus track only. * CANDLEMASS Dark Are The Veils Of Death - it was previously released on Nightfall, but this is a totally re-mixed version, with a much heavier sound than the album. The guitars were so loud we had to cut the last 30% of the song, as they distorted the sound. * TREAT I’m Better Off Without Your Love - this is one of the band’s best songs, in my opinion, from the band’s best period, with Mats Levén on vocals. Totally unreleased. * ZANITY Time Out Of Mind - the only band on here that never released anything on vinyl, but one of my all-time fave demo tracks. With Tony Niva on vocals, who was later in SWEDISH EROTICA, TRACY GOES CRAZY, AXIA and now in NIVA, and guitarist Janne Strandh, now in MASTER MASSIVE. * SPELLBOUND Paradise Ride - from the period after the albums, their best period. I have approximately 30 demo tracks, unreleased, all of major quality! * ELECTRIC BOYS Shake That Rattle - a leftover from the Groovus Maximus period. Great song, too bad they’re gone. * TRASH Back From The Bottom - another unreleased track, from the band’s third and unreleased album. None of this band’s albums have been re-issued, for some strange reason. * As a ‘secret’ bonus, there’s an instrumental track hiding behind the last track ... if you wind track 16 until it ends, 10 seconds after, there it is. The song is In The Raw, which is my own song that was on the Guitarheroes Of Sweden compilation as well. I also want to point out that none of the bands get any royalties, as we wanted to keep the price down. All agreed ... except one, GREAT KING RAT, who were removed. The message from Mikael Höglund, later in THUNDER, was ‘Either we get a royalty or you limit the edition to 2000.’ I told him ‘With 16 bands on the CD, splitting the royalties, and 4-5 members in each band, you’d get around U.S. $ 30, if we sell 4000 copies. Instead you get the book + two extra CD’s, worth U.S. $ 50.’ He still wanted royalty or limitation, so I said ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ He obviously couldn’t see the promotion value ... I actually ended up with around 25 tracks to choose from ... so I do have material for the next book.
To go along with the book/CD, there’s also a 3CD, featuring 54 Swedish bands from 1970 up until 1996, compiled by Jan Friberg and yourself. Did you have any problems in getting all the material you wanted on there? Did you have to make any compromises at all?
When Jan Friberg from PolyGram Records asked me if I wanted to compile a 3CD and write the booklet, all in the vein of the book, I thought it was a piece of cake. I started writing down tracks/bands I thought should be on there ... and ended up with over a hundred! I wanted to both show different musical sides and all of it from 1970-1996. I also ran across some problems with some bands. BATHORY - Black Mark Records doesn’t want BATHORY to appear on any compilations. ENTOMBED - they had just changed labels, from Earache to Warner. Earache were angry with the band and said ‘No!’ Warner had no material, yet. HEAVY LOAD - I wanted the song Free, as I felt it would be great, as Phil Lynott is a special guest. They also demanded to see the cover before its release, as they didn’t want to have photos of any bands on it. When I told PolyGram about this, they said ‘We don’t want no wining children complaining afterwards, exclude them.’ And yes, I wanted to have more bands in there, like the above, MORGANA LEFAY, CRYSTAL PRIDE, DISMEMBER, MASQUERADE, DESTINY, BLAKULLA, BACKYARD BABIES, and lots more, but yes, I had to compromise.
Janne, you’re probably best informed to tell us what’s up with CRYSTAL PRIDE and HEAVY LOAD, two of my other fave Swedish bands from the 1980’s. Rumour has it they’re both still around and recording new material. What do you know?
CRYSTAL PRIDE are very much alive and well. The last I heard from Christer and Susanne, they’re working on new material. I received a demo a few months ago, showing great promise. Regarding HEAVY LOAD ... Well, it seems they’ve been spending the last ten years recording a new album. Well, they’re not a band, and it seems they’re far too busy working in their studio.
You briefly mentioned you’re already collecting material for another book. What will this be like? Will there be another CD to go along with it?
I’m collecting material for a book supposed to be out in the year 2000. Nothing is 100% decided, but it will probably be an appendix with updated info on the existing bands, bands formed after the first book was released, bands I missed out on, and revised information. There will probably, most likely, go a CD with it. It says in the book, and I’ll repeat it here : anyone who finds incorrect information, missing bands/records, ... Please write to me! My address is : Janne Stark / Graneforsvägen 223 / 374 91 Asarum / Sweden. Fax + 46 45429449.
Which bands did you miss out on in this first book then?
The bands I missed out on are ZANE (still haven’t heard them), HELLMARK (melodic hard rock), NECTARIS (melodic FM-oriented hard rock) and RUBBET (bluesy hard rock).
Last year, both OVERDRIVE albums, Metal Attack and Swords And Axes, were re-issued on CD, over a decade after their original release. Why did you decide to do so, and why not sooner?
As there were several other 1980’s records being re-issued and we had received interest from old fans, I started investigating the possibility to purchase our mastertapes. When Planet went bust, they sold all tapes to BMG. Around this time I talked to a friend of mine, Dave Constable, at Megarock Records about re-issuing the albums. He said ‘I’ll do it on our new label, Rock Treasures, if you can find the mastertapes.’ I called BMG and managed to buy the tapes for U.S. $ 1500. Why not sooner? Well, we had discussed it with Planet, but they weren’t interested and wanted U.S. $ 4000 for the tapes, back then.
What is Rock Treasures Records like? Have they released any other stuff, or do they intend to do so in the future?
Like I just mentioned, Rock Treasures is a division of Megarock. This is their re-issue label. There have been discussions about other bands, like TALK OF THE TOWN (unreleased stuff), but nothing has been decided yet. Promotion is not their best thing ...
Why are both CD’s limited to 1000 copies? Isn’t that too limited?
The edition is 2000 copies/CD, not 1000. Too limited? Well, that depends on the interest it gains. The last I’ve heard is they’ve sold approximately 1500 copies/CD so far. They are also investigating the possibility of a Japanese edition, featuring even more bonus stuff.
Yeah right, both CD’s have a running time of about 60’. Knowing there’s still lots of early, unreleased OVERDRIVE material around, why didn’t you take full advantage and release two 70’-75’ CD’s?
We didn’t consider the playing time when choosing bonus material. We kind of decided five bonus tracks/CD was a good number.
Do you think any of these as of yet unreleased songs will ever be released on CD?
If the Japanese are into releasing the CD’s, there will be more bonus material on there. There might be a track or two on a future compilation, if someone wants them.
Hey, with all this new interest in OVERDRIVE, and with four original members still being active in the scene, what would you say chances are for a new OVERDRIVE reunion?
A permanent OVERDRIVE reunion with the original line-up is more or less impossible, as Pelle has quit singing. We have however toyed with the idea of putting the band together for one or two gigs, featuring myself and Kjell (guitars), Pelle (bass), Kenta (drums) and possibly Jörgen Aspring on vocals. Nothing is definite though, as we’re all pretty tied up in new projects.
Do you have any final messages for those readers that have survived all of your answers so far?
The response I’ve received for the book, and also the OVERDRIVE CD’s, is amazing. Even though Sweden is a very small country (population 8.000.000), the response shows we’ve got quite a few bands appreciated outside of our borders. Being a demo collector, let me tell you there are 50.000, many great, unsigned bands hiding out there. All you fans of Swedish metal, I salute you!
The only thing I could possibly add, is to urge all of you to go out and at least check out both CD’s and the encyclopedia, you won’t be disappointed! And let’s hope that OVERDRIVE reunion works out one day. Maybe at the 1997 Karlshamn Rock Festival already?