Interview: EMPIRE 21
Empire 21, A surprising new band from Sweden. We know most members from other bands like Narnia, Darkwater and Harmony. How did the idea came about in finding Empire 21?
John: Tobias and former singer Germán Pascual got the idea after playing together on tour with Narnia. CJ decided to join in some time later, and recruited me and Andreas after a while. New singer Ricard Hulteke joined in late 2013 and the recording process was finished shortly after that.
After a difficult start “Empire 21” was released. How were the reactions on the debut album? The radio stations, the reviews in Sweden and outside Sweden?
John: Actually, we were quite overwhelmed with the fantastic reviews we got! We knew we had a solid record in our hands, but we hadn’t dared to hope for such praise! So it has been amazing. One of the biggest swedish rock magazines ”Sweden Rock” gave us a really good review, so that was cool. Outside of Sweden it has mostly been niched hard rock sites that have reviewed the album, which is also nice! Haven’t done that many radio interviews yet, unfortunately!
How did you guys get the inspiration for the songs on your debut album? What helps you to write? Who does the writing for the band?
CJ: On our debut album I wrote 10 out of 11 songs. Can’t say that there’s a certain element that ”helps” or ”inspires” really. I suppose I’m happy to say I’m lucky being born with music inside that wants to get out. Not saying that it doesn’t involve very hard work or that it doesn’t involve influences from music that’s been going into my system over the past 37 years, but I try to utilize a lot of riffs, melodies and ideas that pops during doing whatever…cleaning, driving, you name it. Many of those ideas get recorded on my phone and then worked on later on.
Empire 21 will be playing at The Elements of Rock. Is that the first gig you have Or has this band played before in Sweden?
John: Yes, the gig at Elements of Rock will be our very first show! The closest we’ve gotten to playing together before that was at Tobias’ wedding, were everyone except him played at the church!
Nervous for this gig?
John: I think there are very few bands that aren’t a bit nervous about their first show. For me, it’s the equipment and the technical aspects that cause a bit of nerves, since this will be the first major gig with my current rig. But the rehearsal weekend went really well both technically and musically, so I’m quite confident at the same time. Each one of us has done their fair share of live shows and are quite experienced musicians, so that really shortens the preparation time needed to get ready to deliver a good show. The songs and the live show have a LOT of energy, power and heaviness, so it will be incredibly interesting to see how it will turn out live with a big PA system and us playing like there’s no tomorrow! Based on how big and heavy it sounded in the studio at the rehearsal weekend, I think this will be a breathtaking live show!
John: Well, since it’s our first gig it’s hard to discern any patterns! But for this one, everyone rehearsed their parts at home and then we met and put it all together in a studio over a weekend. As mentioned, things came together nicely from the first run through, so we just worked on details actually. As for preparations hours before the gig, we’ll just have to wait and see how they turn out!
The future? What are the future plans for Empire 21?
John: Since we put all this effort and money into making a record, we might as well try to perform it as much as we can! But yeah, playing as many live shows as we’re wanted at and our schedules allow is the first goal. Making another recording isn’t in the near future, for the moment, but who knows…
Sounds great, John. We look forward to seeing you on the road. Thanks again for taking time with us to do this interview.
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Purchase: EMPIRE 21: S/T