11 Oct 2015

Black Trip Featured


Black Trip was a one man’s thing with Peter Stjärnvind, a drummer who turned guitarist, writing all the music and lyrics. Working on their second album, “Shadowline”,  was more of a team effort with the band spreading its wings, while new material is on the way. On the other side of the telephone line Peter talks about writing music, the new album’s highlights, his guitar chops, where would he travel with his time machine and more interesting stuff in a conversation that could have kept going for hours. Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: Your debut album “Going Under” was very well received. Did that out pressure on you guys when you were working on the follow up?BlackTrip01

Peter Stjärnvind: No, not at all actually! I didn’t feel any pressure doing “Going Under” either. I mean I wrote that album several years ago and on that one I was more or less happy getting an album done sort of. I was satisfied then and I was actually quite surprised that there were so many who liked the album and we got good reviews. So, on “Shadowline” it was easier for me at least to write songs. It was a more natural process since we’d be playing together as a band much longer than we did before the first album and I sort of got more of an understanding on how to write better songs. So, I never really thought about it on this album either, and the thing is like reading but reviews sort of if you go online on the internet. I mean there is always going to be people who cherish what you do, but there is always going to be people who don’t understand it all and hate you for doing it. If you think too much about it you might get depressed. I write songs, and when I finish with a song, like “Die With Me”, the last song I wrote for “Shadowline”, I was so satisfied that I had a couple of whiskeys and I thought “this is going to be a great song!” I enjoyed it! And that’s the satisfaction for me. I can’t do more than I can do anyways. And if people don’t like it fine… it makes me happy of course but, if they don’t I can’t feel pressure about it because I write songs the way I write songs like every songwriter do and I don’t think what everyone would think about songs. I think I’d lose some of that spontaneity, that rock’n’roll thing… I mean it’s just songs. I was trying to do them as good as I can and I’ve written a lot of songs before the album as well. As I’ve always done. And I try to keep the songs that I really feel comfortable with myself. It’s nothing more than you can do, so the pressure… some people say that “Shadowline” is more mature, or more classic and more rock than hard rock. But it’s always up to the listener what he hears. I thought that “Danger” was going to be the first single for example, but in Germany all of the sudden it became “Berlin Model 32” and it’s like “I didn’t make that choice”. The record company picked it and the people in Germany liked it so, who am I to choose? I have favorite songs, and people have opposite favourite songs, and that’s the whole thing about music. You hear one thing, I hear a totally different thing. I am the same way when I hear a band’s third album and I think “ohh, the first one was better”. The reviews, as far as I understand for this album, has been at least 8, or 85%, which is slightly more than the first album, which I wasn’t sure what it was going to do because it’s always those who prefer the first album, but it’s just another album. I’ve written five songs about the third album now, I am always done, I don’t think about it anymore. After the first album it took me two or three weeks to write “Danger” and we played it for two years now live. So, I write when I get the feeling to it and I have already recorded two top songs, and in the studio I have at least three more in the pipeline, like demos, or on my computer. I like to be creative. I sleep the best when I have a new song in my mind that I want to record as a demo. That’s what pleases me more. It would be horrible if I sat back and enjoyed what people think about this album now, because then I’d lose the creativity to do something new. For me the album is done. I am not listening to the album anymore. I played the songs live and that’s about it, I don’t even think to talk about the songs because I don’t see it in the same way as the listener, because I recorded it in February. And I had the mixing in March and now it’s September. For me it’s a done record, but that’s how it is. As a musician you turn to think about new ideas to get creative and that’s the fascination about music: never sit back and chill for too long. I am happy for good reviews, and I don’t worry myself about reviews because you can’t do anything about it anyway.

Rockpages.gr: If I ask you to describe me the new album with five words, what would you say?

Peter Stjärnvind: Ahmmm, classic, heavy, rock from the ‘70s!

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Rockpages.gr: You mentioned “Danger”, in my opinion is one of the best songs in the album, although it’s hard to pick your favourite song because it’s all good stuff in there. Can you tell us a bit about it? Maybe about that Eastern riff that the song begins with, and how you came up with that?

Peter Stjärnvind: As I said, I just came up with the idea, the main riff, maybe two weeks after the “Going Under” album and that song wrote itself really fast. It just took me two lazy days to get it done, all the music and the songs came pretty natural to me, it was one of the easiest songs to write on the new album. This happens sometimes, that you have one riff tBlackTrip02hat leads to the rest of the song, and I can’t remember I was just sitting on the carpet watching a movie and I just played that riff and then I changed the pattern after that. It goes from 4/4 to ¾, the pattern changes and that was it. I thought that it was going to be a cool song and soon I had the verses as well and the chorus. It came really easy for me! And as I said that I wrote that two years ago in my old apartment, so it’s hard for me to remember what I thought when I wrote that song! Even though we play it live for two years I really think it's one of the best songs on the album because it's so easy to remember! My kids sing the melody when they hear the songs and that's a good thing, a good strong melody carries the song really far.

Rockpages.gr: For me, the easiest song to remember was the title track, "Shadowline"... can you tell us a bit about that as well?

Peter Stjärnvind: Yeah! That's one of the songs I didn't write in the album. On the first album I wrote every song, but on this album I wrote six out of ten songs, since "Rooms" is just an intro. But, Joseph (ed Joseph Tholl, vocals) wrote "Shadowline" and "The Storm", and Sebastian (ed Sebastian Ramstedt, guitars) wrote "Sceneries" and Jonas (ed Jonas Wikstrand) the drummer wrote "Berlin Model 42". But, "Shadowline" we also had a demo that was really close to what it turned out in the end. I think that's an easy song to get. It sticks in your head as well. While "Danger" is more guitar based and the thing that you sing in the shower is the guitar line, but on "Shadowline" is the vocal line that really gets stuck to you. We are all into hard rock really, but all the people in the world listen to music and I would say that 90 to 95% hears the vocals first and foremost. Ask your mother, what does she hear? She hears the vocals! That's what people hear in a song, and that's why they are so important. Because, if you are a drummer then you listen to the drums maybe, but you must consider that most people listens to the vocals first. And the vocal lines are strong in that song. I think that's what made it a good title track for the album.

Rockpages.gr: You worked with Nicke Andersson for "Shadowline" how was this collaboration and Nicke had done a transition like you did, he was playing drums but then he changed to guitar...

Peter Stjärnvind: When he quit Entombed he was the drummer and he suggested me for his position and then I played with them for nine years. And then he focused on guitar into something that was more rock, it wasn't planned I guess... we wanted to record the album in Nicke's studio, no doubt about it that's the choice that we did. He is so creative producing! He got the sound of the album! He also made suggestions on the songs, for example he said "that riff is too long" and had a lot of ideas like playing more hi-hat on another song to make it sound more like Judas Priest! He has a really good ear... and as he has his own band and I am in Black Trip, I am really focused in my band, I wouldn't say bossy, but I started this band and it's my band and I am really not letting things go to someone else, I have the final word in a lot of stuff from songs, recording, artwork and everything... I think that when you write a lot of songs yourself you tend to think the same way because every song writer does that and it's good to have a fresh ear that also has a good music ear to hear the songs for the first time. He suggested things that I've never thought of when I was writing these songs, because he is thinking things outside the box and has a good ear for cleaning up the songs. As soon as we left the studio I knew that we were going to make another album with Nicke when it's time. Since I saw how comfortable we are with him… For sure!

Rockpages.gr: The guitar work on the album is great, who are your guitar heroes in the band and yours personally?

Peter Stjärnvind: Well, all the classic guitar players I guess… for me, I am not going to be the master guitarist anyway, I know that. I will never practice to become the world’s fastest guitar player, because there is no point, and I couldn’t have pulled it off anyways. So, I try to focus to make cool bluesy scales that sound good to the music. I only play guitar for three years. Seriously, when we first started rehearsing for the first album, to record and play live, then I was how hard it was to play guitar in a room with an amplifier with the feedback and you have to stroke the strings hard enough and don’t stumble about. It was tough for me since I am an old drummer and I had to re-learn from scratch how to do it properly. I worked really hard without practicing too much by myself because I was more focused doing it. I am really satisfied with how far I got in three years. So, the thing is that I haven’t really given Status Quo too much thought before… but when I was playing drums in a death metal band obviously I had different ideas and staff that I went through, but now when I am playing that ‘70s staff on guitar which are not that distorted, I tend to listen to other players that are interesting because they are closer to what I do myself. I rather get inspiration from Status Quo nowadays playing guitar, than listen to Death, because it’s a different thing. “Fast” Eddie Clarke from Motorhead, that’s my favorite old school guitar player. He is bluesy, he doesn’t play too fast, he plays so well to the songs, makes them sound good, he is groovy, he is interesting, without going over the top. That’s excellent! I can relate to that more than listening to Dream Theater, or Yngwie Malmsteen, or Jake E.Lee… I don’t know what they are doing anyway!

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Rockpages.gr: How did you turn to guitar from playing drums?

Peter Stjärnvind: In my older bands, Entombed, Merciless and Murder Squad, I’ve always written songs. I did at least five or six Entombed songs over the years, but then you know I’ve always had a guitar at home to write demos, that was doable, just to show a song to the guys to play, but a bit different from doing it yourself and trying it to sound good. It’s a hell of a difference of course playing guitars from playing drums. But, on the other hand it’s really great to write songs when you have the drums in your head all the time. You know what to do, and you know what’s suitable to the songs. Because, I’ve played guitarists over the years and it’s obvious that they don’t think about the drums at all when they are writing songs! It doesn’t make sense in some of the songs. But, I think about the whole song, since I am a drummer. I write for the whole band, not just for the guitars.

Rockpages.gr: If you had a time machine and you could travel in time, what year or what era would you travel Black Trip to?

Peter Stjärnvind: I don’t know! It would be great to go back to ’69 and do Woodstock full on with Marshall amplifiers and distortion pedals and blow the flower power away with some hard rock, that would be great!

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Rockpages.gr: What are your expectations from Black Trip? All the guys in the band have other bands as well…

Peter Stjärnvind: Not all of us, me, Johan and Sebastian we were all in Nifelheim, but for us is just Black Trip. Joseph and Jonas have Enforcer obviously, they play in Greece all the time I guess! As far as now it hasn’t been problematic. We plan ahead really well, we have to do it nowadays. We go to Europe in two days now, we do a 2 weeks tour, on Thursday ( ) we drive down to Germany and we planned it for so long. Everything is doable if you plan ahead. You have to do that to make it work. So far it hasn’t been a problem.

Rockpages.gr: Both Enforcer and Black Trip are signed to major record labels. You are on SPV and they are on Nuclear Blast. What do you say about the record companies’ interest on that “retro” sound that both you and Enforcer play?

Peter Stjärnvind: I can’t answer for Enforcer, but I am actually surprised for us, about the reviews and everything from Germany. Black Trip was No.1 in Rock Hard, and Imperial State Electric no.3… it was really surprising because I always thought as well that Germans are more into extreme metal and stuff like that, but I think it goes in circles and classic rock never goes bad. There is always going to be people that listen to classic rock I guess. The label has been great for us. We sold out our vinyls two days before the release. The first one or two thousand copies were all gone, pre-ordered, sold out two days before its release! So, we didn’t have any vinyls on our release party two days before the album was released in Europe. That’s great, that’s a very big surprise. We can’t really complain.

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Peter Stjärnvind: If you play rock’n’roll, or hard rock, or whatever you want to call it, you have to have some ingredients to make it that, otherwise it’s not hard rock. It’s like making a pizza without tomato and cheese, it’s not a pizza then is it? So, I guess I mean it’s always going to be like this with bands because we have two guitars, bass, drums and vocals, but I think that at least in Sweden and in Scandinavia we have a spot in between of the bands that play sort of ’84-’85 Judas Priest kind of heavy metal, like maybe Enforcer and Ram and bands like that playBlackTrip06 more double bass drums faster and high pitch vocals heavy metal, and the retro early ‘70s kind of bands like Graveyard, Horistont, bands like that. I think we have a spot in between, that was the plan from the beginning anyway to sound like from ’78-’79 and ’81-’82, the gap between the ‘70s and ‘80s. I hope that there aren’t so many bands that play in that same area at the moment, but that’s my opinion or wish I’d say! It’s always up to the listener, what you hear is not what I hear.
Rockpages.gr: You mentioned this gap from ’79 to ’82. We listen to some bands like Black Trip who can make some great new music influenced by that eras. However, bands that were active back then cannot make good music anymore. Is it their fault? Or is it our expectations from them that are very high, and no matter what they release we still think that it’s not like the old ones that they used to do?

Peter Stjärnvind: I think some bands who’ve made so many albums from the late ‘70s or the early ‘80s, they tried for once to make a difference and do something totally different from what they’ve done for several years and also maybe the expectations from their record company are to make something like a more modern project… I don’t know! I would love to listen to Scorpions or Saxon to record 8-track studio almost live and not have those digital artworks on the album cover that they have nowadays, but I don’t know why that is, but you know, you really make a point. There is a total difference to those bands today, it’s like they lost what they did in their beginnings.  Maybe they forgot something, I don’t know! It’s like Nicke Andersson said, by the way, talking about Nicke, he said in a Swedish magazine a couple of years ago that he should be the one to produce a new KISS album because he could make it sound like a mix between “Rock’n’Roll Over” and “Dressed To Kill” again, and make it sound good. I think it has a point actually, because no one tells KISS how to do it, and if they really don’t know themselves what to do and how to do it, they’re gonna get a producer who doesn’t understand what they did back then, or they might not want to do it like they did back then. I think it’s both interest and lack of interest, or lack of knowledge from those bands to do it as they did before. It’s like Metallica, they did “Garage Days” in… was it ’87? And they made it sound like a garage, then they did the “Garage Days Re-Visited” and they go to an expensive studio, record expensive and try to make it sound like a garage. It doesn’t make sense at all! If you wanna do a “garage days” recording do it in a garage, don’t go to an expensive studio, try to focus on the feeling rather than proper takes. That’s the main reason for making it wrong. And another thing is that you trying to please… like radio stations that play modern rock. They want over-produced, over-mastered recordings with no dynamics at all. It’s like if people are afraid of the dynamics nowadays. If you listen to a CD and then put another CD, like you listen to the new Scorpions, or some modern rock and then you put a ‘70s album on vinyl, the only thing you do is turn the volume up a bit to get at the same level. It’s not tolerable nowadays, it’s like sending a file to a radio station that isn’t that hardly compressed like a modern album, because they won’t play it. That’s the truth. Because, radio stations don’t have a clue! They want everything to sound like Foo Fighters, but is that good? I don’t think so. The thing is that if you play Foo Fighters really hard and then you put on early Thin Lizzy album, one with slightly distorted guitar, it will sound strange on the radio for sure. But, does it matter? It depends who you want to please. If you want to please the masses you have to record very expensive. You can check out AC/DC or other bands that sound more modern and less dynamic on their new albums. But, is it good? I don’t know, I don’t think so. Does it work? Yes! Do they still sell albums KISS and AC/DC? Yes, they do. So, is it worth fighting for, for bands that were really good? But, if you come to think about it, 90% of the listeners today listen to music that is really compressed on iPhones, headphones, through a computer, a laptop… they don’t sit with a proper vinyl stereo, with an amplifier and listen properly, so you have to over-record it to make it listenable for the masses and their iPhones. If people were still listening to 8-track in their car and only vinyl, it wouldn’t sound like it does nowadays.

Rockpages.gr: When you said that thing about Nicke Andersson wanting to produce, it came to me, and I bet that’s something you’ve talked about with him, if you had the chance to produce and write music for any old band, which would that be?

Peter Stjärnvind: Maybe Judas Priest if I get to do it my way… mid-tempo songs, good melodies and record it the old way so it sounds like “Stained Glass” again. Judas Priest… definitely! 

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