29 Dec 2015

Marvel Featured

The mini album “The Hills Have Eyes” release proves a great chance to interview Marvel from Sweden, a band that will attract classic rock fans, KISS fans, as well as mystery fans as they have managed to hide their faces. Their leather masks never go off and even nowadays with all the information and the social networking that we experience nobody has ever seen a photo of their faces. On the other side of the line we’ve got the Vicar and the Burgher with whom the conversations goes on with loads of humor and we learn all about them: the van, their love for heavy metal, America as well the… time travelling! Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: “The Hills Have Eyes” is also the title for a famous B-Horror movie from the late ‘70s, why did you chose that title?

The Vicar: I don’t know if there is an actual story around it…Marvel06

The Burgher: I think that the first song we wrote for the album was the title track and gave us vibes to that direction. It’s an old school spooky kind of song!

The Vicar: Exactly! John (ed John Steen, guitar-vocals) wrote the title track. I know that he’s had this title in his back pocket for a while and wanted to do a song. I don’t know if there are references to the horror movie, but I don’t think so actually.

Rockpages.gr: “The Hills Have Eyes” is a very poppy kind of song and with the whistle is easy to sing along to. Where you going for something like this, something so catchy, or did it come up like that?

The Vicar: The original song, the demo of the song was very much like this. John made an early version for us to listen to and I remember when we first listened to, he said something like “I am going to try something, I don’t know if you like it, or if it’s suitable”… and after we heard the intro we were whistling along and jumping up and down. It sounds like a modern song with a pop feeling. We didn’t plan to take it to the “pop area”, it was there already, so we just decided to include it into the album.

Rockpages.gr: How come you decided to release a mini-album after only one year after the release of your latest full album, “Headal Zone Express”?

The Burgher: Well, we wanted to release something quickly after the album to keep things going and it also has to do with that we can’t stop writing songs, but…

The Vicar: it takes a while to do that! We also did the album with Fred Estby, and he is a busy guy and we wanted to be able to make it in his schedule as well. We decided to make it as soon as it was possible with him. We had six songs and we wanted to get them out there quickly…

The Burgher: Yeah, we didn’t want to wait. We wanted to take 7,8,9 days with Fred and see if it was a good fit. Fred worked with us from time to time as a sound technician when we play live so, we felt really excited about working with him in the studio…

The Vicar: Also, another thing was that it has taken three, two and a half years between our other albums and we were growing sick of that. So, we wanted to…

The Burgher: Pick up the pace!

The Vicar: Yeah, take out something quick… so, we’ll see now if it takes three years until the next one. Hopefully not!

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Rockpages.gr: You also covered “L.O.V.E. Machine” by W.A.S.P. on the album. How did this idea come up, and who had the inspiration for this video? How long did it take to make this video? Because, I believe that doing this sort of thing with the puppets requires detailed work and tons of photos, right?

The Burgher: I think that it comes down to common ground really. All three of us love W.A.S.P.’s first two albums. I mean we listen to ‘80s metal quite a lot.

The Vicar: You know there are some songs that get played so many times and one time we tried this in our rehearsal to see if we could do something “Marvelish” with it and it felt natural.

The Burgher: You know, it’s such fun to cover ‘80s metal songs into ‘70s rock’n’roll, because it’s already there you don’t have to do anything with it.

The Vicar: Some people might think that if you do a cover, you should do it 100% true to the original. I think we have, in terms of the arrangement… almost, but we molded it a bit to make it our own and while doing that we realized that this is a fantastic song, it has a lot of soul in there and lots of ‘70s rock’n’roll. So, it fitted us.

The Burgher: The video… a lot of photos! A couple of millions of them! Not really! I think we have to thank our “puppet master” Papa Bear, he is like our fourth member… like the “fifth Beatle”.

The Vicar: Like the manager, the graphics guy who also runs the label. It was his idea to do a video like this and we gave him free hands to hook up with the persons he needed for it. It took a while, but it was part of the process…

The Burgher: We are more or less models, we go on the catwalk and then he does magic and creates some dolls and move them about for a couple of weeks and then calls us and says…

The Vicar: “Hey, I think it’s about done now!” It started off with us playing our instruments to have reference, but after that it was mostly their job…

The Burgher: And I think he did a great job capturing our actual movements. The thing where John slides without moving any part of the body is pretty accurate…

Rockpages.gr: Also, making a video like this, is another way to hide your identity, because you are wearing masks and you have the nicknames. How difficult is it in the year 2015 to hide your identity, while you are in a band, you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a lot of tools that can reveal who you really are?

The Vicar: The biggest problem is the passport when we are travelling abroad! Other than that we just have to be creative with it. Paper bags, back doors… stuff like that!

The Burgher: People want us to be masked in that sense. They accept the fact that there are no pictures anywhere.

The Vicar: No one would like to see us without masks to be frank.

The Burgher: We are not good-looking!

The Vicar: There is nothing to gain from that from anyone!

Marvel02Rockpages.gr: Where you influenced by bands that were wearing masks, or makeup? Maybe KISS who were wearing makeup…

(they both laugh)

The Burgher: (laughing) that’s an edgy question! I am not sure how to respond on that one!

The Vicar: What do you think?

Rockpages.gr: Well, it’s your interview, I can’t tell you what I think!

The Vicar: Yes, of course in a way… at least for me and for John, KISS is like the foremost influence until they lost their make up for me, because John love them all the way. So, in that sense is a great and big influence for us. It’s not that we wanted to mask ourselves and do it like KISS does. It’s more from a musical sense. We didn’t have any plans on being masked. It popped up during some heavy evening or something like that…

The Burgher: It goes back to the fact that people enjoy us more with masks than without them.

The Vicar: You tried that before haven’t you?

The Burgher: Yeah, yeah…it doesn’t work!

The Vicar: No?

The Burgher:… without the mask!

The Vicar: I know (he laughs)! And other bands that wore masks…

The Burgher: We have those up-and-comers Ghost, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them…

Rockpages.gr: Yes, of course, they’ve played in Greece some time ago, but to tell you the truth I didn’t really enjoy them. It was fun for the first twenty minutes and that was is it. Maybe because the others in the band except from the singer who wears the skeleton mask and all that, were wearing stuff that you couldn’t see anything… the music is nice, I like it, but visually they didn’t offer something more.

The Burgher: Yeah, I am with you there. I enjoy the music, but it’s a bit stiff live…

The Vicar: Maybe, they are a bit like Lordi, they also have problems moving about…

The Burgher: It’s hard with the costumes!

The Vicar: But, in this case it’s not that the costumes are heavy or anything, it only looks cool if they stay in the background and play their instruments.

The Burgher: It’s like a theater…

The Vicar: I haven’t seen them live, so I can’t have an opinion….

The Burgher: What I really like about our shows is that you can see it as a Finnish sauna visit!

The Vicar: Yeah! You are supposed to be sweating and just…

The Burgher: …reek!

The Vicar: Don’t come to close when we are playing…

The Burgher: Especially close to the drummer!   

The Vicar: You know these costumes has been around for ten years or so…

The Burgher: They’ve seen stuff that no one should see!

The Vicar: They are an entity of their own!

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Rockpages.gr: “Goodbye Salome” was another song that I enjoyed on the album, can you tell us a bit about that?

The Burger: Well, I think it’s more of a classic Marvel song really!

The Vicar: It’s funny that you mention that because it’s the only song I’ve read so far in reviews that people say “…and then we have “Goodbye Salom”. It’s a good song, but it’s in the middle of this and this, so it gets lost.

The Burgher: It’s an “in-betweene

 

r”!

The Vicar: It’s a great song, it’s nice of you that picked up on it. We have choreographed that song, right?

The Burgher: Yes, the first two sentences!

The Vicar: It’s John you should be talking about the songs, because he’s the one who wrote it and he is writing the lyrics as well. In the sense of what that song is, it’s a classic Marvel song…

The Bugher: It’s a three-way relationship…

 

Rockpages.gr: Yeah, I got that part! (everydody’s laughing) Also, I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but “Bring It On” sounds a bit like Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” in the beginning…

The Vicar: “Run To The Hills”? How does it start?

Rockpages.gr: With that epic kind of intro, while on your song it’s that “ooooohhh, ooohhh” that maybe the melody sounds like “Run To The Hills”… Maybe because it’s right after “L.O.V.E. Machine”, so my mind was trapped on a mind wrap around that era.

The Burgher & The Vicar: Yeah!

The Burgher: You got transferred back to ‘80s metal… that gets screwed up (laughs)! But, it’s not that weird to trace an Iron Maiden reference to one of our songs, because we listen to Iron Maiden a lot.

The Vicar: I mean, it’s not 100% Maiden, but “Back In The Saddle” there’s like an outro riff…

The Burgher: Yeah… looh, looh, looh, lalalalalalalala,m ooooooohhhhhhhhh (singing loud)

The Vicar: … at least we refer to it as a Maiden riff, but if you didn’t know about that, then you’d probably haven’t taken it as a Maiden influence…

The Burgher: It’s very slow, but it’s an Iron Maiden riff in our minds…

The Vicar: That one (on “Get It On”) is not, but it’s cool that you think that because I am the same. We have this conversations all the time: “have you heard this song? It’s exactly like… Accept”, you listen to this and you can’t hear it, so you can theoretically agree that there is something there. So, you agree to agree, but also to disagree.

MArvel04

Rockpages.gr: And of course there is this other kind of people who think that this happens on purpose, that you are ripping off somebody else, and I am talking about songs that actually sound like one another, but maybe it’s a coincidence.

The Burgher: We haven’t really listened to a riff and said: “hey, let’s remove this!”, or “copy this” except of course the W.A.S.P. song. Of course, people listen to music and they hear things…

The Vicar: Also, from our end that we are creating music, rehearsing, recording and jamming on a song, and if there is a riff created out of that we might go “oh, it’s like that KISS song, do you remember?”, or it might go towards Judas Priest, then we’d have something else. We have a way of communicating when we are writing songs. It’s like a common language, but we never start with the notion to copy something…

The Burgher: We don’t want to recreate the past. We can’t do Iron Maiden better than Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest. You will be an idiot to even try that…

Rockpages.gr: Well, but you can do Marvel…

The Burgher: Yeah…

The Vicar: Yeah… we will stick to that!

The Burgher: We’ll try to put something new in there every time.

Rockpages.gr: How do you filter your influences and how do you combine them into something more modern, like for example you did on “The Hills Have Eyes” with its poppy kind of chorus, and still maintain your own identity?

The Burgher: I think it’s just about natural progression more or less. You get bored doing the same music over and over. If you keep doing the same song for ten years I know that I’d be bored, so I think it’s natural progression. The aim wasn’t to go and do a more poppy song, it just happened.

The Vicar: Also, I think that our sound is a combination of John’s writing, to begin with, but also what type of music all three of us enjoy listening to. We don’t only listen to rock music… I come from the ‘80s punk hardcore scene…

The Burgher: And I am a huge soul fan and I also listen to hip hop music, but I grew up in metal and now I listen to all types of music have something that moves me. John… he only listens to Dire Straits, KISS and Europe… that makes us the foundation of what comes out as Thin Lizzy when we try to do a metal song… Apparently, everything we do sounds like Thin Lizzy, but none of us listens to Thin Lizzy! But, if you combine hip hop, soul with Europe and ‘80s hardcore it will sound like… Thin Lizzy…

The Vicar: I think the Thin Lizzy things is more because of John’s Dire Straits influences. When we transform them into Marvel’s sound people think it’s Thin Lizzy! And of course, soul is there. Everything is channelized through John’s sonMarvel06g writing, so that’s why it sounds Marvel all the time. The starting point is very different all the time.

Rockpages.gr: Also, you have a tour bus, a van that was made in 1976. If you could bring more stuff back from ’76, what would those be?

The Burgher: We already brought KISS back from that era, so we can cross that off… we aren’t so much into flower power stuff, so we’d leave that stuff back…

The Vicar: That’s earlier I guess…

The Burgher: Yeah, I am thinking on broader terms, not singling out ‘76…

The Vicar: I’d say the gear! Give me an amp from 1976 and I am happy!

The Burgher: …and a drum kit! A full on drum kit…

The Vicar: And we’d also bring that big tour extravaganza thing. More fireworks and all that stuff…

The Burger: We’d need four or five buses!

Rockpages.gr: What would you say that is the coolest thing being a member of Marvel?

The Burgher: It’s a tough question…hehehe!

The Vicar: It’s cool to make new music constantly and give it out to people and have a crowd that actually listens. That’s fantastic! It doesn’t happen all the time, but we sometimes get fan mail from people that write stuff like how we changed their lives. And that’s the most amazing thing, what you get back from people…

The Burgher: And it’s nice to be able to stay 18!  

The Vicar: Yes, exactly that’s the best it’s not like a time machine…

The Burgher: We stopped time at when we were 18! We are still 18, so it’s refreshing and nice! Even though our backs hurt…

Rockpages.gr: At least you can get alcohol from the bar, because you’re 18, not 17!

The Burgher: Exaclty!

The Vicar: You have to stop time at the right moment..

The Burgher: If we were in the States we must have been 21…

The Vicar: We’ll deal with that problem when we get there…

Rockpages.gr: Do you dream about going to the States and playing live?

The Burgher: We dream about going there anyway! We want to go to Japan, I think it’s the biggest thing for us.

The Vicar: We’d love to do a long road trip to the US, but it’s hard of course.

Rockpages.gr: I read that Marvel has a relationship with past members that makes it more like a collective…

The Burgher: No, it’s like the Italian Mafia! We changed the bass players quite a lot because of different circumstances, but they are still part of the band, it’s just that only one plays live right now.

The Vicar: We never lose a member, we just add.

The Burgher: And we’ve done a couple of gigs with two bass players, or with a bass player playing guitar, two guitars and one bass… it’s true, it just grows…

Rockpages.gr: Last question for you guys… What are your expectations and ambitions from Marvel for the next years?

The Burgher: Well, our first ambition is not to wait another three years before we release another album…

The Vicar: Hopefully next year already…

The Burgher: That’s the ambition right now…

The Vicar: Other than that to play as much as possible, and doing some shows in Europe and in Japan as well…

The Burgher: And release some new 7” split EPs… we have some in the pipeline for next year as well…

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