12 Dec 2016

Apollo

The news that Apollo was to release a solo album was rather sudden, but it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise since “Waterdevild” is an amazing album. What was that led the singer to come up with the decision to launch a solo album on his own? In a great chat with Apollo he answers all our questions and we learn a lot about his solo album, who is in it, his future plans, as well as his relations with his ex-band Firewind. Interview: Yiannis Dolas

Rockpages.gr: How come you decided to release a solo album? What is that you wanted to get out there that you possibly cannot do with Spiritual Beggars?Apollo07

Apollo: The reason for this is that Spiritual Beggars don’t play frequently. The band’s members have also other commitments with Arch Enemy and Candlemass so we make an album every 3 years and then play some shows and tour. Then we don’t play for years. So, I decided since I’ve been working on songs, because I wanted to do some music and some shows myself, that I don’t want to wait so many years before playing again with Spiritual Beggars. So, that’s why I made my album, I thought why not make some songs. Some of my friends kept telling me: “let’s do a solo album”, so I did!

Rockpages.gr: When did you write those songs? Was it recently to make the album, or were they older songs?

Apollo: I begun writing these songs two and a half year ago. There are two between them that Mike (Amott) wanted to use for Spiritual Beggars in our album (ed: “Sunrise To Sundown”), but I didn’t give them to him because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them and later I decided to put them on my album. Initially, I wanted to make a band and play a few gigs with friends here and there.

Rockpages.gr: Was it “Revolution For The Brave” that Amott wanted?

Apollo: Yes, that was the one!

Rockpages.gr: “Burried In A Flame” was the other one?

Apollo: No, it was the second on the album, “Liberate Yourself”, but that was close! Also, some of the guys from Beggars play on the songs. Per Wilberg (ed, Spiritual Beggars keyboardist) and Per Wilberg (ed, Spiritual Beggars drummer) and Chris (ed, Amott’s brother) play on those.

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Rockpages.gr: And how did this happen? You just got in the studio and recorded them?

Apollo06Apollo: Yes, that’s exactly how it happened! I had the songs and I asked them “do you guys want to help me record this?” and they liked it. In the beginning Mike offered to help too, he said “if you want some guitar let me know”, not just on this song, but for the entire album. But, final I didn’t call him because he was busy, so I didn’t bother him! Some times you should know when to back off and don’t be pushy…

Rockpages.gr: What’s impressive is that there is no solid band on the songs, but several people playing in each one…

Apollo: That was the idea. An album coming from a… unity. Whoever wants to participate in a forum and then if the song turned out OK we’d go out and play shows. And if the bass player can’t make it for some reason, another one could fill in. This way we could play gigs around Scandinavia for starter… and it will happen! We will play some shows… we will throw a release party here in Halmstad, near Gothenburg, on January 28th and that’s where most of the people in the album will join, but it’s going to be only five of us on stage. We’ve got some more shows coming up which are not announced yet and some big festivals. Actually, at the moment we are booking more festivals in Sweden and they are big! We will also try to play at Sweden Rock this year. That would be great!

Rockpages.gr: This is the first time you do something by yourself, usually you are a member of a band. How do you feel having your own project, where you take the decisions and you are not part of a group, where you should come up with a decision as a team and maybe there is a leader, like in Firewind it’s Gus G… how does that feel?Apollo08

Apollo: It feels great! Hehehe! Now, that we have made the album I feel great. But, in the beginning I wanted to form a band. I didn’t want to go solo, because I was never a person who wanted to go out there on his own. I always wanted to be a member of a band, that’s what I like; working together with others. But, the album’s producer insisted that I’d go solo and told me that if we were to record these songs we should do it as “Apollo”. This guy runs his own company and knows his stuff and he insisted. Finally, I did it and it was me who took the decisions. Now that the work is done is a great feeling. What was also nice was that whoever I called to ask them play they all said “yes” and came by to record.

Rockpages.gr: Were you afraid to go out there using your name as a solo artist?

Apollo: Of course, very much! You always think that the songs are not good enough, or “I should have made a change there”, “this should have been different”, “should I put this one?”… but, because I had others around that really liked it and told me I should release these songs, I believed in it and so it happened…

Rockpages.gr: I want you to tell me a few things about some songs I think they stand out in the album, for instance “Chasing Shadows”…

Apollo: For that song  worked with George Rain, who has a band Sebastien and also plays with Citro. He comes from the Czech Republic also works with Masterplan, he made a song in the past together. “It’s all about greed, people that want to have too much, but in the end we are all chasing shadows”… the song has to do with greed, those who always want to get more and more, but in the end we all chase shadows…

Rockpages.gr: I though it sounded like a Dio song in the beginning…
Apollo: There’s also a friend of mine who is a singer (ed Criss Blackburn) and we sing together. He is not active anymore, he once made a band and released an album. His voice is very different than mine, it’s like Halford. We don’t meet often, but when we get together we chat and laugh. I wanted him in this project because his singing is so much different than mine. I am not totally satisfied with the mixing of the song, but it’s OK…

Rockpages.gr: Also, I like “Fallen Endlessly”…

Apollo: That’s another song I did with George Rain and features Mark Cross on drums!

Rockpages.gr: I was going to ask you about that actually! You’ve got Mark Cross as well as Michael Ehre, two ex-Firewind members, on the album. How did this happen?

Apollo: Because we are friends! I called up Mark who was in Stockholm writing for another band and actually, he was the only one who didn’t record with us. I sent him the song and asked him to write some drums and he said “yes” straight away! Now, we are talking about doing something together, like touring with our bands together…

Rockpages.gr: What language do you use when you talk to Mark? English, or Greek, or both?

Apollo: We talk in German, English and Greek! He is the last real rock’n’roll drummer! He is amazing! He plays fantastic, he is an old school drummer, I really don’t have enough words to tell you how good he is. Michael Ehre on the other hand is more technical… Mark left the band (ed, Firewind) because he wanted things to go to a different direction, while Gus wanted something different. Sometimes, out thoughts don’t go further and that’s what happens with people who want different things, but it’s a shame that he left…

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Rockpages.gr: I also noticed that you play guitar on the album. So, that means that you also composed in guitar?

Apollo: Yes, I wrote some songs and I wrote some with the others, as it’s written in the credits. I wanted the album to be an “explosive forum” and everyone to contribute anyway they wanted. I didn’t want my name all over the credits, that’s the truth. That’s not the point, I don’t want to do everything, I wanted all of us be together. In some songs I thought “since I play guitar, who not put my guitar in there?” That way is easier to have control. If, say, I wanted to change something, I could do it myself, while if there was another guitarist involved and had left to go home, I wouldn’t be able to fix it in the studio until he is back. Actually, with Firewind in the beginning I used to take Gus’s guitar and play! When he was off stage to drink water or whatever I used to do it… that was in the start!

Rockpages.gr: Overall, the album focuses on melody and you hit hard on every chorus. Even on the first spin you remember the songs, something that’s very important for any album…Apollo05

Apollo: Yes, for me if you are a guitarist and you make songs you must never neglect the chorus. Some choruses have a lot of words in them and you go: “is this the chorus, or the verse?” I fall into the category who likes a clean chorus and love music with a powerful refrain. The album focuses in good melodies, refrains and vocals, where the first two are very important. There might not be too many riffs in there, but it’s a “vocal” album you can say. The vocals are a bit louder so they can be heard crystal clear, unlike the albums I did with Firewind and Spiritual Beggars. I thought about doing it this way so those who sing can listen to me better… to listen to what I do and how I do it. It’s like a… tutorial!

Rockpages.gr: There’s also a cover of “Stop” by the project Phenomena, how did this come up?Apollo10

Apollo: That was an idea Ron (ed, Ron “Rocknytt” Dahlgren) had, who runs a big, if not the biggest, Swedish rock/metal website, “Rocknytt”, when he wanted to do a tribute to the late Rey Gillen and though about playing “Stop”. We asked a band from Sweden called Egonaut to play and we even filmed a video that you can find in YouTube. When I begun recording the album Ron called me and told me to use it in “Waterdevils”. I loved Phenomena when I was a kid and I listened to them… the first and the second album are amazing. I like Rey Gillen, whom we lost in 1993, so we decided to use it, but the mix is different.

Rockpages.gr: Firewind will release their new album in January, their first with a new singer. Are you eager to listen to it? Are you curious to find out how it sounds like?

Apollo: Yes, sure! When the album comes out I will go buy it, because I’ve always been a fan of the band, since I met Gus. There are some bands that even if you don’t listen to very often you will go buy the album because you are also a collector. Even KISS when they release an album I go buy it, because I am a KISS-fan since I was little! I listened to the new song (ed, “Hands Of Time” was released the previous day) and liked it a lot, I hope the entire album is cool. I liked it…

 

Rockpages.gr: Do you think that Firewind will have to write different songs, since their singer is not like you, so melodic, but more grainy and aggressive?

Apollo: I liked that they maintain the same style like the previous album we did, I don’t mean “Few Against Many”, but “Defiance”. They went a bit backwards… they sound like that album. I don’t think they will change, they will do the same stuff and I think that the singer will find ways to do new things. He can me melodic if he wants. He is a professional and he can sing melody if needed. It’s just that he had a power metal grainy style in his previous bands, but Firewind have various songs that are not all “kick some ass”power metal. They also have more pop songs and I think he will do a great job. Let’s listen to the album and see. I am anxious waiting to listen what they’ve done.

Rockpages.gr: You said that you are a KISS fan since you were a kid and the truth is that we have loads of KISS fans over here that will argue that the two last album weren’t good…

Apollo: Yes, they were good because they went backwards. I didn’t like the one they did reunited, what was it called? “Psycho Circus”… the first song was good, but the rest sounds plastic, whereas these two are good, they are classic rock!

Rockpages.gr: If I asked you what are your 4-5 favourite album, which would you pick?

Apollo: Well, I’d go to Rainbow… “Rising”! I’d go to Sabbath… the two with Dio, “The Mob Rules” and “Heaven And Hell”… what else? You want 5? We’ve got 3! I wouldn’t put KISS in the 5… Well, I’d say “Defenders Of The Faith” by Judas Priest… yeah! What else? Hmmm… I love Bad Company’s “Running With The Pack”…

Apollo02

Rockpages.gr: What about your favourite from your albums? Harder eh?

Apollo: That’s much harder, but I think I’d pick one by Firewind, or Apiritual Beggars. I think the last one with Spiritual Beggars!

Rockpages.gr: I’d say that with Spiritual Beggars you tend to make a better album every time and I think that you go even more into the ‘70s …

Apollo: Yes… what we do is that we record all together in the studio. We don’t make a take for each instrument. We go in as a band and record all together. Like rehearsing. We sit around, we record, we stop if we don’t like an idea, we talk and we start again. That’s how the new album was made. There is no AutoTune, no click tracks. That’s how we play, on the fly. So, that’s how it feels more ‘70s. it’s better that way and the songs were finished in five days. Later, we might do some takes if the vocals weren’t very good, I go and record them on my own in the studio. We did some changes, but the whole thing was recorded live…

Rockpages.gr: Throughout your career and all the bands you’ve been a member and recorded with, which would you say that were the most important things you learned?

Apollo: When I started I didn’t know anything about touring. How things were like, how everything was organized… and I learned a lot. How the manager thinks, how the tour manager thinks. How does the schedule shapes, how you book gigs… it was more stuff around music and the roles that each one has. Also, I met a lot of people with whom I played with, the way they think and they gave me a lot of ideas… I hope I gave them some ideas too…

Apollo04

More in this category: « Maverick Toxicrose »

2 comments

  • Nikola Franquelli

    I have listened very carefuly to this album since the day it was published and with utmost confidence I can say, I must say, that Waterdevills is one of the best albums of 2016, maybe the best. Songs like Chasing Shadows, Through the Fire, Fallen Endlessly, Rise Up ... are pure gems, hits 101. If Apollo had paid more attention at PR, I am sure that the larger rnr/metal comunity would be blown away and Waterdevills would peak to top 10 by now. But even with less pomp, this album will be remembered for a long, long time.

    Nikola Franquelli Tuesday, 13 December 2016 01:11 Comment Link
  • Steph

    Great interview. Grey artist. Great album.

    Steph Monday, 12 December 2016 17:52 Comment Link

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