ProgPulse Logo

Lars Eric Mattsson Interview

Marco De Francesco

LARS ERIC MATTSSON  discusses his new album SONGS FROM A DIFFERENT ROOM (Lion Music 2015)

Please tell me a little bit about what you have been up to lately.

- In 2013 I released my latest new album "Epicentre" and after that I was busy reworking a bunch of reissues due to the 25th anniversary of my first two albums being released in Japan. "Eternity", "No Surrender" and "Earthbound" were all remixed and reissued with bonus tracks. I also released two albums with my earliest material, "Hot and Able 1983-85" and "Let Me Rock You 1985-87" and prior to that the two albums I did with CONDITION RED were also remixed and reissued and a new version of the second BOOK OF REFLECTIONS album "Chapter II: Unfold the Future" was also reissued with some new vocals added.

I had two tracks by J S Bach and W A Mozart released on the compilation albums "Lion Music Presents..."

and on top of all this I joined some old friends to start a classic rock / blues kind of band (Roadhouse) as I was asked to play a small jazz and blues festival.

So, yes I have been kind of busy....

Please describe the music of your new fantastic all acoustic album "Songs From a Different Room"

In 2008 after I had finished the MATTSSON album "Dream Child" I first begun planning for an all acoustic album and actually much of this album was written around that time with a female singer in mind. It was simpy planned to be the follow up to Dream Child, but for various reasons it didn't work out and during the following years I was busy with many other projects while I was thnking that someday the right singer will appear and I will be able to finish it. However, in 2014 I revisted the material and changed some of the melodies a little bit and decided I should sing these songs myself as they really are quite personal anyway. I do consider myself much more of a musician and composer rather than a singer, so I had to put a lot of work into completing these recordings. In the end though, I am very happy with the result.

Please tell me something about each song on the album.

This was the first song I finished for the album, and also the first one I tried my own vocals on, just to see if it could work. Lyrically it's about staying on the right course through life and don't give up even though not all of your days be fantastic. It's actually a quite simple song, but not all great things have to be that complicated I guess.

A little bit of blues feel in this very different love song. Basically it's a "thank you for putting up with this difficult artistic spirit though the years" :-) kind of song.

A song about being true to yourself and never give up. I think this is a big lyrical theme in much of my music.

I gess this is nothing  but a real  true and genuine love song, describing how it feels to actally be in love.

This jazzy blues track's subject is quite the opposite of the previous one. You know deep inside that  it's over, but you just seem stuck in a situation that won't get any better and you know it. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks of the album.

Sometimes when things are hurting really bad it's better to go through the pain and just move on rather than let it drag on forever as you know that there really is no future.

This song is about seeing the light at the end of a tunnel, not as in death but as in the ups and downs of a long lasting relationship. With a little bit of faith and hard work we can do it.

A bluesy track with both sitar and slide guitar to spice things up. Love is hard, you really got to fight to make it.

Perhaps my favourite track. A really progressive song in 7/8 rhythm and an Eastern flavoured theme. Some Al DiMeola influenced guitar solos that I think turned out really cool. Lyrically it's about meeting someone from a completely different culture and feeling this dangerous attraction that might not be good for you.

This song is a bout the big questions in life, perhaps a sequel to "Where Do we Go" off my first album "Eternity". musicially it's a quite progressive piece with a quite different arrangement and an unusual chord structure.

Please tell me what equipment you used to record this album.

- I used a quite big selection of acoustics, borrowed and owned. I have some old acoustic guitars that don't really are of any known brand as far as I know, but there are also Fenders, Martins, Takamines and a huge bodied Finnish Landola on the album. I also used an Indian sitar a little bit on a few pieces. I recorded everything though either an API Channel or an E-Labs Mie-E preamp and all the vocals were recorded with an AKG 414 that went through an LA 610 LA-2 preamp driven quite heavily.

Do you perform live?

- Yes, I recently put together a band with some old friends and we have done some gigs playing our own arrangements of some classic rock and blues songs, sometime we rework them totally so they become totally new songs :-) This is all about jamming and having fun and nothing too serious. I would love to take my own music to the road though and if a good chance appears I will take it.

Do you plan to perform the music of "Songs From A Different Room" live?

- Not at this stage. I am very happy with the album but I am not sure it will wok that well on stage being the perfectionist I am...

 How about your other bands that you have formed?

- well, I don't really have the time anymore to keep them all alive. I do plan to finish a third CONDITION RED album next year, as it's been in the can for a very long time and I made a promise in a weak moment :-) but as far as BOOK OF REFLETIONS I have no plans at the moment. VISION I think belongs in the past. I really feel like I want to do my own music under my own name from now on. I am not too impressed with all the project bands that some guys seem to do without putting too much heart into. To me they all sound like they were manunfactured after a pre set formula. Competent perhaps but very boring mostly.

What was your goal with making this album?

- I just wanted to show a different side of myself as a musician and composer. I love music but I simply don't want to do the same thing all over year after year. All respect to AC/DC and those guys but doing the same thing all over year by year could not work for me. By doing different things I am able to learn new things and grow. When my apetitie to learn new things and grow is gone I hope I will quit.

How do you feel about the music scene of today?

- Businesswize It's very sad really. Older well know bands can go on tour and do well but new bands don't have a chance to get into this circuit. Thanks to YouTube etc everone knows the old classics but there is very little future for new artists. I am not very impressed by all these "project bands". Some guys are a member on a ton of bands and what they produce is nothing special. I think the music business will collapse more or less in the near future. On teh other hand there are lots of great musician and singers out there. One problem is that most of them just want to sound like their heroes, originality has always been rare. And, no, nobody will become a true artist by joining a talent show on TV...

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

- I have been doing this for a long time and I don't really know what I want to do in the future. I love to play the guitar and compose, perhaps now more than ever but I don't want to do music that does not interest me. it's possible that I will do something completely different in the future. It all depends on how I will feel about music and the world it will have to exist in during the coming years.

In what way do you think your album is different from all the other guitar albums that are out there?

- well, first of all this is an album of songs more than a "guitar album". I honestly think there is nothing like this album out there. Most rockers seem to do some quick and crappy unplugged albums in which they don't really put much soul. A lot of hard work and thought went into making "Songs From A Different Room".

How much time to you spend practising and rehearsing music per day or week.

- I practise or jam most days for a few hours, but there has been periods when I haven't touched a guitar for a long time too, like when I am mixing an album or go for vacation.

Do you think that music will survive the current "everything for free" mentality and do you think that people in general care?

- There will always be music, but I don't think professional artists can survive in this bad climate. I hate the idea that music should be free and sponsored by advertising. There should be real value in art. Older artists can still tour because they are known from the past when it made sense to invest money into breaking a band. Now only a fool would invest money that way in a new act.

What are your future plans?

- I want to play live as much as possible at the time and year I will probably be working on some new music as well. I have had enquieries to do some clinics as well but I am not sure I would be any good at that :-)