LARS ERIC MATTSSON discusses his new album SAND AND BLOOD (Lion Music 2017) with Andy Carey.
Please tell me a little bit about your new album "Sand and Blood":
Sand and Blood is my new album, my first electric release in four years ("Epicentre" was released in 2013). Two years ago I released the all acoustic album "Songs from a Different Room" which had been in the making since 2008. I wanted to make a timeless classic hard rock album with accessible yet interesting songs.
What was your goal with making this album?
I just knew I had a story to tell, it became very clear to me over time and I was ready to show a somewhat new side of myself as an artist and I think it's a very honest album. No frills, just straight to the point.
Like on the two previous albums "Epicentre" and "Songs from a Different Room" you are handling all the vocals by yourself, please tell mew how you feel about also singing on your albums:
It depends, but when the songs are really super personal like these songs are, it just feels awkward to let anybody else interpret what I am feeling. and it was a big challenge of course, but I like to be challenged and I am getting more comfortable with my vocals over time. Live however, I prefer to concentrate on the guitar and really become one with it and just exisit in the moment.
Please tell me something short about each song on the album:
the first one "Rock Your World" was written specifically to be the album's introduction. Musically I tried to both deliver what might be expected from me while also including something fresh, and most of all, to not over complicate things. Lyrically it's a message to someone to not be too narrow minded and too negative.
"Snow Queen" is perhaps my favorite track with its funky riffing and a a lyric album something I heard about from someone I knew. I really don't want to explain this one too much, it would just take away all the magic. Musically I am really happy with the result.
"You" is a different love song I guess, about how someone special really can change you and the way you see the world. I used the Boel MC7 7 string for the heavy rhythm parts.
"Queen of Love" is about true passion and desire like its sister "Helena of Troy", when you really want someone so bad that you don't care about anything else. Perhaps one of my most accessible ballads ever...
"Helena of Troy" is the first song I finished for the album. I recorded the guitars at least six times until I had the sound I was looking for, and then I knew I was gonna have a great sounding album. I worked my ass off on this one. Lyrically, it is a modern variation of the "Helen of Troy" story. Actually almost all of this album's lyrics are based on this.
"Stand Up and Shout" musically goes back to my mid 80-ies roots. A bit Purple/Rainbow mixed with neoclassical, not very unlike "Tear Down the Border" from my second album "No Surrender" (1989).
"Bleed for You" was mostly recorded in Spain and I had a clear picture of what I wanted to say musically from day one but it turned out completely different :-) I think that was because of the way I chose to use my voice to really add contrasts, but I am happy with it as it turned out so...
"I'll be Your Light" is probably the album's most neoclassical track, and with it's orchestrated arrangement a bit different from most of the other tracks where I tried to keep things simple enough making it somewhat easy to play live.
"If loving You is a Sin" is a slow minor blues with some extras. I tried to not overplay because I hate how some "shredders" play the blues, it just sounds like crap to me. There is nothing more enjoying to me than to jam on a really slow blues with a good band.
"Can't Go On Without Your Love (2017 version)" - I released this song on a four track EP and also on an 8 track tape album independently 30 years ago, which eventually got me signed to a record label, so I thought it would be fun to add a new recording but still very close to the original as a "bonus" feature. Of course there is also another version of this song on my debut album "Eternity".
"Still here Waiting" features Adrienn Antal on vocals. I worked with her in 2008 on "Dream Child" and 2010 on "Tango" (both albums released as "Mattsson") and this song was actually finished a year ago, and was originally intended as just a single, but that didn't happen for some reason. I guess I just became caught up in other things, like life, and then suddenly I was recording an album :-)
Your guitar sound is much better than previously, please tell me what guitar stuff you used to record this album:
Thank you! Yes, I used a Marshall amp, almost no pedals except for the cry baby wah wah, mostly my white modified strat and on the songs "You" and "I will be Your Light" I also used the Boel MC7 7-string.
How long did it take to record this album:
The backing track of "If Loving You is a Sin" was recorded in October 2016, I completed "Still Here Waiting" between October and December 2016, but everything else was recorded between January to June 2017. I was also working on other things at the same time so really you could say I spent about three months, which is fast for me :-) I remixed two other albums at the same time, my 2013 "Epicentre" album and the Lars Eric Mattsson's Vision album "Till the End of Time"...
In what way do you think your album is different from what you have done in the past?
I think as a whole the music is quite accessible, the songs are well structured, I tried to keep the songs from becoming too long or too complicated:-)
Most of this album's lyrics seem to be about love, how important do you think your lyrics are compared to the music?
My lyrics are very important, not su much in the early days but lately for sure. On this album all the lyrics are about real life happenings,, either things I have felt and experienced myself or things I have seen happen close to me.
Do you plan to tour with this album?
I really want to! If I get a chance I will go for it, I have never been more ready.
How about your other bands that you have formed?
They are all either on hold or in retirement, this is all I want to do now.
On your website larsericmattsson.com you are offering a free downloadable book, why did you do this?
I felt it was time to offer something extra, and people very often ask for lyrics for instance. It was my chance to also tell my story.
Which albums would you say make up your most essential catalogue?
For sure my three last solo albums "Sand and Blood", "Songs from a Different Room" and "Epicentre", I am very happy also with the last albums from my bands Book of Reflections - Relentless Fighter, Condition Red - Illusion of Truth and Lars Eric Mattsson's Vision - Till the End of Time. Then again...
Who are your fans?
I have no idea but they seem to very nice people, intelligent and friendly. We are all really just like one big family in a world filled with madness around us :-)
Being a true veteran how fun is performing and producing now compared to when you were starting out?
More than ever! But I do need my breaks, I have always had this need to just get away from music for a short while every now and then. And then I come back with hunger and passion again.
What are your future plans?
I really don't have much plans at the moment. I just want to see how my fans react to this album... Not sure what I will do next, Hopefully get a chance to take my music to the stage....