After a sizeable gap between album releases, Asteroid returned this year to remind the world how Psychedelic Rock is done properly. 'III' is an album crafted with care and written to be taken out on the road. Despite how turbulent this year may have been for the band, the songs within show confidence and strength without a crack in sight. Play loud, Asteroid command it !
I spoke with Johannes Nilsson and asked how the bands return has been...
Hi Johannes! It's good to speak with you. You've just released 'III' after a fairly lengthy break; how does feel being back out there?
Hey Jaf! Great to speak with you! Yeah, we released the album in Europe just a couple of weeks ago. It feels great being at it again and the response have been very promising so far. By the way, I really appreciate your words on the new record. It's always exciting to put out new material and getting the listeners opinions of it.
How has 2016 been for Asteroid?
The year since we started up has been a handful. Bringing it all up takes a lot of effort and everything has to happen at the same time. We decided to release the new album within a year of writing the new material; and recording; planning the release booking shows and everything surrounding that, really took a lot of effort. Suddenly, in the middle of it all, Elvis decided to quit for good. We are really sad that he’s not in Asteroid anymore, but we’re still friends, and I play with him in another project called Mörkla. But it’s still Elvis appearing on the album! Being back in the road, on the other hand, is just pure pleasure. I guess we’re all in it to play live. We’ve all missed the fans. It feels like we have a long term relationship with them and it feels great to see them again! So everything combined, 2016 has been a turbulent, but a really awesome year.
It doesn't translate as turbulent on the record; in fact, it's a very focused and direct album. You took quite a long break between albums II and III. Has much changed in the way bands need to operate?
Thanks. Well, we’d never compromise with the song writing. And, we’ve always been very careful when we’re putting the album together. The total composition is important, and it’s written as a whole album, not just separate songs. Therefore, we hope that people also listen to is as a whole! I wouldn’t say the ways have changed in general; but we had to change the way to write and record the album. As I said, we decided right away to release a new album within a year, after the reunion. So, the process of writing and recording was really fast. We even wrote the last song, Pale Moon, first on the album, while in the studio. We had even started taking the mics down! Previously, we let the music grow over a longer period, jamming back, and forth, and even play the songs live a few times. Playing songs live will change them constantly, giving them a closer live nerve. I will admit that seeing the songs from III live now, will be somewhat different from hearing them on the album.
Tell me a little bit about the processes you go through as a band when you're recording.
The recording procedure also changed because of the shorter recording span. Recording II was a completely different experience, spread out over maybe half a year. Back then, we recorded most of it live. This time around, we did more of a standard separated production; laying the drums first and then adding each instruments and the vocals last. Personally, not at all a favorite way of doing music, but it was also a new and rewarding experience.
What were you listening too whilst you recorded the album? Does that ever influence your sound?
I think the three of us have a wide variation of musical influences, and that probably affects the essence of our sound. It has always been like that and we let our sound evolve around the musicians in the band, rather than clinging on to some assumption of what Asteroid should sound like. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sound changes somewhat now when we’re adding Jimmi Kohlsheen to the mix, instead of Elvis. The foundation for all of us is, of course, classic late 60’s and early 70’s rock, with loads of obscure bands many people not of heard of. I, personally, listen to pretty much all kind of music from all kinds of progressive music, though hardcore and black metal, to old American blues and Swedish folk and jazz. Professionally, I’ve listen to around a thousand new artists every year, for a bunch of years, and I usually try to have an open mind to new music whilst never getting stuck in certain genres. As much as all music builds on many layers of historical efforts, so is new music.
Do you have plans to tour the album wider; you appear to be touring extensively already?
We started touring right away. Playing live is our main objective and we probably wouldn’t be in it at all if it wasn’t for the live side of it. Doing the last tour through Europe and meeting old friends and seeing familiar faces really gets to you. We met people that have been with us as long as the rest of us in the band, dressed in band shirts from tours back in like 2008! So, for us this is a long term relationship that we want to keep up! As for the future, we will keep on playing as much as possible. I think we will put much effort in establishing the new sound with Jimmi and make new music right away! I can’t say when that will be released, but it will not take another six years!
It must be a great opportunity for newer bands to tour with a band of your stature and reputation. Are there any new bands out there we should keep an eye on?
I love seeing new bands! I think I’ve seen pretty much all of the bands we’ve played with over the years. Both to get in live mood for my own sake, but mostly to see what kind of stuff they do. I have a big respect of all musicians and artists making their own music and I try to help with advice and tips if I can. On the last tour, we had the German band Limestone Whale with us for almost all of the tour. They were really cool and helpful guys and they were constantly picking our brains for advice! We were all glad to help out with what we could. Furthermore, check out Danish 'The Boy That Got Away' and Finnish 'Death Hawks'. They are really cool, upcoming bands and also great people!
Do you have any favorite albums of the year?
I’d go with ‘Nucleus’ from our fellow Örebro rockers in Witchcraft.
Great hearing from you Johannes; Happy New Year to you all!
Asteroid III on Bandcamp