Date: March 14th, 2005
The Swedish based band SEVEN WISHES certainly has survived their fair share of trials and tribulations. After nearly disbanding forever due to complications involving their former record label (WELL I'M NOT GOING TO SAY IT!), the band sucked it up and has come back with a vengeance. Their new CD "Destination: Alive" is an absolute triumph for the band and is already receiving rave reviews.
Founding member and bassist Tony Westgard sat down to talk with us about the new release, their past problems, and their new positive outlook for the future.
Well, I guess I have to start with the most controversial question. Not mentioning any names, but I understand you guys had some issues with your former record label which almost dismantled the band forever…and you guys were not alone. Can you give us a little insight as to what exactly happened and how did you overcome the adversity to come back as strong as you have?
Well, that’s no secret that the label you mean is UK based Z Records.
Let me just give you some examples: Blank cheques, hardly no statements at all, stupid excuses like "It's impossible to wire money since Swedish banks can't handle currency like Euro" or "Maybe someone stole the cheque from your mailbox while you were at work." Well, honestly… we left all that shit behind us and moved on with our focus straightforward instead.
Who does most of the writing for the band?
It’s very much a team effort. Now with this line up, the band has got three songwriters! Earlier on our previous two albums, I was some kind of main songwriter. I really prefer it when more individuals have what it takes to write a good tune since it is pretty easy to get stuck in “the same wheel” and start to repeat yourself. Both Toby and Leonid are great songwriters!
How do you come up with ideas for your songs and how much does each band member contribute?
Someone will come up with an idea for a new song and then we finish it together or as an individual. Later when we hit the studio to record it we know exactly how it will turn out when we’re finished. It’s very rare that we enter the studio without knowing what to do. Everything is arranged inside the head of the writer(s).
Is there any song on the CD that holds any special meaning to you personally or that you found more challenging than others did?
Very hard question... Actually, at this point very I was pleased with all the tracks and we didn’t add any track as some kind of “filler.” If I have to pick one favorite song, I’ll go with “Follow the Stars” since that track was the first Toby and I wrote for this album.
The title of your CD (“Destination: Alive”) is very profound considering all that you guys have been through. Was it meant to have that underlying meaning or, if not, how did you come up with it?
Well, of course we had our past in mind when we came up with the title. But also, on the other hand, we believe that something a lot of people have in common, is trying to reach a point in life where they could have some peace of mind… to get a sense of calmness from within and get away from some of the bad things in life that make you feel weak. At this point, you probably do your best to reach for the destination called alive.
What do you find is the major difference in writing and recording “Destination: Alive” as oppose to your first two albums?
Hmm… First of all, the band has got a new improved and groovy line up! Even though the band has gone through a lot of shit, we really found the right spirit again. I’ve never been involved in a recording session that turned out so smooth! It was pretty “easy” to record this one since everyone really gave everything. A lot of heart and soul went into this album!
Now I understand the band has gone through a few personnel changes since your last release. Who are the newest members and how much have they contributed to the musical style and direction of the band now?
Wow! The new guys are Toby Andersson on guitars and Lennart “Leonid” Karlsson on drums. Both very skilled with a lot of routine! New blood always brings a different way to approach the music and the writing process. I really think that the band has taken a huge step forward on this album. It has gotten a much wider range compared to our previous two releases. Within the band, we’re now listening to a lot of different kinds of hard rock, which of course, shows in the songwriting.
Who were the members that left and what ever happened to them?
That belongs to the past and we prefer focus towards the future. There’s no bad blood from our side towards past members, but we seriously haven’t got a clue about their activities today.
Who are the founding members and how did you come up with the name of the band?
Me (Tony Westgård) and our singer (Pelle Andersson) are the only ones left from the start. People think that we took our name from the NIGHT RANGER album titled “Seven Wishes” which not true. It was something that just popped up in our early days.
Who was the producer of “Destination: Alive” and how did you hook up with him?
Well, we produced the album by our selves and I did the front cover.
Actually, I can’t see the band working with a producer who is telling us what to do. We’re way to ego for that! (Laughs) The album sounds great and for that, we have to thank our drummer Leo who recorded and mixed the album.
How difficult was it to decide to keep the band going and go into the studio for the first time with a new record label behind you after everything that happened with your first?
Hmm… At first, after all the mess with our former label and other fuzz we weren’t sure about anything or about what we wanted to do. It took us something like two years to finally collect our shit together and start to write new material. After a couple of demos, we landed a deal with MTM music and we felt a new secure and confident feeling within the band. When we finally did enter the studio, everything felt great and it was fun to pretend to be a “rock star” again!
How are they treating you at MTM Records and how much support and promotion have you been getting from them?
Mario and Sebastian at MTM are the best! So far they’ve done more for the band in just a couple of months than what others had done for us in years. We’re very pleased being a part of the MTM roster and we’re looking forward to working with them in the future as well!
Obviously your story is, unfortunately, not uncommon in the industry. What kind of advice would you offer other bands that might be suffering through similar circumstances?
Well… Don’t trust anyone! They all do their best trying to screw you bad! No… seriously, listen to what other acts on the particular label have to say before you sign anything! Try to stay focused and really give everything you have to write the best fucking songs you can! Quality always pays in the end.
So what is your live show like, and have you been playing in support of the release?
We’ve been doing a couple of gigs here in Sweden and hopefully there will be more in the near future!
Are there any plans for a tour?
No touring plans for the moment. There’s no secret that bands like us are suffering quite hard these days. Hitting the road on your own is pretty difficult since the market isn’t as big anymore as it used to be. The best would be to go on tour together with one, maybe two bands as a package. Well… time will tell.
Are you guys slated to appear at any of the European rock festivals coming up in the next several months, and if not, is there any that you would like to be involved with?
We’re on the bill in a couple of Swedish festivals and that’s all we know for now. We would love to get the chance to play in as many festivals as possible. If anyone wants us on the bill, we definitely giggin’!
Have you guys ever played in the United States and is there any potential of something like that happening?
No, that’s too bad! I really think that our chances to play in the US are pretty limited, but that would be a blast if it took place! So, America… what are you waiting for? Bring us over!!!
How would you measure the success of the band and how far do you think it will go?
Well... We’re bigger than a band without a record deal, but on the other hand much smaller than METALLICA! We don’t have any expectations at all. If something happens, it’s great and if not… tough shit.
Who are your influences both individually and as a band?
Within the band, we listen to everything from DOKKEN to KING DIAMOND to PANTERA.
Ok, if you guys actually had SEVEN WISHES, what would they be?
Hmm... In no particular order...
Health, success, money, love, freedom, summer and a couple of Billboard top three hits!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you the best of luck with the new album and hope you guys make it to the States soon.
Thank YOU!!! You’re the best!