Laying down the drums for this album is probably the most difficult work I've ever done in my 40 years as a drummer. And by far the best!
May 2014 - A letter can be the key to making progress. There is so much power in words. Since Motherlode broke up 1989, (1996), and reformed in 2000, the members continued on their own paths. I myself left the first time in 1989 and got the chance to do a lot of drum clinic-work, and also got the chance to do an audition for King Diamond, (didn’t get the job, as you may have noticed). I also got to know a lot of hard rock musicians, like Mickey Dee, Anders Johansson, Jakob Samuel, and Mr. Matthias “IA” Eklund with whom I did a couple of gigs in the nineties.
I worked with Motherlode again between 1992 and 1996, but how hard we ever tried, the band never got the chance to find neither vocalists nor keyboard players that matched up to the lineups from the eighties. And after a short break 1996 the last Motherlode setup with a lot of changes in the lineup, started up and played together up till the end 2014.
And this is where the letter shows up: I just was so saddened by the fact that old musicians and friends didn’t have contact anymore, just carried on their own, without looking back in the mirror every now and then. So, I wrote a letter to my old bandmembers, and we got together, had some food, and a couple of beers, and a few laughs…. I hadn´t socialized with Tom in decades and had a quite spontaneous contact with Peter. What a night!
It didn’t take long after until I got a call, and Stoneface was formed in June 2014. It was time to do something serious now. No Bull!
Tom, Peter, Christer and I started to rehearse, write, produce and record material. Standard “in the rehearsal studio” songwriting as was the trademark of ol’ Motherlode, with a lot of twisting and bending notes back and forth. A slow heavy part suddenly became a forward driven triplet song and so on. Change of Times was first out and the magic was back!
And it didn’t take long until the first demos came up with, a “hired gun” based deal with vocalist Stefan Nykvist. But he wasn’t a steady member, and we literally vacuumed the country after a new singer. Finally, Andreas Novak was found 2017, and came in to record Stoneface, the first album we did in 2018, but he wasn’t a keeper. He left after six months and there we were again. At this moment we did not search for the sound of keyboards in Stoneface, but never say never...
A new record was written and produced in the fall of 2018. Eleven strong songs with everything from long ballads to groovy Van Halen stuff, and double bassline Yngwie stuff, and all the influences four guys in their fifties can have, after consuming the hard rock and metal era of the seventies and the eighties for breakfast.. But no singer, no keys…
What we didn’t know then was that a great sudden change was coming…
With a since long sought-after Yamaha 9000 recording drumkit, and five songs rehearsed and ready, (some since 2014), we went in to Rovljud Studios in Orebro - Sweden, for the recording of the first songs for what would eventually become the Bad Luck World – album. And now Stefan showed up again, and Tom got in touch with old Motherlode keyboard player Johan Chasseur, and finally, we had a band. They both committed to play on the Bad Luck album.
The second half of the originally planned songs were recorded in January 2019, and the last song, Fare The Well, guitarist Tom and I recorded in June 2019, with Peter coming in later in later to add the bass (yes, he’s the bass player…). A cool way to record, I played along with the guitar, and Peter could take his time, without bothering about med dropping my sticks everywhere. So now we had all the basic tracks down, and songs contributing to a wide variety of tempos and feels, and styles.
But it was a Bad Luck situation. When we finally got the band together and a plan for a release, we all got hit by the sad news from Tom. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
To me, this enhances the title totally. I don’t find the world a bad luck place to be, I’m to much of a realist to lean on luck. I see the progress this world goes thru, and sometimes it might feel like we are going backwards, but we are not. Everything is going better, being better, and working better actually, and if it would be so bad, that we cease to exist, in cause of environment issues, it just will start all over again. It’s plain evolution. The Butterfly effect kind’a.
But it sure is a Bad Luck situation that when we finally are on our way, with the best music ever, and a band on the road, this stop sign appears in the horizon…. To me it´s more: Bad Luck to You, World! So much music that You will miss out on!
But, I still don’t regret that letter, it actually moved mountains.
Afraid to Love, a song where the plentiful of single bass drum playing is on the close border to muscular legpain! (Wheelchair now, please…J)
And the icing on the cake: I got to use my cowbell…. (eat your heart out Will Ferrell!). A really cool solo part with Rush-influenced choruses. I just couldn’t keep from going Neil Peart, ( R.I.P), on this one.
Why Does it Happen. Deep Purple’s Stormbringer knocking on the door with a sixteen-note groove, and a bit of Van Halen on the pre choruses. But the upmost heavy one is the chorus. The Priest is back! Double bass drums with a good beating on the toms powers up the guitars. A really swingy one …. And a “Wraggawrom” here as well.
Power has this nice tom-tom intro. A melody of good sounding drums. And the horses are back. A bit of Ratt from the eighties maybe. The verse is rhythmic, and pretty straight forward. Love the fills to the A-choruses, it never ends. And suddenly, it goes triplets. Kind of twisted. And then the speed increases, before the heaviness is back. Yes!
Bad Luck World. A touch of Kiss’s “I Love it Loud”, with some strong Aldridge influenced drum fills. I’m particularly satisfied with the double bass drum overkill before the last verse, and the pause on the snare (singer extraordinaire Stefan helped me out there). I also started out with three alternative intros, but in the end…, triplet rolls always rule the world!
Never Ask About the Bones. A song with an AC/DC feel. I could hear Bon Scott in the room while playing. A tricky chorus that cheats the guitar, and creates some confusion, maybe. The verse is my favorite.
Change of Times. The oldest song, from 2014. Ok, so there is a Bon Jovi influenced intro, and a bit of Yes in the verses. And a power chorus. Glad that Peter followed along here.The drum intro is in sixteen-notes, with tom-accents on every third note. Kind a moving…
The B-chorus with its double bass drums and off-china is from the eighties - great fun to apply. In the outro there is a lot of cool stuff happening (if you know your Ozzy - Bark at the Moon, you might recognize some of it….)
The Last days. It is slow. And heavy. And has an odd time signature. Hard to play, hard not to rush into. The key: keep it simple, keep it heavy. Hope I did…. And the calm piece with the china…mystery…but cool.
After B had to straight forward, four on the floor feel, with some enhancement on the chorus. It was important to get the B-chorus happening, so a bit “horse galloping” in the beat kept it alive. And here is Neil again as I come out of the solo…
Evil is… An old song with ideas from Thin Lizzy’s Black Rose. I play the same tempo, but with different feel, and vary between 4/4 and 6/8. And the outro….
I don’t really remember….really.
Next Time. Killer sound. Here Lars Ulrich joins behind my kit. I love his playing on “Nothing else…”, and at the same time, there’s a lot of nice shuffle stuff, and also the power-accents in crazy triplets. On the outro, there is a lot of cymbal-work that catches the guitar phrasing. Peter is going bananas, and I couldn’t follow his melodic stuff, so I caught up with Tom instead.
And I got to do a “wraggawroom” on the toms…..
Really fun double bass work that follows the melodic rhythm. Powers up the community.
Fare Thee Well. While recording this with Tom he’s suffering from heavy cancer treatment. But he´s holding up, and the massive double bass drum I put down work is one of my trademark beats. And playing the beat on the guitar melody-part, brings me back to Detroit Rock City. Suddenly it’s 1976 and I´m ten years old again…..
Despite Tom’s situation it was all so happy. And that feeling is what I wanted to pass on to you, to the band and in particular to Tom.
The end of that song holds so much drama. Here, as well as in Next time I can’t keep off my cymbals, and it orchestrates the outro so god damn well.
My best drum takes ever!
While bringing these reflections to you all, I also sincerely want to thank you for reading and listening to, (and hopefully enjoying) the songs, and a big thanks to every cymbal-, drum-, drumstick- and drumhead manufacturer in the world. I have played them all, and they are all so good.
And a very special thanks to Tom, Peter, Christer, Johan, Stefan and Viktor for making this a reality.
/Martin Hedberg, Stoneface 2020