“Shadow Rising “came out right at the end of 2019, when I had now frozen my TOP TEN, but it is a great Power Metal record that would have had no difficulty finding a place .. let’s talk now about this record and the Stormburners with their singer Mike Stark.
– Mike: Hi Sergio, it’s nice to be here and have the chance to talk to you, the honor is mine.
I would like to start with your album which has just come out. I think you made a great album and that “Shadow Rising” is probably one of the best records I heard in late 2019. How satisfied are you with the final product?
– Mike: Thanks for all these compliments, Sergio. We are very satisfied with the final results of our work, the production is exactly how we wanted it thanks to our producer Ronny Hemlin who manages the Claustrophobic Studio in Gävle, Sweden. In fact, he played an important role on this record, because he made everyone perform at their best, but managed to do it in a very relaxed way.
When did you realize how deadly the new album is? Since when were you recording or when did you start to see the reaction of fans and the press?
– Mike: The reactions we received from the media and a rapidly growing fan base exceeded our expectations. I mean, being able to enter all these Best Album 2019 lists was crazy, especially for a December release. To get back to your initial question, we at the band thought everything sounded as it should have been well before the release and we were proud of the record. However, we kept telling ourselves that when you are in the middle of recording and for quite some time afterwards it is very difficult to be objective and know if you have done a good or a bad job. I have had previous situations with other bands where I was sure that we had made a great record, but in retrospect, looking back it wasn’t quite like that. So the rule is to let the media and fans judge, not ourselves.
Could you now introduce us to Stormburner and introduce us to a brief history of the band and the individual members?
– Mike: Yes sure. Hi, I’m Mike and the lead singer, hahaha. More seriously: there is Tommi Korkeämäki on rhythm guitar, with whom I co-founded the band in 2016, then we have Mats Hedström on lead guitar, Tommy Jee on bass and Stefan Essmyren on drums. When Tommi and I formed the band in 2016, we didn’t know each other before, so it’s not a band made up of “old friends”, so to speak. The common goal is the passion for Heavy Metal!
Who are the main composers of the band? Do you follow a particular procedure during songwriting? And what do you think are the highlights of the album, the most effective “burn” for “storm” songs?
– Mike: The main composer is Tommi, and our way of creating the songs is to wait for Tommi to come up with a melody. Usually it is the melody for a choir. Then he usually makes a simple registration and sends it to all members before working on it all together. This will obviously be far from the final product, because Mats will also write riffs or some things will be changed etc. etc. I myself write all the vocal texts and melodies, except for many of the choirs always written by Tommi. Tommy Jee writes his bass lines and Stefan adds his drum style.
To sum up, the songs are born from Tommi’s chorus melodies and are then built around the choir itself. This is the most effective way for us and we will continue to follow this recipe. The highlights of the album are obviously different for each of the band members, but my favorite is “Into the Storm”, which is track number eight on side B. Actually, to be honest, I like B more -Side, but I’m happy with how all the songs came out. We faced many difficulties in defining the order of the songs on the album, as well as choosing the single and, if you look at the various feedbacks, the most popular song is the “We Burn” opener, and this is a surprise for me. , therefore in retrospect we should have made this song a “single”.
As you already anticipated, “Shadow Rising” has a brilliant production thanks to the collaboration with Ronny Hemlin, how did the recording sessions go?
– Mike: Everything went very well, Ronny is an old friend; we played together in Steel Attack a long time ago when I played drums, but we have kept in touch over the years. It was an easy decision for the band to work with Ronny and, as the recordings progressed, everyone was super happy with the way all things worked. Ronny is very professional and has a fundamental understanding of every single tool.
How long did you need to try to feel comfortable with the songs before recording them?
– Mike: This varied from one song to another, but not much, so that everyone was satisfied with their parts and knew what to do and that all the vocal melodies fell into place.
What about the album artwork instead, was it difficult or expensive to get in touch with Ken Kelly? How important do you think it is to have an attractive cover?
– Mike: Actually, working with Ken was a very simple and easy process. Basically I sent him a message that expressed what I wanted and I shared with him the video of “Men At Arms” which was published long before the album. Ken called me back and said he liked the song very much and that we should talk on the phone. I called him and we had a nice chat and decided to work together. The cover is very important to me, and it was already as a kid, when I bought records based only on the cover. In this digital age, I think things have changed, but there are still many of us who want a vinyl or a CD with a beautiful artwork. The cover, if done in the right way, immediately represents the nature of an album, and I think we did it well for our debut.
Today concept albums, especially of Fantasy, fantasy stories, are in vogue for many Epic / Power Metal groups. Have you also opted for this choice? What about your lyrics?
– Mike: “Shadow Rising” is not a concept album, all the songs are separated in terms of history and lyrics. However, having said that, most of the songs speak, in one way or another, of Vikings, however without being a concept album.
It seems that everyone in Sweden plays in a Heavy / Rock band, is there something in the air (or in beer … eheheh)?
– Mike: Haha: that’s not true, but I know we have a very high “per capita rate of musicians”. Many wondered why and for what reason. I really don’t know, but before the internet arrived many people needed something to do especially in the cold and dark of winter, and some believe that this is why we have so many musicians and bands.
Well … this is another very demanding question, looking at your debut you are more satisfied:
a. Good music included
b. The album cover
c. The amount of money you will earn
d. The pleasure it gives fans .
e. How beautiful is the band on promotional photos
– Mike: At first glance this seemed difficult, but instead it is rather easy.
I say “d: The Pleasure it gave to the fans”. There is no greater reward as a musician than when your admirers tell you that they appreciate your music. It means everything to us.
Ok, the previous questions were joking … but is it certain that today’s metal scene is very positive for Power & Heavy Metal music, but don’t you fear that the situation is a trend that may end suddenly?
– Mike: Yes you are right. But I don’t think it will end. Watch Sabaton, for example, are about to become the world’s largest Heavy Metal band and there are many other great bands on the rise. Metal is forever and will never die!
Someone might say that Stormburner adds nothing to the legacy of the eighties … What are the differences between Stormburner and the bands of the past in your opinion?
– Mike: The eighties were a great time for Heavy Metal and many of my favorite bands started then. We as a band, when we write songs, we don’t just play like a band from the eighties. We write the songs we like and we will continue to do it in our style, which is obviously influenced by our influences, but I wouldn’t say that our music sounds like that of a group of the eighties. We love Heavy Metal and we will continue to play music our way and if it sounds 80s, it doesn’t worry us.
Just another question: why would anyone choose “Shadow Rising” from other recent Heavy Metal releases? What are the strengths of your debut album?
– Mike: I always have difficulty judging my music, but I’ll try. I think our album is very consistent with a certain kind of Heavy Metal that assails you but that has memorable choruses. I have seen many fans list practically every song on the album as their favorite song and I think this speaks for itself.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview, these last lines are entirely for you …
– Mike: Thanks Sergio for taking the time to speak with us, I hope that a great country like Italy will allow Stormburners to come and visit you for a Viking raid in 2020 and give us the opportunity to meet our Italian supporters . Hail Italy and Burn the Storm!
Interview by Sergio ‘Ermo’ Rapetti at metal.it
Read the interview at metal.it (In Italian)