2021 IN MUSIC: Mike Gaspar’s (Seventh Storm)

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2021 marked also the beginning of a brand new record label: Atomic Fire Records. While the label’s staff are certainly no strangers, some of the bands they have already signed still are. We thought we’d invite some of them to talk about their 2021 and how what we can expect from them in 2022. One of those acts is SEVENTH STORM, so we talked with drummer Mike Gaspar about how the year has been for him.

What musical goals did you set for 2021? Did you achieve them?

By April of 2021, SEVENTH STORM had been rehearsing for almost a year, but very few people knew of our existence. It was important to finally record a demo and get the band into a more productive cycle, as we were ready to expose the band at this time (April 2021) and enter the studio. In May, we recorded three songs to the best of our ability in Lisbon (Portugal) with the help of some friends that believed in this project. My goal was to understand our capabilities in the studio and have a better understanding of our chemistry, as we developed some tricky songs with many influences. In the end, I wanted as much soul and feeling as possible. When I told my good friend Tue Madsen that I had put a band together, he immediately offered to mix it so that we would have a quality product to show the labels. The end result was truly mind-blowing, I loved all the songs and I achieved my goals for sure. Little did I know what was to come…

Were you able to dedicate as much of 2021 to your project/band as you had hoped?

It was a complicated year for everyone. The world was still in lockdown a good part of the year and also the vaccination process had not started in Portugal until the summer. There was still much uncertainty. We also had some members of the band sick and infected with COVID-19 early on in the year, which made rehearsing very hard. There were also so many restrictions because of COVID-19 that there were moments I was in despair. So, I was eager to get this project moving forward and overcome all these obstacles. There were curfews in Portugal for many months where we had to be home by 23:00. The other band members all have jobs, which made it impossible to rehearse during the day, like most bands at the beginning of their careers, but that didn’t stop us. We started to rehearse around 20:00 straight after work so we would have time to compose. It was not a perfect situation, but life is never perfect, and it actually made this journey so much more desirable. We stayed connected virtually, always listening to our demos at home when we could not be together, and somehow I think that made this album extra special. We did our best!

What were some of the highlights you realized in 2021?

The biggest highlight, for sure, were the 2 weeks I dedicated to getting in touch with labels and friends that could help in getting my band a deal. I could barely sleep during that period. I was restless, like many moments of the year, where I was obsessed with the songs. I told the band from the start: if the music is there, if it’s epic, emotional, and with a unique trademark, the rest would be easy. So, I got in touch with Esa [Holopainen] from AMORPHIS, who is a longtime friend with whom I shared many adventures throughout the years. I am truly grateful for what he was about to do (not to mention how much I love AMORPHIS and Finland). The support from Finnish fans over the years has been overwhelming! So many friends and great moments I have had in Suomi! Esa got me in touch with Markus Wosgien and I sent him our demo at the time. Markus got in touch with me, which I couldn’t believe at first. It was the perfect match. He and Markus Staiger and their whole team have been a dream come true. Their experience in metal is one of the best in the world and SEVENTH STORM couldn’t be in better hands being a part of Atomic Fire Records. Our signing was just announced last week. We still have so much to do but our path has been written and we will follow it until the end. Let there be metal once more! I haven’t felt like this since the WOLFHEART days. What a great year it turned out to be!

Is there anything you learned during 2021?

The most important thing I think I learned was to not give up, despite all the awful things happening around the world. It hasn’t been easy seeing so many tours canceled, techs without jobs, and artists, in general, having such a hard time. I’ve been thinking to myself that I’m lucky I had the life I had. I was in a major band since the age of 16. I recorded so many albums. Did so many tours alongside bands like TYPE O NEGATIVE and so many more. That TYPE O tour back in ’96 was a blessing and Pete Steel was a good friend that gave me the best advice. I finally put it to good use! I did everything I could to lift this project from the ground. I listened and took the support from everyone that pushed me to continue. It was difficult but paid off in a way I never saw possible. Hard work and dedication is the key. Through all this, I learned that being humble, open, never turning my back to those fans that wanted an autograph or a picture, made this journey of my come back a reality. Thanks to everyone that was there for me during my lowest moments. I didn’t believe much in myself, but you did!

Have you (re-)discovered any new music during 2021?

I do lots of Taekwondo and running, it helps me think a lot better. Sports were crucial for me in 2021. I think I would have exploded if not for a schedule of training. There is one band in particular that I rediscovered, which was MOTÖRHEAD. For some reason, Lemmy’s lyrics just spoke to me in a way that I had never felt before. I was already a fan, but during these hard times, his music and attitude to life just pushed me in the right direction. I love the old-school sound. I also read his biography a while back. There was so much more to him than people imagined. I respect all that he did and I hope to continue with that fire and attitude! As much as life bites you in the ass, as much as it gets complicated, as much as we worry about what to do next, just remember to breathe. Sometimes I personally get caught up in all the pressure, but I have to remind myself that it’s “just” rock ‘n’ roll and to just keep it honest and with lots of heart. You can’t go wrong. I also started listening to TRIVIUM these last few weeks, I was never a big fan, but the new albums are very nice, I love the vocals and melodies. Going to keep an eye out for them. I always keep going back to my classics: TYPE O NEGATIVE, ROTTING CHRIST, AMORPHIS, JUDAS PRIEST, MÖTLEY CRÜE, OBITUARY, GODSMACK, DEAD CAN DANCE, and so much more. What I really rediscovered is the love I have for music and metal. I’ll do anything for it not to die. Let’s keep it alive brothers and sisters!

What can we expect from you in 2022?

You can expect the release of the SEVENTH STORM‘s debut album! I was so anxious to be able to say that. I’m so humbled and grateful to have this unique opportunity once more in my life. I’ve been on labels since I was 17 with the signing of Adipocere Records. Then the list went on throughout my career. I am truly lucky to have had the best support to spread my music. This is for sure one of the most important albums of my life. Not only was it a struggle to get to this point, but I also had to restart a whole new band, after the career I had. This album has all the weight of my experiences throughout the world. When I was writing the songs with the band, I would always stop to think what a fan from this country or that country would think. I was always a people person and continue to listen to their thoughts, I just love the metal community, we are so tight! We mixed all those experiences with the core of our Portuguese roots and fabulous musicians. This made the perfect recipe for new music, which I thought was never possible to accomplish in Portugal. I’m blessed and lucky to have Ben, Josh, Rez, and Cid on my side. The next most important step for us will be to get on stage and promote this awesome album throughout the world. That will be our highlight. Promote the band as much as we can and with the new album, get our asses on the road! Let’s write new history once more. Hope to meet everyone and get back to our normal lives soon. Stay strong, love you all, until next time!

Written by Laureline Tilkin