Following the release of ECLIPSE’s newest offering of hard rock deliciousness in the form of “Wired,” we had the opportunity to catch up with vocalist Erik Mårtensson to talk about the album, but also discuss the band’s history, legacy, and what it is to (still) be an underground band. Read the whole interview below:
Hello, Erik! How are you doing?
All is great! We are super happy with how the album “Wired” has been received by both fans, media, and radio! And we are so excited to finally be back playing live shows. We have really missed them and hanging out with people.
ECLIPSE have released ten albums so far, including “Wired,” and is considered as one of the most underrated rock bands of the last 20 years. What do you think has made the band so prolific over the years?
When we started this band, melodic hard rock was so out of fashion that people thought we were complete idiots who played it. But as time went on, it started to be more accepted and we were one of the few bands holding the flag high for this kind of music. And we have been getting better for every album as a band. It’s easy to forget but we did our first tour the first time in 2015. So we have only been playing real live shows for 6 years and almost two of them have been a pandemic!
With such a long career, ECLIPSE has certainly gone through ups and downs. What was the best and worst phase of the band?
I’d say the worst phase was in the beginning when no one cared or took notice of the band. Many times we doubted if we should go on. But we kept on writing and recording. I really think the best time of the band is now. We have fantastic chemistry and we have a great time hanging out together.
Talking about your debut, what were those early days like for the band? Were you well accepted? What kind of exposure did you have? Did you see a lot of doors opening for you?
As I said earlier, no one gave a shit about the band in the beginning. The first two albums were more like official demos. We recorded them ourselves and I mixed them and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. This was prior to YouTube so it was trial and error. Unfortunately it mostly errors, so both production, songwriting, and sound more or less sucked [laughs]! It was when we released our album “Bleed & Scream” things started to happen. And after the album “Armageddonize” in 2015, we finally had enough fans to go on a headline tour for the first time. We have always been too poor to be able to do buy-ons as opening act bands. We were all living as musicians in Stockholm by that time. Nowadays it’s a completely different situation of course.
You’ve come a long way since your debut, but how do you feel about the current status of the band? Do you feel as though the band has made it or do you still think there’s a lot of work to do?
We still have a long way to go. I truly believe the best ECLIPSE album is in the future. For every album and every tour, we break new ground and find new fans. We’re still an underground band that most people have never heard of.
Obviously, we’re here to talk about your new album. Since the previous album got really high marks and a lot of critical acclaim, what was your mindset going into the songwriting process for “Wired”? Did you consciously think that you had to top it?
We didn’t think of the previous album at all. The only rule was that we could not write a song that sounded anything like “Viva La Victoria” [laughs]. But there was no pressure or anything. We just started writing together as we’ve done from the very beginning. Even if it was a pandemic, we wrote the music together in the same room. I don’t like writing over the internet. It’s kind of cold and boring.
While working on the album, do you limit your lyrics to certain themes and topics you find appropriate for that particular release? What are some of the lyrical themes on this album?
There is no specific theme on the album. For me, it’s really important that the words go well together with the vibe of the melodies of a song. Sometimes the best lyric can be terrible combined with music and a nonsense lyric that just sounds good can make a song twice as good.
“Dying Breed” is one of the songs I find most interesting, especially from a lyrical standpoint, as I see it as an anthem about either the hard rock community or society in general. I feel like it can work on both levels. What can you tell me about this particular track?
It’s a song I had been working on for a while. I rewrote it many times before it ended up the way it is on the album. The lyrics are about all the nonsense in social media, wannabe musicians in pop music, and music today. I sometimes feel very old for actually working hard learning an instrument, working hard writing songs, and working hard touring and building something from the ground [up]. But that goes for anything nowadays. People always want too many shortcuts. We’re like a dying breed.
Do you take any special avenues as far as your vocals are concerned when you start to prepare for an album? Are there any goals that you have in mind on how you want to sound on a specific record?
I try to get in shape before the recording sessions. Especially after the pandemic, I didn’t get the natural exercise from playing live. But I don’t really have a specific plan. I just wanna do the songs justice and try to push myself to make it as good as possible. If the vocals aren’t good nothing else really matters.
The guitar work on this album is on point. Do you have a favorite solo, lead piece, or riff?
Magnus’ guitar solo on “Run for Cover” is fantastic. So much energy and musicality. I don’t think he ever played as well as on this album. But I’m also very happy with the guitar sound of Magnus and my rhythm guitars. It’s always my guitar in the left speaker and Magnus in the right.
Talking about cover art, I’d like to know a little bit more about how the cover art is connected to the album. What can you tell me about it?
The artwork was shot when we did the video for the song “Saturday Night (Hallelujah).” The set looked so good and we took a photo of the neon sign and the instruments and we instantly knew we had the cover artwork! All pictures in the whole album were shot that same day. It was all put together by the photographer Robin Elmgren and our art designer Anders Fästader under supervision by the band.
What do you hope fans will take away from the album?
I hope they feel it’s a high-energy rock ‘n’ roll album. Filled with songs for all the epic parties we’re gonna have after the pandemic is over. I know we already started but we can continue for a long time. I’m really proud of the record and I haven’t been this excited over an album release in a long time. Can’t wait to tour.
Do you have any favorites on the new record or were there any special situations that happened during the whole writing and recording process that made a certain song memorable?
I really like “Run for Cover.” The easiest song to write was probably “Saturday Night.” I and a friend called Dag Finn (who used to be a singer in a Swedish/Norwegian rock band called SHA-BOOM during the ’80s) were writing songs and by the end of the last day, we had a coffee and were about to end the whole session. After the break, we said, “let’s take just 30 minutes before we call it quits just to see if we can come up with something.” 30 minutes later, we more or less had the basic structure of the song “Saturday Night” and it ended up being the first single from the album.
What about the last album? Apart from “Viva La Victoria,” which songs from the last album had surprising fan reactions? Either expectedto be better or outdid all expectations?
I think that the song “Masquerade” had a lot more success than I thought it would have. I was willing to take it out of the album after we had recorded it but I’m happy we didn’t. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to tour the album as much as we would have hoped due to COVID. So now the focus is moved to “Wired” for the upcoming 2 years. But I guess we will never stop playing “Viva La Victoria.”
ECLIPSE was formed in 1999 and is still going strong. Whenever you decide to retire, what do you want your fans to remember most about your band’s legacy?
Great songwriting that hopefully will stand the test of time. Gonna be interesting to listen to these albums in 20 years and see if they still kick ass.
Do you have any last thoughts you want to share with our fans and our readers?
I hope you will enjoy the new record and play it LOUD! Stay safe and have a couple of cold beers. See you on tour as soon as possible! Cheers!