Lion's Share- 26/02/2009

2009 will see Swedish melodic metal masters LION'S SHARE release their new album, “Dark Hours”. A natural follow-up to 2007's ‘Emotional Coma’, the band builds on their trademark style they have developed. Crushing guitar work, top flight musicianship combined with melodic vocals and a knack for building songs that consume the listener makes this one of 2009's most anticipated. The line-up of the band features singer Patrik Johansson and bassist Sampo Axelsson alongside founding member Lars Chriss (guitar).

 

LION'S SHARE will release their new album, ‘Dark Hours’, on March 25 via Blistering Records. As with their previous release, ‘Dark Hours’ also features some splendid guest players, including guitarist Michael Romeo (Symphony X) and drummer Conny Pettersson (Anata). The new album was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Symphony X, Paradise Lost, Amon Amarth) at Fascination Street.

 

 

So it seems there is much to talk about and guitarist Lars Chriss was available to answer some questions for us. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

Congratulations on your new album ‘Dark Hours’ which will be released next month!

 

First of all, I’m not familiar with your band, so could you start this interview off with a short introduction of the (new) members and the origin of the name of the band for our readers?

 

Lars: Lion’s Share is a Swedish melodic heavy metal band that released its debut in 1995. We signed to Century Media and released our second album ‘Two’ in 1997. During this time we did two tours with Saxon. We also toured all over Europe with Iced Earth and Nevermore. Both this one and the Saxon tour brought us to Holland and Belgium, so we have a lot of  friends and fond memories from down there. In 1999, we put out ‘Fall From Grace’ and toured with U.D.O. and Dee Snider, among others. We also did a huge tour opening for Manowar, DIO and Motörhead before putting out the ‘Entrance’ album in 2001. After this I felt burnt out and needed a break, so I put the band on hold. The comeback album ‘Emotional Coma’ came out on AFM in June 2007, plus we had 2 songs on the MANOWAR dvd ‘The Magic Circle Festival Vol.1’ from our gig there. Now we are back with our latest and greatest album ‘Dark Hours’. The lineup is the same as on ‘Emotional Coma’: Patrik Johansson (vocals), Sampo Axelsson (bass), and Lars Chriss (guitar). We are a trio so we use different drummers for the albums, live etc.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘Dark Hours’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?

 

Lars: Obviously we listened to people’s opinions on the songs from ‘Emotional Coma’, plus we took notice of the reactions from the fans when we played live and took it from there. To us it’s a natural progression of that album. We agreed on making the new songs more up-tempo and more direct and catchy at a first listening. ‘Emotional Coma’ is a great album, but for some people it took a couple of spins before they got 100% into it. This is why we hope to grab the listener faster with this album the first time they hear it. We spent a lot of time both writing and recording the album. We knew what we wanted and didn’t stop until we were 100% happy with the final result. We just found out we won the Soundcheck for best album of the month in Sweden Rock Magazine, so we hope this is a good sign for things to come.

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

 

Lars: A little bit of both. We have no rules when composing, so we just toss around ideas until we believe we have taken the song as far as we possibly can. When we are getting close to finishing up the song writing for an album, we look at the album as a whole and try to see if there’s something missing when listening to it from start to finish. We are always looking for diversity in an album when it comes to modes, key, tempos etc. If the songs are too one dimensional, the album gets boring after a few listens.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Dark Hours’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?

 

Lars: We wanted to be more direct and get the listeners’ attention a lot quicker. Being a musician it’s sometimes hard to make songs for the regular listener that doesn’t play an instrument. If you are doing all these clever things that musicians appreciate, there’s always a risk you shoot over people’s heads.

 

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you? Is there any typical way that a Lion’s Share song comes into being?

 

Lars: We’re a riff band. Every song starts with a great riff. Usually we make sure the song is great instrumentally even before we start thinking about the vocal melody and lyrics. We are influenced by band s like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Megadeth etc. all of which have great riffs as the foundation of their songs. We like great melodies too, so on top of this we always try to create a catchy melody with a memorable hook.

 

Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?

 

Lars: All three of us wrote the songs together. Sampo and I write the riffs and make an instrumental demo. Then it’s usually me and Patrik who write the vocal melody and Patrik writes all the lyrics. We have no set rules or anything though, so as long as it’s a great idea that we all like, we’re good.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?

 

Lars: Riff / music first, then the melody and last the lyrics, in that order to 99%. For “The Presidio 27” I came up with the chorus melody first, but that’s quite rare. If we feel the album as a whole needs another song, we do this too. I think we wrote both “Space Scam” and “Barker Ranch” this way since we felt something was missing when we got close to entering into the album recordings.

 

I read that there is a red thread lyric-wise on the album concerning things that happened in the late Sixties, can you tell me more about the lyrics?

 

Lars: Patrik read a book about the life of Charles Manson and got a lot of inspiration for lyrics from that. Since we didn’t want to make the whole album about him, we decided to cover other important events during the 60s as well. To match the mode of the music we of course went for the darker stuff and not the happy flower power side of that decade.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Dark Hours’: what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

 

Lars: Since all lyrics are about the 60s, we were looking for a title that did reflect this. We toyed around with some different titles with for example the word “decade” in there etc until we decided on “Dark Hours”.

 

How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?

 

Lars: I’m sure it’s very important to Patrik since I know he works very hard on them and he has also gotten a lot of good criticism for his work on ‘Emotional Coma’, hopefully he’ll get that for ‘Dark Hours’, too.

 

Can you tell me more about the guest appearances by Mike Romeo and Conny Pettersson on the album?

 

Lars: When this lineup got together we felt we had such great chemistry, so we decided to keep LS as a trio and hire session drummers for the albums and live shows. Since we grew up with the more old school bands and obviously have those influences in our genes, we feel it’s a great spice to invite younger drummers that maybe come from a death metal style and by doing this mix of influences hopefully make the LS albums stand out and sound fresh. Conny is in a Swedish death Metal band called Anata which are signed to Earache. Mike is of course a brilliant guitar hero and the mastermind of Symphony X which we are big fans of, so it was an honor to have him play a guest solo on “Behind The Curtain”.

 

 

Did you guys spend a fair amount of time working on the record before heading over to record the album? How much time did you spend in the studio for ‘Dark Hours’?

 

Lars: We have very good home studios so our albums are very well planned before we hit the actual album recordings. It’s actually very rare that something gets changed while in the studio. The only thing that’s not planned is the guitar solos which are improvised in the studio right before we start mixing.

 

The album was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren, what made him the perfect man for Lion’s Share? 

 

Lars: We were blown away by the production of Symphony X’s ‘Paradise Lost’, so this was the single reason we hired him. I think he did a great job with ‘Dark Hours’. We wanted to update our sound a bit, too. This is actually the very first time we used any kind of triggers on our drums. For all other albums it’s only the acoustic drum sounds in the mix.

 

In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

 

Lars: Not sure. We still produced it so it was more him getting the sounds we were looking for. I mean everything was already there so his job was more to make it sound as great and powerful as possible. We are very happy with the final result.

 

What do you think are the main differences between your previous album ‘Emotional Coma’ and ‘Dark Hours’?

 

Lars: I think it’s a natural progression. We got a great response on songs like “Trafficking” for example, so we wanted to make sure we brought the essence of that with us to this new album. Obviously the sound is a bit different mostly due to the triggered, more in your face drum sound, which creates more energy to the final mix. I think many people will return to “Emotional Coma” after hearing “Dark Hours” and probably understand EC better now than they maybe did when it was released.

 

Do you have any favorites on ‘Dark Hours’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?

 

Lars: I personally prefer to listen to that album from start to finish. It’s got a great flow and diversity which I’m really happy about. If you break it down song by song, I think the first 5 tracks are probably a little bit better than the last 5. But then again I’d like to look at the album as a whole piece since we wrote the album that way.

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

 

Lars: Only great reactions so far and as I already mentioned, album of the month in Sweden Rock Magazine.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

 

Lars: Of course we listen to what people say, but the final decision is with us. We wouldn’t do anything we didn’t believe in or liked. For picking the video song and track sequence, we had a couple of listening sessions though to see what songs were the most popular by people that heard them for the very first time. This was very interesting and helpful. Pretty close to what we had in mind, but still a great thing to do.

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

 

Lars: I’m extremely happy with this album and wouldn’t change anything.

 

What do you think is the difference between Lion’s Share and other bands in the heavy / power metal scene?

 

Lars: I wouldn’t know. Hopefully people see that we are spending a lot of time and money to make the best albums possible. We try to keep in touch with our fans, signing stuff, meet and greets at shows etc.

 

 

What is your opinion on the heavy / power metal scene these days, what do you think about the overload of bands at the moment?

 

Lars: I think there are a lot of great bands out there at the moment. A lot of very skilled players around. Sure there are too many bands and albums released and it’s real tough to make YOUR album stand out in the face of the buyer. If no one knows about your album, they can’t like or buy it either, so this is probably the hardest part unless you are Metallica or AC/DC.

 

What were the highlights and low points throughout your career up ‘till now?

 

Lars: Highlight must be the arena tour we did with DIO, Manowar and Motörhead. The Magic Circle Festival in front of 10 000 metal heads was great too. Low point was probably when ‘Fall From Grace’ got totally screwed up by the label at the time when they fired their promotion department right around our release. Even though the album did fine, it could have been a major breakthrough for the band back then I think.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?

 

Lars: I started out making albums I would like to hear myself and I think that’s what still motivates me the most. I can only do my best and hope as many as possible appreciate the result. Obviously the support from the fans motivates me too.

 

Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

 

Lars: First time I heard KISS at age 8. That changed my world. My favorite album of all time is Black Sabbath ‘Mob Rules’.

 

What can we expect from Lion’s Share in the near future, any touring plans?

 

Lars: Unfortunately we had to turn down an offer to open up for Saxon and Iced Earth on their European tour since the timing was a bit off. We would have loved to have done that tour and I think we would have fit perfectly, musically. We have 7-8 shows booked so far in Sweden around the release date. Hopefully we will find a suitable tour that will bring us around Europe during 2009.

 

Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

 

Lars: I see no reason to change. We have our own LS sound that we will continue to develop.

 

Any last statement?

 

Lars: Check out ‘Dark Hours’ when it hits the stores on March 30. It can be pre ordered, signed and with a free band logo sticker through our homepage www.lionsshare.org

 

Thanks for your support and rock on!

 

Thanks for your time!

 

My pleasure!

Lars

 

 

 

Current members: 

Lars Chriss – Guitars

Patrik Johansson – Lead Vocals

Sampo Axelsson – Bass

Conny Pettersson – Percussion

 

Former members: 

Mark Norton - Vocals   

Jouni Niemi - Drums   

Mikael Hansson - Bass   

Kay Backlund - Keyboards   

Andreas Loos - Bass   

Anders Engberg - Vocals   

Johan Koleberg - Drums   

Pontus Egberg - Bass   

Tony Niva - Vocals   

 

Albums:

Lion's Share (1995)   

Two (1996)   

Fall From Grace (1999)

Entrance (2001)   

Emotional Coma (2007)   

Dark Hours (2008)