INTERVIEW WITH ECLIPSE SINGER, AND AMMUNITION AND NORDIC UNION GUITARIST, ERIK MÅRTENSSON
Date: October 28, 2016
ERIK MÅRTENSSON IS ONE BUSY GUY. PRODUCER, GUITARIST, SINGER — MÅRTENSSON CAN DO THEM ALL AND AS CAN BE HEARD ON THE LATEST ALBUMS FROM ECLIPSE, AMMUNITION AND NORDIC UNION, HE IS VERY PROFICIENT AT WHATEVER HE TAKES ON. SLEAZE ROXX HAD THE PLEASURE AND HONOUR TO SIT DOWN WITH AND INTERVIEW MÅRTENSSON SOON AFTER AMMUNITION FINISHED THEIR STELLAR SET AT THE ROCK N SKULL FESTIVAL. JUDGING BY MÅRTENSSON’S LAST ANSWER IN THIS INTERVIEW, PERHAPS HE HAS AT LEAST ONE MORE DIFFERENT PROJECT IN HIM SOONER RATHER THAN LATER.
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on Ammunition’s show! It was fantastic! I understand that Ammunition are a fairly new band. How did you get started with Ammunition in the first place?
Erik Mårtensson: I run my own studio — music studio. I produce a lot of records for different bands and artists. I mix a lot of records. I was contacted by the singer Åge [Sten Nilsen] to produce his solo album. One thing led to another and I turned out to be the guitar player in the band [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Erik Mårtensson: That’s what happened. After awhile, it was “This sounds like a proper record from a band. It doesn’t sound like a solo record anymore.”
Sleaze Roxx: How did you recruit the other band members?
Erik Mårtensson: That’s a good story, a long story, but we had a few different line-ups before we finally got this one. We started off with the bass player from King Diamond. He was in for awhile but it didn’t really work out as good as we hoped so we brought in the bass player from TNT — the Norwegian band — ‘Tell No Tales.’ I can’t really tell. I have no idea [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Erik Mårtensson: We just found people who can actually play and the drummer is actually the bass player from Eclipse.
Sleaze Roxx: I understand that you have a new album coming up with Ammunition and you have already recorded the songs.
Erik Mårtensson: Yes.
Sleaze Roxx: So when is the album going to be coming out?
Erik Mårtensson: I have no idea. I am going to mix it as soon as I have the time to do it ’cause everything is recorded. The album is a really really good album but we are still looking for the right partner to release it. We have several options and I think it is a bit of a fight who’s going to release the album and what not.
Sleaze Roxx: Well, it’s a nice thing to have [laughs].
Erik Mårtensson: It’s a privilege to have.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you say that the new album differs from the first one?
Erik Mårtensson: I’d say that it sounds more unique. We have evolved after playing a lot of live shows and getting to know each other as a band. I think that we tried to focus on doing the stuff that we do well and we tried not to sound like others. The first album was more a classic rock album. You can hear the influences from song to song but the new one, it sounds fresh for us. It’s something new for us all.
Sleaze Roxx: It must have been pretty special playing at Rock N Skull given that I believe it’s the first time that Ammunition plays in the United States [of America]?
Erik Mårtensson: It is the first time. I’ve been here with Jeff Scott Soto three years ago. So I have been here playing shows before but for Ammunition, it’s the first time, so pretty special!
Erik Mårtensson: Aaaaah [smiling]!
Sleaze Roxx: So I apologize for that [laughs] but I understand that there is a new Eclipse album coming out?
Erik Mårtensson: Yes. It’s a new one. It’s coming out in late February or late March . The release date is not yet fully set but in a manic pace, we are going to produce a new one. It’s going to be delivered to the record company at the end of November.
Sleaze Roxx: And have all the songs been recorded already or do you still have to do that?
Erik Mårtensson: They have not been recorded yet. We have just written them. We wrote them in just over a month so it’s the fastest made album that I have heard of.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] You’ve got a lot of work to do!
Erik Mårtensson: I’ve got a lot of work to do!
Sleaze Roxx: How does the new album differ from ‘Armageddonize‘?
Erik Mårtensson: It doesn’t differ that much. It’s an album just full of good songs. I think that is the main focus always with Eclipse — just having good songs. If they differ, we don’t really care. We just want to have good songs that connect with people. I think that is the main thing for us. But if there is something — it’s the same thing with Ammunition — we always try to focus on finding our own sound for every album. We try to sound less and less like anyone else and more like Eclipse.
Sleaze Roxx: My friends at Decibel Geek told me that you are not very keen on the first two Eclipse albums [‘The Truth And A Little More’ (2001) and ‘Second To None’ (2004)].
Erik Mårtensson: No.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] Why aren’t you interested in those two albums and I understand that you don’t want to re-release them anymore.
Erik Mårtensson: No. I was very very young when we got contracted for the first album. The only thing that is in common is that I am in the band, the name and the guitarist [Magnus Henriksson] is also in the band. Me and the guitarist were in the band and we had the same name but you know, we were small kids and the songwriting, it’s not good. The production is not good. The first album, I mixed, and the second one as well. I mixed myself and I had never seen a mixing desk before I mixed the albums. I had no idea what to do. There were no budgets. There were no nothing. You can more say that they were official demos.
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Erik Mårtensson: And if someone finds Eclipse and wants to listen to the band, and if you have heard about it, and they listen to the first two albums, they are going to think it’s a shit band. So there is no point in re-releasing them or giving them out to the public.
Sleaze Roxx: Fair enough.
Erik Mårtensson: That’s the reason. We don’t think that they are good enough. So we consider the third one [‘Are You Ready To Rock‘ (2008)] as the first Eclipse album.
Sleaze Roxx: Out of the three last ones, which one would be your favorite?
Erik Mårtensson: I think ‘Armageddonize’ is my favorite — the last one.
Sleaze Roxx: And why is that?
Erik Mårtensson: I think I evolve every year as a songwriter and I think for every album, I am getting better and better. I think the new one will be even better than ‘Armageddonize.’ Writing songs and producing music is a craft. If you’re a plumber or a carpenter or something, the more kitchens you do if you’re a carpenter, the better you get at it — the better you get at doing it. It’s the same thing with music.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking that you were very young when you did the first Eclipse album, you seem to have the fountain of youth [laughs]. You look youthful all the time. What is your secret?
Erik Mårtensson: Aaaah. I eat a lot of shit — crap food — and drink too much alcohol and sleep too little. I think that is the secret trick [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs]
Erik Mårtensson: I’m doing my best to get old but it’s not working at the moment.
Sleaze Roxx: I wish I had that problem. Now, what about Nordic Union. I saw that there was an interview that Ronnie Atkins did recently and he wasn’t sure whether you guys would ever play live. Has there been any talks of your guys playing live gigs?
Erik Mårtensson: Yes. It actually has. I talked to Ronnie one or two weeks ago. We decided we are going to do another album as well. We are going to try to play some live shows as well — starting up the machinery of playing live.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s great!
Erik Mårtensson: Yes, that’s great. It turned out to be a great album and I think the songs deserve to be played live. And I would love to play with Ronnie Atkins! He’s the fucking singer for Pretty Maids [laughs]!
Sleaze Roxx: For sure! For someone who does not know your various bands, how would you compare them? You have Eclipse, Ammunition, W.E.T., Nordic Union — am I missing any?
Erik Mårtensson: No.
Sleaze Roxx: Alright. So how would you distinguish the four bands?
Erik Mårtensson: First of all, it sounds like a lot but I do music for a living. That’s what I do. That’s the only thing I do. I don’t have a regular job. I do this every day, every week. That gives me a lot of time to spend on doing music. And I am very fast at doing music [laughs] so that’s why it works. Eclipse is my main band. That is my music. That’s the kind of music that I wanted to do when I was a kid and that’s the reason I do music. All the other bands, they started off as work but turned out to being something special. They are all different and they all have their unique style. Even if I am the songwriter, different singers and different people in the band make them sound different. That’s what differs them.
Sleaze Roxx: So how would you distinguish them to someone who doesn’t know the bands — if you had to describe the sound or the music to someone?
Erik Mårtensson: I’d say Ammunition is pure classic rock. It is more like ’70s and ’80s hard rock — the stuff that we grew up listening to and love. Everything from Deep Purple — well, maybe not Deep Purple — to Guns N’ Roses and all the stuff that we’ve loved and been inspired by. Eclipse is kind of where I drive my inspiration and try to find new ways of doing music. We try to find something really unique about it and no one tells us what to do. That’s the reason that I am doing it. W.E.T. is more melodic, very melodic, more Journey, more the classic AOR — harder AOR style. Nordic Union is kind of not really the same. I wanted to have a little bit more darker tone and with Ronnie’s voice, it kind of makes it very special ’cause his voice is very different from the voice you regularly hear on that kind of music. It’s not your typical voice and that makes it special ’cause it’s unexpected to hear that kind of voice for these kinds of songs. That’s what I really like about them.
Ammunition‘s “Road To Babylon” video:
AMMUNITION – ROAD TO BABYLON Official video – taken from the album SHANGHAIED Buy album here https://itunes.apple.com/no/album/shanghaied/id942530771 Official website: http://www.ammunition.no Official facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ammunition/1404489566506923?ref=hl G-Netic Music
Eclipse‘s “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry” video:
Order the new album “Armageddonize” here: Amazon: http://geni.us/EclipseAmazononize 2015 – EUROPEAN TOUR DATES Mar 04 Debaser Strand Stockholm, Sweden Mar 05 KB Malmö, Sweden Mar 06 Backstage Rockbar Trollhättan, Sweden Mar 07 Sticky Fingers Goteborg, Sweden Mar 10 Underworld London, United Kingdom Mar 11 Yardbirds Grimsby, United Kingdom Mar 12
W.E.T.‘s “Learn To Live Again” video:
W.E.T. “Learn To Live Again” digital single is out now on Frontiers Records. “Learn To Live Again” is taken from the album “Rise Up”. Release dates: Europe February 22nd 2013 / U.S.A.
Nordic Union‘s “Hypocrisy” video:
Order your copy of NORDIC UNION’s self-titled debut album NOW: http://radi.al/NordicUnion Amazon: http://radi.al/NordicUnionAmazon iTunes: http://radi.al/NordicUnioniTunes Google Play: http://radi.al/NordicUnionGPlay Subscribe – http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=FrontiersRecords Frontiers Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/frontiersmusicsrl Twitter – https://twitter.com/FrontiersMusic1 Web – http://www.frontiers.it/home/
Sleaze Roxx: Do you find it difficult to juggle the different bands? For example, you’ve played in Ammunition tonight and you’re playing in Eclipse tomorrow. So is that difficult in any way?
Erik Mårtensson: No. It’s not difficult. I’m here. Give me a guitar and I’ll play in Ammunition. Give me a mic and I’ll sing the Eclipse stuff but we usually don’t do it. We usually don’t blend the bands ’cause we don’t have the bands at the same festivals or gigs. We try to differ them quite radically. This is kind of almost an one off.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your three favorite albums and why?
Erik Mårtensson: Oh! I hate that question! OK, I’d say ‘Powerage’ by AC/DC. It’s fantastic. I’d say — I’d probably have to say ‘1987’ with Whitesnake. Ah man… ‘In Rock” with Deep Purple. Or maybe ‘Reign In Blood’ with AC… No! ‘Reign In Blood’ with Slayer! I think i”d say that before Deep Purple because I play a lot of thrash metal.
Sleaze Roxx: Really?
Erik Mårtensson: Yeah. That’s what I grew up playing and that’s how I learned to play guitar.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s so weird because you really don’t hear the thrash metal in most of your bands.
Erik Mårtensson: No, not at all. I didn’t listen to much melodic stuff. I never listened to Journey and all that AOR stuff. I never listened to it so I think that’s sort of key on why I can do this music. I don’t know everything about it. I just make a good copy of it. I listen to it and I find inspiration in the small bits and pieces that I like, and then I do my version of it.
Sleaze Roxx: Have you ever thought of doing a thrash metal band?
Erik Mårtensson: Many many times!
Sleaze Roxx: And where are you at there [laughs]?
Erik Mårtensson: When I was a kid, we had a Slayer cover band. I used to play guitar and sing. We just played Slayer all the time.
Sleaze Roxx: I would have never guessed [laughs].
Erik Mårtensson: Yeah, I can scream pretty good. My right hand for playing fast — rhythm parts — it’s still brutal.
Sleaze Roxx: Would you ever consider doing a thrash metal band now?
Erik Mårtensson: I would love to do it but I don’t think that in reality, I don’t think that I have the time to do it. I listen to it a lot. I listen to a lot of thrash metal. And the new Megadeth album is unbelievably good!
Thank you very much to Shawn Irwin at Decibel Geek for contacting Mårtensson at Rock N Skull to see whether he would be interested in getting interviewed by Sleaze Roxx as well.