INTERVIEW WITH CONFESS SINGER JOHN ELLIOT
Date: June 15, 2017
Interviewer: Mark Hovarth
It is extremely difficult these days for a young hard rock band to get their chops and a taste of success. Back in 2014, Confess caught the world by storm with their first full length album Jail. The album was raw, angry and was talked about globally among hard rock and metal fans. The Sleaze Roxx review concluded that “Confess has the heavy style of classic Skid Row, but with the modern sounds of Crashdiet and Hardcore Superstar — they are gritty, raw, and powerful. This is not glam rock, instead it is down and dirty heavy metal with a hint of punk influence that would scare Poison and Bon Jovi off the tour.” Confess was one of the few bands to gain an instantaneous fan base world wide upon the release of their first full length debut.
It’s been three years since Jail, and Confess experienced life on the road with extensive touring and a significant line-up change but are finally back with their much anticipated follow up release Haunters. The band’s new album surprised many of its fans with a bit of a change in musical direction. While still a critically acclaimed album, it left some fans scratching their heads as to how a band could change their sound so drastically. Although in this journalist’s opinion, half of Haunters is still what you’d expect from Confess, alas, the other half has turned a ‘kinder, gentler’ leaf for some more pop sounding metal. Sleaze Roxx caught up with Confess’ lead singer John Elliot to get the scoop on his influences, his thoughts on the music industry and the change in Confess’ musical direction.
Sleaze Roxx: What were your influences musically growing up?
John Elliot: The first band I ever saw live was KISS. I was seven years old and I remember that it changed my life in some ways. I remember me and my friends were doing the KISS make up and made mini concerts where we lip sync to the music. When I got a little older, I got in to more heavy metal like Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc.
Sleaze Roxx: Who were your influences in vocalists?
John Elliot: If we’re talking about just singing, I would say Steven Tyler, Elton John, Brad Delp, CJ Snare, Bruce Dickinson, Sebastian Bach and a few others.
Sleaze Roxx: Who do you admire in lead vocalists today?
John Elliot: The list would probably look the same as the answer before. But I also like some modern singers like Tobias Forge from Ghost and M.Shadows from A7x.
Sleaze Roxx: Were you in any other bands prior to Confess?
John Elliot: No, this was my first band and probably my last.
Sleaze Roxx: What are the origins of Confess? How did you all come together?
John Elliot: I started the band in late 2007/ early 2008 — can’t remember. Anyways, I formed the band with some dudes from my high school. After a few months, I got to know Sam [drummer] and he joined in. Him and I started to write music together and started to search for some new members. It took a few years of searching, writing and playing live in bars in Stockholm before we truly started to understand where we were going with this. But it was fun years.
Sleaze Roxx: How much of a blow to Confess was bassist Lucky and guitarist Denver leaving the band?
John Elliot: It was a real bummer. We had been friends for such a long time and traveled the world together. But they wanted other things with their lives and I get that. If you’re not 100 % in this, you can’t do it. There is no middle thing in playing in a band. You have to sacrifice a lot of hours and a lot of your life to get this going — especially in this day and age.
Sleaze Roxx: Now this is a bit of a long question…a lot of fans have been saying the new album ‘Haunters’ is a bit of a departure in songwriting from the full-length debut ‘Jail.’ I for one think the new album sounds fantastic. Half the songs are a bit more ‘friendly’ if I can use that term, and the other half is the more angry sounding Confess we were introduced to on ‘Jail.’ Did the former members have influence over the songwriting in the past? Or have the new members Van Noice and Richie influenced the songwriting direction on the new album? How did ‘Haunters’ come to fruition with the direction of the songwriting?
John Elliot: Yes and no, on whether Lucky and Denver had influence over the songwriting in the past. For sure, they had a big influence on the sound on ‘Jail.’ But, with that said, I don’t think ‘Haunters’ would sound any different with Lucky and Denver still in the band. ‘Haunters’ sounds the way it does because we wanted it to. We even started to write some of the songs when they were still in the band. About the new members — yes, they brought some new influences to the table. ‘Haunters’ was more of a ”jam” album. We tried out different riffs, melodies and stuff at the rehearsal together. ‘Jail’ was quite the opposite. Me and Sam wrote most of the songs on that album and then we showed it to the guys and arranged it together. So that is the biggest difference in the two albums.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your goals for Confess touring wise?
John Elliot: Don’t know actually. We just go everywhere people want us to go. I think we achieved a lot of our goals that we had when we started out. But I have one goal I really wanna do. It is to go and play in Japan. We have just signed a record deal with a Japanese label so hopefully ‘Haunters’ will sell good in Japan now.
Sleaze Roxx: That’s great! Congrats! How far geographically does Confess tour?
John Elliot: Well, the dollar determines the distance [laughs]. No but, we’ve been through all of Europe. And we have done a few shows in the US as well.
Sleaze Roxx: Is North America or other continents in the cards for this tour?
John Elliot: We really had a great time in the States the last time. Would be super fun to come back and do a full tour. But in these days, touring is so God damn expensive. It’s hard to get the finances together to make something like that work. We’re all older now and we can’t just leave and expect the rent to pay itself you know. When we were 20, we didn’t give a shit. It was like, “Well, fuck it. If we get kicked out from the apartment, we can always crash on the couch in the rehearsal room!”
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] So true! Kids can get away with it. How would you define success based on how the music industry is run today? For example, physical sales have fallen to about 40% of what they were 25 years ago, and digital sales have popped up.
John Elliot: Hmm, good question. If a lot of people are coming to your shows, then I would say you can count yourself as successful.
Sleaze Roxx: If you could give advice to aspiring young rock musicians, what would your advice be on how to make a living in 2017 as a touring act?
John Elliot: I wouldn’t know [laughs]! No but, you can’t make a living on touring these days. At least not in our genre. If you’re not a band like say — Ghost or Metallica. My advice would be prepare yourself to work hard. I mean really hard. But expect to have the time on your life on the road. I’ve had the best moments in my life while we we’re touring. It so much fun. But you need to know what you’re getting yourself in to. I see a lot of bands being formed, especially in Stockholm. Four weeks later, they break up and start a new one. No one seems to get that this is a job. You can’t do this if your intentions are to just party all the time and do drugs and that shit. You need to love playing music.
Confess‘ “Strange Kind Of Affection” song:
Strange kind of affection from upcoming album “Haunters”out march 3 on SG records & Diabolic might records 666.For more info visit http://www.facebook.com/co…
Confess‘ We Are The Rats 2017 video:
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