Interview with Evergrey (Mikael Håkansson)

Swedish starlets Evergrey are headed for success with their latest effort Monday Morning Apocalypse. Bassist and original member Mikael Håkansson took some time off his rather busy schedule to tell Metal Express Radio’s correspondent about fame, fortune, and bad Mondays. Read on!

Metal Express Radio: You’ve just released you’re new album “Monday Morning Apocalypse”. What do you think of the album?

Michael Håkansson: I am extremely happy with the result of the album and very proud of the work we have put down on this one. We had a lot of fun!!!

MER: Who wrote the songs this time around?

MH: As usual the main part is written by Tom and Henrik but both Jonas and Rikard has contributed with material as well.

MER: What did you aim for musically while making this album?

MH: To continue the work of composing great songs and create the music we love. To stay true to yourself is the most important thing if you want to be successful. For every album we learn new stuff that we intercourse in the process of creating the next album and that is what we have done this time as well but this time we managed to do something that we have been wanting to do for quite some time and that was to aim directly for the very core, the essence of the song.

MER: The production is more stripped down than earlier, was this your intention?

MH: In a way of concentrating on a more direct approach of the songs this was a natural step for us to take. We brought the guitars more up front to give the album a harder edge then before.

MER: How was working with Sanken Sandquist and Stefan Glaumann?

MH: It was absolutely fantastic. We learned a lot from them and they came with what we were looking for. Fresh thinking, new blood and new ways of working. We are very please with the work they have done and I’m really happy that we took the decision to work with them.

MER: Some songs, like ”In Remembrance”, definitely have a big hit potential. If I say that the album has a more commercial vibe than before, what do you think of that statement?

MH: It may be so, that is nothing that I really pay too much attention to. But I can see that since we have cut down on some elements in the music and the fact that the songs are shorter it becomes a bit more “available” for more people. To me that is nothing negative though.

MER: What type of songs lie the closest to your personal preference – the more intricate and progressive ones or the more simple and accessible?

MH: At the moment it is without doubt the more accessible ones and I think the other guys share my opinion about that and therefore the album sounds the way it does.

MER: Which are your favorites off ”Monday Morning Apocalypse?”

MH: That is a hard question 🙂 If I have to mention a few then of today I’ll say Lost, In Remembrance, Still In The Water and I Should.

MER: What are the lyrics about this time, and what does the title mean?

MH: There is no concept this time, it’s 12 individual songs. We deal with death, mobbing, illwill and loss to mention a few topics. Basically everyday things that everyone can relate to in one way or another. Things that in one way or another has caught our attention. The title plays a little bit with the thoughts that everything can happen any time, you never know what lurks around the corner or what will happen next morning. You can also look at it from the point of view of a mobbed person that every Monday another week of hell begins.

MER: The cover concept is quite original, what is the intention behind that?

MH: We wanted to do something different from everything we have done and we wanted to do something that would catch the attention of people. If you’re looking for a deeper meaning you can surely find it within the lyrics. The human mind is a strong weapon that can make people do horrible things.

MER: You have evolved quite a bit since ”The Dark Discovery”, where do you get your inspiration from?

MH: Everyday life has always been a big source of inspiration for Evergrey and when it comes to musical influenced I would say that everything you listen to and like inspires you in one way or another. We as persons evolve as we get older and therefore it’s quite natural that so do our music.

MER: How is it to be a member in Evergrey now compared to back then – I’m thinking of member changes, the band growing etc?

MH: Since we have a solid line up nowadays it’s easier I guess. We are 5 guys who totally rely on each other and work towards the same goals and achievements. Growing means of course more and harder work but the payback in form of success is of course bigger too, he he. The member changes have been painful for the band but something we had to go through to find the right persons for this. It takes a lot from a person to be able to handle the situation of being a member of a hard working band.

MER: Does the success of other Swedish bands – Soilwork, In Flames, Hammerfall – affect you? If so, how?

MH: In one way I guess since it opens up the eyes for Swedish metal and that gives us an advantage in the shape of a bigger interest in other stuff from Sweden.

MER: What do you want to achieve with your music?

MH: To have as much fun as possible and to reach out to a wide range of different people with what we create. A diverse fan base is a great proof of your music’s many sides I believe.

MER: How do you feel you as a band have evolved?

MH: We have evolved as musicians as well as composers. Since we have been a steady unit for a couple of years now too I definitely think we have become a really good live act as well.

MER: How will you tour to support the album?

MH: We are starting out with some shows in Sweden in April and the will be followed by a tour all throughout may in the States together with In Flames, Nevermore and Throwdown. After that we are jumping right into the festival season during all summer back in Europe. After the summer we have plans for a bigger tour in Europe and then back to the U.S again. Somewhere in between we will try to find time for South America too so we are looking at a very hectic year.

MER: Which of the new songs will be played live?

MH: We have said that we will try all of them out and see which ones of them are best suited for our show. It’s always hard to know which ones that will actually work. We are also planning to bring in a couple of older tunes that we have never played live before.

MER: How does your family and friends relate to the fact that you’re away that much?

MH: It is hard, I would be stupid to say it’s not. But if you have good friends they understand that what you do depends on the time you put into it and when it comes to family…….that is hard… need to have a family who is very understanding and it’s very important to have an open dialogue about everything if you want to make it work. And last but least, the keyword: PLANNING.

MER: Where are you in 10 years from now?

MH: Hopefully I am still doing what I love the most which is working full time with music. Of course my highest dream is to still be successful with Evergrey…….a couple of levels up 🙂

MER: How do you feel Evergrey can improve?

MH: We can of course improve everything from songwriting to handling instruments. Being a musician is nothing you ever get completely “done” with. It’s a constant evolution that you need to look after in order to be able to continue doing interesting work.

Wise words there. Whether you like it or not, the “new” Evergrey is here to stay. Now check out the new album for yourself, it may very well be that that it, well, rocks. So there!


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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