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The Poodles

Met 'Performocracy' brengen de vier Zweedse rockers van The Poodles hun vierde album uit, het eerste album via Frontiers (afgezien van de live cd en dvd). En om The Poodles kunnen we inmiddels niet meer heen. Wie de mannen een beetje heeft gevolgd zal niet ontkennen dat de band gedurende deze vier albums een behoorlijke groei heeft doorgemaakt. Klonk hun eerste album nog als echte, jeugdige (ahum..) glam rock met wat metal, inmiddels is hun geluid en vooral manier van nummers schrijven eh, volwassener geworden. Nog steeds herkenbaar als The Poodles maar veel interessanter. Wij stelden bassnarenplukker Pontus Egberg een aantal vragen over het nieuwe album, hun live reputatie, wat hij lekker vindt, en heeft hij nou al die Ferrari?

Door: Arco | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

Thank you for your time to do this interview. Where are you at this moment and how are you doing?
Hi Arco, thank you for having us! I'm at home right now, in my house which is located just outside Stockholm, Sweden. As you probably understand we're having a period right now with quite a lot of promotional work before the release of the new album so there's a lot of this going on, interviews, both by email and over the phone. So a lot of work but it's great!

Before I ask you everything (or a lot) about the new album, was 'Clash Of The Elements' as successful as you all hoped it would be?
We all think 'Clash Of The Elements' was a fantastic album and it also received a lot of great response from fans all over the place and really good reviews in most places so we are very happy with that. We did however have a bit of trouble with the distribution and promotion of that album so sales-wise it didn't really live up to the expectations we had on it. I was still OK though and now we have a brand new record deal with Frontiers Records so I really hope and I don't think we'll have any problems in that area this time around.

Can you tell what happened between the release of 'Clash Of The Elements' and lets say..now?
We release our last studio album 'Clash Of The Elements' in 2009 and since then we have been doing a lot of touring, as usual, both back home in Sweden but also two headliner tours of Europe. During the first part of 2010 we were writing a lot of music for the new album when we were not on the road or busy with other things and in late summer we started focusing our efforts and picking which songs would actually be recorded and choosing what studio to record in and all that. Around that same time we signed a new world-wide record deal with Frontiers Records and in November we released the live package including the live DVD 'In The Flesh' and the live CD 'No Quarter'. At the same time we were in the studio recording what was to become 'Performocracy'. We spent most of the fall recording and were all done with the new album just before Christmas. This spring so far has been busy with different kinds of promotional work, photo shoots, video shoots, doing interviews and all kinds of other stuff so I guess you could say we are very eager to get back on the road again.

The new album is called 'Performocracy', can you explain that title somehow?
'Performocracy' – “the power of performance” or “rule by performance”, I think that says it all! We really love the performing part of this, both performing live on stage, in front of a crowd but also the performance you have to put in to making an album and I guess that's what the title is all about.

'Performocracy' is even more song orientated than 'Clash Of The Elements', was that a condition or did the song writing just went the way it went?
I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by “song orientated” but we started writing a lot of songs, as we always do and after a while we sort of got a vision of what we wanted to do with this new album and then we tried to follow up on that in the writing process that followed and later on when we were chosing tracks for the album.

I really like the artwork, like you are a bunch of gladiators or something like that! Who did the artwork
We have been, for the last three albums actually, working together with a brilliant graphics designer called Anders Fästader. He's a great guy, full of ideas and always delivers great stuff. He did 'Sweet Trade' and 'Clash Of The Elements' for us as well.

In the beginning The Poodles cooperated with other songwriters. Is that still the case or is this more a band thing now? If so, who is the main man in writing and who is the more lyrical guy?
Well, we still do work with outside writers to some extent. On this album though I guess you could say it's a little bit more of a band effort since Henrik and myself have contributed more to the song writing than on our previous albums. I am more of a music guy myself, Henrik is a lyric guy as well as a music guy and so is Jakob, not really any set roles, what ever works out best.

What was the starting-point for 'Performocracy'?
There was no real starting point. We all knew it was time to make another album, almost two years have passed since the release of 'Clash Of The Elements' and we want to keep the momentum going. If there's any starting point I guess you could say it was in early 2010 somewhere, that's when we started the song writing and the planning of the recording.

Do some songs that made it not on 'Clash Of The Elements' end up on 'Performocracy' or are they all new?
Yes, if I remember correctly there are two or three songs on there that were around already when we were choosing songs for 'Clash Of The Elements'. A little re-worked, a little rearranged maybe but basically the same songs that matured and found their place on this album. Sometimes the reason for not putting a song on an album is not because it's a bad song in any way, just that it might not fit that well together with the other songs already on there.

I can hear all kind of 'strange' (electronic) sounds, distorted voices and guitars, wolves and so on. You really worked on this album!
Yes we did and I'm glad you hear it. On 'Performocracy' we have once again worked with the fabulous producer Mats Valentin and he's really brilliant with all of that stuff. Together with him I think we have created a really great sounding album that has a lot of layers, if you will, and to me thats really cool when listening to an album, when there are things on there that you may not even notice until the tenth time you hear to it.

Instead of Michael Frasier, who did a good mixing job on 'Clash Of The Elements', you decided to hire Tobias Lindell who is known for his work with Europe (and also Hardcore Superstar and Mustasch). He did a very good job too I must say, but why the change in the first place?
I totally agree, Mike Fraser did a super job on 'Clash Of The Elements' but to be perfectly honest it came with a price tag that was rather large if you know what I mean. When it came to choosing who was going to do the mix for the new album Tobias Lindell seemed like a natural choice, we had heard some recent stuff he had done and we all liked it very much and we talked to some of the bands that had worked with him and they all said it was a smooth ride so we really didn't see any reason to look anywhere else once he said he was available and wanted to do the job.

Can you elucidate (some of) the songs of 'Performocracy'?
The album opens with the song 'I Want It All' a really cool song about going after your dreams and giving it all! Then we have 'Until Our Kingdom Falls', a real rocker with blistering guitar work from Henrik. One of my favorite tracks is 'I Believe In You', low tempo and super heavy with a great, catchy chorus. The ballad 'As Time Is Passing By', really emotional and beautiful song, really strong lyrics as well. 'Love Is All' – kind of a different song maybe, not your typical Rock/Metal song. It almost has a bit of a U2 feel to it. I love it though; I think the song has a really cool vibe to it and great lyrics too. We have the rocker – 'Your Time Is Now', bass drum in your face, guitar riff heaven, I dig it! Another slow song, 'Into The Quiet Night' to end the album, both beautiful and super heavy. That's a few of them.

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The common feel of 'Performocracy' is darker, heavier. Do you agree and why is that? Did something happen?
No, nothing happened but I agree, on 'Performocracy', as you are saying, the sound is a bit heavier than on our previous efforts and maybe even a bit darker. In my mind it's a perfect mix though, the heavy guitars and drums but still with plenty of all of those melodic ingredients that has become sort of a trademark for the band. I really don't think any fan of this band will have any difficulty recognizing The Poodles on this album even if the sound is a bit different. I love it myself!

November 2010 The Poodles released a live CD ('No Quarter') and DVD ('In The Flesh'). How do you look back on those releases?
I think they're totally awesome! We had been talking about making a live DVD and live album in the band for quite some time and I'm really happy we got around to doing it. I've always been a great fan of live albums ever since I was a kid, I think they show bands in their right environment, live, on stage. And I think it's a great thing for the fans to be able to relive the live show at home on your TV and for the people who have never seen us it's even better. Having said that I don't think anything beats the experience of actually being at a show for real, in person.

What everybody already knew, The Poodles are at their best when playing live. And to be honest, the DVD is even better than the CD because the visual aspect is pretty important I think. What is your opinion in this?
Thank you! The live performance is really important to all of us in the band, we sincerely enjoy playing live, in front of a crowd. To us when we perform we want it to be something you experience with all your senses, something for both eyes and ears so the visual aspects of a live show is very important.

Just like the two live releases 'Perfomorcracy' will be released by Frontiers, still satisfied with that choice?
Definitely, it's been working out really well so far. It feels really good to have a company behind you that is 100% devoted to the kind of music we play. We are looking forward to this next chapter of our collaboration and we'll see where that takes us.

Since 2007 things have gone pretty good for The Poodles. What are the highs and lows thus far?
Yeah, things have been going pretty good and we have had quite a few highs and not so many lows I must say. Of course when playing in a band and working together as tightly as we do, spending so much time together and working so intensely with something in certain periods that we do, it's not all fun. Every once in a while you feel like you just want to get out, quit, do something totally different but on the whole we have a really good time together. When looking back, of course there has been some ups and downs but mostly it's been up.

Since The Poodles is a real live band, to what show do you have real good and real bad memories?
Honestly, pretty much the same answer to this question. There has been a few shows that were less than memorable but no real disasters. Maybe my mind just chooses to block out the real bad ones, I don't know. On the other hand we have had so many great experiences on the road, a few that I might mention are Sweden Rock Festival, both in 2006 and 2008, the Tollwood Festival in Munich in 2008, Ludvika in 2009, a few of the shows when we toured with Gotthard were just amazing and of course our gig at Graspop last summer is a very nice memory.

'Performocracy' will be supported by live shows undoubtedly. Do we get the change to see your show in the Netherlands in 2011?
I really hope so, we would love to come back to the Netherlands to play. We are going to do festivals this summer, mainly back home in Sweden but we are planning a tour of Europe for the fall right now and I really hope we'll get something together for the Netherlands as well.

What do you guys do to relax during a tour?
All kinds of things really, nothing special. If we have some time we usually try to get out of the bus and the venue for a while and take a walk around the town that we happen to be in, try to actually see something of all the places we visit is a good way to relax.

What is your favourite food, and drink? J
I guess you could say I'm a beer drinker and when it comes to food, I'll eat anything.

I know in parts of Sweden there is a real American feel and people love to drive in American cars (they do in Vårmland). But tell me, do you have your own Ferrari now?
No, I'm sorry to say none of us have a Ferrari, yet!

To what music or bands do you listen nowadays and what was the last CD you bought lately?
I listen to a lot of different styles of music and I think that goes for all of us. Of course we all have our old rock/metal favourites and I really love the energy and the power in that kind of music but I can just as well enjoy listening to classical music, jazz, pop or what ever. I think there are good and bad music in all genres and as long as it's good music then it's good, no matter what genre. A good example is the last CD I bought which was Battle Studies with John Mayer, great album.

Is there anything not asked you want to tell the LoM readers?
I think we pretty much covered it. Thanks for having me and I hope you all enjoy our new album 'Performocracy' and I hope I'll see you all on the road very soon! Cheers!

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