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Lancer

Het Zweedse Lancer begon ongeveer gelijktijdig met land- en genregenoten Steelwing, Katana, Air Raid en Screamer. Het titelloze eerste langspeler van de band verscheen pas in 2013, waardoor het kwintet op dat moment minder naamsbekendheid had opgebouwd als voorgenoemde acts. De maakte echter een sterke eerste indruk en werd met open armen ontvangen. Op de tweede langspeler, ’Second Storm’, die in het voorjaar verscheen, laat de band echter een enorme stap vooruit zien, en heeft een ijzersterk albums afgeleverd waarmee ze in één adem genoemd kunnen worden met bovengenoemde collegae. Ondergetekende ging een gesprek aan met vocalist Isak Stenvall over de band’s geschiedenis tot nu toe, de nieuwe plaat, en toekomstplannen.

Door: Nima | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

First of all, hails and congratulations on your new album, ‘Second Storm’. But before we get more into that, Lancer is still an up and coming band, and 2015 embarks the band’s sixth anniversary. How do you look back on the past five years?
Thank you very much! The past six years have been pretty busy, filled with rehearsals, practicing, performing, songwriting and recordings. It’s been fun to form the sound and image of the band. It has also been a lot of hard decisions and twists and turns along the way. But that has forged us together to a great team. It's like an old couple, you learn from your mistakes, but if the love still is true, the mistakes only makes you stronger.

Personally I enjoyed the ‘Purple Sky’ EP and the debut album a lot. But you know, with up and coming bands that start off strongly like yourself, I’m always curious about the second long player, and whether they can match or even top their debut. So the second album is even more crucial. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. So was there a bigger pressure on you when you started working on ‘Second Storm’, and did you see it as a bigger challenge?
It wasn't that hard to do a better record than the first, because it had a couple of flaws and mistake that we knew never will happen again. I remember Fredrik (Kelemen, guitars – Nima) told me that it will be really hard to write a better album than the debut. When the songs for ‘Second Storm’ started to take form, we all knew that it would be a killer. Anyway, right now I’m spending my summer vacation working on material for our third album, and this time it's more difficult. Because I truly believe that ‘Second Storm’ is hard to overcome, but we will do our best to deliver an even more deadly record next time.

With the two aforementioned releases you guys definitely showed talent and potential. But of course the first record is always a learning process. What were in your option the weaknesses of the first record, and what were the main points that needed to be improved for ‘Second Storm’?
I really like the songs on our debut album, but the production of the album didn't lift the songs; it rather gave them a weak approach, so one main goal with the new album was to get the production as powerful as possible. A more modern metal sound than the old-school sound on our debut. We also wanted to write better songs, arrange them cooler and of course play and sing better than before.

You obviously have your musical roots in the 80s heavy metal, ad especially NWOBHM, but there is also a lot of 90s melodic power metal influences in your music. Can you tell us a bit about your influences and musical preferences, what you had in mind for Lancer’s direction when you started the band, and in how far you have managed to reach that goal so far?
The idea was to create a power metal band. The NWOBHM sound came along the way. I think ‘Purple Sky’ was the first song that combined these elements and we really liked the result. Since I’m a fan of both styles I personally love the combination of the German power metal sound, and the British heavy metal sound.

To be honest I’m also always a bit sceptical before a second LP, because it often happens that the bands change musical course and head to a much more technical and progressive approach, and totally suck the power out of their own abilities. ‘Second Storm’ shows progress on every matter but fortunately also continues in the same traditional metal course as the EP and your debut album, but is also more up-tempo and more straightforward in general. What direction did you have in mind when you started working on the material for this record?
Many bands always say that they don't want to copy themselves, and that they don't want to write the same record twice. I think that our focus was to do a follow up to the debut; the music and songs should have be in the same vein, but everything needed to be better this time. We have found our sound and will continue in this direction in the future, and just do it better and better by each record.

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By the way; Sweden has always been a great soil for metal bands! From all genres! What is about your country that makes its people start a metal band? Hehe!
The heavy metal movement and music in general is very popular in Sweden. I guess that it all started with ABBA, putting Sweden on the map as a music nation. Then we have artists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Europe, HammerFall, In Flames and Sabaton. We learned pretty early that you can be a rock star with hard work, it’s not impossible. It's also easy to get lessons on your instrument here in Sweden, get rehearsal rooms, every town has a Music school, and when you start High school you can choose a Music Program. Probably every Swedish musician, no matter if it’s a metal or pop artist, has studied music in some way, and that’s one important main factor of success.

In continuance to the previous questions: it is no secret that in the last couple of years a lot of new bands are falling back to the eighties sound. Although your music also contains later power metal influences, the foundations of your sound and style is also pretty 80s in my opinion. Now this may sound as a strange question, but what is it about old-school metal that attracts younger metal musicians to choose for his style?
The old-school sound has always been present during the years of heavy metal. If you listen to Gamma Ray you will hear Judas Priest, if you listen to early In Flames and Dissection you will hear Iron Maiden, when you listen to Hammerfall you will hear Accept. Heavy metal music has a typical sound, and the foundation was created in the early 80s and that’s where all good heavy metal bands draw their inspiration from.

And again in continuance of the previous question, where do you see Lancer in that picture? I mean, you guys have been doing this for a while now, but seeing the popularity of the genre at the moment, some might say you’ve jumped on the “band wagon”! Your opinion please…
There is an old-school movement in Sweden now, but we’re playing power metal mixed with the British sound, I can name a few active power bands in Sweden right now, but that’s all there is, so we’re quite unique. But this movement has certainly formed the sound of Lancer, and I love all these Swedish old-school bands; most of them are freaking awesome.

In your line of music your country has delivered some of the most important bands of this age, like Enforcer, Katana, Steelwing, Air Raid, Bloodbound and of course bands like HammerFall, Nocturnal Rites, and Wolf (to name a few). The last mentioned bands have been around for more years of course, but what in my opinion sets Lancer apart in the new wave of old-school metal movement, is that you don’t try to sound as old-school as possible, and in that way you can apply to a larger audience. In what way do you think Lancer distinguishes itself from the huge amount of competition nowadays? That is if you are aiming to distinguish yourselves at all in the first place…
Our sound is pretty close to Nocturnal Rites, Bloodbound and HammerFall, the other bands are much more heavy metal and less melodic, but still great. I don't know if we try to distinguish ourselves from the bands we like. We try to write good songs, and I’m sure that if I did my best to write a typical HammerFall song it would still sound like Lancer in the end.

Lancer is not about originality or reinventing the wheel, but just good old-school heavy and elodic power metal, with catchy guitars, catchy vocals and lots of melody! Unfortunately there are always people who whine and bitch about the fact that music should always be innovative! What can you say to these people?
Haha, you're totally right. I’ve seen a lot of comments saying that we’re not doing our own stuff. But, I love this kind of music, and this is the music I want to play and write. I will not add techno drums, growls and rap just to bring originality. When HammerFall started everyone said that they just sounded like Manowar and Helloween, after two records they had their own sound. With this record a lot of reviewers are talking about the Lancer-sound, and that is really great, because in my opinion, we do have our own sound.

As far as I could see there are no gigs planned yet to support the album? Are there any plans to take the band on the road, and maybe across Europe?
We will do two festival gigs this summer and in this fall we will go on tour together with Freedom Call in Sweden. There will be some European dates in the future but nothing that I can reveal right now, but we really can’t wait to get out to Europe on tour!

Speaking of gigs, nowadays it is not that easy to get a decent gig, let alone planning a decent tour for up and coming bands. How is the situation regarding shows for a band like Lancer? Both nationally and internationally.
It's quite hard to get decent gigs here in Sweden, especially with the great amount of bands. But with this record I’m sure that we will get some more attention, and when the gigs start to turn up, more will come, I’m very positive and the future looks bright.

And finally, what’s next on the menu for Lancer at the moment?
We’re in the middle of the writing process of our third album, which will be awesome.

Well then, I guess we can call it a day for now. Unless of course there is something left that you’d like to mention…
A big hello to all the readers, stay metal and don't forget to like us on Facebook to get all the updates. Thank you!

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