BLIND ALLEY is the
brainchild of MAGNUS OLSSON, a Swedish multi-instrumentalist who
has been making music for 20 years now. He recorded some great
stuff as FORTUNE in 1990 and recently an awesome AOR/Westcoast
album as BLIND ALLEY, but he is now about to release his first
official CD titled Infinity ends with BLIND ALLEY.
Without a doubt, this is the best CD he has released, filled with
high quality pure AOR. Check out the reviewspage for a review of
the CD. In the meantime, I had an interview with Magnus, heres
what went down...
OK, let's start with the beginning of your career, when did you first picked up an instrument?
I started out as drummer in the age of 11 or so... but when I first should join a band, they already got a drummer, so I had to pick up a guitar instead. That was around the age of 14 or so... and since then it's mostly guitar. But when MIDI was invented I also started to play keyboards. Couldve been 1982 or 1983 or something like that?
What were your influences back then when you started?
Well, as most Swede's in my age we were influenced by ABBA (though we never admitted it
But also of bands like Sweet, Slade, Thin Lizzy etc.
So very 70s influenced music?
Yes, but as you mey notice the "melodic" variation of the 70's. Not so much of Zeppelin, Sabbath and stuff like that (though I've later learned to appriciate that too)
What was your first recording (demo or single)?
That depends on what you mean. My very FIRST recording was me and a 10 watt electricguitar with a spring reverb that could perhaps be interpreted as pre-modern punk... but the first recording which has been saved to the afterworld was a single with a band called X-hale. The songs were called "Hero" and "The ufo and me" (though in Swedish)
That is interesting, what style was this?
Well, WE thought it was "Thin Lizzy"-like, but a reporter said "I didn't know you were playing PUNK" So I'd say it was a pretty poor version of lizzy
What was next?
Well, I was drafted to a band called Pipe Line, but in the merge we changed name to Fortune. And that was the band I played in for a long time... and that's where I meat Hasse (who sings at a lot of the songs on Infinity Ends)
I really love your album with FORTUNE, please tell me more about how you wrote the songs?
Oh, thanks, I think it's a rather lousy production... Well there's the story about one of the fortune songs called "lounge Lizzards"... it's actually named after a (sierra) computer game called "Leisure suite Larry in the land of lounge lizzards"and I had a friend in mind who reminded me very much of "Larry" in the game. Well Turning point was i real P.I.T.A. to finnish... That is not uncommon in my writing - I've got a .lot of songs that are halfdone. Though Turning POint (sadly) hasnt any special meaning to me, perhaps it was a hope that the release would make the turning point
I guess TOTO influenced you a lot?
Yes definately. The chords in "turning point" riff is heavily influenced by a toto-song (sorry don't reme,mber the name)
What other bands influenced you back in the late 80s?
Well, we've always liked Steve Perrys vocals in Journey, and Lou Gram in Foreigner. Come to think of it, good singers is the best influences
yeah, its amazing you have used 3 great vocals on your new album?
Well *blushing* I was once a lead-singer in a band and the reviews in the local papers was "the lead-singer was awful"...
they were wrong!
...but since then I've learned to use my voice. But it wouldn't be possible to make the record without the wonderful voices of Hans and Pierre... and I think perhaps that what makes the record intresting still after 10 tracks is that we actually change lead vocals. Yeah, no doubt. I could sing SOME songs, but I couldn't sing lika Hans or Pierre does. They're very talented and a huge part in the sound we have created.
did Hans and Pierre sang in other bands before BLIND ALLEY?
Hans sang in Fortune. Pierre has been a member of a band called "Stargazer" , but I donb't think he ever was the lead vocalist.
back to the first BLIND ALLEY, is it ever gonna get an official release?
Well we are getting VERY CLOSE. I have in my hand a record deal with AOR Haeven, and since Georg seems to be a nice guy I can't see why this wouldn't turn out into a proper realese
great, but you have done 2 BLIND ALLEY albums now, right?
are they both gonna get an official release?
Well yes. "On the way" was kind of a very mixed release with no focus at all. But still some great songs (me thinks)...."Infinity Ends" is much more a thoughtful release where everything sticks together and the production is more solid.
i know, it sounds bigger and ROCKIER! however the melodies are on both albums excellent!
Well yes that was the purpose! As I mentioned earlier, after breaking up Fortune, I wanted to try some different musical styles... and that ended up in "On the way". But when we finnished that album I felt that I REALLY wanted to "get back to the roots" which means the heavy guitar riffs, the keyboard riffs and lots of choruses
yeah and it surely shows BLIND ALLEY at their best! but shouldn't this be called the MAGNUS OLSSON BAND? I mean, you do everything on your own?
Well, thank you. I think that melodies has always been a major part of my songwriting. Yes I do everything on mt own, at least legeally... but of course there are a lot of influences in my life that affects the writing. I've always claimed that "misery" is your best foundation for writing good songs... but the last years I've not been miserable and things turn out fine anyway
can you make a living with music?
My boss today don't hope that I would make a living out of music (ha ha) Seriously, the genre we'rein is dedicated but not huge. MY hopes for the release on AOR is that everybody involved get reasonably paid, but I doubt it will make anyone rich
Sweden is very AOR minded, EUROPE and MALMSTEEN were very important for the scene, did you feel that there was a lot of bands playing your bands back in the late 80s in Sweden and how is today?
Oh yeah. We were constanlty competing with local "Europe-wanna-bies"!
how's the press in Sweden for BLIND ALLEY?
Well, we're all holding up for the "great release". Today you're totally smoked if you don't got a record deal.... but I hope that we're able to make it on the few stations here in Sweden that is dedicated for AOR music.
lets talk about the new album,. which is by far your best release and maybe one of the best AOR releases in a long time, it took some time to compose it, right?
Well yes and no... If you remember, I told that the approach for recording would change with the new album, compared to "on the way"... and my definite goal was to finnish the song (melody and lyrics) before staring to record. That has worked OK:ish
melodies are very important for your type of music, how do you find a melody, is it in your head suddenly, and then you write it down or please tell me how you come to a certain melody...
Haha... It is SO very different. Sometime (like in the case bof "shadow from my heart") I just yell it out and record it on a tape-recorder.. and in other cases (like "Hunter") it's more of a mathematical discusion (what notes are available now)
and the songwriting, are there any songs on the new album that have a story behind it?
Well the title (Infinity Ends) came to me pretty close to the end. But suddenly I realized that a lot of the lyrics was about the "aging" we're in.... and songs like "We still belong", "One life", "S.O.S" and "Here comes the heartache" are really all about the same thing.
Can you tell us about the included songs on the new album Infinity ends?
1. All figured out - This was the first song that I made after "On the way", and I think it clearly stated where we were heading ;-) The outro has some inspiration from Jim Steinman productions - who always had about 9 or 10
guitars as a crescendo.
2. We still belong - Maybe the best vocals ever from Hasse. He has a tension in his singing that keeps the song intresting the whole way through. Also some great harmonies with counterparts (is that the word in english?) that reminds of eagles or something like that. I'm very satisfied with this song.
3. One Life - Now it's Pierres turn to "show off" ;-) I had some trouble finalizing this song. Actually, I have had the verse for a couple of years, but no chorus that would lift it. But in the end I think it's a great song and Pierre does a wonderful version. Especially in the break where he turn the note upside down in the phrase "a look in the eye". Listen to that, it's great stuff!
4. S.O.S. - also a long time to finalize-song. To make a riff of S.O.S. (you know ...---...) has always inspired the
mathematician in me, and I think this is the third song I'm doing on the theme. The fast guitars are VERY HARD to play tight (at least for me) so when we changed the keynote 2 or 3 times during the vocal recordings, I could hold myself from laughing... But it was worth the retakes, I think. The lyrics are written by Inkan (my wife) - and as always she's able to turn a crappy original lyric from me, to a wonderful song!
5. Shadow from my heart - Very "Journey:ish" in drums/keyboards and guitars. The solo is actually flirting heavily with Niel Schon, though I don't in any way imply that I'm that good guitarist.
6. Here comes the heartache - was written the same week as All figured out and are in many ways a similar song. Uptempo, lot of keybaords and guitars and hookes all over the place. Hasse is doing the lead vocals.
7. From now on - Hasse is a sucker for westcoast ballads, and thinks that we should do a LOT MORE of this kind of stuff ;-) Anyway, this is the type of song where I find a nice chord pattern and then woves a melody around it. Had some problems finding the right chorus (hmmm - I think I always write the chorus LAST?). Hasse does some great wailing at the end - in par with "Michael McDonald"
8. Hunter - OK, back to the rock music ;-) Pierre is doing the lead vocals, and it's made a bit rougher and darker. The chorus has some very nice harmonies that adds a dimension to the song.
9. Stay the night - this is perhaps the song that sticks out most. I wanted a song that starts smoothly and builds, and builds... We had great playing with the new modern synths on this one :D
10. Payback Time - The title was "invented" when Georg Bush started his "war against terrorism", but the lyrics ended up dealing with something completely different. I don't know if I'm all happy about the intro, but I think the 7/4 part came out quite nice. And we had a great time doing the football cheering thingie ;-)
11. Wild Rose - This is the oldest song on the album. Was written when my wife went sailing in the west-inides... I've always loved the guitars in this song, and it also have a touch of that nice Irish melancoly.
12. Internal affairs - A rough song in 6/8. Perhaps the most "Metallike" we've done. So far... About a friend of mine that was beaten by her boyfriend, but didn't leave him. Great vocals again from Pierre and the harmonies are tight as **!"#*
13. In your hand - The "hit" among parents with preemature children ;-) Wonderful lyrics by Inkan, and actually the first song I sang lead vocals on.
back to AOR HEAVEN, when are you sure about signing to them?
Well, I have the signed contract in front of me. It's an etter of me writing my signature down
But seriously, it's all settled and the release will be in November
this release will be 'Infinity ends' + 2 older tracks?
Yep. Georg of AOR HEAVEN wanted the "Internal Affairs" track and I wanted the "In your hand".
I totally love those songs too, Georg has made a good choice
so this will be the first official release for you, on a label that is?
Yes, that is actually true. When we realesed "Fortune" it was on an own label which had the implication of not being released even nationwide.... so it feels kind of strange being signed in this age of days.
So this will get a release party? Do you actually play live?
Yes, we play live - but not Blind Alley songs. At least not yet And there WILL be a release party, and you're welcome!
Finally, what are the plans for BLIND ALLEY?
Well, we *hope* and dream about the eighties coming back. That would mean that I will make a FORTUNE!!! Seriously, we're all having a great fun of just recording the stuff, and if anyone is intrested to listen,we're delighted!
and are there other projects where you are involved?
We're all in a coverband called "playmates". And you can guess how many serious proposals we get
OK, thanks for the interview
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