Interview with Johnny Engström of
DEAD END SPACE
Johnny, first let us take a look back to the latest album „Magnetic Force“. In my review I said that I have ask you about the great artwork. It's a little late now, ha ha...but, who did it ?
The artwork for Magnetic Force was made by our longtime friend Thomas Holmstrand. He has done the artwork for all our previous albums with the Johnny Engstrom Band. He has his own comany "Artic Studio" and has done album covers for many bands. So far I've only seen the front of the album cover for the new Dead End Space album but it looks great. The CD version will come in a digipack with a 12 page booklet.
„Magnetic Force“ is a brilliant album, not easy to listen but great composed. How were the reactions of the press and people about this album ? And, if you look back would you change anything now ?
Thank you !! The reviews for Magnetic Force were very good. I was surprised that it was so well received within the undergroud metal forums. We also got fine reviews from prog magazines in various countries in europe and also in the U.S.
You always look back and hear things that you could have done different, like a guitar part or vocal line that you've might have been able to do better but what's done is done and I don't worry too much about it. We had a lot of ambience parts on that record on the longer songs and in retrospective I would have liked to have had those songs split up in different parts so the listener could have had the opportunity to skip a part if he or she wanted to.
The album had a great storyline. Do you think about a sequel of „Magnetic Force“ or is the chapter definetely closed ?
The topic for Magentic Force is something that I am very interested in and I will probably use the same topic again in a different way in the future. The new album could very well be a sequel but it was not intended to when I wrote it.
As I told in the past the bandsname „Johnny Engström Band“ had a bit of a project character. Now you changed the name into „Dead End Space“. What was the final reason to change it ? And what does the new name mean ?
The main reason for the change of the band name was that sometimes people would think that we were a blues band or that I had this solo project going on. I became so tired of promoting my name and using it in the context of the band. The three of us in the band and Niklas, Galle and I are old friends and go way back. Without them we wouldn't sound the way we do. I am very pleased with our new name. I think it's a perfect name for the genre that we are in. For me the name means a place where space ends, the big question, what's at the end ?
But what we are most interested in, is that there is a new album coming up soon. What can we await from the new work ?
The new album will have the title "Distortion of Senses" and will have 11 tracks on it. I think the songs are very different from each other, a couple of them are around 9 minutes long but most of them will hit the 6 - 7 minutes mark. There are also a couple of shorter tracks as well. We feel that the flow is better on this album, the longer tracks don't feel that long because the parts fit better together with each other. We still have our metal moments and we enjoy that very much but there is a lot of variety in most of the songs.
Will it be another complete concept album ?
The theme for this album is about ghosts, spirits, angels, life and death among other things. If you listen to the album from start to finish I think the listener will be able to view it as a concept. The songs are individual but the lyrics are very spiritual. I'm not a religious person but I felt very strong about writing about these things. On Magnetic Force there are two main tracks , OB 1 and 2. On the last track on that album Oblivion Pt.2 the main character returns home from his abduction and finds himself in the future, his family is gone and that's where it ends. I guess you can say that "Distortion of Senses" is a follow up if you want to look at it that way. It deals with what happens in the afterlife.
Ok, the new album is called „Distortion of Senses“. What was the reason to chose this as album title ?
Sometimes we might see something that may seem strange to us, is what we see reality? Or is our mind just playing games with us. This is also the title of the first track on the album and this is a question that is being asked, is all the mysteries in life only an illusion ?
Who is involved in the new album and how is work shared ?
Beside the three of us in the band the album has been recorded, mixed and mastered by Mats "limpan" Lindfors. He recorded drums and bass tracks at Soundtrade Studio in Stockholm in may last year and was assisted by Linus Johansson. I' ve been recording guitar, vocals and keyboards in my own studio and my friend Lennart Karlsson has been helping me out, finding ambient sounds and sending files to Mats among other things. Thomas has, as I mentioned earlier, been involved with the album art. I feel very fortunate being able to work with these wonderful people, we are a great team.
What about live activities. I couldn't find that much in the past....
No...that's true. After we recorded Magnetic Force we did a few gigs but for personal reasons in the fall of 2011 we weren't able to do any shows and short after that we wanted to start working on new material. I hope we will get out more and play this time, I hope so.
How would you describe your music to people that want to explore „Dead End Space“ ?
That is such a hard question, I really hate to compare our music to other bands, I guess I have too much respect for the bands I love. I think if you like music that has both, harder/heavier parts and also softer moments and vocals with melody, you might like us. The best way is, of course, to check out our tunes and listen.
To what music do you listen in your freetime and were there any albums in the past months that really impressed you ?
I haven't been listening much to other music recently, the recording has taken most of my time. I have been listening to the latest Rush album and me and Niklas took a trip to the States to see them live in Chicago and Detroit last year, it was awesome. I also enjoyed the latest Between the Buried and Me album. For live albums I got the latest Porcupine Tree - Octane Twisted and have been watching the DVD on that one.
Are there any plans for doing videos for the new album to represent it or do you think that only the music has to paint the pictures in the minds ?
I would like to do one or two videos and I'm having discussions with a couple of music video producers at the moment, I don't think we will have anything out until later this summer.
What is coming next beside „Dead End Space“ ? Any other works or projects ?
No...the focus in on Dead End Space and yes...believe it or not...we will return to work with Mats Lindfors in August and record three songs that we will release for digital download only. These songs have been written and will be connected to each other story wise. At least one of the tunes will be a very long piece of music. Maybe the aliens will return after all.
You are signed (?) to Aliennation Records. If we take a look at their website there are only you and a band called Reason. Is it a private label or how did it come to work with them ? It looks very familiar....
Aliennation Records is our own label and Reason are a great hard working band from England that I enjoy working with. They are also very nice guys and I hope that we can do some shows together in the future.
So, I hope we can see you soon on the stages in our areas too. Your final words for here ?
Hope so too, it would be great to visit your country and do some shows. I would like to thank Metal Fields and I hope that all of you enjoy our next album " Distortion of Senses" when it comes out on May 24th. Please check it out !!
Interview by Kerbinator