Interview with Alyson Avenue 1

Source: Lords of Metal
Issue 39 - July 2004


archiveer onder : Hardrock / AOR

Dutch:


Alyson Avenue bracht onlangs hun tweede cd ‘Omega’ uit. Deze werd door de pers goed ontvangen. Mijn collega Guus beschreef de sound zijnde een kruising tussen Vixen, Heart en Witness. Na enkele luistersessies kan ik het daar alleen maar mee eens zijn. Mijn gesprekspartner is Niclas Olsson, de verantwoordelijke voor de drums, keyboards en vele van de composities.


English:

Recently the Swedish band Alyson Avenue released their second album called ‘Omega'. It did very well in all kind of reviews all over the world. My colleague Guus did the review for Lords of Metal, and he described the sound as being a mix of Heart, Vixen and Witness. After a few listens to the album I came to the same conclusion. Now Niclas Olsson is the big man behind the band. He plays drums, keyboards and writes most of the songs. The perfect bandmember thus for me to interrogate...


Text: Eddy



Hi Niclas, finally we talk to each other. Our mutual friend Kurt Vereecke from the upcoming Belgian AOR sensation called Frozen Rain introduced me to your band, and actually helped me out quite a bit with questions for this interview. This second album from Alyson Avenue gained you some marvelous reviews from all over the world. So it is about time to introduce the band to the Dutch melodic rock lovers. To kick off, I like for you to introduce the band to our readers.

Thanks a lot Eddy! Alyson Avenue is a female fronted AOR/melodic rock band from Sweden! We started this thing in -89 and were just some friends who wanted to play good melodic rock! The line up has changed a few times over the years but in front we still have Anette. The line up on "OMEGA" is: Patrik Svärd, guitars, Christofer Dahlman, guitars, Thomas Löyskä, bass, Anette Blyckert, vocals and me, Niclas Olsson on keys and drums.

Was it difficult to find the perfect line-up for this band?

Hmm… No it wasn’t actually! It might have seemed that way if you’re thinking about the time of four years till album number two. We broke up after the debut and then we tried to put it together again. The time wasn’t right and we called it a day once more. Anette had so many other things to do so we tried to find another girl on vocals. We tried out a few but with no luck. Then the rest decided to go apart to do our own things. Later me, Thomas, Christofer and Patrik started to record some songs of mine and I called Anette up to see if she wanted to put vocals on it. She was thrilled about it and 'OMEGA' was recorded short after.

When you started Alyson Avenue, was it clear from second one that you preferred a female vocalist for this band or did it came out that way when you held auditions for vocalists?

We had a male vocalist from the very beginning. When we recorded our first demo I called Anette (which is my half sister) up to see if she could do some harmony vox. She did and thought it was that fun she stayed with the band.



The name Alyson Avenue sounds great, how did you come up with this name and has it some deeper meaning to it?

It came up when we were about to do a gig on a club in Sweden. The name was Avenue at first. Some weeks before the gig we decided to change the name to Alyson. But when the newspaper gave the news about the gig they wrote Alyson Avenue. That was a pain in the ass at first but we kept it and now it sounds great. It has a meaning as a band and lifestyle for many years. I will have the OMEGA logo tattooed on my shoulder shortly.

When you were shopping around for a record deal you managed to get the interest from the AOR Heaven label. How did you come in touch with them?

Almost every indie label in the AOR/Melodic rock business contacted us. AOR-Heaven didn’t. The other labels thought we were too wimpy with our female fronted AOR. A friend, Christian Rechling, gave me the tip to contact AOR-Heaven and we did.

As I see on your website you also got some great press in Japan with your first CD. How can you describe Japan as a market for AOR and melodic rock? Can you recommend this country to all the new artists in this genre as a goal for sales?

I don’t think it’s that easy anymore. The CDs are very expensive and the outlaw pressing is huge. I think it’s just to accept the sale figures and do want you like for free. Cause you don’t get rich with this stuff.

Some artists like to sit down in a studio and write, others get ideas wherever they are and then work them out. I would like to know how and where are those amazing compositions from Alyson Avenue are written?

Thank you very much. I just like to sit down and play different melodies and clear my mind. I don’t read books or writing in a diary, I just play my thoughts out. Then rhythm comes out very different. I like pumping basses.

Can you offer some advice to new bands that are looking around for a record deal?

Be honest with your music. That gives attitude and something you stand for. The audience will hear if it comes from the heart or not. Have patience.

Okay Niclas, some questions about you now. When did you start to learn playing instruments?

I have grown up with it but didn’t practice that much for a while, due my ice-hockey career.

Where and when did your professional musical career start and which artists or bands did influence you to give it a shot yourself?

The professional career has been up and down for many years. I even played in a Big Band for a while. Desmond Child gave me very much in the eighties. Bands like Magnum, Journey, Streets and so on have also influenced me a lot.

You play several instruments (drums, guitar, keyboards). What kind of instrument do you prefer?

I don’t play the guitar. People laugh at me when I try cause they think I look stupid with it. I like the keys best cause the harmonies can be huge.

Are you already a fulltime musician at this moment or do you still have a regular job to pay your bills?

I have a regular job that I like very much, but right now I feel like I have too much to do with the music that I should be a full timer.

Can you remember some of latest CD’s that you bought?

To be honest I haven’t bought any CDs for years. But my friend Christian does send me CDs sometimes, and the latest is ALTARIA.

Are there any new bands/artists you like?

This is an answer I shouldn’t say, but.... SHIVA did the best album I’ve heard for years. Powerful, melodic and so very good. The reason why I shouldn’t answer is that I know them and rehears with them for gigs later this year.

Imagine you get the chance to form an all-star band around you with all your dream musicians. Can you tell me who will be in that band of yours?

Mike Portnoy on drums, Kee Marcello on guitars, Steve Perry/Kevin Chalfant on vocals and Mike Porcaro on bass.

Do you also have hobbies besides making music?

My family is everything beside music. I have two daughters that I love so very much and a girlfriend who gives me the time I need to my music. I have no time for anything else.



As I am well informed you have a new project called Second Heat. Please tell us some more about this band. I like to know who are the players in that band, the style of music we can expect from them and is there already a deal for this project?

We have signed a three-album deal with AOR-Heaven. This isn’t AOR!!! This is melodic hard rock with lots of hooks and groovy stuff. Even some small progressive parts can be heard. The band is: Thomas Bursell, vocals, Patrik Svärd, guitars, Roger Landin, drums, Thomas Löyskä, bass and me on keys. I have written all material except for one that I wrote together with Patrik.

What is the difference in working with Second Heat and Alyson Avenue?

This feels like something I have wanted to do for years. Me, Patrik and Thomas B have talked about this since the mid 90s. Second Heat is a band that will play fun hard rock cause we think it’s fun. We believe very much in this and have fabulous reactions from friends in the business.

What do you think about the actual music scene? How do you see the future for melodic rock and AOR?

I think AOR will get a new meaning with a modern touch like ARENA Sweden for example. The melodic rock scene will strike back with some modern touch too I think. I believe in the genre, as long musicians don’t listen to what modern reviewers have to say. They call the Sweden Rock Festival retro!!!! They sell more tickets than both Hultsfred and Roskilde. Why can’t they accept it? As a genre!? Sorry.... I get a little upset, ha ha.

To get back to Alyson Avenue, What are the next steps for Alyson Avenue in recording and live shows?

As we are right in the middle of a record session with Second Heat there will be no live shows before the next album. We know pretty much what we are looking for till the third studio album. More like the debut with a better production.

Okay Niclas, it has been a pleasure to get to know you a bit more, thanks for your time and success with all your plans.

Thank you very much and take care.


http://listen.to/alysonavenue


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