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HOUSE OF SHAKIRA: "Pay To Play"
HOUSE OF SHAKIRA - - Swedish hard rock band formed by guitarists Mats Hallstensson and Anders Lundström in Stockholm in the year of 1991, orignally under the moniker 'The Station'. The mid 90’s saw the band change their name to House of Shakira, named after a London bordello. 'Pay To Play' their seventh studio release marks the second CD with lead singer Andreas Novak, and is accordingly their best album so far. The band chose a small label, in order to maintain highest priority throughout the process, instead of falling between the lines in the hands of a bigger label. Says frontman Andreas Novak: "MelodicRock Records is our weapon of choice, whose enthusiasm we trust with our lives. I'm proud to say this is by far the best release I've ever been involved in". Find out more about the album, here's their lead vocalist: Andreas Novak
How has the reaction to your latest CD been?
Andreas: Overall positive! We have received wonderful feedback, so we are proud and pleased.
How long did this CD take to make from start to finish, recording-wise?
Andreas: From the songwriting process, which began about one year ago in october 2012, until the last note was recorded - it took about six months. We started throwing ideas at each other (and guitars - no just kidding) that very quickly turned out to the songs you hear on the album today. We had about 15 songs to choose from - that were reduced to the 12 you can hear on the album.
What kind of 'sound', production wise, did you have in the back of your mind, prior to recording
Andreas: Mats is the brain behind the production. And nobody knows what's going on in his head, ha ha! But our common idea was to keep it simple. No keyboards, since we don't have a keyboard player in the band. The only exception is "All you want" where we had to add some extra flavour, so we brought in Jörgen Schelander from MISTH for that track.
What kind of input did the producer have during the process
Andreas: Quite a lot, but sometimes we just ignore him, even though it doesn't help. Mats is the designated executive producer, the rest of the band are co-producers, so we all give input from start to finish. Any good idea is put to the test, but someone must have the right of veto if the project is ever to be finished. So, Mats gets the final click on the mouse. No complaints yet.
And are you pleased with the final outcome? (sound - production wise)
Very pleased. I'm a bit worried we can't top this, but we'll make it somehow
Did the producer (or you) use any (weird) experimental miking and/or recording techniques?
Andreas: Mats made me sing standing on a tumble dryer at full spin once, cause he wanted some special vibrato in "Same old story". "You're lucky you're not inside!" he laughed. Not really, but seriously, there are no tricks. An ordinary vocal mike, miking techniques and DAW.
Please inform us about your favourite songs off the album.
Andreas: Right now my favouite is "Dopamine Junkie", with its encoded lyrics. In other words - I'm the only one that knows what the lyrics are actually about, so that's a lot of fun for me when people try to figure them out. If you listen very hard, you can read between the lines in almost every song, but it's very clear in "Bending the Law". Listen carefully at 1:29 of that song and see if you find our secret message! Right now I'm also a huge fan of "When the Cat's Away" and "Draw the line".
Any overall theme of mood/sound that you're trying to capture while writing songs?
If I manage to make people to forget about time and space for just two seconds, I'm happy. I also tell lots of personal stories in my lyrics, camouflaged and twisted - but most of what you hear are extracts from my life. Some songs are just plain fantasy/fiction - like "Dog eat dog" for instance.
Some of the songs are about the music industry and its injustice. What brought you to write them?
Listen to the radio. The artists are fabricated through talent shows, their songs are written by as many as eight or nine song-writers, with only cash in mind. The hit-songs are meticulously constructed and sometimes even contain obvious ripp-offs. Only a few successful songwriters are driven by their love of good music, and they're of course swedes ;-) I started playing around with the lyrical ideas to "Bending the law" at home, and when I introduced it to the guys they laughed at its accuracy. They got the point, so hopefully will the audience as well.
What's the thought behind the title of Pay To Play?
As mentioned above, in some sense the music industry is screwed up. When band needs to pay for their slot on a stage or when labels get rich and artists get none. Bands and artists get exploited and pay to play in so many other ways than just in plain money
Do you get any stick from media at home for being too '80s' friendly?
Andreas: Not even that. Media at home don't care much about Clasic Rock unless it's implemented in a popular musical or gleeful TV-show. To get airplay or any attention in the tabloids here you need to sound like a tied up goat or a whining witch. We play rock, no more, no less. But if anybody needs to categorize us and narrow us down, they're free to put any label on us - we still play rock.
How would you describe the new CD to any potential new fan?
Andreas: It's just rock. Quite simple actually, just seasoned with humour. Be brave enough to spin the album to find out and label it yourself.
Who are your influences and heroes? (music-wise)
For me personaly, number one is Eddie van Halen, even though he's not a singer and even though I´m not an accomplished guitar player in that sense. Listen to the joy, fun and playfulness in his guitar playing. That says it all. Other than VH, bands and artists like Queen, Journey, AC/ DC, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Genesis, - singers like Paul Stanley, Freddie Mercury, JLT, Glenn Hughes, Rob Halford, Dio... You know, anything good. Genre actually doesn't matter to me as long as it's good. I would also like to say KISS! It's just an abbreviation for "Keep It Simple, Stupid" ;-)
This is your second release with House Of Shakira. Do you feel at home and comfortable with everything?
Andreas: Oh, yes. It's a great band to be in, and we have lots of fun. If someone plays the wrong note, we just laugh at him, fire him and take him back ten seconds later. If music stops being fun and somebody starts looking for flaws in everything - I'm out. Been there, done that.