Friday 23 May 2014

Interview with Thomas Andersson from KAMCHATKA

Today's guest is part of one of Sweden's best known Hard Rock/Blues Rock/Stoner Rock Power Trio's – KAMCHATKA – who have been playing a hell of a racket since 2001.

Over the course of their 13 year career they have released 5 acclaimed albums with the latest being their newest album – The Search Goes On.

Sludgelord resident Swedish Team Member – Hakan – recently reviewed about this album and raved on about it saying: “I'm getting so many flashbacks listening to 'The Search Goes On' because this is the stuff I grew up on but with a modern twist, and I mean that in the best possible way. Having been raised on Thin Lizzy, UFO, Deep Purple, Ten Years After as well as blues aficionados like Lightnin' Hopkins, Kamchatka comes across like a breath of fresh air.

If I close my eyes I'm transported back to my childhood room where countless hours were spent listening and dissecting the albums I loved growing up. Most of which I still love. So to discover a band like Kamchatka who takes the old with the new, blends them together and like a alchemist make gold, is a revelation. More of this's fantastic!”

It's my honour to be talking to Thomas Andersson. Lead vox and guitarist of KAMCHATKA.

Q1 – Hi Thomas. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today.

Thomas - Hi Steve, things are great over here, just finished a 5 days rehearsal with the band before heading to Germany for some festival dates.

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history on how the band started and where it is today.

Thomas – Ok, here we go ;) We started in 2000 by doing a Jimi Hendrix tribute show to celebrate the legendary Jimi in our home town Varberg/Sweden, then in 2001 we did that show on the same date again September 18 (Jimi’s tragic day of passing away). The first show was with a bass player named Lars Glendell and the second show with bass player Roger Öjersson who became a member of what would become Kamchatka. After that second Hendrix tribute show, myself, Toby and Roger decided to go all in with our own music and after playing lots of shows in Sweden 2001- 2005, we released our debut album "Kamchatka" on Grooveyard Records (New York) and by then the game was full on and we started to get noticed in the blues rock circuit.

In 2007, we released "Kamchatka vol 2", also on Grooveyard, did more and more shows and we got to play 3 concerts in Sweden supporting Clutch from US, also we got great reviews of the 2nd album and then in 2008, we where invited by Clutch to support them on 23 shows in US, that tour was a blast, we got many great live reviews and sold 700 albums (Thank you CLUTCH !!). 2009 and time for a new album, this time "Kamchatka vol 3" on Swedish label, Superpuma Records.

As we moved along we did more and more shows, great reviews where ever we went and the 3rd album got noticed in Rolling Stone and if I remember right we made it to #53 in a poll at the magazine for best cover version of "Whipping Post” by Allman Brothers (Sean Paul Gaster from Clutch on 2nd drums on our studio version).We did a long European tour with Clutch and Kylesa plus started to get more and more headline shows outside Sweden as well :).

Moving forward to 2011 and our 4th album "Bury Your Roots" released on GMR Records in Sweden. This 4th album became a door opener towards a more wider press and audience we toured more with Clutch and by 2012 we played bigger festivals in Europe (Download UK,Burg Herzberg DE and many smaller festivals in Netherlands Germany and more), and started working with Jazzhaus booking in Germany.

By this time Roger wanted out of the band to pursue his own career as the fine guitar player he is, so we worked with different bass players during 2012 until we landed smoothly with our present bass player and full-time member Per Wiberg (ex Opeth, Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass and more) which leads us to 2014 and our 5th album "The Search Goes On" released on Despotz Records in Sweden. Here we are now, full with self confidence, good friends and we are looking forward to what the future has to offer for the band. I would like to thank everyone who have supported us and believed in us over the years and i hope that you will continue to do so :)

Q3 – How would you describe your sound as you pack a lot of different noises into the mix.

Thomas - We have always been curious with what we do and we really like to explore what we can find outside the framework and I guess that reflects on our albums.

Q4 – How did you become involved with music.

Thomas - Well I come from a music family and I did my first "real" show at the age of 9, started to play the guitar at the age of 7.

Q5 – Where did the name KAMCHATKA come from. And why that particular name.

Thomas - Before KAMCHATKA we were called "SHRIMP MONKEY" but our label at the time (2005 Grooveyard Records) didn't like that name ;) So we had some brain storming and came to the idea that if our music was a place on earth what would that place look like, so we came across the Russian peninsula KAMCHATKA with it's crazy nature features, hot and cold, volcanoes, sulfur lakes, vast forests, wild and calm at the same time like our music, so since 2005 we are KAMCHATKA

Q6 – Your new album has been released for a few months now. Have you been surprised by the reviews it has received so far. Got some fantastic reviews already.

Thomas - Correct Steve, the new album "The Search Goes On" has been out for about 3 months. We knew that we had a really good album but we never take anything for granted but of course we are super happy and proud of the fine words and positive development as we speak.

Q7 – Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for.

Thomas - When Roger left the band, I got very weary considering that me and Roger had shared the load writing music on 4 albums but after some time I just said to myself that I have to try my best before throwing in the towel so to speak and as the music evolved in my head during 2013 myself confidence grew and with Per Wiberg as the producer of the album and Toby behind the drums it worked out great and now I know that I can do it :) (together with the boys, of course).

Q8 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album that stand out.

Thomas - Wow, there are so many sources of inspiration but for me as a blues guitar player, I would say BB King, Albert King, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Stevie and Jimmie Vaughan, Gregg Allman, Billy Gibbons, Tim Sult, and for the band we listen to a lot of diverse music such as jazz, early funk, metal, hard rock, rap, electronic, reggae, punk, rock'n roll, hardcore metal, etc etc etc ...

Q9 – Love the album cover. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have with overall design.

Thomas - All artwork since day 1 is made by the wonderful Mr. Per Wiberg (bass, backing vocals, artwork). It's 100% his ideas that you see on our covers and merchandise.

Q10 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it down to one individual or is it a group collective.

Thomas - Roger and I shared the load of writing the music for our first 4 albums and I wrote all of the material on "The Search Goes On"

Q11 – How big of a help has the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community been in promoting your music.

Thomas - It's been extremely important to us that the word's been spreading through these networks such as Sludgelord for example over the years, we salute you !!

Q12 – You have been doing KAMCHATKA for 13 years now. Did you think it would last this long.

Thomas - I have never thought about considering Kamchatka in those terms. Music has been my life since I was 7 years old and my dream has always been to be part of a band that dared to go over the cliff so to speak both musically and personally and I found that in Kamchatka and we keep getting stronger and stronger as the years go by :) And I can say that we have a lot more to take care of before we die ;)

Q13 – What have been your fondest and happiest memories with the band.

Thomas - In no particular order: the first Kamchatka album, the first big tour with Clutch in the US, Per Wiberg joining the band, "The Search Goes On" album, Download festival and the music we have written over the years.

Q14 – What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Thomas - We are quite basic, the most important thing you need you find in your heart and soul, if you have that you can play on a rock or record on a donkey’s ass.

Q15 – We are massive Vinyl Heads here at Sludgelord. Are you vinyl fans yourselves.

Thomas - Big Time !! And the nerdiest of the vinyl nerds in the Kamchatka camp is Wiberg :)

Q16 – Sweden has such a brilliant reputation for providing so many great bands across different genres. What is your country's great secret and how is the Blues Rock/Stoner Rock scene perceived in Sweden. Do you play a lot of gigs in your own country.

Thomas - We get that question a lot and I don't have a clue but we have a history of many successful bands and that always inspire more and more bands to push their music and careers. The funny thing is that Swedish bands including us, we play much, much more in other countries than our own but we are no more 9 million Swedes over here so I guess that that's the reason, I don't know really

Q17 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Where bands ask fans to fund their next album. Are you a fan of that platform. Would yourselves ever go down this route.

Thomas - I'm not a fan of that idea really, endorsement deals are one thing for a band but begging' isn't my cup of tea. I get the idea but for me business is business and private is private.

Q18 – If you could choose an album from your band's catalogue. What would it be and why. Or is this too hard of a question to answer.

Thomas - Hard question yes, but I would say our latest because it is such a victory for myself that I manage to go through all my inner conflicts and lacking self confidence since Roger left and come out on the other side together with Per and Toby and "The Search Goes On" album, puh !

Q18 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Thomas - If you feel that you HAVE TO do it, do it and do it hard and never turn back. If you feel that you don't HAVE TO do it, then don't.

Q19 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Thomas - Yes ! Hello guys ! We are super glad to have you with us, without you, problem, with you, no problem ;) ROCK ON AND HOPE WE MEET SOONER THAN LATER !

Well Thomas, Thanks to talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. All the best with the album release.

Thomas - Thank you Sludgelord, rock on !! Best regards, Thomas ‘Juneor’ Andersson and KAMCHATKA

I want to thank Thomas for talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. And Brian at Fresno Media for arranging this interview.

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Written by Steve Howe