On April 4th, 2014, Smash Into Pieces was playing in the Lido Club in Berlin. Our Sandra took the chance to grill the talkative Swedes. She met the guys before their concert and was able to reveal one or more stories. Their debut album was released in March 2014, although it was already finished a year ago. During the interview we got to learn what problems the guys had to deal with and, for example, when and how they are writing their songs. The interview definitely was a lot longer than we had planned, but this is very enlightening and also born in the middle of the tour life.
Sandra: You guys are currently touring with Amaranthe and Deals Death. How is it going so far and what city did you think went best?
Per: Uh, my favorite would be Madrid I think. The audience was just crazy. Maybe not the biggest venue, but the audience was really supporting us.
Chris: I actually had 2 shows that were my favorites, Madrid and Milano. There weren’t as many people, but the energy was…MASSIVE! So it was kind of cool. I’ve always wanted to go to Italy so… That is one of the reasons as well.
Per: I think In general the tour so far has exceeded our expectations. I mean as a supporting act, the audience is usually like “Ok. We’ll listen to you.” But it feels like when we are on stage that we are the main band. Really there is a lot of love. And also we sold out of our cd’s and everything although we expected it to last the entire tour. After about the halfway mark, we were out so we had to order more.
Sandra: Wow that awesome! I’m happy for you guys. The concert tonight is taking place at a location where, maybe you guys already know. 50 years ago just 100 meters from here people died because they wanted to cross the wall to live in freedom. Did you guys actually get to see the remains of the Berlin Wall? Or do you guys not have any time at all to do that?
Chris: Today because I was sick I was just sitting in the dressing room. But I have always wanted to go there and see how it is and what it looks like but…
Per: I think today because it’s a special day with all the gear and everything. Usually we’d have a couple hours where we could just walk around and see the city and stuff, but today we were mostly just hiding in the dressing room.
Chris: We are so sorry! Haha
Sandra: Haha that’s a pity! Maybe next time. It’s really just around the corner from here. On your website, 4 out of 5 band members state that Alter Bridge was a big influence. What exactly makes that band so interesting for you guys?
Per: Who is the member that didn’t state Alter Bridge? Was it me?
Sandra: Yea it was you.
Per: Well I guess that you should answer that Chris.
Chris: Um, When I began to practice my singing, I didn’t like my singing as much, so you know I just started searching for singers who I could compare myself to. So I found Myles Kennedy and Alter Bridge. I kind of felt that if this guy could do it, I could do it. You know I don’t have so…I’m not the baritone guy. I’m the guy who hits the higher notes, and they are the ones who are also like that so…for me, it began with like…
Per: Well I guess his vocal range is a bit similar to Myles Kennedy so he could sing along…
Chris: That was the first thing. The next thing is that they play good music! Haha
Sandra: haha fair enough! The majority of the employees at Metal-Talks.de, they all listen to Alter Bridge, this is why they wanted me to ask this question. The last album by Alter Bridge named “Fortress” made a big step towards metal. Do you guys agree and do you like the development?
Chris: Yes, I do.
Sandra: Yea you do?
Chris: Yea. The sound is kind of different between the albums actually, and I like that because it makes you like you don’t want to hear 4 albums like “Ok they are sounding the same” so you always want the kind of change in every album that comes out so…
Per: I also think that “Fortress” to me was an album that I thought was stronger than “AB3”. I didn’t really stick to that one but “Fortress”? It’s been playing a lot actually on like Spotify. So I like that one.
Sandra: Okay, on your current album you can hear beautiful melodies. Are you guys working on it together or is there just one of you guys that has a special feel for it and just works on it himself?
Per: Usually it’s me and Benjamin, the other guitarist that writes the songs, so we kind of come up with the ideas and then we develop them together.
Chris: In the end, everyone puts their own kind of magic to it. But Benjamin and Per are the ones, the guys who are coming up with the big ideas for everything. Then we all add the small details together.
Per: We are all always like when we are traveling, “Ahh this melody Na na na na na na na na” recording it just to remember it. *group laughter* and when the other ones are playing Quake or something on the computers…
Sandra: Yea I actually read that a lot of you guys actually play a lot of video games.
Chris: Yeaaaaa….We do. Too much actually. Haha
Sandra: Are the chorus melodies developed first and then you work on the rest of it, or is it the other way around?
Per: Usually, the words come last. We get the chords and the melody, then I kind of listen to it. Like what feeling do I get from it? What does the sound tell me and what is it about you know? Then I just kind of stick words to the melody. It’s the same with Benjamin, it’s always been the melodies that you kind of…It can be like listening to a video game or something. I can get equally stuck in that, more than just…I’m not a poet, I’m more of a melody guy.
Chris: I think we all are actually. I’m also more of the melody guy. Even if I have my favorite band that I’m listening to, I’m always like “I don’t know what this song is about actually!” I’m just listening to the melody. Every time it’s like *singing* yea! *nodding*
Sandra: *Laughter* Ok, so are you naturally talented or did you have vocal training or anything like that?
Chris: Um, I’m self-taught. But I called a vocal coach one time just to have some help with the warm ups and what do you call it when it’s after a gig? Down ups?? *group Laughter* That’s the only thing actually that I’ve been taking lessons for. To just do the warm-up thing. Not so much for the singing itself. So I’m self-taught.
Sandra: Yea. Ok so how long have you guys individually made music for? Not as a band, but when did you guys start playing music?
Per: As Smash into Pieces?
Sandra: No before that, like individually.
Per: Ok. Well I guess for me it’s like 15 years ago I started. You know I’ve been in so many bands before smash so… I used to play covers I’ve been playing death metal and I began paying drums actually because my uncle did and I thought it was cool. When I was like 10 years old I started playing drums and then maybe 3 years later I switched to guitars so, since I was 10 I think.
Chris: This is my first band. Yea it’s a new thing for me.
Sandra: So you started like 5 years ago?
Chris: Yea 2008. I started training my vocals 7 years ago I think.
Per: Shower style!
Chris: haha yea and then 2 years later I was in this band. So it went kind of quick!
Sandra: Ok wow! That’s impressive. On your cd cover there are huge chain links displayed. Was there a reason why you chose that cover? Did you guys have a say in that? Does it stand for something?
Chris and Per: Yea of course!
Chris: You know the band has been through a lot throughout the years but we have always stuck together no matter what. So there is nothing that can rip us apart.
Per: Since the album is called Unbreakable, It took us like 4 years to get the debut album released. We had another label and we had a lot of fights with that with lawyers and stuff and we got free and recorded this album all by ourselves. Then we got the label after they listened to it, a finished product. We kind of thought it would symbolize that we are…each link is strong.
Sandra: That makes sense. On May 23rd you guys are playing on the Metal Svenskan 2014. Old school bands such as Saxon, Helloween, and Kreator will be there as well. Is there something connecting you to these bands? Do you maybe listen to their music?
Chris: M. Kiske from Helloween, is one of my favorite singers. That’s the only link I have to those bands.
Per: But basically it’s in our hometown so I guess it’s not like we have so much in common with those bands. Of course we know about them and have listened to them but they are not Alter Bridge to us.
Sandra: Ok, today you guys are in Berlin, tomorrow in England, then Germany again. Is this tour life stressful? Or are you still enjoying it?
Chris: Hmmm, that’s a tough question. It’s from day to day.
Per: There is a lot of stress. You don’t get a lot of sleep. And since we are the supporting act we are always loading the bus and we are carrying stuff and it’s not a very glamorous life. But it is a lot of fun and you know it’s nice to have a day off where you can just relax a bit. But when you come home it’s like “Man I want to go back on tour!” *Group Laughter*
Chris: That’s the thing. You always want to go back. Even if it’s stressful and takes all your energy. It’s kind of a schizophrenia thing going on here. Haha
Per: It’s the best adrenaline kick.
Chris: It’s the best thing in the world to tour. You see a lot of stuff and countries. Meet many people.
Sandra: Well not in Berlin! You miss out on the best city. *group Laughter*
Chris: Yea of course! Haha You meet so many nice people and find new friends. It’s a big ass family in the end. Haha
Sandra: Do you actually go partying after a gig? Or do you guys have to unload because you guys are busy-bees.
Per: Well we usually can do both. We do have a driver so… *group laughter*
Per: Usually it’s kind of stressful to get the stuff out of here and then you have until like 2 or 3 o’clock until we leave. Alot of partying on the big tour bus. Or have a quick look around the city.
Chris: Usually, last year like after every show I drank a lot and I was always partying. I gained like 14 kilos during one year! Haha So this year I have been more kind of like the guy that doesn’t want to drink or party. I’ve had like 2 glasses of wine this tour. You know.
Per: He has actually become a vegetarian as well.
Sandra: Really?! Wow.
Chris: Don’t question me why.
Per: The last year we have really been into fitness. Everyone is working out and we usually do it backstage. We do a couple of exercises every day, you know?
Chris: You get energy by moving.
Per: Instead of just waiting for sound check, it gives you more energy if you work out to wake up.
Sandra: I’m actually surprised Chris that you say that you have been drinking so much because with your vocals.
Chris: Yea I actually had 1 occasion where I sang one concert and we had many gigs this summer and the last gig we did, something happened with my left vocal cord. I couldn’t sing for like 3 months. That was scary actually. I thought that this is over. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m not drinking so much anymore. I think I’d rather take care of my voice more than I have done. I’m glad that I’m the singer, but I hate that I’m the singer as well. I always need to be on top.
Per: It’s easy to change strings on the guitar and change drum sticks.
Sandra: Are you guys collecting new ideas for upcoming songs while you are on tour? Or is this process taking place back at home?
Per: You mean if we are writing songs while on tour?
Sandra: Yea right now on tour.
Per: Yea sure! We brought everything that we need to have to record vocals and guitars so…When we have time and energy we usually just sit and you know…We have most ideas ready for the next album which we will start recording soon after we come home from the tour. So now it’s a lot of details and lyrics. That’s the thing that gets finished last. We are kind of putting it together piece by piece.
Sandra: So you would say the majority of songs are being written on tour or at home?
Per: It’s not like I sit down, “Ok I’m going to take the guitar and write a song”. It’s mostly like if I am walking to work and then all of a sudden I’m like “Ah! Nice!” So I try to remember whatever pops up. It’s hard to order inspiration. It just comes. Now it’s been like 1 year since we released the first album. We have good ideas and now it’s time to record.
Chris” I feel bad for these guys. Sometimes I see Per and he is like falling asleep and out of it, and I ask him “What is it with you?” He says, “I came up with some lyrics in the middle of the night last night. I had to write them up.” You know, his brain is working all the time with the melodies and the lyrics.
Per: Yea that’s annoying actually. Sometimes I am just about to fall asleep and I am like “Huh! Fuck! Fuck! Ok let’s bring the computer”.
Sandra: That’s cool though. This might be a sensitive subject, but I couldn’t find anything on German websites or English websites about this. You guys actually reached the semifinals on the TV show “Sweden’s Got Talent”…
Per: My first show actually…
Sandra: in 2009, but you guys dropped out of the competition to sign a record deal. Why did you guys just drop the show? How did you decide to take that step?
Per: From the start, it is a talent show and it didn’t feel like this is the right forum for us to, you know…It’s like the same with the Idols series. You kind of go up and then you disappear. We wanted to go the right way and get a good rock label and start, you know…
Chris: When you begin as a band at that level, kind of low down under the shoes. Kind of need to work things up. We thought it was a good thing to do.
Per: And actually we had to choose. If we were to continue, we would have had to sign a deal with Sony which was really bad. Ok this is the standard deal and you belong to us forever. So we felt like ok! It would have been nice to have more TV air time, you know. We chose the other way. It also did not turn out well either. That was the label that in the end had a lot of arguments with. So we left them after 1 year while recording. We almost finished the album.
Chris: Yea when I was going to go up and put the singing on the record, the label was like, “BB the way, here is a new contract that you need to sign.” Okaaaaay.
Per: And that was that. We separated. To summarize, we wanted to be cool, so we left.
Chris: SO NOW WE’RE METAL!
Sandra: Haha ok so our favorite question! What are you guys currently listening to?
Chris: Do I need to tell you that??! Haha
Per: To me it’s like repeat on our own new songs. After you have listened to it for like the 15th time maybe, you are like “Ahh! I’m going to change that detail”. So our songs on repeat. Chris I think you will be the Alter Bridge guy. *group Laughter*
Chris: No I like more stuff other than Alter Bridge. Actually I’ve been listening to Savage Garden a lot. The first album.
Per: The silence!
Chris: The silence! Haha that was my first favorite band of all time. When I was like 8 years old. I couldn’t get away from it either. It was stuck in my head. It’s a good album. A really good album.
Interview & Fotos: Sandra Frei