“Same wild spirit, less polished” – Exclusive Crashdïet interview with Simon Cruz and Martin Sweet
With new album ‘The Savage Playground’ released in January and tour dates planned for three different continents, 2013 looks to be a busy year for Sweden’s leading sleaze rockers Crashdiet.
Ahead of the LPs release Karl Eisenhauer met up with vocalist Simon Cruz and Guitarist Martin Sweet in a cosy London boozer during a not so quiet happy hour to talk about future plans, the new record and er … Bruno Mars.
So Martin and Simon, thanks for talking to Pure Rawk. What brings you to the UK today?
Martin: We’re here for a listening party for the new record at St Moritz. So we’ve been doing promo all day, running around, chasing people. Dying for food and beer!
The new record is called ‘The Savage Playground’ what sets it apart from what’s gone before?
Simon: It feels very fresh and new. Our last record (2010’s Generation Wild) was typically more 80s and polished. This record sounds less ‘Motley Crue’ or ‘Skid Row’ and more like ourselves.
Martin: It sounds more like how it is live and we’re trying not to be too over produced.
Simon: Same wild spirit, but less polished.
Is there a story behind the title?
Simon: It comes from a lyric in one of our new songs. It seemed to sum up perfectly what we’ve been doing for the last three years and all the things we’ve experienced. It’s our impressions of our first time in California. Not just places, but also our life experiences from the last three years and more. It’s a big playground out there, so let’s try to make the most of it and have fun, you know?
How has the writing process developed from the earlier records?
Martin: Eric Young (drummer) writes a lot more now, as does Simon. It’s changed quite a bit. The basic process is the same. We all come in with half-finished songs and then dig in together and work on them as a team.
Simon: Mostly the lyrics come after the musical idea. We’ve tried writing from scratch, but I don’t think it made the record.
Martin: It’s a democracy; at least we try to be when we write.
Would you say the album is darker or lighter than what has gone before?
Simon: There are no sad songs… no ballads! I think we’ve been more open minded. We’ve experimented with string arrangements and some oriental influences. We just did what we felt was right and not just tried to fit into what people might think we would do.
Martin: I think it’s a little more brave than the last one.
Previously you’ve worked with Mick Mars from Motley Crue and co-written with Johnny Gunn from the band Peep Show. Are there any collaborations on the new record?
Martin: Actually no! There’s one track Simon worked on with a friend which might end up as a bonus track, but this time it’s mostly ourselves. We worked a lot with Johnny at a time when we weren’t really sure where to go with Crashdiet. We had just fired the Finnish guy and we weren’t sure what was going to happen. So back then we just wrote and we didn’t have any band in mind. .
The first single is going to be Cocaine Cowboys and you’ve got a video out?
Simon: It’s directed by a friend of mine, Ricky Frantzen, who I used to play with in a band called Jailbait. He’s always been more of a business man, less of a band man. He’s been working in video editing for a few different projects in the last couple of years. He’s very talented and also a friend so we give him a lot more space to do what he wants, because I feel I can trust him.
Previous Crashdiet videos have been quite extreme (the Generation Wild video was banned by MTV) can we expect more of the same?
Simon: Maybe not so much blood. I wouldn’t want to go through that again! I had a chain around my neck and at one point was strapped to a chair for eight hour straight. It felt like being tortured. I was turning blue! We suffer always for our art!
You’re a band that always seems keen to involve the fans; previously there was a contest to design a new band logo, recently a vote on how the album should be priced and marketed. Is that something that’s important to you?
Martin: It’s very stressful trying to keep in touch all the time, but I think it’s needed to keep the band hyped.
Simon: You have to do something to keep the ball rolling and the fans active when we’re in the studio recording a record. Martin does filming in the studio and on the road and he edits that so he does a lot of work.
What do Crashdiet do when they’re not touring or recording?
Martin: It’s very hard to take a break from Crashdiet. There’s always something happening – EMAILS! Sit by your computer and answer emails. So it’s nice to switch of your phone and your computer.
Simon: It’s always proven with bands I’ve been in the past hard to keep everybody functioning. There has to be an energy and positivity. I think we do that very well.
How would you describe the typical Crashdiet fan?
Martin: They’re usually all very polite and respectful of us. You see differences from country to country. In South America everyone is insane, but still nice – they don’t know how to handle their excitement. They tear things apart. Swedish fans are a bit more –
Martin: Yeah they seem more intimidated.
Is there still a big sleaze and glam scene in Sweden?
Simon: There are still quite a few bands around. I was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago and went to the usual rock places I used to go visit where that scene started. I haven’t been so much whilst we’ve been touring, but it’s still going strong – lots of young kids jumping around in crazy clothes.
Simon, is it true you used to live in the UK?
Simon: Yeah, a long time ago. Back before I was in Jailbait. I used to live near Portobello Road and I was into a scene there that was more about Led Zeppelin and The Doors – hippie stuff. Then I discovered Aerosmith and Skid Row. I went to the Camden Palace when it was more of a rock venue. I like that venue, but I haven’t been there in a long time.
Talking of venues, you’ve all mentioned in the past a big desire to play in the US. What was it like to play famous venues like they Whisky A Go Go?
Simon: Yeah we played the Whisky twice. No once!
Martin: We played Sunset Strip twice, Whisky once. It’s more scary in America because I imagine those fans, they’ve heard all this stuff and experienced it before. So many glam bands come through, so it’s tough – lots of competition. It’s a hard crowd to please I think.
Simon: They felt more reserved, the fans, in the US the first time we went. I remember when we played the Key Club it was cool but reserved. I threw myself into the crowd, but they just stepped away and I banged my head! But then the second time we played it was wild. There was a fight and a guy got dragged out. The crowd was going bananas.
What are your touring plans for this record, will you be going back to the US?
Martin: We’re looking forward to playing Japan for the first time and then back to the US for a month in early spring. Then back to the UK.
Are you into any other bands at the moment? What are you listening too?
Simon: It depends. If I’m in a party mood, maybe Danger Danger or I can put on a punk record like the UK Subs. For chilling it’s Fleetwood Mac. I think everything you listen too has an influence on your own writing.
Martin: I’ve been listening to Bruno Mars album a lot. I’m going to see Morbid Angel soon. I like to keep in touch with extreme metal although not as much as in the 90s. I began as a drummer in a death metal band and I played in numerous extreme metal bands.
Okay, last question for the kids on your website who all want to know one thing … Simon, what do you use on your hair?
Simon: Ha, well that’s why they call us hair metal. We’ve always used the same product. It’s a hairspray from Sweden called Proffs. We keep spreading the word, but we never get anything from them! The company sucks, but the hair spray is great! We’ve been trying to get them to sponsor us for years.
Martin: It’s like a magician giving away his tricks.
Crashdiet’s new album, The Savage Playground is out now from all good online stores. For dates and tickets, visit www.crashdiet.org.