INTERVIEW: Eclipse – Eric Mårtensson
Eclipse has to be one of the finest Hard Rock bands around at the moment but like everyone out there they are sidelined from playing live shows and everything booked for 2020 has now been pushed back to 2021. So what do you do when you can’t tour? How about releasing one of the most sonically pleasing live records in many a long year! Welcome to the live record that wasn’t meant to be – ‘Viva La VicTOURia’ – who says nothing good has come out of the pandemic? We caught up with Eric Mårtensson to talk about the record, how he’s dealing with the pandemic, his new stereo and details of the new studio album.
Mark: Hi Eric how are you?
Eric: I’m good how are you Mark?
Mark: Keeping safe and well.
Eric: Have you had the virus yet?
Mark: No we didn’t get it in Western Australia, they forgot to include us.
Eric: Well you are in the middle of the ocean by yourselves, so not many people coming there.
Mark: You know us so well. It’s an interesting time to be releasing and album, especially a live one that reminds us of what we’re all missing out on?
Eric: Yeah it is, but I thought it was good timing for a live album for that very reason.
Mark: I agree. And earlier in the year we almost got to see you play this very set. You were booked for the Melodic Rock Fest in Melbourne in March which promised great things then sort of shrunk as pieces fell off.
Eric: Yeah, that was a bit strange the Melodic Rock Fest situation.
Mark: Hopefully that’s not put you off coming back, that first time a few years back now was a magic experience for a lot of fans and we’d love to have you back one day.
Eric: Of course. I had a great time. I loved being there in Melbourne, I say to everyone, it’s the best pace I’ve ever been to, I really enjoyed it, it was fantastic.
Mark: I think you still owe me a beer from the Elephant and Wheelbarrow!
Eric: Yeah, I’ll remember that next time. (laughs)
Mark: (laughs) Well, what an album! So many live albums get released these days and production values these days are pretty good so we know we’re in for something pretty decent, but this really is special. I’d put this up with some of the classics of yesteryear. Were you happy with the sound?
Eric: That’s really wonderful. Yeah, I’m really happy with it and you know we haven’t re-done a lot of stuff. And all the vocals are just 100% live, I haven’t changed a note, or done anything in the studio. I think it’s very authentic and that also makes me proud because it sounds good and it sounds real. So the folds are left there because it’s live and I think that also makes it sound more real. With so many live albums they just re-do so much stuff in the studio that there’s not much ‘live’ anymore. It sounds good (when you do that) but it doesn’t sound as good as a studio record but it doesn’t sound like a live album either.
Mark: It’s a great recording, and I guess a horrible thing for those of us who missed out on the tour, but hopefully a sign of what we’ve got to come.
Mark: What can you remember from the might was it always intended to record the show for a potential release?
Eric: No it wasn’t intended. The show was in Gothenburg the second biggest town in Sweden and the home town of the drummer and the bass player so the bass player lives there and he asked friends to bring their cameras and film the start of the concert so that maybe we could use it for social media or something. So they put up some extra cameras and they filmed it and we also did a multi-track recording but it was never intended for a live album. But after the gig we didn’t think we’d use the recording, but it was a great night, it was great fun especially for the bass player and the drummer who were in their hometown. There were a lot of people there so they were very proud. But then after Christmas, because this was recorded on the 21st December, he started editing some of the videos to see how it looked, and I started listening to the multi-track and it sounded really, really good. And the video looked really professional. So we thought “we can’t use this for social media, this looks like a proper live release.” And then the pandemic hit, and then there was no doubt “Let’s do this!” So it was kind of a live album by accident!
Mark: (laughs) Not only is there the live show from Gothenburg there’s plenty of other bonuses too. I didn’t get the DVD portion for review so we’ll talk about that in a minute, but we also got a snatch of the online show you played ‘Live from the Quarantine” – I’ve already had fans asking not the whole thing – why only a selection of tracks from that show?
Eric: Well some of the tracks were already on the live set so I think it was more about that, and also there is a limitation on how much time we can have on a CD but especially when it comes to the vinyl. It’s a triple vinyl so there is only enough room for so many songs. And with the video version we could not use cover versions because of fees and stuff, so there are practical reasons for it.
Mark: The big surprise for fans though might be the new studio track – a cover version of ‘Driving One of Your Cars’ what’s your relationship with that song?
Eric: Well I really enjoyed that song when it came out in the early 2000’s I think. The guitar player, he heard the song on the radio and said we should do a cover of it and I said “Yeah, let’s try it” and in my studio all by myself I programmed drums and put down the guitars and other instruments and did a rough vocal and I thought “This sounds really good.” The vocals on the studio version are my rough vocals from the demo, hat’s exactly how it was the first day that I tried it, and it just sounded good and it sounded like Eclipse. So we thought why not releases it, it’s a fun thing to do. Nothing too serious, it’s just a song that we like.
Mark: A nice extra for fans. There’s a really god mix on the live recording too, I think about 7 tracks from the last album and five each from ‘Monumentum’ and ‘Armageddonize’ and they all sound great, it’s a wonderful setlist. But the real treat for me is the acoustic versions because I knew that they would sound great given that treatment. ’The Downfall of Eden’ I think is wonderful and ‘When the Winter Ends’ isn’t too far away for me either
Mark: Did you record any more acoustically?
Eric: No, those were released as Japanese bonus tracks originally, so instead of just keeping them limited to the CD’s in Japan I thought it was about time that we released them so everyone could listen to them. Because otherwise you really have to search them out, maybe someone put them up on YouTube or something like that. But it was more about it being something that maybe people hadn’t heard before outside of Japan.
Mark: Well all added up it’s a great package. I have my vinyl ordered, you can’t beat a bit of vinyl.
Eric: I think there is one extra track on the vinyl compared to the CD. I can’t remember which one but there is something at least! It’s been a long time since I did the mastering! (laughs)
Mark: The other day I also managed to track down the Japanese version of ‘Armageddonize’ which has the bonus live disc from the Vasby Rock Festival.
Eric: That was another show that was not intended to be recorded or released. A few weeks after we did the Festival I was contacted by one of the guys who did the sound and he said “By the way we recorded the gig, if you want it you can have it.” And it sounds cool so why not release it?
Mark: So what’s next for Eclipse? It’s hard to make plans I guess as we stand at the moment, is there a new studio album warming up in the background?
Eric: Studio album yes, we are working on a new studio album. It’s a priority at the moment. We have started writing and we have quite a lot of songs. We have never had as much time to work on new songs as this time so we’ll see. It’s always been a super tight deadline every time we’ve done an Eclipse album but for the first time we actually have a few months extra which is kinda relaxing!
Mark: (laughs) something good at least from the current situation!
Mark: If there weren’t already enough reasons to go out and buy the new record there was talk of bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray as well?
Eric: Yeah, as this was the tour for the ‘Paradigm’ album and that’s why there are so many new songs you know, if it was meant to be our legacy as a live record e would probably choose a few more older songs as well. But this was not intended to be a ‘best of’ live album, it was just recorded in the middle of the tour. It was just one gig out of many gigs that just happened to be recorded and it has ended up as a real album.
Mark: So you must be pleased at the reaction, there’s some glowing reviews out there.
Eric: I haven’t actually started looking for any of them, maybe it’s time to go and have a look.
Mark: One of the things we’ve been asking people with the way things are at the moment, is, as we have all this extra time on our hands people are looking for music to listen to whether its new music to discover or classics to revisit. Is there anything that you’d recommend to people?
Eric: Well I listen to a lot of music all the time. One funny things is I just bought a new, well new for me, old Pioneer stereo from 1976, and I put on some Swedish built speakers from 1972 and it sounds wonderful! It doesn’t sound old or dated, it sounds really, really good. It’s a great stereo and I have a lot of vinyls. So what I’ve been doing lately is I’ve been sitting down in my living room, just listening to vinyl records. Old vinyl records. I have maybe a thousand vinyls. But recently I was in Stockholm and I went to a used vinyl shop and I bought for like two dollars a Tony Carey album called ‘Blue Highway.’ I just put it on the other day and thought “this is really good.” I love just sitting down and doing nothing else but listening to the music. And I turned it over to Side B and kept on listening, it was really good. So that’s what I’ve been doing and I’ve been listening to Cheap Trick and of course AC/DC
Mark: Have you heard the new one yet?
Eric: No I’m still waiting on the new AC/DC record, I don’t want to listen to it on Spotify! I’m waiting for my vinyl and my box set I don’t want to read a review, I don’t want to know anything I just want to wait for the vinyl to arrive so that I can have a listen to it by myself. I don’t want to be biased! I just want to like it! (laughs)
Mark: Well I hope yours lands soon!
Eric: I just got told it’s been delayed a week! I got the box set with the glowing lights that plays ‘Shot in the Dark’! (laughs)
Mark: I won’t say anything other than I think it’s the best thing they’ve done for quite some time.
Eric: Oh wonderful. Brain is singing better than ever, I guess he’s had a rest as well.
Mark: You included the stand alone single ‘Runaways’ on the album as well, are you planning on releasing singles in the lead up to the new album, which presumably has been put back a little?
Eric: Yeah we are thinking of that. The original plan was to release the new record very shortly after ‘Paradigm’ so it was supposed to be released in the spring next year, but because of the virus there isn’t going to be any touring at also we postponed the whole thing to the autumn 2021. So in the meantime I guess we need to do something. We did this live record of course but maybe we will pop out a few singles as well, just to give the fans something to listen to while they are waiting for the new record.
Mark: The market for new vinyl is crazy at the moment, I saw the recent ‘Viva La Victoria’ picture disc you released last year is changing hands for a hundred dollars –I hope you have some copies for yourself?
Eric: I think I’ve got one or two here! But that’s silly.
Mark: The most frustrating thing at the moment of course must be not being able to play live. What else are you guys getting up to in your spare time?
Eric: Well today we actually released a new single and video for a new W.E.T. album with Jeff Scott Soto – that was pretty fun. It’s already been recorded and mixed and everything and is going to be out in January. I’m really happy with that one and I run a studio so I’ve been mixing a lot of records, as there’s no live gigs anymore I can just step up the whole studio operation.
Mark: I saw that it sounds great. It’s been a terrible year so far, even pre-covid I was looking forward to catching up in March.
Eric: It’s too bad we didn’t get to play the Melodic Rock Fest. I was really looking forward to that.
Mark: I know a lot of people were, as soon as it was announced you weren’t on the bill a lot of people voted with their feet, and those that saw you at the previous event were really looking forward to seeing you. We wil have to get you back.
Eric: Thanks I would love to come back. It was a pleasure being there.
Mark: So unlike some musicians around the globe it sounds like the current pandemic has been keeping you busy?
Eric: Yeah more busy than ever to be honest, so many bands want to make records because they have no gigs so I’m mixing like crazy and getting some production jobs from all different genres, it’s really cool. But I really want to go out and play live so I’d be happy to trade some of the studio work for that! (laughs) I think even though we have no gigs we are the lucky ones because we already had a full schedule for 2020, and everything for 2020 is now postponed to next year. And I think they’ll keep postponing till it’s safe to open up again. But it’s so much worse for bands who were in the middle of a release cycle or for new bands starting because there are absolutely no chances to play live anymore and when it starts to open up it will be all the bands who were booked for 2020 – you know the first year is already taken! So for new bands it might be several years before they can even book a gig. It must be very frustrating for some people.
Mark: I just hope that when things come back people are going to be so desperate to see live music again that we get even more shows, but there’s other issues.
Eric: I know, hopefully the venues are still around to have live music because they are really struggling.
Mark: That is the other part of the equation Eric, and even some of the promoters that aren’t sitting on huge mountains of pre-sales, are struggling too. Not to mention those who stage the events, the crews and the venue workers all have it so tough.
Mark: On a positive note one of the highlights of the year so far is ‘Viva La VicTOURia’ can I pin you on a date for the new studio album?
Eric: I think it will definitely be in the fall of 2021. That’s how we’ve planned it and if nothing big changes I think we will stick with that plan. Because we want to release an album and we want to tour. That’s how we want to do it.
Mark: It’s always a pleasure to talk to you Eric, let’s hope it’s in person next time.
Eric: It’s a pleasure Mark, have a great weekend.
Mark: And you too mate, and stay safe.
Eric: Thank you so much, bye.