When it comes to style and attitude and the skills to write powerful songs, the Poodles belong without doubt to Sweden’s elite. Since 2006 the four men band has been touring successfully in Europe and has been delivering one killer record after another. After four years, they are finally again touring European grounds. We took the chance to talk to Pontus and Henrik as well as singer Jakob. And one thing I can surely say, that was one of the best, if not the best interview I’ve ever done, thanks to the entertaining and very sympathetic interlocutors.
This is the fourth gig on this tour, how was it so far ?
Pontus: It’s been great I think. We’ve been doing two shows in Italy, to start off and yesterday we played in Nurnberg, Germany. And we are getting slowly but surely back in tour mode.
How is the crowd so far, are there many people coming to the gigs or?
Pontus: It’s been ok.
Henrik: I mean we are playing sort of smaller venues, so there is a limit to how many people can come, but it’s been good.
Pontus: And the people who come are great. Very friendly and into it. Unfortunately due lot of different things we haven’t been actually touring this area for four years, so it seems like people are happy to see us again.
So they haven’t forgotten about you
Pontus: (laughs) Noooo…not totally! And we are doing our best to remind the people that we are still around and kicking!
That’s good! How did the preparations for this tour looked like?
Pontus: Well, first of all there is …what should I say?
Henrik: Like effort?!
Pontus: Yeah, I mean there is a lot of the business side of the things, getting everything in order, book plane tickets and the other booking stuff, that really has very little to do with the music.
So you are doing all that by yourself?
Pontus: No, we have Eddy (Freiberger, Tourmanager) you’ve been talking to, he is like the promoter and booker of this whole tour. And he’s been going a great job.
Henrik: Yeah he is always checking with us, if that is ok for us and getting back and forward to set the schedule.
Pontus: Yeah, he is doing all the dirty work. (Laughs) There is a lot of back and forward how to pressed with things and then from our part it is trying to figure out what set list we should play and rehearsals and all that…
Do you fast agree on the songs that will be played or how is it?
Henrik: Naaa… I think we are pretty good with agreeing, we have of course a lot of new stuff in the repertoire cause we have the new album “Tour de Force”, so we wanna play quite a few songs from that album but still we wanna mix it in. We are in the good position of having recorded a few albums, so we have material to choose from. Which is of course difficult when you have something like 75 minutes to perform.
Pontus: Yeah I would say that is more of an issue, that we have too many songs that we all want to play so we have to sort out. But what we usually do when we go out on a new tour is that we start off with the set list that we played last time and select which ones should we keep and which ones we should replace and so on. It is not like we try to build a whole new set list.
Henrik: and we also choose some extras that we can through in and change songs around, a little bit.
So you also change the set list during the tour?
Henrik: A little bit, not much.
So is it like that, that you try to keep the old hits on the set list or is it also that you are trying to play some old pearls that maybe didn’t got too much attention so far?
Pontus: Both actually! I mean there are a few song where we just would be stupid if we wouldn’t play them. (Laughs)
Henrik: They expect us to play them. But the old sort of jams they take the backseat to the real kind of standard cord material. Usually, I mean you through in one or two but you don’t really…
Pontus: We also try to mix in some stuff that isn’t that expected as well.
Your last record “Tour the Force” was released 10 months ago, you got great reviews about your fifth studio album, I wonder do you sometimes read the reviews or is that something that you are not interested in. And if so do you still care about what they say?
Pontus: Yeah, I think it’s unavoidable that you read it and care about it, but you don’t put too much weight in it, I would say.
Henrik: I mean when it is a good review, something that suits you a little bit and if it is some not so positive one then it’s like..
Then you think stupid reviewer, you have no idea about music??
Henrik: (laughs) No not so much but you just put it behind you. People think different things and then also there are some expectations they have and people regard us in some way as this kind of Band and in other totally different. That just comes into play when you value an album coming out. You just try to stick with the good and leave the bad behind.
Pontus: I think also, whatever kind of music you play and no matter how great the album is, you can never please everybody. I mean there will always be people that thought: “Ah, the last one was better!” (Laughs)
Henrik: And you just get some reviews that go like: “Why?” and well, just because.
Pontus: (Agreeing) And sometimes you can read even bad reviews and you agree. Cause when you see, oh he’s actually listened carefully to the album and the criticism is relevant then it is something that you can appreciate and hopefully do better next time.
So it affects you also on the next record?
Henrik: Sure, or you just realize: “Well, yeah he has a point” but that is not what I wanna do.
You now have some experience with the new songs, which one works best live and has your favorite song changed from the point when the album was just finished to that point?
Pontus: OH, I don’t know. It hasn’t really changed for me that much, but I think when you start playing the songs live that’s when it for me can change sometimes. There is a song that you maybe didn’t liked that much and when you are playing it then you think: “Oh, this is good!” (Laughs)
I’ve heard that you have been at studio in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago. Are you already working on new material for the upcoming album or are you releasing a new song?
Pontus: Yeah we’ve started writing new stuff and making pre-production and demos of the new stuff. Our plan is to have a new album out hopefully early next year.
So not this year anymore?
Pontus: Ahh… probably not but we’ll see.
What about a single?
Pontus: Yeah… we will see (smiles) We haven’t gotten that far in the process yet. But our very rough plan is to start recording some when after summer. And then we’ll just see how that goes. Hopefully we can have something out already before the end of the year.
Henrik: We have a new collaborator this time with a new record company, so we are not working with Frontiers on this upcoming release. We are going to go with Swedish label called Gain. We don’t know exactly how they work, yet that is also a dialogue that you have to take care of.
So it is a fresh thing that needs to be solved first?
Pontus: Exactly, we are very excited about that new collaboration it is a label that has bands like Hardcore Superstar, H.E.A.T, Mustasch.
So it is focused on Swedish Bands? But also takes care of European releases etc.?
Pontus: Yeah, it is a Swedish label but they release it all over Europe.
So they know to value you there, I guess with Frontiers you are more one of the smaller bands, because of all these US stuff there, or not?
Pontus: Yeah, we had a good run with Frontiers, but we thought it was maybe time to change something and it is always complicated to have a business relationship with someone who sits down in Italy when we life in Sweden. Of course it can work fine, but it is easier if you are actually in the same country. You can communicate easier.
Henrik: They have a working business model of how they work and produce and release records, but maybe we are not getting into the long end of the stores, so to say with that sort of model, although it works but we are hoping to do other things as well so we are trying it, ´cause we have a personal connection to some of the people at Gain and we get a good feeling of talking to them of how we should pressed so…
I saw that you are playing at the upcoming Firefest in October which will happen for the last time in Nottingham, do you plan a special show for that event, or will it just be the usual Poodles Show?
Pontus: Not yet… it is a few months to go (laughs)
Well, not that long anymore …
Pontus: Yeah I know what you are saying… before you know it will be there. (Laughs) But we haven’t prepared anything special yet. But there maybe will be something (laughs)
You’ve recorded the song “En för alla för en” , God, was that right? I am not getting along with Swedish, so well, my Finnish is better. (laughs)
Pontus: Ah, that was good (laughs)
Ok you recorded it for the last years Ice Hockey WM in Stockholm, how did you got the chance to do this? Are you big hockey fans?
Pontus: Well the song is written by Frederik Thomander and Anders Wikström who had the connection with the Swedish Hockey federation they sort of ask us to play this song for them.
(Jakob joins us and Pontus continues )
That is pretty much how it came up and then Kicken our Drummer has a connection to the Hockey Federations.
But are you all Hockey fans or not that much?
Pontus: Ahh well, we’ve become..(Laughs)
Henrik: All Swedes are sort of a Hockey Fans. When it comes to the world championships.
Yeah, it is about the same in Finland, it’s just a must!
Henrik: Yeah we have that rivalry between Sweden and Finland we have to maintain.
Yeah, I am always helping the Finnish side, I am sorry (all laugh)
Jakob, it is actually very good that you joined us now, ´cause I would have two questions for you, if that is ok?
Jakob: Sure, that is definitely ok!
You also released a Solo-Record called “Pastpresent” . Is another Solo-Record an option at some point or did you do this album just to get a free mind again for Poodles? What are the plans?
Henrik: Yeah precisely Jakob, what are your plans?? (Laughs)
Pontus: We would really like to hear this…
Jakob: That was a very uncomfortable question (laughs) No..
Pontus: Well, maybe we should step away.. and go over there for a moment (all laugh)
Jakob: But ah this is going on all the time, I write for both projects at the same time. I is mainly because if you write as much material as I do then some of the stuff just does not fit it. To the rest of the Poodles stuff. So I have no plans for it at the moment, but I am sure there is gonna be another Solo album.
You already had the chance to play with Jon Lord, and also did a song with Tess of the pop group Alcazar. Is there a special musician or singer you’d like to sing a duet with or play a song with?
Jakob: Oh well, that was fantastic with Jon and this was really something , as I see it , The Top of Pops, something that will be hard to beat, well… who could it be…
Henrik: Well how about Jimmy Page
Jakob: Yeah how about Jimmy Page! That’s him. But there are many people who would be fantastic to work with. But yeah I guess Jimmy Page would be something (laughs)
Henrik: Some of the giants before they go.
Jakob: Yeah and that’s the fortunate in the unfortunate that I had the chance to actually see him before he passed away. And we had plans to do more stuff but I didn’t hear from him in 6 months and then he was dead.
Yeah, that’s hard. Sometimes it happens very fast. So that shows us that we have to enjoy life as long as we can.
All: Exactly, really, yeah!
You are already since a couple of years in this biz now and it gets harder and harder to stick out of the masses, what advice would you give to a new band? What should they be aware of, or would you recommend them just to let it be?
Pontus: Yeah, get a regular job! (Laughs) I think you should do what is really in your heart. Don’t look too much over your shoulder and take care of what other people are doing. Because if you do follow your heart, even you don’t make it, in the end you will be happier.
Henrik: Try to stay together! That is difficult! (Laughs) I mean there are a lot of new bands, they come up and work for a while and then they break up. You just have to be able to manage the ups and the downs, it is not just gonna be up, and even it is so it can be a problem too. So a family sort of structure of the band is difficult to get. You need to make an effort to stay together and just see past some differences that are bound to exist. Just focus on things where people contribute and what you try to do. I mean in a situation where you are not all trying to contribute, that is a real problem that you have to take good care of, but as long as you are feeling that everybody is facing the same direction, and aim the same goal, you are staying together.
How about you guys do you have more of a work relationship or is it like a friendship where you also see when it is not music related?
Jakob: No, I hate the other guys! (Laughs)
Henrik: We stay away from each other!
But there are actually bands like that.
Henrik: Yeah, I never understood how that works.
Pontus: I would say we have both. At least for me it feels like we have a personal friendship and we also have a business relationship. And we’ve been pretty good in separating it.
Henrik: We enjoy each other’s company. We just like to hang out
Jakob: We have a really, really good time not only when we are working. And if you do it as much as we do it is very good. It is much work and so much unglamorous parts of it, so if you don’t have a good relationship and you can’t take the differences in every personality and discuss about things, then it is not working. We have a lot of arguments, but that is alright.
Henrik: We respect each other. As long as you have respect for each other, everything is fine.
So you don’t need some fights and beating up each other to get along, good to hear that! (All laugh)
I am not sure if you are all from the Stockholm area or if you are from somewhere else?
Pontus: Well, Jakob! I would say we are all from the Stockholm area.
Jakob: I’ve been on and off there , I used to move around quite a lot as a kid, but since I was in the teenage years I was living in Stockholm. So I consider myself as a Stockholm resident.
Ok could you name about 5 things that people should go to see when they are visiting Stockholm?
Jakob: The ABBA museum that is fantastic!! And they should visit Vaxholm
Pontus: The Archipelago of Stockholm that is something quite unique actually and very beautiful.
Jakob: Also the Stadsteatern Stockholm they view a lot of good things.
Henrik: They should see Fjällgatan we have quite a few nice tourist attractions.
Pontus: The old town is very beautiful there are also many cool museums and stuff around that you can check out.
Henrik: The Vasa museum is worth seeing. Cause the boat is decaying, so you better hurry up (laughs) It is not going to be there for long.
Pontus: Yeah the Vasa and also the Royal Armory located at the castle. I think that is really cool if you are into history that is something worth visit.
Henrik: Yeah it is not just Weapons also clothes and all that stuff it is really nicely done.
Pontus: Yeah you could also…ah… we take that at some other time (all laugh)
What are your plans for the rest of 2014, except the new album?
Pontus: Yeah the album then we have some cool festivals coming up. The Firefest like we talked and then we go to USA for the first time, to play at Melodic Rock Fest in Chicago. And also few other things.
Henrik: And a Festival in Czech.
Pontus: It is the Basinfirefest.
Henrik: Is that our first time in Czech?
Jakob: I think so! But we are also going to France!
Pontus: So we have a view pretty cool things coming up and then like you said there is gonna be the focus on the new album
Ok and last but not least: is there a question you always wanted be asked in an interview but nobody ask so far and if so what would it be?
Jakob: How are you?
Pontus: Yeah how are you really!!!
And you would open up on an interview about that? I think that is not a pretty good idea guys! (Laughter)
Henrik: Do you even like music? No actually, Sandy do you have a favorite from the new album. Do you know it?
Yeah, I know the album, but to be honest I write so many reviews every month that I always forget about the name of the tracks, but to be honest, I really like the Swedish one. It is just something no one has done so far and it would be nice to hear an actual Poodles song sung in Swedish. I think you should do another one.
Jakob: Aha? In Swedish? Really?
Yeah! It is just so different I haven’t heard from another Swedish rock band so far.
Pontus: Mh?? Well, maybe.
Henrik: People here in Europe ask us they want us to play this song! That is one of those songs that we can take in or out of set list.
Jakob: We were thinking no because they can not sing along with it.
Pontus: Yeah but people seem to like it!
Henrik: We also shot a good video for it too!
Yeah. but you can teach them some Swedish like this.
All: Yeah (laughter)
Jakob: Maybe that is a good thing, as Rammstein is touring all over the world with their German songs. I don’t know.
So what about you Pontus? Any question you’d like to be asked?
Pontus: (takes a deep breath) I don’t know. Mh…
Probably: NO more interview at all please, I have enough of it (laughs)
Pontus: (laughs; with a whiny voice) DO we really have to do this? No, there is actually nothing special.
Jakob: We do quite a lot of interviews and they are all kind of different. I like to talk about the music, the lyrics and often it is about what we are doing. Back home it is more of a media thing about what we did and didn’t do. All the things around it, but mainly when we are touring Europe it is mainly about the music and this is relevant.
Pontus: Something that I really appreciate and that goes for all of us, is when you do an interview with someone who actually knows a little bit about you and has done his homework and prepared for the interview. Which is not always the case , I can tell you!
Yeah, I have heard that many times that there are journalist like that, so I try my best to be not one of them, but I have to say sometimes it is also not easy to get some useful information that you are not always asking the same stuff.
Pontus: Yeah, but I mean you’ve been going a great job! So that was no criticism. But sometimes it feels like “Do they even know who we are?” and why they are here (laughs)
Ok then thanks! Thank you very much for the nice chat and all the best for the future.
Pontus: Thank you!
Henrik & Jakob: Thanks!
More infos at: www.poodles.se & www.facebook.com/#!/thepoodles/info