written by Marko Jakob
Pix666: Hello Mike. Thanks for your time. Are you healthy and are you well?
Mike: Hey, My pleasure. I am absolutely healthy and well.
Pix666: How are the other guys from the band doing?
Mike: Everybody is doing fine and we haven’t got infected by any Corona or other things that’ll shake our health in a bad way.
Pix666: How is it to be in a band with almost the entire Johansson family, are you something like the second father or the third son – so not just like a band member, but like a family member? How and where did you meet?
Mike: Well, Tungsten is a unique band due to the fact that it is Anders and 2 of his sons (Nick & Karl) and then the outsider, Me. But, we are truly working and functioning like a regurlar band. We talk to eachother like friends and bandmates. I for instance rarely get any feeling that it’s a „family band“. Me and Anders go many years back in time as friends and 10years ago both of us were in a band called „Fullforce“ with whom we released 2 albums with plus some touring. That’s where I really got to know Anders but, I knew him vaguely even before that.
Pix666: How does the approach to songwriting work when men from different generations are on board?
Mike: All basic songs are composed by Karl and Nick. Then they present their songs to me and Anders. I write most of the lyrics. Many times Karl for example have a basic guideline vocally for me where I can adapt the best parts and do my thing about it and other times I write the vocalmelodies myself. Same goes for the drumming. When we have a basic demo then we work as a band and everyone put their own flavours to the songs. I think, what makes us a bit unique is the fact we have so different backgrounds musically what we grew up listening to.
Pix666: Have you sung in other bands before you joined Tungsten?
Mike: Of course. The first band I sang in was called Zanines and included my friend from school, Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie) on drums and Christofer Malmström (Darkane) on guitar. But, that was only a locally known band during the years 1988 – 1991. I sang in a bunch of other bands after that. CLOUDSCAPE was the first band I sang in that got a recorddeal and released albums worldwide. The first album was released in Japan in December 2004 and the rest of the world in February 2005. Cloudscape released 5 studioalbums before dispanding and calling it quits.
I also sang in a band called FULLFORCE which I mentioned earlier and we released 2 albums (One, 2011 and Next Level, 2012). Back in 2006 I also recorded an all star album under the banner PLANET ALLIANCE which also included musicians like Bob Daisley (ex Gary Moore, ex Ozzy Osbourne), Anders Johansson (ex Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Tungsten), Magnus Karlsson (Allen/Lande Project, Last Tribe, Magnus Karlsson’s Freefall) plus a few other decently known musicians. In 2009 I also recorded vocals for a progressive metalband from Switzerland called SILENT MEMORIAL and the album was called „Retrospective“.
Pix666: A few days ago you released the video clip of your new single ‘Tundra’. This is already the third clip of the new album. How satisfied are you with the fans’ reaction to the album and the videos?
Mike: We are overwhelmed!! Truly happy with the awesome support this far. Even fansites are starting to pop up here and there so, we really hope and feel „Tundra“ have taken us a bit further as a band. We have almost 120.000 monthly listeners at Spotify which is really cool. We are humbled, grateful and happy.
Pix666: Where did you shoot the clips? Did you have some funny moments during the shooting, any breakdowns or scenes that you had to shoot several times? Did the Corona Pandemic have an influence on the shooting?
Mike: The Corona pandemic was never a problem actually. The first vid (King of shadows) we hired film company „11 Frames“ to shoot and direct the vid. The second video (Life and the ocean) we filmed ourselves as a test. If it turned out good looking and professional then we’d release it. Otherwise not. As you know it turned out nice looking and our recordlabel was on our side. That vid was filmed on a freakin‘ hot day so, wearing the leathercoat that I did was freakin‘ HORRIBLE in 30 celcius degrees. All I was thinking of was diving into the sea. It was also a looong climb down to the wherabouts where we filmed most parts of the vid carrying all equipment ourselves. A really funny day but, sweaty and tormenting hot ;). The third vid (Tundra) we also fimed ourselves. More like a „band at rehearsal“ kind of video which we believe turned out cool.
Pix666: You had two live performances in Sweden in August – were these concerts with an audience, or was it just for streaming viewers?
Mike: It was of course mostly streaming viewers but, at the time 50 persons were allowed at public arrangements so, that’s what there were…50 persons (sitting) in each audience at both outdoor venues. Very well arranged mini festival with long missed live music.
Pix666: The new album is released now and it‘s not possible to play a tour. A pretty shitty situation for a band. Did you have plans to play a tour for the release and are there already plans for 2021?
Mike: Our booking agency are preparing possibilitys for the second half of 2021 so, lets hope we can get out on the road by then. But, we already are confirmed for SABATON OPEN AIR in August 2021.
Pix666: What is the story behind the picture on the album cover?
Mike: The guy on our album covers is called VOLFRAM. He is not evil but, not and good either. He is a devil to some and an angel to others. His existence is to bring balance in time and space in all kinds of galaxies and timeframes. On TUNDRA he have arrived in a desolated city far beyond the future to prevent a war which he’s been warned about. He uses his lantern to move around in all galaxies and travelling through time. VOLFRAM is our mascot and will follow on future albums;).
Pix666: Are you a fan of statistics – do you know in which countries Tungsten is listened most – or is it something for the younger generation?
Mike: I’m not into statistics actually but, of course it’s interesting to check out where our bigger fanbase is located. What I think is that Germany, Scandinavia and USA is our biggest listening countries. Spain I believe is also quite into Tungsten. But, like you say, Nick & Karl are more into these things and they are younger ;).
Pix666: What else did you do besides the music during the contact restrictions? Do you have any interesting hobbies? Or is music simply everything in your life?
Mike: Music is my life and being with my family is very important to me, being with my wife <3
Pix666: Maybe you would like to tell us something about the situation in your home country, Sweden. What is the mood, what restrictions are there regarding the Corona pandemic, are the shops still open?
Mike: The shops are still open but, pubs and resturants have to stop sell alcohole at 10:00pm. We are not allowed to be more than 8 people in resturants and other public areas (except shopping malls). We have quite a few restrictions but, due to Swedish ground-law (constitution) politicians can’t lock us in a lockdown for example like some other countries have done.
Sweden is a „rule of law“ so, things are more complicated here. But, there are several restrictions and temporary prohibitions that limits people to live life normally to prevent the spread of Corona. Also in Sweden they count all WITH Covid-19 in their statistics when it comes to the ones who died. They don’t count the ones who really died „because“ of the Covid-19 virus. So, the number of dead in Sweden is a bit confusing and misleading considering the number of dead would be lower if they only counted the ones who died because of the Covid-19 virus. People are tired of the pandemic now. Like the rest of the world…I just want to get back to my normal life again;).
Pix666: Do you have any other news about Tungsten that you would like to share with the fans?
Mike: We are releasing our own beer in Sweden on January 4, 2021. Unfortunally only in Sweden but, if you have friends in Sweden I’m sure they can buy the beer for you and ship it;). It’s a „Tundra IPL“ (India Pale Lager) brewed by HEAVY METALE. A really good tasting, delicious beer. The label is the same as our new albumcover (Tundra) but, Volfram is holding the Swedish flag instead of an axe (we had to change because of Swedish alcohole laws). Apart from this the work and composing for album nr 3 have already started;).
Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers and good luck with the new album – Stay healthy!!!
Mike: Thank you and same to you 🙂
photos © Tungsten