Thursday, August 21, 2014

Interview With Ced From Rocka Rollas, Blazon Stone, Mortyr, and Breitenhold

This next interview is with one of my favourite musicians. For the last few years, he has released numerous albums through a variety of projects, most of which are in the speed/heavy metal realm. Take a look below for his take on his history with Rocka Rollas, as well as his other bands!

SFM: Hi Ced! Congratulations on writing two more great albums with Rocka Rollas and Breitenhold! Before we get to those, I want to start a bit further back. Around the time “The War of Steel Has Begun” you had quite a few albums already written, according to a post of yours on Metal Archives. Did you anticipate releasing so many albums across so many bands this quickly?

Ced: Haha, of course I thought I could keep those album plans but I mean... Stuff always changes with time. But most of the ideas and songs of most of those albums are still around, but in different forms. A bit stupid showing off plans like that since they can change a lot from a day to another, but I didn't know that at the time. Now I know better and keep all plans for myself; but I still have tons of shit to record and release! 

SFM: The debut album seemed to take a more “Manowar” approach lyrically, as there are a lot of references to metal, steel, and posers. Why were you drawn to this lyrical style?

Ced: Because the whole idea with Rocka Rollas initially was just pure fun speed metal tribute, but that have changed and I take the music more seriously now. Already on Metal Strikes Back there was a some more focus on writing actual good songs rather than just short energic speed metal fuckers but it still had a lot of those elements. Those are pretty much gone now, but I have another project called Wasteland 3000 which will keep the basic Mad Max/metal spirit alive, rather than the more developed sound of Rocka Rollas or the more bombastic sound of Breitenhold (not so much on Secret Worlds, but future albums will take a way more epic approach)

SFM: “Conquer” is, in my opinion, perhaps the most interesting Rocka Rollas release. This release seemed to be pure Running Wild worship. Was that the intent when you were writing the EP? Was this EP the reason you decided to start Blazon Stone?

Ced: Haha no not really, but both Conquer and Bloodbath was actually written for Blazon Stone from the beginning, but I decided to record them under the Rocka Rollas banner. Riding The Metal Storm was rushed together a just few days before deadline for release, as was Steelwheeler. They turned out pretty well and I like Joe Liszts own vocal lines a lot for Riding The Metal Storm.

SFM: This release also brought in vocalist Joe Liszt. How did you get working with him?

Ced: It was through Stormspell, since Josef had other stuff to do than record vocals for Rocka Rollas, really. Actually the whole Metal Strikes Back album was recorded for Josefs vocals in mind, so I had to re-write a few vocal lines to fit Joe's vocals. Now I think he did a great job with that album, but it was very rushed until the end, just like Conquer EP we got closer and closer to deadline. Some stuff could have been done better with some more time, but really that's the case with all albums I've done. I always notice stuff after it's finished and think “hey... I would have changed that, and that” but once it's released you can't do anything about it. But with Metal Strikes Back the vocals was the least of the problems, Joe did them great; it's actually the drums that I fucking cringe over. They are simply so fucking sloppy, haha! But they were recording after basically not touching drums for like a half year or something, while The War Of Steel Has Begun was recorded while I was drumming every fucking day. Got a bit off track there... 

SFM: “Metal Strikes Back” is a really riff based album that seems quite a bit different from the previous album and EP. What inspired this release?

Ced: I don't remember now really, it was quite a while ago and my song writing always flow into each other and sometimes I just gotta decide to choose some songs and just recorded them. And I guess that was the deal with Metal Strikes Back. Actually, Weaponizer was supposed to be recorded for The War Of Steel Has Begun, and Bloodbath was supposed to be a bonus track for the same album together with “American Metal”. And as you may guess, there are STILL songs from back in those days that haven't been recorded yet; some songs that I really like but just don't fit into the newer albums. That's where Wasteland 3000 comes into the picture, to bring back some of that simple fast fun shit, haha.

SFM: “Swords Raised In Victory” and “Conquer” are the band’s two longest songs to date. In the past, you had mentioned that you wanted to work towards creating long songs, not unlike Running Wild’s “Treasure Island”. Is this something you will do more of in the future?

Ced: Yep! There was supposed to be something more epic on The Road To Destruction, but it just clicked as it was. I wanted some development in the sound and all, but still keep true to the original sound. More epic stuff on the next album; I wont say too much but the title track of the next album called “Celtic Kings” is 14 minutes long! And yes, Riding Wild will be re-recorded for that one, but the original Celtic Kings album is gone besides a few tracks Josef recorded before I decided to proceed alone.

SFM: After “Metal Strikes Back”, Joe Liszt departed the band. What was the reason he left?

Ced: I think he didn't really feel for it anymore, I was pretty picky about a lot of things with the vocals and all, but I think it's pretty much down to that damned deadline we had. Conquer vocals were super nice, and most songs for Metal Strikes Back was super stellar as well, but the last two songs that were recorded (Warmachine From Hell and Weaponizer) could have used some more work, if we just had more time. 

SFM: Your next move with Rocka Rollas was releasing the song “Riding Wild”. This song featured the return of Josef, the original Rocka Rollas singer, and was supposed to be released on “Celtic Kings”. How did you get working with Josef again?

Ced: Well, when Joe decided to go on with his own projects I decided to ask Josef again and it seemed like it would work out, but in the end he simply didn't have time for it.

SFM: What happened to Celtic Kings? Was it delayed, or did you simply come up with a new album title?

Ced: As I stated above, the cover art will be used, and Riding Wild will be re-recorded for the new incarnation, together with the monstrous title track, but other than that the album is a completely different beast. Most songs have been ditched, Guardians Of The Oath was actually recorded for the Celtic Kings album at first, but were re-recorded for The Road To Destruction in the end instead, and then we have another track which I figured will work better for Blazon Stone, haha. 

SFM: At this point, you have taken over on vocals. Why did you decide to start singing? How do you balance practicing singing with playing every other instrument?

Ced: I had no idea I could from the start, because I never tried for real... But once I just tried to take a few notes in the rehearsal and I realised I can fucking do it. And I'm still learning a lot, but I got pretty good technique with the vibrato and that already, even tho I'm not the definitive singer; my goal is still to be guitarist only, but for the moment this works quite fine. It's just very hard to find a singer that both have the right voice, and enough range to fit the bill.

SFM: The newest album, “The Road To Destruction”, appears to return to the style of the first album. Was this your intention? What do you hope to accomplish with this album?

Ced: I think I decided to go for a more basic approach because I'm singing now too, and to be able to sing these songs live I must also be able to play the riffs at the same time hahaha! Songs like Night Of The Living Steel and Blazing Wings would be so much fun to play live, but the riffs are just too intricate to play together with singing at the same time... But yeah, it felt good just doing a basic album because there will be so much work in the upcoming albums with long songs, advanced song structures and all that. Kinda like a soft start for that.

SFM: You’ve put a lot of effort into finding some great musicians to join you in Rocka Rollas so you can play live. What do these musicians bring to the table?

Ced: First of all they make it possible to play live which is fucking essential now, really. I never knew there would be so much interest in Rocka Rollas from the start but now I know that there actually are people out there wanting to see us live. Billy and Henrik seems to enjoy just playing with the band, while Emil is actually writing some material for Rocka Rollas as we speak. We all have different musical backgrounds, and that's cool. 

SFM: How do you go about putting together a setlist for playing live?

Ced: At the moment it sucks, because I want to play newer songs, but I know people want to hear stuff from The War Of Steel Has Begun. We did a few songs from it for the first gig, but will do more new songs from The Road To Destruction for the upcoming gigs. We don't have any gig dates yet, but we work on it!

SFM: Most of your released songs were written before you had to worry about playing guitar and singing at the same time. How do you balance doing both of these?

Ced: Haha yeah I know. Heavy Metal Kings is a cool songs and a fan favorite, but I just fucking can't play that shit and sing at the same time. Same goes with Bloodbath. I cheat a bit with the riffs on those, playing more like the bass in the verse, and let Emil do the actual riffing, but it's nothing that really matters because it sounds pretty good anyway. But the newer songs are just way easier to sing and play guitar simoultaniosly, and that's cool!

SFM: Aside from Rocka Rollas, you’ve been involved in some other projects. Blazon Stone has become very popular for being a modern day Running Wild. Can we expect a new Blazon Stone album soon?

Ced: Yeah I know, I find it fun that my only project actually emulating another bands sound to the bone is the most popular, but of course, it's easier for people to relate to something like that. And yes, I'm working on another album as we speak. Can't say more about it right now tho!

SFM: Mortyr is your thrash project. If I’m remembering correctly, the songs on the 2013 album are actually much older. Was this some of the first music you wrote?

Ced: Three of the songs were old, from an old 2008 demo that were barely released at all aside from like a copy or two... And no it was far the first music I wrote, I have had lots of different projects and bands before that, beginning in 2003 with my first punk band Anal Mat.

SFM: All of your projects besides Mortyr are speed/heavy metal bands. Why did you decide to go in a different direction with this band?

Ced: Well, I wanna cover a lot of different genres and sounds, so it was just natural I did some fast Dark Angel/Slayer type thrash because I like that stuff quite a lot. Not so many bands, but those are just magnificent. I will also have a death metal solo project soon, I have already recorded some test songs and it sounds pretty cool.

SFM: Your newest band is Breitenhold, where you once again do vocals. As the debut album doesn’t come out until the end of September, what can fans of your other work expect from this project?

Ced: Well, more great speed/power metal, basically. Haha! It's pretty much leftovers from the Rocka Rollas song archives, with some new ones written for the project in mind. I'm in the works of a new album which will be more different from Rocka Rollas, think more mid 90s Blind Guardian bombastic stuff. I can't have two projects that sounds too similar, but I couldn't help it this time, haha

SFM: You have your hand in a lot of projects and tend to write songs very quickly. How do you manage to balance all of this with other priorities?

Ced: Yes, I do haha! Well, at the moment I'm unemployed and even tho I searching for jobs I take this time I have every day to really go fucking nuts and write stuff as much as I can, because I figure that the more I write the better I become at it and some day in the future I might actually make a living out of this... And I'm not talking about metal or punk here, but actually write songs for other artists in the music business, like radio pop and stuff like that. Nothing I fancy too much myself listening too, but I have already written a lot of stuff like that ready to be shipped if I just get some good contacts. I will still keep Rocka Rollas and other projects indipedent and done straight from the heart, so Rocka Rollas will never turn into some kind of radio rock shit... Haha!

SFM: I believe you have your own studio in your apartment. If so, what is your take on the Jari (Wintersun) situation? You are capable of producing excellent sounding albums basically by yourself. What is the holdup in his case?

Ced: Well, at the moment I can only record guitars at home with a cheap Vypyr amp, which sounds cool as hell, but nothing really beats a cranked tube amp. I just got my first one and can't wait until I move to the new place where I actually can have drums and cranked amps in the cellar... Dude, imagine the amount of shit I will record if I can record drums, guitars and vocals any day I want... Hahahahah!!!!!!!

SFM: With a large discography of songs, and some great metal anthems, are you planning on doing any tours this year or next?

Ced: It would be with Rocka Rollas of course, but I have no plans for it yet. We just need to find the right time for it. And some more live experience. I mean we did an okay first gig, better than many other first gigs with some bands but we can't afford doing the same mistakes again like that. Like, I need to control my voice better so I don't lose the range after two songs, and also not hang around with anybody before the gig, just stay in the locker room until it's time to go on stage. Haha!

SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?

Ced: Well, I hope you like the new albums and shit and stay around for new stuff... There will be a lot! 

Be sure to like all of Ced's projects on Facebook!

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