Covered Call first appeared back in 2009 with their hard hitting debut album Money Never Sleeps. In the intervening four years the band's then label Blistering Records imploded, followed by the five-piece also parting company with their original singer Thomas Vikstrom (Therion, Candlemass, Stormwind). However 2013 finds Covered Call back and stronger than ever having penned a deal with the respected AOR Heaven and hooked up with renowned singer Göran Edman (John Norum, Yngwie Malmsteen, Street Talk, Brazon Abbot) for their second helping, Impact, an album that finds the band employing a smoother more melodic rock style to great effect. Sea of Tranquility's Steven Reid hooked up with guitarist Joel Carlsson to find out more...
Hi Joel, thanks for taking the time to speak to Sea of Tranquility...Your debut album Money Never Sleeps came out back in 2009. How come it has taken almost four years before releasing your second album Impact?
That's the most common question we get asked, actually. There are many reasons. First of all we are not full-time musicians, at least for the time being…. Some of us run our own businesses and have families. We really wanted to make this second album better as well and put more time into this one. It just took a bit of time.
With that debut album's name and cover; the band name Covered Call also having stock exchange connotations and the band having a "suited" image for the debut, was there an attempt to kind of add a conceptual outlook to Covered Call at that stage?
Yes... Some of us work in the financial business and we thought it was a fun thing to have a 'financial' look, both on the album and on stage. Covered Call is actually a financial term…. We felt that we had to move on and decided to drop that image, yes. But, there was no special reason for that.
Money Never Sleeps featured one-time Therion/Candlemass/Stormwind vocalist Thomas Vikstrom fronting the band. How did you come to hook up with him?
We actually got in contact with him through Lars Chriss, from Lion's Share. Thomas is a fantastic person and singer, and he really threw everything into the band. Thomas was a full time member in Covered Call and performed with us live.
Did you try to get him involved again for Impact?
At the beginning of the recording…. Then he started becoming really busy touring with Therion and we also felt that we wanted to change the sound too; so we started to hunt for a new singer. No hard feelings there. We have a great relationship with Thomas today still.
His replacement is none other than the hugely respected Göran Edman, whose CV is beyond impressive. You must be excited to have such a renowned singer involved this time round?
Very. We listened to a couple of different singers and then got in contact with Göran through Andy Loos, who was our new bass player at the time. Immediately, we knew that he was the man for the job so we sent him three songs to pre-record. There were no problems and he started to record shortly after that. Of course it's flattering to have Göran in the band, but honestly it all comes down to the voice and musicality, and not just if you have a fantastic CV or not. To us it's important that you believe in what you sing and put that little extra into the recordings. Göran did all that!
Impact has been really well received so far. How satisfied are you with the way the album has come together?
I would be lying if I said that we weren't satisfied. Even if we think that we made a good album, you're never sure what the listeners and critics think of it. Ronny [Svanströmer - drums] and I do most of the writing and take nothing for granted.
In terms of style there's been quite a shift between MNS and Impact, with the harder edges of the debut smoothed out for what is a more melodic effort this time round. Was that a conscious decision?
When we sat down and started to work on Impact, we wanted to make the production much fatter especially in the sound and we put a huge effort into making the melodies and arrangement much better. This is the result!
Looking back to Money Never Sleeps now, how do you view the tougher edge of that album?
MNS is a good album but a little bit unpolished I'd say. There's more riff based songs on that one but we wanted to fix the weaknesses we saw - for instance production - and simply make everything better. Impact is different from MNS, but better. At least we think so.
That album came out on the unfortunately now defunct Blistering Records label. Did the label going under effect the debut in any way?
Unfortunately, yes… They did a good job promoting the album and we actually sold a lot of CD's, but then we lost a lot of money because of the label bankruptcy...
However you've teamed up with the hugely respected AOR Heaven for this album now. Did they approach you, or were you actively looking for a new label for this album?
A bit of both… After making Impact, initially we were not so worried about getting a new label. We picked some songs out from the album and sent them around to different labels. AOR Heaven liked us and we felt that they were the right label for Covered Call, so it's all go from here…
How have they been to work with so far?
Fantastic! They've done a massive job promoting Impact and we are very impressed with their work so far!
Did moving to a label so well known for melodic rock and AOR have any bearing on how Impact sounded though?
No, as I said, the album was already done when we signed with them.
Göran fits like a glove into the band, almost as if you guys had the songs for the album written especially for him before he joined up. Were any songs written with him in mind?
The album was already written and in our own heads we knew where we wanted to go, but we wanted Göran to put his own stamp on the songs, and I think that's what you hear. I certainly knew the first time Göran sang these songs that we were going in the right direction. Andy has been playing with Göran for some years, so we knew it would work.
So, did Göran have the opportunity to get involved with writing any of the lyrics for the album, as well?
Ronny and I do all the lyrics and music and when we sent our songs over to Göran initially, everything was ready to record. But Göran did some changes on top, to the betterment of the record definitely…., so it worked really well.
So, any plans to get out on the road, or play some showcase gigs to help promote the album?
We're making plans to get out and be playing right now. The only official gig right now is the H.E.A.T festival in Ludwigsburg later on this year, but hopefully, we'll be doing more as well!
Hopefully now, album number three will see the light of day quicker than the four year gap between Money... and Impact. Is that the plan?
We just started to write some ideas for a third album actually, and hope that it won't take four more years to get that out.
(Click here to read our reviews of Impact)