Cross is a great name, how did that come about? I realise it’s your surname!
True, it is. After being part of a couple of bands I decided that I wanted to go in a more progressive direction. I penned a couple of songs and recorded these and the wondered what to do with it. At the point I found that naming a band after myself was a good idea as it made it natural to keep the band name even if members were shifting. During the first 8 years there was many different guys on board.
Do you find it important to be classified as a progband and /or do you see yourself as a prog band? Or you couldn’t care less about classification genre wise...as long as people recognize/like your music?!
I see Cross as a progressive rock band. Both in the sense that we, now and then, create some truly progressive music as well as leaning towards some 70’s heroes who was the one’s that initially was labelled as “progressive rock”. It’s of none importance to me, personally, whatsoever to be classified as anything but I believe it’s important to let music fans know what type of music we are creating and when it comes to that “prog” is what is most appropriate.
Do you find cover art important? Please elaborate.
Yes I do. If the music is enjoyable it is of course worth listening to even if it comes with the ugliest cover ever but…I like when the cover has some kind of connection to the music. It can be that it reflects the atmosphere of the album, or it can illustrate the story (if there is one). It can be nice to study the artwork while listening as it can bring in a different dimension.
Which comes first in your process of composing/creating music, the lyrics or the music? And secondly please tell about the writing process from scratch to demo and the final state the recording/studio sessions!?
The music always comes first. At a certain point we have vocals including a very strange, improvised “language” then we take it from there. Both me and Tomas do our best to write words that fits the melody line as close as we can but at times, to write lyrics that makes some kind of sense it becomes a must to change a note here and there. The writing process starts with me, mostly working with keyboards and sampled drums, at the computer. If I don’t immediately come up with a good bass line I leave that empty. Then Lollo comes over and adds some stuff which can be inspirational and give me some new ideas, then I sometimes re-write some parts and add guitars. At times I leave empty spaces so that I can also compose on the guitar. I often program the drums as simple as possible and let Tomas create his thing. On the latest album I sat together with Göran and composed together with him. That was a welcomed break. I had not done that since, I think it was back in 1995-1996 - then together with the bass player that was a part of the band at the time (Tomas Christensen).
When we have some finished compositions I send these to the guys so that they can rehearse. Sometimes they have opinions about one thing or another. Thing’s like “I’d like to try this one in a slightly higher tempo” or “I love the chorus, can we make it a little bit longer?” When we are satisfied with all the basics we start to record. This usually is kind of fast. What takes time is the mixing process.
There’s so many opportunities one wants to try.
Which bands/artists/genre would you name as your inspirational source?
Please elaborate and individual perspectives would be great.
When I write I simply do it and don’t think about other bands or artists but I am a huge fan of listening to music, and has been since I was 5 years. To mention some of the most important bands, once that I’ve listened to very much I’d come up with - The Beatles, The Move, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Yes, VDGG, Genesis, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Brand X, Weather Report, The Sound, XTC, Prefab Sprout, Magazine, Tears For Feears, Killing Joke, It Bites and many, many more. There are some really good new bands as well but I don’t believe they have much to do with what formed my composing style. I also have been pretty much inspired by Tschaikowsky and Shostakowich.
The Mellotron, has become an icon..a pseudonym to great music in prog music circuits. Whats your thoughts on that and the particular instrument?
The mellotron is a great instrument. But one can of course do fine music without a mellotron too J.
If the ultimate choice were given to you, which comes first, live performances or studio work? I realise that is 2 sides to one story, but please
Well…I have already been placed in that situation. As you probably know I was struck by a disastrous hearing problem a couple of years ago and even if I am almost restored now I’m not very keen on daring to try touring again. Not only being on stage but also rehearsals are situations with very loud music for several hours and if that would damage my heraring, again, I’m not sure if it could fully recover…ever. But, composing and creating studio albums is what I love the most so, in that sense, I’m very fortunate.
In many interviews Beatles comes up as as the ultimate forerunners of prog!? In other words...without Beatles, no prog scene as we see it today! Do you concur? Please elaborate!
I totally agree. If I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life it would probably be The Beatles. They had it all and they were truly progressive. It had to some extent to do with them working together with George Martin but one must not forget that they were open to his suggestions.
In a given concert, with you CROSS headlining, whom or which band/artist would you most like/love to see on that imaginative event/ poster! Please feel free to name several!.
At this very moment I’d say Brother Ape and Eggs & Dogs. That would be a great evening I think.
In this day and age of progcircuits, I guess most of your fans, friends & musicians would like to learn the instruments of your choice, I’m of
course talking make and brand. Please elaborate individually!
Oh…I’m not sure what to answer to that question. I believe this is very individual how one develops one’s skills.
Finally the new CROSS album has arrived, but it took some time...mostly due to your hearing problems! Tinnitus as it was! Please elaborate on that ailment and your troubles going through that phase! I know (since we are friends) that it was a long and hard road for you!
True. It was the worst period of my life. The most common reason for tinnitus is that it is connected to a hearing loss, mainly a sudden hearing loss. It is very strange and I am leaning towards that there is some corruption going on within the western health care system. Doctor’s claim that there is nothing to do about it except learning to live with it, some of them has adopted the psychology based idea that tinnitus has something to do with the brain. A few of them, among these we find the German hearing loss specialist Dr Lutz Wilden says that tinnitus is a form of pain signal, or alarm signal, that is sent out by the severely overstressed cells in the inner ear. When these recover the tinnitus fades away and ones hearing becomes better again. This makes perfect sense to me. He also developed a treatment with low level laser that works as follows. When the laser light (very mild laser) “hits” the cells these starts to produce an energy named ATP, and with this energy the cells can become strong enough to recover. It’s a slow process but it works. It’s a method to “help nature”. I have been using this for 2 ½ years now and are 85% recovered today. I was struck by a severe form of tinnitus and hyperacusis (where one can not stand even normal sounds - they kind of hurt) so there was no way whatsoever I could finish of the album or even listen to music. In fact, things were so bad that singing birds bothered me to the level where I could not be outside. But after almost 2 years of Low Level Laser Therapy I was well enough to start working
with music again. And that was a true blessing! I am so inspired with my musical work now, after the 2 year break, that I have already written the basics for next album.
I really love the new album and I can hear connections/hints to Alan Parsons Project and American artrock band Ambrosia...but also a refined new Cross style, still with the power rock assessments! Not to mention the typical (most positive meant) Cross sound. Would you say that is an accurate comment?!
I say that any comment were the listener expresses what they experience is accurate. But to me personally I must say that I have heard very little of the two bands you mention and have not been very much into the US style pomp rock thing. We are often compared to bands we don’t listen to ourselves so…I guess these must be great bands! J
You as a guitar player...are you self taught and/or classical trained?
Your band....same question!
Yes. I am self taught. I picked up some tricks from more experienced guitarists that I played together with when I was a teenager but mainly I either just jammed with people (9 out of 10 solos on Cross albums are improvised) or I played to records. I actually don’t know if the other guys are classically trained (!). We have never talked about it so…I guess they are not. What I can say is that Lollo used to be a guitarist, which might explain his a bit unique approach to the bass guitar.
Any plans of touring Europe/Scandinavia? I for one would love to see you in Denmark!
All plans for any touring anywhere must seen as a “no” until the day I - hopefully - are 100% recovered. My hearing is very good and the tinnitus is not bothersome, it is rather quiet now, but I still sense that I must become even better to dare to put myself in the situation where I must be, for hours, surrounded by loud music and crashing cymbals
Any plans of a new album? If I know you right...its allready in the making!?
I’m writing material and testing out some guitar arrangements right now. We have nearly 40 minutes (three songs) where the basic stuff is written. We will work on these now and then - I guess the lyrics is what will take the longest time, as usual - until June when we will start the recordings. I can’t remember that I have felt this inspired before - ever! It’s pure joy. I love to compose and every album has been lots of fun but at this moment - after the 2 year break - it is even more fun. With “The Thrill of nothingness” we made the album we wanted to do, an album where we focused on our more melodic sides, quite heavily leaning towards traditional prog and symph rock. Next one will be different. The new material is more daring and more symphonic with room for the heavier guitars that was pretty much abandoned on the latest album. I believe that this is the direction we will have for a while. Albums that are stylistically different from each other but still very Crossish.
Returning to cover art...you yourself are quite a pro, creating cover art! What, in your opinion makes a great cover? Secondly...did you ever (as
yours truly) buy an album judged by the cover art alone!? Please elaborate.
Thanks. I would hardly call myself a gifted artwork man but I like to fool around and now and then something workable shows up. But for next album we will use another artist for the cover. And, yes I have. Several times. The first one I recall is Uriah Heep’s “Very ‘eavy, very ‘umble”. I was like “Wow! Look at THAT! He’s allcovered in spider web! That album MUST be great!” Hahahaha…I bought it and loved it! I believe that I also bought Greenslade’s “Bedside manners are extra” because of the cover. I recall thinking “This is probably music that can be compared to Yes”.
You once told me, that you include tiny hints/allegations of classical composers music in your compositions!? Whom, where and why?
Why is easy…it just comes out when I compose. Whom is, as I said, mainly Tschaikowsky and Shostakovich. I have these things for Russian symphonic music. Then we of course, as for many other musicians, can find something reminding of Holst’s “Mars” here and there. I will also reveal a little secret about a game I have. On every Cross album one can find some bars from Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” somewhere. But I will not tell you where…hahahaa. It’s in fact my way to do a sort of Yes Tribute. I love how they use Stravinsky as opener for their concerts. It’s some bars from that (I believe you know which one I mean) paty of The Firebird Suite I “steal”.
Do you see a clear comparing to the compositions of the old masters (I’m talking classical music composers here) and some of today’s symphonic/progbands and or artists? Please elaborate if you will!
It’s not really that easy to tell. When it come to new bands it can be that their influence is coming from the 70’s bands who was influenced by Holst, Bach, Starvinsky etc.
One thing that I know, as he is a dear friend of mine, is that Olov Andersson of Grand Stand (and guest musician on two Cross albums) is pretty Bach influenced in some of his writing. Sometimes people say “Genesis influenced” about a given part of a Cross tune when it, to me, is more like “You think? I think it’s more like some Stravinsky to it”. I believe it depends on what one used to listen to when one was younger. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is if one gets something positive from listening to music. If the music has the ability to create emotions, or maybe a new thought.
As a musician....what is your dream? Which goals have you set for yourself and CROSS in 2010?
Our goal is to do a new album. A shorter album with 3-4 long tracks (and maybe a short one). I don’t have much dreams, these days I do things rather than dream about them. But, some more success when it comes to CD sales for Cross and some other bands thatI think deserve to get something back from the listeners would be nice. I mean…it’s time that people understand that the right thing to do is to buy the music, not steal it. Bands are putting down very much time and energy and if one enjoys listening to it is fair to give something back by buying it.
Thanx very much Hansi, for taking the time to do this interview! Here´s your chance to tell your friends, fans and our readers...whats on your mind at this moment?
I’m in composing mode so that is what is pretty much on my mind right now. That, and my new girlfriend J. I’d like to say “thank you” to all music fans out there who still buy music. I also like to give my thanks to all under paid people working in music business, people who runs record shops while having another day job, people who arrange concerts without getting a dime, people who run websites and spend their time interviewing musicians…on their spare time. Thanks.
Have a great New Year and hopefully more great CROSS music!!??
Thanks! For those who enjoy Cross more adventurous sides where we combing melodic bits with complex atonal parts and blend heavy guitars with peaceful synthesizers I can promise that you will enjoy the next one. But, until then I hope you all get something positive from “The
Thrill of nothingness”. I wish you a splendid 2010.