It felt like coming home – Interview with Steelwings
By Rainer Kerber
When I received the promo information for the album “Back“, I first thought of a reunion of the Swedish True Metal band Steelwing from Nyköping. When listening, however, doubts immediately crept in. Because instead of melodic power metal old school Metal in the style of the 80s banged from the speakers. So, I quickly checked. It was the band Steelwings (with an “s” at the end). And to make the confusion complete, Steelwings are also from Sweden, but live more than 400 km from their (almost) namesakes in Laholm. The band was founded back in 1982 and has been active ever since, but with several interruptions. “Back” is the second album of the band and published about 30 years after the debut. The album blew me away so much I had to give it the top grade. Of course, I now was curious to get some background information about the musicians.
– Hey, I’m Rainer and write for the webzine Keep On Rocking and Metalheads Forever Magazine. Thank you so much for making this interview with me. I hope you’re fine.
Hi Rainer, I’m just fine and thank you so very much for writing about Steelwings.
– Steelwings have intermittently existed for more than 30 years. However, I only recently heard of you. Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Ok, yes it all started around 1981 with a vision I had to start a band dedicated to Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. It took some time to find the right people but 1982 Tommy, Michael and myself was in the band and we started to work hard, writing songs, recording demos and play live. Actually, our very first live gig was broadcasted on the radio. During time there have been some changes on drummer and bass player. In Sweden at this time there were no record company signing band singing in English, but we kept on working and sending tapes with our music. As a result of this 1983 we got the opportunity to go to England and record some songs for Ebony Records. ‘Live Your Life’ is featured on the ‘Metal Plated’ compilation. Then in the mid-eighties it started to happen in a big way for hard rock music in Sweden and we also got a record deal. To make a long story short, it took a very long time to record the album. And because of different legal causes it wasn’t released until 1989 which was way to late. There was some new music coming from Washington and Seattle so at this time no one was interested in classic Hard Rock / Heavy Metal.
– The band was founded in 1982. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (with bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers of Pan Tang, and many more) had already passed its peak. Which bands did influence you most at that time?
At this time there were so many good bands around. I can’t pick a few bands because we were influenced, more or less, by most of them. This was a great time for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.
– Your first creative period ended in 1992. A first attempt for reunion took place in 2007. The second reunion in 2010 appears more promising. You are still active. What were the reasons for the temporary split at the beginning of the 90s?
Our kind of music was on its way down and after ten years of hard work we finally put the band to rest. At this time, I was also tired of the whole music business and started a company in the construction industry.
– And what were the reasons for making music together again after such a long time?
After twenty years I sold my company and suddenly I had time for making music again. It felt like coming home because this is what I love to do. I think it was the same for Tommy and Michael plus we had two new enthusiastic band members in Peter on bass and Marcus on drums. And of course, the music we love was still around and having a new young generation of followers.
– Did you have to think long to produce a new album? After all, the music business has fundamentally changed and the sales of albums have fallen sharply in recent decades.
I think around 2015 we decided to give Steelwings another serious go. We got together rehearsing, playing and writing new songs. At this time, we also got the opportunity to play at the festival ‘Muskelrock’ in Sweden. This was all great, but we felt that we needed some kind of goal. So we said “Why don’t we try to make another record”. Of course, we were aware that the music business had changed but we didn’t do it believing we would sell a lot of records. We did it for the love of the music. The work began with writing new songs and recording demos. We tried hard to get a record deal but without success, so we decided to record the album by ourselves. Finally, we had fourteen songs recorded and mixed. Both new songs and some older songs. The decision was right, now it was much easier to get a deal. 2018 we signed a deal with Sliptrick Records for releasing ‘Back’ worldwide. It took some time but now it’s finally released.
– And I think it was worth it. With “Back” you have released a great second album, which got the highest mark of 10 from me. But why did it take another nine years after the reunion to complete the album?
When we first started to get together, we had no actual plan. We were just happy seeing each other now then. We all had different commitments and there were also some very private things happening. The most important thing was to do it in a way that suited us all. And because of this the recording took some time. We started at the end of 2016 and the final mix was done in the beginning of 2018. Then it took some time to get the record deal. But now we have finally reached our goal !!
– The album title “Back” says it very clearly. Your sound goes back to your early days. The individual songs sound authentic to Oldschool Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Why did you choose this retro sound?
We didn’t really choose this sound. We just went on writing songs and it came out this way. A part of this is of course that some songs were written back in the eighties.
– Despite the 80s Feelings the songs sound fresh, the album is powerful and modern produced. I wrote in my review: “‘Back’ is probably one of the most authentic 80s metal album of the present.” How did you manage this balancing act between old school and modernity?
Again, we didn’t plan anything in detail. We just went with the flow. Of course, I had an idea where to go during recording and producing the record. I felt when listening to records that come out today, they are all perfectly produced and recorded. But for me, many of them sounds the same. So the idea was to use todays recording and mixing technique but don’t do everything 100% perfect. I mean this is Rock’n’Roll and Rock’n’Roll is not meant to be perfect.
– I can imagine that your songs can also provide a great atmosphere on live stages. Are you planning to have live performances in Europe for the near future?
Honestly, we are not planning for any live shows at the moment. We will wait and see how the record is going. Would like to play festivals but 2019 season of festivals was booked up before our record came out. We’ll wait until the end of the summer before start booking gigs. Hopefully we can support bigger bands. We will then concentrate on the 2020 festival season. But you never know, if the right gig turns up, of course we will take it.
– Thanks again for this interview. Would you like to say something to your fans at the end?
Our old fans know who we are and where we come from but too many younger rockers, we are a “new” band. I hope all will give Steelwings a chance and listening to our new record ‘Back’. We also hope the fans will help us by getting the physical record and not just streaming it on Spotify. I mean, Spotify is great but come on…it’s nothing compared with the feeling of having a real record in your hand. Keep up the good work with supporting not just Steelwings but all great Hard Rock / Heavy Metal out there. Thanks you all!!!
MHF Magazine/Rainer Kerber