We are pleased to speak with Mike Andersson, frontman and vocalist of Swedish power-metal band FULLFORCE, which has just released his second full-lenght album: "Next Level".

R&MimB: 1. Hello Mike! First of all, thank you from Rock & Metal in my Blood and from all our fans for having allowed us to interview you? What are your most immediate feelings when you think of "Next Level", the upcoming release by Fullforce?
Mike Andersson: Thanks a lot and the pleasure is all mine. Me and my fellow comrades in FULLFORCE are really excited about the upcoming release of "Next Level". It's an album we are really proud of in all kinds of ways.

R&MimB: 2. The name Fullforce gives the idea of something incapable of stopping and coming to compromise. Is it so with your music? If you had to define the style of Fullforce in three words, which ones would you choose?
Mike Andersson: We define our music to be "Melodic, heavy, metal" ;)

R&MimB: 3. "Next Level" comes after "One" (previous album), and the artwork sleeve depicts a trooper in front what looks like a shining energy portal. What is the "next level" to which this special door leads?
Mike Andersson: The soldier on the front cover is called Gregg. He's a soldier of distant dimensions and travels through time and space... a soldier of love and hate, peace and war... no one really knows where he comes from and his origins. The portal leads to another dimension where duty calls for Gregg... a constant journey...

R&MimB: 4. There are many tracks on the album (13), and almost all of them are quite short compared to most nowadays power metal songs. Is it a choice or did it came by chance?
Mike Andersson: It is a choice actually. We decided to shorten a few songs compared to the original demo-versions in order to make 'em more interesting all the way and give a "wanna listen again" feel to the songs so, it is done with a mutual descision in the band.

R&MimB: 5. "Next Level" will be released in Germany three days earlier than in the rest of Europe (26th and 29th October). What is this choice due to?
Mike Andersson: It is our label that have set the releasedates so, the only reason that "Next Level" will be released in Germany 3 days earlier than the rest of Europe is because SPV / Steamhammer is a German label as far as I am concerned.

R&MimB: 6. What do the lyrics of "Next Level" refer to?
Mike Andersson: Down to earth things... more or less about things that common man/woman can relate to in one way or another...

R&MimB: 7. I are personally very moved by a song like triumphal and emotional tune like "Smile At The World". What's the story behind this song? "The Strongest Thing Of All", which doesn't seem to be a love-tune. To whom is it inspired, if I might ask?
Mike Andersson: "Smile At The World" is a song that encourages You to leave bad things behind and not dig yourself too deep into sorrow and open your eyes for a bright future instead and build up a new way to live with joy and happiness. "Strongest Thing Of All" is actually a love song and I was thinking of my wife ;) But, most of the times I write lyrics in a way that you can build up your own thoughts around it and the way you see it. The lyrics are not too obvious and detailed... that's the way I like to write... it opens more ways to absorb the lyrics that way;).

R&MimB: 8. The band is formed by all well-acknowledged musicians who have a quite long and successful career behind them. How was Fullforce formed?
Mike Andersson: In early 2008 Magnus Rosén (ex Hammerfall) and Stefan Elmgren left HAMMERFALL. They started to talk about forming a new band. In 2006 I recorded an album with Magnus Rosén called PLANET ALLIANCE so, after that collaboration me and Magnus also often talked about working more together so, in late 2008 Magnus called me up and asked me if I was interested in stating up a new band with him and Stefan Elmgren. I of course thought this was a cool idea so, eventually Anders Johansson (ex Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Hammerfall) wanted to join and also guitarist CJ Grimmark (ex Narnia). Unfortunally Magnus Rosén decided to leave FULLFORCE in early 2010 so, he was replaced by our bassplayer Tommy Larsson shortly thereafter. We recorded our first album entitled "One" and did a few club gigs and also a tour with German metallers called EDGUY in September, 2011. Unfortunally CJ Grimmark decided to leave FULLFORCE in late 2011 so, during a few months we were only a quartet auditioning different guitarplayers and also keyboardplayers but, eventually we decided to invite guitar phenomenon Stefan Rosqvist to the band... 2012... "Next Level" is about to be released...

R&MimB: 9. What is the relationship among the members? He bands' bio states that you make decisions in a very democratic way. Would you like to tell us about that?
Mike Andersson: We have a GREAT relationship and is having fun all the time. When it comes to important things that we need to discuss and settle we vote for things and most of the times the "majority" of votes gets its will. This democratic way works really well in FULLFORCE and it's important for us that all members in the band feels and are equally important as members. But, of course when it comes to smaller descisions we don't vote... those times certain people in the band decides what to do...

R&MimB: 10. How does the song composition process in Fullforce work?
Mike Andersson: When it comes to songwriting everyone have their own song ideas that they record and send to me for me to write vocal melodies and lyrics. For example, Stefan Elmgren completes a song instrumentally that he have composed... then he sends it to me to create vocal arrangements and lyrics...this is the way we work in general... but, there's a few songs that I have composed together with Anders for example...

R&MimB: When it comes to songwriting everyone have their own song ideas that they record and send to me for me to write vocal melodies and lyrics. For example, Stefan Elmgren completes a song instrumentally that he have composed?.then he sends it to me to create vocal arrangements and lyrics?.this is the way we work in general?but, there's a few songs that I have composed together with Anders for example?
Mike Andersson: Because he is the perfect guitarplayer to replace CJ. He have equally technical skills and is a great person to have in a band. We discussed different guitarists but, eventually we decided to recruit Stefan Rosqvist and that feels really damn great :)

R&MimB: 12. Stefan Elmgren and Stefan Rosqvist divided equally the responsibility about guitar tracks. What's their relation one to each other when it comes the time to compose a song, find out a riff or work out a solo? Cooperation between guitar players is often difficult, but here it looks like they work pretty well together.
Mike Andersson: When it comes to composing songs they work separately like I explained earlier but, apart from that they have a great way to work together and matches each other in a really good way.

R&MimB: 13. Are you going to promote "Next Level" through a long tour? I guess Germany will be one of the primary countries in your tour.
Mike Andersson: Yes, our booking agencies are working on scheduling tours, gigs and festivals as we speak so, more info will be announced as soon as we have details. We hope to visit as many countries as possible.

R&MimB: 14. Is there some other band in SPV Records roster, apart from Helloween, that you would like to tour with? Probably some good choices for your music style would be Angra, Axel Rudi Pell, Demons&Wizards, Freedom Call, Gamma Ray, Iced Earth, Kamelot, Metalium, Rage, Tim Ripper, and why not also Judas Priest! That is quite a powerful team. What do you think of the label? Are you satisfied with the way they worked on "Next Level"?
Mike Andersson: All the bands you're mentioning would be cool to tour with... SPV / Steamhammer have many great bands on in their rooster. We are really satisfied with SPV / Steamhammer and they are doing a great job... definitely the best label in the metal community :)

R&MimB: 15. The band's press release states that you dream about touring with heavy metal demigods like Iron Maiden or Helloween. Their influence on Fullforce musical style is quite evident! What other bands or styles do you feel have been important in the band's background? For example, "Next Level" reminds me of Stratovarius, Hammerfall (also because Stefan Elmgren played in that band), Axel Rudi Pell, Black Sabbath with Tony Martin, Dio, Whitesnake, Edguy, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, The Poodles, and even some glorious Italian number such as Rhapsody! A really huge inspiring background which is also evident in the variety of styles among "Next Level" songs!
Mike Andersson: Well, all of us have different tastes in music but, when it comes to metal music all of us more or less like the same kind of bands. Me for example grew up listening to bands and artists like Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Whitesnake, Helloween, Iron Maiden, Helix, Iron Maiden, Ratt plus many more. But, some of us also listen to different genres in music like jazz fusion, progressive rock, funk etc etc... ;)

R&MimB: 16. Sweden is part of the so called Nordic Countries (alongside with Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland), which share a common flourishing tradition about metal. Recently, these countries have brought to metal a lot of bands, some of which have become extremely famous. Do you feel in some ways part of a great Nordic Metal community?
Mike Andersson: Hmm... I don't know... we don't think that way. We compose songs that we truly believe in and hope that our fans will like it... the more fans the better of course but, thinking that we are in the upper league of Nordic metal bands is hard to say... I mean, Hammerfall for example is one of the biggest export bands in Sweden and FULLFORCE haven't reached that fame yet and if we do I guess it takes time to gain that popularity... but, we're working on it ;)

R&MimB: 17. Keeping Sweden as subject, what Swedish metal bands do you prefer at most?
Mike Andersson: There are many Swedish bands I like... SCAR SYMMETRY, EVERGREY, TREAT, EUROPE, SOILWORK to name a few...

R&MimB: 18. Sometimes Swedish bands are referred to as paying enormous debts to Europe, who brought Sweden to be a major reality in rock and metal music. Do you think Fullforce has this kind of "noble" heritage?
Mike Andersson: I certainly hope so hahahaha ;)

R&MimB: 19. Now let's think a bit of yourself! Your vocals on the album sound really powerful and refined to me. What does you vocal style refer to? Do you have some particular singer you admire at most? How do you prepare your work on an album? Have you studied with teachers or are you vocally self-taught?
Mike Andersson: Thanks a lot :) I am more or less 100% self taught... I did study a book about vocals many years ago but, the bottom line is that I am self taught. I grew up listening to singers like David Coverdale, Bobby Kimball, Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio and the likes so... I guess that's where I come from ;) When I record an album I drink LOTS of water to keep my chords wet which is very important... I hum for myself to exercise and warm up my chords and a damn good mood is what I do when I record vocals ;)

R&MimB: 20. Do you prefer the old analogic working method or do you think that digital sound engineering has been a positive achievement in music production? Nowadays the debate about this topic seems to be more complicate than ever!
Mike Andersson: Well, it's so much easier nowadays with the digital availability so, my vote goes to the digital method but, nonetheless I do miss the analog method when the whole band got together in the studio to record an album on a tape which you more or less was forced to back in the day before the digital method saw the light of day.

R&MimB: 21. What's your point of view on digital downloading? Recently it has become more and more popular and, according to some rumors, it is going to replace Audio CD "concrete" format in the next years. On the other hand, what do you think about music digital piracy? Some people say it brought a more "democratic" knowledge-sharing into society.
Mike Andersson: I'm a bit old fashioned and first and foremost prefer the CD format so, I hope that CDs will stick around for many years to come. I don't think the CDs will disappear but, like you claim I guess it will be lesser and lesser CDs printed in the future. The digital availability like iTunes and stuff is a really good thing since many fans in younger age prefer to download an album instead of buying a physical CD. When it comes to illegal downloading... piracy... I do not like nor support. I will not write more about it but, it's not right downloading an album without paying for it. I wouldn't go to Burger King and grab a hamburger, not paying for it and still claim it's mine. No matter what side you're on it is not ok downloading albums illegally... it doesn't support the artist and bands in the real extent... it's so much better buying the digital album instead and that is cold facts.

R&MimB: 22. If you think to your "metal youth", that is the years when you listened to metal for the first times, what were your heroes at that time?
Mike Andersson: My first heroes was Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Whitesnake, Ratt, Helix and Iron Maiden.

R&MimB: 23. Now let's turn it into a practical task. Choose your favorite musicians ever to build a "dream line-up"!
Mike Andersson: Ok... here goes:
Neal Peart - Drums
Rick Wakeman _ Keyboards
Randy Coven - Bass
Yngwie J. Malmsteen- Guitar 1
Steve Lukather - Guitar 2
Russell Allen - Vocals... unless you mean that I should front the band ;)

R&MimB: 24. The generation of the "Rock fathers" is slowly going to fade. Many of them are touring for the last time, many have announced that they will work only on studio material, some of them are unfortunately no more with us. Which feelings does this arouse in you? Do you think those heroes of metal could be ever replaced by new musicians?
Mike Andersson: It's sad of course... many of those bands and artists are musicians I grew up listening to. But, I do think they will be replaced in time but, maybe not as definite and legendary.

R&MimB: 25. Innovating metal music style is nowadays pretty difficult: the genre features have been widely explored, due also to a vast disposability of recording technology which allows practically everybody to record his or her own music. Do you think there it still makes sense writing heavy metal albums?
Mike Andersson: Well, I think so. For me it's all about writing really, damn good songs and try to find a way of writing music that I feel comfortable with. It's hard to find a style in the extremes that you have innovated but, you can find a way in excisting styles to create Your sound and that's what I think and believe we have succeeded with in FULLFORCE. We have our twists and turns in our music even though it's based in traditional melodic metal in a updated way :)

R&MimB: 26. Now the final question. "One", then "Next Level": have you already got in your mind the title of the next album?
Mike Andersson: Nope, hahahahaha... but, Gregg stays... he is our mascot and will return on future albums ;)

Thank you very much from all the R&MimB staff! We hope you achieve a great success with "Next Level"! See you and Keep on Rockin'!

Paolo Valhalla Ribaldini