On May 15th, 2012 we conducted an interview with metallic/melodic hardcore band HEARTS ALIVE. Hailing from Helsingborg, Sweden, these guys released their album “He Who Has The Gold Makes All The Rules” in the end of April. Press play and take a read below.
Hey! How have you been doing lately?
Hi. Im doing great. We have a little downtime now in the summer but plan to be back with full force later in the fall. We are trying out a few new ideas for songs and stuff like that.
How was your new album entitled “He Who Has The Gold Makes All The Rules” received? It’s been only a few weeks since it was released, so it’s still juicy and fresh. Tell us more about the record release shows and everything that happened around the premiere.
Well, we have had some really good reviews and some that weren’t so great. But i guess that comes with the territory. The release show we had was here in our hometown (Helsingborg). We played the album from start to finish and the place was packed. And that made us really happy and proud. The concert goers a fewer than before, so being able to fill the place with 150-200 people was awesome. After that show nothing have happened. No shows and nothing is booked for the rest of 2012. Don’t know if the “scene” is dying out again or not. The shows that are being put on here are often the large tours. And we don’t have any booking agency or anything like that, so we try to book our own shows. Not that easy. During the days of our release we pushed the record on every network we could in hopes that we would be able so sell a few copies. We payed our own way so we don’t have any kind of financial support. But the record leaked early so my guess is that people downloaded it instead. Our sales up till this point is not very impressive.
Cool. And how do you distribute the outing?
The album is available on Spotify, Itunes, Amazon etc. That’s really our only outlet. We have made a few hundred copies that we will sell at shows and the rest of them went out as promotion. But no distribution deal is set for the physical release. So that will narrow our chances to reach the broad mass.
By the way, please tell us more about the history of HEARTS ALIVE and its labels: Dead Vibrations Industry and Rising Records. How did you end up off the Rising, on your own? Does it have anything to do with the current state of music industry and its change?
Well, for Dead Vibrations we had sent out some demos to different labels in Sweden and other places. Christian who ran DVI got the demo and liked what he heard. Later that year we played a festival in Örebro and he was there to sell his releases etc. He saw us perform and somehow we manage to impress him. After our show we talked about this and that and he offered us to be on his label and he wanted us to make an full-length. So we shock hands and that was it. So with our spirits high we drove home and started to write for our first “real” record. We wrote it that summer and in the fall we packed our stuff and went to Uppsala to record with Carl Vikman (PATH OF NO RETURN, KAOSPILOT etc). The tragedy in us came out in May 2007. We played a lot of shows and did our first European tour that year. Album sales was pretty bad and we got some mixed reviews. In the beginning of 2008 we had a lineup change and we decided to take our sound into a heavier direction.
In 2008 we recorded and released our e.p “The black sleep” (also known as the black sheep because they didn’t read the title correctly) by ourselves. We gave it away for free through our myspace. We had the e.p on our own server and i think we had about 3000 downloads. That really blew our minds. We made some physical copies for shows/tours/promotion and sent them out to several labels. In the beginning of 09 we got an mail from Rising records saying the wanted to “sign” us. They had this deal that they called DIY deal and we had to pay £££ to be on the label. In return we would get to use their distribution network (plastic head) and some other stuff. We knew it was a huge gamble but thought, what the hell. Some good might come of it so it would be worth the risk. We signed to Rising and started to work on the album. The writing process took longer than we had expected so we didn’t enter the studio until April 2011. And due to thing out of our control the album wasn’t mixed and mastered until January 2012. During that month things came to our attention about Rising. So we gathered as much info we could and after some deliberation we decided that we wanted out and that we would take care of the release on our own. So we contacted a lawyer who looked at the contract and said that it wouldn’t be a problem. So we contacted Rising and told them that we wanted to split from the label. So that was it. We got a hold of Zimbalamb for the distribution to Itunes, Spotify etc. And we made a few hundred copies on our own. That was that.
How different was it to record this album from the previous one?
A lot i would say. This time around we produced and record the album ourselves. Our good friend Klas Ideberg (Darkane) helped us set everything up. But the actual recording was done by us. So it was long days in the studio. We also had to break up the recording into 3 parts so the whole process dragged out quite a bit. But other than that is pretty much as it always has been. The thing we did this time was to play all the part for as long as we could. Not one takes but almost. We wanted to get a more “live” based sound instead of chopping everything up and piece it back together in the editing stage. I think it work out very well and it was an awesome experience.
How did you hook up with SOILWORK’s Bjorn Strid?
Björn is a good friend of ours. Dan (guitar) plays with him in TERROR2000 and i’ve known him for some years. He had heard our pre-production and liked it, so we asked him if he wanted to lay down some vocals. He agreed and that was that. We were fortunate enough to record the vocals while he was still in Sweden. So we set it up and he came down to the studio and did his part. The song turned out really great and it was a nice addition to the album. We wanted to have more of our friend do spots but due to time constraints we couldn’t pull it off. Perhaps on the next release.
Actually this was not our first. We did a tour in 2007 with a band called VERIFY (Bel). We played Germany, Bel and the Czech republic. As i remember it the tour was great. And we made a lot of new friends. Good shows and all in all a good first step for us. In 09 we did half the tour ourselves and then a few dates with the above bands. That tour was insane. The turnout varied but it was easily one of the best times for our band. Hopefully we’ll be able to hit the road soon again.
Oh, yeah, sorry. What shows can we expect this year?
Sadly we don’t have anything lined up. We might play in and around Helsingborg but nothing is set in stone. Its been a slow year for us. I’ve tried to get us on shows/festivals but as usual we never hear anything back. We played with War of ages last year in Denmark and the promoter was like, we are doing a festival in the summer. I’ll book you on the spot. But haven’t heard anything since. So i guess that’s our usual luck if you will. And with an agency it seems damn near impossible to get the “bigger” shows. So all we can do is keep at it and in the meantime we will start writing new songs for our next album.
Ok, let’s talk about Helsingborg, your hometown. Could you please describe the town, as well as its music scene? It’s quite close to Malmo, so I guess you’ve been traveling more than playing around your neighborhood?
Helsingborg is an old city. About a 1000 years old. Its right next to the ocean and we can see the coast of Denmark. Its awesome in the summer but dull in the winter. There’s a lot of metal bands here and many of them are quite good. The music scene is pretty much non existent. There’s like 2 venues to play. So it could have been better. Its a shame that we have so many bands here but no real outlet. If everyone pulled together we could have had a great scene. But no one is willing. Sometimes it feels like we have to drag people out of the houses to come watch a show. Yeah we are close to Malmoe but we have never played there. Don’t know why. I guess the have the same problem as we have. But we have played all over. And since we are very close to Denmark and then rest of Europe we have focused our tours/shows at that part. We would love to play in Sweden more, but it seems like the venues that book heavy music only focuses on the “bigger” bands.
It’s pretty close to Roskilde, as well. Will you be hitting the festival this year?
Well, Dan and Jesper did go there as concert goers but we weren’t invited to play. We will have to try and get on the bill next year. I have no idea how but its worth a shot.
What hardcore/metal festivals have you been attending, both as a band and as a fan? I’ll be hitting the Fluff Fest grounds this year. There’s also Ieperfest and its amazing line-up this year. Damn, there was Stockholm’s Firestorm Fest and many more great festivals, including Sweden.
Just as visitors we have been to a lot. Well except for me.. hehe.. i don’t like the whole sleeping in tents stuff. But Dan and Jesper are Roskilde fans and the have gone for the last 10 years. As a band we played a few, Deadfest, Punchfest, Horizons Fest, Moshpit Open and some others. Leperfest would be awesome to play. Never had an invite but if they read this they should hit us up! Other than that i guess it been to much of an hazel to get of work and stuff to go the really big metal festivals. But to be able to do some festivals next summer would really be a dream come true.
Ok, so here’s a question related to your lyrics (a bit). What pisses you off the most about your country’s and/or European politics?
There’s a lot of stuff that pisses us of. Some of it can be read in the latest album. Some examples, the healthcare system is screwed up. It might look good on paper but in reality its horrendous. Underpaid nurses. Long waiting times. More of an in and out kind of deal were they send people home with the wrong diagnosis and they end up dead. We pay our taxes for it to work so at least one could expect, that they would get the finances it would require so everyone can get the help that is expected. We outsource our biggest companies so that those on the top can make more money for themselves. Our unemployment rate is increasing. Young people have a hard time find jobs. Which in return leads to a society that will depend on welfare. The taxes increases and the currency weakens. We make less and expenses increases. These are some of the things our politicians preaches about come election time, but no real change is happening. Its all empty words to get a piece of the limelight so we can decide on who we want to see run the country. About European politics i don’t really know. The euro thing seems to be a doomed project and with a few countries getting closer to bankruptcy the situation is getting out of hand. I never understood the whole idea of an European super power. There’s no need to compete with the U.S or Russia. And the idea of Europe being run from one place reminds me more of USSR. And we all know how good that went.
What excites you the most, besides music related stuff?
What excites me the most… a bunch of different stuff. For one doing designs. Been doing it for a few years and its something i really enjoy doing. I’ve worked with a few Swedish bands and the most notable would be Adept. I’ve also done our 2 latest albums. So that’s what i do on my spare time. Besides that its the usual stuff. Some Xbox. Reading. Hanging out with my fiancee and my cat. Everyday stuff you know.
Thanks for your time! I wish you the best of luck and lots of stage dives and crowd surfs during HEARTS ALIVE shows. Cheers!
Thank you so much for showing interest in our band. Means more than you’ll ever know. We are not really used to any sort of attention. Sad but true! For you who are reading this, please come on over to our Facebook and say hello. Likes or no likes we don’t really care. Our new album “He who has the gold makes all the rules” are available on Itunes, Spotify, Amazon etc. So if you have 7$ to spare please pick it up and show your support. Spotify users can click here.
So thanks a lot for reading and we hope to see you out there this year or the next.