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If you’re a fan of AOR then you absolutely have to check out Sweden’s The Grand Masquerade. I recently review their debut release and it’s simply fantastic. Fans of glam rock should find plenty to like with their look and sound. Definitely one of the best new wave of hair metal bands that I’ve heard. I had a chance to interview the guys and they were a blast to talk with. The band consists of Freddy Claye – Lead Vocals & Bass, Ivve Danelli – Lead Vocals & Guitar, Martin Rhyder – Backing Vocals & Drums and John Sebastian – Backing Vocals & Guitar. Check out my interview with the guys below:
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Freddy: We’re currently focusing on writing new songs for an upcoming album, it’s going great so far but we still have a long way to go! The plan is to have the album out sometime towards the end of summer next year. We can’t make any promises regarding a release date yet, we want every song to be perfect and not rush a release.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
John: We have been playing together since the summer of 2015.
XS ROCK:What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Freddy: Every one of us in the band have always dreamt about making a living on music, in whatever way we can. All of us started playing instruments at a young age and felt it was the right thing for us to do, whenever it’s teaching, producing or playing. I am a huge fan of Kiss and I admire Paul Stanley a lot! The way he moves on stage, sings his heart out and how he takes the audience! I’ve always pictured myself to make it big with my own band, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I will keep fighting to fulfill that dream.
Ivve: Well I’ve been playing in bands since I was 13, it’s something I love and wouldn’t wanna be without. I guess before I started playing in bands myself I’d watch my idols and just thought it would be cool to try and do the same, and of course I enjoyed singing and playing. Now the main kick for me is to create something and then perform it, live or recorded, and to see people enjoy what I’m doing.
John: It has been my dream since I was a young boy to start a band, go all in and make it big.
Martin: Music has always been around me since I was a little kid. At the age of 8 I started to play the drums and shortly after I formed my first band. I have played in different constellations and bands during the years, but the love for music has always been there. Being four guys pushing each other forward and making what we love together just makes it more fun!
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Freddy: I started out listening to all the great ones like Kiss, Black Sabbath, Queen, Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, etc. I later began listening to a lot of other stuff like musicals, pop music, power metal, anything really with nice melodies and lots of harmonies! I’m a total sucker for Michael Bolton haha!
Ivve: I started singing in choirs at an early age and then started playing the guitar. It’s been everything from classical to progressive metal along the way and from there a natural way into recording and production.
John: When I was young my uncle put me in front of the tv and played a live show of AC/DC and I was totally blown away! Since then I’ve been listening to all the big rock bands such as Kiss, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Ozzy, Toto and so on.
Martin: There’s been a lot of influences, artists and genres of music in my life. Pop, rock, classical, fusion, metal to name few. I think all of us in the band have a broad approach when it comes to music. A good song is a good song, no matter the genre. In our music we try to keep a red line going through the songs. I think we all can thank our broad musical background for that.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Freddy: Well we’re a very happy bunch, and hopefully we can spread that happiness to others! Trying to spread a lot of energy, mystique and a good rock vibe!
Martin: A sense of passion, mystique and energy.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Ivve: First of all, to finish our debut album and within 3 years we’ve hopefully released one more.
Martin: And hopefully be touring and playing as much as we can.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Ivve: To create that larger than life concert experience that will leave the audience breathless.
John: Touring the globe, fill arenas and create the stage show we dream of and blow people’s minds. And be able to do the thing we love on a fulltime basis.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Freddy: Both are really fun! I am more of a live kind of guy though, I really feel at home on stage. I love to spread energy to people, and to receive it back the way you do live is just amazing! I love every second of it!
Ivve: Both. I love writing and recording, you get an idea for a song and start to develop it, sometimes you know exactly what to do, other times it turns out very different from the initial idea. You start recording and get even more into it as you hear the idea taking shape and all of a sudden you have a new song that you’re hopefully excited about. Although I’ve done it a thousand times already that process still amazes me. But then I guess the real pay off is when you perform it live and see the audience enjoy it and singing along, that’s magical in its own way.
John: For me that is a hard question, I really am a studio nerd and writing songs is something that just naturally happens for me and I always think of a melody or a drumbeat etc. Maybe I can answer this question easier in the future when we have hopefully played for bigger crowds.
Martin: Both! It’s magical to make a song to come alive in the studio, but it’s always great to meet our audience.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Freddy: We write about all kinds of stuff that happens and affects us in life, dreams, being yourself, freedom, parties, girls, etc.
Ivve: Emotions, mostly love. What I find interesting with musical storytelling is that the words you sing can say one thing, and the music you’re singing it over can say another, and different listeners may interpret the song in very different ways.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Freddy: Not yet since we haven’t been on tour so far. But I think there will be plenty of stories in the future!
John: Well we toured with a horse once.
Martin: At one gig in Stockholm we got very unlucky with the technicalities. John’s amp blew up on the first song and after three songs the main speakers stopped working. Not our night…
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Freddy: Nothing juicy yet, still waiting for it!
Ivve: There’s a lot of strange in this business hehe, and after being in it for a while I guess you stop considering things strange, by normal standards, but to sleep with someone’s girlfriend might qualify.
John: We haven’t been around that long so nothing that tasty has happened, yet.
Martin: Dunno, I’m just the drummer…
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Freddy: Well not entirely from the start. I’ve always had to fight for my passion to play music, I was allowed to do it but I don’t think they really liked the idea of me pushing to be a Rockstar as my career, since the music business is incredibly competitive and really tough to make a living out of. But I’ve always tried to play and sing as much as I could, whenever I could. Nowadays my whole family supports me and my dream and they encourage me to keep doing it.
Ivve: Yes, they’ve always encouraged me to pursue my talent and take it as far as I could.
John: Yes, they were. But I know deep inside my mother’s heart that she would love her
long haired tattooed son that extra percent if he would make a career as a lawyer or an architect or something fancy haha.
Martin: Well, they weren’t against it, but they never quite saw it as much as a profession as I did. More like a hobby. However they came to most of my shows and drove me whenever I needed to go somewhere, so I can’t complain!
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Freddy: All of them! They all have their own charm and feel to them, it’s just a joy to play any of them live really.
Ivve: Of our songs so far I think it’s “I Get This Feeling,” it’s just groovy and fun to play.
John: Hard question, I guess we haven’t played enough for me to figure that one out yet.
Martin: Right now it’s “I Get This Feeling.” I love playing that shuffle groove and such a catchy chorus.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Freddy: There are so many inspiring artists out there, but the main one for me has been Kiss. Their bombastic show, catchy melodies, incredible vocals and songwriting skills are amazing! And they still keep inspiring me to this day!
Ivve: A lot of bands but if I look back to my childhood there’s one concert I must have watched a million times. I had an Iron Maiden concert on VHS I watched until the tape was worn out. I think it was the farewell concert for Bruce Dickinson in ‘93, the one they did with the horror magician Simon Drake, couldn’t get enough of that, great show.
John: A bunch of bands like AC/DC, Kiss, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden because of their huge live shows where you get a larger than life feeling.
Martin: In terms of performance on stage I would say Kiss is responsible for quite a lot. And the Animal from The Muppets.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Freddy: Hmm, that’s a tough one. As a headliner act I could see pretty much any band as a support act. I’d probably want some new artist that I love to join the tour to help them get out there! Touring with any of the big bands in the business would be amazing. Even with the newer acts today! But since I’m a Kiss fan (as you know by now) I’d love to tour with them in any way possible!
John: Our band and a bunch of pyrotechnicians, actors, dancers, swordfighters, a Thai food chef and a horse.
Martin: Def Leppard, Queen, Kiss and us. Now that would be a tour!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Freddy: Since we’re a pretty new act I could only say the release of our EP as well as our music video for “By My Side,” that’s pretty much it so far!
Ivve: We’re still at the beginning of this band but I’m proud of the EP and video so far.
John: To produce and mix our EP and getting good reviews and reactions from it.
Martin: To be honest it’s the progress we’re making together as a band. We’ve not been going on for that long, only a year since our first EP came out, and still have managed to make ourselves somewhat of a name in the rock world. I’m also proud of the EP and the music video for “By My Side.”
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Freddy: I’m currently trying to get into a speech therapist education, so hopefully that! I want to work with my own and/or others voices in one way or another. I’ve always been fascinated by how the voice works, and would love to help people that are struggling from stutters, accidents or any other kind of vocal problems.
Ivve: I do music full time outside of the band as well, but if I couldn’t do that, hmm, I think I’d be an awesome homeless person.
John: Either a hockey player, or a pilot.
Martin: We all are working outside of the band. We don’t have the economy to work full time on the band. Yet! The career I have outside of the band is as a web developer.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Freddy: ESP LTD B-105 GSB, Hartke HA5500, Eden D410XLT, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI
Ivve: My main guitar live is an ESP LTD EC-1000 ET with active EMG Pickups, running through either a Blackstar Series One 104EL34 or a Laney Ironheart Head, feeding a 4×12 EVH cab.
John: Right now, I’m playing a ESP Eclipse through a 5150 3 with a 4×12 5150 cabinet with a reverb and delay pedal.
Martin: Tama drums, Sabian cymbals and Pro Mark sticks.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Freddy: There are so many good and amazing bands out there and more keep coming every day! It’s a lot of competition and a tough time to be a new band.
Ivve: I recently read a study that showed that music has never been as “bad” and simple as it is today hehe, the study referred to pop music, and I’d have to agree to some point. It’s been a sturdy degradation of music leaving the listener unchallenged and it’s getting boring. I hope that’ll turn around soon, and with it, hopefully a lift for the hard rock and AOR scene.
John: That a lot of the big live show bands are on their way to retire and that we hopefully can be one of them in the future.
Martin: As in every genre there’s junk and good stuff. The melodic rock scene today is no different. But we see a rising interest from the audience in it, and that’s awesome!
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Freddy: I don’t like pancakes.
John: That I am a deep thinker, a quite serious gym guy and that I have done a hole in one in golf.
Ivve: I’m suspicious of fish, they seem a bit fishy!
Martin: That we wear masks?
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
John: Think of a rock band with big guitars, big strings, big drums, catchy melodies, a pinch of musicals, and a bit of Mutt Lange and Max Martin to wrap it all up. There you have The Grand Masquerade.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
The Grand Masquerade: To those of you who haven’t heard us – watch our music video for “By My Side!” It describes us well in what we do.
To all of our fans – we love you and hope to see you soon!
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!