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AIR RAID - Interview with Andy Johansson
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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Air Raid heavy metal band from Sweden
The Swedish metallers from Air Raid are well known to those who follow the young traditional metal scene. By adding two new members to their ranks, the shredder Magnus Mild and the singer Fredrik Werner, the team seems to have put more wind in their sails and their latest release "Across the Line" ticks all the boxes. Great song-writing, top quality musicianship and amazing vocals, it's all there and the only thing that's really missing is more buzz around the band, to help them move up on their career ladder. We did our bit by interviewing one of the founding members, the guitarist Andy Johansson.
It took you three years to complete the new album. Did you just take your time to write as good stuff as possible, or were there any other reasons behind this gap?
The main reason is that we had problems within the band. We were not on the same level in ambitions and goals. This resulted in two band member changes. It was really hard to focus on song writing during this messy time. But after Magnus Mild (guitars) and Fredrik Werner (vocals) joined, we got a fresh new start. "Across the Line" was written and recorded during a period of only 11 months!
"Across the Line" has a bit more of the neo-classical vibe than your previous works had and the song-writing style reminds me a bit of the classic albums of the '80s shredders... Impellitteri's "Stand in Line" or Malmsteen's "Trilogy" come to mind as good examples. Was it something you decided on consciously?
It was not something we planned at all, but of course both me and Magnus are raised with listening to the great shredders of '80s, like John Norum and Yngwie. I guess this is why it becomes quite obvious in our music. Despite this fact, I think we have our own sound!
Your previous singer left for family reasons and you got Fredrik with his great bluesy/AOR-ish voice, sounding like some of the '70s hard rock masters. Where did you find this guy?
Fredrik also sings in an AOR-style band from Gothenburg since several years. We knew briefly about him from before and started to listen more closely. I clearly heard he was a diamond, but still a bit unpolished. So, I contacted him through Facebook, and he was really interested straight away. We noticed he was very professional and down to earth, so it was a perfect fit!
Same question about Magnus. His lead guitar work on the new album adds a lot to the overall sound and the quality of the songs. Did you put out some ads after Johan left or did you just know Magnus earlier?
I knew about Magnus since some years before already, so I didn't hesitate to ask him to join Air Raid. He was already in another band but those things never stopped me, I'm used to stealing members ha-ha! We are very happy to have such a skilled axe-man in the band!
Talking about guitar solos, there's quite a few of them in "Aiming for the Sky", more than a "usual" metal song requires, ha-ha! Would you care to explain that?
Well, we simply love to play solos ha-ha! I got no better explanation!
With all these line-up changes, have the new members been involved in the song-writing at all?
The majority of the material was written by me, or occasionally together with Magnus. Fredrik was not involved in the composing.
You used to have "typical metal stuff" lyrics previously, while on the new album there's more of the personal or daily life stuff in the lyrics. Why the change?
The lyrics on our first two releases were mostly written by our old singer. He was into this stuff, epic everything-about-nothing lyrics. When we changed singer, the lyrics became more into the direction of how I wanted it from the beginning. As you said, the themes are more relatable to real life now.
What's the meaning behind the title? Would you say you've crossed some kind of line with the new album?
It's really all about how the journey has been since I started the band back in 2009. About going the extra mile to reach your dreams, and never giving up despite difficult drawbacks.
Now that the album has been around for almost a year, looking back at all the aspects of that release, would you change anything about it or are you still happy with it as it is?
I think it's a very good album still, though I don't think about it much. I put my heart and soul into it during writing and recording, but after this I just drop it and focus on new things. So, I wouldn't say I want to change anything, we did our best at that very moment. But the next album will be even better!
You've released three albums with three different singers. Have these changes had any negative impact on the band?
Every member change was highly necessary. Different ambition levels and chemistry made it inevitable. But of course, the extra stress and uncertainty made our journey more rocky than most bands. I'm happy to say that the current line-up has an extremely strong chemistry, and by far the best we had talent-wise.
There are many young traditional metal bands around these days, but as great as many of them are, they seem to sound similar to each other. What's your recipe for standing out from the crowd?
I never understood what the point is to sound like other young bands, or ripping off any band for that matter. To be honest, I don't follow the scene very much, I know only a couple of the bands. So, I guess that's the main reason why we have our own sound. We just let creativity go and see where we land. Of course, the music we grew up with will always shine through in our songs. But the personal touch is always there.
Your debut album "Night of the Axe" is quite hard to get. Any chance for a re-release?
No, it will not be re-released. Me and Rob (bass) have left that era behind us long time ago. We had lots of problem with first singer so it's not interesting to involve him again. Many people ask about a re-release, but it will never happen. We only look forward now, though we might do some re-recordings of individual songs.
You toured Europe in support of "Across the Line", but as it's the case with many other younger bands, you skipped the U.K. Any chance to see you over here anytime soon?
Sadly, the scene in the UK is not very strong, so it's hard to make it worth economically. That's the main reason for most bands I think. But for sure we want to come over at some point, possibly next year!
Talking of that tour, I've read somewhere that you had problems with the police at one of the gigs?
It was back in 2013. When we played in Groningen, Netherlands with our friends in Screamer. The promoter changed venue some days before the gig. From a proper one to a cafeteria ha-ha! The neighbours called the cops because of the noise. So, the police came and stopped the whole thing in the middle of gig. Really weird happening to say at least!
OK Andy, thanks for this talk. I'm hoping we won't have to wait for the next album 3 years again?
Thanks to you man! The new album is in the making, coming in 2019!
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

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Tags: Air Raid, heavy metal, Across the Line
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Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations or corporations without the prior written permission.
© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.