State of Salazar: AOR Superheroes On The Rise
State Of Salazar from Malmö, Sweden is ready to rock your world with their own brand of timeless melodic rock. Superhero is the name of their second recording on Frontiers Music Srl, and its an auditory adventures that fans of bands such as Journey and Toto will surely want to experience. Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with vocalist Marcus Nygren to find out a whole lot more about State of Salazar and the intriguing songs found within their Superhero album. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in State of Salazar, and how long the band has been together.
I’m the main singer in State of Salazar and I write most of the songs for the band. We started back in 2009/2010 during the time we studied together at the Malmö Music Academy. I had written some songs that didn’t fit the metal-oriented band called 8-Point Rose, which I was part of around that time, and I really wanted to start a band influenced by the 80’s AOR and West Coast music. Meeting these guys at the academy, with the same love for slick rock music, made it obvious to me it was time to start this kind of band.
Where is State of Salazar based out and what is your music scene like there?
We’re from a city called Malmö, from the southern parts of Sweden. The music scene over here…what can I say? We have a lot of great bands coming from this area and some of them making music quite similar to what we’re doing, like Creye and Care Of Night. But this is not the place to be if you want to see live shows with bands like us on a regular basis…it’s actually really hard to get the venues in Sweden to book this kind of music. It’s strange, we have a lot of great bands but not so many venues that are interested.
How did you wind up signing with Frontiers Music?
Back in 2012 we recorded and released our self-financed EP called Lost My Way, totally unaware of the movement of 80’s inspired AOR/Melodic Rock going on in Europe. The EP was actually a final year school project at the academy and we released it on our own thinking; this might be the last thing we do together as State of Salazar. But short after the release Frontiers contacted us and offered a record deal…two full-length albums later and here we are.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the CD title Superhero?
No not really. We had a song for this album with that title and we just figured it would be a great album title as well. We got the idea of making the artwork in the style of old school Marvel comic books. We had our Salazar dictator baby on the last album, it was time for him to grow up and become a superhero haha.
Select two songs from Superhero and what inspired the lyrics.
Alright. Let’s start with the song called ‘Masquerade’, one of my personal favorites on the album. This song was originally an instrumental song that we used to open our shows with back when we first started the band. We kept all the instrumental parts from the original version, re-arranged the song and I added some vocal lines and the lyrics. The song is about my frustration over people talking behind your back, backstabbing you as soon as you leave the room. I was tired of some people’s false façade and I just had to get my anger out. Another favorite of mine is ‘Someone I Know’. This song definitely has the most personal lyrics. The story behind it is something I will keep to myself because it’s a delicate subject and something I can’t talk about without hurting some people. And that’s why I’ve hidden my thoughts and feelings in some cliché phrases and nonspecific/ambiguous descriptions. It was the only way of getting it out of my system.
Who did the cover art for Superhero and how much input did you have on it?
Mark Leary at ASYLUMseventy7 did the artwork. We gave Mark a sketch of our idea (not so far from the final version) and then we had our say about every part through the whole process. We sent our idea for the cover art back in February and then we worked with it over a few months. Our cover art was finished when a Swedish band called Treat released their new album on Frontiers with the same artwork idea. Haha can you imagine what we felt? We were like; are you fuckin’ kidding me?! And since then fans and media are picking on us for copying Treat. Unbelievable, hahaha!
For those not familiar with Kristina Talajic, the co-vocalist on Lie To Me, what is her music background and how did she become involved with the project?
I don’t know her so well, so I can’t tell you much about her music background. We were looking for someone with a similar sound and singing style like Whitney Houston. That was the idea for the duet with me. So we thought of Kristina who is part of a gospel group from our hometown called Released Gospel Choir and she was perfect for the task!
Overall how do you think Superhero compares to the full length debut All The Way?
That’s a hard one for me to answer. Both albums are like my babies, so I’m probably not the best-suited person to compare them haha. But alright, in my world Superhero is a bit more guitar heavy and darker than All The Way. And I don’t mean like way much heavier. With this album we focused more on having a good balance between guitar driven and keyboard driven songs. And during the time I wrote the songs and worked with the lyrics I wasn’t as happy as I was around the work with the debut. I was sick and tired of some people that was present in my life at that point, pissed off really, and it shows in some of the lyrics. But this is perhaps my very personal perception of it…if you liked our debut album, you will like this one.
What could one expect from a live State of Salazar show?
Visually, just five guys having fun together on stage spreading positive energy to the audience. And musically a tight, slick and precise band that doesn’t leave anything to chance. State of Salazar will always be about the music. We may sound much like an 80’s band, but we are no posers doing all these cliché moves and poses on stage.
If State of Salazar could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
If Freddie Mercury was still alive and the “real” Queen still was active I would do anything to get the opportunity to open for them. But to be more realistic or at least something that is still possible, even though it’s most unlikely to happen…I think it would be great for us to open for Toto or Journey. I just love what they’re doing. And I think a lot of their fans would like our music as well if they just had a listen to our albums, or was forced to see us perform live before a Journey or Toto show, haha.
Any chance of State of Salazar touring or doing any shows in 2019?
Yes, there are some shows to be announced. And we’re working really hard to put together some mini-tours and hopefully we will be booked at some festivals this year. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s not easy to get the venues interested in bands of our size, playing this kind of music. But we are trying our best to make it happen!
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of State of Salazar?
No not at the moment. A few years back I sang on a metal album called Devil’s Heaven together with guys like Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic) and Richard Andersson (Space Odyssey, Time Requiem) and before that I was the singer in the metal bands 8-Point Rose and Enbound.
Any final words of wisdom?
Hm…Those who have come this far are probably tired of reading haha. So lets keep it short. I just hope people will give our new album a chance and that this year will be the year when State of Salazar can reach out to a greater audience, do some live shows and meet like-minded music lovers.
State of Salazar is:
Marcus Nygren – Vocals
Kevin Hosford – Keyboards & Vocals
Johan Thuresson – Guitar
Johannes Hansson – Bass
Kristian Brun – Drums
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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