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Constancia and A Brave New World

Constancia and A Brave New World

Constancia and A Brave New World

Constancia from Sweden present their own absolutely thrilling brand of progressive hard rock, featuring dynamic musicianship and heroic songs that are stunning to behold.  Brave New World is the name of their latest magnum opus, available worldwide via Pride & Joy Music.  Although this version of the band has yet to all be in a room together, through the grand and glorious wonders of technology, Constancia has created an extraordinarily epic journey within the vast soundscapes of Brave New WorldHighwire Daze recently interviewed guitarist Janne Stark to find out more about the mighty Constancia and the creation of Brave New World.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Constancia, and how long the band has been together?
Hi, Janne Stark here. guitarist and songwriter for Constancia. The band started out in 2007 when our keyboard player, Mikael Rosengren, asked me if I wanted to play guitar on some songs he’d written. I really loved the songs and we started working on the stuff together. I knew a great drummer, Peter “TrumPeter” Svensson and Mikael knew bass player Michael Mueller (Jaded Heart). We tried out a couple different singers before asking David Fremberg, who had recorded some vocals for my project Mountain of Power. And, Constancia was born!

Where is the band based out of and what was the music scene like prior to the pandemic?
We’re based in Sweden, but we’re from all over the place. Mikael lives in Stockholm, I live on the south west coast, close to Malmoe, Peter lives two hours east of me on the south coast, Linus lives two hours north of me, close to Gothenburg and Pete lives in the UK. So, yeah, we’re scattered all over the place.

How did you wind up signing with Pride & Joy Music?
When we had finished recording the album, I sent out promos to several labels. A friend of mine plays in Sapphire Eyes, and he recommended Pride & Joy Music. I’ve also worked with Birgitt before, when I was with Grand Design and she did promotion for the label that we were on, so I knew she was great. They have a very professional approach and in combination with the deal we were offered we felt they were the best ones. So far everything has been working very smooth and great!

Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Brave New World?
It’s not a concept or anything like that. It was more like, when Pete wrote the lyrics for the title track and I started thinking about a title and artwork for the album, “Brave New World” stuck out. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, we can’t even meet up and take a band photo together, but vaccines are working and there IS a light in the tunnel. Same thing with the environment. Everything seems really dark and gloomy, but there are people and companies starting to wake up and are willing to make change to make this world a better place for the generations to come. That is what we’re trying to convey with the artwork as well. We may live in a world that seems pretty dark and gloomy at the moment, but there is a light there, somewhere, we just need to let it in (and, no I’m in no way religious)!

Select two songs from Brave New World and what inspired the lyrics.
The funny thing is that when we wrote the album, me and Mikael initially wrote all the vocal melodies and lyrics with David in mind. But, when he decided to leave and Pete came in, we gave him the freedom to write what he felt. So, he wanted a clean slate, and wrote all new vocal melodies and lyrics, quite different from what we had written, and way better! “Brave New World” was influenced by the happenings in the world in the last few years. He wrote the track as a symbol of hope and positivity that there is a better future. “Forget Me Not” is his take on how history is being forgotten. Men and women who sacrificed everything for us to have the lives we live now. This is our small way of showing our respect.

Who produced Brave New World and what was it like working with them?
I produced the album, and I think I get along pretty well with myself, I’d say. Joke aside, we’ve produced all our albums ourselves. The way we work is Mikael sends me a bunch of songs he’s written and then we discuss which ones to work on. Then I may have some suggestions on arrangements etc. and few ideas of my own. We then go back and forth until we’re satisfied. Then I record some rough guitars and prepare everything in ProTools, send the files out to Peter to record the drums for the songs and then to Linus to record the bass. Then I record my final guitars, do a rough mix of the songs and we record the vocals. Usually, me and Mikael have recorded guide vocals for David, but this time Pete just received the instrumental songs and wrote and recorded his vocals. Then I did all the editing, prepared all the files, and sent them to Fredrik Folkare who mixed the album. He also mixed our first album and we loved his sound.

Who did the cover art for Brave New World and how much input did you have on it?
I did the artwork. When I’m thinking of an album title, I want the artwork to reflect it. “Brave New World” immediately stuck out as a great title (yes, I know Iron Maiden has used it before, but that was long ago) and it really reflects where we are now. So, I wanted the cover to convey that feeling of us living in some pretty dark times at the moment but if we just hang in there and work together, there WILL be a light at the end of the tunnel. I did a mock-up cover and sent to the rest of the band for their input and then I did the final artwork and layout. We couldn’t meet up for a photo session, so I just instructed everyone to take a photo of themselves against a neutral background and the Photoshop skills came in handy.

How did Pete Godfrey from Blood Red Saints and In Faith become involved with Constancia?
Me again. I met Pete at Firefest in Nottingham when he sang with In Faith. We started chatting and became friends. We talked about writing music together and we wrote a song which will be the Japanese bonus track, “Wayward Soul”. I really loved Pete’s vocals, and when David, at the last minute, said he didn’t have the time and dedication to do another album, I suggested to the band we talk to Pete. So, we did. We send him one of the songs “Blame It On Love”, which he wrote the vocal parts for, recorded it, and we loved it! We asked him if he wanted to join, he said yes – and here we are!

What could one expect from a live Constancia show?
Well, the funny thing is – we have never played live. Hell, this line-up haven’t even all been in the same room together yet! In the past the problem was David’s hectic schedule with his studio and other projects, and now of course the pandemic and all travel restrictions. But, when the world opens, maybe and hopefully we can actually get together and play live! So, I guess, what one could expect is that we actually PLAY live!

If Constancia could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Wow, that’s an interesting question. I guess for me I’d love to open for a band like Styx, Queen or Kansas, but I also think we would be a good pairing with a band like (old) Queenryche or Kamelot. On a personal level I’d love to open for a band like Black Sabbath, Clutch or Mountain, but I’m not sure Constancia would be the right opener (haha).

What other bands are you involved with outside of Constancia and what are they currently up to?
Oh man, I do a LOT of stuff! I’m still playing in my old 80s heavy metal band Overdrive. We were celebrating our 40-year anniversary in 2020, but since everything got cancelled, we’re doing our 40 years + 2 next year, playing Sweden Rock Festival etc. I’m also playing in a Danish band called Falling Hazard, which is a Thin Lizzy tribute band (but we also do some original stuff). I’ve recently released a couple of other albums: “Volume Four” by my 70s project Mountain of Power (covers of bands like Bang, Sweet, Legs Diamond etc), “Truth In Unity” by Chris Catena’s Rock City Tribe and our second album by Merryweather Stark entitled “Rock Solid”. Neil Merryweather sadly passed away just a few months ago, and we have a third album that is ready to be mixed and which will be finished this fall. I’m also mixing and mastering various other bands and projects, plus I’m doing artwork for a lot of upcoming releases for Sonic Age/Cult Metal Classics by bands like Wanka, Stitch, Orion’s Sword, Screem, Harvest Moon, Wikkyd Vikker, Witch etc. Plus I work full time as a technical writer, so yeah, my days are pretty full at the moment.

What do you the rest of 2021 brings for you, for Constancia, and for the worldwide music scene in general?
Well, we’re of course awaiting the official release of the Constancia album, and we’re really excited about the positive feedback we have received so far! We’re also releasing a limited edition vinyl ourselves (only 200 copies). I hope we can finally get together all of us when it’s safe to travel (getting my second vaccine in a few weeks). It’s already opening up a bit for gigs with Falling Hazard and Overdrive, so I guess I’ll at least be doing some live shows this fall! Hopefully things will open up more in the fall and there will be more shows and festivals coming back. I really miss going to a live concert!

Any final words of wisdom?
You mean like “If there was no water we couldn’t learn to swim, and then we’d all drown!”? Apart from that I’d say – I hope people realize that the sooner we all get vaccinated and take the situation seriously, the sooner we can get back to some kind of “normal” and we can get out there and play shows and meet people and have a great time! Can’t wait for it! Hope to see you out there!!

The line-up:
Pete Godfrey: vocals (Blood Red Saints, In Faith)
Janne Stark: guitar (Merryweather Stark, Overdrive, Locomotive Breath, Grand Design)
Mikael Rosengren: keyboards (Heartwind, Token, Scudiero)
Linus Abrahamson: bass (Andromeda)
TrumPeter Svensson: drums (Heartwind, Faith, Mercy, Locomotive Breath)

Interview by Ken Morton

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