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The Super MegaRock of Eclipse

The Super MegaRock of Eclipse

Photo by Takumi Nakajima

The Super MegaRock of Eclipse

Swedish rockers Eclipse recently issued their tenth studio album, Megalomanium on Frontiers Music Srl, definitely presenting a band at the very height of their creative artistry.  Over the last 10 years, the band has been reaching an ever-growing audience with each album release thanks to their stellar songwriting and high energy performances. Their last tours have brought them to stages in Japan, Australia, the U.S. and all over Europe. At its core, Eclipse is a heavy rock band with massive hooks, and with an appeal that transcends genres.

Highwire Daze recently caught up with lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson to discuss the unveiling of Megalomanium, as well as opening for the likes of Aerosmith and My Chemical RomanceAlso discussed was his ongoing experience as a touring guitarist for the iconic Tiamat as well as his pandemic era project Knights Of The Realm (featuring Lars from Tiamat) Read on…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Eclipse and how long you’ve been in the band.
Okay. So, my name is Magnus Henriksson. I’m the lead guitarist in the band, and I’m one of the founding members since we started in 1999.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the title Megalomanium, or what does that title mean to you?
It has to do with megalomania, and the whole secret behind the title is not out there yet, but it will be eventually. So, I can’t really tell yet, but it will be known. But it was based on a totally megalomania idea that we had for this album, which will be revealed eventually.

Okay. So we just all have to stay tuned and find out about it.
Yeah. Cool. And besides that is Megalomanium. It’s not a word. So, we wanted to have a word that was unique and that you can’t really Google on the word. If you type the word in Google, the only name that is going to come up is our album. So, that’s a cool thing.

What goes through your mind knowing that Megalomanium is the 10th Eclipse album?
That’s right. I haven’t even counted yet, so wow. 10 albums. Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it’s basically the same process every time we start from scratch having nothing. And we start to collect ideas from our iPhones and our little bag of tricks and see what we come up with. And we write a load of songs, and in the end, we try to narrow it down to 11 songs that we are happy with. We never had a grand plan, how it’s going to sound or how it’s going to turn out. We never know. So, we just write and whenever we stumble across anything that gets us going, that’s when we know we have a good song.

Which of the songs are you most excited about playing live?
We have started playing a couple of songs already because we released 2 singles. One of them is called, The Hardest Part is Losing You, so we started playing that already, and it works really well with the audience, so, I really enjoy playing that one. And there’s another song called Anthem. It’s not been released yet, which is like an epic folky melody that sounds very much like Eclipse. So I’m looking forward to playing that one live as well. And there are a few rockers on the album, like one called I Can’t Get It, which I’m looking forward to play as well. I’ve got a ripping guitar solo on it, so that’s fun. And, well, basically, I would love to play all the songs, but we can’t do it, unfortunately. So we got to make room for the older stuff as well, but they would all be fun playing live for sure.

How do you think that this Eclipse album compares to all the other ones?
It sounds very much like Eclipse. It’s a bit more, slightly more pop-oriented, sometimes even a bit punk, a bit of punk rock in there. I think it has something to do with last year we did a gig with My Chemical Romance. We opened up for them in Prague. And I think that had a bit of an impact on us for the songwriting. So we kind of stole a few ideas from them as well. But I think most of our albums are very… they’re quite, what do you say, diverse. It covers a whole spectrum of genres, from the folky melodies I was talking about like the old-school rockers, and some very melodic poppy tunes. So, it’s hard to narrow it down to one style, really. I mean, for every new album, we gather more influences. The first albums were very like AOR metabolic rock, like pure in that sense. But for every album, we progressed more and included more influences.

What was it like opening for My Chemical Romance, and how did you wind up on that show?
That was very cool. It was our booking agency, Nick, who was involved with that gig somehow, and he managed to give us the opening slot. And it was very good because it was not typical like the old school hard rock crowd. Their fan base mainly consisted of young girls, which you typically don’t see at our shows. I mean, the old-school rockers, it’s usually a sausage fest, you know. So that was really cool. And we could see, like our Spotify figures, the numbers were peaking in Prague after that show, so we gained a lot of new fans from that show. So I like doing shows like that, when it’s not too obvious. If we would’ve opened for, like we did, we opened for Def Leppard, which was very cool. But we got a lot of the same fans as they have, so it’s cool to have another band from another genre so we can widen our audience.

Magnus Henriksson of Eclipse – Photo by Jakob Dahlström

I also noticed that you had opened for Aerosmith. What was that experience like? And did you get to meet anybody in the band?
Oh, yeah. That was in Madrid 7 years ago. So that was incredible! Just incredible! It was just a production on a whole different level than we’re used to, obviously. And their crew was really nice to us. They helped us a lot. And they said, “Whatever you want to use, you use it.” And they had this big ego tongue sticking out in the audience, you know what I mean? The walkway where Steven Tyler can walk out in the crowd like a… I don’t know what it’s called. I used to call it an Ego Ramp. So anyway, they told us, “Well, you feel free to use that if you want.”  And they were so cool!  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet any of the guys in Aerosmith, but Steven Tyler stuck his head out of the dressing room when we were just about to go on stage, and he said, “Have a good show, guys.” And then he went back inside.  So that was about it.  But we got to hang out a bit with the Alter Bridge because they were also playing that day, and they were super cool guys. That was a blast!

Your vocalist Erik Mårtensson worked with Christofer Johnsson of Therion on the album Leviathan II.  And he described Erik as being the Blackie Lawless of AOR. Do you agree with that?
Yeah, that was new to me, but why not? I know Erik can alter his voice to sound like that. I mean, raspy, growly kind of Blackie Lawless-style if he wants to. He doesn’t use it much in Eclipse, but he can emulate that Blackie style – that more nasty kind of tone. So I get where he is coming from, absolutely.

You have another band called Knights Of The Realm. Tell me a little about that band and about the album that came out in 2021.
That was basically, you can call that a pandemic project for sure. As we all know, everything was shit down with still nothing happened. And I happened to be neighbors and very good friends with a drummer from Tiamat called Lars. We were bored out of our minds and had nothing to do, and we were just drinking beer and coming up with funny titles, like metal song titles, just for fun. We came up with this song title called Heavy Metal in the Night. And then we figured, why don’t we make a song out of it? Then we sent that title to our friend Marcus, and he sent back the lyrics after 10 minutes. He had written lyrics for a whole song. So we thought, “Hey, why don’t we record it just for fun, and let’s have fun with it.

And it kept going, and we were making all these stupid ideas, the stuff that made us laugh, really. We had no plans or anything, just writing silly songs, silly titles with cliche words. And after a while, Susan, she works at a record label in Stockholm called Playground Music. She suggested we release an album. She was like, “Well, I want to do something new,” she said, “And want to make an album.” So we were, “Yeah, why not?” So, that’s how it came about. It’s really funny.

Is that something you’d like to pursue even more in the future?
Magnus: Yeah, we have actually written another album that we hope to release sometime next year. But everything is recorded. We got 13 or 14 new songs for another album, and it’s going to be really good. So, absolutely. So there’s going to be more of that for sure.

Eclipse – Photo by Jakob Dahlström

Earlier, you mentioned Tiamat and, of course, your credits. You played guitar for them live for a little bit. What was that experience like playing the Tiamat songs live?
Yeah, so I think it’s really cool. First of all, as I said, I’m a neighbor with Lars, and I know the guys since way back. And Tiamat is not a full band these days. It’s just the drummer and the original singer Johan and the rest of the guys were hired guns. So I’m the live guitarist, so to say. And they haven’t really released anything new in 10 years now, I think it is. So I don’t know if they’re going to really release anymore, but they’re still doing the nostalgia tour and gigs, festivals where we are mainly playing the old stuff from the early ’90. That’s the stuff people want to hear. But I really enjoy playing with Tiamat because it’s such a different beast than Eclipse.

Tiamat is really dark, moody, atmospheric music almost like Pink Floyd, whereas Eclipse is more high energy, positive rock, melodic rock. So it’s a totally different world, and that’s what I enjoy doing, both extremes. And besides that, with Tiamat, we played totally different areas and countries than Eclipse does, where we mainly play like Western Europe and Scandinavia, and Tiamat, they’re playing a lot of these Eastern European countries – where we even got to play in Russia before the war happened with Ukraine. So that was quite a cool experience. And we play a lot of those other Eastern countries, Slovakia, Slovenia, and all that. So, I really enjoy it.

Back to Eclipse. Well, what are you looking forward to about your upcoming tour with H.E.A.T.?
Well, I’m just looking forward to a tour really. We haven’t done a proper tour since 2019. That was just before the pandemic hit. And after that, nothing happened for two and a half years. And we started doing one-off gigs, and I love doing that as well, festival gigs and stuff like that. But I really enjoy doing a tour when you’re going with a night on the bus, and you take a shower after the gig, and then after that, you just go and lay down in the bunk and go to sleep. It’s so much easier and more convenient than flying around and all the security hassle and checking in at the airports and then no sleep and all that. So, I’m really looking forward to just being on a tour bus really, and it’s going to be great doing it with H.E.A.T. as well. We’ve been talking about it for so long now, and so it’s a really long time coming now that we get to do a co-headline tour with them. And tickets are selling really quick. And so, I think it’s going to be a great tour.

Is there any chance of Eclipse coming over to the United States to play any shows or maybe a tour?
I’m never going to rule it out, but it’s getting harder. It’s become visas have become so much more expensive now. They doubled the price, and it’s not getting easier anywhere. It’s touring in Europe. Tour bus costs us, like, it’s a double fee from 2019, so it’s doubled up. So that’s insane. And visas and all that, but I mean, we want to do it so badly, and we have to do it every once in a while. We play this Masters of Rock Cruise or some one-off festival in the US, so it would be. We need to try to build something around that next time, which we are hoping and working on. But I couldn’t say when that’s going to be, but it’s going to happen, but I don’t know when.

Do you have any messages for Eclipse fans out here in the States who are reading this right now?
Thanks for listening to us and staying true, and there’s not many of us who like good old rock and roll. So, we’re so thankful there is still a generation left that’s still listening to our music, and they’re even, I don’t know about the US, but in Europe, it’s a new generation growing up. The kids too, their parents and their grandparents. So well, we’re really thankful for your support, and we can see the Spotify numbers in the US. We can see we have solid support from over there, so we just got to come over and play for you guys. We need to make it happen. So don’t give up on us. We will be there.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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