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The Swedish AOR Sensation Known as Grand

The Swedish AOR Sensation Known as Grand

Photo by Nicklas Dahlin

The Swedish AOR Sensation Known as Grand

Grand, the Swedish AOR sensation, has just released their second album entitled Second To None worldwide via Frontiers Music srl!  Fans of bands such as Journey and Toto will be over the moon when discovering the rapturous melodies found within the glorious Grand experience.  The powerhouse trio consists of vocalist Mattias Olofsson, Jakob Svensson (formerly of Wigelius) on guitar and keyboards, and Anton Martinez Matz on drums.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Mattias Olofsson to discuss the intriguing songs found within Second To None, signing to the much-revered Frontiers label, their upcoming performance at the Malmö Melodic Festival, and more!

We’re here with Mattias from Grand. How did you wind up signing with Frontiers Music?
We formed the band around 2020 in the pandemic. I had this idea for this project for years, but it wasn’t until I met Jakob that I wanted someone else who also had the same feeling about it. We started working together and we made four songs. We said in the beginning that we’re going to do four songs and then we’re going to send it along to a couple of labels. We got a good response, but it ended up with Frontiers. They have a big catalog, and they know the genre and how to get it out, so that was why.

How does the new album Second To None compare to the self-titled album?
Well, the process has been a little bit different because the first album we have, I have some songs I had written many years ago that I put into the album, and we did some songs together and there more people involved and the songs were a little bit from diverse. But this album, me and Jakob, it’s been me and Jacob who did all the songs together. We like everything about AOR and melodic rock and we have different influences, we tried some different influences on this album, but still in the same bag, of course.

Second To None by Grand (Frontiers Music Srl)

Crash and Burn is such an amazing song. Give me the story behind that song, the inspiration behind that song, and maybe the lyrics too.
Yeah, that song is actually kind of the patient’s zero of the album. After the first album, we got the inspiration back again to write the second album. I think that was the first song we wrote. Jakob sent me the guitar intro and it was great. I started to write the melody and lyrics directly and the verse, I got his intro and it’s kind of the first thing I heard in my mind was the verse and the pre-chorus. Then I worked pretty much with the chorus because I thought the verse and the bridge were so good and I wanted something that could match it, so we had some different ideas on the chorus, and I think I was on my way home from work. I was going to the commuter train and I got this chorus in my head and I said, “That’s it. Yeah, we got it.” I got my voice memo. It’s best friend. I recorded it in the voice memo and then sent it to Jakob and then we started to work. I think I came up with a title first. I had some different titles, but when I found the title, I kind of wanted to write a song around it. It’s about a relationship, that’s maybe not so good for you, but you can’t get out of it because it’s good and there’s a great attraction, but it’s not good for you and you’re not feeling good in the relationship, so that’s kind of about it. Every time I try to get out, I kind of crash and burn.

When We Were Young, tell me a little about that one.
That song is about my childhood in southern Sweden. I had two friends, we liked the same kind of music. We were kind of the same and we had these summers in the early teens where we just hung out and we were like, when you feel invincible, and you have no problems. You’re not an adult who has a lot of mortgages, so it’s kind of like you just had the world at your feet. It’s kind of about that, this little town in southern Sweden where we ran around, and we listened to old Journey songs, and we just hang out and had a great time. The glorified picture you could have of that childhood and when you look back, you miss it, but you don’t miss it if you know what I mean, so it’s kind of about that.

Photo by Nicklas Dahlin

Tell me about the song Kryptonite and Nina Söderquist, her background, and how she became involved.
I’ve known Nina for a couple of years. We’ve done some gigs together. When I wrote this song, in the beginning, we didn’t talk about it as a duet. We wrote this song and we wanted it also to be kind of about two high school sweethearts who got apart and now, they live their lives in totally different places. But they’re thinking of each other, but they don’t know that the other one also feels the same and they got this kind of mix tape that they’re listening to, to remember the good old days. It’s kind of about that and then we talked that we wanted a new flavor on the album, kind of a duet or something like that. We thought that song could be great that you sing about each other in a different verse. That was how we got the idea of being a duet. Then we were talking about who could fit the best for the song and I had Nina in the back of my mind because she’s a great rock singer and she’s also a friend, so we contacted her, and she said yes directly. It was really fun doing it with her.

What are you looking forward to the most about your show at the Malmö Melodic Festival in July?
It’s meeting the fans, and meeting the other bands in the same show. You do your own thing. You’re putting all these hours in a record on your own and you kind of interact with the fans, but you never get to meet them, and I know there’s a lot of them coming there. Then got these other great bands from Sweden and from Europe in the same genre that you hear about, and you interact with, but you never get to meet them, so that will be the greatest thing to play there and then meet all these fantastic people.

What other bands or projects did you do prior to Grand?
I’ve been a freelance singer for almost 20 years. When you’re a singer and a freelance musician, you do everything to pay the bills, so I’ve done all kinds of cover gigs from musicals to writing songs for Japan to sing in bands. I’m doing a lot of that, but not so much the AOR genre. That’s how I learned to sing and that’s what’s always been my favorite genre to sing. Then when the pandemic came, the stars were aligned. But I’ve been doing a lot of gigs, but Jakob’s been in this band called Wigelius before, where he was the guitarist. We have all been freelance musicians, so we’ve done a lot of different kinds of things around in Sweden.

Mattias Olofsson of Grand via Zoom!

If Grand could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
That’s hard. We have so many, but for me, I think Journey has always been one of the top three bands out there. They will be a dream for me. Then for Jakob, maybe Toto.

If Grand were invited to appear on a tribute album for Journey, what song would you do by Journey and why?
I have two songs that are kind of my favorites. It’s Separate Ways and it’s Lights. Lights was the first song I heard with Steve Perry. Steve Perry is the best in my book. Lights was the first song I heard with Journey and it kind of blew my mind. And he sang out of this world. That’s always been so soulful and a great song for me. Then Separate Ways is also a great rock song, so one of those two, I would say.

Do you currently have any other projects or any other bands going on right now?
No, not now. Now it’s all about Grand. When you release the record, you do a lot of interviews and social media and you try to book gigs and you try to promote your records. We’re all about that now. Then we love to write music. It’s kind of the best. The creative process is the most fun and when this album has kind of cooled down for us, then we’re going to start writing the next one. We are all about Grand right now. But if we get any requests for writing for other bands, we can of course do that, but we don’t have any other projects.

In addition to the Malmö Melodic Festival, what’s up next for Grand?
We will try to book more gigs and promote the record and get it out there. After that, I think we already have some songs lying in the drawer for the next album. I think we’re going to start because… maybe a little cooling off period and then we start again. Book more gigs and write more songs. That’s kind of it.

Do you have any messages for Grand fans here in the States who are reading this now?
We just wanted to say that I hope you like the record and spread the word. We want to reach as many listeners and fans as possible, and come out and play, so just keep listening, spread the Grand and AOR love, and tell everyone about us and I hope you like it.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Grand on Instagram

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