Just when you thought we had finished our little run of featuring new music from out of Sweden, we hit you with another high quality melodic rock band in degreed. A five year journey of musical discovery and settling the band lineup and name, has now lead to the release of the band’s debut album “Life, Love, Loss” on Melodic Rock Records. An album featuring twelve crunching melodic rock songs based around lyrics we can all relate to in one way or another…life, love, loss.
Having already started work on their 2nd album and with Life, Love, Loss still finding it’s way around the world, we can guarantee you will be hearing a lot more about degreed within these pages and beyond…
Mats Ericsson kindly answered our questions and gave us an in depth insight into the evolution of the band.
Let’s start with the basics first – how long has the band been together and what is the inspiration behind the band name?
We started the band back in 2005 as “The Greed”. Back then I think we just wrote random names that we thought were cool in a Word Document and one of those were “The Greed” which was the name we later used. After about a year or so it hit us that we didn’t think it was that cool at all and that we should change it before we went any further. So we sat down and talked about it and came up with “degreed” instead of “The Greed” which is pretty similar but not a total change of the name so people who already knew about us wouldn’t get to confused about the name change.
You have twenty seconds in an elevator to try and convince someone to listen to your CD ‘Life, Love, Loss’, what do you tell them?
“Life,Love,Loss”, everyone can relate to that. I would tell them that it’s an awesome album with something for everyone, just give the album 20 seconds and you’ll love it!
Can you introduce each member of your band and give us a rock “n” roll fact or myth about each?
Robin Ericsson – Bass/Vocals
Jesper Adefelt – Guitar
Daniel Johansson – Guitar
Mikael Jansson – Keyboard
Mats Ericsson – Drums
If you come and see a show, buy us some drinks and you’ll get some rock n’ roll facts straight from us I guess, haha!
Having only recently released ‘Life, Love, Loss”, you are already recording demos for album 2! Whilst it’s only early days of course, how would you compare the material you are writing for the 2nd album, to the awesome rock we hear on your first album?
Its been five, almost six years, since we started the band now and we’re a really productive gang and we’re constantly writing new material, which results in that we already have a load of demos for the next album. Everyone always say that their upcoming work will be much better than the previous work, but I think we can guarantee that our new work will be better, bigger and heavier. However our debut album is pretty awesome too!
In terms of your songwriting, what do you consider to be the most important ingredients that need to feature in a degreed song?
The most important ingredients when we write songs is of course everyone’s participation to put the “degreed” touch on it. We write in different ways though, sometimes we just write all together and sometimes someone comes with a demo and we go from that.
One of my favourite songs on the album is ‘Color Me’, what is the inspiration behind this song and do you have any interesting stories to share from the recording/writing of this song?
That’s actually the last song we wrote for the album, and it got written fast! Daniel came up with the guitar part, the “riff”, and we fooled around with it when we rehearsed, coming up with the different parts. The same week as we tried it Micke and Jesper recorded a demo of it which became the version we recorded on the album as well. The fun thing about it is that we never played the whole finished version of the song together before we recorded it. I practiced it from the demo version before I recorded my drum parts, then we just went from there and well.. It became “Color Me” and I guess it shows that it doesn’t have to take a really long time to write a good song.
You recorded a cover of a Steve Perry song titled “Captured By The Moment” which is from his Street Talk album. What was the decision behind covering this song and with yours being a punchier version, was this where you thought degreed could stamp it’s authority on the song?
Yes we did! Everyone in the band are fans of Steve Perry and we just love his vocals, both his solo things as well as his Journey things, so we decided to honour him with doing a cover of his brilliant song “Captured by the Moment”. As well as it’s a magical song with great lyrics so we thought it would be cool to make our own version of it – however we want the world to know that it’s a Steve Perry song.
What or who inspires/influences your music the most, in both a lyrical or musical sense?
Life itself and a whole lot of people and bands. I guess lyrical is mostly life and our own experiences and when it comes to the musical part we have different influences each and everyone of us. But I can tell you this, that we have pretty wide musical influences in this band – it’s all from pop/soul to heavy/death metal, everything from Matchbox Twenty, Matt Nathanson to Opeth and Meshuggah. And i think the artists/bands we listen to have inspired us to write lyrics in a certain way but the topics are about own experiences.
What bands did you grow up listening to and how did they help create the style of music that can now be heard throughout your album?
All of us have listened to bands like Iron Maiden, Guns n’ Roses, Kiss and Toto and I guess that can be heard somehow in all of the songs throughout the album. Our own music style is a wild mixture though and includes a load of different genres but i think those 4 bands “style” can be found in every song on the album.
Your album has been released via Melodic Rock Records, which is based here in Australia. How did a band all the way in Sweden attract the attention of Andrew McNiece and Melodic Rock Records?
I first got contacted by Andrew back in 2007 when I think, if i remember correctly, he wanted to review our little promotion CD called “These Black Eyes” for MelodicRock.com and also suggest us to a label he was an A&R for back then. The promotion CD included three songs that are on this album, “Arms of Misery”, “Catch the Feeling” and “My Fall” however the label he suggested us to weren’t interested at the moment. But since then me and Andrew kept in touch and when our album was finished I thought – Why not send it to Andrew and at least hear what he thinks of it?! So I did and Andrew contacted me back and said that the album sounded great and that he recently started Melodic Rock Records were he really wanted to release the album. We had gotten a lot of offers from labels who wanted to release “life,love,loss” but Andrew was so excited and he really wanted to work with us so we choose his label. And well, here we are and we’re proud that we’re signed to Melodic Rock Records.
You have also recently signed a deal with a Japanese record label. How much interest has there so far been from people outside Sweden in your music?
Well so far I think I could say that there’s been more interest in our music outside of Sweden. In Sweden its something that takes some time to grow and I think we’re on our way here now, but in Japan the interest has been big and is still growing bigger as we speak. As well as in France, Germany and some other European countries, so I would say that there’s been a big interest for the band so far and I hope it’ll grow even more all over the world.
Having gone through the process of writing, recording and now releasing your CD, as well as playing live shows….I gotta ask, what’s the most rewarding aspect of doing what you do with degreed?
The most rewarding thing is when someone sends you an email or comes up to you after a live show and say that they likes our music and gives you compliments for certain songs or just the live performance, without a doubt.
What touring plans do you have during 2011? Do you have any shows lined up during the Europe summer festival and touring craziness of June/July/August etc?
We have a few shows booked for 2011, however we wont play that much festivals which is a shame – if you have a summer festival, BOOK US! No just kidding, but we’re planning a little fall tour since we recently got ourselves a booking agent. So keep updated on our Myspace, myspace.com/degreedmusic, to see the dates for that later this fall.
You hail from Sweden, where some of our favourite bands come from such as H.E.A.T, Houston, Eclipse, Crashdiet, Crazy Lixx, Treat, Work Of Art and of course degreed! For those reading this in galaxies far, far away, what do you have to say about the rock scene in Sweden? Is there a healthy and friendly rivalry amongst all these awesome bands?
That it’s an awesome rock scene with a lot of great bands and yes the rivalry is friendly. Some of these bands are friends of ours even, others we’ve played with and others are bands which we love and get inspiration from. We actually played our first gig as “The Greed” with some guys from H.E.A.T back in 2005 just before they became H.E.A.T and the guys in Houston checked our last gig and rocked with us, as well as we played with Crazy Lixx last summer and one of the previous drummers of Treat has been my drum teacher, when it comes to Work of Art we’re huge fans of those two acts. So its a friendly rivalry and even though the rock scene is big here in Sweden, everyone pretty much knows each other in one or another way.
With 2011 already a few months down, here’s a chance to gaze into your crystal ball. In 2011, degreed will have:
1. A tour in Sweden and hopefully the rest of Europe.
2. One or several dates in Japan.
3. Start to record album #2.
From: Stockholm, Sweden
Sounds Like: Crunchy Melodic Rock
Band Members: Robin Ericsson – Bass/Vocals, Jesper Adefelt – Guitar, Daniel Johansson – Guitar, Mikael Jansson – Keyboard, Mats Ericsson – Drums
Latest Release: Life, Love, Loss – 2010 (Melodic Rock Records)