“The music of Houston brings back memories of Survivor, Boston, Foreigner and Journey – while they were at their best, still aiming to get better. Only this is no journey back in time. Adult-oriented rock, AOR, is on the move and has seldom been more celebrated by critics and fans alike. Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ sensationally climbed back to the top ten of the British single charts again last year, while Foreigner’s and Boston’s anthems continue to show up on movie soundtrack albums – and Bon Jovi’s tours breaks new records in the US and elsewhere. AOR strikes back, bigtime. And Houston is here for the take-off. Houston’s debut album mixes classical song writing and musicianship, with new talent and an urge to create the best rock music imaginable. Focusing on strong choruses, high-pitched but still smooth vocals, sweet and dreamy keyboards and of course guitar solos to end all guitar solos – this is a must for every respectable rock connoisseur. Tommy Denander (Talk of the town etc), Tomas Vikström (Talk of the town, Candlemass etc), Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen etc) – these are only a few of the rock legends appearing on the album.
Monster producer Ricky B Delin has lined up an amazing crew working to create the best of both these worlds, the classical and the up-and-coming. If there is one word to describe this music, it is definitely not Shock Rock or Cock Rock…but maybe Jock Rock. The ‘Jock’ of suburban America is the cool guy involved in sports and often also the badass of 80’s movies like Karate Kid, Can’t Buy Me Love and Savage Streets. Somebody like this, cruising the streets in a ‘too cool for school’ way- what would he or she listen to? Definitely Houston! The first single ‘Hold On’ has gotten a lot of attention and air time in Sweden and Finland. The next single ‘Truth Slips’ was digitally released in August, whilst the album hit the World on September 3rd, shooting right into the Swedish charts at number 16”.
Hearing the glorious keytastic first single ‘Hold On’ was enough for us to declar Houston a definite candidate for one of our Best Things You’ve Never Heard, leading to the thoughts of Hank and Freddie from Houston to now grace this page…..
Congratulations on the album, it really is an awesome dose of AOR. It’s been released about a week now, what has the reaction been like so far?
Hank: Well, first of all we managed to land 16th place in the swedish album charts and that’s more than we could imagine for a debut album. It’s a great feeling for a rookie like me, haha!
Can you give us a bit of background into how you came together as a duo?
Hank: We were brought together by live promotor Dave Laroxx to create the music we love, this kind of AOR is a treasure lost long ago but now rediscovered.
We can’t help but ask what inspired calling the band “Houston” and what was the vision with the album cover?
Freddie: The bands we are inspired by seem to choose regional names; Kansas, Asia, Boston, Chicago, Europe and so on. Simple as that. We are part of something already existing, and you can’t really ask us to re-invent the wheel. Same goes for the cover – it seemed stupid to cover it with a goat or something and pretend to be something we’re not.
Now onto your album, which mentioned earlier, is an awesome album full of keytastic AOR. You have already released the singles “Hold On” and “Truth Slips”, what songs are particular favorites of yours?
Hank: It really depends on what state of mind i find myself in at the moment. But if I must choose, it has to be Pride and Give Me Back My Heart, I think they speak to me on much deeper levels than i’m aware of.
You co-wrote a bunch of the tracks on this album with Ricky Delin who also produced your CD. Can you share with us an insight into the songwriting and recording process for this album?
Freddie: Well, we really did it on a small number of evenings at Ricky’s. If we would have anticipated the reception of the album, we probably would have tried a bit harder, but the songs came together quickly. It was Ricky’s job of putting it all together that was hard – I know for a fact that he worked his ass off and hardly slept for a few months. Respect.
You feature a number of special guests who have contributed to the recording of the album. How did you find the process of working with the likes of Tommy Denander (Talk of the town etc), Tomas Vikström (Talk of the town, Candlemass etc), Mats Olausson (Yngwie malmsteen etc)?
Hank: I think we have to give Ricky Delin full credit for that. He is a great guy with a lot of friends and great contacts. Tomas Vikström and I have history together. I did my first professional musical with him when I was just 17. And I remember the first time I entered the studio to record “Hold On” and i found Mats Olausson sleeping on Ricky’s couch, that was huge.
Without wanting you to reveal your secrets, what are the necessary ingredients that must be included when you are writing a Houston song?
Hank: I would say real feelings and unique character. A lot of AOR lyrics are very much alike and they are heading in the same direction but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it’s just the personalities of AOR musicians, who are much alike.
What was the vision that you had as far the sound and production that you wanted to capture?
Freddie: We began with stating that we’d use the year 1981 as a reference for the sound, rather than, say, 1989. This is a huge difference – although a lot of people don’t realize this. Just ask them to explain the difference between 1961 and 1969 and they’ll talk until you slap them over the face. But seriously, I just wanted to show people that the 80:s really meant so much more to me than just crappy hair styles and greedy Wall Street punks. For me that was the decade when the rock revolution that started in the 60’s really reached it’s musical peak. No bullshit.
What are some of the major influences on Houston, whether it be musical or otherwise?
Hank: Oh there’s so many things.. I would say day dreams, cars and that early 80’s – “too cool for school” attitude.
You recently had your album launch in Stockholm at Crazy Nights how did that show and launch go?
Hank: I had a blast, the place was crowded – great support from the crowd, even though they’d only heard 3 songs before that.
What are the plans at this stage to take your music to the live arena beyond just maybe Sweden?
Freddie: We are negotiating right now with several booking agencies and record companies abroad. So we’ll have to wait and see where life takes us. The anticipation is the best part…
Some of your songs to me have an almost 80’s movie soundtrack kinda vibe (eg. I’m Alive)….what type of movie could you visualize your music being used in?
Hank: A lot of early 80’s movies. For example; Top Gun, Rocky, Karate kid etc
Freddie: I would love if our music showed up in a new movie, but had the function of let’s say “You’re the best” in the end scene of Karate Kid. It doesn’t get any better than that – ultimate satisfaction!
If you could travel back in time (or into the future even, say tomorrow….) and play your music to any one of your musical heroes, who would it be and why?
Hank: Hard question, but I would go with Michael Kiske. He wanted to do classic AOR with his band Place Vandome but it turned in to melodic rock. I would gladly invite him to sing on our next record!
Being based over here in Australia, I look on with envy at the seemingly endless supply of awesome new music that continually comes out of Sweden…what is the music scene like over there right now? Is there much competiveness amongst bands or are you all fighting in unity for the same cause haha?
Hank: Interesting question. We’re definitely a minority, the AOR crowd. Just look at this summer. New bands like H.E.A.T, TITAN & CHAINS all lost their singers or split up and basically left Houston as the only “active” new AOR band in Sweden. We’re really happy that H.E.A.T is back with a new singer. The more the merrier and if there were more of us, we would open new doors and keep them open for our fellow AOR musicians.
Ok here is the opportunity for you to gaze into your crystal ball. By the end of 2010, Houston will have:
Hank: 1. Hopefully, we got a record deal in Japan.
2. Big plans for the summer 2011.
3. A lot of air time on the radio.
Band Members: Hampus ‘Hank’ Erix, Freddie Allen
Latest Release: Self Titled – Septemeber 3