Crashdïet develop their playground

In a way, the sleaze/glam rockers of Crashdïet are survivors. After the terrific Rest In Sleaze, released in 2005, the Swedish band’s momentum was cut short when their singer with a golden voice, Dave Leppard, put a rope around his neck. Game over, clear out, nothing left to see – the band put a stop to their career.

A few months later (the necessary period to mourn, probably), the three remaining members, Martin Sweet, Peter London and Eric Young, went back on their decision. A second album, The Unattractive Revolution, followed, with a second singer, H. Olliver Twisted – then a third one, Generation Wild, with yet another vocalist, Simon Cruz. It would seem replacing Dave Leppard isn’t an easy task.

Despite everything, Crashdïet have managed to carve out a niche for themselves through sleaze and glam anthems that seem to come straight from the genre’s heyday, like their compatriots of Hardcore Superstar. Now Crashdïet are back with a fourth album, The Savage Playground, after three years on tour. Aside from a couple of new elements in the band’s sound, the actual novelty on this record is the stabilization of the line-up.

Let’s talk about all that with guitarist Martin Sweet.

Radio Metal: With Generation Wild, it seems the band gained a lot of attention. Would you consider this album as an important step in the band’s career?

Martin Sweet (guitars): Yes, definitely. It was a chance for us to show off Simon [Cruz, vocals]. The album made it possible to tour for almost three years. We see it as a great success.

Up to now, Crashdïet has had a different singer on each of its three albums. But The Savage Playground has been recorded with the same line-up as Generation Wild. Were you eager to finally find stability in the singer spot?

Yeah, definitely. What can I say? That’s what every band aims for: a steady line-up. We’ve found it now. I think you can hear on the album that everybody’s 100% involved. We’ve become a really tight unit.

« Sweden has a lot of talent in all genres. It’s not surprising that this genre is big over here too. It’s cold here, so we have nothing to do but write good songs! (laughs) »

Was it important actually for you to take the opportunity to tour as much as possible and not go back too soon in the studio to record this fourth album?

We were supposed to record a new album in late 2011, but then, all these American tours came up. We just had to do them – and we don’t regret that at all! Maybe that’s why it feels like it took a bit too long. But we really had to discover the USA and see what was happening over there. They seemed to like us, so we’re going to focus a lot on America this year.

Precisely, in November 2011 and August of last year, you did a series of shows in the USA, including in the legendary Whisky A Go Go. What did that represent do you?

Playing the Whisky is something every boy musician dreams about. The second time we did the Whisky, we actually sold out, so we were really surprised. It seems to be going really well over there. It’s a big thing for us.

What was Simon’s implication this time compared to Generation Wild? Was he more implicated in the composition process?

Definitely. When we did the last album, we already had a few songs written and finalized. So he wasn’t involved on all the songs on Generation Wild. On this album, he’s written all the lyrics and he’s been involved in every song. That’s for everyone in the band: the whole band has been more involved on this album.

“Snakes In Paradise” includes a violin; “Damaged Kids” has some down tuned guitars; “Cocaine Cowboys” features a kind of southern vibe; “Garden Of Babylon” has an eastern feeling. Is it important to try and include new elements, new feelings to your music?

Yeah, but it just comes naturally in the writing process. Some of the songs just take a different direction. In the end, we have a lot of songs to choose between – almost forty songs. It’s like the survival of the best songs, the ones that will make it on the album. We take a lot of different directions. We think it’s part of the creativity: to really express ourselves, to not have any restrictions.

« I discovered 80s glam metal, back in the mid-90s or something. Nobody listened to it then, so it was perfect for me! »

Compared to your previous albums, The Savage Playground seems to emphasize the darker side of Crashdïet. I’m thinking of songs like “Snakes In Paradise”, which has a kind of dramatic vibe, “Damaged Kids” or “Garden Of Babylon”. Is this something you want to further develop in your music?

I don’t know, it’s just the way it turned out. I don’t think that we were feeling especially dark. We had many experiences in three years of touring. We worked for some people, and we worked for bad people. We’ve been to good places and bad places. That’s all on the album. “Snakes In Paradise” is more like a personal song to Simon, so he would explain that one better. There’s some old stuff he’s talking about there, from history.

Many glam and sleaze bands, at one point, have grown more serious and have left aside the fun part of their music. Do you think this is unavoidable as the musicians grow older?

I hope not! (laughs) I don’t know what to answer to that. For this album, as I said, we wrote like 40 songs, and there were a lot of happy songs in there, too. It’s just that, when you pick the ones that will make it on the album, they have to be kick-ass songs! That’s what decides. This time, the album had a darker vibe to it. I don’t know if there’s a reason why.

A lot of glam and sleaze bands have emerged from Sweden these past years. Many of those bands have become well respected, like Hardcore Superstar and Crashdïet. In that respect, can we say that Sweden has somehow become the California of Europe?

Sure, except for the weather! (laughs) Sweden has a lot of talent in all genres. It’s not surprising that this genre is big over here too. It’s cold here, so we have nothing to do but write good songs! (laughs) We have a lot of time. It’s not like the Sunset Strip from the 80s, but there’s a lot of fucking good bands over here. So yeah, that’s true.

In general, Crashdïet is part of a glam and sleaze rock revival we’ve been witnessing these past years. How can you explain the comeback of this genre?

A few years ago, I think music was very boring. There weren’t many visual bands back in the early 2000s. That’s part of the concept of Crashdïet: to put the visuals back into rock’n’roll, but not let it take over the music. We have this 50/50 thing: 50% visual, and 50% music. We started off well, and then we kind of exploded, with all these other bands coming around the corner. Hardcore Superstar came out with their “Black Album” around the same time.

(About Dave Leppard) « He was one of those guys who could come into a room, and everybody would turn around. »

Generally glam and sleaze rock is associated with the 80s but do you think that bands like Crashdïet tend to prove that this genre is, in fact, timeless?

Yeah. We just try to write really good songs, and packaging them in an 80s coating. That’s our favorite sound, our favorite music. But the songwriting could fit any genre. We could have been a country band! (laughs) Sure, we want to prove that we’re timeless.

In the band, you’re all in your early thirties or late twenties. So you all were pretty young when glam and sleaze rock were at the top. How did you get interested in that kind of music? Weren’t you into nu metal or grunge like all teenagers in the mid- and late 90s?

I didn’t like grunge when it was popular. I didn’t like Guns ‘N Roses when they were popular. I’ve always been into the old, non popular music! Back then, I mostly listened to death metal and stuff like that. Then I discovered 80s glam metal, back in the mid-90s or something. Nobody listened to it then, so it was perfect for me! That’s probably why I got so caught up in that genre, ‘cause nobody else liked it!

I’ve read that you guys like playing acoustic shows, which you did in Australia. Have you thought of recording some of your songs rearranged in an acoustic setting, just like Nikki Sixx did recently with Sixx A.M.?

Yeah, maybe, if we have time. There are a few acoustic songs on our new DVD, acoustic live performances from Stockholm. But if you’re talking about an album… I don’t know if we have that kind of time, but it’s a cool idea.

It’s been seven years since Dave Leppard passed away and now the band has four albums and a career that’s on a good track. But what do you remember best about Dave Leppard? Do you still think about him sometimes?

I think about him a few times every single day. He’s such a big part of this whole thing we’re doing. It’s like he’s always with us in one way or another. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t met him. He was the type of guy that made an impression on everyone. It’s impossible to forget him. That’s probably what I remember the most: he had so much energy. He was one of those guys who could come into a room, and everybody would turn around.

Interview conducted by phone on January 22nd, 2013
Transcription: Saff’

Crashdïet’s official website: www.crashdiet.org

Album The Savage Playground out since January 22nd, 2013 via Gain/Sony Music

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