“You can’t judge a book by its cover” is an old adage and Jesper Lindgren and Jonas Ericksson may be the perfect example of this tried and true saying. Together the duo make up the Swedish act Velvet Insane and even though they have the look of 80’s metal musicians they have a sound which begs to differ.
“It’s a little bit of “Glam Rock” from the 70’s like KISS, David Bowie and T-Rex with a modern touch. It has a punky feel to it; it’s rock that’s clean and there’s an artistic side to the music as well,” says guitarist Lindgren who anchors this one time four piece unit turned duo.
“We started out in 2013 and we’re from a small town here in Sweden called “Ostersund” and why it is just me and Joe is because we are two best friends who love to make music together. We have had other members as well but they quit the band a few years ago and we couldn’t find any true replacements for them. Now we’re a duo and it works fine, we are the driving force in the band and that’s how it’s always been.”
Releasing their debut self-titled album in the beginning of 2019, they wasted no time getting back to work on their next effort and finished up the year by releasing the single “A Brand New Start.”
“We started recording this album in March of 2019 and before this one we had released three EPs and one full length album that was released in February of 2019. Then we went straight into the studio and that is Benny from ABBA‘s studio in Stockholm where we recorded 10 songs and it’s being released on January 28; we released the single, “A Brand New Start” back in December.”
So what makes this single so special, well it seems that the duo had a certain guest musician in mind and much to their happiness they got their man; none other than former KISS and Grand Funk Railroad guitarist Bruce Kulick.
“I sent Bruce an e-mail, it seems that sometimes as a band you sit more in front of your computer than playing your instrument nowadays. We’re doing this all by ourselves; released the album, booked our tours by ourselves; we’ve done that from the start with a little bit of help from other people. Then I tried a long shot and sent Bruce the e-mail and my first question was if he’d consider mixing the album or a few songs because we were in that period where we were looking for someone to mix the album. He answered back right away with his private e-mail address and said that he wanted to hear the songs and wanted me to tell him more about the band and all of the things that we have done and then he listened to the album and he loved the song and wanted to play guitar on it. For us it was just a dream come true because KISS was for me, like so many others so important and they are the band and the reason for me doing what I’m doing right now and why I play guitar. I’m just a die hard KISS fan since the beginning; my first album was “Double Platinum” which I bought when I was 10 years old. Then I got an album from my mother and I loved that too and my favorite era of the band was from 1982 to 1994; so I loved the Bruce songs and his guitar work so this is pretty cool.”
“Pretty Cool?” Lindgren’s assessment of the transaction was right on the money and it seems that Kulick has a mutual admiration for the duo and their sound as well.
“They reached out to me; I have a website and Facebook, I’m pretty active on my social media and I like to respond to people,” stated Kulick on how his role in this process came about. “I don’t respond to everything of course and I have done sessions for various bands through the years; usually a guest solo spot or something like that and sometimes I even get involved with writing. Like I do with most of these artists or bands I ask them to tell me about their band and to play me some stuff and what song were you thinking; obviously if I like it I have a business discussion with them to just figure out if they can afford me and I don’t get crazy with it. They’re easy to say no to everything if you say I want a hundred thousand dollars (laughs), I think that’s what some famous people do; sure I’ll record it, it’s a hundred thousand dollars (laughs). I liked what they were doing, even more than just the song that they were asking me to perform on. I heard some of their other material and I found them to be refreshing and kind of unique; their material was a bit varied and I liked the voice of the singer and Jesper’s communication with me was easy and always very clear. I’m sure you are well aware that you can do sessions and send a file and they place it, usually in Pro Tools into the master file of the song and it’s as if you were there recording it. So things worked out really pretty easy with them and I liked the song and I had ideas and we just went from there.”
Like many well-known musicians Kulick gets inundated with requests to critique submissions and is often asked his opinion; percentage wise the odds of him getting to every request are rather small; which makes his performance with Velvet Insane rather special.
“When someone just sends me material or sometimes people just want me to hear their stuff; I don’t have a lot of time for that. Sometimes I’m able to check something out while I’m doing something mundane like when I’m at the gate of an airport and I could possibly give a listen to something but I do definitely want to. When someone is reaching out about me potentially performing on the thing; I take all of the requests seriously but I can tell you honestly that I generally know within 30 seconds if I like the band and I think that they are of a caliber that I would want to perform with; do you know what I mean? I’d also say and I’m not going to say that I keep tabs on this but maybe only 25 to 30 percent of what people present to me am I willing to do a session for. Sometimes the artist, I don’t totally get them but I really like the song that they sent me and in this case it was a really positive reaction from me and when I heard other material it made me feel a little more kind of connected to them. In fact, Jesper was curious about other things that maybe I could help them with; he wasn’t aware if I have a studio or not and I have gotten involved with producing and recording people in the past but not really recently because I’ve moved and some of the people I’ve worked with aren’t here where I’m living now. I have met new people here now and I kind of did recommend some other people that he could possibly work with to co-write and things like that; so I did kind of go the extra mile and network with them but most important for the work that I did and that I liked the song and I was quite pleased that they trusted me to add my talent on there. I was quite pleased with how it came out, I gave him one critique when he sent me the mix and asked; what do you think of this? I made a couple minor points and in the end the thing came out really good.”
So after the album release on January 28; what’s next for this Swedish duo?
“We will be playing in the UK starting in February, then some Swedish shows with Crash Diet and then we will be putting together some dates around the world,” explained a very enthusiastic Lindgren. “We love to tour and we would love to come back to the United States again; we’ve played the New York City area as well as Philadelphia and Baltimore. Hopefully we will get back soon.”