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Articles Home » Interviews » Coastline - 2003 Interview with Thomas Hansson
 
Coastline - 2003 Interview with Thomas Hansson


INTERVIEW: Coastline (Aug 2003)
We chat with Thomas Hansson, about up and comers Coastline.
From the mountains to the sea - follow the journey of Sweden's Coastline. The band that is! Our editor Gdazegod chats with Thomas Hansson.

COASTLINE - INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS HANSSON
WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

One of the bright new arrivals on the Swedish scene is the five-piece AOR outfit Coastline. Picking right up where fellow Swedes Broke[N]Blue, Alyson Avenue left off, this talented bunch from the Malung/Dalarna area are now starting to realize that aspirations of fame and fortune aren't too far off in the distance at all.

Even though they are away from the hot-bed of Swedish musical activity in places like Gothenberg or Stockholm, the band have still managed to rack up huge amounts of interest around the world. A couple of melodic rock websites (namely AOR Dreamzones, Strutter Zine and our previous site HEART of the ROCK) have stuck by the cause of this Swedish quintet, knowing full well the potential they possess, and knowing how close they veer to past classics such as those aforementioned acts, plus a few other special artists such as Witness and Tone Norum!

And the reason why? Well, the fact that the band has within their ranks an excellent lead singer in Helena Rosendahl, goes some way towards making those comparisons. In fact, arising from a loose arrangement of musical get-togethers between keyboardist Lars Melin, drummer Jan Hedlund and guitarist Thomas Hansson, the beginnings of a melodic association took shape. The guys, who had all played in various other bands, were frustrated by not being able to play their own original music, styled with a melodic bent.

When Helena Rosendahl was introduced to the trio to sing on some tracks, they couldn't believe their ears! Here was a voice that would be the catalyst for their future musical endeavours. From that moment on with Helena in tow, a band situation was the only possible outcome. Completing the picture was long time friend Tomas Munters, coming in bass.

The quintet could well have turned to different styles, keeping with contemporary trends, and pursuing music that had wider audience appeal locally in Sweden. We're not exactly talking Ace Of Base here, but you get my drift. Instead, the band have preferred to take the moral high ground, sticking to their guns in the process and not budging an inch. Perhaps the biggest stickler of them all is guitarist Thomas Hansson, who is only too glad to see that Coastline is right in the middle-zone of AOR and melodic rock territory. 'Yes, that's right. Firstly, thanks for inviting me in to GLORY DAZE George. As for the music, well it's the kind of music we like the most, performing as well as listening to.'



Thomas gives us a little introduction about the band members. Firstly though, he mentions that the band come from the Malung area in Western Sweden, which is not so far away from the Norwegian border. All have fulltime jobs away from Coastline. The guys are employed with local businesses while Helena is a school teacher by day. As we touched on earlier, the band originally came together out of frustration. 'We were all in different bands who were mostly playing cover tunes' says Thomas. 'I guess we all got fed up with that and wanted to perform original songs. Jan and Lars had been writing songs together for some time and I used to help them out, recording the guitar parts for their demos.' Once they discovered Helena however, the focus changed, the band situation resulted, and the rest as they say.. is history.

In this mainly rural area quite some distance from an actual coastline, I asked Thomas how on earth did they decide on a completely 'non-rural' name? 'Ha ha, we were discussing this matter and couldn't come up with a name that suited our musical style. Several suggestions were ok but it just wouldn't do, so I went through my entire AOR vinyl collection looking for song titles that could help us out. After a while I picked up my favourite album, America - Alibi, from 1980 and gazed at the track listing. There's a song on there called 'Coastline'. I presented it to the band, they seemed to like it, so we decided to keep it. I was more than happy with that choice!'

When first starting Coastline, the band had the option of continuing on playing music they all liked, or more specifically, writing material to suit Helena Rosendahl's wonderful vocal style. A lucky situation to be in for the guys in particular! 'I think initially we just wanted to play our kind of music the way we really like it with a voice that would match' says Thomas. 'Fortunately, Helena has a very powerful yet clean voice that is pretty rare these days. We're very happy to have her in the band' he says enthusiastically.

If you've heard any of the sample MP3's from the forthcoming album, then it's easy to hear why comparisons are being made to some of the female fronted greats. Helena's voice harks back to the dulcet tones of Tone Norum, Anette Blyckert (Alyson Avenue) and Marie Fredericksen (Roxette). The Alyson Avenue connection in particular was one that Thomas was reminded of for different reasons. 'Yes, I like all those bands and think they've released great albums previously. I did catch up with Niclas Olsson and told him how much I liked their 'Presence of Mind' album, and conversely, he mentioned that he liked what he'd heard of Coastline so far, which was great to hear.'

With all those years of producing demos behind them, and knowing exactly what to look for in their sound, Coastline have refined their recording process accordingly. The 'Coastline' album has been produced by the band themselves, all of the team having a good understanding of what it takes to produce a professional product. 'Yeah that's the way we've always worked' agrees Thomas. 'The production is as important to us as the music. I think we might have learned something from all the years of demo recordings and on this album we wanted a clean sound with an 80's feel to it.'

My initial impression from being an industry watchdog so to speak, is that people back home in Sweden don't take Coastline that seriously yet, though they have won plaudits from overseas interests, including press/media and record labels. To me that sends a great big 'one fingered' salute to all those doubters out there. 'Yes, it sure does' agrees Thomas again. 'I can still recall people telling me you won't get anywhere with this kind of music. 'You won't even get a record deal' they told me. At least we've proved them wrong on that one! We're just happy to get this chance to play our music regardless.'

When it comes to playing live, the band are out there every chance they can get. It is one of the relative strengths of Coastline. Conversely though, I asked Thomas that there must also be some areas for improvement too. 'I think our strength as a live band is that we're very tight and rehearsed. We've played for so many years together, all the way since we were small and starting out. We know each other well and I think that makes for a strong unit. On the other hand I believe we could improve the visual thing. Perhaps we're not moving around enough on stage. We're aware of it though.'



Guitar wise, Thomas has a wealth of influences too. Though the band is AOR by nature, and predominantly radio friendly, his musical ties return to the heyday of European guitar greats, not the L.A studio session cats that you'd normally associate with Coastline's sound. 'Well, when I first started out, the guys who made an early impression on my playing style were Michael Schenker, Uli Roth and John Norum. They made such a big difference, so I guess I've got more of a European feel to my playing than most' he says.

Towards the end of last year, and early this year, Coastline with demos in hand, starting doing the 'merry dance', touting for record label interest. Initially, approaches were made to AOR Heaven, and then Vinny Records, with contrasting results. 'Hans at AOR Dreamzones was our contact person at that point and he sent the CD to AOR Heaven. I don't know the reasons exactly, they just weren't interested. Perhaps since female fronted AOR isn't a big thing anymore' says Thomas. However, Vinny Records have come to the party. And considering they put out the wonderful 91 Suite album last year, there's every reason to think that Coastline could emulate that effort. 'That would really be something, we'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully things will turn out fine and we'll try and do our best' suggests Thomas.

I've had a listen to all the songs in a preliminary sense, and I have to say that it makes for pleasant listening all the way through. 'Desperate Heartbeats', and the very Witness like 'Breaking A Heart Is So Easy' are superb, but to be fair, all of the songs are listener friendly. What about Thomas though. What are his faves? 'Some of my favourites are 'Love's Not For Everyone', 'Can't Live Here Without You' and like you said, 'Desperate Heartbeats'. It's also a nice set of lyrics on that one. 'Miracle' is a bit tougher and a pretty good one it is too.'

Thomas advises that most of the songs have been written quite recently, but there are two songs on the album that were written by Jan several years ago. They were 'Innocent Child' and 'Can't Live Here Without You'. 'We thought they were in the same vein, so we included them on the album' he adds.

For those who aren't up to date with release dates for the new album, well you're gonna have to wait a little while longer, but there's a good reason for that. Not only is Vinny Records releasing the album throughout mainstream Europe, but Marquee/Avalon in Japan are jumping onboard to release 'Coastline' into the Japanese and South East Asia territories. Not bad for a new arrival on the scene!

What this means is the Japanese version of the album will be released on October 22, with the European release date tentatively set to follow two weeks later on November 5th. Marquee/Avalon will be pushing the album hard, plus the obligatory article in Burrn! Magazine is on the cards. No doubt this will be an exciting time for the band. I have already suggested to Thomas that Helena gets a Japanese phrase-book so she can practice her sayonaras, konichi-wa's and all manner of Japanese speak! After all, someone's gotta read the fan-mail, and know what to say when they check in through Japanese Customs when they eventually get there (you will get there right guys?) So it might as well be the schoolteacher among them!



And away from Coastline's own material, everyone in the band has a diverse range of listening tastes which they bring to the party. In the case of the guys, old AOR habits die hard! 'Jan and Lars are listening to Survivor, I think Helena is listening to Anouk and Tomas is definitely listening to Jim Jidhed! I'm really into Firefall, Poco, Restless Heart and America' says Thomas, 'I guess I'm becoming a Country Rocker!'

And finally to wrap, Thomas has this to say about the future of Coastline. 'I'm hoping for us to become a respected band and to make a name, record albums and go on tour abroad. It would be great to reach the people that like what we do.'

I'm sure with that in mind, many people will be queuing up come October and November, to take a little Journey along the Coastline of Swedish AOR. Thanks very much for spending some time with us Thomas. We here at GLORY DAZE wish the band well in the upcoming months ahead. - Gdazegod.

Bands website URL: www.coast-line.nu

Related Articles:
Coastline - 2003 Coastline

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