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Articles Home » Interviews » Radioactive - 2003 The Yeah Interview with Tommy Denander
Radioactive - 2003 The Yeah Interview with Tommy Denander

INTERVIEW: Denander, Tommy (Jun 2003)
Yeah indeed!

WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

When does this man take time out for a holiday one has to ask? The man in question is none other than Swedish melodic rocker and perpetual insomniac Tommy Denander. If you're in the sort of business that Tommy is, then every day is a holiday right? Why bother having one when you're having so much fun turning up for work each day. It's something most melodic rock fans can only dream about. Lucky for some.

So far during 2003, Tommy has been involved with a couple of 'pearler' albums: Jim Jidhed's fantastic 'Full Circle' album, and of course, his sophomore Radioactive album 'Yeah'. Tommy contributes to many other projects, as a recording artist, producer, and songwriter.

We last interviewed Tommy back in September 2001, not long after the release of the first Radioactive album 'Ceremony Of Innocence'. Then it was a case of a milestone being achieved with the long overdue release of that album: nearly ten years after the fact. This time around, the duration is far shorter, though the quality is still right up there. Not only that, but there were less hassles for the recording 'Yeah', unlike all the dramas that unfolded with 'Ceremony..', as Tommy eludes to. 'Very true. The first one took so long due to a million things out of my control while this one took the time pretty much all albums I do these days take. But yeah, I had a very good time doing them both.'

'Yeah' is very much the operative word for this interview, and as much as I loved 'Ceremony Of Innocence', the 'Yeah' album tops that and then some I reckon, and so says a majority of the rock press too, judging from what I've seen out there so far. 'Thanks mate, the reviews and feedback has been absolutely wonderful so far and it's nothing I'll ever get tired of.'

The funny thing about being in 'holiday-mode' all year around (if you can call it that lol), is that you can become so detached and isolated from everyone else, both during the recording process and the duration immediately following its release. Having the time to follow up with interviews and press commitments is a side effect of all the hard work that has gone before, and to that end, you'll get no disagreement from Tommy. 'It's strange but even though I do so many albums every year I never care about what others will say while I'm working on them. It's just when they're released I am reminded about the fact that I will inevitably get feedback. I hope this means I'm creating out of honesty - I think I am', he says candidly.

With Tommy being so involved with other projects, there is a tendency for familiarity to creep in musically. Considering his contributions to the Jim Jidhed album, and before that Prisoner and SayIt, I can readily say that Tommy has kicked off the shackles and lets loose in a way that I've not heard since, well since that first Radioactive album. And it's not as if he's conscientious about it either! Tommy explains. 'For the first album it was easy since I recorded it way before I did any of the other albums, so I guess it was a case of all the other projects sounding anything like Radioactive. For the new album, I decided on two things from the start, first that I wouldn't care so much about big names and second that I wanted it to be a much heavier album with more guitars. Since Jim's album was more laid back AOR and I was working on 'Yeah' at the same time, it was easy to keep them separated. I write a lot of music all the time but I always know if a song might be a Radioactive tune, I'll try and keep it for myself!'

As Tommy pointed out, 'Yeah' is a much heavier effort, and deliberately so. This is a direction that I'm keen for him to explore further, and I think you'll get no objection from the guitar maestro. 'Yep, it was very much the plan. I just got a strong urge to play more guitars on it and to really rock out again. It's easy to get stuck in softer AOR and pop, but underneath it all I am a rocker at heart', he says.

For those who haven't seen the guest list of singers, it makes for impressive reading. How about this for size? Geir Ronning, Mikael Erlandsson, Steve Overland (FM), Kimmo Blom (Urban Tale), and of course Fergie Fredericksen (Trillion, Toto, Le Roux, Mecca). Obviously with a cast like this, how do pitch material to them for them to sing? I asked Tommy how does it work for him. Does he write the songs with them in mind, or do they just come in cold and do the business more or less 'then and there'? 'For the most part I just write music and once the melody is done I know if I want a high or low pitched singer on it. 'Demon' was written for Fergie especially, and the ballad 'Over You' just had to be sung by Geir. I always start with music when I write, so it's only at the end of the process that I know who will fit each song but it's usually a simple thing to pick singers.'

Talking of Fergie Fredericksen, his contributions on '7am' and 'Demon' are awesome. It sounds as if we've stepped back to 1984 for the 'Isolation' sessions, something not lost on Tommy who cracks up laughing at that suggestion. 'I rarely try to write something so blunt as 'Demon', which is a clear copycat song of 'Carmen' from 'Isolation'. But I came up with the intro riff and just 'heard' Fergie singing this. The first thing he said when he got the song was 'did you ever hear an album I did with Toto called 'Isolation'? Ha ha.'

Another busy individual coming aboard for the ride was FM figurehead Steve Overland. He contributes to 'Lies Feeds More Lies', an interesting track, and one that is definitely a darker bluesier affair, which suited Steve's voice to a tee. I wonder then if this could this be the start of a closer working relationship with the talented British singer. I'm sure some interesting possibilities could come out of that. 'I absolutely love his voice' says Tommy, 'and he seems to be a very nice bloke as well. I'll work with him any day on anything and there are some serious plans for us to do more work together but it's too early to talk about it. I'll let you know soon! He also did a great job on this song and a couple of days ago he sang on a song I'm producing for Frederic Slama's new AOR CD and he is BRILLIANT on it!'

I think my fave singer by a country mile is Geir Ronning. This guy should insure his voice for zillions. I know if I were the head of a record label, I'd be signing him up to do a Jim Jidhed type thing. I think though, you could write any sort of music with him in mind and he'd be able to deliver. Again, we're preaching to the converted when it comes to Tommy's assessment of Geir's ability. 'Geir has been my number 1 fave for years now and he is always a monster singer plus such a lovely guy. It pains me greatly that he isn't a world known superstar. I've recorded pop, rock, hard rock, reggae (!), African music and RandB with him and he kicks butt every time.'

The guys at Roastinghouse have chipped in with their expertise, and with Tommy's previous experience working with Anders Theander, it's no surprise that he has great confidence in 'Theo', having worked with him on Jim Jidhed's 'Full Circle' and other projects before that. 'Yeah, Theo is brilliant and we work really well together. He and I are very similar as people, and we both share a wish to make albums sound and feel very good. I can't say enough good things about him and the other guys at Roastinghouse. We will work together on many projects in the future for sure.'

Next, I asked Tommy for an indication as to how long it takes you to put a song together, even when collaborating with others. 'Writing the music is always a very quick process for me. It usually takes me about two to three hours to write and record a good demo. The melodies takes me about 10-30 minutes so that's also rather quick. But I hate writing lyrics so I often leave that part to Chris Demming or Ricky Delin. The actual recording for an album can vary from a day to 5 days depending if it's complicated or not. I love putting songs together, and each one is like a little painting that you put your heart and soul into' confides Tommy.

Rainer Kalwitz is well known to G-DAZE readers, having done many commissioned artworks for rock acts, including Emerald Rain and Firewind among his creations. He now adds 'Yeah' to his list of works. Tommy recalls how that association came about. 'Rainer e-mailed me last year and told me that he was a fan and wanted to work with me. I'd seen many of his paintings and loved them all so I came up with the design for 'Yeah' and he liked it. I've never had a cover like this before and I'm very pleased with how it came out. He's a brilliant artist!'

Having spoken with a range of guitarists lately (some of whom are interviewed here at GLORY DAZE), I am curious, as are the tech-head readers here, about what everyone is playing. So, what is your current playing rig at the moment Tommy? 'Well I've always changed gear often over the years but i finally got a set up that I'm pleased with. OK here goes. I split the signal from the guitar to 2 preamps, my custom made Butcher preamp and a Marshall JMP1 (not modified). The Butcher goes to a Marshall poweramp and then to a 1/12 Celestion cab that I put a Shure SM57 on. That signal goes to a Spirit Notepad mixer, the JMP1 goes direct to the same mixer, this way I have a miked and a lined signal at once. I pan one amp to left and one to right for a full stereo sound. I have a Rocktron Intellifex in stereo in the AUX of the mixer with the L-R returns going to a stereo fader, I then just raise the fader to bring in the amount of effects I need for each take and this works perfectly. On the floor I have various pedals including a Crybaby Wah Wah, MXR Dynacomp and Phase 90 etc. I use my ZION guitar with EMG's (H/S/S) and a Floyd Rose for 90% of my work. I just signed an endorsement deal with a really good amp company called George Dennis so I will be adding some new sounds to the coming albums. My good friend Sayit is also endorsed by George Dennis and he's using it on his new album that I'm producing right now. Sounds killer. OK, did you get all that?'

There's no let up for Tommy in the next few weeks. In fact the schedule is booked up way in advance already! 'I'm booked for the rest of the year' chuckles Tommy. 'Chris Demming and I have signed a huge publishing deal as songwriters and are currently writing for several major acts including No Doubt, Westlife and Backstreet Boys. I have high hopes for that but I'm also producing several cool albums this summer and fall, plus as always, doing a bunch of cool sessions. A few days ago I played on a song with Neal Schon, Michael Landau, Michael Thompson, Richard Page, Tom Kelly, Abe Laboriel, Mike Baird and John Keane and the week before I did a guest solo for the new Silver album featuring Bob Daisley, Gary Barden and Don Airey among others so it's cool stuff.'

Really the best way to keep track of what Tommy is doing is through the website which is updated on a weekly basis.

I suppose with a full book of work that must put some pressure on your health, which mostly everybody who knows you will be well aware of. Your health's OK at the moment? 'I really have to be careful with eating and drinking right plus not working too long a-days, then I'm fine. Of course, there are weeks where I'm a little too beat and have to rest but I take good care of myself there days. Thanks for asking bro.'

Thanks for sharing some brief time with us Tommy. We appreciate the fact that you're one busy dude. Cheers! - George 'It's my pleasure George, anytime and keep up the great work. Best, Tommy.

Related Articles:

Radioactive - 2001 Ceremony Of Innocence

Radioactive interview with Tommy Denander - Oct 2001

Radioactive - 2003 Yeah!

Radioactive interview with Tommy Denander - Jun 2003

Radioactive - 2005 Taken

Radioactive interview with Tommy Denander - Dec 2005

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