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Coastland Ride - 2003 Interview with Markus Nordenberg

INTERVIEW: Coastland Ride (May 2003)
We take a ride, the CR way.. thanks to Markus Nordenberg.

Feature Interview with Markus Nordenberg (Coastland Ride)
Written by: Gdazegod (May 2003)

L.A Freeways, Santa Monica beach, beach-blonde babes, red racer convertibles, and the smooth tones of West Coast music on the radio. Yep, sounds and looks like the perfect California Dream right? So how on earth can this relate to so many acts coming out of Sweden of all places? Considering they're coming out of a winter thaw, California is as far away and foreign to Sweden as peace being found in Israel right now. Yet, the West Coast/AOR scene is so strong in Sweden you'd think they were as close as Oregon or Arizona.

I won't count numbers, but I can say that Swedish trio Coastland Ride can add themselves to that ever-growing list of classy acts wearing the blue and yellow. Lead singer Markus Nordenberg speculates on why this could be. 'I think the band Europe had a big influence on the AOR scene in Sweden' he says. 'They had a big breakthrough back in 1983 and followed it up with some good albums that had a very big impact on the Swedish scene during the eighties. The gap between AOR and Westcoast is not too wide and maybe that is how West Coast also got popular. I'm not sure though.'

The guys come from Sundvall, located in the mid/northern part of Sweden. It's not a recognised stronghold like Gothenberg, Malmo or Stockholm even. 'We have many bands playing but only a few official places for them to play live and that's a pity' reflects Markus. 'Most of the bands are playing anything from punkrock/british pop, to the heavier styles: hardcore, death and doom metal and so on.'

Let's find out a little more about Coastland Ride then. The trio are: Markus on vocals, Anders Rybank on guitars, bass, keyboards, programming and Mikael Bohlin on guitars, keyboards and programming. The guys have known each other for years, but due to circumstances, never had the opportunity to play together as a trio. Something that humors Markus slightly. 'The band started out as a songwriting/recording project back in 1997. All members in the band have been active musicians since the mid eighties, both playing our own material and also covering other artists. The funny thing is that I have been playing with both Mikael and Anders earlier but not with both of them at the same time, and Mikael and Anders have been playing together but without me. So yeah, it's the first time that we're all playing together in the same band.'

[Coastland Ride: Mikael, Markus, Anders]

The band are completely at home in the studio, and the final result shows, with the release of their debut self titled album earlier in the year. 'The studio technique with home studios has made such progress over the last few years, and that made it perfect for us to start making and recording music with total control and without expensive budgets.' Unfortunately at this point, Coastland Ride are not a touring band, the reality of gigging extensively is a risky proposition even for the top bands, let alone smaller and unknown bands. A sad reflection on the current scene, but an honest one.

Back in the year 2000, CR sent a six-track demo to Georg Siegl at AOR Heaven for consideration. A good move because Georg really seems to really like Swedish bands playing in this style (though he did thumb his nose at the other Swedish sensation on the block Coastline, who went on to sign with Vinny Records). 'Yes, he seems to like the Scandi sounding AOR/Westcoast' agrees Markus, 'and for that we're thankful. When we made first contact with him back then, he said that it sounded very promising and he also said that if we came up with six more songs of that calibre he would sign us. The song he really loved was 'Second Hand America', a little odd song but with a catchy hook in it. We recorded some new songs and the deal became fact. So thanks to Georg from the band.'

G-DAZE, along with many other scribes in the rock media wrapped some encouraging reviews around the Coastland Ride album, focusing on tight musicianship and strong songwriting. Markus gives us an assessment of the situation thus far. 'The first pressing should be sold out any day now. We've been very pleased with the reaction. Overall, there have been good reviews both in magazines and on websites. What pleases us most is that almost everybody mentions songwriting as our strength. We have variety between the songs that makes every song unique in itself, they live their own lives so to speak. No one song sounds like the one before or after it. That's how we want it. At first, we were a little scared about that but eventually we agreed it was a strong point. How much fun is it when every song sounds alike and you can't differentiate one from the other? Or when every band tries to sound like Journey? Journey is the original and the best, we don't need twenty more copies of them.' suggests Markus.

Though there are only nine songs on the album, some of them go back a-ways. 'I think the oldest one is 'Hearts to the Flame' where some of the instrumental parts are from the middle eighties. We added some new sections tn it, rewrote the song melody and the lyrics in 2000. The other songs have a span from early nineties to 2001. The newest ones are 'Eyes' (2000) and 'Sleepless' (2001). The well-known Swedish rock band Lions Share has interwoven its history with Markus, as he was once a member. I think I have some of those early LS demo tracks hidden away somewhere; 'Ghost Town Queen' etc. Though the music is markedly different, I asked Markus whether his LS experience contributed to Coastland Ride in any way? 'Not for the band no, but for me personally as a singer and musician. I think the main reason that I split up with Lions Share was that they headed in a harder edged direction while I was moving towards a more Westcoast approach at that time (1988-1989). There were no hard feelings between us and I still have contact with the members. They've been doing great and I'm happy for that, they are incredible musicians.'

While talking about Swedish contemporaries, other bands playing a similar style have had similar exposure on G-DAZE in the past. Sahara, T'Bell, Street Talk to name a few. Markus too is familiar with some of them. 'T'Bell made a good album and it would be nice to hear a second effort from them' he says. 'I loved some songs on the first Street Talk album, and when 'Transition' came out I loved the whole album. I'm also a very good friend with Fredrik Bergh (the main man in Street Talk) and maybe we will write some songs together this summer.'

And talking of future songwriting, how many songs do you have stashed away for album number #2, and if it's not too premature, what direction do you think it will take? 'We have a huge bunch of songs that is just waiting to be arranged and recorded for an album' confirms Markus. 'This time we'll aim for the possibility to choose from more songs than on the debut. I think the whole recording process will be faster on this one as we can work on three fronts now. Again, the material that we choose is going to have a wide span stylewise. There will be a mix of AOR, Westcoast and pop, as before. However, the difference this time is that we'll have some harder edged songs. At the moment it's too early to say if a certain style/theme will dominate the finished product.'

Judging from the results of their debut album, I am one who will eagerly await the musical fruits of labour when Messrs Nordenberg, Rybank and Bohlin return for their follow-up. Now that they've found their musical compass, we can all sit back and enjoy the ride (or is that Journey!).

Keep an eye on their website:

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