Guitarist Edwin Premberg of modern melodic metal act Metalite recently sat down to discuss the band’s history, where they’re at now, and what the future should bring. Here RAMzine features those findings.
How did Metalite come about and is there a meaning behind the name?
Edwin Premberg: The name Metalite just popped up when I was planning the new modern sound for the project and the first song. Well, it’s metal and I wanted the sound to be l33t or 1337 (Which means “Elite” in the online language Leet used in BBS and nowadays online gaming.) That formed the band name Metalite which has the modern touch that perfectly fits the modern sound.
How could you describe your music style? Some people call it pop, and pop-metal is actually in fashion these days.
Premberg: I think, I just can say modern metal because I mix a lot of different metal styles like power metal, heavy metal, metalcore, thrash metal, hair metal, symphonic metal etc.
Mixing these styles together with a lot of modern elements like keyboards, effects etc makes the sound of Metalite. I have heard people say dance metal, Euro-metal, pop metal, electronic metal; but I don’t have a -word for it. It’s just…modern metal.
What was the pre-history of the band as well as your own background? Why a female-fronted band – Was that the initial idea or did it happen because you met original vocalist Emma Bensing?
Premberg: I had this idea about a modern metal project that would sound really melodic and have these melodic hooks that stay in your head. I wanted to bring the euro/trance-sound to the metal genre. In the 90s that kind of music was my favourite one!
At that time when I was about 15-16 years old I also started to learn the guitar and to play to bands like Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion etc with these kind of easy played songs then I got through Metallica and Maiden albums too. Later on the power metal bands got me hooked. I played the guitar a lot to bands like Gamma Ray, Axel Rudi Pell, Helloween, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Nightwish etc. I felt that this was my kind of metal!
When I heard Nightwish for the first time I got hooked by the female fronted thing but it was for real when Anette Ohlzon joined Nightwish. A super melodic band with a clean female voice! I wanted to create a band like that but with a modern twist. I started to write the music and lyrics and ‘Afterlife’ was created. The sound needed a female voice and I had some singers testing the song in the studio. I found Emma and she wanted to try the song too. The recordings got very well and I asked Jacob Hansen for his services and he answered me at once that he wanted to help me. After we sent the song to different labels we got an answer from Emil at Inner Wound Recordings and we signed a deal for the Heroes In Time album just with that song.
How did things develop, was it in Sweden that you initially established yourselves?
Premberg: As I told in the earlier answer, I got this record deal with Inner Wound Recordings with just one song, ‘Afterlife’. The debut album Heroes In Time was released and as a debut album it went very high at the charts. We got a lot of fans and we wanted to get out and play live. Our release gig was our first planned gig and it was the only gig Emma did with us. Metalite was a new band and we had never been out together and played before. We were really an unknown band but after the release we got a lot of fans worldwide.
Producer Jacob Hansen was involved early on in the band’s development.
Premberg: From the beginning a friend of mine wanted me to try and send ‘Afterlife’ to Jacob because he had produced a lot of good modern metal and he surely could help me to get the right sound for Metalite. I sent ‘Afterlife’ to him and I got a quick answer back that he wanted to help me with the mix and mastering. He also gave me the answer that he wanted to help me with the whole album if I wanted to. Of course I wanted to! And it got fantastic! Jacob also wanted to help us with the second album and I think he’s going to be a part of the Metalite family in the future too.
How did the deal with AFM come about? Do you think it will allow you to reach more horizons, especially abroad? How do you compare things with how they were with Afterlife and now Biomechanicals?
Premberg: I got this email from AFM and they asked me if we wanted to join them. At that time, we already got this record deal and AFM had a discussion with Inner Wound Recordings and we got transferred from Inner Wound to AFM. We are really happy about this change because AFM is a so much bigger record label with a good reputation. AFM has opened a lot of doors for our second album Biomechanicals and we have got a lot of new fans and listeners all over the world thanks to them.
Why did you decide to dedicate yourself exactly to metal music? Do you think that these pop elements can help you to reach better commercial figures?
Premberg: I choose this kind of music because I love it! I can mix booth of my favourite music genres to one genre and I think it’s fantastic that the music I love to make are so well appreciated right now. I wanted to create a bridge between the pop music and the different metal genres. To take some of the pop people and introduce them to metal but also give the metal people a blast of this modern well produced poppy metal. When we play live there isn’t just people from the metal scene. There are a lot of people from the pop genre too. And when I see that this kind of people meet at our shows; I know I have succeeded!
Sweden is at the forefront of digital technologies. Do you think that digital sales is the key for the modern music market there and elsewhere?
Premberg: The social platforms together with the digital streaming platforms have helped us a lot to spread our music worldwide. It’s very hard as a new band to get through the barriers of good established metal bands. You need these worldwide platforms to reach out and, of course, a good reliable record label to help you with the contacts.
The streaming platforms are going to grow much bigger as they establish in more and more countries worldwide and that a good thing for us. Our music spreads to people that never have heard us before. Of course, it is very important that we go out and play live in those countries that don’t have the same availability to internet and streaming services.
Why did Emma left the band? Do you keep in touch and how did you find a replacement?
Premberg: Emma left the band for other duties. She also became a mother in 2018 and she wanted to focus on other things than Metalite. From the beginning there was just me starting this project but after the recordings that Emma and me did together we were the band Metalite.
Nowadays we don’t have that kind of contact but I’m sure that she keeping an eye on our different information channels.
I started to look for a singer at the places I know I could find a charismatic, professional singer with this kind of voice and attitude. And I went to a rock show here in Stockholm were Erica (Ohlsson) was performing. The band had tested some new singers both in the studio and in the rehearsals but there was always something missing.
I asked Erica to try to record some songs in the studio and she really had it all! Everything that we were looking for. We asked her if she wanted to join us and she said “Yes”. We started to rehearse and record the new songs for the new album. Everyone in the band is super happy about Erica and the fantastic atmosphere she’s bringing the band.
What about the other band members?
Premberg: Robert Örnesved (Guitar) has been a friend of mine for a long time. We actually played together for about 15 years ago in a metal cover band. When he left his former band Castillion I asked him to join Metalite. Robert Majd (Bass) and Lea Larsson (Drums) were found through some mutual friends. Robert Majd also has his own band, Captain Black Beard, and Lea played the drums in a band called Imber that unfortunately no longer exists. This mix of total different people really is the best one and I think Metalite really sticks out from the rest of the dudemetal-bands. A real benefit for us.
Tell us more about the concept of new album Biomechnicals. The music is quite light but the subject matter serious. It seems that the idea reflects the word of today where human beings are strongly connected with technologies and sometimes it looks scary. Do you think that robots like the one you have on the cover artwork can replace real musicians some day?
Premberg: The idea of the artwork was created when all the songs were in place. Our lyrics are like modern subjects in this world we’re living in but also a hint of what we are heading. It’s kind of scary when you think of different things but isn’t just bad things about it. The robots have already taken over the music industry.
Maybe not all the way in the rock/metal genres but in the electronic genres for sure. The artwork was created by Jan Yrlund at Darkgrove and I told him that I wanted a kind of robot-like version of Erica: a way to introduce her for the fans and new listeners but also a way to explain the title Biomechanicals; that we’re all connected to our gadgets, smartphones etc. Like human living computers!
Who are your main influences as a guitarist?
Premberg: I don’t have a specific person that influences me. There are a lot of good bands that inspires me though. All the ones that have the memorable hooks and melodic choruses. Like Stratovarius, Amaranthe, Beast In Black, Nightwish etc. Both old and new bands inspire me!
Are you all from Stockholm? Are you friends with other musicians from Sweden or those signed to AFM?
Premberg: Yes, all the band members are from Stockholm. We have some contacts with other bands, the bands that we have played with or just chatting with are so friendly and I think that’s the approach you need to have to keep your good reputation. By the way, we also share rehearsals and studio with the Swedish Melodic Rockers H.E.A.T. We haven’t met any of the other bands on AFM but we hope that we can get together and play some shows. It would be a blast!
Is Sweden your largest fanbase?
Premberg: Our fanbase isn’t just from Sweden. The metal genre is a kind of small genre in Sweden so… We have our greatest fanbase in the US, Germany and Finland right now if we look to the statistics.
It’s very difficult to promote a new band nowadays. But you very first video, ‘Afterlife’, got a million views in a short period of time. ‘Far From The Sanctuary’ also has good figures. Why do you think they worked?
Premberg: It’s kind of easy to promote your band if you got good musicians and good songs; ‘Afterlife’ was written to be a hit and it became a hit. The proof that a totally unknown band can make it if you work with the right people and of course have good material to work with. Thanks to Emil at Inner Wound and Jacob Hansen Afterlife got the attention that we needed to get further. And now, here we are. If you do it the right way it never gets wrong!
Metalite was one of the first bands announced for Sabaton Open Air 2020.
Premberg: Yes, we are so happy about it! That festival is on my personal bucket list. One of the biggest metal festivals in Sweden right now. They contacted us to see if we wanted to play and of course we wanted to! I think it will be really nice for the band and it will look good in our tour list in the future that we have played on this fantastic festival. We will deliver a massive show and we will enjoy every minute of it on the stage but also the time spent at the festival area!
There’s been some good feedback to Biomechanicals.
Premberg: We are so happy about the reviews. People really like the album! It’s so nice that we have managed to deliver such a great album to the fans. I have got some unexpected reactions that we are back! Some of the people didn’t think that we could survive in the metal jungle but, Hey, Metalite never quits! We want to develop this kind of music and surpass ourselves in the future.
And your future plans?
Premberg: We have a mini-tour in the UK in March. We have some plans about going to Germany to promote the new album with a mini-tour too and also travel to some cities in Sweden before Sabaton Open Air in August. We have already started to plan the next album too but first we want to get out and play the new music live!
For more about Metalite at RAMzine click here.