Interview by Jack Merry
We caught up with 70’s hard rock revivalists Heavy Feather to talk about their new studio album “Mountain of Sugar” (check out our review here), the writing and recording processes, where they are excited to play live next, desert island discs, and everything in between!
Hey, thank you all for your time! Could you please state your names and positions within Heavy Feather?
Lisa Lystam – vocals
Matte Gustafsson – guitar
Morgan Korsmoe – bass
Ola Göransson – drums
You’re quite a new band with only one album available now, and another on the way. How did you guys all meet?
(Lisa) Some of us have been working together before. We all live in Stockholm and all four of us wanted to start a band together with roots from the 60s and 70s rock. We all knew each other before Heavy Feather was created. The rock scene in Stockholm is kind of small.
What is the meaning behind the name Heavy Feather? Have you been in bands previously?
(Morgan) The name was founded by Ola’s wife Lo-Emma. She’s been helping us out a lot and has been like a 5th member of the band. When she came up with the name, it got stuck with all of us, and we decided to go with it. All of us have been involved in other bands as well. Matte has been a guitarist in the band Siena Root. Lisa has also been a singer in Siena Root for a shorter period. Mostly she works with her blues band Lisa Lystam Family band. Ola has worked with the American singer Stacie Collins and I’ve been a bass player in the band Diamond Dogs. So we all have that background of organic roots and rock music.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
(Lisa) I started my first band when I was 18 years old. I still lived in Mjölby, a small town south of Stockholm. I listened to Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix and wanted to find that same old genuine sound in our music. That was my first experience of being in a band and I’ve loved it ever since.
You’re about to release your second full-length studio album in April, entitled ‘Mountain of Sugar.’ Can you tell me a little bit about how the album name came about, and how the recording process began?
We did a show in Germany and the promoter came up to me (Lisa) afterward and said something like “Honey you’re great, you’re like a mountain of sugar!” That sentence got stuck with me for a long while and we decided to create a song based on that line. We started to record this album at the beginning of 2020 and we worked with the great producer Erik “Errka” Pettersson. He really helped us to find that specific sound we were searching for. We wanted to have that “live feeling” so most of the bass, guitar, and drums are recorded at the same time. Some of the vocals as well.
‘Mountain of Sugar’ Tracklisting:
01. 30 Days
02. Bright in My Mind
03. Love Will Come Easy
04. Mountain of Sugar
05. Too Many Times
06. Let It Shine
07. Come We Can Go
08. Sometimes I Feel
09. Lovely Lovely Lovely
10. Rubble and Debris
11. Asking in Need
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
(Lisa) It’s airy and kind of simple in its way. Hopefully, it takes you back to a time when music was created with instruments and pure vocals, no cheating. It’s organic rock played by rockers that are influenced by the past and the present.
Who does your artwork? Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist/photographer or producer? Even musically?
(Matte) We are coming up with all ideas when it comes to the artworks but we’re working together with a Swedish guy called Andy Instigate who brings it all together with his own unique touch!
You guys have toured quite a bit since your formation, what has been your favourite gig to date and why?
(Matte) A favourite place for us is Cadillac in Oldenburg Germany, a great place and great promoters. Also, Blues Garage in Isernhagen and to tour in Spain is fantastic!
Which brand of equipment do you like to use when performing (either live or in the studio)?
(Matte) I use my Gibson Les Pauls and my Marshall JMP from 79’ in a Greenback Marshall 4X12 cabinet, almost the same as in the studio. Ola uses his Ludvig drum kit and Morgan has a classic Fender Bassman with an Ampeg 8X10 cabinet on tour. In the studio, he uses a smaller one called Treynor, a transistor amp. And he used to play with a Fender P-bass!
Do you have a favourite track from the new album, or from your debut album ‘Débris & Rubble’?
(Lisa) One of my favourites from our old album is ‘Whispering Things.’ I think it’s a nice contrast to have a ballad on the record. For me, that song is very true and honest. It’s nice to get that soft “break” when you listen to the album. On the new one, it’s probably ‘Bright in My Mind.’ I hear it as a “mantra” and it puts you in an interesting mood if you’re listening to it loudly.
‘Débris & Rubble’ Tracklisting:
01. Débris & Rubble
02. Where Did We Go
03. Waited All My Life
06. Tell Me Your Tale
07. Long Ride
08. I Spend My Money Wrong
09. Hey There Mama
10. Please Don’t Leave
11. Whispering Things
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics? Could you list me some bands that particularly inspire the sound of Heavy Feather and why?
(Morgan) We all listen to a lot of different music and styles, but when it comes down to our common inspiration in Heavy Feather I would say bands like Cream, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Free, Mountain, and Grand Funk Railroad. You can also hear some influences from Swedish folk music and psychedelic jam parts in our music.
What is the music scene like where you are based in Sweden? Any new bands that have caught your attention?
(Morgan) There is a lot of great bands in Sweden. Hällas, Hoven Droven, and Asteroid are some of my personal favourite bands at the moment.
(Matte) Yes, it is! Greenleaf and Kamchatka are my rock favourites in Sweden!
Do you think image is important when being in a band?
(Lisa) Probably, yes. Today there are so many great bands and you really have to think through your approach.
In our case, our style has been kind of the same so we didn’t “change” anything because of our “image”. But we are aware of it. That it looks better if our styles are at least a bit synced. The most important thing for us is to produce music that feels true and honest.
What is it like touring? Do you all get on all of the time? Or do you have times you need space from each other?
(Lisa) Our first tour in Spain was hard. We drove all the way from Sweden in a pretty small car. The economy was difficult, and we worked hard to make it work, but it was a great experience and I think we learned a lot from it.
Is there anyone or anywhere you would like to play and haven’t yet?
(Matte) Always so nice to play in new territories. Japan of course but I would love to play in South America too!
Is the music industry how you thought it would be when first starting a band?
(Matte) You’re always learning new things about the music industry and nowadays the development is going so fast for example with the social media thing. When we started this band Heavy Feather everyone in the band had been touring and has been recording a lot of records before so we knew how things were working. I remember we said “let’s do this the right way this time,” but of course you don’t have the answer on everything, haha!
Do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to a label to be recognised in today’s society?
(Matte) Both yes and no. For a new band, I think it’s really good, but when you’re established I think you can do quite a lot by yourself and earn more money, but it’s a lot of work!
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
(Matte) Hard question but for a new totally unknown band you must have to give away your music for free and even if you’re bigger than that. That’s the sad truth. Spotify is too big to ignore these days. But luckily I think the rock fans are still buying records.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally?
(Morgan) I like to listen to everything from early 70’s Outlaw Country like Waylon Jennings and Wille Nelson to 60’s pop like Beatles and Kinks to Black Sabbath and Budgie. Grateful Dead is also a big inspiration for me in life.
You’re stranded on a desert island with only 3 records and a record player. Which 3 albums would you want with you?
(Morgan) – Revolver by The Beatles, “7” album by Steppenwolf, and Grateful Dead’s American Beauty!
(Matte) – Live at Fillmore East by Allman Brothers Band, All Things Must Pass by George Harrison, and Vol 4 by Black Sabbath!
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a band, and were you given any advice from other bands before starting out?
(Lisa) Try to find musicians that are better than yourself. Think about your concept and visions before you release anything. Talk to each other and make sure you have the same plan. Be kind and polite.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
(Lisa) Flowers, food, and drinks!
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Even with Covid, are you looking to get some live shows booked up?
(All) Hopefully, we will be able to do the shows we have planned. We have a tour booked during the summer and in September and we can’t wait to get out on the road again. We don’t take anything for granted but it feels like this crazy period hopefully has an ending soon!
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
(All) Hope to see you on the road, stay safe, and rock on!