Jaded Heart – Harder and FasterThursday, 10th November 2022
Probably not as well known in North America as they are in mainland Europe and the Far East, Jaded Heart have been a consistent band releasing melodic hard rock/heavy metal since the 1990’s. Pulling from numerous old school influences while putting out new songs with some modern context, they arrive at their fifteenth studio album with Heart Attack. You can expect another solid set of material that contains everything from 80’s bluesy hard rock to power/heavy metal anthems, even occasionally veering into thrash or epic territory depending on the needs/atmosphere within the arrangement on hand.
We reached out to guitarist Peter Östros and bassist Michael Müller to catch up on the thoughts behind the new record – specific guest songwriting/musician appearances, favorite memories concerning Doro Pesch, Helloween, and Japan, the changing tides in appreciation for melodic hard rock/metal, favorite hobbies/passions, and future plans including work on a new Insania album.
Dead Rhetoric: Heart Attack is the latest studio album for Jaded Heart – and the fifteenth for the group. How do you think the songwriting sessions and development of this material went – and where do you assess this album in the catalog of the band?
Peter Östros: Since I have been in the band now since 2006, it’s sixteen years now. That makes about seven or eight studio albums, and there is a live album in there as well. I think the songwriting this time went a bit smoother. While I wrote most of the riffs and the structures, melodies, I didn’t try to sound too modern. I just dropped my guard and wrote whatever I felt, mostly it’s been based on what albums I’ve been listening to over the latest days. I let it flow, and if it sounds like it’s from 1987 or 1992, I didn’t care. Michael and my friends in the band didn’t care either, they liked it. It has to flow, and it has to groove, I think.
Michael Müller: That’s where we come from, and what we grew up on. The 80’s music. We are 80’s guys, we grew up listening to all this 80’s stuff. It could be hard rock, heavy metal, glam rock, whatever. And we like to mix it all together, in a modern context so to speak.
Östros: For example, there’s a song on this album, a thrashy kind of song. This time that’s “Lady Spider”, it could be Testament around 1988 – not the melody or the singing, but the main riff for an example. Whatever we like.
Dead Rhetoric: I definitely noticed especially on this latest record there was a lot of variety as far as the styles you delivered, in addition to “Lady Spider”, a song like “Descent” seemed like a bit different for the band, a longer, epic style track…
Östros: For me, I had that song in mind for years. I wanted to try more and challenge myself in my songwriting, see what we could do as a band with that type of song and that arrangement. It was a challenge for me to try to leave my comfort zone. I mostly do these three-to-five-minute songs. I was inspired to try different plug ins – the ESP for guitars, it’s a Finnish company, that sounded so great. With the clean sounds or heavy distortion. Sometimes when you buy gear you get new inspiration, so there is a bit of that in “Descent” as well.
Dead Rhetoric: In the background information there’s specific mention of the band going for natural, authentic sounds when it comes to the instrumentation – using no drum samples or computer enhancement. Do you believe this helps Jaded Heart stand out against a lot of the modern records that seem to have a particular ‘sameness’ to them that makes it harder for the listener to distinguish between bands these days?
Östros: A funny thing about not using drum samples. We had a discussion about the snare sound, what kind of a snare sound we wanted. Bodo the drummer, he wanted the snare to sound like it did in the studio – without samples. I see comments here and there of people liking his sound, and this is an example of sounding different.
Müller: This is the second album where we didn’t use any keyboards, for example. In the early days we used a keyboard sound, even underneath the main riffs. We wanted this dry, if we needed a keyboard sound, why can’t the guitar also cover that sound? We like to have the opportunity to represent things in real life, as we don’t have a permanent keyboard player, why should we have something like that on the album? During the 1980’s, US metal didn’t have keyboards, the material was more in your face. Natural, I think that music has a lot to do with feelings through the guitar player, why do some kind of strange keyboard sounds to wash it all up? A natural, direct sound is what we wanted.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe Johan has now firmly established himself as the singer of Jaded Heart, being with the band for over eighteen years, versus the Michael Bormann years?
Müller: Oh yes. You said it yourself, it’s now eighteen years, he’s been in the band longer than anyone else besides me. That’s enough said. He’s Jaded Heart.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you discuss the songwriting contributions you received from Sascha Gerstner of Helloween for “Right Now” and Rupert Keplinger for the title track – and how you also gained a lead break contribution from Niklas Dahlin of Insania for “Right Now”?
Östros: Insania first. Niklas is a friend of mine for over twenty years. He was a friend to Jaded Heart for many years, he contributed a song a couple of records ago “One World”. He had the riff idea for “Lady Spider”. He’s a huge Helloween fan, all metal fans our age are. Insania is a Helloween-style band. It was cool for him to do this solo on Sascha Gerstner’s song. Now it’s a full circle there, it’s an amazing solo. He made it so good; we extended the solo.
Müller: I got to know Rupert, he’s a famous songwriter writing for pop artists in Germany, and also for a lot of metal bands. We got to know each other in Hamburg when we had a couple of beers together in a bar, we became friends. We were chatting back and forth, he liked Jaded Heart and he wanted to contribute a song idea. He sent over an idea, which was “Heart Attack”, the skeleton of the song without melodies. Peter delivered the whole chorus melody, and we knew it was going to be a good song.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering you’ve been a part of the band since the beginning and 2006 respectively, what do you consider some of the most important moments that happened in the career of Jaded Heart – where you knew you were making an impact with your music and moving up the ranks in terms of popularity/ respect?
Östros: Since I joined in 2006, there are a lot of moments as a band, some things happen that make a difference. The first time we got to go to Japan, played together on the same package as Doro Pesch, this was in 2010. I was standing there, listening to Doro in Japan playing on the same stage, I started thinking back to when I was seeing Warlock in 1987 opening for Dio in my hometown in Stockholm. It was surrealistic, it was a huge thing being in Japan.
Müller: We have done so many great things as a band. Japan is a strong memory. The first time going to the states in Denver to record an album twenty years ago, that was something standing forward. We have so many great tours – Helloween in 2005, and we are friends with Sascha for example. The whole connection, timeline of the band, is a highlight to me. It keeps the band together; the whole thing is the highlight.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe what Jaded Heart is like when performing live compared to what people hear and experience on the records? Where do you sense the biggest following for the band is these days?
Östros: I would say as a live band, we’ve always had a lot of energy, running around, having fun. We’ve talked about planning some moves, we love to just rock it, changing microphones. The energy, it’s a different thing to seeing us live. It depends, if we do a show and we haven’t played for a long time, like COVID. We can’t practice every week as we live in different countries. It can be another feeling, where you sometimes play the wrong notes, the tenth show can be focused compared to the first one.
Müller: We have a great following in Germany, and in Spain, as we have toured there a lot. It builds up a following, and still in Japan, we have a great street team there, building our following. I don’t know about the United States, I don’t think we have a big following there.
Östros: Spotify has this artist app, you can see the last twenty-eight days, which countries are the top countries for your band. For us it says: Sweden, Germany, United states, Spain, Finland. Then it goes all the way down.
Müller: But Japan doesn’t use Spotify, so you are sneaky.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the evolution of your fanbase from the 1990’s to the current marketplace? Do you believe there is more respect and admiration for your melodic hard rock/metal style that contains a lot of roots/influences from the 80’s movement even if the following isn’t necessarily as commercially viable as it was during the arena rock heydays?
Müller: There is more appreciation for (the music) now than there was ten years ago. People out there, they understood what direction we are going in. We didn’t change that much, maybe being a little harder and faster. We may have lost a few people into the AOR thing we don’t do anymore. We are still having the same fanbase, even we have increased it a little bit.
Östros: We have some bands in Sweden that are getting successful, including some bands that sound like they are from 1989. Bands coming up, even though they are younger, they (perform) well done melodic hard rock.
Müller: Eclipse for example have fans in their 20’s and 30’s. At least in Europe.
Östros: We are friends of theirs.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the state of hard rock / heavy metal within Germany/ Sweden as well as the global movement? What changes (if any) would you like to see made for the greater good of everyone involved?
Östros: One thing is the business is still struggling a little bit since COVID. A nice change would be that people attend concerts; everything is more expensive. The war is close to us, it’s not easy for promoters to arrange concerts anymore. The costs are rising, people are still staying at home.
Dead Rhetoric: You are also a part of progressive heavy metal/rock act Constancia and play with Herman Frank in his namesake outfit, and Peter you play in Insania. How do you balance the responsibilities and workload between these multiple acts – as I’d imagine you have to decide from time to time what becomes the priority and what needs to be put on the backburner?
Östros: If I start with Jaded Heart versus Insania, my answer will be this. It took Insania fourteen years to release a new album, so Jaded Heart is my priority. Between the bands, in Insania I don’t have the main responsibility to write the songs, so I am in more of the back seat. In Jaded Heart I am more in the front seat. I don’t know if I could combine things if it was at the same level.
Müller: Here is an update for me. I don’t play with Herman Frank anymore. I quit like three times. I enjoy the band, we did the record, some touring here and there. I didn’t have the time anymore with Jaded Heart, family and kids. If I am in a band, I’d like to give 100%. Another record in the pipeline, I did the same thing and for a third time. He’s a great guy, so I told him I couldn’t play anymore. He asked me to be in Victory as well, I can’t pull it off without twenty-five hours a day. My priority is Jaded Heart.
Constancia – you are so informed! That’s an old project with friends from Sweden. The last album came out three years ago. I turned down being full-time because of time.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some hobbies, interests, and passions you like to pursue away from music when you have the free time and opportunity to do so?
Östros: Last couple of years, me and my two sons, we love football (soccer). It’s huge in Europe, we go to some games, watch it at home, follow our team from Stockholm. And I love fishing. My boys are ten and thirteen, they know how to fish. We did a lot of that this summer.
Müller: Music is my biggest hobby. I did sports all my life. Fitness training, that kind of stuff. That’s what I do when I’m not doing music and working. I count flowers in my wife’s garden. Feeding the fish at the ponds (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for any activities related to Jaded Heart and your other bands/projects over the next twelve months or so?
Östros: What’s happening with Jaded Heart, we will have some shows in Germany – five shows in November, and we will plan ahead from that. As far as other projects, we will start writing some songs for the next Insania album.
Müller: Touring, because our last tour was pushed back. We have some festivals coming up. I don’t have anything on my plate with other bands.