Daniel Flores: Sweden's Man Of The Moment
Daniel, you are fast becoming the go-to man for session drum work, so there's a few tings to cover here. But first and foremost, we are here to promote your new Mind's Eye album Walking On H20.
The album is a concept album about nothing less than human evolution.
Couldn't you find anything more light and fluffy to write about?!!! :)
Hahahaha Well the topic of world terror had already been taken by George Bush so Human evolution has the only theme left for me
Seriously, I thought I was a great lyrical theme with the potential of being dramatic and serious at the same time. I mean who dares to write about something like Human evolution? Who dares to say out loud that Darwin's evolution theory has huge wholes in its socket? I wanted to create some discussions about these facts, its fun to provoke feelings into people's minds. I am a guy who likes to provoke, it's so much funnier than to be on the safe side. Still, it's only music.
That's why I chose the theme, to encourage people and at the same time still make some good old entertainment with it. You said it yourself commercially accessible songs. Because even though it's a serious matter it's still just entertainment.
Tell us about the aspects behind the writing on the album and what draws you to the subject matter?
We used to write everything together, everyone in a room back when we where younger. At this point of where we are today there is no time to get the three of us in the same room for even one hour
I'm not kidding. Knowing these difficultness and facts, what I did was write everything (expect a couple of songs where I co-wrote with Johan/guitars) I wrote the lyrics during the buss ride to the studio and back. I was anyway the one with the vision of doing an album like this. I had read some books that I really liked and knew exactly witch songs and arrangements I wanted to include in the production. Everything came to me in a long period of time though. One could say I have been writing this album since 2003 as that's when I started to do some of the music for Walking on H2O.
How about the journey through the tracks on the album. Where does the story start and finish?
As you already might have noticed, the story is pretty tricky to get in to. I don't want to give away too much here but I would say it starts with a kid in school. School really is the first steps we take before growing up and seeing the world with our own eyes and it's where we learn how things work later in real life. The story ends sadly
it ends with death or as in this case it's uncertain death. There is nothing worse than dying for a lost cause, asking yourself until the very end why? That's how this album ends. In the middle there are lots of things we go trough as human beings, there stuff about drugs, deception, Marriage. Then there are also some big questions, asking who are we? and why are we here?, you know the big ones. It's all done in the spirit of good entertainment though, so it's not entirely a strictly facts story/album in that meaning.
What is your personal favourite song or message of the album?
My Personal favourite would be the song about the pyramids of giza song Sahara in an Hourglass. It's a bout how we worship monuments and the pyramids are worshiped around the world by a huge amount of people. The strange thing is that there is no real reason at all to why people worship these monuments. Even though they are huge and nobody still really knows who built them, it's still amazing to me how these pyramids keep on being the symbol of life on other planets to us.
The story of Sahara in an hourglass is about a archaeologist who falls in love with the pyramids of Giza and starts to worship them. In the end he goes crazy imagining him self being a Pharaoh.
Why I like it? Well, I think this is the first song where I actually could get away with making a dramatic and cinematic song still being very accessible to lot's of people. The closest I have ever come to making the sound sonically close to what I have heard in my mind. It's almost like listening to a movie, people keep telling me.
It is the band's first album in 4 years. Why did things fall into place to get the album out now?
Mainly because we where waiting for our former guitarist Fredrik to make up his mind about if he wanted to do more albums or not. That's took some soul searching I guess, for both of us actually. When we got the news that he didn't want to do another album we where actually thinking of putting the gloves on the shell and call it a day but luckily my wife and many other supporters of the band made me change my mind, to actually continue without him. We miss Fredrik but it seems like we are entering a new chapter in the Mind's Eye book and we will continue as a trio for as long as we can. The change has actually tided the knot around us and we have become a stronger force because of it.
Another fact was that Johan and Andreas didn't have the time to write music for a Mind's Eye Cd, these guys have barely time to go to the John... hahaha
So I took the steering wheel and made what I could out of my experiences as a producer and session musician.
I'm happy being the captain of the ship but the boat would never move without the AMAZING help from both Andreas and Johan.
Although progressive and complex, the overall record remains very accessible due to some great melodies within. What is more important - sounding musically cleaver or delivering something commercial listeners can hook onto?
What drive's me to make good music is both of these elements. Though I would say that the older I get the less important becomes the fact of being accepted as a virtuoso on drums or whatever. I think Johan and me feel the same in this aspect. Both Johan and I have been part of many albums and we don't really need the recognition anymore. It's fun and all when we get it but it's far from what we are looking for in what we do as musicians. If we enhance the music in some way, then GREAT! But if we don't and we just shine trough as great instrumentalists who don't fit the music, it's a total failure.
Hooks are what it's all about I think. Hooks is such a large word when you think about it as it can mean so many different things when it comes to make music. I'm tired of making music for a certain kind of man/woman. Today I make music for everyone who enjoys music coming from a couple of loudspeakers.
In fact, I think your bio answers the question with this statement: "The music is still progressive but not in a technical level. Instead Mind's Eye rather shows their strength as songwriters, still using melodies and hooks as their strongest weapons..."
Yeah! Believe me, we have been trough the tossing and wearing out of the lightning fast double bass and machine gun triplets on our instruments in the beginning, quickly getting to a point where we felt there was no point in continuing like that. Let's face it! Anyone can learn how to play an instrument and impress a crowd with the coolest shops or fill-ins! That's all about discipline and discipline doesn't appeal to most people, talent and true emotions are what appeals to people.
If the song doesn't need it why use it? It's what the song tells you to do! Still there is plenty of shops of anyone looking for them in our new album, the difference here is that they are not in your face all the time as we use them only when needed. It all comes down to maturing and that takes time, instead of pushing it away we have embraced it and called it our own.
I think you guys have actually done a good job of delivering both. What part does each of the three of you play in the writing and then recording of the album?
Thank you! It's different from record to record. As I said before the song writing rested on my shoulders this time. Though the other guys had lot's to say about the ideas I cast in front of them. It still feels like a true Mind's Eye record. I have always been heavily involved in the writing of Mind's Eye and so this was a natural steep for me. I usually start by going trough the arrangements and keyboards ending up with arranging all the backing vocals on the entire album. That's my part. Johan played and arranged all the guitars with me. This is the first time I've had so much input in the guitar department and Johan and I are really proud of the outcome. Johan also handled the bass. Andreas comes in and lays his vocals. 99% of the melodies are already worked out so his job becomes very easy when recording. He often comments on the lyrics and ending of the melodies, often when he sings them they become 100% better. Andreas also has a great feeling in his voice and is a perfect match for the music. This is the same way me Andreas worked in his first solo release Forever endeavour released on MTM last year.
I very much enjoyed yours and Andreas' work on the Novak album in 2004. A tremendous slice of European commercial melodic rock.
Great! Thanks! Andreas and I enjoyed it too! It was a great outcome for me as I love melodic rock. Bands like Giant and Harem Scarem are some of the best song writers in the world. The problem with Novak was maybe that it was not heavy enough for people and not soft enough for others
Here we where trying to compromise and failure was around the corner
I am really proud of this record but I'm sad that it fell down the cracks between hard rock and melodic rock.
Any plans for a follow-up there?
I actually called Andreas the other day asking the same question. All I can say is that we have some songs ready for a new album but we are having lots of trouble to hook up and write songs together. Andreas had just received a second son and I think his priorities are at home for the moment. Maybe after we finished the new Mind's Eye album? I don't know really
Music like this doesn't sell like it used too and it feels like all the hard work going into it does not pay enough in the end of the day. Though I think we'll give it another try.
How did you get into session work in the last few years?
That just fell on my knees right after the first Mind's Eye album. People who had heard my work where interested in using me for their albums. Back then I was not interested in doing it as I didn't want to do anything outside of Mind's Eye, none of us actually would back then. After the third album A work of art we where all exhausted of working together and then we decided to take a long break from Mind's Eye. I didn't know what to do. Mind's Eye was all I had! So I started calling some of the people who wanted me on their albums. I started with a band called ZOOL (former Mohani Moana) an album that I recorded in 4 hours (including a one hour lunch and half an hour preproduction, so it's in fact 2 and half hours). I guess the rumour spread from there. I had been working as a sound engineering teacher in a college here in Stockholm and after a half year doing sessions and working as an engineer I left teaching and started to make sessions a full time work. It's been a great 4 years since I made that decision. Guess I'm living my dream.
As I stated, you seem to be the man of the hour there in Sweden, it must be nice to be in such a position...
I'm really honoured to be able to do this fulltime as there so many other drummers out there without the same possibilities as me. Sweden is a small country when it comes to recording sessions and it's not difficult to be first call drummer in any kind of style. There are not that many progressive session drummers in the world as the work is twice or three times as hard if you compare to a normal session. I do both and that's why I earned my reputation. I also have a studio where I record and so it's much easier to bring me in rather than working with other guys without the same possibilities.
Naturally one has to work hard to be in such a position - so a little about your good self.
How did you get into drumming in the first place and what influences/idols drew you into it?
Drumming was always a part of me I just didn't know what to call it. Even since I was a young kid I had always been drumming on plates and making rhythms with my mouth. In my teens a friend brought me to this studio where he was studying engineering and he showed me a set of drums. I was amazed and from the first time I played them drums I was hooked. Then I discovered Genesis and Phil Collins. That guy really woke up my drumming and drove it to another level.
Later I of course discovered Rod Morgenstein, Neil Peart, Jeff Porcaro, David Huff.
But I still feel like Phil Collins is the only guy who has achieved professional personality in his drumming and that's my goal as a drummer, or at least one of them ;-)
Do you think your playing might in turn influence some kids to do the same thing and take up drumming? Do you have much contact with young musicians in Sweden?
You know, I really hope I do wake up some kid from sleeping and waking up to MTV everyday. I wished I could make room for discipline in kid's performances today but school is too soft on them. Teachers don't really care about how good they become and most of the new generation of musicians are in my mind weak players. I think my generation might have something to do with it as we educated ourselves too much and didn't care about the practical part of music. Also, there was too many guys who where brainwashed by the industry of teen pop idols... These guys where great musicians but all their heads turned around for the Euros and dollars, making music for kids instead of for them selves. I still think that songwriters and choreographers are the evil that happened to this business hahahaha
Make music but play and sing it your self or with somebody you know that will express the same feelings you want to.
When I was teaching in school I meet allot of kids and I was really floored by the weakness of their singing and playing. They could be studying in college still trying to learn a C scale, some didn't know it to save their lives
it's all just sad really.
Saying that - you are not too old yourself!! In same cases you are working with your peers. Can that be an intimidating atmosphere?
Well it can be and it was for me for a while but then I realized something, everybody is just human. First time I worked with Tommy Denander it was really intimidating but after I while I got the hang of it. Same case with Goran Edman, Thomas Wikstrom ext
We are all just human beings you know. In the end of the day it's all just fun. I have to mention there are plenty of assholes out there and often the biggest asses are the ones who can't play to save their lives
I have learned to control my self in a room full of talent and often when I know someone great is in the room it really makes me play even better. Absorbing the talent from the one who has enough to fill up the entire room.
I'll ask you about a few of your more prominent recent associations...your thoughts please -
Starting with Chris Catena - You have worked a lot with Chris and also on his new band Teenage Rampage...
Chris is a great friend of mine and he has many ships in the sea. He is an aggressive singer with huge talent. Teenage rampage might be the one act that will give Chris the push that he needs and to get the recognition for what he does. This is Melodic metal with a raw edge. It's still in the works.
Xsaviour - Is it safe to say some didn't get this project (not sure I did either!!)
Yeah no one got this one! I'm not sure even if I did
hahahaha I was a huge part of this album. I am still very pleased with how it came out but I also knew instantly that this album will be a love or hate album. One good thing that came out of this was the friendship with Goran. He is an amazing singer and the perfect match for this kind of music. Sadly this was a one trick monkey and I have left it for good.
Matteo Fillipini, the mastermind behind this project called me up and wanted me to record a couple of songs. It has some of the best 70's and 80's musicians on this album and in that sense it's a special album. For me it was plain pleasure to be part of it. A must for all Deep purple and Rainbow fans.
Who can resist Chity's great voice? My friend Chity Somapala (Firewind, Avalon) called me up and asked me if I wanted to play drums on a melodic rock album, and when I told him that I loved melodic rock he was amazed as he had only hears me play with progressive rock bands. He even told me during rehearsals in Germany that he didn't expect me to play this style that well
Man I love this! The music back then was fantastic! I think Chity and Frank did a great job with it, I just wish they had stayed together to make the chemistry grow even more
Orange Crush - I'm a fan of what I have heard - any updates?
This band has one of the best melodic rock singers I ever had the pleasure to be working with. The band is Daniel Palmqvist (who is releasing his first solo album A landscape made from dreams on Lion Music in June) and Pedestrians of Blue singer Johannes Stole. We are in fact going in the studio to record some more songs in fall just to do a follow of on the 5 already recorded songs. We might pull out an album and shop it to different labels, let's see what the hands of time will come up with.
And coming up is a few interesting things mate. You mention you are working on new projects with Thomas Wikstrom and Goran Edman among others. Anything you can mention about these yet?
Well, both are solo albums and both have great ideas for it. Both are very different though. The problem is again time here... typical
No release date is set but from what I have heard it's going to be a couple of monsters, hard to stop.
Goran will be first up I think. He is going for that Pink Floyd style.
Several tribute albums there too - what tracks?
Mind's Eye is doing the song Hysteria for a Def Leppard tribute, we also did a Queensrÿche tribute a long time ago doing the song I Will Remember. I also recorded tributes for a Gary Moore, Deep Purple, Guns And Roses, Kiss
I do as many as I can with bands I love.
Among the credits listed on your site and bio are several different styles of playing - progressive, metal, alternative, AOR...
How hard is it to switch the styles without blending them. What is required of you to get in the right mindset?
I see my self as an actor fitting in for a role in a film. I can't always play my own character and it's more fun switching from project to project, like a chameleon if you will. With Mind's Eye I get enough out of my self so when doing a session I tend to go for what the song requires rather than on what I want the song to have.
I am a guy who gets easily bored and I can't stay for long in the same place
The trick is to get your self in the mind of the director or in this case the composer. What sort of plan does he have, where do I fit on this whole picture? Asking questions like that will get you far. The chemistry and music man ship will later anyway take over and elevate the album or song to its righteous place.
It's hard to get inside someone's brain if you don't meet him. In my case when I do sessions with people that I speak with trough the internet I do an awful lot of research on them. Finally when I speak with them over the phone I know where they come from and what they need from me as a drummer. People are usually very surprised to hear that I know so much about them, but that's just me you know trying to get to know the musician that I am working with.
I also do something witch still shocks allot of people. I ask for the lyrics and ask them to tell me what the song is about. This helps me a great deal when playing emotionally assessable songs. Knowing what the lyrics say helps me allot in my work as it helps me to paint the right colours in the right moment.
My ambition and goal is an artistic one and I tend to keep on that line straight out the song or album.
And what plans are there for Mind's Eye at this early stage after the current album has been released?
Right now we are waiting and seeing what the sales numbers tells us to do. We will probably try to go to the studio in late May for a follow up as it seams impossible to get this band out on tour right now. That may change though as it's only a financial question to why we can't go out.
Also among your credits is some work for an Idol type program Fame Factory. What is your take on this kind of musical platform for artists/singers to launch themselves via?
Some of it is for the artist good but most of these programs just kill people's careers. I would anyway say to people to stay away from this kind of programs or private life consuming shows. You get very little out of it and there is very little respect from the REAL musicians out there. Most people I know who have used this kinds of shows as a steeping stone to get somewhere have only failed and still are doing zero or playing Sweet home Alabama to get food on the table. The question is do you really want your 15 minutes of fame to be like this? I think not, but still there are jug heads out there thinking not
Anything else that you would like to plug Daniel and/or anything you would like to add?
We have another Mind's Eye release coming out next year. During the last couple of months we have been writing the last songs and we have now 13 songs for a new album and we can only promise you that it's going to be something very different. Maybe something that has never been done in the melodic rock or progressive rock community before. Something for everyone!
The story is about an assassin, the people who he murdered and why he did it. But that's not all! We will also add a DVD with the recordings in the studio The making of so to speak, a video of one song and one thing more, that will stay a secret until the release date. In time we will let all you guys know what we are up to.
I am awe fully exited about this release and I have started to get new equipment to my studio to get the production where I want, top notch! I am arming my self to the teeth.
Also, check out some of my performances in the some new releases with: Fatal Force, Moonstone, Deacon Street, Hubi Meisel, Wasai, Speedy Gonzales, Marko Pavic, Tears of Anger and of course Mind's Eye. Please check out our website for further news: www.roundrec.com and www.danielflores.net
It's been a pleasure talking to you Andrew. Many thanks from me and the band for being able to have us here in the great melodicrock.com!