Before the release of their sophomore album, Tundra, I had the opportunity to talk with Mike Andersson, Tungsten’s vocalist and frontman.
Hello and first of all thanks for your time. Would you mind introducing yourself and the band please?
Mike Andersson (vocals): Hello. The pleasure is all mine. My name is Mike Andersson and I am the leadsinger in Tungsten. On guitar we have Nick Johansson and on bass & screams we have Karl Johansson. On drums we have a living legend, Mr Anders Johansson (ex-Yngwie J. Malmsteens Rising Force, ex-Hammerfall). Anders is also Nick & Karls dad. Together we are Tungsten.
Tungsten is about to release Tundra, its third album (if we also consider Strokkur’s release), how do you feel about it?
Mike: To begin with we wouldn’t consider Strokkur at all because, that was kind of a test before becoming Tungsten. The Strokkur album that was released digitally does not exist anymore so, we prefer to say that Tundra is the second Tungsten album. However, we are feeling really great and excited about the new album. It follows the aftermath of our debut album (We Will Rise) but, takes things even further musically. I will not say the typical thing that “the new album is the best we’ve done” but, I will say that if you liked the We Will Rise album, then you will not be disappointed, hehehe.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the band, how was it to join a “family band”?
Mike: Well, me and Anders go many years back as friends and band colleagues. Back in 2006 we worked together for the first time on an all star album called Planet Alliance. 2 of the songs on that album were written by legendary Bob Daisley (ex-Rainbow, ex-Gary Moore). I had the honor to rearrange his songs a little and record vocals and Anders played the drums on those 2 songs. A few years later we formed Fullforce who released 2 albums (One, 2011 and Next Level in 2012). We also did some touring with Edguy for example. However, in 2016 Anders called me up and asked if I was interested in joining his new band that he had formed with his sons, Nick & Karl. I was of course very honored to be considered for this task fronting this band, so I just asked if I could listen to a song or 2. I listened to demos and I was floored… called Anders back up and told him, I’m in! You might think it’s a family atmosphere in the band but, to me I feel like it’s a normal working band. We are really looking after each other and always have great fun when we’re together but, it’s more of a band and friendship feel rather than “me and the Johanssons”, hehehe.
What led the band to change its name? What does it mean now?
Mike: Like I said, Strokkur was a test we did to check the industry and general interest. When we signed for Arising Empire Records we decided to change band name to Tungsten and let Strokkur disappear from streaming platforms and such. Tungsten is a metal, the hardest there is with the highest burning point. It’s used in lightbulbs for example. We wanted a unique but, Nordic sound band name so, together with our record label we decided to name the band Tungsten.
What is the story behind Tundra ? How does the composition process happen?
Mike: Most of the music is written by Karl and Nick. They come up with the demos and basic ideas and also some vocal melody ideas. From there on we work together and each member put their own flavor to the songs and we rehearse it. Most of the lyrics are written by me. The story in the song Tundra is about Volfram. Volfram is the dude on our album covers who have become our mascot. He is a traveler, a keeper of balance in time, in different dimensions and galaxies. He is feared by some but an angel to others. On the We Will Rise album he was in a fairytale-like ancient world with fairies, wizards and knights preventing the biggest battle of ancient times. On Tundra he has travelled to the future and is preparing for a new war. He and his followers are fighting for their lives passing through an icy cold tundra (Tundra is a climate related phenomenon) and ends up in a future city in ruins. The rest is up for the listeners’ imaginations. But, Volfram will follow Tungsten on future albums as well. Each album has a short story written about him in the artwork (booklet/inlay).
On every song from Tundra , the common point is the energy you spread on vocals. Do you have some special training? Do you remember the first time you tried to sing?
Mike: Hehehe, inspiration is what drives me. That’s always what’s been driving me. I want the listener to be convinced when I sing. I have no special training actually, self-taught. The first time I sang and the situation that made me realize I had the ability to sing I guess I was like 4 years old.
The band’s style is focusing on Heavy/Power Metal meeting Modern influences. What do you like in this combination?
Mike: I love it all. Our music represents the whole band’s musical background and that is what I think makes us unique. We go from Power Metal to more Modern Metal with melodic and industrial touches. That is what Tungsten is.
Which band was your first Metal band? Which ones are your inspirations now?
Mike: The first official band that released albums was Cloudscape for me. But, of course I was in a bunch of local bands the years before Cloudscape. The first band I sang and also played guitar was called Zaninez – We were in our early teens and the drummer was none less than my childhood friend Peter Wildoer who is known for being the drummer on 2 of James LaBrie’s solo albums. Plus Peter Wildoer ended up on Dream Theater’s top three when they auditioned a replacement for Mike Portnoy. Inspiration for us is mainly life in general, experiences and stuff. We don’t have true band influences but, bands we listen to personally are bands like Rammstein, Meshuggah, Bee Gees, Whitesnake, Helloween, Deep Purple, Rush, Sabaton, Uli Jon Roth etc etc.
Do you think the band improves with time? Why?
Mike: Absolutely. We learn to know each other better and better in time, we explore more, laborate more etc. So, absolutely we improve. If we don’t then I think it’s time to quit.
You released a video for King of Shadows and Life And The Ocean. Could you please explain us why you chose those songs?
Mike: The song King of Shadows was actually chosen by our record label. They believed that King of Shadows was the best song to introduce the new upcoming album to the listener. The 2nd song Life And The Ocean was chosen by us. We wanted to show something new style wise that wasn’t on our previous album (We Will Rise) for example. Show a broader musical area to our fans and listeners.
As the vocalist and frontman of the band, what do you do to keep your voice healthy for the shows?
Mike: Water, water, water, waaaaaaater 😉
As talking about shows, what can we expect about Tungsten on stage?
Mike: We are confirmed for Sabaton Open Air in Falun, Sweden in August 2021 so, if Corona is gone by then and a working vaccine exists then we will perform at that festival. Our German booking agency who handles tours in Europe is also preparing for possible tours during the second half of 2021. But, as you know, the final say is the Corona. Lets seriously hope Corona is extinct by then.
I know that Covid-19 fucked up a lot of things, but how did you deal with the crisis? How did you deal with it personally?
Mike: Taking responsibility, keeping away from people we don’t regularly meet, keeping our hands clean…using common sense and obeying the restrictions and recommendations from the experts.
Except music, what are your hobbies in life? Does it change something in your life when you became a professional musician?
Mike: I love being with my wife and family, travel locally and domestically, watching movies, play boardgames, I like soccer, hanging out with friends, testing different beers considering I am a beer snob. By the way, a Tungsten beer called TUNDRA IPL will be properly released in Sweden on January 4, 2021 brewed by Heavy MetAle brewery. IPL stands for India Pale Lager. That is a cool thing. The label have the cover of Tundra except for, Volframs axe is changed to the Swedish flag instead. At the moment we don’t know if it will be possible to release the beer outside of Sweden but, people are looking at it.
What would be your dream job if it wasn’t musician?
Mike: I don’t know to be honest. I do drive a delivery car when I’m not on tour or working on a new album and I do think that job is decently nice. But, being in Tungsten is my dream job anyway.
What was the very first Metal song you ever heard? Which one was the song that made you think “I want to create a band and play on stage”?
Mike: The song that made me decide to become a singer for real was Don’t Break My Heart Again by Whitesnake (Come ‘an Get It album 1981). That song and David Coverdale’s vocals had a huge impact on me! But, the first real metal song I heard was Heavy Metal Daze by Manowar around 1983 I think. Nonetheless I never became a big fan of Manowar but, that song has a true place in my heart when it comes to experiencing a true Heavy Metal song for the first time in my life.
What if I ask you to compare Tungsten ’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Mike: Swedish meatball with cream sauce and potatoes! Damn, tasty, straight forward food with sweet lingonberry jam. So simple but, still so diverse without being too complicated;).
What is your best and your worst musician experience ever?
Mike: One of my best experiences was actually the latest show we did with Tungsten in a mini festival in August which was following the Covid-19 restrictions. Small crowd, broadcasted on the internet etc. It was such a cool show in a sad time with Corona just like it still is.
My worst experience was when I was performing at Bloodstock Open Air in England when I was clapping along with the crowd on the left side….I walked over to the right side to clap along with the crowd there as well but, I forgot to bring the microphone stand with I left on the left side. So, when the verse of the song began I had to run back to get the mic on the left side. It was on the biggest stage so, it took a few seconds running from right to left hahahahahahahaha!!!!! Funny moment but, also annoying hahahaha.
Which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Tungsten and three other bands!
Mike: Rammstein….Sabaton…. Helloween.
That was the last question for me, a huge thank you for your time, last words are yours!
Mike: Thank you for talking to me, I had a great time. To the readers I humbly recommend you to check out the new Tungsten album entitled Tundra which will be released later in November. If you haven’t heard about Tungsten at all then please go and listen to our debut album entitled We Will Rise which was released in September 2019. Thank you for the time and STAY METAL!! Cheers.