Two - 1997 - Century Media
Fall From Grace - 1999 - Avex
Entrance - 2001 - Massacre
Emotional Coma - 2007 - AFM
Dark Hours - 2009 - Blistering
S= Candlemass>>Thomas Vikström - Sorcerer>>Andy Engberg - Swedish Erotica>>Tony Niva>>Solo - Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, Civil War>>NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON>>Astral Doors, Wuthering Heights, Civil War
G= Cosmic Sphere, Road To Ruin, Audiovision>>LARS 'CHRISS' CHRISTMANSSON>>Cosmic Sphere, Road To Ruin, Audiovision
B= Glory>>Andy Loos - Pontus Egberg>>Dark Illusion, Tainted Nation, The Poodles, Zan Clan, Section A, Hammerfall, King Diamond - Crawley, Glenn Hughes, Road To Ruin>>Sampo Axelsson>>Road To Ruin
D= Talk Of The Town, KYSS>>Johan Kohleberg>>KYSS
K= KYSS>>Kay Backlund>>KYSS
Sweden’s hard rock band Lion’s Share was formed in 1987 by guitarist Lars Chriss and keyboardist Kay Backlund. The group featured singer Markus Nordenberg. Following a single called Ghost Town Queen Chriss rebuilt the band (following a pause between 1991 and 1993) with notable musicians like former Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vikström. With vocalist Engberg onboard, the band issued its first album through Japan’s Zero label. More line-up changes followed. The band next signed with Century Media. Two was supported through touring with Iced Earth and Nevermore. More shows with Saxon followed. The band was dropped by Century Media due to the label’s financial problems. A new singer, Tony Niva, was introduced next. Lion’s Share was put on hold in 1991 because Chris was burnt out. A more '70s style was put to practice with the Road To Ruin side-project.
With the turn of the century, Chriss would also join a band called Cosmic Sphere. Chriss would soon back out. Emotional Coma followed several more line-up changes and a signature to AFM Records. This followed a six-year hiatus for the act. The band would also have two songs, Soultaker and The Edge Of The Razor, on the Magic Circle Festival 2007 double-DVD. Blistering Records was issuing the group’s Dark Hours in March of 2009. Dark Hours was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Symphony X, Paradise Lost and Amon Amarth), and featured guest slots by Mike Romeo (Symphony X) and Conny Pettersson (Anata). The band signed a Japanese deal with King Records for the release of its sixth full-length album, Dark Hours, which was issued elsewhere through Blistering Records. An invitation for the band to tour Europe with Iced Earth and Saxon was regretfully declined to a lack of lead-time, merchandise and general readiness. Lars Chriss and Sampo Axelsson, in cooperation with Sidelake Media and Christian Rehn (Angtoria), written the official intro song for the Swedish ice hockey team Timr’ Ik ('Red Eagles'). "The main riff was based on the song Shadows from Lion’s Share’s Two (1997) album, with an AC/DC and Rammstein twist since this style works so well in hockey arenas." Sweden’s Lion’s Share would perform 2-3 songs with drummer Vinny Appice (Heaven & Hell, Black Sabbath, Dio, etc.), during his Scandinavian Drum Day appearance on October 30th, 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. Chriss produced Imperia’s Legacy Of Life in 2012.
Following the departure/firing of Hal Patino in July 2014 King Diamond recruited Swedish bassist Pontus Egberg for the group’s next concerts. The new band played its debut live show in Stockholm in July. Patino and Diamond had been accusing one another of lying and whether the bassist departed or left after disagreements over the man’s salary.
LION’S SHARE - DARK HOURS - BLISTERING
For a band that has been around - on and off - for twenty-two years Sweden’s Lion’s Share has not exactly won, er, the lion’s share of publicity and sales success on the metal scene. Whether that would change or not and what the future holds rests largely upon the shoulders of Dark Hours, the band’s latest album. The band has spent time on record labels like AFM, Century Media and Massacre and it is now up to the fledgling Blistering Records to try its hand at its in-family band. For starters, the band is getting a modicum of promotion something which Lion’s Share might be enjoying for a change. Ali “The Metallian” chatted with guitarist Lars “Chriss” Charistmasson via a cross-Atlantic telephone line and in the course of the interview covered the album, the band, the company and the music industry. - 19.04.2009
METALLIAN: Lars, a good place to start is the album’s disposition perhaps. Your latest album, Dark Hours, has landed more on the side of hardness than emphasizing melodies, which has been a fault in metal circles in recent past. What was the band’s angle with the new album?
LARS: It was a natural progression for our last album, Emotional Coma. We maintained the same line-up and we picked up where we had left off with Emotional Coma. We had played several shows and having seen the audience’s reactions we decided to have a couple of more up-tempo songs and be more direct with the melodies. Three or four of the songs on Dark Hours were written for, or around the time of, Emotional Coma so to us it is a sister album to its predecessor. It is like Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules or Holy Diver and The Last In Line by Dio. We tried a different engineer for this album. We used Jens Borgen who had worked with Opeth, Amon Amarth and the last Symphony X album. He wanted to use triggered drums, which was a first time for us. That is the biggest difference in the production. The drums are more in your face. Otherwise, for us, there is not a big change. People seem to be more excited about Dark Hours though.
It is the Album Of The Month in many European zines and it is in the Top 30 in the American metal radio charts. The reactions are very good. We feel that people who like this album should like Emotional Coma too.
METALLIAN: Having said that, the album is heavier than your earlier output.
LARS: The up-tempo songs were done on purpose. People like songs like Soultaker, Clones Of Fate and The Arsonist so we decided to have a couple more of those. We wanted to be more direct because many said they liked the last album, but it took them a couple of listens to get into it. We asked ourselves 'what can we do to make people like Dark Hours right away?' Sometimes you only get one chance. There are so many releases out there and if people here a sample we wanted to get them.
METALLIAN: Who exactly is the band when you refer to the 'we' in the band? Is there a drummer in Lion’s Share?
LARS: Yeah, we are a trio. It is Nils Patrik Johansson on vocals, Sampo Axelsson on bass and myself on guitars. We made a decision to be a trio before Emotional Coma. Our drummer, Richard Evensand, was moving to Australia to get married and we didn’t want to send files remotely. We wanted somebody in the studio. So we hired another guy, Conny Pettersson, from Anata. Richard can be heard on the song King Of All The Kings, which is a bonus track for Japan and for the European digipack because it is a leftover song from Emotional Coma. We like the freedom of being a trio. All three of us were born three months apart and we have a lot in common. We have the same childhood memories from TV and from work and have a great chemistry. We don’t want to mess with that. Our demos are recorded with a drum machine so we can use different drummers on different occasions also depending on the song. We played our demos this time for Jens and he suggested Conny Pettersson who plays in a death metal band called Anata. Conny is a nice guy. He recorded the drums in his hometown over a couple of weeks. He wants to tour with us but he lives like six or seven hours away. We have a guy in Stockholm who also did all the Emotional Coma shows with us. His name is Stefan Norgren and he is in Faceshift. We also get along and it is easy to rehearse. We are all in Stockholm except Patrik who is in a city called Börlange. He rehearses on his own, but it is harder with a drummer or with someone who plays an instrument.
METALLIAN: Is everyone a full-time member in the trio otherwise and shares equally as opposed to being a hired hand?
LARS: Yes, we are all full-time members. We all collaborate on the music and we all get the same share on whatever money that comes in.
METALLIAN: Lars, let’s talk about the theme of the album - should there be one.
LARS: Yeah, all the lyrics are about historical events from the late '60s. Patrik got the idea after reading a book about Charles Manson. He started to write songs about him like The Bottomless Pit, Barker Ranch and Phantom Rider. Then he started to write about other events that happened in 1968, like The Presidio 27, which is about the Presidio riots in San Francisco, and he ran out of content and started covering ’69 and ’67. Napalm Nights and Full Metal Jacket are about the Vietnam War and Behind The Curtain is about the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. It is about a guy questioning it. Space Scam is about the opinion that Americans never landed on the moon. I personally think they absolutely did of course. Those are the themes lyric-wise.
METALLIAN: Is there a theme or a collection of stories?
LARS: It is just a collection of events. He read a little and wrote the songs. They are not connected. For some reason he decided to draw inspiration from that stuff and the darker events of that period rather than the Flower Power stuff. It is better for the type of music that we play.
METALLIAN: What do you personally think of the '60s?
LARS: It is an important decade and lots of stuff happened, but we are not a religious or political band so those to me are just song titles and lyrics. Personally, I have never been interested in lyrics. To me they are just words to put on the vocal melodies and on the music that has to be there. It’s not like we are trying to say anything. We don’t stand for anything particular either. We are here to entertain.
METALLIAN: From lyrics to the guitar and the best example of what I want to ask is the album’s opener, Judas Must Die. Can I assume that it is not about your wish to have Judas Priest call it a day first?
LARS: (Laughs) No, absolutely not. It is funny you are like the fifth or sixth person to say that. It never crossed our minds.
METALLIAN: Focusing on the guitar, one wonders why the lead guitars are so short.
LARS: I guess we write in a very pop format when it comes to structuring the songs like verse, bridge, chorus, solo and back to the verse again or directly to the chorus. It is something I am used to and don’t think about anymore. Obviously there could be longer solos, sure. I don’t want to bore people either. I try to keep the leads interesting with some shredding, some melodies and hopefully a lot of emotion. It’s a good point; perhaps there should be longer!
Thanks for the compliment. I do whatever I can with the amount of space we save for the guitar solo. When we write the songs there is a hole there more or less. Maybe if I put the solos in earlier in the recording process there would be more or longer ones. Right now, we add them at the very end of the recording.
METALLIAN: You and the band have been around over twenty years. How did you see the evolution or change in the metal scene?
LARS: Well, it depends how you see it. Yes, the band has been around since 1987 when I was a teenager. A couple of friends and I played a slightly different kind of music back then. We put out a single in 1988, but put the band on hold in 1991 when we split up. Then I restarted the band in 1995 when I moved to Stockholm from my hometown of Sundsvall. We thought people might know the name still so we kept the name in order to jumpstart the band, but it’s not really the same band. I like to see the start of this band as 1994 or 1995.
I am a little different from most people around me. They always look at the money, money this, money that. I never played for money. To me, it has always been about creating and recording songs. Even before recording an album, I have cassettes with my songs that I listen to trying to make them as good as possible. When we put out our first album in 1995 it was the worst decade for music. I like melody and well-performed stuff, but was what hip back then was Nirvana, grunge and hip-hop. In a way, I made that first album for myself. There wasn’t a lot of competition for the music we put out. It was the type of music I wanted to hear, but I couldn’t buy any albums in that style. I do listen to our own albums a lot. That is probably why I keep going. I make albums for myself.
METALLIAN: Most musicians would tell you that they never listen to their own music.
LARS: I do it all the time. I like my music.
METALLIAN: Going back to chatting about the industry and the metal music scene let’s talk about how the labels seem to be the cause of their own downfall. The way the industry treats its artists, press, radio and audience is ludicrous. As the co-owner and president of Blistering Records how do you see the situation?
LARS: Well, I got approached by the two investors who wanted to form a rock and metal label because I had been in the industry for a while, had worked with many labels and distributors and knew many promoters. From that experience I had a good vision of what was a good distributor and what was a bad one. I had this set-up in my head. Of course, when working with other labels for Lion’s Share I felt frustrated seeing the loss of control and what really went on. It was a great opportunity when they offered me a share in the company and a salary. I too need to pay my bills. They asked me to bring along my bands. Obviously, the royalty we are getting for Lion’s Share is unheard of in the industry. It made all the sense in the world for me to do it. Again obviously, it is tough times and right about when we put out our first album in the US an economic collapse happened. Yeah, it’s really tough. We have been going in the US since October and our first record just came out. We are giving it a try. We are proud of the product we put out. I don’t think the Lion’s Share album will sell any less had it come out on any other label. I have handpicked the people, handpicked the distributors and work with the best there is based on my experience. Of course, we need money, but I think even if the money runs out the set-up is so great - honestly - that a person with a lot of money or a bigger company should at least buy the set-up.
I hope it’s not true that labels don’t take care of their audience, the press or their artists. I hope that we are! I am a musician myself and I know how it is to be on the other side of the desk. I hope our artists think that we are real artist-friendly. We rely on distributors - we have ten or so in Europe - so we hope that they are treating their customers well. We cannot control that. What we can control directly is having a nice package and treating our artists well.
In the past, perhaps Lion’s Share was perhaps on a good label, but the people who worked there were into skate punk or whatever. This label is set up by me to handle Lion’s Share or Road To Ruin style of music. I don’t want to sign anything that... we have offers to sign progressive music, but we don’t want to do that. We have people who know how to sell and promote our type of music. It’s not so much about the label or the logo or the cover. It is about the people who work there. The whole business is set up based on relationships. Just because a label with a certain logo was great in 2002, it doesn’t mean they are good today. Perhaps the good staff went to work for another label!
METALLIAN: Lars we are running out of time. Let me ask you a couple of questions outside the realm of music in order to get your perspective on things. Should women be given driver’s licenses and be allowed to drive?
LARS: Yes, of course. In Sweden, we cannot drink and drive. We need the women so we can drink.
METALLIAN: Why is Metallian the very best website out there for metal?
LARS: Because you are working there...
Lars passes the test. Visit the band’s website at http://www.lionsshare.org/ and hear samples of the band’s music.
If you enjoyed this, read Pharaoh