MAD HATTER - SWEDEN

Mad Hatter – 2018 – Art Gates


  
 
Members

S= Morning Dwell>>PETTER HJERPE>>Morning Dwell
G= Torch, Infinity, Dreamland, Ancient Dreams, Rusty Souls>>ERIC RAUTI>>Dreamland, Ancient Dreams, Rusty Souls
B= MAGNUS SKOOG
D= ReinXeed, Golden Resurrection, Hellspray, Morning Dwell>>ALFRED FRIDHAGEN>>ReinXeed, Golden Resurrection, Hellspray, Morning Dwell



History

This Sweden-based power metal band was founded in 2017 and by 2018 had an album out through Art Gates Records. The group was founded by Hjerpe and Fridhagen of Morning Dwell after songs written for their other band were not immediately recorded.

The band’s monicker and imagery related to the Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, but the group reserved the right to access other influences.

Reviews

MAD HATTER – Same – ART GATE  
It may be truly Satanic for a band’s opening statement to welcome its friends to hell, but this act has a literature or two in mind and going somewhere with this. The Mad Hatter begins with a teakettle and the sound of boiling water, but the promise of relaxation and tranquility is fleeting as the band kicks into a prompt explosion of power metal that ends no less than 57 minutes later. That the Sweden-based foursome is influenced by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland is obvious given the monicker, album name, lyrics and imagery. What could be added, however, is that the young band has an impressive and powerful album on its hands that delivers on power, metal and imagination. It must be said, however, that as fine as all these elements and the musicianship and sound are the group is obviously coasting on the Kiske-era Helloween and Freedom Call pixie dust.
As an overarching statement Mad Hatter benefits from a solid rhythm section, soaring melodies and a singer who has his act and range together. This sub-genre of metal is nearly always a love-it-or-hate-it proposition for heavy metal fans and even this writer prominently hates the betrayal and wimpiness that is keyboards. Fortunately for us metal fans, this band is from Sweden, which means a full-time keyboardist has been avoided and the offending church-themed instrument been assigned to the background and lesser countries like Finland and Romania or wherever.
Track-wise there is much to say. Mad Hatter Shine goes on for over eight minutes, but feels more like four in length. The vocals can hit the higher end, but have a full range and control. The rhythm guitar is solid. The Gunslinger may be the band’s best and proof that Petter Hjerpe has hell of a voice. The song is catchy and has a crazy drum fill. This is key because the drummer is not always inventive or varied. The sound of the drums is spot-on though. If Dancing Light proves anything it is that the guitarist can lick a solo quite well and yet chooses not to. The man is holding back and truncating his ability. Why? Incidentally, the higher end of the record’s production is flat. Fly Away has the soloing and vocals go Painkiller on the listener. Listen for a transition straight out of Walls Of Jericho at the 31, 51, 1:41-second marks. The drums have a military feel, the vocals are pompous and chanting and the solos are a shot in the arm. Track four asked us to Fly Away and the following song still simply insists that we Go. There is a musical change of tone here and the track is without doubt sing-along. The track is backfilled by synthesizers instead of more rhythm guitars and bass. The guitar tone changes mid-song right after the cool lead and throws the listener for a loop. Phantom Riders has Petter Hjerpe really exercise his pipes. The song adds a few flourishes including a salon-ish piano bar or two. Face The Truth is the weaker track in that the melody is obvious and the drums simply rattle and follow the rest of the band. Mad Hatter Become is ridden with synthesizers, but compensates with powerful vocals and a worthy guitar solo. The final song is Death Angel Sings, which is designated a bonus. This may be because the narrative does not fit the other tracks thematically.
It is always whimsical when a metal band sings of offering someone a drink but it is especially so when the beverage is "a cup of tea." With that said, Mad Hatter and AGR have an impressive work on their hands. It would be interesting to see if the members’ others bands can compete for attention and how much of an emphasis the musicians and label place on making this whole thing the full-time affair it deserves to be. – Ali “The Metallian”




Interviews

Love it or hate it the European power metal scene that was exploding with quantity and quality some fifteen years ago has fallen on hard times. While that sub-genre is a mere shadow of its former self exciting bands still exist. Proof? Sweden-based Mad Hatter whose debut and eponymous album through Art Gates Records was Metallian’s Album Of The Month. Singer Petter Hjerpe, who was involved with the album alongside guitarist Eric Rauti, lead player Rob Marcello, bassist Magnus Skoog and drummer Alfred Fridhagen, called into Metallian Towers to speak to Ali “The Metallian” – 03.04.2018

METALLIAN: We have to start with the band's short history. How did the act come together and when was it founded? How did the band obtain a record contract in such a short time and, if it is correct, that there was no demo?
PETTER: No problem! Alfred and I first played together in Morning Dwell. We released our second album in late 2016. I had already written new songs that were finished in early 2017, but the other guys in Morning Dwell didn’t want to record a third album so close to its predecessor’s release. Another thing was that the new songs had a little bit of a different approach compared to the older ones. Morning Dwell was speedier and had a kind of a ‘tribute to old power metal’ feel. Alfred and I felt that the new songs had good potential and wanted to record something more professional. We then contacted Ronny Milianowicz and asked if he wanted to work with us as a producer and mixer. It then all happened quickly. We started recording in the spring and summer of 2017 and it was all finished in late summer. The album was completed before we had a deal.
We announced that Alfred and I had a new project in progress on Morning Dwell’s Facebook page. We did not have a name for the band at that point. Then Art Gates Records wanted to listen to our new project since they knew about Morning Dwell… I think! They liked what they heard and we made a world-wide deal with them. We needed a line-up for live shows. We asked a couple of friends to join the band after we recorded the album. They said ‘Yes’.

METALLIAN: Does this suggest that Morning Dwell has come to an end?
PETTER: Not really. We have decided to keep Morning Dwell as a studio band however. We may do a few gigs, but from now on we will release music when we feel like it with Morning Dwell. No pressure. Mad Hatter will be priority one.

METALLIAN: It is obvious that the debut is a concept album. Could you elaborate on this and your interest in Lewis Carroll?
PETTER: Mad Hatter is not just only inspired by Carrol’s world. It’s also inspired by dark fairy tales. Think a mix between Tim Burton’s vision and a bit like... If you think of what happens when a funhouse goes evil. You know, a bit nightmare-ish. So Mad Hatter is more a good name that makes you think of that crazy world.
The concept you mentioned is just used in two songs. Mad Hatter Shine and Mad Hatter Become, but I like that theme so there will be more songs inspired by this in the future.

METALLIAN: I am not sure I believe you. Metallian’s investigative bureau examined each member’s private purchase history and noticed how each of you has made multiple purchases of this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074113.
PETTER: (Laughingly) there you have the theme for our next album!

METALLIAN: More than the debut record, it seems that the band has hung its hat on Alice In Wonderland. The band's very monicker suggests this. Is that something you deliberated on?
PETTER: As I said, it’s not just Alice In Wonderland as a focus. It includes all kinds of nightmares. Think of stories for children, which are creepier than they should be. So Alice In Wonderland will not be a focus all the time, but that dark kind of fairy-tale will be.

METALLIAN: How much interest does the band have in Carroll and literature in general? Is this across the entire membership or a particular member?
PETTER: I think I am the only one who reads a lot in the band. Alfred reads comics. To be honest I have only read the ‘Wonderland’ books of Carroll. I read a lot of Sci-fi, fantasy and Stephen King however. I also like video games and get some inspiration from them.

METALLIAN: Let's talk about a few specific songs. The Gunslinger may be a personal favourite. Could you talk about it?
PETTER: Our bass player wrote the leading theme of that song before he even became a member of the band. I asked him if I could use it and write a song out of it. I just wrote a very simple song from there. We changed small details in the studio. The Gunslinger did not have lyrics written on the demo so I just sang some random words to get the melody right. As I said, I read a lot of Stephen King and love the Dark Tower series. So I wrote lyrics based on the first book The Gunslinger.

METALLIAN: Why does Dancing Light fade out like a pop song? Is the chanting deliberately pop-ish like modern music or whatever?
PETTER: Good Thought! Actually that song first was an ‘80s’ inspired pop song I wrote. I played around with some ‘80s’ inspired sounds at home and came up with Dancing Light. It was instrumental at first. Then I felt that it would be cool to add some guitars. It all ended up being a metal song. We did that fade at the end so we get the original sound it had at first before it became a metal song. Your thought of modern music taking over was really good. I will use that answer next time.

METALLIAN: What are the opening effects on Phantom Riders?
PETTER: It’s a falcon, then a bull whip and a horse. That song is about phantom riders in a ghost town-ish area. It is a western-themed song.

METALLIAN: Mad Hatter Become what?
PETTER: It’s a play on words. If you read it backwards it says ‘Become Mad Hatter.’ In the song I sing “become what I enjoy”. I wrote two Mad Hatter songs for the album and meant to name the songs like Blind Guardian did with The Bard’s Song - In The forest and The Bard’s Song - The Hobbit. So you could also call the songs Mad Hatter: Shine and Mad Hatter: Become.

METALLIAN: One thing that was remarkable about the album was how good the solos are, how capable the lead guitarist is, yet how few of them there were and how short the existing were kept. Could you tell our readers why you made such a decision?
PETTER: The solos are incredible! They are played by Rob Marcello. Ronny knew him and told us that the songs we have written are so good that we needed solos that could match the quality of the songs. So Rob became our guest and did those great solos in just one day! Why we have short solos is because I wanted the solos to be really good instead of too long. If you have too many solos, even well-played ones, they become boring. Another reason is that when I wrote the songs I meant to play the solos myself. I am not such a good guitar player as Rob so if I played the solos they needed to be short so I could write good solos instead of just playing up and down in scales.

METALLIAN: Is Rob’s involvement with the band over then?
PETTER: He said he will do a few gigs with us if the time and place is right. He did not want us to make him a full-time member, however, since he plays in other bands as well. So I’m quite sure he will make a few guest appearances in the future as well.

METALLIAN: This explains why Rob’s surname is not Swedish. Everyone knows that each Swede insists on being and is in twelve bands simultaneously. Regardless, is the band a quartet or a duo with a revolving membership?
PETTER: Kind of both. Alfred and I are the leaders of the band and Magnus and Eric are members, but firstly meant to play with us live.

METALLIAN: What makes Death Angel Sings a bonus track? Is it thematically unrelated to the other songs? Listening to the lyrics, is it about Donald Trump and his wacky international cousins?
PETTER: That song was an old Morning Dwell song and, as you say, it is not one hundred percent Mad Hatter. It is not really thematically in sync with what we meant to write about in Mad Hatter either.
Donald Trump fits into this song, yes, but it is a song that questions religion and how leaders around the world prioritize and use religion in their politics. We live in 2018 and we should use knowledge based on facts and common sense if it exists. We should not follow an old book that no one knows who has written; a book written by people who did not have scientific evidence and facts. Here in Sweden we are all grown-up to the point that religion is not important. So when we read about all this happening around the world we started to wonder ‘why?’ Religion should not rule a country or people. For us religion is something you could use at home. Believe in Saouron and Gandalf or believe in God, Thor or Sheva: It’s all the same. As long as no one gets hurt you could believe what you want, but do not follow a fairy-tale as a guide for living.

METALLIAN: Well put, Petter. As much as I enjoyed the album from start to finish two bands came to mind here and there. I want to get your comments on the two bands and thought on my comparisons. Those are Helloween and Freedom Call.
PETTER: When you play power metal you will always be compared to Helloween so I understand that. The darkish theme from the song Halloween is a big influence. Freedom Call was something I listened to back in the early 2000s so maybe some inspiration followed me here. Still, I think Freedom Call is much more ‘happy’ metal than ours. We are darker and heavier. I could understand the connection with the choirs and Freedom Call. There are several uplifting elements here and there. So your two bands make sense.

METALLIAN: Before closing, a question from our readers for you. Are those mushrooms edible?
PETTER: (Laughs) yeah. Take a bite and you will see the world through the Mad Hatter’s eyes!

METALLIAN: Petter thanks for your time and the answers. To finish could you tell the readers what is next for the band and any forthcoming plans?
PETTER: The closest thing at hand is making a music video. We will then start rehearsing. Later on we will try to figure out how to get out and play in the EU.

Mad Hatter’s debut album is out and available through Art Gates Records now. For more information please visit http://www.artgatesrecords.com/home/artists/mad-hatter/

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