interview with JJ Marsh
E-mail interview during November 2006 - January 2007
Q1: Could you tell me when you started playing instruments and reason why you picked up the instrument?
JJ: I was interested in music from an early age, I come from a musical family so there was always music around since I was a baby. I was always singing when I was really small. Then I started to play the flute at 6, at 8 I started to play the trumpet and when I was 11 the guitar. I kept playing the trumpet till I was 17...can't really remember the reason for pickin' up the trumpet, I guess I thought it was cool. When I discovered rock music me and my friends started miming to SLADE, SWEET and KISS, I got tired of miming and my dad bought me a guitar and an amplifier.
Q2: Your father runs a music school. Did you go to the music school and receive formal musical education? Or did you take some personal lessons in your house?
JJ: My dad tought me the basic guitar stuff like the pentatonic scale (blues scale). And then I had a trumpet teacher, and I was always picking up stuff from my dads musician friends and older buddys of mine.
Q3: Are there any musicians in your family beside you and your father?
JJ: Yes, my two sisters, one is a singer,piano player, and one is playing violin beside being a dancer. My mom likes to play records!!!
Q4: I heard your first rock music exposure was SWEET and Ace Frehley from KISS. Are there any other musical influence from other rock bands or even other music genre?
JJ: Yeah, around 14/15 I discovered bands like ZEPPELIN, PURPLE, SABBATH, LIZZY, VAN HALEN, RAINBOW etc.... you know all the great bands that everybody was listening to. Later I got into bands like YES, GENESIS, KING CRIMSON, Zappa, Kate Bush (just love her).
Q5: What made you decide to play with SPELLBOUND? How did you all put together the band?
JJ: Well SPELLBOUND was a band that Hans (Hasse froberg), Alf(Strandberg), Thompson and Ola(Strandberg) put togheter and after 6 months they asked me to join. Me and Alf and Ola had a band before called AGASIA...
Q6: When SPELLBOUND made its debut, you were a teenager. Do you think there are any advantages and disadvantages for you because you were young? Are there any special moment still you remember now?
JJ: I think it's great to start of when your young. Just be careful of drugs and dodgy managers. Cause you're pretty naive when you are a teenager, some people can't handle their succes and they get drawn in to a lot of bad stuff.
Q7: After "Rockin Reckless" was released, Alf Strandberg left the band. Until then, Hasse Froberg was writing the songs, but after Alf's departure it seemed that your guitar play became great part of songs. Did you start your contribution to the songs after Alf left the band?
JJ: Well, when Alf was in the band he and Hans wrote all the stuff except one track I wrote for "Rockin' Reckless". So Hans didn't write everything, Alf was just as important, I was the little kid then. When big Alf left the band I started to take my guitar playing and song writing more seriously and over a year I made a big progression.
Q8: SPELLBOUND was disbanded before 3rd album "Hidden Treasures". In '97, ROCK TREASURE released the album called "Spellbound". Was it actually the 3rd album itself or a collection of demos?
JJ: It was a collection of demos we done over a couple of years. We went through a phase of trying to decide what we should sound like. So it's a mix of different styles on that album. A lot of really good stuff I think!
Q9: SPELLBOUND is reunited a few times. You made a demo CD and it was distributed to some record companies. Hasse Froberg told me that MTM gave the band the offer but you seemed not satisfied with the deal. Later, InsideOut also offered the deal, but the album did not make it. From your point of view, what were the problems with releasing the album?
JJ: I don't understand why Hans said that, it's not true. MTM never offered us a deal, they's an AOR label so we didn't fit. InsideOut never offered us a deal neither, I think they had to many bands already! SPV was interested but they were certian aspects reagarding the music the weren't happy with.
(note: Hasse gave name of MTM in interview of Japanese TFK fanzine Vol.4, and InsideOut in vol 7.)
Q10: The demo CD contains 3 songs, and in 2002, you played those songs on the stages. What was the reaction from audience?
JJ: The respons was great, and I have to say that the songs are really good. That's how we feel anyway.
Q11: Do you have any specific plan for SPELLBOUND near future?
JJ: Well, who knows, we have like 10 songs or so. If everyone is up for it and have the time, we might record a new one. I think it could happen.
Q12: After the disbandment of SPELLBOUND, what kind of works did you do before Simon Steensland's "The Simon Lonesome Combat Ensemble" in '94? I heard that you were with STUDFARM. What kind of music did you play with STUDFARM? Tell me about its music and members you worked with.
JJ: In between SPELLBOUND and Steensland, I was in a VAN HALEN cover band and we also had an original band called STUDFARM (whacky name). Yes, there was different line ups with STUDFARM, Simon Steenlands was in one. The vocalist was Jan Hellman, we had a lot of different bassplayers, Mr Thompson from SPELLBOUND was one of them. The music was very influensed from bands like LIVING COLOR, RHCP, heavy blues / funk based music.
Q13: Next, we were going to ask you some questions about your activities with Glenn Hughes. But you left Glenn's band recently. At the Glenn's fan forum, many fans were thrown into the confusion for the very sudden announcement. We are very confused, too. Why did you leave the band? Was it the decision which you yourself made?
JJ: Well, it was a mutual decision. Sometimes when you've been working togheter as long as we have you need a break from each other. There's no love lost, it's just that I want to try my wings and he wants to go in a certain direction.
Q14: Going back to the early days with Glenn Hughes, please tell us the details that you joined Glenn's band. It was May 1995. When you attended your friend's wedding, you played some DEEP PURPLE numbers with Glenn Hughes. Which songs did you play with? How did you feel about playing with Glenn?
JJ: We played "Gettin' Tighter" and "Stormbringer", also during "Gettin' Tighter" I had rehearsed a jam from "California Jam" and a TRAPEZE song "Way Back to the Bone" that we included without telling him about as a surprise. And yeah he was surprised. I felt really happy and proud during that event, It felt like, "yeah this is the real shit" very cool!!!
Q15: Starting from Glenn's solo "Addiction", only you had the long relationship with Glenn for more ten years. Was there any special reason you can think of?
JJ:We have a really speciall chemistry, it was right there from day one.
Q16: Glenn's new album "Music for the Divine" is featured in reviews on the numbers of progressive rock sites and getting good reviews. During the process of making the album, what were you careful about? Tell me about what you like about the album?
JJ: Well, we were carefull about that this record should sound different from the others. That's why there is no "DEEP PURPLE" keyboards on it, and we wanted to explore more of the late 60's british sound but in a contemperary vision. I love the album just because of that and I think the songs are splendid...
Q17: Were there any memorable or strange occurrences while recording this new album?
JJ: Yeah, the day we wrote "This House". Which is about chads beautiful house in the Hollywood Hills were we recordid this album. It just happen, it wasn't planned.
Q18: Which is most favorite album that you made with Glenn?
JJ: "Music for the Divine"!!!!
Q19: Carl Swann, Glenn's Manager, posted his statement to Glenn's fan forum. He wrote "no doors are being closed and there is no loss of love between Glenn and JJ" there. Do you think that there is an opportunity to work with Glenn again someday?
JJ: Sure, who knows, like I said before there is no love lost it's just time to do something else for a minute.
Q20: You have played with some Simon Steensland works. When and how did you know him?
JJ: I have known Simon for most of my life. He's a bit older than me and he was the one that introduced me to progressive music.
Q21: You were credited as "assorted robot" on the song "At the Movies" from "Simon Steensland's Kamikaze United / Live Gang-Gang". What exactly did you do? Is it something to do with "Klonius" (a strange character that appeared on stage)?
JJ: Well, the old robot thing is when I get in a certain mode and makes really strange sounds on my guitar, it includes using the whammy bar and feedback and certian effects, we always have a laugh when I go into robot mode. It has nothing to do with Klonius although we might include him and the other Kloniusis in the future!!
Q22: In that live, there were also Morgan Agren from Mats/Morgan and Robert Elovsson. You have also played banjo for Mats/ Morgan's 1st album and Morgan used to be with Glenn's band. Do you still contact with Morgan and Elovsson?
JJ: Yes, I have some contact with Morgan but we don't get to see each other so much these days. I haven't seen Elovsson since we did "Live Gang-Gang"!
Q23: In '03, you played for Tomas Bodin's "Sonic Boulevard". Did you know him before? How was it happened?
JJ: I didn't know him before but I knew of him. There was a special mutual friend that brought us togheter, and we hit it of right away!
Q24: I'm surprised when I heard your guitar play from "I Am". It was different from what you played on "Sonic Boulevard". On "I Am" you were playing much harder and more heavy metallic guitar riff. When Tomas asked you playing guitar, how did he present? Did he give you complete demo or something? or there are more room for you play freely?
JJ: Tomas wanted a heavier sound on "I AM", so we worked out some SABBATH sounding riffs. He also had some PURPLE inspired riffs, I play totally free on the solos, their always improvised but we also always discuss all the stuff. He didn't give me a demo, I just went straight in and learned the stuff in the studio.
Q25: You are taking part in "You Are" of Tomas Bodin. I believe the recording will start soon. Did you have a chance to hear the materials such as demos? What do you think that "You Are" would be?
JJ: I'm really looking forward to start recording "You Are". Tomas has played me some stuff over the phone and it sounds fantastic. I think it's going to be a bit different but the thread will contiune, I know he's planning on using a new female vocalist.
Q26: Tomas and Hasse, who is your bandmate from SPELLBOUND, are now playing with THE FLOWER KINGS. Have you heard them? What do you think of them and their music?
JJ: I think that THE FLOWER KINGS are the best progressive band of the new generation. They're great, keeping the legacy up to date!
Q27: In this August, your first solo album "Music from Planet Marsh" is released from iTunes Music Store. It was a year ago when it was announced that you were going to release your solo album. First, the band name of "ALBATROSS" was used for the album and then it became your solo album. What happened during this process?
JJ: Well, it's been a lot of turns forth and back. At one point we decided that we should be a band and that's when the ALBATROSS thing came up, later we thought that it wasn't a great name for us. There had been bands in the history with that name and none of those bands never did any good, ha ha!! So we went back to the original concept. Now we decided that it will be a band and it will be called PLANET MARSH. I just got a deal with Cargo music so "Music from planet Marsh" is going to be released through out Europe. We are also trying to get other areas.
Q28: "Music from Planet Marsh" has the feeling of the 70's. Moreover, there are moments of complex rhythm change, some aspects from grunge and psychedelic music. It has variety of music feelings and influences. As a composer and guitarist, what did you try to accomplish with this album?
JJ: This album is just simply a mix of all my influences. Like I have said before I like all sorts of music. I wanted to make an album without any compromises, I always had to do that in the past, So it was time! And we are gonna continue this style cause everybody in the band are really happy with it loves playing this type of music.
Q29:When did you start song-writing for this album?
JJ: About 2 years ago. Also the song "Into the Light" was originaly written for SPELLBOUND during the reunion but I decied to use it on this album after rewriting it a bit.
Q30: It was surprising that you have good sense of vocal. Is it your first time to take lead vocal part? Did you have any plan to have the other vocalist for your solo album?
JJ: I have been the lead vocalist in a cover band called FROG. It was that band that played the night I jammed with Glenn the first time. Yes I was planning to use another singer even Glenn offered to sing and would of course have been great. But I really wanted to do it myself so I don't have to be depending in the future. I had something to prove, and I didn't want the record to sound like another Glenn album.
Q31: How did Tomas Bodin get involved in your solo album?
JJ: I had done "Sonic Boulevard" for him and we became friends. I love the stuff he's doing with all the great, cool retro sounds and all, he's also a great arranger.
Q32: You listen not only just hard rock music but also some deep progressive music such as MAGMA and GONG and other music stuff like Frank Zappa and Bjork. It seems quite selections that you listen. Are you also interested in making progressive music or some kind of avant garde music? Do you have any ideas for 2nd album?
JJ: We are gonna contiune with the style we have on this album. Sometimes I like to through in a touch of progressive flavour, if the song needs it. I don't want to restrict myself and I try to keep an open mind.
Q33: Tell me what kind of music do you listen often now. Are there any interesting bands?
JJ: I really dig the band WOLFMOTHER, and I've been listening a lot to my other drummer Sebastian Sippolas band PLANKTON. They are the best Swedish band ever!! check it out!! Also there's been a lot of Jeff Buckley, the biggest genius in 20 years. Jeff Buckley is the king of it all! I can't even beginne to express the genius of that man, the soul, the spirit, the body of Jeff is something this world have lost and it's never to be found again! he was a true original!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Q34: In Japanese progressive rock fans nowadays, Uppsala is famous for KAIPA and SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA Hometown. Also it is THE FLOWER KINGS hometown. Kejll Haraldsson who is a tour keyboard for Glenn played DREAMLINE, band from Uppsala. Uppsala is known as a college town, but is there any music scene in Uppsala?
JJ: Well, you answered your own question by naming all the great Uppsala bands. Yes there is a very good music scene in Uppsala.
Q35: Do you still live in Sweden ? Do you have any plan to live in UK or US like Glenn does in order to push your career?
JJ: Yes, I still live in Sweden and I don't think I need to move to push my carrier. The world is online these days.
Q36: Just to finish off, what's on the horizon ?
JJ: Well, we're starting rehearsels soon and setting up PLANET MARSH shows in Sweden. I'm writing on new material and the album is coming out around Europe. We'll take it from there!
Q: Thank you very much!!
all copyrights World of Adventures Japan 2007