The Swedish band return with a fifth album and a new sound that has so far provoked some fiery reactions...
early on h.e.a.t were fêted as melodic rock’s great white hopes. Serving to enhance the extremes of the band’s sound, the addition of Swedish Idol winner Erik Grönwall changed all that. As the Stockholm-based quintet release their fifth album, Into The Great Unknown, Grönwall reveals why they are unfazed by the internet shitstorm caused by its poppier sound.
H.e.a.t disappeared for two years to make this album, which was a big risk considering the way the band’s career was taking off – even in the UK. It was a scary decision but we needed some perspective. Had we just made the record in between touring, [the music] wouldn’t have matured anywhere near the way it did.
Its first single, Time On Our Side, has really set the cat among the pigeons. One fan dismissed it as “disco-synth”. Is that a fair description?
[Laughing] Yeah, absolutely. And we totally expected those strong reactions but we’ve always written the songs that we feel are right for H.e.a.t. We also write according to our inf luences and those have changed a bit. It took me ten spins to understand this album, so for fans it will take even longer.
Can you swear that making this record was about pure artistic growth, or were managers and label staff saying the band should break into a new, younger market?
It was nothing like that. It turned out the way it did because we spent some time apart and got into other types of music. For instance, Jimmy [Jay, bassist] has got into bands like Muse and Imagine Dragons.
It would have been more sensible to return with a traditionally H.e.a.t-sounding song like Bastard Of Society or Eye Of The Storm.
Yeah it would, but the way we look at things, nobody remembers a coward.
On the Facebook page you’ve almost stoked those fires. It’s like you’re enjoying the controversy.
Well, in a way we do. One of the things that I like most about social media is that the fans can speak their mind, and we get to answer them directly.
What about the fan who said: “It’s a shit song, but
I still love H.e.at. Hopefully this will be your Kiss Dynasty moment”?
I saw that [laughs]. But we’re really not offended. I believe that when people hear the whole album they’ll understand.
Circa the previous album, you said to Classic Rock that next time around: “We want to make the sound even broader; the pop bits poppier and the heavy bits even more colossal.”
That’s exactly what we’ve done. We knew the band had to change; that’s inevitable.
H.e.a.t have been hailed as the figureheads of a genre that some felt was on its last legs. Is that why you had to get out?
If you were to psychoanalyse me, that might have something to do with it but I have nothing against AOR, I’d rather people think that we play rock’n’roll.
How did the down-time affect your dreams of rock stardom?
We are hungrier than ever and cannot wait to begin touring again. This band is even more dedicated than ever. DL
“I’ve nothing against AOR, I’d rather people think we play rock’n’roll.”
Into The Great Unknown is out now via earMUSIC.