This was going to be an interview filled with positive vibes and let us get to know more about Swedish symphonic metal band Eleine, about their past, present and future. I talked to the dynamic front duo, singer Madeleine Liljestam and singer/guitarrist Rikard Ekberg before they headed out on their biggest tour this far, a five week long European adventure supporting Myrath on the Magical Tour 2020. The tour started in Sofia, Bulgaria at the end of February, and the first few shows all worked out great… And then everything just quickly escalated all over the globe, audience limitations, restrictions, regulations, borders closing – and cancellations. Shows, festivals and tours are being cancelled everywhere and the situation is changing rapidly every day, every hour, every minute. It’s sad to read about it, and knowing how much time, hard work and shitloads of money they have spent just making it come true. And that applies to pretty much everything around us right now, not only the entire music industry.
And – stating the obvious – of course restrictions and quarantine are needed, and the well-being, safety and health of humans is first priority. We have to look out for each other, we need to protect one another. Stay healthy, stay safe – and wash your hands.
But it is still heartbreaking when you think about all the music and the musicians that bring us all so much love. So – please support them as much as you can during these tough times, to make sure they have the possibility to keep making music for us. Check if they are on Patreon and support them there, find their OFFICIAL merchandise shop and go crazy, buy the albums, stream their music on Spotify, just spread the word and help them any way you can. It may not be much of an effort for you personally, but for a struggling band it can really mean the world.
Anyway, this is still supposed to be an interview – not me going on and on about the situation…So, here we go!
Let’s start with a view back – every band has their own history, as in the how, when, where and why. So, what about Eleine?
I wanted to start some kind of symphonic metal band, I didn’t know in exactly what form, just that it had to be symphonic. There are so many different types out there, and a band like Nightwish, they do their thing and I absolutely love it, but hey, I am nooo opera singer… But I managed to sell the idea to a record label who believed in me and thought it sounded cool, even though I pretty much only had the name by then, laughs Madeleine.
Right, the name.
Well, yes – I was looking up all kinds of cool latin words that would make excellent band names, but then it just kind of hit me that I wanted this to be…you know, more accessible, more intimate and genuine. And then I saw my name on a paper and realized that I could just remove the ”Mad” and use Eleine, and that just felt so right. And the name was kind of all that I had when Rikard came into the picture about half a year later and wanted the same thing, to have a band, work with music, write songs and perform, to live and breathe this.
And then you found some other guys, but since they are no longer in the band, maybe they weren’t the right choices…
No, this just simply isn’t for everyone, not everyone is willing to make the efforts, the sacrifices and put in the amount of hard work that is needed to get anywhere. Some just don’t get how far you need to be willing to go, all the hours, all the blood, sweat and tears…, Madeleine starts and Rikard cuts in:
Personally, I have never been afraid to throw myself out there and try something new, I have quit jobs to go out and try something completely different, to move, to just go all the way and dive into stuff. It has never been about the money, but about listening to myself and get to do what I want to do. And that is what I have been doing all along, and that is also what gives me strength.
Madeleine nods her head and continues:
It’s kind of easy to think that this is exactly what I want to do, but when you’re in the middle of it…I mean, it’s okey to realize that this isn’t your thing, and that is fine. It’s like any kind of relationship – if you’re unhappy and not feeling good about it, then you’re also making everyone around you unhappy…and that is when it’s better to end the pain and get out of the situation. But I mean, it has still all worked out in the end, but I am not going to lie – it has been really, really hard at times… But that is when it’s also so important to keep our focus, and always remember that even with all this shit going on around us, what is the most important part of this? And that is what we have been holding on to all the way. And here we are now, at a point we wanted to reach when we first started the band. And even though we still have goals and want to reach further, it’s so beautiful and makes us feel humble about it all, all the love and everything…but there is soooo much really hard work behind it. We have truly worked our asses off to get here, and thinking about it – it could have ended up with nothing. There are so incredibly talented people out there that struggle so hard and never really get anywhere….so yes, I am extremely grateful.
Symphonic metal, btw…aren’t you ”supposed” to have a keyboard player then?
Haha, yeah – that is what we kind of thought in the beginning, and a bit of that thinking was just influenced by others. And the keyboard player who was in the band from early on, along the road he realized that he didn’t really feel good with the being on stage part, so we had a good talk and then he quit. That was the best for him and the best for us. I mean – if someone in the band isn’t happy, it just reflects on everyone in all kinds of ways. And you know, even though it is really hard work, it’s also about having fun…and if you’re not feeling well, then the most important thing is to take care of YOU instead of forcing yourself to be in these situations you are not comfortable with. And we decided to not have a keyboard player, but add another guitarist instead. And well, even though our other guitar player Ludwig has now left Eleine to focus on his family and other things, this is still the setup that feels the most Eleine, with two guitar players.
And you do have two guitarrists on tour.
Yes, we have Jay Matharu as a stand in. He is a long time friend, and was also with us on our tour in the UK in 2018, and on the Sabaton and Adrenaline cruises, so we are already so connected, so it feels good to have him onboard with us. Having two great guitar players really feels Eleine, that is how we want it to sound, it’s more old school and true, Madeleine says thoughtfully, before Rikard laughingly cuts in: “Yeah, you can be as good as you want, but if you’re not true, you can just go to hell, hahaha!” before they both elaborate:
Jokes aside…but it’s often that we come back to when we talk about what to do and how to do it – it needs to be true to who we are, to the essence of Eleine. I mean, we write music we ourselves like and don’t care about what’s trending now, because that is the only way for us. We can’t fake it and make an album just because it’s ”right in time”, we need to do what makes us feel good, to write music that has our heart and soul in it, because that is who we are. And if people like it, which they apparently do – well, that’s just amazing. We always listen to our instincts, our gut feeling, nowadays, because it has become obvious that it is the right thing to do… We haven’t always listened, but then it has turned out that it has been right like 99% of the time, so we have learned our lesson now and listen. That is actually what turns out the best in the end, and we want to be able to with a clear conscience tell our fans that THIS is us, this is Eleine – and what you see is what you get, this is real.
And nobody’s ego will stand in front. It doesn’t matter that I am in focus on stage or that Rikard has a microphone and sings and takes space. We are a band, a unity, and it’s all about what is best for Eleine, not anyone’s need for ego confirmation.
You have been on some interesting tours before, with Moonspell, Arch Enemy, W.A.S.P., your own UK tour and played Sweden Rock and Sabaton Open Air Festival…?
Haha, yes…when you think about it, we have done quite a lot even though we are still pretty much of a ”young band”, but Madeleine is just such an amazing force when it comes to that, she really makes things happen, says Rikard with obvious admiration in his voice.
It’s a lot about timing and connections…like with Moonspell – which is a band I have listened to and loved since I was a teenager. And I connected with the singer, Fernando Ribeiro, and he loved ”Break Take Live” that had just been released, and one thing lead to another and we were offered to joint them as support for their upcoming tour. It’s all about being open for opportunities, taking chances and making sure you’re professional and always give your best on stage- work hard and be disciplined and have faith in yourselves, but still staying humble – and connections will lead to new connections and that is what will keep you moving. And like Rikard always says – ”Nothing is served, everything is earned”, which is so true.
And here you are now, going out on a five-week tour opening up for Myrath.
Yes, it’s really great to be a part of this tour and getting to perform all over Europe again, also in countries we haven’t been in before, it’s amazing. We have really been looking forward to this! This is our longest tour yet, and it is a big deal for us…but it’s still like – Hey, this is what we live for, what we have worked for. And this is just the beginning.
You released an EP in November, ”All Shall Burn”…and it has been really well-recieved, with the video for the first single ”Enemies” now having almost 1.6 million views on Youtube. So, I guess there is a third album on the way?
It’s almost insane with all the positive feedback on the EP, we are thrilled and truly grateful. But yes, we are actually working on the album during this tour, writing lyrics and such – and then finish the recordings when we are back home. So yes, there is a third album on the way, stay tuned!
One last note, just added, from Madeleine:
Even though half of the tour was cut off, Eleine promises to do absolutely all we can to be able to perform in the cancelled cities, as soon as it’s possible. We love touring, being on stage and meeting our fans, and can’t wait to get back out there. Until then – stay true, stay metal – and stay safe!