Ola Strandberg

Ola is playing drums in HFMC.

Do you enjoy playing live shows or working in the studio more? And why?


I can’t say I favor one to the other, I like working in the studio as well as perform in a live situation but in different ways. My approach to play rehearsed songs in the studio for an album is somewhat different to a live performance where I want my playing to be more or less as on the recorded piece, but also at some point a bit dissimilar to keep myself and the listener happy. That would mean me playing my parts in a different fashion or the whole band doing things out of the common like jamming more than in the studio.

Whereas in the studio, most of my playing has been rehearsed and worked out to please the song the most. In a recording situation I want my playing to feel comfortable and in time with the other instruments. It requires that I play along to a click track to keep the tempo for the song and I focus more on my own playing and not so much the other guys.

Playing live however, usually no click is being used and I really need to hear what my fellow musicians are playing to keep the song together. A lot of adrenaline comes out of playing on stage so I need to focus on the right feel and the right tempo for the music as well.

What’s a typical day in the studio like?

For the HFMC recording, we had a time schedule that we followed every day. We started off rather early in the morning and worked until 10 a clock in the evening before heading back to the hotel for some food and drinks and discussions regarding how the work has been so far.

For my part, a half hour warm up behind the kit and then making sure all is set for recording the next song. I would decide what song to record since the most vital thing is to get the drum parts right, the other instruments are easy to overdub if not being perfect.

The recording of the songs may look different from one song to another. With HFMC we altered some of the tempos on a couple of the songs and that required a new approach to playing for my part anyhow. In any case we recorded 2 or 3 songs a day and things went very well I think, we had good energy in the studio and felt no tension when playing. The studio itself was an excellent place to be working in and with Petrus Königsson as engineer things went really smooth as always with real professionals. Petrus is a great guy with big ears and fresh thoughts on recording and approaching the songs. People often say that a producer/engineer becomes a new member of the band when recording, and in this case it turned out to be just like that.

What has been your greatest professional moment so far?

That really depends on what “greatest “means I guess. In the mid eighties I had great times with Hasse and Thomson in the band Spellbound where we recorded and played a lot with great success. I once played at this huge sports arena in Latvia for 10.000 people with a country rock band, also that a great professional moment for me. Working with other musicians and create music in any form is also moments of joy. That could mean just playing together or making an album like with HFMC where I had the opportunity to work with great musicians.

Where is a venue you would love to play but haven’t had a chance yet?

Obviously there are a lot of places or venues I would like to play; it’s hard to name one particularly. In the near future I am hoping to play festivals in Europe which I have always found is a pleasant way to play with other bands and get to meet all kinds of musicians. I also enjoy small venues like clubs/pubs where you get much closer to the audience and the connection to the listener is closer than the big stages. Should I name places I have dreamed of playing since childhood it would be Wembley Arena and Madison Square Garden...

How does songwriting within the band go?

As for the music on this CD, Hasse wrote all the material and had all the music pretty much in his head with a clear idea of what sound he required. As for drum parts, Hasse might have an suggestion of a groove or a beat in various parts of a song and generally I try to get the emotion of the song and from there on construct the rhythm parts to fit what the rest of the instruments are doing. Hasse is also a great drummer so any idea he might have is most often the right for the song. When we started to run through the material there were a lot of different types of songs, and it was quite interesting to work on all the parts of the songs. My playing in the studio is pretty much the same as the rehearsed ones, a few changes were made due to tempo changes or for other reasons made the song need a different beat or to be played in another fashion.

How did you get into music?

As a kid, I was constantly into listening to music and playing music with my brothers and sisters. My parents had this band playing dance music so there was always music in the house and sometimes they rehearsed in our basement where I loved to sit and listen. That was my first contact with actual instruments and instead of playing on pillows and buckets I got to try real drums and guitars – what a thrill. Later on, my brother Alf had this band and they needed a bass player so I joined my first band at that time. At the age of 13 I got my first drum kit, a black Pearl Export 5-piece kit with shining cymbals and I got into drumming more seriously. Me and my brother started a new band and played a lot in different venues in our local hometown. In that band I played with JJ Marsh for the first time and we had quite a few good songs and started to build ourselves a reputation as a good live band around town.

Who are some of your musical influences?

My musical influences vary from time to time, I might want to listen to classical music to ease my mind and just the same listen to heavy rock oriented music to get a sense of power and energy. The majority of my time awake I listen to music in some form, at home, in the car or out walking.

Music I listen to for inspiration could be from people like Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Genesis, Yes, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, Miles Davis and many others. Drummers that have influenced me in different ways are (among others...) Phil Collins, Bill Bruford, Ian Paice, Morgan Ågren, Peter Erskine, Terry Bozzio, Manu Katché, Trilok Gurtu, and Vinnie Colaiuta.

How did you come to be in this band?

I knew that a lot of people thought Hasse ought to make his own record like the other members of The Flower Kings have done past the years, and that it truly would be about time he should record his own music. I couldn’t agree more and when he approached me and asked should I be interested in participating in that project I instantly accepted. At that time I think I was the first he asked and had I any suggestions on potential musicians to join this project? Indeed I had, and Hasse himself had a few names he had been thinking about, he knew about Kjelle and thought he’d fit in playing keyboards and I fully agreed. Kjelle is a killer musician and a swell guy to play with. His playing is beautiful and sensitive and covers all styles of music you might think about. As for guitar/bass player he had some ideas and I recommended this guy I had been playing with recently named Anton Lindsjö. A fantastic musician and guitar player with this one in a million tone and a master in finding the right tones/chords to fit the music. Anton is a very humble person and great to be around. As for bass player, longtime friend/band mate Thomas Thomson accepted to join the band when Hasse asked him and the lineup was complete. Playing with Thomson feels safe, he is a solid player with a heavy groove and on top of it all, the funniest man I have ever known.

What’s the first album you ever owned?

I still remember to his day when me and my brother went down to the local record store and bought KISS Alive! I think I was about 10 years old and was completely blown away by this album and KISS became my very favorite band for a long time to come. My brother had this tape recorder and we used to listen to bands like Nazareth, Status Quo and BTO. I still bear in mind the sense of magic playing the record on my dad’s stereo and watching the cover and I think my dream of becoming a musician truly started at that point.

What are some of your musical goals?

In my musical progress I’d like to accomplish several things, as well as improving my drumming skills I want to develop my songwriting.
When writing music I use guitar most of the time but also piano/keyboard so continuing learning to play those instrument is also a part of that goal.

Playing with different people/musicians is also a thing I want to do more, I have other musical projects I will work on in the future where one of many goals are to record my music and perform that music in a live situation.

Learning more about how to record music on a technical level and to produce music would also be a challenge.

What equipment do you use?

For the HFMC recording I used the following equipment:

Drums:
Pearl
MLX Series
8”, 10”, 12” Tom-tom
16”, 18” Floor tom
22” Bass drum
14”x 6.5 Snare drum, Pearl Free Floating Maple
13”x 4.5 Mapex Piccolo Snare drum.
Remo Roto toms 6”, 8”, 10”

Cymbals:
Paiste/Sabian
20” Power Ride Paiste 3000 Series
18” Studio Crash Sabian AAX Series
18” China Paiste Rude Series
16” Stage Crash Sabian AAX Series
16” Crash Sabian Paragon Series
16” Mellow China Paiste 3000 Series
14” Dark Crisp Hihat Paiste Signature Series
10” Splash Sabian AAX Series

All heads are Remo Coated Ambassador/Emperor
Sticks Vic Firth 5B Extreme

What other projects are you involved with?

Alongside this band I am involved in a few additional musical projects.

One is my “own” group where me and my longtime band mate Patric Nylén at present are writing and rehearsing new music. We have been playing together for some time and if I would describe the sound I would say the music is quite progressive with a very melodic formula. At the side of the two of us there is Mats Lundqvist, a fabulous keyboard player in the school of Banks/Wakeman. At this time the three of us are looking for fellow musicians to complete the band and with a bit of luck we will record our music next year which I’m really looking forward to.

Next to this, I’m writing songs for an instrumental trio that has not yet taken certain form. I wish to explore more in a musical way that will include me playing in a lot more technical way/approach. What other instruments will be included are still yet unveiled but I have an idea of maybe two drummers and two keyboard players.

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