<< Exclusive interview with Per Schelander>>

Here’s a interview with Per Schelander who came to Japan for the first time in
eight years. The last time he was a regular member of Royal Hunt and now is a
tour bass player.


Hugh : Do you know what, Per? You're popular among Japanese fans -girls- as
"good-looking bass man". How do you feel?:-)

Per : Flattered...What else to say... A bit shy as well.

Hugh: Not flattery.:-) It must be pleased fans who had never thought the
possibility to meet you again that you came to Japan with Royal Hunt this time
and you’re almost the same as eight years ago! But for some fans you’re
“new face”. So please introduce yourself a little?

Per : I met the guys in Royal Hunt for twenty years ago when my band House of
Shakira was invited as special guests on Royal Hunts Paradox tour. We got along
well and had a lot of fun and when Steen quit I sent Andre a note that I was
interested in touring with him again - but this time as a member of Royal Hunt.
I stayed with Royal Hunt until 2009. By then I had also started to play some
shows with my long time favourite band Pain of Salvation. When PoS asked me
to start touring with them I couldn't resist... and I couldn't make the schemes with
the two bands to work so I had to leave Royal Hunt.
I love to write music and to play live on stage, that's my best elements.

Hugh: While those days you came to Japan, Collision Course tour in 2008.
Then you toured with RH two years ago, didn’t you?

Per: I stepped in again in 2014 for the European dates on the world tour and it
felt great that I got the opportunity to play with the band again. I've been longing
since 1997 to play together with Allan Sørensen and finally we could play live
together and not just in the studio.

Hugh: O, You played with almost all drummers (except Allan Tschicaja and include
Magnus Ulfsted) in RH’s history and also three singers! Amazing! Is it hard to
answer, if I ask you who is the best drummer for you to play with?

Per : yeah, that a hard one to answer :). All of the drummers are very good and
of course they'll have different styles to approach the songs.
For me it was a dream come true to play with Allan (Sørensen. in RH 1996-2000,
2007-2014) I’ve been wanting this since 1997 when I first met him! To me,
he's been a very important part for the sound of R.H.
Kenneth (Olsen. Original drummer of RH. in the band 1998-1996, 2005-2007)
is pure energy and one uncompromising drummer.
Magnus (Ulfsted. Stood in for Collision Course tour in 2008) is a real steady guy,
meat and potato, and we've been playing a lot of shows in Stockholm together
after we met in R.H.
I have to tell you about the first time I met Habo (Andreas “Habo” Johansson.
Current drummer since 2015) !
I was playing bass with a singer/songwriter back in 2001 and we had a showcase
at a small place. Our drummer got stuck in traffic and couldn't make it to the
soundcheck so all of a sudden the soundguy says he play drums and can sit in...
All of us in the band was very sceptical cause we where playing original songs
and didn't want some guy who just happens to own a pair of drum sticks sit
in. Anyway, we thought it was better than nothing... But we were so wrong - man
this guy could really play, he really listening and could read the songs and
everything sound like it should! The soundguy was of course Habo and the story
give you a glimpse of how good he is.

Hugh: Wow…I think this interview is valuable chance for Japanese fans to know
a little more about Per and now it become rare opportunity to read about the drummers!:-)
How was the tour with RH this time?

Per : The tour was great! When I joined the rest of the band had already done like
20 shows so my job was easy and just to surf with the band. I had a hard start
though with extremely many technical issues on the first show in St. Petersburg.
My amp was constantly going down because of power issues in that club and
it was very disturbing. Apart from that - it was a joy!!!

Hugh: Was there any difference between when you're "regular member"?

Per: In some ways there's always a difference when you are stand in compared to
a member. Not when it comes to the shows but there's always a lot of other
things and decisions around the band during a tour that I don't need to think
about as a stand in.

Hugh: Where/which concert was the best for you and why?

Per: Tokyo without a doubt!!! The thing that does it to me is when there's
communication between the band and the crowd and vice versa. At the show
in Tokyo it was obvious that the songs meant a lot to everyone and the crowd
sent that feeling back to us on stage from the very first note of Martial arts.

Hugh: I’m pleased to hear it.:-) How did you feel about Japan and Japanese fans?

Per : I just love being in Japan for so many reasons. The fans are very special and
meet us at the airport, hang around in the hotel lobby, treat us with gifts etc.
All in a nice manner with a lot of respect. It's fun cause you more or less get to
know each other. This time I was helped out by a fan to find a shop where they
had merch from the movie Totoro and the rest of Miyazaki’s movies. We went
shopping and had lunch together and it was all good.

Hugh: It sounds nice.:-) I was surprised a little that you like Miyazaki’s movie,
though…Do you like Totoro?

Per : I really liked Totoro and my kids loved it! I haven't seen that much of
Miyazakis work but recently he did a version of the last book of Astrid Lindgren -
Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter). Don't know whats it called in
Japanese but I liked his version of it.

Hugh: Well, here’s a question from your fan. “What do your tattoos on your upper
arms mean/symbolize?”

Per : Left arm : Circle. I like circles, and often think in the term of circles
regarding life. And… If it’s perfect circle… No matter where you are in the
circle. the distance to the center is always the same.
Right arm: Three stripes…I love the number three. I tend to structure thinks
in three. It’s also one stripe for every member of my family. On the top of that,
I love adidas. :-)

Hugh : Really?:-))) It sounds like…half serious, half joke.:-)

All right, then, tell us about your band now.

Per : In 2013 I released the debut album of my own band Astrakhan and in June
2016 we will release our second album -
Adrenaline kiss.You'll find me at www.facebook.com/Astrakhan.band

Hugh: Please introduce Astrakhan members. You are the main man of the

Per : Me and my brother Jörgen(keyboard)used to be the main guys since we
started to write music together out of the pure joy of writing music together.
We tried many singers but none felt quite right and we put the songs to rest.
Martin Larsson(drums)heard the rough demos we've made and said that these
songs are to good to be put in a vault - I want to play drums if you ever will
record them! When I quit House of Shakira I thought that now's the time for these
songs to be recorded and released. We recorded all the basic tracks for
Retrospective but we still didn't have a singer... Marcus Jidell(guitars, producer
and mix)told us he recently jammed with a good guy, could be worth to check
him out. We set up a meeting with Alexander Lycke and it felt right. When we
started to record we knew we met the right guy! Alex has been working all over
Europe, doing all the leading roles in the big musicals - Hair, Jesus Christ
Superstar, Les Misersbles etc. We all shared the same vision for the band and
we were working very hard to make it work! It's not easy to start up a new band
these days. Since Marcus is busy with Avatarium Johan Hallgren(Pain of Salvation)
stepped in and play guitar like only he can since last year. He was the obvious
choice for us since I loved playing with him during the years with Pain of Salvation.

Maybe I didn't introduce everyone correct here but I hope you got the picture.

Hugh: So, the latest line-up are : Per and Jörgen, Martin Larsson on drums,
Alex Lycke on vocals and Johan Hallgren on guitars, right?
Is Astrakhan main work for you now?

Per : Astrakhan is my main band right now. Apart from that I also play a lot of
disco/latin music at corporation events and similar. I also work part time as a
guiding counselor at a youth center. The center is open for everyone between
12-22 years and our focus are sexual and reproductive health.

Hugh: Aha, I see. You look like really “rock bass player” on stage but when you’re
off stage you have gentle, warm and nice to talk with attitude. it must come
from the counseling work. :-)
Retrospective album has feeling something nostalgic but has original sound, I think.
How will the upcoming album?

Per: Retrospective were written and aged during many years and everything was
written by me and my brother. The new album is more of a group effort, written
during a pretty short and intense time. I think you will recognize the original
sound since that's one of our main goal with Astrakhan - to sound like no one
else does without getting weird. To me it's just to embrace the sound of who
you are. Many years I tried to sound different, to hide my drawbacks etc, but
with Astrakhan I try to enhance everything that is me! The sound of us playing
together is what needs to come out, each personality should really shine and
sparkle. The new album really shows that - the sound of a great band as well
as stunning individual performances.

Hugh: I’m looking forward to listen the album. Do you have any tour plan with
Astrakhan or other bands?

Per : Right now there's no regular tour plans but we have s couple of shows
booked and more requests are coming in.
We are also thinking of setting up special shows and broadcast on the web and
the I need to ask - is that something you should be interested in? How many of
you would be interested in us bringing the show to your laptop?
All live, no downloads and no overdubs - one occasion only!? Let me know,
cause we are planning to do stuff like this.

Hugh: All right. You readers! Please send your response. Don’t forget, Your idea
and opinion will support the band.
(Send response to www.facebook.com/Astrakhan.band)

Then, would you tell us about your equipment, Per? About bass, amp, strings and
tuning, and so on.

Per : I've been playing Fender jazz and precisions for many years. Then I met
the guys from Mayones at the Frankfurt fair in 2009. They offered me a cool
deal and built two basses for me - a five string Jabba and one 4-string fretless.
Both are very good instruments I have to say. In 2009 I also met the guys from
Taurus amp. I loved their pedals and now I use their amps and cabinets as well.
I prefer regular tuning, that's what we use in Astrakhan. In Royal Hunt we tune
down one whole step which calls for some thicker strings and I’m a small guy...
Maybe that's why I prefer regular tuning :).

Hugh: What is your future plan/dream as a musician and as a man, Per Schelander?

Per : I really want to go on tour with Astrakhan - it's a great band with one of the
best singers out there. I want to write more music and develop my sound, make
it more unique and do some really good records! I also want to learn to play
the saxophone. I got one as a gift 3-4 years ago and I loved to play it! Last year
I haven't played at all so I need to do some practice.

Hugh: Please give a few words for your fans and readers.

Per : Music has been my life for many years now. To go out there and meet all
the fans who share their love for the music is overwhelming. We are doing this
together - artists and fans cause we share the same dream I guess. We share
the dream of reaching a higher ground, to connect with each other on a level
that makes life magical. You know, we just want to be close to the powers and
energy that connects all of us.

Thank you for cooperation! Hope to see you again soon!

—— interviewed by Hugh.M., May 2016 ——