Erik Martensson Discusses ‘Rise Up,’ the New W.E.T. Album with Jeff Scott Soto and Robert Säll
In 2008, Frontiers Records asked guitarist and producer Erik Martensson (Eclipse) to write six songs for an album project with Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman) on vocals. At the same time, keyboardist/guitarist Robert Säll (Work Of Art) was also asked to contribute six songs to the project.
After listening to each other’s material and discovering how different it sounded, the duo decided to scrap the songs and start writing together. Soto loved the result of their efforts so much that what started out as a solo project morphed into the supergroup W.E.T. (whose initials stand for the names of each member’s other respective bands).
Rise Up, the new sophomore album from W.E.T., continues to build upon the cohesion of talent that won critical acclaim for Martensson, Säll and Soto. The album, which also features guitarist Magnus Henriksson and drummer Robban Bäck, presents a combination of massive production quality, impressive songwriting and blistering solos by Henriksson that takes the new "classic rock" sound well into the 21st century.
I spoke with Martensson about Rise Up and more in this interview.
GUITAR WORLD: This new W.E.T. project has been a long time coming.
It has. The album was actually finished at the end of May 2012, but after a summer break we decided to go back and do three more songs. “Walk Away,” “Rise Up” and “The Moment” were the ones we recorded. I remember we drank a lot of coffee but came up with a lot of great songs. [laughs]
The song ‘Learn To Live Again’ features dual lead vocals between you and Jeff. What’s the story behind the video?
Jeff had just flown from LA to Stockholm and arrived around 11 in the evening. He had almost no sleep and I picked him up and we drove 4.5 hours into the countryside to where the director had found this perfect barn. It was freezing cold and we were out there the whole day. I haven’t been that cold in my entire life.
How did you come up with the song “Love Heals”?
I was playing at home, just messing with the chorus and delay and came up with the idea for the verse. I was using this old amp called an Elk (a Japanese amp from the late 60′s). It sounds very classic.
That classic “sound” you mention once ruled the charts here in the US, but is hard to find anymore.
We have a good tradition of hard rock here in Stockholm and Sweden. All of Europe actually. It’s not a big genre and you can’t find it in the charts anymore, but there are a lot of bands here playing it and influencing each other.
Tell me about your relationship with Kramer guitars.
I had been playing Gibson and Fender for many years and then Kramer asked if I’d be interested in playing one of theirs. I had never played one before, but there was something so different about the guitar. It felt so fresh.
What do you like most about them?
The intonation is perfect. They stay in tune really well and sound fantastic. I tweaked it a little by thinning the neck and adding a custom pickup.
Any advice you can offer to aspiring guitarists?
Good sound and good equipment will take you a long way. Sound and timing are very important. Many guitarists tend to focus too much on soloing when they play, even though 99% of the song is rhythm. It’s more important to focus on the rhythm guitar rather than the fast guitar solo.
What’s next for W.E.T. and Eclipse?
We’ve done a few shows and are currently working on a proper tour. We’ve also shot footage from one of those shows for a DVD we’re working on. It was our second gig ever as W.E.T. and right now I’m in the process of mixing it. Once that’s finished, we’ll start work on a new Eclipse album.
Tell me how you met guitarist Magnus Henriksson.
I was living in the countryside in Sweden and moved to Stockholm to go to music school. That’s where I met him. He is such a great guitar player. I remember he would play songs by Yngwie Malmsteen and Vinnie Moore and could do them spot on. I thought I was pretty good at playing them; that is until I met Magnus. That’s when I decided “If you can’t beat him, join him!” [laughs]
Rise Up was released in North America February 26. Follow W.E.T. on Facebook.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.