Heavy Metal Resource: Hello Janne, thanks for doing this interview. For those who don't know, you are also a part of Locomotive Breath as well which fans may be a bit more familiar with. I always like to see bands such as Overdrive who have been defunct for quite awhile come back. So, glad to see the new album. Lets go ahead and get started on this. First of all, alot of fans overseas are gonna know who you are, but give us a brief background on yourself for the domestic U.S. people.
Janne Stark: Well, I started playing guitar in the early seventies after having been introduced to bands like The Sweet and Montrose by and older cousin. Released a 7” with the band Paradize in 1980, after which 3/5 of the band got together with 2/3 of local heroes Ocean to form Overdrive. We spilt in 1985 and after that I’ve recorded several albums with bands like Locomotive Breath, Mountain Of Power, Zello, Planet Alliance and I’m currently recording an album with the band Balls. I’ve also written two encyclopaedias of Swedish hard rock, write for two magazines (FUZZ and Sweden Rock Magazine), had a radio show called Megaton, made a bunch of CD/vinyl artwork and I’m now also a member of the re-united 70s band Sir Lord Baltimore, with whom I will do some gigs this summer. I like being busy, haha.
Heavy Metal Resource: That is a busy schedule there. Obviously we'll look at Overdrive more here. After releasing a variety of things and the band disbanding around 24 years or so ago, what brought the band back together?
Janne Stark: It was actually in 2003 when a local festival, which was around in the early eighties, decided they would resurrect and do a one off anniversary thing. They wanted as many of the bands as possible from that era to re-unite and play that night, so we did. After this things started happening. We were invited to play the Headbanger’s Open Air Festival in Germany and it started rolling.
Heavy Metal Resource: Out of curiosity, had you kept in contact with the other guys across all of those years?
Janne Stark: Yes, there’s never any animosity amongst the members. After Overdrive split in 1985 I continued playing with the old singer Pelle Thuresson (who was now playing bass), the other guitar player Kjell Jacobsson and I later formed Locomotive Breath. Kenta and Pelle also had the band Crosseyed Mary for several years. We’ve had our get-togethers during the years and kept in touch.
Heavy Metal Resource: I have never heard the first record, or really any of them up to this point, but with this new record how close did you keep to your original sound?
Janne Stark: Our first release was actually the 5-track EP “Reflexions” back in 1982. On that we sounded a bit more slick, like early Def Leppard, while on the following two albums “Metal Attack” (1983) and “Swords And Axes” (1984) we picked up more influences from Accept and Priest. I think we’ve kept the sound pretty good from that era, but still tried to up-date the sound a bit. We didn’t want to divert too much from the old path, but we still didn’t want to sound dated. It’s a thin line. Actually half the material on the new album was initially written back in 1984-85 for a third album, which was never recorded.
Heavy Metal Resource: With all of the bands or projects that you are involved with, what is the extent of your commitment to this particular band?
Janne Stark: The re-union was just a one-off fun thing, as I had commitments to other bands. As it started growing, I was at first not sure if I wanted to do this, if I had the time, but as there was a demand I figured I’d go for it and do as much as I can of it. I still have obligations to other bands like Balls and Sir Lord Baltimore, plus I’m involved with some other bands and projects. I try to make the agendas not collide, and I’ve succeeded so far. This is more like musical family re-union where we don’t really have anything to prove (well, apart from that we still can rock!), but can have fun at the same time.
Heavy Metal Resource: Not to sound redundant, but I was wondering what other bands or projects are you currently in or working on at the moment?
Janne Stark: As I mentioned before I’m currently recording an album with Balls, which is musically what the name suggests – ballsy, riff-oriented hard rock. The band also features for instance Björn Lodin (Baltimoore, Six Feet Under) and Mikael “Nord” Andersson (Private Eye, Nord). I’ve just finished demoing some stuff with a melogressive (new genre – melodic, slightly aggressive and a bit progressive) band Constancia (featuring people from Jaded Heart, Andromeda, Scudiero, Faith), which we’ll see if anyone’s interested in. I’m off to New York in a few weeks to start rehearsing with resurrected 70s band Sir Lord Baltimore for some gigs this summer. I’ve also started working on a follow-up of 2006 year’s Mountain Of Power album, which I’ve planned to have out for release early next year. I’ve also been writing and recording some stuff with Chris Catena and Teenage Rampage. As for Locomotive Breath, we are having a long break. We will record one exclusive song for a compilation this summer, but that’s all.
Heavy Metal Resource: Wow, that is alot going on. With all of that will Overdrive be touring? Maybe hitting some festivals this Summer?
Janne Stark: I hope so. We’ve had a few offers for gigs, but unfortunately we don’t have any booking agency at the moment, and no one that can devote their time into booking gigs for us, but hopefully it will resolve.
Heavy Metal Resource: Where did you meet your new singer Per Karlsson?
Janne Stark: After the re-union gig in 2003 we were offered to play in Germany. Only three weeks prior to the gig our original singer left the band. He could not be persuaded to do even this one gig, so we had to find a new singer or cancel. I talked to Mattias Osbäck (from Locomotive Breath), but he had another engagement that weekend, but he recommended Per. We got in touch with him, he was interested, learned all the songs in two weeks and now we’re stuck with him, haha.
Heavy Metal Resource: With half of the songs on this album being written in 1985, Did Karlsson have some input on the rest?
Janne Stark: Per wrote the lyrics for “Chasing Highways”, which is one of the new songs, and he’s had a lot of input on the vocals melodies and arrangements. He did an awesome job there.
Heavy Metal Resource: Once in awhile I ask people this type of question. What do you see the metal scene doing in the next 5 years or so in your opinion?
Janne Stark: Well, if people don’t realize that downloading instead of buying music will kill the scene in general, we won’t have much of a metal scene to talk about, will we? Musically I think there will be another round of recycling and up-dating old styles and genres, which is cool. There may be some more interesting cross-overs, why not death metal and tango or speed metal and folk, haha.
Heavy Metal Resource: I agree on the downloading thing, that has gotten a bit out of hand and the artist generally gets screwed on that. Anyway, How has the reaction been to the band coming back on the scene?
Janne Stark: It’s been great! When we did the re-union gig in 2003, there were people, young guys that weren’t even born when the albums were released! The album has received great reviews, which feels really great! Making a new album after 24 years is a big step. Trying to stick to the old guns and yet not sound dated ain’t easy. I think we did pretty well.
Heavy Metal Resource: I don't have much more, so at this point do you have any parting thoughts or things you want to mention that we may have not covered?
Janne Stark: I hope our old fans will like the album, and I hope new fans will discover us. We’d love to get out there playing! So, as the old phrase goes – Hope to see you on tour!
Heavy Metal Resource: Thanks again for taking time to do this interview. Good luck with the album!
Janne Stark: Thanks my friend!