December 30, 2020 Interview – Martin Sweet of Crashdïet
Together for nearly twenty years, Sweden’s Crashdïet is a band with a very interesting story. Ignoring trends, they would become one of the first Glam Metal acts to emerge since the thick of the movement that dissipated in the early ’90s. Against all odds, they built a cult-like following, rocked people’s socks off with their 2005 debut LP, Rest in Sleaze, but then hit a snag in 2006 with the untimely passing of Frontman Dave Lepard.
Seemingly the end of the band, fortunately, they would regroup. They have sustained a lengthy career since, pumping out four more records over the last 15 years, including 2019’s impressive Rust. Showing no signs of slowing down in the face of any adversity, Co-founding Lead Guitarist Martin Sweet recently sat down to chat about the wild ride, Rust, plans for future music, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – Crashdïet has been together for close to two decades now, and the band has had its share of ups and downs with the tragic loss of original Vocalist Dave Leppard in 2006. When Dave passed on, your initial reaction was to end the band, and with just cause considering the sadness you must have felt. However, you, Peter, and Eric decided to carry on after a few months of mourning. How difficult was it for you to make that decision?
Martin Sweet – The thing was that a famous newspaper in Sweden asked us that question about our future the very next day after his death. And, of course, we were in shock and couldn’t see any other outcome than ending the band. But after a few months we obviously had begun talking about continuing since me, Peter and Eric still loved playing together. So that decision wasn’t hard at all. The hard decision was whether or not to keep the name. Either way, some people would get pissed off.
Cryptic Rock – Understood, and thankfully the band lives on making music. Dave Lepard was obviously not just your bandmate but a good friend. Losing someone close is extremely difficult and you do not ever get over the loss, you just learn to live with the pain. Does the fact that you are out there making music with Crashdïet help ease the pain knowing Dave’s memory is still alive in the legacy of the band?
Martin Sweet – It helps, but as you said, we’ll probably never get over this death. I do think his legacy is more widespread today, thanks to us carrying on the torch.
Cryptic Rock – And that is a great thing. Over the years since Dave’s passing you had been searching for a fitting vocalist for the band. H. Olliver Twisted was only a member for 2007’s The Unattractive Revolution album, then Simon Cruz took over as vocalist. Simon took over and remained your lead vocalist for seven years. Most recently, you welcomed in Gabriel Keyes as your vocalist. Do you feel like the band has found the right chemistry now moving forward?
Martin Sweet – I think we have, yes. Without chemistry, there’s no point in continuing. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Right and the music with Gabriel came out well. Speaking of, Crashdïet released their most recent album, Rust, in 2019 with Gabriel on vocals. What did your decision-making process look like when you were producing the album and deciding how to layer the different tracks, especially on songs like “Into the Wild,” “Waiting For Your Love,” and “Stop Weirding Me Out” that come across as layered but uncluttered.
Martin Sweet – I think it is okay to do layering if it adds something interesting to the song, such as a loop or an extra drum layer. As for backing vocals, we always layer them a gazillion times. The creation of the song “Waiting For Your Love” actually started out with that simple loop-thing, which kind of set the vibe for the rest of the song. When it comes to guitars, I mostly just record one left and one right guitar, and then maybe some extra harmonies and stuff in the choruses. Very basic.
Cryptic Rock – Well, the end result is quite good. How do you think the addition of Gabriel’s vocals changes or adds to the mix compared to Simon or even Dave?
Martin Sweet – I’ve always thought that Gabriel is a mix between Dave and Simon in a way, but he has a limitless vocal range so he’s very pleasant to write songs with.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. So, which song on Rust to do you most personally identify with or feel most connected to?
Martin Sweet – I think the song “Rust” really reflects on how I feel about playing in a band these days. We’re fighting to survive in a world in which the genre we play isn’t always taken very seriously. At least on the business side of it. We like to try all kinds of crazy business ideas, whereas some people don’t see the point in taking risks. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Sometimes you have to blaze your own trail and follow your heart. What was it like collaborating with Chris Laney and Eric Bazilian on this album for “We Are the Legion” and “Parasite?”
Martin Sweet – Eric was introduced to me through my publishing company (Cosmos) and we ended up writing together. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know about his background in the Hooters, but we eventually hit it off which led to him producing and co-writing our first single with the new line-up, as well as two other tracks on the Rust album.
Cryptic Rock – Interesting to hear – perhaps you can collaborate again in the future. Let’s look back for a minute. Crashdïet made their first USA appearance in 2011. Since then you have done a full USA tour. Tell us a little bit about the band’s first experience playing in the USA and especially on the Sunset Strip?
Martin Sweet – The USA has a special place in our hearts, we love playing over there. Not to mention playing the Whiskey a Go Go which, of course, is a dream come true. I remember doing a few shows with Pretty Boy Floyd in 2011 – we had great fun together. Our manager at the time had been there several times before with his previous bands and obviously he knew the ‘Strip’ from the inside and out. So we kind of hung out at all these legendary places. What surprised me was how early all the bars closed compared to Sweden. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like you built good memories. Hopefully the band can return to the USA once COVID-19 concerns subside. It seems as if Crashdïet is becoming increasingly well-known internationally. You have played smaller rock clubs and in front of 50,000 people at the SWU Festival in Brazil. It has to be surreal to play in front of any size crowd, but what do you feel each time you go on stage and see people in the audience loving the show?
Martin Sweet – The response of the audience is what makes it all worthwhile regardless of all the bad things that have happened in the past. Playing live is a good reminder of why we still do what we do.
Cryptic Rock – Right, and fans are happy you are still doing it! It has been a year since the release of Rust, so what is next for the band?
Martin Sweet – We have just entered the studio to start recording our next album since we obviously cannot tour. We’ll soon break the news about who’s producing and so forth. I think the corona-crisis has given artists the opportunity to be really creative this year. It’s bittersweet in a way. We miss touring a lot, but on the other hand, at least I’ve been really creative.
Cryptic Rock – It will exciting to hear more about the new music. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi movies, what are some of your favorites and why?
Martin Sweet – You show me any Horror movie from the ’80s really, and I probably love it already! However, I need to be on tour to watch Horror movies, since my wife gets scared to death. (Laughs)