"Our music will last"
Suiciderock: You decided to split up this year. The reason for this was that you don`t want to see the band burning out. You said that “Nobody wants to see a slowly dying band”. What makes you think that the band really is in that slowly dying process?
Martin: At the moment we are more alive than ever in my opinion. We`ve really enjoyed the last year now and I think that this feeling is gonna last until our last gig. But I also think, making this decision helped us to get back all the energy to create something special this year. I don`t know what the future holds. We all don`t know what to do after this is all done. We are now celebrating our 20 anniversary, therefore we have released a single collection album, so we will celebrate that together with our fans before we play our last show in September.
Suiciderock: It seems like the decision to end the band was not that easy for everybody in the band. The announcement was made last year in December. When exactly did you realise that you want to stop? Was there any key moment for that?
Martin: We have always had our breaks between the records and there have been times when we were wondering what we should do next and if there even should be anything next for us as a band. We had decided to have a bigger pause anyhow and when we started to think a bit closer about that we thought maybe that might end up in a split. We didn`t want to see that moment coming, just to disappear as a band. So we made the decision to break up before this is going to happen. And we want to do that with a big celebration that lasts for about one year. We wanted to have a big “ending party”.
Jepson: Exactly, we wanted to end it all with a big Fiesta. I think The Ark deserves to end on top of its career. It`s very nice not to see The Ark simply fade away, it`s good to see it end with that great party. That`s what the band always has been about. You know when we did something, we wanted it to be bombastic also at the end of the band.
Martin: That`s the style of The Ark. We have seen so many great bands fade away, they simply disappeared and nobody knew what happened to them. I don`t want to tell any names now but we didn`t want this to happen with our band as well. It happens very often that you start wondering what happened to this great band and than you find out, that they just don`t exist anymore.
Suiciderock: You have a very loyal and big fan base. How did your fans react after that shocking news?
Martin: We got a lot of feedback. Of course, many of those reactions have been very sad in the beginning but I also think they understand our decision after we have been talking about it in interviews and so on. As I already said this process is very important for us. We want to have that big fare-well celebration together with our fans. We`ve played a couple of shows already and a lot of emotions came up all the time.
Jepson: For us as well as for our fans. I mean this concerts have been so wonderful and there is a special magic because everybody knows that this will be the last time we do that in this city. That makes the whole show even more special. I think it`s gonna be lots of crying and sad moments, too. Many fans were very happy that we did it this way and not just by leaving a note on our webpage that it is over. We`ll give everybody the chance to see The Ark the last time. So we will end the band together with our fans.
Suiciderock: How do you deal with that kind of situations when meeting someone on the street and that one starts telling you how she or he feels about your split up?
Martin: Well, it`s not easy. Especially now when we are having so much fun. Than we ask ourselves from time to time why we break up anyway but there is this reason and I think our fans accept and understand that. Of course, our music will last after we broke up. So they are not gonna loose us totally.
Jepson: I met many people out there, they come to me and they are thankfull. They say things like “Thank you so much for all the years and the great music, there`s gonna be a big hole after that” and stuff like that. And in the end they wanna buy me a beer…
Suiciderock: After the release of your single “I broke up with God” many people thought that the song had something to do with the break up of the band as well. Is that true?
Martin: No, That`s not true. “Breaking up with God” has nothing to do with our split – up. The song was written before we made that decision. But we have two new songs on our compilation album and the second one “Apocalypse is over” has been written about the fact, that The Ark is breaking up. It`s telling the story about the bands relationship with the fans.
Suiciderock: You have been around since 1991, your breakthrough came with the song “You need to be a fool to remain sane”. You have released six albums since founding the band. Will there be some kind of farewell record or a dvd? Let`s say as a goodbye to your fans?
Martin. We have recorded two shows so far. We have never released a DVD before. So hopefully there is gonna be something.
Jepson: We have been discussing this matter many times so hopefully there will be some kind of DVD later on. But we don`t know yet. Let`s see.
Suiciderock: Well, it`s a now or never thing…
Martin: That`s true. I really hope this is going to happen. The plans are there so let`s see what happens to them…
Suiciderock: I can imagine it was not easy at all to decide on a setlist for your last tour?
Martin: Well, we are trying to give our fans kind of “The best of The Ark” during our shows now. We try to put the best songs of our career into one show.
Suiciderock: You have had a couple of very nice highlights within your career. Let`s look back a little bit on the bands history: 1991: the band was found. How did you met / put the band together?
Martin: Well, I wasn`t in the band since the beginning. I have been playing in this band “only” since 13 years now.
Jepson: Martin is so new. I`m the old-school guy. I remember that I had a friend who had a friend who`s name was Ola. They were visiting me once at home and when Ola saw all my guitars on the wall he said that we need to put a band together. He had great faith in me as he didn`t even know whether I can play on those or not. My answer was a big “Yes, that sounds wicked”. Than we had a friend called Lasse Leari who couldn`t play bass at this time but as he was our friend we wanted him to be part of the band. So he learned to play that instrument. We needed a rehearsal place and Learys brother had a band and so you see, Lasse had to be in the band. There was no other way, even though he couldn`t play bass. But Lasse learned fast , we started the band and than we rocked.
Suiciderock: How did you get into the band than Martin?
Martin: Actually I saw the second show of the guys. They haven`t been that good musicians back than but they had a great and overwhelming energy. You could feel and see that. They had good songs and they look was simply fantastic. You could see from the start that this is a very special gang there on stage and that this could be something very big. I followed the guys for many years until we became friends. It was kind of strange to join the band after all those years.
Suiciderock: At least you knew the song material already…
Martin: It was not that easy as it might sound. There were lots of new songs all the time. It was a new start for The Ark just as I joined the band.
Suiciderock: It took a while till your first EP “ The Ark” was released in 1996. What happened than?
Jepson: We had to struggle a bit and there didn`t anything really happen before 1999.
Martin: But the guys were something like big stars where we come from. But it was hard to make the step out from there.
Jepson: But we always believed in what we did and we always said that this is so big, it has to happen and of course we are best friends. I think you have to be very close friends to do something for so many years without anything happening. Than something small happens that gives you the energy you need and so you can go on to the next step and so you make your way all along.
Suiciderock: Yeah, the music style of the band was not always as it is nowadays….
Jepson: We had this different style- periods. At the beginning we were more hippie than we changed to progressive after that came our black leather phase. The stageoutfits have always played a big role for us as well.
Martin: As well as this special dramatic touch. In the late 90`s The Ark started to become more pop but the style remained dramatic. With that songs we also had our break-through than.
Jepson: Those songs were easy to handle for the listeners. Our former once sometimes had this long psychadelic 10-minutes solos and so on. We tried to put them into another format and to find a compromise for them.
Suiciderock: You kind of designed all your stage outfits on your own. Where did you take the inspiration therefore from?
Jepson: The black suits we gonna wear today have been designed by ourselves. We sat down with pen and paper and than we started to paint. All of our cloth are designed with a designer who knows how to bring our ideas to life.
Suiciderock: 2007 you had the honour to represent Sweden in the Eurovision songcontest in Helsinki with “ The Worrying Kind”. You made it to rang 18. How was that experience for you?
Martin: It was a lot of fun to participate in the final competition in Sweden before the actual Eurovision contest was held. We actually didn`t consider winning the Swedish finals. We did the performance in our very own way. In the End we left as the winners who will represent Sweden in Helsinki.
Suiciderock: How did you experience the Eurovision in Helsinki than?
Martin: It was a bit strange, for me we didn`t kind of fit in the whole thing. People there thought it was still about some Schlager stuff from the 70`s or whatever.
Jepson: It was a fun thing we have done. We went to ran 18 that was awesome.
Suiciderock: The song could also be found on your album “Prayer for the weekend”. The album received platin in Sweden even before it was available at the stores.
Martin: Yeah, correct the pre-orders got us already platin, that was really amazing.
Suiciderock: You have been around a lot during your career. What was your most memorable show / performance / experience?
Martin: Oh god, there are lots of great and memorable moments.
Jepson: If we talk about Finland, these shows have always been different. We had always to improvise a lot here, in a positive way.
Martin: When we released our 3rd album, “The State of The Ark” something really strange happened. We have been here before the release already but all of a sudden we got this three nights at Tavastia sold out within 30 minutes. That was a really special moment. It was fantastic.
Jepson: The same happened in Tampere. We came to play our show and there was this really packed club, than we realized, wow something is really happening here.
Suiciderock: Your latest work “In full Regalia” was released last year. Tell us something about the record and its songs.
Martin: It was a record we did together with a magazine. Noone has ever done that before. It was our manager, John Grey who had the idea for that. It was really fantastic to do something new and to comment the music business which is totally going down at the moment.
Suiciderock: So after all this years and experiences with the music industry, what kind of advice would you give to a young band?
Jepson: There can be lots of new channels for all kind of new bands. When we started with The Ark a band needed lots of money to get things going. A demo had to be done ect. Nowadays you can just put a clip of your rehearsals and put it on youtube and become famous.
Martin: Luckily no one wants to life in a quiet world, so there will be new bands. I am personally longing for a new big rockband. There are not so many rockbands who have their break through. So yeah, I`m waiting for a new rockband era.
Jepson: Believe in what you do and try to work as hard and as much as possible.
Martin: Try to invent a totally new conept and style. It`s not only important to write good songs, you have to be something together as a band.