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Malice in Wonderland: Let the music do the talking

Hailing from Bergen, Norway, you might assume that Malice in Wonderland are all about Black Metal, but those guys offer nice Hardrock/Glam Rock which was quite successful so far in the Scandinavian countries and China. After a longer break the band returns with a new record “The Royal Brigade” which will be released in early 2013. We met singer Chris Wicked at Trash Fest V in Helsinki to ask him about the upcoming record and business in general.

I think you just came from Japan, right? Did you have some gigs there?
Yeah! No, it was just a personal experience!

So, you have been on a holiday? Did you enjoy it?
Yeah, I liked it very much, it is a very cool country. I hope we will be able to play there once in the not so distant future, weīve got some offers before, but they havenīt been quite good enough, so… because it is quite expensive to travel there with the whole equipment and the whole band and everything. Because it is far away. But we have always had some interest of audience from there, so it would be great to play there.

But you have also been in China before? So how did that come up that you could play shows there?
We actually just got asked by organizers for a festival. They asked us if we would headline it together with Negative. So we did that and it was great! It was really cool to go to China, because it is so far away and you donīt know if…Well, they donīt really sell records, because everything is pirate, so you donīt know if you have any audience there, you just donīt know that. But when we arrived at the airport, people where standing there, with banners. And singing our songs, and also outside of our hotel.

Oh really, so you had a big fan-hype there?
Yeah, it was really, really cool. It was so great to go to the other side of the world and get that response. That was really awesome.

What would you say is the main difference between playing gigs in China compared to Europe?
For me it isnīt that different. The audience is a bit different, because here in Scandinavia we are a bit cold, they donīt like to get along that much like in China, the people in the back are just moving as much as the people in the front and you donīt see that here in Scandinavia, it is just more like this (crosses his arms in front of his chest)

Yeah even in the front row …
Yeah (laughs) They really have to get warmed up and they have to be a bit drunk to get going…(laughs) Thatīs the biggest difference between Scandinavia and Asia.

So how do you feel about being back in Finland? I think its already a while ago since youīve been here last?
Yeah I think itīs been almost 3 years since we last were here. Are you from Finland?

No, I am from Switzerland.
Oh from Switzerland, ok!

But I have seen you the first time here at Myötätuulirock Festival 2008.
Ok, nice. Well, itīs been some years since we been here. Weīve been working on the record. Now the record is done and itīs just mixed by a really great legendary producer called John Fryer. So we are looking forward to get that out next year and start touring more again.

So what can people expect from it?
It is a really varied album, different kind of moves, its very melodic and energetic, and itīs much more material then we have done before. It is a really good mix of songs. And I hope it is something that people will like. But we are pleased with it. But we donīt have the release date yet. Cause we are still talking with record labels and itīs been delaying it for so long already.

But you have offers, so the negotiation is already going on?
Yeah! But it is a lot of business and it takes time. But I guess it will be out during the spring.

So do you think it is still necessary to have a record company behind you, to release a record?
You can manage yourself, but I think there is still a necessity for record labels, because itīs hard when you have to do everything yourself. Like budget wise and it is difficult to get promotion things. Now we can do the record ourselves and you can do a lot of other things yourselves, but to really get it out there, to really spread the word, you need at least some label that is involved in distribution and marketing.

I think it is also easier, for the connections to book gigs etc.?
Yeah it is. It isnīt what it used to be! I think it is still a good thing if you can get the right deal. But if you canīt get the right deal then it is better to do it yourselves. Because you also can do that. It has to be worth it. You have to know if you get involved will be worth for the band and work for both and make the band bigger.

Would you say there is a difference between the old Malice in Wonderland songs and their style compared to the upcoming one?
Iīd say it changes a bit. Because as a songwriter you always develop and I believe it always gets better. At the first album when I wrote the songs, I wrote on piano, so it was a lot keyboard-driven music. And this album is much more guitar-driven. So it is rockier. I think it is just more intense sound and Iīd say better in general.

You built your own record studio to record this album, is that right?
Yeah. We built our own studio and our bassist Sid, he is a producer and had studios for a few years, and the thing is that we started working in his studio and he ended up being in the band. And we started after that building the studio and we had just worked on the album ourselves.

Is there anything you have to be especially aware of when you produce a record yourself instead of having someone else producing it?
Yeah, there are a lot of things you have to be aware of, because when you are producing it yourselves, you are basically doing everything yourself. When you have a producer, someone from outside the band tells you that was good, that was bad, you should do it like this, and things like that, but when you do it yourselves and write the songs, you record the songs, you engineer them and you produce them. Then it can be hard, because you can also work too long on one song. You can miss some faults, because you are so involved that it is hard to be objective.

So you get kind of routine-blinded?
Yeah, you are so stuck up on it, therefore it is good to sometimes have someone from the outside to come in and listen with fresh ears. Because when you have written and played and recorded the songs yourselves, you are really involved. And that is one of the reasons why we have spent so much time on this. Because we have done everything ourselves and we have been constantly changing things and did them better. And sometimes you work just too long on things, but that is just how it is.

So you guys where quite successful with the first records and then you played in a couple of TV shows?
We have been in a couple of TV shows actually. One was the Red-Nose day, which is a big TV-Show where we had the song “Stars”, which is a Finnish song of which we made a English version in our style. And we also played for the Plan-galaīs 10 Year anniversary.

You released your first record in 2005 which was a huge success, you played shows in Europe and also were part of a charity gala in Finnish TV, then in 2010 it became quiet around you guys. You said you had to take a step back, was it all going too fast for you, or what was the reason for the break?
We just had parted ways with a couple of members and we just ended contracts with labels, management and everything, they expired. And then we just needed time to let everything go, just be ourselves, like me and Tracey get new guys into the band with the same drives we had and start fresh again. We had started the album recordings, but we threw away a lot of things and we felt that it was necessary to move forward. We didnīt want to work that much in Finland anymore, we wanted to get around more and we wanted to get back more to Norway, and now we have done that and we are back again. We have worked a lot, it has been quiet, but behind the scene we have worked a lot! But it is good to be back on track!

Why did you choose the name Malice in Wonderland?
Itīs been a while since I chose that name. But back then I just felt it was a good pun to play with words like Alice in Wonderland, and I think it is quite easy to remember, because it is quite catchy! It isnīt that easy to come up with a good band name. But I came up with it and I was satisfied with it then, and we are still happy with it. Because a lot of bands choose something and then they get just stuck and then you have to continue using it even though you havenīt liked it that much. But luckily that isnīt the case with us!

All of you guys do have artist names, how important is it for you to separate your private life from the one you have as a musician and why?
A little bit yeah, but it is not like the artistīs life, it isnīt something that I go into like “Now I am Chris Wicked and then I am “normal” again.” Because itīs me and I am always myself. This is just who I am. It isnīt like that, that I have to switch between those two.

Yeah because it is often the case that people who are using artist names are doing that because they kind of jump into a role when going on stage, pretending to be the hard Rockstar, so you say this is not the case for you?
I am pretty much the same when on stage and in private life. I am not that hard guy anyway, so (laughs) This is just who I am and who we are. It is that Chris is my name, so it isnīt a big difference.

You guys are from Bergen, Norway ,so what “Rock Scene” places should our readers check out when they are visiting town, do you have some insider tips?
Ähm…(thinks a while) It depends what they are into, because there isnīt a big rock scene there, and we are one of the few hard rock bands, but there is a big metal scene and Black Metal of course. And thatīs pretty much it! But if you are into that, this is a very good place to go. It is a good scene, I have always been in that scene, because of my friends. But they play that kind of music and I play my kind of music. I also played in a Metal band back in the days, but this kind of hard rock is who is me. But that is something that I miss in Bergen, that there would be a bigger rock scene, because all my friends can go together and their bands can tour together, because they have the same audience, and itīs just easier when you are a couple of bands who arrange the gigs and tour together and so on. But we are more different…(laughs)

Yeah, but at least you get all the fans who like your kind of music just for yourselves. (Laughs)
Yeah (laughs) Absolutely thatīs true!

So what are the plans for the rest of the year and next year?
Ähm we will come back to Finland on 20th of March (Bäkkeri Bar) We have still been working just to get everything done with the record release before booking gigs. So we havenīt started booking gigs yet.

So people can hope for a complete European tour?
Yeah, maybe, you know we would like to, but letīs see when the offers are there. But we absolutely do some more touring. Weīd love to come to Switzerland! We havenīt been there before.

Maybe you have something you would love to tell to the world that you could do now!
I just …donīt tell too much! (laughs) We just want to let our music do the talking. And Iīd like that people hopefully check us out and be aware of the next album. Itīs going to be called the “The Royal Brigade ”and the title represents what Malice in Wonderland are. We are Royal Brigade and hopefully people want to join us.

Ok thank a lot and all the best.
Thank you so much! The pleasure was mine!


Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Band
Date: 2012-11-26

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