Straight To The Top

One of melodic rock’s finest is the band around Swedish guitarist Andreas Gullstrand. Storming the top ranks of many year lists of even more journalists and connoisseurs, the band took a prominent spot in what I previously called the New Wave of Scandinavian Melodic Rock (NWOSMR). Alongside countrymen like StoneFlower, Work of Art, H.E.A.T., Wigelius, The Night Flight Orchestra, Taste and Perfect Plan, they walk point in enhancing the classic ingredients of melody and memorable hooks with modern touches. Sticky and slick memorable melody lines and dominant beats are fused with classic rock elements and blistering guitars. The potion feels comfortable and pleasant and nests instantly while it also packs tremendous power, often not spotted at first spin.

Creye’s debut EP `Straight To The Top’ literally orbited them to the top as one of melodic rock’s new hopefuls with the debut album strongly enforcing their status. Creye packs tremendous power and nesting melodies, fired up by Gullstrand’s powerful riffs and fine-tuned fiery soloing balanced by Fredrik Joakimsson’s pristine playing. The foundation is powerful and features a danceable underscore with exquisite dynamics. The interaction between bass player Gustaf Östa and Arvid Filipsson adds groove and a solid backbone resonating through their songs. All is overthrown with pompous welling and more swirling fresh keys from youngster Joel Selsfors. The overall sound is dense and solid but also very transparent and clean. With the addition of Andreas Rauer on vocals Creye found a voice appealing to a wide and varied audience. It just gels perfect. All songs have a high appeal, pack power and thrive as well as exquisite melodies and hooks. Stripped down to their bare essence the tracks proven to be holding up performed acoustically also. Their EP `Up Close’ displayed Creye’s marksmanship and great musicianship performing the tracks as a band without all the big orchestration and pompous larger than life sound.

Summarizing their intense career path the band released a short video on several of their channels as an energetic recap video of their first years, albums and performances. Packed with fun and enthusiasm it sees a band on the rise. Followers of the band on social media also recently been treated some glances of the band’s hard work recording. Bits and pieces past by and the apotheoses was reached with Creye presenting their brand new album logo. Guitarist and founding member Andreas took some time for HeadBangers LifeStyle to speak of the past, present and the future.

I noticed your short movie clip flying by on the Internet last week. Short and swift it captured the enthusiasm and fun you guys also bring across performing. What was the idea behind the video?
,,Since Creye started in 2015 we’ve done so much and we just felt that it would be nice to kind of look back on how we got to this point. Especially to bring our newer followers up to date.’’

Was the video bringing closure to the debuting days or just summarizing the fun you all had the last couple of years?
,,Well I would say both to be honest. Chapter 1 was all about finding all the right components to make this work and now that we’ve done that there was kinda a natural transition point for the next chapter. But I think it was great for all of us to look back at all the amazing stuff we’ve done so far, which is easy to forget when we’re always so focused on what’s the next step for the band.’’

How was it to suddenly find yourself in a hotseat storming the top ranks of melodic rock?
,,That literally happened overnight so it was and still is a bit surreal, but we’re enjoying every single moment of it!’’

From the EP onwards it has been nothing but praise for your band and music. How do you judge the reviews and criticism looking back?
,,I think that everyone who makes music or is spending a lot of time creating something is kind of putting a huge very personal piece of themselves on display for the world to judge, which of course could go both ways. But at the end of the day it all comes down to you doing something that you enjoy and believe in. However, luckily we’ve been blessed with almost only great reviews and support from everyone since we released `Never Too Late’ back in 2016, which of course is something that makes all the hard work worth it just that much more.’’

Andreas Gullstrand    Photo by Mikael Roos

`Straight to the Top’ was your calling card, which I said “revived my love for the genre”. Was this part of the intention when you set out composing music with Creye?
,,How much I wish that I could say that was all part of the plan [laughing]. But we’re just making music that we ourselves love and I guess that we simply got really lucky that more people have a similar taste in music.’’

Hearing your music there’s a lot of ingredients from the 80s with arena rock and pop rock elements, all fused with a modern approach. Where does this collision of styles hail from?
,,Great question! Our goal has always been to create music that first and far most resonates with a modern day audience and not try to create something from the past. That said I guess that we just listen a lot to Pop/Rock music from the 80s and onward and that just shines through in our own music.’’

Much like Degreed you serve slick melodic rock with great thriving guitar work and almost danceable beat. Hearing it I hear fling of classic acts and new music. What styles and bands influenced you and the guys causing this cocktail?
,,That has changed so much over the years for us but I guess that bands like H.E.A.T., Giant, Michael Bolton, Rascal Flatts, Survivor, Toto, FM and so on strongly influenced our first chapter a lot. For the next chapter we still got our roots but with new influences from bands such as The 1975, Smash Into Pieces, Javier Colon, The Weekend, Chris Kläfford, Måns Zelmerlöw and there’s even a few small nods to bands like Periphery in there.’’

Andreas Gullstrand    Photo by Mikael Roos

The EP was a perfect calling card and immediately grabbed attention of melodic rock’s biggest label Frontiers Records. How did this all take shape?
,,When we were approached by Frontiers I think we had like 12 offers on the table from different labels which was of course the ideal situation for most bands and artists. Frontiers was the only label that we felt could match our own grand plans for the future which led to us signing with them.’’

With the debut I noticed a bunch of line-up changes of which the most striking one was the replacement of Jidhed for August Rauer. Though I believe he fits the profile better I was surprised by this as well as the sound of the self-titled album. It took me a little to grow into…. With only 3 songs from the debut I got somewhat attached to the sound of Jidhed as fronter of Creye. What caused the line-up changes?
,,When we made the debut album we of course made it with the intention of that being the final line-up for Creye. Jidhed chose to part ways with us due to personal reasons in late 2018 and August Rauer, who had been friends with our drummer Arvid for a long time, stepped in as our vocalist on the gigs we had that year. We found that working with him was a true pleasure and he ended up joining Creye as a permanent member together with Joel Selsfors at the end of 2018. I can only believe that August and Joel joining Creye was written in the stars all along, I mean it’s one thing to talk the talk but when it comes down to walking the walk then this line-up is the only version of Creye that the audience has ever known. Creye is stronger than we’ve ever been. This is the real Creye!’’

Was it causing a lot of headache to find the right guys to complete the band, or where you very demanding in them matching the right vibe and skills?
,,Not really to be honest. The majority of the band has been a part of this since before the `Straight To The Top’ EP and there’s never been anything other than love and hard work from them. I am quite demanding [laughing] but everyone in the band is there with the same intention, which is making Creye a success and that requires hard work. That said, at the end of the day we’re just a couple of friends that loves making music together.’’  

The album landed on the top of most hard rock lists and was celebrated on the spot. Looking back, how do you feel about the debut?
,,As far as debut albums go I’m really, really proud of it! It was a huge milestone for our career to reach the point to where we are now and I think it holds up quite well even 2 years later.’’

With the unmistaken talents in song writing I also was somewhat surprised by the collaboration of Creye with external songwriters. How did this take shape?
,,I guess that it was just an opportunity for us to work with some really great writers and some of the songs that were offered to us were just too good to turn down.’’

Then there was the tour….. and the festival appearances. How was it to bring the band to the stage?
,,Like most of the other stuff in Chapter 1 this was another first for us. Our first three shows ever were all pretty large indoor festivals which alone was a challenge since festivals are a bit more stressful than ordinary shows due to the very narrow schedules. I really think we came out strong and with a great foundation for us to evolve and keep building on. The response from the fans was just tremendous, better than we ever could have imagined!’’

Creye   Photo by Mikael Roos

The tour with Jaded Hard and DeVicious I noticed there was so much fun and interaction, even in the smallest of venues (Bree). Has the band grown performing?
,,The shows are one of those things that will never be completely done, we’re always improving and changing stuff after every show to make it better. But I really feel that the tour with Jaded Hard and DeVicious was a great learning experience for us and at the end of the tour we had really grown a lot on stage.’’

I noticed a lot of interaction between all three bands as well. How was it to share the stage with these seasoned guys [Frey, Bormann, etc.] and their new bands?
,,Well I guess it was equally challenging for everyone on the tour to please the spoiled brats from Sweden [laughing]. No, but we really bonded and found some new friends for life on that tour. A big shout out to Mr Frey from DeVicious, who really invested a lot to give us that opportunity.’’

All laying on schedule Corona struck. You and the band were affected by the pandemic in terms of health or planning?
,,The world being on lockdown until further notice really sucks big time in terms of planning  for the future. We’ve spent the first half of 2020 in the studio completing our new album so it didn’t really affect us at first. But cancelled gigs, postponed shows and loss of income is something that really became a reality after a while. Let’s hope that things go back to normal really soon since we have a world to conquer.’’

To me it felt like you took hold of the steering wheel and made the best of everything by recording `Up Close’. Was it accidental or planned to be released in the period of all those artists recording home sessions?
,,`Up Close’ was actually recorded in 2019 and released before we even knew about Covid-19. `Up Close’ was very planned and I guess we were just in between albums with two new members in the band so we felt that we really should put ourselves in a context were we really weren’t that experienced and do some experimenting together. We’re really used to these huge productions and we just wanted that one to be all about the song writing and a chance to experience ourselves and our music in a different lightening.’’

What the EP proves foremost is the high quality of your songs holding up acoustically also. The performances are spot on and the band seems to be a solid rocking collective. When you hear the songs performed acoustic, are they closer to the way they were written?
,,That’s really an interesting question. I think that my style in writing music has changed a lot since I wrote `Never Too Late’ back in 2015. Back then and for the entire first album I would base the song on the production, which means that I more or less would have a finished background as you would hear it when it’s done and then write a melody that goes on top of that. That’s a rather time-consuming process that requires a lot of force fitting stuff together to make it work. I think the song ,,Lost Without You” was really a turning-point for me as a writer since that one was written by me and August with just his lovely voice and a guitar. So, to make a long story short the songs from the album that ended up on the EP were portrayed in a way that they had never ever been played before as opposed to ,,Lost Without You’’ that was more or less written that way.’’

Which versions do you personally prefer?
,,Both versions have their own charm for sure but the full band versions are my personal favourites. That said I really think that the `Up Close’ EP was an important moment for us to evolve as a band and to find out where we wanted to go with the next album.’’

How do you reflect on the original recorded?
,,Like I said before as far as debut albums go I think it really holds up quite nicely in 2020. But Creye as a band has matured so much since back then and I think that phrase will make much more sense when the new album is out.’’

Would you change anything looking back?
,,Based on where we are today and what the EP did for us to really come together as a band and dare to be a bit more bold in our ideas and push the boundaries of the genre, then no.’’

The last few weeks / months your social media pages also shown bits and pieces of the band recording music. Did the pandemic speed up your creational process being quarantined, or where you all going ahead on schedule?
,,That was actually all according to plan.’’

Following the video previously mentioned the new album was announced and will be preceded by the new brand-new track ,,Face To Face” which is out now (July 22nd). Let’s provide some details….
,,Face To Face’’ is a heavy, fast paced track that will really show off a more modern heavier side of the band combined with that melodic sound that we’re known for. I guess ”more is more” is a great way to describe it.’’

Five years since you founded the band: brand new and sharp logo, grim backdrop. What may we expect?
,,You may expect an entirely new era of Creye where we’re dead set determined to expand our brand into the next level.’’

The artwork comes across as the earth lit on fire on the left, with swirling storm clouds covering the right side. Can you lift the veil and explain?
,,I think we just wanted the next chapter to be all about us re-inventing some of the stuff to not come off as a symbol of a decade 40 years ago. The previous style in artwork was definitely one of those things that we more or less felt that we had gone as far as we could with. We needed something that would resonate with a modern audience and we kinda gravitated quite naturally more and more to abstract art where it’s up to the beholder to make his or her own interpretation of it. And that is what you see in that picture. We just explained our new direction to our designer André Beckston and that’s one of the concepts he came up with.’’

Am I right if I spot an embryo in those dark thunderclouds?
,,The beauty of abstract art is that it’s all in the eyes of the beholder [laughing]!’’

I also noticed a dot on the red side [right in the centre of the C], much like the Yin-Yang sign, together with the sides being differing and balanced, will this reflect on the new music?
,,I haven’t really thought about it that way but I do actually think that the reference to yin-yang is a perfect description of what our new music sounds like.’’

Will there be a darker and brighter side? A balance between positives and negatives perhaps? More social critical perhaps?
,,Definitely all of the above.’’

And there’s the broken triangle. There’s so many myths and mysteries tied to this shape you are boggling me already. In Greek Mythology it represents the delta Glyph; the symbolic doorway with polarities providing an opening to balancing thoughts and emotion to no jure in a higher wisdom. With the triangle also often connected to the holy trinity and the one of your art being broken, I expect deeper meanings on the new release…. Tell us…. Anything… gives else us anything?
,,[laughing] Well you’ve definitely done your homework! The first album is very much centred around a love story which is to some degree present in the new stuff as well. But there is definitely a darker tone to some of the new stuff that could be interpreted in so many ways, both existential, society as a whole and life in general. That said we’re still Creye and we’re never gonna get doomsday dark. Especially in the way we sound. But being the one writing 99% of all the lyrics for the band I think it’s fair to say that our lyrics may definitely continue to get deeper. ,,Face To Face” is however not one of those songs.’’ 

It suits the name of the band. Pronounced, “Cry”…. Coincidental?
,,Yes it’s definitely coincidental.’’

Is there anything you want to add for now?
,,You guys are in for some exciting times ahead!’’

Thank you for your time and effort Andreas. Let’s catch up after the release of the new album. I’m convinced many are eagerly awaiting this new record.
,,Thank you so much!’’
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