Rock’n’roll has always revolved around the concept of personal freedom – be it Lynyrd Skynyrd praising a rambler as free as a bird, Alice Cooper demanding freedom to rock and freedom to talk or Stryper’s call to choose your own destiny. Fast forward to 2019 and you’ll have rockers finding their new freedom manifesto in “Break Out” or “Never Die (Forever Wild)” by Crazy Lixx. It’s already been a couple of months since the group’s new album Forever Wild hit the shelves, followed by the aptly named Freedom Forces Tour 2019… but does it mean that the Swedes are going to rest on their laurels now? Or are there even bigger and bolder plans for 2020 up the band’s collective sleeve? I caught up with Crazy Lixx bass player Jens Anderson to find out this – and more.
Alexandra Mrozowska: It’s been a busy year for Crazy Lixx so far. Looking back, what were the highlights of 2019 for you personally?
Jens Anderson: Yes, it has. Wow, we’ve done some amazing shows so far but going to Japan for the first time doing two very successful concerts was just fantastic. You should have seen the queue to the signing session, there wasn’t an end to it!
AM: With Forever Wild revolving around freedom as the main theme lyrically and the tour named the Freedom Forces Tour 2019, is freedom an important value in your personal lives and music career?
Jens Anderson: I guess freedom is important to everybody, right? Forever Wild is inspired by a lot of action movies from the ’80s and those stories which are much about freedom and believing in yourself. Freedom Forces was actually the working title of the album, and when I started doing a lot of sketches for merchandise ideas it was mostly about fighter planes and the air force style, so it seemed like a good name for the tour. The “Silent Thunder” video is as much ’80s action as it gets, right?
AM: Would you call Forever Wild a continuity of Ruff Justice?
Jens Anderson: We were all very happy with the result of the previous album Ruff Justice so it was important for us to make a worthy sequel. It really feels like there is a bound between the two albums, I guess it’s because how we recorded and worked on them in the same studio and in similar ways for once. They are not really concept albums but there are some themes we use. I often refer to it as if Ruff Justice was an ’80s horror movie (a bit darker and rougher) and then Forever Wild is the 80s action movie (which is lighter, more power and such).
AM: While inspired with the ‘80s Hard Rock, Forever Wild doesn’t sound dated at all. Are you in touch with what’s happening in the contemporary scene, Rock and beyond?
Jens Anderson: Well, we listen to all kinds of different music, both old and new. To reach out to most listeners you will have to have a sound that’s not too far away from the modern sound. It’s a fine line and that has been one tough challenge. It has to sound “fresh” but still have that retro touch to it – it’s all about balance.
AM: While most of the band’s influences seems pretty obvious, can you think of any act(s) that influenced the way you play and sound but that your fans would have never suspected you to draw inspiration from?
Jens Anderson: Hmm… I’m a Shania Twain fan but I’m not sure if that has made a mark in my playing or writing (laughs)
AM: After major personnel changes earlier on, there hasn’t been any between Forever Wild and 2017’s Ruff Justice. What do you think is the strength of the current Crazy Lixx line-up and a key to your current stability as a band?
Jens Anderson: Without stabbing anyone from the previous setups, I must say this is my favorite one. There’s a great mix of friendship, professionalism and just pure talent. Everybody wants to do their best all the time and we have the best of times when doing it. It’s a good chemistry. I guess that’s what makes us sound better than ever and of course it’s also thanks to our sound engineer that we could bring with us on the current tour.
AM: What’s your concert setlists usually like? How deep to you reach into the band’s early stuff? What about the cover songs?
Jens Anderson: Well, we have a main set, containing the most obvious songs, the hits, the singles that we got a lot of feedback from and songs that we know we do really good live. Then we have more songs to pick from if we need a longer set etc. It’s a balance of creating a good flow in the set and play the popular songs, and of course a rare bit here and there. We have been doing some medleys etc. to try out some older stuff which also makes the concert a bit more exciting both for us and the fans. We haven’t really been doing cover songs in modern times.
AM: What was the most bizarre or the craziest story or request you’ve ever got from a fan when touring?
Jens Anderson: I’m not even gonna open that door (laughs).
AM: Can you think of any country you haven’t played in so far but would love to in the near future?
Jens Anderson: All of them? (laughs) We are booked in Australia in March next year, which is a bit of a dream. That will be awesome. But there are so many beautiful countries and so many awesome fans and people to meet out there in the world, so I can’t pick one.
AM: The “thumbs down” reaction to one of your videos on YouTube “must have been of a frustrated H. E. A. T. fan”, one of the comments reads. This prompts me to ask if there’s rivarly of any sorts among the representatives of the current Swedish/Scandinavian Hard Rock scene?
Jens Anderson: There’s rarely any “fighting” between the bands. Of course I’ve heard rumors about us and other bands but I couldn’t care less. It’s often because of jealousy as in any other situation in life. It’s always a pleasure meeting other Swedish bands out on the road, it’s like meeting old friends for the first time in a while. We tend to run into H.E.A.T., Eclipse, Crashdiet and all those bands everywhere we go, which is always pure crazy fun.
AM: Speaking of you and other bands representing the younger generation, what is the typical demographic at Crazy Lixx gigs?
Jens Anderson: Actually I think we got a little of both generations, not just the young generation but also the people who were there in the ’80s and get that nostalgic feeling when listening and watching us monkeying around on stage. I often get that they looked just like me when they were young, I hope it’s a compliment.
AM: Do you think your albums may serve as an introduction to the ‘80s Hard Rock scene and legacy for today’s kids?
Jens Anderson: Well, I think it’s easy to like our music. Even if you’re not a die Hard Rock fan, we have some songs for you. I’ve met people not listening to rock at all except us and then finding out about the good old classics. It’s an honor to be the door into that wonderful world! Even though the kids today can access all the music easily with all streaming platforms, which is very positive.
AM: In one of the earliest Crazy Lixx songs “Do Or Die”, Danny calls our generation the “wasted” one. Do you think he’d say the same today or is it somewhat less frustrating to be a rocker today than it was in the mid 2000s?
Jens Anderson: I think it’s easier to stand out as a rocker nowadays. Fifteen years ago you were still a bit freakish being a hard rocker, at least listening to Sleaze Rock here in Sweden. People’s parents were listening to that music – it wasn’t very “fresh” I guess. But then something happened. If you attend any rock festival today you will not only see the old generation but people of any age, gender or race. Maybe the new weird is way weirder than Rock was in the ’00s (laughs)
AM: What do you think is a difference between being an ‘80s rocker and 2010s rocker?
Jens Anderson: Wow, tough questions. Well, today you gotta be a multi-talented artist and entrepreneur to make it, since there’s no money for smaller bands to hire people doing music videos, record albums etc. It’s fun to do a lot by yourself, and you can do it the way you want – but sometimes I dream of just playing bass, writing songs and touring while letting hired people do all the “boring” work.
AM: What do you think is the future of Rock music? Will today’s kids turn out to be as creative artistically as their predecessors once they grow up?
Jens Anderson: We got a lot of huge groups falling away from us lately, and it will keep on going of course. I don’t know who will take their place, if anyone ever manages to do that. There will always be creative people, but what the Rock music will sound like I have no clue. But it’s a genre with a lot of nostalgic people, so maybe there will always be bands picking up “older” sounds? I guess time will tell.
AM: Speaking about the future, what does it hold in store for Crazy Lixx in terms of touring and recording? Do you plan to release any more singles/videos off Forever Wild?
Jens Anderson: We are currently booking shows for the next year, the second leg of the Freedom Forces Tour which, as I said before, will take us to Australia for the first time and a lot of festivals in Europe. We haven’t had a serious talk about a new record but writing songs is always going on in the background. I’m in a deep period of writing at the moment – I tend to get there when the autumn strikes, which is the only positive thing about the cold and dark weather in Sweden. And we have also been discussing whether to do any more videos and we haven’t really decided yet. I really believe there are some good songs that would deserve a video.
AM: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
Jens Anderson: Thanks for listening and for the support!