Interview with Stefan Westerlund of Rockett Love

The global quarantine due to the pandemic of COVID-19 is an extremely difficult period for all the people involved in the music industry. But can it also spark creativity…? It may not be easy to have it scientifically confirmed – but with so many artists locked in the recording studio during the recent months, we could at least hazard a guess. One of the bands who are currently in the midst of working on the new material is the Swedish Melodic Rock ensemble Rockett Love, built around its mastermind and lead guitarist Stefan Westerlund. Does it mean we’ll get the new material merely a year after Greetings From Rocketland? Here’s Stefan explaining it and a lot more.

Rockett Love. Photo used by the band’s permission.

Alexandra Mrozowska: How is it going in the recording studio? And how do you manage to keep the creativity flowing while working at such a fast pace?

Stefan Westerlund: Summer 2021 is the deadline. We’ll work ‘till we are 100% satisfied. So far, five songs are finished. As far as creativity is concerned, that can be hard at times. The songwriting doesn’t take too long. The studio work can be quite boring, though, so we record in short sessions to keep it fresh.

AM: Erik Mårtensson (Eclipse, Nordic Union, W.E.T, Ammunition) mixed your previous album Greetings From Rocketland. Have you renewed this collaboration while working on the follow-up to it and why did you collaborate with him in the first place?

SW: We have not renewed it, but we might. Some other names are considered – Chris Laney, Harry Hess, Dennis Ward… We worked with Erik because he delivers. The guy is a musician, songwriter, producer and knows what he is doing. It also put some pressure on us to do our best – you don’t want to send a guy like him bad songs to mix.

AM: Will the album #3 be self-produced, as it used to be previously?

SW: Yes, it will. We don’t have the money to have a producer – wish we had. The problem is to know when to stop and say “This is good” and not overdo it.

AM: Can you reveal anything about the new album?

SW: The working title is Galactic Overdose. It will be more catchy with cool guitar riffs. Some song titles are “Too Much (Water Under the Bridge)”, “Don’t Look Back”  and “Danger Zone”. As for the style, it will be the same as before. The vocal arrangements will be bigger and we have added keyboards on some songs. The two previous albums have mainly been written by me musically, but this time Daniel (Samuelsson, Rockett Love’s singer) has also written three songs that are really great. I have my influences from the ‘80s and Daniel has his roots in bands like Alice in Chains. I think that is a cool mix.

AM: When Greetings From Rocketland was released, it was stated that you guys had a lot more material than just the eleven tracks that ended up on an album. Did you have to cut down on songs this time too? Do you tend to recycle any songs written in the past?

SW: It can be. This time, we’ll only work on songs that will end up on the album though. Also, there is one track on Greetings From Rocketland that I don’t like much, but Daniel convinced me. Funnily enough, it’s one of the songs really liked by our fans… As for recycling songs, we recycled one for Gretings… and also, the song “Whatever You Say” off Grab the Rocket was written by me when I was 25. That was 32 years ago – never too late to recycle… (laughs)

AM: What kind of approach do you have as songwriters?

SW: The song has to have a natural flow, a cool riff and a great chorus. The guitar solo has to have a separately written part. Never use a verse for the solo.

AM: I believe you work in your own studio. Do you find this advantageous and do other bands also happen to use the studio?

SW: To have your own place to record is awesome, a dream come true. We built it to our own needs and we have plans to do a full live in the studio recording in the future. No other bands have used the studio so far.

AM: Your previous two albums were released via AOR Heaven. Will it stay this way?

SW: AOR Heaven have been good to us. They do great promotion so the third album might end up there, but we have had other record companies interested as well – so we will shop it around. 

AM: In the past, your music drew attention of no one else but Beau Hill himself, who mixed one of your early songs. Would you like to collaborate with him in the future again? Are there any other producers you’d be glad to work with?

SW: We got an e-mail from Beau out of the blue. We were recording the first album and had a demo of the song “Rocket Love” on No One Music. A friend of his heard it and sent it to him. He liked it very much and offered his services. He mixed “Rocket Love” and we released it as a digital single in 2016. That version is on the Japanese version of Grab the Rocket. To work on a whole album with Beau would be great. Mutt Lange, Bob Rock and Howard Benson come to mind too, but those guys don’t come cheap.

AM: I can only imagine… What about the Rockett Love’s live gigs, overall as well as in the face of the current pandemic?

SW: We haven’t played much live, only six times… but the shows have all been sold out. This year, we had some gigs planned that got cancelled. Also, we took a break from the recording for a while.

AM: What are the band’s future plans?

SW: The plan is to do an absolutely killer album. No compromises and playing live as much as possible when the album is released.

AM: Any last words?

SW: Support your favourite bands. Go to shows. Buy albums and merch.

Rockett Love on Facebook

Rockett Love on Instagram

You can watch Rockett Love’s lyric video to their 2019 single “Back on My Feet” off their Greetings From Rocketland album below: