Work Of Art: The Swedish guys say it all with their name!

Another new band from Sweden, but these guys are not just any othe rband - they are responsible for one of the best AOR releases in recent memory and here guitarist Robert Sall talks details.

G'Day Robert, nice to have this opportunity to interview you and feature the band a little more. Tell us about the origins of Work Of Art - where did you guys meet -
was it at a meeting of the Toto fanclub?

He, he! No, actually I met our drummer Herman when we started to study music at the same school, a school which best can be described as an anti-Toto fanclub!
This was in 1992 when Toto and eighties music in general was considered unhip, even among music students! Anyway, Herman already had a jazz/funk combo with Lars. They asked me to join and that's where the three of us started to play together. Back then Lars was playing keyboard and every time we took a break while rehearsing, he started to play stuff like “Hold the Line” and “Hard to Say I'm Sorry”. Obviously, he was the right guy for WOA. At this point, Lars was “only” playing keyboards and we looked everywhere for a singer that could sing our songs but we always came up empty so, we had a hard time actually “get the ball rolling”. We kind of got stuck and it wasn't until years later when Lars started to get serious about singing that we could start to work on some real recordings.

A fitting title for the album, but where did the name of the band come from?
The band name has stuck with us since the beginning. I don't remember who came up with it, probably me or Herman. I do remember considering naming our band “Ms. Trouble” after a “Tower Of Power” song but in the end we went with “Work Of Art”.

Quite an astonishingly good release for a debut album if I dare say
so. Over what period of time did the material get written?

Thank you very much! I wrote a couple of the tracks in 2002 when we decided to reform our band. Two of them, “Why Do I?” and “Lost Without Your Love” ended up on our record. Then I kept writing sporadically after that. When it was time to record our album, I went through all these song ideas and realized how uncompleted they still were so, I had to complete all the songs really quick. It was really challenging but exciting at the same time. Lars also wrote two great songs, “Once In a Lifetime” and “Like No Other”, during the recordings of our album.

Lets tackle the whole Toto thing! Your MySpace page lists as your influences Toto, Toto and Toto! Where did you first discover the band and what was it about them that unites the three of you in this band?
I discovered Toto in 1987 with the “Seventh One” album. I was completely blown away after hearing that record and I still haven't recovered! Among the three of us in WOA, I'm maybe the only Toto “fanatic” but both Lars and Herman loves Toto and grew up listening to their records.

Favourite Toto album and songs?
I have to say “The Seventh One” because it was the record the introduced me to “the world” of Toto. Favorite songs, ok, one from each studio album: “Girl Goodbye”, “Mama”, “Turnback”, “Make Believe”, “Angel Don't Cry”, “'Till The End”, “Pamela”, “Jake To The Bone”, “Drag him to the Roof”, “Tale of a Man”, “Cruel” and “King of the world”.

Have you met the Toto guys? I just sent Lukather the song Camelia to
check out :)

Oh gosh, that track is VERY Toto sounding, I hope Luke takes it the right way. Really, that track is our ultimate tribute to Toto.
I've met Luke and David Paich twice but only as a fan. The first time was in 1995 and the second time the year after on their Tambu tour. Very cool and classy guys.

[For the record – Luke's response was: “These guys are great. haha A bit "familiar" here and there but hey, music is music.”]

So their sound obviously plays an important role in delivering your own music, but I think you guys have enough of your own style in there also. Your other influences include the likes of Journey, Giant, Mr. Mister, Chicago, Maxus, Pages, Jeff Paris, Saga, Pride of Lions, Survivor, Vince Di Cola, Winger, Mr. Big, Tommy Denander. That's quite a list of megastars!
Oh, yes! Actually, we could have gone on forever with that list because we all listen to so much music in a lot of different styles but, for the music we're making with WOA, those are our absolute favorite bands and artists. I think it's nice to name a couple of influences just so people understand where you come from musically.

I hear another prominent influence in the music, especially with vocalist Lars - that of Mark Free and Signal. Coincidence or another influence?
Coincidence actually! I'm really embarrassed to admit but I haven't heard Signal. I know that their “Load and Clear” album is a classic and I know must check it out sooner or later. As for Lars' influences, he is not into AOR particularly. He likes whatever music that sounds good to him regardless of style. However, I do remember him practicing a lot to Toto's “Isolation” record when we were younger. Another singer that has influenced him maybe even more is Swedish singer Magnus Rongedal. He used to be in a Swedish pop group called “Big Money”. If you ever get to hear their first album, then you know where Lars gotten a lot of his vocal style and ideas for vocal arrangements from.

Your MySpace page and subsequent demos caused quite a splash and some
advance hype.

It sure did and we're completely overwhelmed by all the great feedback we've gotten. We did not except this, I mean there are so many talented people out there making great music so we feel very lucky to get this much attention even before our album is out.

What I really like about this album - besides the infectious commerciality of the songs - is the fact they are still largely uptempo and feel good, while still bathed in keyboards and silky vocals.
Well, “Uptempo” and “feel good” is exactly how I would like to describe our album. Especially when you have twelve tracks on an album, you got to keep the tempo up so the listener stays with you to the last song.

Why Do I and Her Only Love really rock in that layered AOR way, then you have the more High-tech Westcoast feel of Cameila in the mix.
Yeah, we try to blend AOR and westcoast as much as possible. I would love to bring in even more westcoast elements in the future but when you're doing a debut album, I think it's wise not make it “too” diverse. I think of “Artwork” as an AOR album with a touch of westcoast.

I could see this album being a big deal in the wider community of music listeners had it been released back in the day. Are some of us lost in the wrong era?!
I guess we are but at the same time, I think there is always room for great music. And specially now when the whole music industry is chancing. There's really no reason for tying to sound a certain way just to sell records, you won't do that anyway these days. In some ways, I think it's really liberating not having to worry about trends and just concentrate on making great music. Again, Toto, look at their “Falling In Between” album. They completely went their own way and made the record they wanted to do regardless trends and came up with what I think is one of their strongest records!

Great production on the album - clearly an 80s sounding record, but a nice contemporary production and a big big sound for a keyboard heavy record. How did you guys achieve that?
I think a lot of the 80s sound comes from the way the songs are arranged. I write most of the music on keyboards and they play an important role in our sound. I kind of missed that sound in some of the newer AOR releases. As far as production, Lars did an amazing job producing this record, he's a genius really! You could say that I co-produced the record in the capacity of being the “musical director” but as far as making everything sound fantastic, it's Lars all the way!!

Favourite songs on the album?
Of course “Why Do I?” and “Camelia” but also “Once in A Lifetime” and “Peace Of Mind”.

I know you were approached for Firefest this year, but I think cannot commit. Are there any other plans for a live show or string of dates?
It was real shame about Firefest and I feel very bad about turning that festival down. It's just that we'd spend March-August last year making our record, took a well deserved break and since the beginning of this year, we been working very hard on promoting this record so we haven't had the time to think about playing live yet. Since we're only three guys in the band, there are a lot of technical aspects of how to make our music work in live situation. We're working on this right now and we're actually gonna have our first “test rehearsal” next week. Hopefully everything works out as planned because we would love to go out and play live. Preferably a string of dates but we'll see what happens.

Who else do you listen to from the current list or artists?
I hear a lot of current music on the radio and on MTV and must say that I really like a lot of what I'm hearing but not enough for me to go out and buy any of those records. I think the latest new record I bought was John Mayer's “Continumm” and there are also some new great Swedish pop artists which albums I've bought. I find myself more and more discovering older music. Right now I'm into the two first Rickie Lee Jones albums and I was really into the mid-seventies Genesis albums before that. I'm also enjoying Jeff Buckley's “Sketches for my sweetheart” at the moment.

What is the future game plan for Work Of Art - besides world domination? Where to from here once the debut record gets released?
It all really “up in the air right now”. We're hoping on doing some live dates to promote this record, but if not, I hope our record will do well enough for us to get the chance to record a second album. I'm also currently writing for some other AOR projects.

Anything you would like to add Robert?
Well, I would like to thank everyone how has support us on our MySpace page and elsewhere. It means everything to new band like us. I hope our album will live up to everyone's expectations. And of course I would like thank you Andrew for doing such an important work for the melodic rock scene. I've been a regular visitor to since 1998 so I'm really happy for getting the chance to do this interview!

Thanks for taking the time!