March 6, 2023

Once again courtesy of our Spanish compadres at rockandrollarmy.com, the main content of this article and interview is again originally provided by Daniel FromHell….with the usual “assistance” of the three masked amigos!

Madness at the “sunshine factory”?!

CHAPTER VII – MANUFACTURING A THOUSAND SUNS

From the depths of the ocean to climbing hills, 2017 saw Märvel reaching for the sun. In a secret location (an underground base? Sunny California? Mars? Only the masked men know…) Märvel built their own studio, Solskenfabriken, the Sunshine Factory. In this new headquarter, the band would finally take over album production in full on their own for all their records to come. With no one to hold the masked madmen from going bonkers and creating musical chaos, what would be their next step? Grindcore? Ambient black metal? Samba? The punk album? No. It was the time to run wild and run free with their most experimental and musically varied album to that date, the aptly named At The Sunshine Factory

Märvel’s trip into the sun travels beyond all musical frontiers that the band had encountered before, opening Pandora’s music box in a truly “where Märvel has not gone before” fashion. Do you want an ABBA infused rock ballad? Check “Angela”. In-your face rock’n’roll? “Heart And Balls” is for you. A cocktail of American classic popular music (from Elvis to doo-wop)? Try “Live And Learn”. High energy pop? Here is “Child”. Do you want to listen to the fucking killer guitar solo that Ace Frehley never played? “All Over The News” at your service. Maracas, snapping fingers, acoustic guitar, whistling, clapping, sophisticated guitar-bass-drums play, complex games of voices, cryptic, mysterious, and sometimes dark, lyrics? At The Sunshine Factory is your Märvel album. A giant step in musical evolution and another cornerstone in the creation of the Märvel sound as we know it today… 

Fred Estby (death metal one man army): I have listened to everything they have done after “The Hills Have Eyes”. I love it. I think they’re really good and they’re progressing the way they should. The fun part with them is that the songwriting doesn’t have to be just action rock, it could be like a pretty soft song with a good hook and it still fits the narrative of the band, which I think is cool. And I always told them that. When you do not limit yourself to your niche sound, you can improve your songwriting by doing different songs but it will still sound like you, and that this thing has been happening also with bands in the past. People used to have a very niche-like sound to their albums, but they weren’t scared of trying new things without leaving their sound completely. And that’s the way you should do it. Just look at Alice Cooper or Led Zeppelin or even Black sabbath, you have the progression. You see it and it’s natural and that’s when it’s good, it’s not forced, it’s just natural and you know where to draw the line with certain songs or certain musical influences within the band. 

Dregen: They just grow better as songwriters and as a band.

Prior to the release of the album, in June 2017, Märvel played Fishbait Festival on Åland, including a special performance with Robert “Humbucker” PehrssonNicke Borg (Backyard Babies), and Sator members Chips Kiesbye and Kent Norberg, under the moniker “Nicke Borg and Märvel’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”

This is Märvel and Mr. Robert Pehrsson setting on fire “I Need To Know” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKKCdWOAccQ

At The Sunshine Factory would surprise many fans. Not one, not two, but three singles were released out of the album. In July 2017 the shiny nostalgia of “Goodluck Sandy” announced the coming of the new record.

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Enjoy the promo video for Goodluck Sandy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_4C-n3FbGE

At dawn on the 6th of October 2017, At The Sunshine Factory rose with the sunlight, to great praise from the music industry Press. The launching of any Märvel album deserves a proper release party, and in this case the festivities were held at Palatset in Linköping, together with supporting act Belphi. Debauchery ensued, which followed the next day in Jönköping, at Klubb Underjord.

High energy rock’n’roll, Märvel mutants and depraved scenes at the release party for “At The Sunshine Factory”

The same day At The Sunshine Factory was set loose on the streets, “All Over The News” was released as a second single from the album.

If you enjoyed the exercise in minimalism that was the video for “Hello!”, featuring Mr. Brost back in the times of “Warhawks Of War”, you will cry tears of joy when beholding the elegantly shot black and white video for “All Over The News”. Low budget or genius vision? Judge for yourself:

“Angela” was released as the third single in December 2017 with an accompanying video filmed at the local movie theater in Linköping. Produced and filmed by Björn Rallare and Gustaf Skogens.

At The Sunshine Factory does not only mark Märvel’s first self-produced album, but also the first one published with Linköping’s local label The Sign Records with whom the band signed in 2016, in what was the start of a relationship that endures until today. April 2017 Märvel had played the Sign Fest in Linköping together with Honeymoon Disease, Svartanatt, Maidavale, Lizzies and The Dahmers, to name a few. 

But The Sign Fest in 2017 would not be the only event to be graced with Linköping’s trio during those days. On the back of At The Sunshine Factory, Märvel had a very active live period during 2017 and 2018, either alone or with other fellow rocking bands, and with The Aviator re-enlisting for bass duties in many occasions like the Eksjö Stadfest or Rockklassiker Live in Norrköping with Sator and Backyard Babies. The band would also play Pustervik in Gothenburg with Hypnos and Night, Harry B James in Stockholm. Everything but a quiet period. 

At The Sunshine Factory is a visit to another galaxy in Märvel’s musical journey, and one hell of an album, praised not only by fans and media alike, but also by somebody who could well be one of Märvel’s most demanding critics: Juju Pelle (head honcho at Black Juju Records who released the first albums) “The best Märvel album is “At The Sunshine Factory”. Great pop-infused rock’n’roll.”

A winning album – Marvel at Rockklassiker Live – photo courtesy of Roger Johansson

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Do you want to feel like a winner too? Here is the link to buying the album: https://marveltheband.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-sunshine-factory

Beware! – Märvel has a music manufacturing plant and they know how to use it. In the next chapter, the mysterious men from Linköping will go undercover in a no holds barred search for forbidden pleasures…… 

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But now ….it’s time to enjoy the interview for At The Sunshine Factory….

DanielFromHell: Morning all! “At The Sunshine Factory” is the first record that you produced solely by yourselves. Fred Estby mentioned that somehow he encouraged you a bit to take this step because when he did “The Hills Have Eyes” with you guys he realized you did not need anybody else to produce with you. What made you take this final step and get into production on your own? 

The King: I think it was because that was the only way we’re gonna get it done because our private lives were taking up so much time, so we needed to be very flexible and work on our own. And, of course, we were also wondering who could we work with that would know how to make our music better? The list was short, so… (laughs) It was just fun to build a studio and try to do it for real. I remember being a bit nervous in the sense of “Are we recording well enough? Is the technical quality going to hold up?” We were just learning as we went along in there. Production wise, we knew what we were doing. It was more the technical part. We borrowed a lot of stuff from a colleague like homemade compressors and microphones and it was just a mishmash of borrowed stuff from everywhere. 

The Burgher: This was such an important creative spark in the band, to embark on a new journey and challenge yourself with something new. I think this is definitely one of the most fun recording sessions I have been on, but at the same time, as The King said, a lot of stress and stomach aches around it, feeling like three monkeys pulling dials, but we managed to get something out of it. 

TK: I remember being really proud when you guys showed up for the first recording and I had done lots of stuff to the studio. I mean, fixing things up. Moving stuff around, painting and refurbishing, etc…

TB: For that session you added the big window, right? Yeah, you really pimped up the place. 

The Vicar: It was basically a rehearsing room before, but when we came down, it was like a studio, 

DFH: When you have a producer at the helm he sort of guides on a number of things and many times is the one that clears out any discrepancy or conflict. Now that it was just you three together, how did you come up with the final decisions for things? Fighting? Drinking contest? Democracy? 

TV: No one’s ever done that for us. We’ve always battled it out or discussed our way through it. Anyone who has been our producer before, Fred a little bit less than the others, has more or less been a sound engineer with a lot of good advice. Finding the right path through a song has always been a collaboration. 

TK: Of course we can have different opinions and especially The Vicar and I have discussions sometimes, but it’s never anything really serious I think. And we always have the same end goal in mind. It’s just a matter of getting there. And since we are three people, if two people disagree, the third one can become the judge. 

TB: We’ve had discussions but never any big issues tied to it, I would say. 

TK:  If we have different ideas then we usually try them out and see which one works best and then most of the time we agree. I can’t remember that anyone has taken a decision against the other people’s will. It has always been a democratic decision in the end even though we started out in different directions.  

TV: And for this album, that was not changing, that wasn’t different from before. The thing that was different was the actual recording of things, having to mike the instruments properly and make sure we got all the tracks so that we could do a good mix afterwards. 

TB: To me, at least for this session when we had a full week together, this allowed us to dare to be a bit more playful, both for good and bad. We didn’t have anyone stopping us. We kind of realized that for ourselves when we recorded some stuff, went to sleep and then listened to it the morning after.

Nudie party at Eksjö Stadfest

TK: I remember Ben Soulseller listening to “Smile Mr Steen” and he said it sounded like a group of African musicians having found some instruments and trying to sound like Red Hot Chili Peppers. He didn’t like that song, he couldn’t get his head around it. It’s one of the most fun reviews we’ve had, I think. 

DFH: “Smile Mr Steen” reminds me a bit of Alice Cooper. “Go To Hell”, to be precise. 

TV: I can see that. I haven’t thought about it, but now when you say it that’s really true. 

DFH: In “The Hills Have Eyes” you expanded your musical horizons and experimented with new sounds, but with “At The Sunshine Factory” you go way beyond that, probably because you have all this liberty to yourselves, it’s your studio, you can record whatever the hell you want. 

TV: You could see this as yet again another chapter for us, right? Now we had the possibility of doing whatever we wanted before really learning how to arrange a song and adding layers and so on. It would take until the next time, when we started to master the process, that we realized that not all recordings need to be saved and that not all ideas need to be recorded. 

TK: This was a bit over the top. Extra everything. We had our eyes on the price in terms of trying to make poppy songs or songs that are not complicated for the sake of being complicated. I was still trying to write things that stick. 

TV: But I remember also that we wanted the vocal arrangements to reach another level here as well. Lots more harmonies…

TK: Yeah, this is the first album that I’m doing all the vocals on. Before that we always had someone else doing something. 

TB:  To me that’s both good and bad. Having our own studio means that we are much more in control and theoretically we can spend as much time as we want there. But practically it means that, since The King has the access codes to the headquarters, he has been carrying a bigger part of finalizing stuff and laying those last things. 

TK: It was a practical time resource thing as well. We did not need to be all in the same room for all of it, so we focused on recording the basic tracks and the arrangements of course. 

DFH: I obviously don’t know all that you recorded in those sessions. I only have the final product, but I listen to it and there is an explosion of things in terms of music. The structure of the songs. “Child” does not follow the patterns of other songs that you have recorded. “Goodluck Sandy” or “Angela”, which are very different songs from what you had been doing until then. ”Monsters Grow In The Dark” too. Lots of acoustic. The clapping and other sort of resources that maybe you have used in other albums but not so much as in this one. And then you hear lots of things that probably come from your musical DNA, consciously or not. Alice Cooper as I mentioned before, ABBA in “Angela”… I can even hear a bit of Kate Bush in “Step Closer”. Lots of stuff here and there that obviously it’s not copycatting anyone… 


With Ian Haughland from Europe at Rockklassiker Live in Norrköping 2018

TB: It’s certain that going this way really sparked our creativity and made us more self-confident that we’re doing things the way we really want to do them, taking inspiration from wherever it may come. 

TK: Sometimes you’re probably right about the references and sometimes it’s just something that we wouldn’t hear. I can’t remember intentionally copying Kate Bush. So it’s something that just happens when you mix things together.  But that’s okay, people hear different stuff. I remember for this record, the writing for me was kind of cutting off the need to write in a specific style, which I had felt earlier. This was more like “what the fuck, let’s see what comes out” and that’s why it’s more variated. “All Over The News” is classic Märvel, but “A Killing View” is something completely different. What I enjoy about this is that we all like to broaden musically and it was never a question of “oh, this doesn’t sound like Märvel”. It was more “Hell yeah, let’s do something like this”. Sometimes I may present the song and I don’t expect The Vicar and The Burgher to like it or want to work with it, but if it’s never been done there’s always a “yeah, cool, let’s try this idea” approach. I guess that’s a strength, that all of us are very curious musically. 

TB: We don’t want to do the same thing over and over. 

TV: That’s sort of maybe what differentiates us, that we’ve been talking about, from other bands in the genre that we, I guess, are part of or people group us together with. We’re not there for any conformity at all. We’re not trying to sound in any specific way. Well, maybe in the first two albums… 

DFH:You certainly play rock’n’roll and you are Swedish. Easy to associate with all the Scandinavian wave of rock and roll, but you are not an easy fit in a specific music genre (other than rock’n’roll). I think you guys need to assume that musically speaking, you are on your own. For good or bad (probably more for good than bad), You’re pretty much unique. Much more today, but I don’t think that in your beginnings you were very much similar to other bands existing at the time either. You’re your own band and your own genre of music. 

TK: That’s nice. 

DFH: I am glad you like to hear this because it’s honestly what I think and it’s not something that anyone can change anyway… 

TB: It’s a big compliment. 

DFH: Some people have been heard saying that this is your power pop album. Would you agree with that affirmation? 

(laughs)

TV: It sounds a bit weird because of all the layers and quite big arrangements and all that in the record. And not that many songs are super direct on this album, right? 

TK: No, except for some songs. “All Over The News”, maybe, 

TB: I mean, it’s a very melodic album…


At The Sunshine Factory” a power pop album? Come here, you…

TK: But it’s more eclectic. No, I don’t agree. 

DFH: The album is very melodic for sure, as Burgher said, and it appears to be very bright, but I see a certain underlying darkness to the record in terms of lyrics for sure, and the music is not that easy. I don’t know, just my impression. 

TK: I agree. It’s something you have to dig into. But the thing we struggled the most with was the cover artwork. That was a hell of a ride. 

TB: Yeah, that was quite painful. 

TK: I guess maybe that was because we were used to having Papa Bear directing that. Yeah, 

TK: We were all a bit late of course with getting it started. We had a lot of ideas for it. But we had problems finding an artist. It turned out great in the end, but it was really hanging by a thread at some point. 

TB: It took a lot of time getting there as you said. If Papa Bear would have been on board for this album, he would have kicked off this process a lot sooner or earlier on. We kind of realized that a bit later in the process: “we need to get started with the cover for the album.” We had a hard time finding an artist, an artist which we struggled with and ended up not using what she produced, and then we found this other guy… was he from Greece?

DFH: Ahmed El Gezery from Egypt. The cover is great. The concept of the robots is yours? 

TK: We had the concept and everything. We gave him very specific directions. It didn’t turn out the way we envisioned it, but it turned out good anyway. We had a very grand plan for a gatefold that never happened. That was supposed to feature us in some kind of museum that was taken over and the robots were pumping mojo from mummified Märvel bodies or something like that. But we ran out of time. Also the layout for the inner sleeve was simple but effective, with all the photos from the studio. It gave that personal touch. 

DFH: I imagine you learned from this for the next albums. That’s the thing that you have mentioned before: maybe you do not need a manager, but it’s a nice to have because it can save you a lot of trouble for a number of things. 

TB: I guess that in the absence of a manager we just need to learn from our mistakes and shortcomings, which I think we have. 

TK: It was nice anyway because the album got really nice reviews. I’m just looking through my folder of reviews and we got lots of five out of six, five out of five (stars)… A lot of great reviews. That’s so good since we did everything ourselves. Sort of a confirmation: “yeah, we can do this”. 

DFH: One little curiosity: in “A Killing View”, the reference to Bobby and Pam… are these the Dallas characters?

TK: Of course! That’s the song that I’m most happy about, most proud of. It’s melodic and rock’n’roll and something else. It’s a crazy blend of stuff, and we even have the snapping fingers in there!

DFH: It’s a really cool song. Personally, I would take “Monsters Grow In The Dark”. I think it’s an amazing song.

TK: We recorded a song from a friend “Live And Learn”. It’s not a cover, but it’s not written by us. It’s by Tom Pearson, who also co-wrote “Cagney Sans Lacey” on “Thunderblood Heart”.

DFH: This was your first album released on The Sign Records.

TK: Well, we did the re-release of “The Hills Have Eyes” on CD before that.

DFH: Yes, but in terms of new albums it was “At The Sunshine Factory”. So how did you get together with The Sign Records, other than them being Linköping neighbours.

TB: They had been growing for a while as a rock label. We know them from before. They are veterans in the punk scene where I come from. They allowed us to do things the way we wanted to do them rather than being this big label pushing down requirements. We felt that we could have a collaboration that suited us well.

Memories of Fishbait Festival 2017

TK. Yeah, and they were also very open to releasing older albums on vinyl for instance. They are very open to taking care of the legacy of the catalog, which we like because we always wanted all the albums to be out on vinyl.

DFH: You finally got “Five Smell City” on vinyl so now all your albums, singles and EPs are on vinyl, except “Unleashed” which someday will be, so… very good!

TK: Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

DFH: How do you reflect on “At The Sunshine Factory” today, five years later?

TB: It was such a creative spark and empowering thing, doing it ourselves and then getting such good reviews for it. It felt like a big win. As an album I think it’s really good. It’s not my favorite album but I’m really proud of it and it feels like a big win for us as a band.

DFH: So which one is your favorite album, then? Since you’ve said that, I have to ask.

TB: I think “Hadal Zone Express”, actually.

TK: No, no. It’s the latest one, of course! (laughs)

TV: It’s always the latest one (laughs)

TK: On this album, if I’m not thinking about the songs or the lyrics or anything, I would say just the accomplishment of us getting together and getting that out, as a team effort, is what I’m most proud of about that album. We found a way to work at this stage of life. 

TV: And also, understanding that if we were to continue, we needed to start our own company and formalize many things, all that stuff that gets the train going forward, even if it is slowly. I think that we achieved some sort of sense of clarity and empowerment in this release because of that. Before that, we were able to just slack around a little bit even if that’s not what we did, but we did it enough, because we knew that Björn was there to pull us in any direction we needed to go, and this made it a bit hard for us to be in control of the whole picture and own it basically. So that’s the thing we established with this album. 

TK: Yeah, we grew up but we… kept our young minds. 

TB: We grew up, but we didn’t grow old.

TK: That’s a good one.

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And now readers, before we go, feast your eyes on the cinematic video for the hyper-melodic ballad “Angela” – Aww…!