The frontman from French sleaze metallers Blackrain has lifted the lid on a pair of songs from the band’s new album revealing the stories behind ‘Home’ and ‘One Last Prayer.’
Swan Hellion sat down with Eric Mackinnon of the New Rock Times for a lengthy chat about the band’s recent new album, simply titled ‘Release,’ working with legendary producer Jack Douglas and the band’s long standing love for Guns N’ Roses and all things ‘80s metal.
After a trio of self-produced albums the band caught the ear of Douglas who has produced both of their most recent records as they crossed the Atlantic to record in Los Angeles.
But the leap into the unknown from producing their own music to working with someone like Douglas did cause the band some sleepless nights.
“We felt much pressure the first time he came to Paris for the recording of ‘It begins’ not knowing what it was to work in a real studio and not having a clue of what a guy like Jack would ask, would expect from us,” reflects Swan.
“So we worked and rehearsed a lot before he came, he was actually very surprised because we knew every single part we had to play many of the tracks we did one shot and so everything went for the best during the recording. In fact, the pressure didn’t last so long; it turned out quickly to be only fun working with Jack!”
Remarking on the difference in the band’s sound since Douglas began producing their albums Swan beams: “We just can’t compare the before/after Jack Douglas, the production is thousand times better since Jack started to work with BlackRain.
“About the songs themselves, Jack didn’t interfere much on our work, the songs as they are on the album are not so different than what they were on the demos if it’s that each instruments sound much better.
“He did me a lot with my accent and sometimes the lyrics also. He could come up with nice arrangements as well and sometimes bring cool ideas about adding other instruments. Jack and Warren did a great job on this album.”
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of Blackrain, a band who have proved they are not afraid to take risks or grasp any opportunity which comes their way, as shown by their starring role on TV talent show ‘France’s Got Talent.’
“We only played our songs on the show which is why we thought it was worth it,” Swan tells New Rock Times.
“I’m not sure the TV production knew about it though and I think they realised we were playing our own stuff the second time we went there.
“We had this opportunity right after the recording of ‘It Begins’ so in terms of promotion it couldn’t have been more interesting and the chance to play for 4 million people every time.
“Anyway, we didn’t really believe it would work out for us being in that show but eventually, we ended at the fifth place in the final.
“The TV was a great experience, we only met cool people, it’s been very interesting to talk and even just to look at how it works.”
The band are famous for their melodic choruses which are draped over sleazy guitar riffs but far from being all party songs, Swan says many of their tracks are based on real life issues which affect the band.
“We chose the title ‘Released’ for the album because many songs and the lyrics are related to some kind of liberation,” he reveals.
“All the songs are about events we lived or we saw, it’s always kinda personal.
“For myself I could tell you about ‘Home’ where I describe the way I see the city of Paris, the it affects me since I never felt right there.
“But also the song ‘One last prayer’ talks about our guitarist Max’s brother. He has a painful story, had many problems since he was a lil kid. He’s been a crazy misfit guy since forever, was probably born this way actually and it deeply touches Max since it’s kinda the story of his life also.”
Throughout ‘Release’, which was available to buy from March 25, and in fact the band’s entire back catalogue, the tributes to the Sunset Strip rock bands of the late 80s are obvious.
A slab of Guns N’ Roses chucked in a blender with a dollop of Motley Crue and garnished with a sprinkling of Poison – the recipe for BlackRain.
“Guns n’ Roses is definitely my favourite band, one of the first band I discovered when I was younger so it is of course an influence but it’s not the goal of BlackRain to sound like them,” insists Swan.
“We all listen to different things, our influences are many and varied and I guess that when you mix ‘em all with the right ingredients you get something like our last album.”
As we bring the conversation to a close the subject of Axl DC crops up. Will Rose be fronting AC/DC in the absence of Brian Johnson?
“I think it must be a damn great contract,” laughs Swan.
“Some will be happy about it, some will be angry but you can never satisfy everyone.”