Hansi Cross of "Cross" - May 2006
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Topic: Hansi Cross of "Cross" - May 2006
Posted: May 22 2006 at 16:43
Here's an interview with Hansi Cross of Swedish Art Rock band Cross
Kindly presented to Prog Archives by Alfredo Tapia Carreto,originally posted on his site http://manticornio.com/
Hansi CROSS is an artist in a constant search about
progressive musical expressions. Welcome to Manticornio and thank you for
conceding us this interview. Now, we know that you begin as a soloist back in
1988, looking for a more progressive sound. What was the motive? I mean which
bands you heard that pushed you into that decision?
Answer: Thank you. My musical roots started
with The Beatles and then went on through Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to Pink
Floyd, Yes and Genesis. In my teens I was very much into progressive and
symphonic rock. I practiced guitar and singing by imitating my favorites but
when I became skilled enough to play that kind of music in the early 80's there
was no musicians around playing that kind of music. Prog and symph rock was
pretty much out of fashion and the bands I played with was either jazz-rock
fusion groups or into some kind of new wave rock, with occasional progressive
elements. In the mid 80's I was in a bands named Voodoo who played some kind of
mix between Simple Minds, Japan and Peter Gabriel with some heavier influences
and our music had more and more prog elements coming in which I found very
satisfying, but some of the other guys wanted to work towards more gothic rock
style. So, the band split up in September 1986. At that time I did inherit some
money. Not very much but enough to buy me a 8-channel recorder and a small
mixing console and suddenly I was in a situation where I could just write music
without anyone else being involved and found myself writing songs mixing more
and more progressive ideas into the music. At the time bands like Marillion and
IQ was getting well known and I felt that I wanted to pick up my roots and
incorporate them into the stuff I had done during the mid 80's. And I started
Cross together with drummer Benny Hadders from Voodoo.
Then you recorded a trilogy between 1988 and 1993. A
very ambitious start to someone who is just beginning, I think. Why do you
decided to do that, and which were the complications?
Answer: I was in a situation were I could work more sincere towards a style of my own and felt that the only way to do it was to record and release albums and did so. From the start there were no intentions to make a trilogy. It's just how things happened. The goal was to develop a style of my own. I have always honored bands that do their own thing rather than clone bands.
Thing's ran smoothly during the two first albums,
especially the first one, "Uncovered heart" on which we
worked as a trio, with me playing guitars and also most of the keyboards. On the
next album, "Second Movement" I co-wrote some of the
material together with Hadders, and for this album we also tried out having Tai
as lead vocalist on 50% of the tracks. On this album there is songs that are
more "poppy" as well as more symphonic tracks compared to the debut, which makes
this one not stick together as good as the debut, but to me it was an important
step in trying out different approaches for Cross. Both these albums are
somewhat group efforts led by me.
So, things tendered to run smoothly until halfway
through the work with the third album when suddenly - and quite unexpected to me
- Benny Hadders declared that he was going to quit. Not only Cross, but also
quit drumming. This made my situation feel a bit complicated for a while as I,
since some time, had that vision to complete a trilogy with this album and
wanted it to have the same basic sound as the two first albums. The sound of
which Benny contributed to. But I had no other choice than to complete the album
with a couple of different drummers and also sampled drums on a couple of
tracks. So, thematically "III-Changing poison into
medicine" is the end part of a trilogy, but sound wise it is
If you just have your band, what is the reason to
record “Paradox” as a soloist, playing all the instruments?
Answer: I am a fan of classic symphonic music and
have for many years had in mind that I shall compose a symphony. "Paradox" is a
result of this. I wrote and recorded this piece entirely for my own fun and had
no intentions to release it officially, but some friends who listened to it
suggested that it must be made available to the audience.
It seems that after of the recording of the album
“Gaze”, band CROSS was involved in a kind of non-understanding period. Many
musicians going and coming until the recording of “Secrets”. Why was that?
Answer: Well…there was no drama behind those
things. The line-up from "Gaze" was split because of the
facts that the drummer Tomas Hjort moved to the US, the bass player, Thomas
Christensen was not to keen on touring and the keyboard player Floke was not
really that much into progressive rock. It was not that all those musicians
suddenly quit. First Tomas moved to L.A. and was replaced by Robert Iversen.
Then we found that Floke was not the right guy to handle the keyboards (he is a
fine musician but not the right one for Cross) and he was replaced by Robert's
friend Olle Siljeholm. Then, as Thomas Christensen did not want to be a full
time, touring part of the bans, he was replaced by Lollo Andersson. This act,
who recorded "Visionary fools" worked together for about 18
months but was split up due to the fact that I got involved with Progress
Records and had not enough time to keep this one going.
I focused on learning about the record business
and being a part of building up Progress Records for a while and when time came
to record the next album, "Secrets", I felt that I wanted
to do it in a bit same fashion as the first albums was made, as a trio with
guest musicians. So, I thought about it for a short while and found that doing
it with Tomas Hjort (who drummed on "Gaze") and Lollo Andersson (who played bass
on "Visionary fools" seemed top be a good idea. And it was! So we used the same
formula when we recorded "Playgrounds".
Reviewing your album “Playgrounds” (thank you very
much for sending it to me), I noted hard influences on PINK FLOYD music. Which
composers are your inspiration guides?
Answer: I would say that the most important one's
is probably Tony Banks (or Genesis), Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Van Der
Graaf Generator, Yes, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd. Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich
are also rather important to me as a composer. I also believe that dashes of
Black Sabbath, Weather Report and early Manfred Mann's Earthband can be found by
those who look really carefully.
Parallel to “Playgrounds” you participated in the
SPEKTRUM project. Tell us what the plans of this project are. Was your idea?
Answer: At this moment we are writing new material
for a second album, but do not know who will take the lead vocals, as Lizette
does not have the time required due to work with her own band Lizette
And what will be the CROSS direction in the
Answer: Since the release of "Playgrounds" there
has been a small change in the line-up. Tomas, Lollo and myself are still the
core but we now have a keyboard player in Goran Johnsson (who also is the
drummer of Spektrum), which means that I will only do some occasional keyboard
playing and focus on the guitar and the lead vocals. Goran is a truly gifted
musician who contributes to the new compositions in a most satisfactory way. The
new material is not too far from "Secrets" and "Playgrounds". It seems that it
will maybe sound a bit more symphonic though. We want to make a very homogeneous
album and will not use as many guest musicians this time. We hope to have it out
in September or October this year.
Which is your favorite CROSS album, and how this
album gets related with some of your favorite music of any other band or
Answer: To me "Uncovered heart", "Gaze", "Secrets"
and "Playgrounds" are the most important one's this far, but all Cross albums
has its own importance to the overall picture and, in way or another,
contributed to the development of CROSS.
What is your own definition about progressive
Answer: I would say that nowadays there are three
definitions. One is the kind of bands who sound pretty much as the 70's, at the
time truly progressive, bands did. This is a definition regarding a certain
style of music which we can call "progressive rock". "Retro-prog" is a funny
word that could apply to these groups. Then we got music that is progressive in
the true sense of the word, music that is inventive and pushes boundaries for
the definition of "rock". In the 70's there were all these symphonic oriented
bands such as the one's listed above as, to me, important influences. In the
80's we had bands such as for instance Japan who created new sounds and new ways
of composing. Then we also have bands that are combining these elements. I
personally feel that this is the category were Cross fits in the best with our
roots in the traditional prog but also adding some ideas which I personally hope
the listener finds being progressive in the true sense of the word.
Thanks again for your time in order to answer this
interview, Hansi. Please, if you have something else to ad, do it
Answer: Thank you very much. It is my
A hug from Cozumel!
Edited by Tony R - May 23 2006 at 18:06
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