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Tony R View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post 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 not. 

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 future? 

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 artist? 

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 rock? 

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 now. 

Answer: Thank you very much. It is my pleasure. 

A hug from Cozumel!



    

Edited by Tony R - May 23 2006 at 18:06
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