Interviewed by ROBEX, December 2013
What is the name of your band?
A HERO FOR THE WORLD
What does the name “A Hero for the World” stand for?
What made you call the band “A Hero for the World”?
Actually it is named after the song “A Hero For The World’, that I wrote a couple of years ago. It ended up being on the debut album as a trilogy, track 8,9 and 10.
Who is the hero that we sing about? Well, for some people it can relate to religious or even political heroes or leaders, or it could be someone in their family. Or a friend that is always by their side, through thick and thin.
How was the band formed?
Me (Jacob Kaasgaard) and David Sivelind met several years ago in High School in Sweden. Then I spent some time traveling around the world and eventually in
2011 we met up in the Philippines, and then in 2012 we decided to work fully on this band.
What made you form the band?
It was because of the songs. I have literally hundreds of songs just lying around in archives. David kept telling me we should record these properly, for the world
Can you briefly introduce your band and who you are?
Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band?
We have David Sivelind on guitars & bass, on drums Andy Gentile for Los Angeles, USA (known from the band An Endless Sporadic) on the recordings. On female vocals we have Louiebeth Aratan from the Philippines. Live we use additional musicians for the rhythm section. I do the vocals, keyboards & arrangements.
What was the ambitions of the band when you started?
To make great, epic music!
Could you explain your music to someone that haven’t heard you?
Best is to check out our latest album (Winter Is Coming – A Holiday Rock Opera) on bandcamp: http://aherofortheworld.bandcamp.com/
Our genre is Heroic Rock! We mix the typical instrumentation of Symphonic Power Metal, with strong hooks, choirs, orchestration, inspired of old traditional, classical, and pop music.
Where was your first gig?
Where was the latest gig?
In Cebu, Philippines.
Who writes your songs?/ who writes the music who writes lyrics?
Jacob writes both. On the latest album (Winter Is Coming – A Holiday Rock Opera) there were a few covers, rewrites and mash-ups. But all original material so far has been written by Jacob.
What’s good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are?
Heroic Rock / Melodic Hard Rock / Metal
Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about?
Heroic themes, similar to superhero movies. War, hate, fight, power, peace & love. Life.
Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?
Yes, 2 full-length albums:
March 2013 – Self-titled debut “A HERO FOR THE WORLD
December 2013: “Winter Is Coming (A Holiday Rock Opera)”
And 1 EP; “On Fire” released in October 2013.
Do you have any clips on YouTube?
Yes, almost all of our songs have a video clip, up on our channel:
What got you started in music?/At what age did you start playing?
It got started when I was about 4 years old. Listening to the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Beatles & more. Got inspired to make music at an early age. Started
playing piano at age 10. Started writing songs at around 12 years old.
What year was the band started?
What songs are in your live set’s?
Is it always the same set’s live?
It varies a bit, but we keep adding new material.
What are your goals with your music?
The goal is on the next album to try to create the best power/melodic metal album of all time (!!!). I was thinking, we should try this once. I look to some of my
favorites in the genre; Avantasia part 1, and the Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums. I’d like to give it all on one album and see if it is possible to create something even better.
When did you decide to go all in for the music?
At 10 years old.
Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern?
What are your sources of inspiration?
Older definitely. I tend to listen to old stuff mostly 60’s & 70’s music. Favorite songwriters are Brian Wilson, Jim Steinman, Billy Joel, Andrew Lloyd Webber,
etc. There are not many songwriters lately that has grabbed my attention unfortunately, the purity just isn’t there anymore in the songs. I also do love classical music and Beethoven, Debussy & Tchaikovsky are among the favorites.
What’s the first step when making a new song?
It’s starts in the head. Some songs; for example “Die If You Stand In My Way” & “Heart Of Ice” took me only 2 hours to write all the music & lyrics. Other songs,
such as “One Hope Of Light” & “One Voice Can Start an Avalanche” took me more than 6 years before finishing the music & lyrics.
How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums?
Well, that is just the reality right now unfortunately. We are hopeful it will get better in the future, as the power has switched from Major Labels, to the fans &
bands & private/independent labels & companies. There is more freedom now than ever. Musically, we can do whatever we want, if we want to release a crazy Christmas album & whatever, we can do it! Nothing & no one is standing in our way!
What would be your dreams for the band?
There are many. Touring South America would be one dream for us. We have many fans already there and it would be great to meet them!
Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to?
Manowar has some great songs, however there’s no album with them where I love all the songs. I liked Roy Khan in Kamelot a lot! I listen to a lot of old pop music & singer songwriters. Musicals are also a great inspiration. Movie/soundtrack theme music, for example Hans Zimmer, John
What would be your greatest fears for the future?
More destruction of the world, global warming, typhoons, earthquakes, global economical depression…. Whoah it never ends!
When you are on stage, what do you fear most then?
Actually; Electrocution. Sometimes microphones can become electrified, giving you shocks of thousands of volts. It can be worrisome when people don’t know how to handle equipment & power supply for stage use here in Asia.
How important are your fans?
Of course very important in this stage when we are still just getting started with the band. Every fan means a lot, and they have been great to us, sharing our video clips & posts with their friends, spreading the word about us.
Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment?
“Winter Is Coming” – the title-track from the new album. I was finally happy with sound/mix of that song. The guitars, drums, choirs etc, it sounds almost in reality like it does in my head. Usually everything sounds so different than the way I envisioned it. “In the bleak Midwinter” – also from the latest album. I was looking through a book of sheet music a few months ago, when I came across this song “In The Bleak Midwinter”, that I had never heard before. The melody was composed by Gustav Holst, a German relatively unknown composer, around 100 years ago. I simply read the melody along with the lyrics and heard it all play beautifully in my head. It’s astounding that such a simple masterpiece was written around 100 years ago and that no rock band has done a real version of this song. I just loved the melody. I rewrote the lyrics a bit to fit the lyrical themes & story of the album. I then went to my home studio and recorded a rough draft with just keyboards & vocals. That first demo recording of the vocals later made it to the final version on the album. The first vocal take captured the feeling of the song perfectly, sung on the same day as I first heard the song.
What do you feel is the best live band you’ve seen?
Manowar! All because of Eric Adams. There has never been another better live singer in rock nor metal, in my opinion.
What drives a band that isn’t all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing?
It’s for the love of music. Do it as long as you feel you have something to say as a songwriter, and having fun while trying to put it into music!
Do you have any webpages?
Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there?
Make music only if you feel you have to. As a songwriter, it has to come as a need to write music. It has to feel like you have to write music, that there’s nothing else you can or want to do. That the only thing you could think of doing is to make music. Once you start thinking & focusing on too many other pursuits, that’s usually a good time to quit or take a long break.
How do you view the music industry of today?
As a small flock of aging, malnourished sheep, struggling to understand reality, following instead of leading, reacting instead of taking action.
What advice would you like to give other bands?
Don’t listen to what anyone else has to say! Always remember that the Beatles were told that Guitar music is dead.
What are the biggest obstacles for a band?
Too little money, too many big egos, too little talent, but mostly just BORING songs.
How would you describe your sound in 2 words?
What is your favorite crappy instrument?
Pan-flute. I always wanted one, and don’t know why I still haven’t bought one. Maybe someone will send us one for Christmas? If so, I’ll play it on the next album, lol.
Interviewed by GRANDE ROCK, March 2013
Hi Jacob. I’m glad we’re given the chance to talk about A Hero for the World. Please tell us what A Hero for the Word is, how & when it all began.
J: It is the name of the band and the self-titled album, consisting of me, Jacob Kaasgaard (vocals, keyboards & songwriter), David Sivelind (guitars and bass), Andy Gentile (drums) and Louiebeth Aratan on female vocals.
I’ve been writing Metal songs for several years, but it is first now that a serious recording has been completed. David and I have known each other since high school. We played in some bands before in Sweden, but it was not the right time. We believe 2013 is the perfect time if any for a return to true melodic heavy metal! \m/
Even though you and David are from Sweden you’re now based in Philippines. I’m sure the metal flame can be eased no matter where you find yourself to be in the world. Did you think at any point that starting such a thing there would be harder than doing so in Europe for example?
J: It is certainly easier for inspiration here with the paradise living of the Philippines! Regarding live gigs it’s very much different than Europe though, the scene is not the same. However, these days it’s so much about the online stuff anyway, a metal band needs to reach a wide niche audience all over the world. We’re glad to see that we’ve already gained a good amount of fans in South America and Europe as well as here in Asia!
How long had the debut been in the writing/recording process for before you started searching for a label?
J: I wrote most of the songs 2011/12, and it was recorded 2012. We decided to release it through our music & entertainment company Jacob K Music (Hong Kong), since it was the most logical decision at this time.
How did you come up with the name “A Hero for the World” for both the band and the album?
J: It’s from the suite “A Hero For The World”, track 8,9 and 10 on the album.
Actually, more than 5 years ago I wrote the film music score for a low-budget superhero movie feature that eventually got cancelled. Then in 2011 I reworked the main theme in to what is now “Over Land And Sea”, ‘A Quest For The Brave” and “One Hope Of Light”.
The name accentuates our heroic style of epic metal, and that it is influenced by the world in large, both musically and lyrically.
Who is the hero? Well, no one knows… For some it could be related to religion or even something like a political leader. Or maybe the hero is that friend that will never leave your side. Or a fighter, refusing to give up in times of despair.
Jobert Mello did an excellent job with the cover artwork. Is this the Earth that’s about to explode?
J: Yeah, it shows that the earth is at its boiling point, or even beyond that limit. Ready to self-destruct. Only thing is, we don’t know from what yet, nuclear war, global warming, etc. And you can see the stars at the top; “Heaven’s Eyes”, the symbol of “One Hope Of Light”.
What’s the story that you’d like to say through this Hero? Does our world today need a Hero more than ever?
J: Yes… we’re at a very special time in human history, where everything is moving too fast. Each generation has grown larger, and for the first time in many countries the next generation will be worse off than the one before. There are so many problems around the world that are getting worse each day, and this is something that can be very relevant to sing about. So many metal bands are hung up on dragons and vikings etc, which is fine, however that is the past, not the future (or maybe?).
Can you give us a hint about the songs…?
J: “We are Forever”: It is the opener of the debut album. I remember when I wrote it, I was thinking: this song should feel it is just a 4-minute long chorus. The short verse and the lifting bridges are like “mini’-choruses on their own. 100% energy through the whole song was the goal, and then pushing to the limit to 110% in the end.
“Higher, set on fire”, it is meant to be played loud.
“Eternal Shadows”: First single off the album. Love the guitar solo by David on this one. The lyrics are about the near future; a change has to be made, or Eternal Shadows will await us.
“Free Forever”: The melody was inspired by music I heard while visiting China a couple of years ago. The lyrics are about life, death and afterlife; cynically this would be the only place where true freedom can be achieved, and it may already be too late at that time.
“Let It Go”: Is about a fighter – never backing down!
“Heaven’s Eyes”: Lyrically it continues the concept of the album. The fighter/hero sees the “Heaven’s Eyes” which is the stars in the sky, somehow aligned on a straight extraordinary line. It is the sign of change, however he doesn’t know yet if it’s good or bad.
“The key to know your enemy is to open your eyes”
“Alive “: is about hope and the fact that in a crisis you feel more “alive” and starts to value what is important.
“End of Time”: Continues the story; a star is the sign, and one must be ready to defend their rights until the “End Of Time”, and be prepared for the worst.
“Over Land and Sea”: The start of the main-theme “A Hero For The World”. These last three tracks on the album are to this band what a main title theme is to a movie.
This track marks the start of a long journey.
“A Quest for the Brave”: Lyrically this is about the Hero’s beginning of leading to a mission for freedom and change.
“One Hope of Light”: Brings the album to end with epic proportions, developing the melodies and themes from the 2 previous tracks. My personal favorite on the album.
You also took care of the mixing and the production of the album. How’s that so? Do you prefer to have the total control of your work? The final result is excellent I’d have to say!
J: Thanks! We have learned from scratch how to tweak and get the right sounds. It sounds best at high volumes!
It would be hard to find a good solution for an external producer for us at this time. But maybe in the future…
How did the cooperation with the drummer Andy Gentile occur? He’s just a session drummer, right?
J: Andy is awesome, one of the best upcoming rock and metal drummers around! He came into to the project during the recording stages.
Do you have in mind to make AHftW a full time so that you can tour and give live shows also in the future?
J: That would be the ideal scenario, however only time will tell if it will be possible.
Was it easier to find a label from any other country besides Europe or Us? Does this worldwide release by a Hong Kong label break the barriers and the monopoly for other bands and labels around the world as well?
J: I believe it is 99% about the Internet marketing nowadays. Got to break on Youtube. And it’s got to be worldwide, and move quickly. There’s so many listeners that never buy CD’s anymore, so the audience has to be captured on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and similar.
I’ve written: “…“A Hero for the World” marks the beginning of a brand newcomer that’s ready & willing to take it all the way..”. Do you agree with that?
J: Yeah!! Heavy Metal or No Metal At All! I’ve got so many songs already written, just waiting to record them and release. It is awesome and humbling at the same time to see reviewers that have compared the debut album to the first Avantasia album and the great Keeper albums!
We are hopeful that there’s still an audience for this kind of straight-forward melodic metal, and that fans will continue to share this passion and tell all their friends about the band.
Do you also believe, as I do, that “One Hope of Light” summarizes the whole album in a very special way?
J: Yes! It is the main theme of the band. It is certainly not one of those songs that was thrown together in a few minutes… it took a very long time to write. At the end, where themes from the song “Free Forever” returns; it mixes the emotions of bright and dark, not fully revealing if it is “Free” as in the positive kind of freedom, or “Free” as in dead… It is up to the listener which one he/she chooses to feel, depending on the mood of the day I guess.
Also, by the way, there’s a new lyric video for this song coming up on Youtube in a few days. It features a slightly different edit version of the song, with some more female vocals in the end part.
Are you into that digital/downloading trend or do you believe that’s killing music little by little? What’s there for a band when most people download their albums and do not even care to listen to them most of the times? What shall change so as to make it through?
J: It is easy for labels to play the blame game and say that it is the consumers’ fault that the music industry has been failing so badly for so many years now. However, times are changing, and I do believe monetization must get better with Spotify, Deezer and similar streaming services in the near future. iTunes and Amazon are great platforms.
Ultimately I think it comes down to the quality of music being written today is just not good enough. I mean, sound quality has become much better since the digital era started for most bands, but it has put less emphasis on the actual songwriting. In my opinion, songs should be composed with only a piano or guitar in hand. Actually when I think about it, there are not many albums at all from the last 10 years that I really like…
OK it’s time for our weird questions!!! Which is the music style you can’t stand hearing at all and why?
J: Anything without talent… there are so many songs in the commercial genres like R&B, pop and hiphop where a song has been written in 5 minutes and people like it because it’s “cool”. Then the next year that song is forgotten. J
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
J: This is a tricky question. There’s no album that I wish I had done 100% the same, there are always some songs that I don’t like on albums. But the Keeper-albums with Helloween in the late 80’s are special. The first “Keeper of the seven keys”-album was released the same year I was born. If I would have been making music at that time it might have been a different situation than it is now, who knows…
Another album, non-metal, that I really dig is “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. It meant a lot to rock music, the way Brian Wilson mixed emotions, harmonies and styles into songwriting in unique ways.
Name 3 top symphonic power metal releases that influenced the whole genre…
J: “Warriors of the World” – Manowar. Great songs on this album, and a very tight sound.
“Metal Opera part 1” – Avantasia. Part 2 was great also, but after that it has just not been the same again.
“Battle Hymns” – Manowar. The song Battle Hymn is just one of the absolutely best songs in the history of Metal. The purity of it is just amazing. When Eric Adams sings that third verse one octave higher, it stretched the limit and set a new standard for how great a singer can actually be.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music evolution, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
J: This is an amazing question! Unfortunately I can’t think of any album that would be good enough. Maybe a compilation of songs would do?
This question actually gave me some inspiration; it’s a great idea to try to represent the evolution of music on one album, melted into Metal of course. Maybe for the second album J
Which is that band that has influenced more bands & musicians since rock music begun…?
J: I would say the Beatles, Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys. I still keep coming back listening to that music often; that kind of quality and talent is just not there in a lot of music nowadays.
What are those 3 songs that anyone who hates metal music could hear on the radio and won’t even bother to re-tune?
J: Maybe; “Abandoned” – Kamelot
Any 70s-90s Meat Loaf-song!
Or maybe “Free Forever” – it has been getting some airplay already!
I think we’re done Jacob. Close this interview in your own way… Thx for everything… Take care dude!
J: Join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/AHeroForTheWorld
And Youtube; www.youtube.com/aherofortheworld
We will keep posting videos and updates. If you like the music: tell all your friends! And play it loud! \m/
(questions by Thanos for grande-rock.com)
Jacob from A HERO FOR THE WORLD, interviewed by “Reckoning Hour” March 2013
Hello there! I am Peter from the Greek reckoninghour.com! How are you? Do you want to talk to us about how the band started its first steps?
I’m Jacob from AHFTW, doing great! Very excited about our debut album being released this March 29th 2013! Our first single “Eternal Shadows” was released in December 2012 and has more than 120,000 views already on Youtube.
Me and David Sivelind (guitars and bass) actually met several years ago in High School back in Sweden, but it is first now that we have recorded some music for real! We worked on the album for a great part of 2012.
Is there a story behind your name?You want to tell something to the world naming your band like that?
Actually it is named after the song “A Hero For The World’, that I wrote a couple of years ago. It ended up being on the album as a trilogy, track 8,9 and 10. Who is the hero that we sing about? Well, for some people it can relate to religious or even political heroes or leaders, or it could be someone in their family. Or a friend that is always by their side, through thick and thin. The music is very much influenced by movies and superhero themes.
We can say that your band is a Epic/Melodic Metal band. What are your influences?
Well, the best singer in the world for the last 30 years is by far Eric Adams (Manowar) in my opinion!
For songwriting there’s so many influences, going back as far as to classical music such as Beethoven, Wagner & Debussy. Early pop music like Brian Wilson’s songwriting and the Beatles. Steve Perry, Bon Jovi, etc.
Lately I’ve been listening to Kamelot, I love some of their early stuff with Roy Khan.
I must say that i enjoyed your self-titled debut album..You got really good vocals and power sound!Are you planning some tours over the world? Any plans for coming to Greece?
Thanks for the kind words! Regarding the sound; it was really a joy to mix the album, trying to get that extra punch in the sound, while still keeping the clarity. It was produced by me and David here in the Philippines. Andy Gentile really excels on the drumming as well.
Regarding tours, well, we would love to come to Greece to tour. Or at least do some festival. Maybe next year. No tour has been finalized yet however.
Have you heard any Greek band? If so what band had impressed you?
Yes! GUS G is very impressive, I think I saw him in Sweden way back in the day when he was still in the band Dream Evil. Mikis Theodorakis is very interesting as well. And Vangelis is a big influence when it comes to my keyboard sounds (I have all his albums!!)
Talk to us about your goals that you want to reach as a band!
Goal number 1 is to keep making music! Next album should be even better. The goal would really be to get enough fans to make it worthwhile to continue making albums. And play some live shows.
I want to thank you a lot for this interview. We wish the best to your band. Before saying goodbye, do you want to tell anything to your fans and the reckoninghour.com readers?
Our debut album is going to be released this March 29th 2013. It will be available on iTunes, Amazon, and for streaming on Spotify and some other places. We will also keep posting videos and updates regularly to stay in touch.
If you like the band; feel free to tell all your friends! Tell the world about it! \m/