A Solo Project 'On The Rise': Our Q&A With Metal Master Peter Carlsohn

[Cover photo credit to Johnny Lindgren]

Peter Carlsohn is a notable member of the Metal community due to his nearly 40 years of live performance as a bass guitarist in Metal bands, but you're most likely to be familiar with his music if you like Christian Metal, or bands that have a strong charitable mission, since he's been in all of those.

In fact, he's in most of those bands simultaneously and doesn't seem to find that to be a hardship. He started playing in various musical genres in the 70's, joined the Christian Metal band Jerusalem in 1980, recorded several albums with them, and has toured all over the world with them for the past 40 years. He is also the  bassist for Rune Edvardsen & Red Band, and also member in the band XT, who are known for their charitable work. By the way, all three bands are currently recording new albums as of 2020.

While still a member of all three above mentioned bands, Peter Carlsohn has managed to craft his first solo project called Peter Carlsohn’s The Rise: Out of the Blue, arriving on vinyl August 7th, alongside musical brothers from his other endeavors, including Michael Ulvsgärd (Jerusalem), Stephen Carlson (CarlsMo, Gil Edwards, Hilde Halseth, Chakra), his actual brother Lars CarlsohnSvenne Jansson (Glam, Golden Resurrection, Jerusalem), and Cutta John Kåre Gullestad (Cutta, Crush, Rune Edvardsen & Red Band, Steven K Band, Heartless).

If, like me, you love to see musicians continuing to get out of their comfort zone and try new things, no matter how celebrated their career might be, you'll enjoy our Q&A with Peter Carlsohn here at Tower's PULSE!.

He managed to find some down time after shooting videos for several days for the new songs on The Rise: Out of the Blue. He says he's "tired but happy" now that they are done.

Hannah Means-Shannon: How have you come to work in and with so many bands at the same time? Does that ever get hectic for you?

Peter Carlsohn: I feel very fortunate to play with these bands! Wonderful musicians, and wonderful friends! Over the years, it has worked out very well, because the schedules for tours and recordings has not overlapped.

Since the early eighties I have been on the road with Jerusalem, touring all over, but in recent years, have not been doing that so much. But now this summer, I will record some songs on Jerusalem’s new album, that will be released later this year. So I’m very happy about that!

Right now, it happens to be that all the bands I’m in are recording new material, during 2020. But I really just like it and am so thankful to be a part of it.

I have already recorded some songs with Rune Edvardsen & Red Band, and XT will go into the studio later this Fall.

HMS: When writing the songs for Out of the Blue, did sounds and sonic ideas come first, or lyrics?

Peter Carlsohn: It almost always starts on the Bass-guitar. I play around, or practice.
Something comes up, and I start to work with it, or record it, to remember it for later. I also record the melody, with fake words, to remember it.

And then, after a while, when I play it, the next parts starts to come. At the end, when most of the music is recorded, then I work with the lyrics.

[Photo credit to Per Gunnar Okland]

HMS: This is a really obvious question, but I’d like to ask what led to your decision to release Out of the Blue with lyrics in English?

Peter Carlsohn: It just felt natural! Sweden is a small country, and I would like people all over the world to understand what I sing.

HMS: How important is it for you to work on your own solo project with musicians who have been part of your life over the years? Does it give you more freedom to express your new ideas?

Peter Carlsohn: Yes, it gives me the freedom to really dig into my heart, and gives me the time to try things out, over and over.

And then, when my fellow musicians add their flavor to it, it takes it to higher ground, and I just love it!

I must add that I really like other ways of recording songs, too, just as much as this. There are so many ways to do it, and most of the time, it turns out really well!

HMS: How have you survived 40 years of touring in so many countries? Are there any rules or guidelines you set for yourself to keep your health in tact while on the road?

Peter Carlsohn: I try to be flexible, and I try to stay positive, no matter what happens! Sometimes everything is wonderful, and other times it’s just to take you thru it...Sometimes you stay in the most wonderful places, and other times you don’t...

I try to think about what I eat, not too much junk food and sweets. In Asia and Africa, where I’m not always used to the food, I try to be careful, so that I don’t get sick to my stomach. It’s not fun to be on stage, when all you can think about is going to the bathroom or toilet... But I have to say, I love the food there, so I just try to eat at places that feel safe for me.

I also try to work out on a regular basis. I need to strengthen my back, because I’ve had some problems in the past. The Bass can be heavy during a long concert, and I’m a tall guy, so it’s important for me to stay strong.

[Photo credit to Per Gunnar Okland]

HMS: You’ve toured a lot in Asia, as well as so many other places, but I was wondering if large rock concerts are a newer phenomenon in some parts of Asia, and if that’s a growing community?

Peter Carlsohn: Yes, there are so many great bands and artists all over and it’s wonderful to meet them, and play at festivals together. And many become good friends! In many places, you are surprised by the bands who have been touring there. Especially in India and Indonesia, there are many big concerts.

HMS: I heard that with Rune Edvardsen & Red Band, there was a focus on delivering help and aid to some of the communities you played in. Could you tell us more about what that was like and what those goals were for the band?

Peter Carlsohn: A big part of Rune’s life is to work with mission and aid. In many places, the work is closely connected to local churches and aid organizations.

As a band we try to raise funds for this work, and we go to many of those places, holding concerts, and trying to encourage, lift up and give hope to people. And at the same time be a part of the work that is going on there.

The work can be very different from place to place.

In the Congo and Burundi, there are homes being built for children and women, those who have been hurt in the most horrible ways, from the never-ending war there.

In Zanzibar, there are mobile health-buses, that goes out to the poor in the villages with free help. In India and Burma/Myanmar there are homes for children, villages for lepers and rehabilitation centers for drug addicts.

In some places, we have built youth centers, where young people can come, work on computers, learn how to play music, and much more.

There’s so much going on, and I’m so glad to be a small part of it.

[Photo credit to Pere Gunnar Okland]

HMS: I was interested to learn that The Rise has a form of pre-history in releasing Blue Zone in 2004. Are there any themes or ideas in music or words from that project that have influenced Out of the Blue?

Peter Carlsohn: Yes, the title “Out Of The Blue” actually comes out of The Blue Zone... And of course, it’s related in many ways, because I wrote those songs, too.

HMS: Do you think that playing in so many bands and with so many other musicians over the years has given you more reach in your abilities as a musician? Have those lessons helped with this album?

Peter Carlsohn: Yes, I learn things all the time and to play with different people gives me a lot to work with. Whoever you play with, you have to connect, listen, feel, and do something together.

I play with wonderful drummers and that’s a blessing for a Bass-player !

One thing that I try to keep in mind, both as a Bass-player, and in the recording-process, is that even if I always want to be better at what I’m doing, I have to be satisfied with what I can do today.

HMS: What is your philosophy about conveying Christian ideas in the bands you’ve played with, and now in your solo album? What do you hope that audiences receive from the message of your music?

Peter Carlsohn: When I write the lyrics, I write out of my heart, and I’m so thankful to God for so much! He gives me hope and comfort in so many ways. I’m happy if I can share some of it, some of the love, the comfort, and the good plans that He has for all of us.

HMS: Do you have plans to tour for this new album once the world is open to touring again? What sorts of venues do you think you’ll play?

Peter Carlsohn: We would love to go out and play!

And I love to play in all different kind of places, small or big, club-gigs or festivals! The joy of playing together, and the joy of meeting an audience: it’s great!

HMS: Why do you think music has played such a big part in charity work and in engaging with the world during this pandemic crisis?

Peter Carlsohn: The love for music and the willingness to try to help is something that we all have in common. And the music is such a good way to reach out to each other!

HMS: Tower Records has a motto, “No Music/No Life”, which can also be written as “Know Music, Know Life”. What does this motto mean to you, personally, when you hear it?

Peter Carlsohn: I really think that music communicates across bridges of any sort, whether culture, age, or taste…The whole atmosphere of life can change, just because of some notes from a song.

Something happens inside, and you go from worry to calm, from sorry to happy, just by hearing the music. It’s fantastic,and wonderful!

It’s wonderful to see, when you play concerts, how barriers breaks down, how the audience and the band connects. You feel like a big family, and I love that.

We are in it together!

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