This interview with the guitarist John Allan Forssén of Steel Attack was done through e-mail by Sam Chronic in May 2003.

Hello, how is everything?
Fine thanks!

The band has recently released "Predator of the Empire", tell us a little bit about the album.
Okay, this is the first release on the new label we got Arise Metal, Spain. And the sound has changed a lot since we got 3 new members now, its only me (John) and Dennis the other guitar player in the band left, so the new members in the band are Dick Johnson – lead vocal, Patrick Späth – bass, back vocal and Mike Stark – drums. We tuned down a whole step to get a heavier sound for the new album, and then we used a lot more different unique voices for the recording. We have also added just a few effects on some words on the recording, just to get a different feel to the song, then it would have had without it. We recorded the album in studio underground the same studio we used for the Where Mankind Fails and Fall into Madness.

How has the response been from the album?
Its been great, and the reviews been great, then there been. So we are very happy with that since this is a “new” band in a way, with the new members and the sound and when we got the response from several of them who been with us since the first album or the second with a very positive vibe then it is just :-).

The band was formed around 1995 under the name Mayers Eve but after a name change and a few years passing, Steel Attack's first release was not until around 1999. What was going on for 4 years?
Between the years 1995 and 1997 the band where playing with other members beside Dennis and Steve and they where just creating songs and played more for them self and wasn’t so hard into getting gigs. Then in 1997 several members left the band and that was those members that weren’t into the music as hard as the others, so Steel Attack was a 3 piece band just for some weeks then Andreas was asked to join them and he did. You see, back then Steve had been the drummer and now when Andreas had joined then Steve took the bass and the lead vocal and the band was back but this time as a 4 piece band and they played as this till the beginning of 1998 then Mike had to leave, he had no time to be in the band. I (John) had left my band and was doing instrumental music in a room not to far from their rehearsal studio. They asked me if I would like to join them as the lead guitar player for the band and since I was very happy with the kind of music they played then I joined them during the first jam. That was in the May 1998, we sent the demo to 5 labels and within 2 weeks we had all answered with that they wanted to sign us. But we signed for AFM after dealing the contract for some time. We recorded the album Where Mankind Fails and it got released in June 1999.

At what point in time did you join the band and what were you involved in before joining?
As I said earlier I left the band I was in, and that was in a way two bands, one that did cover songs of everything from Rush, Deep Purple to Ozzy etc. and the originals we did was more experimental with the foot in the old classical hard rock and the eighties. But just before I joined them I was doing instrumental songs.

Being the first album since Steve Steel decided to leave the band how did the overall writing process change?
Nothing has change since we always write the songs together; the only thing that changed is that now we got 3 new fresh minds in the band in the new members. There is some one that may got an idea of a song, it may not be complete then we try it and then some in the band got an idea to add or so and without thinking of it we end up with a complete song, then when its time for the lyrics, we try to get a theme for the song and in the end we have got so many variations to the theme so the lyrics are there as well.

After a number of changes do you feel that the line-up you have now is here to stay?

Being considered a "Power metal" band what do you think are the significant differences between the power metal of the past to the current form that Steel Attack plays?
In one way the main difference will be the use of dbl drums a lot more than earlier metal, but I never think of differences we only play what we love, then there are more choirs added to the chorus etc this days and the use of keyboard are a lot different this days as well.

Is the band looking at going on tour soon?
We are looking into some possibilities on that and as soon as everything is set then it will be up on the official website

The guitar work on the album is incredible, did you have any schooling or are you self taught?
Thank you very much! The guitar playing started out very late for me :-(, I started out when I was close to 20 years old, and before that I was a killer air guitar player running on concerts to practice the skills :-). And the school that I joined was the GIT in Los Angeles during the time of 1988 – 89 and I was focus on the theoretic for most of the time, I was thinking that if I will get the boring stuff down then I had to commit myself and really dig deep into that. A great year with “loads” of fun :-) both in the school and for the chance to live in Los Angeles with all the great clubs that where at the strip back then.

I hear a twinge of "Helloween" in your music, are they an influence for you and what are some of your other influences (bands and guitarists)?
Helloween are one of the bands that we all listen to in the band and the bands that got me hooked on metal was in the beginning of the eighties, here are some great bands to air guitar practice to Iron Maiden, I saw them live the first time 1982 and that was GREAT. Then it was the bands Judas Priest, Accept, Queensryche etc that really were the source of inspiration to start playing. For guitar players there are too many to choose from, it’s the same with bands there are so many great bands out there. But I really like the extreme guitar players like Jason Becker, Andy Timmons, Paul Gilbert, Shawn Lane, Brett Garsed etc. there are several others as well that I really like but I never would imaging myself to try to sound like some of them, what I like about them is that they got a unique sound that you can tell its them just by hearing the phrasings or the vibratos etc, and of course like our Swedish guitar master Yngwie, he got a unique voice as well that you can tell its him just by hearing a few notes, that is what I really like about this guitar players, they got the sound from their heart and its like a human voice, very unique.

What would we find in your CD case right now?
Nothing, I haven’t listen to some music for some time now, I think that is a great way to get the inspiration going for new ideas.

Top 5 all-time bands?
Impossible to answer since there are too many great bands out there and that [have] been out there as well. But the ones that got me hooked on the metal was Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden, Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance, Accept – Restless and Wild, Queensryche – The Warning, Manowar – Battle Hymns. This albums are the first ones that really got to me and I still got the original vinyl’s :-). Then as I said it is so many more albums

If you were to do something besides being a musician...anything you can think of...what would you do?
Can’t think of anything that is else, beside that, it’s like the air and the water etc, you need it to survive.

Any words or comments for everyone out there?
Thank you all that support us and been with us, and for all the great crazy emails that end up as well :-). Hope to meet you somewhere for a great time together and keep in touch.

Links of interest:

Steel Attack
Arise Records