Nestor took up by surprise with their debut album “Kids in a Ghost Town”! So, Grande Rock got in touch with the vocalist, songwriter and producer Tobias Gustavsson to talk about not only for the debut but also for the history of the band and to learn how they managed to deliver such an amazing album. Read more below…
Hi Tobias, I’m really glad to have you on Grande Rock, Congrats on “Kids in a Ghost Town” as well… it’s an amazing album on the whole. It will surely be among the candidates for the Best Album of the Year on Grande Rock!
T: Hi, thanks so much! We are super proud of the album and super happy that it’s been received so well. It’s amazing!
First things first, do give a brief bio of the band. How did it all start and when?
T: Well, the band actually started back in 1989, the five of us are childhood friends who all grew up in this small town in Sweden, called Falköping. Me and Jonny, the guitar player, got to know each other by changing in the same locker room at the sports center, I played tennis and he wrestled. We started to bond over music and then we asked the other guys, Mattias the drummer and Martin the keyboardist if they wanted to form a band, and eventually we got Marcus our bass player who also joined. And then we were off!
So, it’s been almost 30+ years since the band started. What kept you going all these years and of course how did you manage to stay united, so as to make your dream come true eventually?
T: Well, actually the band kind of stopped being active after a couple of years. We never broke up, we never disbanded, but it just kind of faded away sometime around 1995, kind of like the 80s era of music that got overshadowed by grunge, you know. All the big arena bands were stepping down to smaller venues and so on. By that time, we had all relocated to Gothenburg and eventually someone moved back home, someone started studying and it all was kind of put on hold. But we all stayed friends and kept in touch. Me and Jonny played together in a couple of other projects and bands, and everyone continued to play music in one way or another.
When did you start working on your debut and under which circumstances? Were things difficult due to the covid restrictions etc.?
T: Yeah, well the Covid pandemic was kind of the reason this all happened. I was kind of sitting in lockdown back home in Spain where I live nowadays, and started to think back to those simpler times of our youth if you know what I mean, listening to a lot of music from that era. And I started to imagine what it would be like if we kind of travelled back in a time machine to those days and tried to make the album that we never did then, and maybe didn’t have the skills or resources to do, but that we have now. So I called the guys up and said that we would record an album that is about growing up in a small town with super big ambitions and not “take no for an answer”. We were going to make that record that we could not make in 1989.
Did you use any stuff, ideas, demos etc. from the 80s or the 90s, if you had some, as well? Or is it all new stuff?
T: It’s mostly all new stuff, nothing really from those early days with the band at least. New stuff, that sounds old! Haha!
How did the cooperation with the songwriter Andreas Carlsson (Bon Jovi, Europe, Paul Stanley and others) occur?
T: I know Andreas from before and we’ve worked on some projects together through the years. Him being a fan of this kind of music himself, especially Kiss for example, he was a great match for this whole concept.
Moreover the 80s pop idol Samantha Fox is appearing on your song “Tomorrow”. How about that? Did you have in mind to work with any 80s idols in general and Samantha’s name popped out or what?
T: Well the idea for “Tomorrow” was to have this epic duet thing from the start. At first we had Lita Ford in mind, and reached out and asked but never really heard back from her or her people. Then later when I was working on the song “Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore)” and in that trying to visualize and imagine how my old room used to look like way back when, of course there were posters on the walls with Samantha Fox, and then it hit me that she would be perfect for the song and to put that 80s time stamp on it. So, we contacted her management, sent over the song and she listened to it and loved it and wanted to be a part of it, and the rest is history!
You released 3 singles (“On the Run”, “1989” and “Tomorrow”), prior to the album release. What did you think of the fans reactions in general? Were you taken aback overall?
T: Yeah for sure! The reception and reactions have been amazing and we are super happy that people seem to connect with this. We just tried to make really good songs for a really good album, in our own taste, and then it’s been great that people out there have responded so well to it.
Why did you choose to release the album via your own label Black Diamond Music? Did you have any other offers and why did you turn them down?
T: We have had some conversations with different labels and partners, but the main thing for us has been that we want to find a business partner that understands and will be really passionate for this whole thing, to match our own enthusiasm and faith in this project. So in the meantime, while we search for that perfect match, we thought we’d just release it on our own.
Do give us a hint about each track… (just a line or two)
T: “A Fanfare for the Reliable Rebel (Intro)”: The reliable rebel is kind of a play on words, and an oxymoron sort of. A rebellious kid that can be trusted, haha! We were those rebellious kids once, but now we’re grown up and responsible, but still kids at heart!
“On the Run”: The first single, the song that set the mood for the whole album and the concept. It’s about that unforgettable last summer night of youth and innocence and naivete, before growing up, that never seemed to end.
“Kids in a Ghost Town”: The title track that is all about growing up in that small town where nothing exciting really happens, and having dreams about becoming a super famous rock star and making it and escaping.
“Stone Cold Eyes”: A song about that girl, the dangerous one who we all have encountered I think in some way or another.
“Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore)”: A song about that other girl, the one, the first love, the teen crush. The girl who beat out all the famous ones, like Demi or Sharon Stone and all of them haha!
“These Days”: Pure nostalgia about this whole idea of travelling back in time in your mind to those good old days and remembering the good times!
“Tomorrow (feat. Samantha Fox)”: The classic, epic power ballad made to be sung by a duo, about a failing relationship.
“We Are Not OK”: Another ballad kind of about a relationship that is on the verge and breaking at the seams.
“Firesign”: This is the fast, heavy track on the album. Pure energy and really fun to play live!
“1989”: Well, it’s all there in the title kind of. It’s about that magic year when it all started. And now we’re back to finish what we started!
“It Ain’t Me”: A song originally written for another band called Straight Frank that me and Jonny had for a while. Repurposed and with a Nestor 80s costume.
You really traveled us back in the 80s/.90s with Demi Moore and Sharon Stone – damn I guess you did that intentionally right?! By the way what a song!
T: Hey, thanks!
The album was produced by you (Tobias Gustavsson), it was mixed by Sebastian Forslund (The Night Flight Orchestra), and mastered by Thomas “Plec” Johansson at The Panic Room. Why did you choose to cooperate with Sebastian and Thomas initially? Did you want to have the control of the album’s production since the beginning?
T: Well, yeah. I work as a music producer for a living nowadays and it seemed only right to own the process sort of. Sebastian is a friend and he also understands the whole concept and what we wanted to accomplish. Thomas is an industry legend and the go to guy for mastering, so there’s that.
Are there any plans to give any live shows at some point soon?
T: We have a lot of shows coming up! We had our release gig when the album dropped, at home in Sweden, in Stockholm. We’re doing a festival in Germany later now in November. Then we also have gotten the opportunity to play some really big stages and arenas in December as a support act at home in Sweden, and next year we’re supporting another Swedish band H.E.A.T on their Scandinavian dates. Then there’s a couple of summer festivals, and yeah, the gigs are starting to pile up!
What are your expectations from your debut album and what do you wish to achieve with Nestor over the next years?
T: We really don’t know what to expect to be honest. We kind of knew and had a feeling this would turn out to be something special. But the thing we want most with Nestor is to keep an open mind, and not limit ourselves in any way and just see where the road takes us.
It’s time for our “strange questions”!!! How did you come with the band’s name Nestor initially?
T: It’s a reference to a character from the comic Tintin that all of us in the band really dig. Nestor is the name of Captain Haddock’s butler. It can also refer to an elder, someone wise that’s been around and knows his shit. So that’s kind of fitting now too!
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
T: Nothing that should be erased, really. All music and all things probably exist for a reason. But we can choose to avoid and maybe ignore stuff that doesn’t appeal to us. Diplomatic answer, ha!
Which is that band that you’d like to be part of (any time & era)?
T: Nestor, haha!
Which are the best 3 AOR/melodic Rock albums according to you?
T: Giant – “Last of the Runaways”, Europe – “Out of This World”, Kiss – “Crazy Nights”!
Fill in the phrase… “Rock music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
Put together the best rock line-up of all time. Who plays what?
T: Tough one, but here goes: Angus Young – Guitar, Freddie Mercury – Vocals, Dave Grohl – Drums, and on bass… Sir Paul McCartney! Hell of a songwriter too! Keyboards – Jon Lord!
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
T: I think we just did. Not to be too self-indulgent but “Kids in a Ghost Town” is the record we wish we had made once, and now we have gotten the opportunity to do it. We made it!
Top 3 80s movies of any style?
T: Back to the Future, Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back – and The Karate Kid!
Who is the sexiest female Rock Star of all time?
T: Sexiest I don’t know, but Debbie Harry is pretty cool, also Shirley Manson from Garbage!
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in rock history?
T: Chris Cornell and… Stevie Nicks maybe?
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
T: Maybe to the past for a bit, like we’ve done in a way! The future will come eventually soon enough anyway!
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
T: Tough one, but maybe “The Dark Side of the Moon” seems appropriate!
That’s all for now Tobias! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care dude!
T: Thanks so much! You too!