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Degreed interview 

Submitted by Henrik Holmgren on 2019-06-30
One of Sweden's hottest rock bands at the moment are Degreed from Stockholm. After opening up for Dare on their Scandinavian tour and a couple of singles released this year, we got the opportunity to sit down with drummer Mats Ericsson to get the latest on what is going on in the Degreed camp. Enjoy: 
Hello and welcome to how are you guys?

Thank you we’re fine. Hope y’all are fine as well!


For people not familiar with the band, can you please stand up and introduce yourselves. Also, please tell us your backstory. What is behind the name Degreed?

Mikael Jansson - Keys/Backing Vocal

Mats Eriksson - Drums

Daniel Johansson - Guitar/Backing Vocal

Robin Eriksson - Bass/Lead Vocal


You do this very modern take of AOR rock. Is that the kind of music you grew up on?

I guess we’re mixing in parts from the music we grew up listening to but that’s not only rock music. We’re listening to a wide variety of music, everything from the darkest black metal to the happiest pop music and you can probably hear a little bit of everything in our music ‘cause we love to mix in our influences.


I get really happy when I hear a fresh and exciting Swedish rock band. It kind of comforts me, knowing that rock is still well alive here. What do you think about the current music climate in Sweden? Do you think you bring something to the table that has been missing for a while?

It’s a great scene in the sense that we have a load of bands and artists coming out of Sweden and not only in the rock genre, but we don’t have the greatest live scene. People don’t go out and check out a gig in the middle of the week cause they’re working. It’s really a culture thing. In the UK or Germany for instance, there’s nothing wrong with going out in the middle of the week, checking a few bands out, having a few beers and then going home and going back to work the day after. In Sweden it unfortunately is for most people.


Yeah, because of our wide influences I think we’re playing a unique kind of rock. We’re not doing the pure AOR thing nor the pure rock n’ roll thing - we’re simply playing rock with our set of influences.



What does the creative process look for you guys, when you create music? Who are your influences?

Usually we have a track that we’re building on. Normally the tracks are made by Micke and then sent to all of us and then we start making it into a degreed song.

The influences are different from time to time, normally it’s an idea from one or several people in the band and then we build a full vision out of that.


How would you say that you have evolved as musicians and as a band since your debut album back in 2010 (an album that got a solid 4/5 from us)?

We’ve become a much better live band, much better producers and songwriters and we know ourselves better than back then, so we don’t let anything slide anymore which we did back then. We’ve learned from all the grinding, hehe!


I caught you live very recently, and you really put on a great show. Do you find it easy to connect with the audience all over or do you sometimes feel like you have to fight to win them over?

It depends. Nowadays there’s usually a few fans at least in the audience which makes it a whole lot easier to get the other people going, but we’re always giving it 100% no matter what. People are paying to see one hell of a show, so you have to deliver that every night!



When I saw you, you opened the show for the legendary Dare, on their Swedish tour. How did that happen and what was it like?

We got the question from our manager, Erik Grönwall, if we were interested in opening for Dare and the answer was of course hell yeah. Now we’re friends with the guys in Dare and we’re actually going back to Norway to play a festival with them later this year!


If you could go on tour with any band in the world, who would it be and why?

That’s a big one cause there’s so many.

Queen (back in the day), Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, Kiss and the list goes on.;)


Is there a dream venue that you must play before your career is done (in hopefully many, many years to come)?

Wembley Stadium would be nice. Royal Albert Hall with a real orchestra would be great as well.


Your last full-length album came out back in 2017, but we have two new singles out this year.  Is there more new music being worked on right now?

We have another single coming out at the end of this month called ”You All Know My Name” and then we’re releasing one more single and then the album is due this fall.


You have done covers and released them earlier. Is this something you like to do more of? What would be the ultimate song to cover?

During the summer we will actually release a cover song of a Swedish artist that have influenced us as well. So yes there will be more of that!


You guys have been around longer than most people would expect. For band dreaming of making it, what are your best advice to succeed?

Don’t give up so easily. You won’t make it overnight, it’s not how the business work. And if you make it overnight, you’ll have a short career.


What has been the toughest part of the band’s journey so far?

Nothing is really hard when you’re doing what you love. We’ve had our fights but it always blow over and at the end of the day it has only made us stronger.


Your manager is Erik Grönwall of HEAT fame. What is it like to work with him and what does he bring to the table?

Yes. He’s a great guy and he’s working hard for us. Those are the two things you need the most in a manager.



We’ll end things with a short Q&A:


What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Never give up. It’s really true as well, if you want something you’ll have to work hard and sacrifice a lot to get there. That’s just the way it goes and if you’re not willing to pay the price it’s probably not worth it either.


If you guys weren’t in this band, what would you be doing instead? Or was music always the only option?

We are still doing a load of stuff on the side of the band but if we weren’t in this band, we’d probably be in other bands ‘cause we love playing and music is one of our great passions so we would definitely be playing with someone. Me, Robin and Micke are family so the chances of us playing together would be high anyways! ;)


Tell us something about Degreed that no one else knows!

I do think a lot of people know this but for those of you who doesn’t, while on tour we party way to hard. With us it’s not just a myth either. Ask some of the bands we’ve been on tour with! Haha!


If I get caught speeding while listening to your music, will you help me pay the fines?

Of course. Just send us the fine and we’ll find a creative way of paying it. Hihi.


Name a song you sing in the shower.

I don't sing in the shower because that would most likely be a reason for my wife to leave me. So I’ll leave the singing in the shower to the guys in the band that can actually sing, haha!


Can you look back and say that one specific song is the best one you have written? Or is that song yet to come?

I think that Shakedown is the best one we’ve written because it really has this stadium rock feel to it. It’s focused on the live aspect of the song and it always works wonders live as well.


What is the best song you have ever heard, that you didn’t write yourselves?

It’s a hard one... Beautiful Day with U2 is a great song. I Want It All and The Show Must Go On with Queen and Home Of The Brave with Toto is also a favorites so it’s hard to choose one. But one of those songs might be the best one ever written!


Tell us about the craziest thing that has happened to you on tour. (no barres hold, haha!)

Robin didn’t get on the bus one time in Barcelona and we played a two days later in Paris. That was an enormous headache to fix..


We keep hearing that rock is dead. What is your opinion on that subject?

Rock isn’t dead, the business is different and it’s much easier for everyone to put out music. Rock fans are however willing to buy t-shirts, CDs, Vinyls and all sorts of other stuff to get it signed or just to support the bands cause rock fans are more dedicated than fans in pop for instance.


Alright, we are done. Thanks so much for doing this! I’ll leave it to you to finish by telling our readers why 2019 belong to Degreed. Take it away boys!

We’re gonna release our breakthrough record in the autumn of 2019. Enough said!;)

No but we’re releasing new material that we truly believe in and we’re playing a few gigs on festivals in Europe and hopefully we’ll wrap this year up with a larger tour so it’s gonna be a great year for degreed.