Added: 09 September 2012

Twilight Project (Swe)

Twilight Project (Swe)
Band Info
Melodic Metal
Sweden (


ca 1986 - 1987
Claes Hernegård - Vocals (Zaragon, Trazer, Fair Exchange)
Roger Ljunggren - Guitar (Voices and Noises)

Guest Musicians
Mats-Åke Andersson - Guitar (Zaragon)
Staffan "Abbe" Schön - Bass (Crut, KG 22 (guest))
Mikael Hilmersson - Drums (Zaragon, Metal Mercy)
Joakim Öberg - Keyboards (Zaragon)
Mattias Höijer - Backing Vocals (Arrow, Backlane)
Magnus Tallåker - Backing Vocals (Arrow, Pelle, Backlane, Roadhouse, Renegade, Hellspray)
Dan Boström - Backing Vocals (Heartcry)
TWILIGHT PROJECT was a 2-man project consisting of vocalist Claes Hernegård (ex-TRAZER) and Roger Ljunggren. Their self-titled MLP featured guest musicians from ZARAGONE and bands such as CRUT, METAL MERCY and ARROW.

Info from Janne Starks Encyclopedia
This is actually the brainchild of singer Clas, who invites different musicians to play on his recordings. It all actually started under the name Zaragone, who recorded a demo in 1983. On the MLP the musicians are guitarists Roger Ljunggren and Mats Andersson, keyboardist Jocke Öberg, bassist Staffan Schön and drummer Mikael Hilmer. Two members from Renegade are also helping out on backing vocals. Guitarist Roger Ljunggren wrote the song "Don't Close Your Eyes" that was recorded as a single by Madison. However, it was recorded without Roger's permission and he stopped the release. The recordings of an album by Twilight Project were started in 1995 and it is planned to be released some time in 1996, but still hasn't surfaced. Clas runs the record shop Zaragon in Jönköping. There's still basic tracks for an album laid down, and an album could actually be happening. Sometime...
Interview with Claes Hernegård (taken from the booklet of the Cult Metal Classics reissue)

Tell us a few things about the pre-Zaragon days. How did you decide to become a singer? did you sing in any other Swedish bands before Zaragon and what were your influences?

The first "real" band I was in was called Fair Exchange. In the first version of FE, I played guitar but I did not sing. The band consisted of Johnny Axelsson - Drums, Daniel Ramsten - Bass, Magnus Blick and I - Guitar, Dennis Lindell - Vocals (1977/78). I remember this time as one of the best in my life. We had so muc hfun and were like brothers. But as it usually is when you are young, people move from the city to other places to work and studies and so was the situation for us too. FE Mark II... and then it was just me and Magnus left. Musicians came in and out of the band and suddenly I switched from guitar to vocals. Eventually we got everything in place. We did a few gigs and it worked pretty well, but not for long. We got a gig at a high school. There were several bands that evening, among others Trazer. There was a big crowd during our gig. What we did not know then was that Pete Blakk, Jan Karlsson and Håkan Fridhagen was in the audience. They were looking for new members to Trazer. After a few days we were contacted by Pete and he asked me and Magnus if we wanted to join the Trazer and we decided quite quickly to say yes. The old members of the FE were not happy but we felt we had a chance to play in a better band and I have never looked back. This was the start of Trazer Mark II. Everything moved up to a higher more professional level. We used a lot of fireworks, bombs and smoke. It was really cool to see us live because there was no other band in town that spent so much money on the visual experience. We had built a mixing console that could control all the fireworks and we had a friend who always helped us at our gigs and one day he asked us if he could handle mixer and we said ok. Then came the night of the show. Therer were several bands that played that night and we would play among the last. Everything went well so far and we sat in the lodge and prepared ourselves when it suddenly came down a guy and screamed you must come up, it's smoke and lightning everywhere. Our friend with the mixing console had made short circuit so all fireworks exploded at once!!! thankfully no one was hurt but the crowdgot really scared. I remember that there was so much smoke on the stage so I could barely find the microphone but everything went well in the end, we did a great gig. We also recorded a live video from one of our gigs but unfortunately no one knows where it is and we're still looking. Trazer was a good local band at the time and we also played in other cities. Time went by and Pete felt he wanted to move away from Jönköping to try his luck in a major band and eventually he got an offer from EF Band so he moved to Gothenburg. I was not disappointed with his choice because I felt that Trazers music lacked a dimension, which I'll come back to explain. And this was the end of Trazer. A little about my background. I played piano for five years and when I started I was eight years but my music teacher chose boring pieces for me and I got bored and stopped. In the early teenage years, I played first bass and then guitar (FE Mark I) but i've always written my songs on keyboards, it has felt most natural to me. Longing for singing has always been with me ever since I was little. I remember a friend and I spent an entire summer listening to Deep Purple's 'Made In Japan'. All the musicians were so damn good and Ian was cool that perfectly imitated the guitar. But I remember a special occasion and that was when Deep Purple had released the album 'Burn'. It was the song "Mistreated" and when I listened to David's deep and sensitive vocals, I decided to start singing but it took five years before I got started for real.

What was the Swedish metal scene at the time? which artists/music bands were most popular back in the early 80's?

Regarding Swedish metal bands in the late seventies and early eighties there were not so many. They did not show up until 85/86 and I think of Candlemass. The first Swedish band that I liked was Neon Rose who released three albums in the late seventies. There were some political prog rock bands but there was nothing that I liked and I'll be honest, I do not think there were some good Swedish hard rock bands at the time. The bands that I enjoy came in the mid to late eighties. Europe and Yngwie Malmsteen's ofcourse some of my favorites. When I was in Fair Exchange, we had favorite bands like Rainbow, Journey, Boston, Blue Öyster Cult, Toto so our influences came mostly from English and American bands. Here are some other Swedish bands seen from my eyes that were quite liked: 200 Volt, Alien, Biscaya, Glory, Madison, Six Feet Under (the old band), Silver Mountain.

How did you hook up wit hthe other Zaragon guys and what does the name Zaragon stand for?

I remember this quite well. As I mentioned earlier, Trazer was a little ahead of its time when it comes to fireworks on stage and we spared no gunpowder, it was all in, all the time. The audience really enjoyed our shows, we got more and more fans and among them there were some very talanted musicians. One evening I was at the home of Pete and this was after Trazer had been shattered and a while before Pete would move to Gothenburg. Mats Andersson was also there, he and Pete knew each other from before. We three sat and listened and talked about music. The longer time went on, I felt that I and Mats had a lot in common when it came to music. This is very important to tell you, I enjoyed my time in Trazer, it gave me more experience in all ways but I felt it lacked a dimension in the music. I have always desired to have a keyboard in the band but Pete wanted to play harder music without keyboards and I wanted to go more to the Rainbow, Deep Purple musically. Mats and I continued to meet and after a while we decided to put together a band. We tested different musicians and we got our hands on Chin Fransson on bass. Mats knew a drummer Michael Hilmersson who hit very hard, and that's exactly what I like (a Cozy Powell). After a few beers and a little persuasion we got him to join us. Just one piece of the puzzle left but it was the most difficult because there were not many who played keyboards in our area. But through a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend, etc. We got hold of Joakim Öberg. This was not easy because he was already in a band. At first he said no because he wanted to be loyal with his band but we went on and on until he gave in and joined us. At last I had managed to put together a band with keyboards and a Hammond organ!!. Regarding the name Zaragon, we had a band meeting where we would decide the band's name. Suddenly someone suggested the name Zaragon. There is an English singer and guitarist Jhon Miles. He was most popula in the seventies and the biggest hit was the song "Music". One of this albums is called Zaragon. Everyone liked the name, and our band was born.

You recorded your first demo in 1985. I've read that you experienced many difficulties in that first recording. You even had to change the lyrics of "So Many Tears" song, from "Walking in the Dark" to "Walking in the Park" because there were birds singing and lots of background noise and the recording took place outside in a garden. Tell us more things about it.

Jönköping is one of the major cities in Sweden. The area is very beautiful and the city is located on Sweden's second largest lake, lake Vättern. Sjöboda where we recorded our demo is just a few kilometers north of Jönköping. One can say that it consists of a mansion with smaller buildings and you have a beautiful view over our lake Vättern. This recording was in May when the trees and plants blossomed. I love this time of the year, but unfortunately it does not allply to my body due to pollen allergy. We started recording the harder songs indoors in a smaller building. Because of the allergy, I felt early on that I was not in such good condition and that it would be difficult for me to sing. I felt very breathless and weak. It worked pretty well in the end but I was not happy with my effort. And now for the song. If I remember correctly, it was not decided from the beginning that it would be on the demo. It was our first and only ballad. Anyway, we decided to record it. Suddenly we had a crazy idea. Earlier that day when we took break from the recording we said to each other. What a beautiful place this is and what lovely bird songs. You can really feel it's Spring in the air. "So Many Tears" was the last of the songs that we recorded for the demo. I do not remember which one of us who suggested that we record the vocals outdoors but everyone agreed to try. But "Walk in the dark" is impossible when you can hear the birds chirping and when you almost can hear the sun shine. We had to change the text to "Walk in the park" which suited much better. We set up a microphone outdoors by a tree, a birch. That carries much pollen and it is the tree which I am most sensitive to. Ha, ha... there I stood with dripping eyes and nose, the wind could be heard in the trees, birdsong.... and a train? of course we had forgotten that there was a train near our studio. So there I stood and sang and suddenly we heard the train whistle. It was a funny situation. It happened several times but fianlly I managed to finish the song without the train. In retrospect, I think it was a fun idea and it was awesome with real birdsong.

What happened after the recording of the first demo? why did you leave Zaragon and formed a different band named Twilight Project?

None of us in the band were particulary pleased with our demo. The songs were good but they did not come out the way we wanted. Our fans grew in number and they really liked the demo. The press began to write about us and we got the oppurtunity to play in a city named Nässjö, south of Jönköping. We would play in a park that was in the middle city. A very beautiful place on a lake. This was in the summer and we were excited. There were lots of audience and later we found out that we had the second highest attendance record in the city's history. 1100 people. Wow!! what happened next was a minor disaster. Earlier in the day we had rigged up on stage and made soundcheck. Everything worked, but when we went on stage in the evening something happened. Our intro worked fine and I was just about to finish teh first verse. Bang... and all sound and lights went out. IT was a circuit breaker that had extinguished all sound and light. The caretaker put everything back so we started the song for the second time. Bang... some thing happened again and again and again. We had to pack our equipment and go home to Jönköping without having played a single song. What a disaster!! we did the soundcheck in the afternoon when the sun was shining. Our equipment demanded so much power so when the spotlights came on in the evening, everything went black. Next gig was Gränna which is a city that is located three miles north of Jönköping. It was a music festival with several bands and we were to play in the evening. The scene is placed on a mountain and it is very beautiful in the summer. The radio was there and recorded. That's where our live songs are recorded, but of course one of the songs was interrupted for a newscast. It wasthe last live gig with Zaragon I did. Then we took a break. Me and Mats were founders of Zaragon and Mats wrote most of the songs. He wanted to go in a more soft and melodic style to try to get a hit and then he needed a different kind of singer. He found one. They went to Stockholm and recorded a couple of songs. They sounded great but unfortunately they were never released. I wanted to keep our old style of music and develop it more epic, progressive and symphonic. The idea to form the Twilight Project was born.

How did you come up with the name Twilight Project? did it have a special meaning?

Twilight has for me always been an exciting word. The time when the day goes into a more dark and mysterious phase, the time for adventures. This was long before the vampire films in the Twilight series came. I am not so fond of the series, they are little too soft for me. When I added the word Project the thought was that I would be able to involve many musicians. I didn't need to have all of them to be permanent members. This means that the music always will be developed through new blood (vampires ha ha).

On the EP of 'Twilight Project' we see that some recordings of Zaragon ended up there but the versions were quite different. Were they your compositions?

Both me and Mats had written large parts of these songs but we agreed to clone them so we could use them in new versions and I'm glad because I like them and wanted to see how they could be further developed. I wrote new parts so the songs could be healed again. I'm happy with how the results was on the EP... well almost.

The lyrics and overall style of the band were quite influenced by J.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" famour trilogy. That was long before Blind Guardian and other bands using such themes. I suppose you were a fan on fantasy literature. What do you think that now almost every power metal band is using such elements in theyr lyrics. Do yo ufeel as if you were kind of ahead of your time?

Yes, I've always been a fan on fantasy films and literature. When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist. I loved dinosaurs and I also dreamed of discovering pyramids and temples and other mysterious places. Astrology is also one of my major interests. I read "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy in the late seventies and was deeply impressed. It was so well written with incredible detail description of people and areas. I remember that I wanted it to be a movie of the books. After many years it became so, and the movies were absolutely amazing!!. The funny thing was that it was just me in the band who had read the books. I really loved RJD's lyrics when he was a member of Rainbow, in which I found a lot of inspiration. My favorite cover artwork is 'Rising' by Rainbow. That says it all!! there is another band whose lyrics i've gotten a lot of inspiration from, and it's Uriah Heep. Their lyrics are outstanding!!. Yes in the early nineties the power metal era came with fantasy lyrics. Some bands were good some bands were bad but overall, it was very welcome. It washed away much of the grunge, which I really hate. We were maybe a little ahead of our time but we were not first. I would describe us as a bridge from the seventies to the nineties.

How many copies did you print of the EP? was it a self financed release?

I think that Twilight Project was made in 800 copies but unfortunately half of them were destroyed. I had a water leak in the basement of my home. I had both financed the recording and cover and I did not get anything out of the insurance. It was a sad day but things happen sometimes.

The band Zaragon opened for the first gig of Candlemass. Was that before or after your departure from them? also, were Twilight Project a studio only band or you also did live shows?

I was not a member of Zaragon when they opened for Candlemass in Jönköping but I was in the audience. A funny thing happened. When Messiah did his doom dance he stomped a hole in the stage floor. That was heavy!!. Twilight Project was primarily a studio project. When the recording was finished, some members continued in other bands and some did other things. I did not think we had enough songs to make it live. As soon as the recording of the EP was finished, I started writing songs for a complete album. Right now there are some songs for an album and more will come. it is fully possible that TP will play live in the future.

How did the music press of the time react to the album?

It was another time before the internet; it was very difficult to be published in paper magazines. What I remember back then it was not so many journalists who wrote about the EP. Twilight Project of course was no party music, it was not wine, women and song. Some thought it was a little too complex music. Of course there were many who liked it too. Now over 25 years later you hear that people all over the world have the EP and they like it, and that is very encouraging for future plans.

The style of the band reminded us a bit of the first album of Europe with touches of Rainbow of course. Would you agree with that? what are your favorite Swedish metal bands of all time?.

When I was a member of Zaragon we were inspired by both Europe and Yngwie Malmsteen and many other bands like Rainbow and Black Sabbath. When it comes to Twilight Project it was not so much Europe and Yngwie influences. There was still plenty of Rainbow and Black Sabbath in the music but the orchestration was much larger and clearer. It was inspired by completely different bands that were not even hard rock. Electric Light Orchestra, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Alan Parsons Project, John Miles and Asia. I think that these artists used the classic instruments entirely correctly, they were like extra spices. I tried to get these influences in my music and I was quite pleased with the result. Swedish favorite bands of all time... I must say Europe, Yngwie Malmsteen has not done a good album since 'Facing the Animal' but his early work is fantastic.

What happened after the release of the EP? how long did the band last before calling it quits?

We made it clear to each other from the beginning that it would just be a studio project. We got together rehearsed the songs, recorded them and that was it. Of course my plands were to present the songs live sometimt and it is still my goal.

Zaragon released a second demo in 1987. Did you have any participation it it, either was a composer or lyricist? did you keep in touch with the Zaragon members?.

No, I had nothing to do with Zaragon's second demo in 1987. I worked with Twilight Project at that time. I was and am good griends with Zaragon Mk II. The funny thing is that Twilight Project includes three original members from Zaragon Mk I.

Were you involved in any other music projects after the end of Twilight Project? what about the other members of the band?

I have been asked over the years to join both bands and projects but I have declined the offers so far. I have felt that I want to coninue with Twilight Project before I do anything else. Some of the musicians involved in Twilight Project are still active in the music business.

Is there unreleased material of the band either recorded on a demo tape or rehearsal material?

It was fun that you mentioned it. When it comes to Zaragon, I recently recieved a file of materials from our rehearsals. I have not listened to it yet, but what I know it should contain songs that have not been released. I'll get back to you when I have listened to the songs. There are 8 demo songs with Twilight Project. All the songs from the EP are recorded in new versions. There are 5 brand new songs as well.

How do you feel that after all these years, hard rock and metal fans recognize your EP as one of the greatest Swedish metal albums of all time?

It is always hard as a musician to judge their own songs. I am very critical when it comes to songs, performances and production but I know that many listeners are kinded when it comes to these things. There are things we could have done better when we recorded the EP but I'm still very proud of it after all these years. I did not know there were so many around the world who liked Twilight Project, I feel honored and touched. If any other musician had written these songs I would have said - Wow I like these songs very much, it's exactly the music I love.

Are there plans for a Twilight Project reunion? or if this is not possible, are you still interested in singing in a heavy metal band?

My first priority is Twilight Project. The whole EP is recorded in a second versions, adn the tapes lie in a studio near where I live but the songs need to be recorded for a third time with another 4 new songs. The problem is the financing of the recording but I will try to solve it in some way. The new songs are good and they sound like the other songs on the EP. My goal is to release a full CD with Twilight Project. I have no intention to join any other band right now, but you never know.
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