CyHra are quite an interesting band. They combine a number of industry veterans with a few up and coming trailblazing younger talents to create a band that feels both contemporary but also experienced. Their membership includes: Jake E ex-Amaranthe, ex-Dream Evil, ex-Kamelot [live]) on vocals, Peter Iwers on bass & Jesper Strömblad on guitars, both former In Flames key members, Euge Valovirta on guitars) formerly of the Shining and last bun not least, Alex Landenburg on drums, (Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Mekong Delta, ex-Annihilator, and ex-whoever needed an ace drummer for a live performance in a hurry, inc. Stratovarius, Tolkki, Kamelot and the list goes on. The latter was available to fill us in on many aspects of how the band was formed, their new album and touring activity as well as to have a pretty general chat. Your friendly neighborhood kick ass drummer: Alex Landenburg.
CyHra band pic

Hello Alex, congrats on your debut “Letters to Myself”.
A: Thank you my friend!
How did you become involved with CyHra?
A: Well, Jake and I have been friends for years now and in early 2016 – I was actually on tour with Rhapsody – he sent me the first demos for “Letters to Myself” and I fell immediately in love with the music. At that point, it wasn’t clear whether this would turn into a real band or if it would be just a record. We met a few weeks later with Jesper and Peter and the chemistry was so great that we just had to turn it into a band.
What’s with the name, what does it mean and why is it stylized with a capital H?
A: Well, Cyra – without the “h” means moon in Persian. Jake came up with the idea and we liked it. We just added an extra letter to make it more special and on top decided to write it with a capital “H”.
When you think about your co-players in the band what do you think about them ? Some are “heavyweight names” did that cause you any “anxiety”?
A: Well, it’s a great situation, because they are both great musicians and great people. The experience that they gathered makes everything so easy; it’s really a zero bullshit situation. But no, it didn’t cause me any anxiety because I’m pretty used to working with bigger names and I guess I’m starting to have a name as well, so that’s all good.
You are who you are, but how do you think a band like CyHra would evolve? (Heavier or Poppier)?
A: I think we might get a bit heavier musically, especially now also with Euge being involved. But not in the way of growls instead of clean vocals, that’s not going to happen I think. We do have one of the best clean vocalists of our time and it’s also something that makes us almost stand out compared to other acts.
I guess, you’re not necessarily the best person to ask about lyrical content, but what is the album all about, is the title and songs interrelated, threaded as a lose concept of past experiences or not?

A: It’s true, all lyrics were written by Jake and they all deal with personal experiences of both him and Jesper. It’s very personal stuff, but I think a lot of people can relate to it.
What do you think the future holds for CyHra?
A: Well, there’s a lot more touring coming up, that’s for sure. We all see CyHra as our priority right now and the only way to get ahead with the band is to pay as much as possible.
Quite recently and thanks to a series of unlikely coincidences you ended up drumming for Kamelot, who supported Iron Maiden. How cool was that and how did it feel to be performing in front of such a massive crowd?
A: That was extremely cool of course. I have always been a Kamelot fan, I just love their music. Something not many people know… I already almost played with them in 2003 when Casey couldn’t do a Euro tour, but they decided to use Alex Holzwarth in the end, because I lacked touring experience at the time. So, it was extra cool that it had worked out this time.
Apart from one of the Rhapsodies that you’re a permanent member of, is there any other band you feel like “home” and is CyHra a full time band or a project that might turn into a full-fledged band?
A: Actually CyHra really is that “home” that I was looking for band wise. It’s really a full-time band. Apart from LT Rhapsody I do feel pretty much at home with Mekong Delta, since I’m a member of that band for over 10 years now.
Are you still a member of UMP and will Tolkki ever do anything solo – would you like to be a part of that if so?
A: Well, UMP is really more or less just a recording project and I don’t know if I can find the time to do the next album. Regarding Timo, I love working with him. I also never had a bad experience in working with him and he really is a great artist. Let’s see what the future holds there.
You are primarily known as a metal drummer and a very good one at that, what other styles do you enjoy (both performing and listening to)?
A: Thank you my friend. It’s true, I’m known to be a metal drummer, but in reality I like to look at myself as just being a drummer in general. I love many styles of music and drumming and feel home at quite a lot of them, it just happened to be Metal where most of my work comes from. I really like a lot of different styles, starting with obviously Rock and Metal, but also Jazz, Fusion and Latin stuff for example.
Who are your favorite drummers, influences?
A: At this point, my favorite drummers are Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith and Dave Weckl. But I get influenced from all sorts of drummers and musicians. Not necessarily only “famous” musicians, but also many young “up and coming” players. My biggest drumming influences when I was growing up were probably Nick Menza, Mark Zonder and Mike Portnoy.
The internet as a medium plus piracy… What’s your take on it? Can people survive on air and the tiny spotify royalties? Unless someone’s already established, how does one get in the public eye?
A: First of all, I don’t think any technology is bad per se. It’s what we do with it, how we use it. The Internet is a fantastic thing, it connects the world and it gives easy and immediate access to information. The digital world however also has down sides. I think the biggest problem is, that as soon as things have no physical substance anymore, as soon as they are not a CD or a DVD or a book for that matter, but just a file, people have a harder time to attribute “value” to it. Also, things lose their magic, because there are no more rituals around them. It used to be a thing to put on an album, LP or CD, and the little rituals around it, taking it out of the shelf, taking it out of the box, putting it into a player etc. etc., they all created a sense of anticipation and by doing so, a sense of importance. Double tapping a file has none of that. So, I think the problem lies in there already. People don’t feel like receiving anything of any worth with a digital file, so naturally, they don’t want to pay for it. Once it’s free however, it loses even more of its perceived value. It’s a downward spiral.
Regarding how to get in the public eye… I guess that really hasn’t changed so much. You have to be original and most importantly, you have to touch people with what you do. The difference is just that, because there is no filter anymore in form of a huge music industry, everyone putting their stuff on YouTube is competing with the whole rest of the world. It certainly was a whole lot easier to be original and to shock people in the 70s. Just look at KISS for example.

You’re a relatively young guy, who has selected to be a professional musician. What’s your advice to anyone thinking about choosing a similar career path?
A: My advice is to learn as much as you can about every detail of this job. Make sure you get really good at your instrument, also across various styles, but also learn how to make your own website, record your own music etc. etc. Because there is less money in the business, you need to be able to do a lot of things by yourself nowadays. Learn to be “money smart”. Eliminate unnecessary spending and try to save up money for times with limited paid work.
What are the immediate touring plans for CyHra? I think somewhere you mentioned “smart” touring, which means traditional 2-3 week trecks might not cut it with you lot and then festivals?
A: Well, we are going to tour with Kreator & Sabaton in the US and Canada in February and March, followed by shows in Russia and Sweden. (That only happened by chance recently and we feel lucky to be there). When we talk about smart touring, we mean it in a way that obviously we have to play a lot to establish the band, but we won’t accept tours just to do something. It has to be the right bands and the therefor the right audience for us, as it is now the case with this upcoming tour.
Time for our “weird questions”!!! If you could be a member in any band – past of present – which one would that be?
A: Dream Theater around 1992-1994, Toto obviously… and I would love to play with Fates Warning, but they are more than fine with Bobby. He is doing a great job! Oh, and the Sex&Religion band of Steve Vai. Would have loved to play in that one in Bozzio’s place. And finally… Megadeth, especially in their magical period between 1988 and 1995.
Is there an artist or music style you just can’t stand?
A: Reggae.
How do you feel about drummer jokes?
A: I love laughing about myself and about my kind. But we need better drummer jokes. Most are just not funny enough imo. How do you know a drummer is knocking at your door btw? He is speeding up (haha!)…
Which one of the seven deadly sins describes you best?
A: Lust…
If you were god for a week, what would you do?!
A: Aside of creating peace among all nations (actually before doing that), I would eliminate all existing copies – physical and digital – of the song “Californication”.
If your wife/gf sold all your albums (or equipment for those who don’t collect albums) how would you react?
A: I would ask her how much she made, just to see if she got a fair deal.
Salute Greek n international fans & Grande-Rock readers. Thx for talking to Grande Rock!
A: Many of you know that I have a very personal relation to Greece. I love the country and its rich history and I love its people. I can’t wait to come back to Greece with CyHra! Thank you all for all these years of love and support!

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