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Talisman was formed by bass player Marcel Jacob, who had previously played with (among others) Rising Force, John Norum Group and Power. While Jacob was playing with John Norum, he started working on tracks which he thought would end up on Norum's second solo album. The singer on those demos was Göran Edman, also in John Norum Group at that time. Norum rejected the songs and, in the meantime, Göran was offered the opportunity to join Yngwie Malmsteen's band. Jacob found himself with record label interest but no band so a vocalist was needed. On a whim, Marcel contacted Jeff Scott Soto who also was in Yngwie Malmsteen's band years earlier. Both Soto and Jacob had played on Yngwie Malmsteen's "Marching Out" in 1985, touring in support of the album during 1985 - 1986. Soto was extremely interested in what Marcel had done and once the songs were done and mixed, Marcel changed the work name for his solo project, Guitars On Fire to a new moniker called, TALISMAN.
In February 1989 recordings for the first album took place in Stockholm with Christopher Ståhl (Power) and Mats Lindfors (Norum, Grand Slam) on guitars, Peter Hermansson (220 Volt, Norum) playing drums on some tracks and Mats Olausson (Yngwie Malmsteen) on keyboards. Jacob programmed the rest of drums and played all rhythm guitars with the help of the producer Mats Lindfors on "Women, Whiskey and Songs"
Electra, to whom Jacob was currently signed, went bankrupt just when the mixing was finished and the album's release was delayed. Meanwhile, Soto's US-based project Eyes got signed. Jacob left for Los Angeles to help Eyes demo and record what would be their first release. During this time an employee of the label that had originally signed Talisman moved to a new label and the masters of the first album were bought from the bankrupt label. So "Talisman" was eventually released in February 1990 on the Airplay/Vinyl Mania label. The first single "I'll Be Waiting" reached number 2 in Sweden's singles chart and 33,000 copies of the album were sold in two months in Sweden.
Live, the band featured Jason Bieler on guitar (Saigon Kick), Jakob "Jake Samuel" Samuelsson on drums and Thomas Vikström (Talk of the town, Candlemass) on keyboards and backing vocals. Talisman were one of the top ten drawing acts in Sweden in the summer. Unfortunately, the label went bust - ending any chances of international exposure for the album.
The time following the summer of 1990 was difficult for the band. Soto was signed to the Pasha label with Eyes. Bieler was enjoying some success with Saigon Kick. Jacob got signed to Warner Sweden because of the success of "Talisman" and had to put together a band. A trip to the US and the UK followed, looking for talent but without success. Eventually Marcel met again Matti Alfonzetti, an old acquaintance from grade school and from touring in 1986 with Swedish fusion/rock group Wasa Express, and they started writing and recording together in 1992. After some auditions Jacob chose then 19-year old guitar player Fredrik Åkesson. However, a change in personnel at Warner resulted in Talisman leaving that label and, with Talisman spending most of 1992 looking for a new label, Alfonzetti left to join Skin Trade.
Christer Wedin, who was doing press and promotion for the label that released "Talisman", became the Swedish label manager for Dutch/Canadian label Dino Music (later Empire Records). Wedin was interested in releasing a second Talisman album, if Soto was available. As Eyes were now no longer together, Soto agreed and the band returned to the studio.
In the interim, Samuels had left to join Zinny J. Zan's band and so Jacob programmed all drums on an Alesis SR-16. The new album "Genesis" was recorded in three weeks in December 1992 at Stocksund Recording Studios. Soto joined recording along with his then-girlfriend Julie Greaux (Billy Idol, Axel Rudi Pell) who ended up playing the grand piano on "All I Want".
In conjunction with the release of "Genesis" early 1993, Dino Music re-released the first album "Talisman" adding six live tracks recorded in Sweden in 1990. When "Genesis" was released, the single "Mysterious" got some airplay, and the album immediately sold more than 15,000 copies in Sweden. Furthermore, both "Talisman" and "Genesis" gathered some international interest and were released throughout Europe and Japan.
The band did a club tour in Sweden in March with Julie Greaux on keyboards and Jake Samuel back again on drums. While the band was planning a tour in Japan, Samuel left again to pursue a singing career. The new drummer was Jamie Borger from the recently broken-up Treat. Talisman became a 'group' for the first time and were now ready to tour Japan (where the live album "Five out of Five (Live in Japan)" was recorded).
After the end of the European tour in early October, the band were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to record the already available material. But those plans were disregarded and the recording got delayed. Fredrik, Jamie and Marcel spent the following two months in a rehearsal studio in Upplands Väsby, just outside Stockholm, writing, playing bits of music, improvising arrangements, learning the new stuff and collecting tons of material.
In January 1994 Jeff joined the guys and the band recorded and mixed the new album "Humanimal" at Sound Trade Studios in Stockholm. Everything was perfect: the recording sessions, the working environment, everyone having much fun! Except for Jeff being worried about his home situation because of the huge earthquake which hit LA killing 60 and injuring around 8,000 people. Additional musicians on "Humanimal" were Julie Greaux as backing vocalist and the sound engineer Ronny Lahti playing the funky wah guitar on "Seasons".
The guys, being so pleased with the recordings (22 tracks recorded and mixed in 22 days), wanted to make it a double album at first, but then decided against it since pretty much all the material would fit on one cd. So Jeff and Marcel chose the set of the songs to be on the album. Unfortunately, the Japanese label Zero, was allowed to put together their own version of the album suitable for the Japanese audience. The whole matter turned out to be a mess: the German version by Polydor was different from the Swedish one featuring "Hypocrite" as bonus track. The Japanese had to release the Swedish version too because of the amount of imports. In Europe a second version was released with the outtakes from the first one. "Humanimal" was greeted with great enthusiasm thanks to a successful combination of metal, funky and pop influences. It is still the favourite album of several fans and of more than one member in the band. Despite some good album sales, no touring was done for this album.
In 1995 Marcel and Jeff worked together in LA to write the songs for the next album Life. Drums were recorded by Jamie in a very short time at Park Studios. After doing overdubs, the tapes were sent to Jeff so that he could record the bulk of the vocals at home. The original mixing took place in the same studio where "Genesis" was recorded, once again with the help of Mats Lindfors, but the Swedish record company and the band was not pleased with the final mix that went to Japan to meet their release date. Something didn’t sound right so the album was remixed by Mats Lindfors and Christer Wedin for the European version. Unfortunately Talisman was not able to tour supporting the album.
The guys took a break from Talisman for 3 years. Jeff went on to do things with the Boogie Knights, although he and Marcel had taken some time to record the Human Clay albums.
Talisman also had the chance to play a couple of gigs and to open up for Yngwie Malmsteen in Stockholm. For those shows the band enlisted Pontus Norgren on guitar (ex Great King Rat) because Fredrik had left in the fall of 1995 to pursue a more metal oriented direction (see the band Southpaw featuring Mats Levén on vocals and John Levén on bass).
In 1998 the guys were requested from Christer Wedin (Empire Records) to do a new Talisman album. Marcel travelled to LA to write songs with Jeff. Jamie and Pontus joined the guys a few days later to rehearse and record drums in a small studio and do overdubs in Jeff's home studio. The new album "Truth" saw the light. The guys had a lot of help with the recording and the mixing from John Ellis (Prism Sound Studios, Boston). The album included a range of covers: “Darling Nikki” of Prince, “Let me entertain you” of Queen and “Frozen” of Madonna (which apparently became very popular in clubs in Germany). Once again there was no touring done for the album unfortunately.
In May/June 2001 Pontus, Marcel and Jeff were busy working in Sweden on the album of Humanimal. At the same time, dj Dr. Rock from the Swedish Radio Rock Klassiker persuaded the guys to perform at Sweden Rock Festival.
Two nights before the festival gig, Talisman played in Stockholm. Owing to a miscommunication between Jamie, Pontus, Marcel and the guys doing the mobile recording stuff, Marcel's entire gear (bass included!) was left at the venue in Stockholm instead of travelling with everybody else’s gear down to Sölvesborg, south of Sweden, where the Sweden Rock Festival takes place. Marcel wanted to leave the festival but, after looking inside the tent which was fully packed with a crowd shouting for Talisman, he decided not to turn his back on those people. So Marcel and other people started to run around the festival area to look for a bass to be borrowed in time for the show: Magnus Rosén from HammerFall finally lent Marcel one of his bass guitars.
The show went great and, since another band playing at Sweden Rock Festival had a mobile hard disc recording unit, Christer Wedin managed to get the Talisman show recorded as well. But the sound Marcel had at the show was not too exciting and some out of tunes guitars needed some fixing. So he and Pontus went into the studio to record live together the entire show exactly the same way they would have done it on stage. The live album was released in October 2002 in Sweden only through Empire Records, charting at number 18 the first week! In the same year, the entire back catalogue of Talisman was re-issued with bonus tracks on Frontline Records in Brazil.
Jeff, Marcel and Pontus later joined forces with drummer Tomas Broman (Great King Rat, Electric Boys, Amaze Me) and finally released the self-titled debut album of Humanimal in 2002. In May the band played a couple of shows to support it. Unfortunately, this was not a good moment for the guys owing to some personal, professional and legal problems. Pontus and Marcel had a falling out and this meant that Pontus was out both of Talisman and Humanimal.
Humanimal split. Marcel and Jeff had a meeting with Christer Wedin who explained the guys were basically free to go into business without him. Since Jeff had already signed a deal with the Italian label Frontiers for his solo album "Love Parade", he talked to them about doing a new Talisman album. Frontiers showed them open arms.
Now the guitar issue had to be sorted. Jeff had had Howie Simon playing on his solo album and was now trying to persuade Marcel to involve him. Jamie was at the same time pushing to get Fredrik back in the band. It ended up with Fredrik back in the studio and Howie joining the band for some live gigs. Interesting coincidence, Christer Wedin had been contacted by an Italian recording studio willing to let Talisman use the studio for free. This contact was reopened and the guys spent two weeks’ time at the Music Planet Recording Studio in Acqui Terme, near Turin, with Jeff being in charge of everything in terms of logistics and dealing with Frontiers. After having finished in the studio, Marcel and Jeff flew to Boston where they worked with engineer and friend John Ellis for the second time. They were supposed to be mixing, but had to do some editing first instead and so John did the final mixes without Marcel and Jeff.
"Cats and Dogs" was released in May 2003 and a tour in Europe (including a headlining slot at Gods of AOR Festival in the UK, a performance at Frontiers Showcase in Italy, a new appearance at Sweden Rock Festival and a show at Lokerse Festival in Belgium) took place in the following months.
Also in 2003 through GMR Music Group Sweden, the entire back catalogue of Talisman was re-mastered and re-issued, complete with bonus-tracks, demos, live gigs, promotional videos, liner notes.
In March 2005 through Frontiers Records, Talisman launched a double DVD package "World’s Best Kept Secret" which coincided with the 15th anniversary of the release of the first Talisman album. The set comprised two complete shows from the "Cats and Dogs" tour in 2003 (Sweden Rock Festival and Club Mondo in Stockholm), archive backstage and live footage, all the band’s promotional videos, an instructional video from Marcel Jacob and much more! A double live album "Five Men Live", including the gigs at Sweden Rock Festival and at Club Mondo, was also released at the same time.
For about 9 months starting from the end of 2005, Jeff, Marcel, Jamie and Fredrik have worked on a brand new Talisman album called "7". According to Marcel, this might simply be the best Talisman album ever!!! The release is due on 20 October on Frontiers Records, with a Japanese release on King Records.
The working title was "BAR" which stood for "Bitter-Angry-Resentful", basically a joke referring to the guys’ outlook on certain life events. The guys then opted for the more straightforward title "7" (it’s actually the band’s 7th studio album).
The new material is very melodic including some ballads, yet it encompasses what is the band’s trademark: catchy hooks, groovy rhythms, aggressive guitars and the ability to play different music styles. All songs were written by Marcel and Jeff, except "Shed a tear goodbye" which was written by Jamie and Jeff.
"7" was recorded at XTC Studios in Älvsjö and at Mahatma Gandhi Location in Stockholm, with all the vocals done at the Hampton in Northridge, California. Marcel has handled all guitars, except leads, and keyboards. The album includes 11 tracks and was mixed by Pontus Norgren, who is also the guest guitar player on "Final curtain", the bonus-track on the Japanese release.
The band was supposed to do a tour in September/October 2006 hitting Germany, Greece, Belgium, Italy and Spain, but everything has been delayed to further notice due to Jeff’s commitment in Journey. Another go will be given as soon as possible.
As of Dec. 19, 2006, Jeff Scott Soto was officially brought on as permanent singer for Journey, but was dismissed the following year. Talisman planned to do their final performances in Spring 2007, and the band subsequently dissolved on account of Jacob's health. Jacob committed suicide on July 21, 2009 (aged 45), after suffering from personal and health problems, effectively ending any chance of the band reforming.
In November 2012 the first four Talisman albums are rereleased in Digipack editions including new linear notes with personal comments from Jeff on each album, previously unreleased pics and audio material. The self-titled debut, featuring two new live bonus recordings and a bass solo studio instrumental track. On the "Genesis" album four demos from 1990 have been revisited with new drums and guitar recordings. Jamie, Fredrik & Pontus honor Marcels music with putting new sound to the recordings in the summer of 2012. The Five out of Five - Live In Japan. Now just named "Live In Japan" have got some additional music and complete new mix with the use of today’s technology. The Humanimal is a mix from the earlier Humanimal part 1 and 2. FanartBanner