Civil War interview (07/2016)
|With:||Nils Patrik Johansson|
|Conducted by:||Bad English (e-mail)|
Bad English: Hi. Thank you for doing this interview with us at Metal Storm.
NPJ: No problems!!
Bad English: Can you introduce yourself, and tell us how you decided to become a singer and how you started listening to metal?
NPJ: Oh, well things just happened. I've always had the music inside me and when the NWOBHM came: I found my destiny. What can I say? Metal is my life!
Bad English: You're from Borlänge, right? And you support Leksands IF?
NPJ: Yes, I am from Kvarnsveden, Borlänge Kommun and of course I support Leksand. There is no alternative. Well, now Borlänge Hockey is on their way to the second division, Allsvenskan, so of course I support them as well.
Bad English: Hockey and metal music are two pretty Swedish things, aren't they?
NPJ: Hell yeah!! We love hockey and we love metal......and SNUS! What can I say: we are Swedes :-)
Bad English: To cut to the chase, you are probably most well-known for Civil War these days. Civil War hit pretty hard with its first album and became big by today's metal standards. Why do you think that is? Is there a Sabaton-related conspiracy (because if there is, you guys could write a great song about it)?
NPJ: It is no conspiracy or anything: I love the Sabaton guys. They are great!! The fact that Civil War is a popular band is because we write great music and have a connection to Sabaton. So: everyone's happy :-)
Bad English: The band's lyrics focus primarily on history. Is that something that you have an interest in, or did the other members bring that over from Sabaton? Is it difficult to find subjects not already taken?
NPJ: Well, my strongest side is the lyrics and history has been a part of my lyric-writing since always and I write all the lyrics in Civil War. The lyrics in Astral Doors is pretty similar, but I deal more with religion there.
Bad English: Would you ever record a concept album? Are there certain historical events you think would be fertile ground for such a project?
NPJ. Well Civil War's next album will be the final chapter in the trilogy about the American Civil War, that's a concept in itself. All songs on the albums aren't about the Civil War, but on this album we will deal a bit more with it to complete the Civil War trilogy. We have thought about an exclusive album after this one where all the songs about the Civil War are included....and: there you have a concept album :-)
Bad English: Civil War is on tour right now. After Stefan "Pizza" Eriksson left last year, who stepped in as the touring bassist?
NPJ: We are not on tour: we are in the writing/recording mode for the upcoming album. But we have toured a lot since Pizza left and we have the bass on back track. Works great. So it is actually Petrus Granar who plays the bass live.
Bad English: Before Oskar Montelius also left last year, you had three guitarists for a short time - Oskar, Rikard Sundén, and Petrus Granar. From your statement at the time of his departure, it seems like your intent was always to phase in Petrus to prepare for Oskar's departure, but would you ever be interested in working with three guitarists again?
NPJ: To be honest we had no clue that Oskar would leave. It came from out of nowhere. The reason why we invited Petrus as a full member is because he and I write good songs together and he was involved on The Killer Angels as well. So it was fair to let him be a real member. He's a great guy and a fantastic musician.
Bad English: Oskar retired not only from Civil War, but from guitar-playing in general, saying that he had "lost the spark." If he were to re-discover it, would Civil War be open to him? At the very least, would you and the other members collaborate on something with him?
NPJ: Sure. We love Oskar. He's one of a kind, so our door will always be open for him.
Bad English: You recently stated on Facebook that you are working on new material for Civil War. Are there any details you can share with us?
NPJ: Yes, we have at least 7 songs ready and so far the songs are really strong. I wrote a crazy really fast song yesterday with a lot of punk attitude. Can be a hit :-) Everything will be recorded before summer for a fall release.
Bad English: Let's turn to your first band, Astral Doors, for which you also said you have been working on new material. The band's latest update was in November. How is the album coming, and when do you think it will see the light?
NPJ: I think a new AD album will hit you early next year. The new songs are more Astral Doors than ever. More Astralism-vibes. Will be a killer.
Bad English: The band's latest album, 2014's Notes From The Shadows, saw a fairly quiet release, with not a lot of major media attention. Why was that?
NPJ: I think you are wrong there. I did interviews with all the big metal magz for the album; Metal Hammer, Rock Hard etc. The album also reached the Germany top 40 chart. We haven't toured a lot on the album though, that's perhaps why you think it was a quiet release!
Bad English: Is Astral Doors still under the Metalville label?
NPJ: Yes we are.
Bad English: This might be a bit of a provocative question, but why do Swedish bands tend to ignore the Nordic parts of the country? All the gigs and the whole scene are down in places like Sundsvall, Falun, maybe a bit in Umeå, but towns like Skellefteå, Ö-vik, Luleå, Kiruna are often forgotten, and it often takes a long time for bands to work their way up there. What is the reason for this trend?
NPJ: I guess it is because it's so tough for most bands to travel that far. In my case it's just so easy that no one has asked us to play north of Umeå. Ok, we played in Oulu once. So....metal fans in the north of Sweden: invite us and we will come!
Bad English: You're also in Wuthering Heights and Lion's Share, and you were formerly in Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey. Are there more bands you were in?
NPJ: I've been in more bands than I can remember, hahaha.
Bad English: What is the status of Richard Andersson's Space Odyssey? Is is still active? When were you a member, and how did you come to be part of that band?
NPJ: I don't think he is active. I did two albums with him, but on the third album another dude sang because my schedule was full. Richard found me through his friend Henrik Flyman, who played in Wuthering Heights. At first it was DC Cooper who was hired as a singer, then Mats Levén. Don't know what happened, but it ended up with that I recorded the album. I would like to thank Richard for giving me the chance to "break". It opened many doors.
Bad English: Is Wuthering Heights still on hiatus? The official statement was that "the band has been on hold since March 2011 due to Erik Ravn's serious back pain problems.'' How is Erik doing these days?
NPJ: I talk to Erik now and then. He's a bit better I think, but I don't know if there will be any more WH albums.
Bad English: The last updates in December 2015 spoke about re-releases of the band's music. Since the albums are out of any label contracts, how is that proceeding now?
NPJ: I got no idea. Talk to Erik about that! I'm not on the old albums anyway; I sing on the three latest albums.
Bad English: What is the current status of Lion's Share? If my information is correct, you and Lars Christmansson are the only two members at the moment. Any plans for filling out the line-up and playing live gigs?
NPJ: LS is now Lars Chris and me. We have songs to record a new album, but Lars wanna wait until the time is right. I have no problem with that: LS is his band and I have my hands full anyway.
Bad English: How do you write lyrics? Do you write to fit the music that's already written, or do you just write random lyrics whenever they come to you?
NPJ: It's easy: first we put together the music; then I write the vocal melody and after that I write the lyrics. No way is better than the other, but this is usually how I work.
Bad English: The first band from Sweden that I found thanks to the internet was 2 Ton Predator. I remember downloading a few songs from their old Myspace page, back when there was such an option. One of the next bands I dug up was Astral Doors. I recall there being a legal mp3 section, but that brings me to my next question: what are your thoughts on illegal downloads? How does the internet affect your music, both positively and negatively?
NPJ: To be quite honest I don't care any longer. A couple of years ago I was upset because of the downloading trend, but now I just live with it. We have to live here and now and this is our reality these days.
Bad English: Prior to social media, bands relied a lot more on official websites and their personal home pages to share information about their work, line-up, news, bios, etc. Now that social media is an option, it's easier to stay connected to fans and keep them in the loop, but it also makes a lot of that information easy to lose over time, and those outlets aren't well-formatted for music, which can make it difficult for newcomers looking to learn about the band. Do you think that one type of online presence is better than others?
NPJ: I promote myself via Instagram and on my Facebook pages. That's where people are. Of course it's also important with good real homepages with a lot of information about the members, releases etc.
Bad English: As the singer in four bands, is it hard to spend so much time onstage?
NPJ: As I've told: only two are really active. So it's no problems :-)
Bad English: If, just for example, Ian Hill or Oscar Dronjak were to call you and say, ''hey, Rob/Joacim can't sing, we need you to drop in for 20 shows,'' how much time would you need to learn all the songs and how hard would that be?
NPJ: Hahaha, I don't think that would ever happen. But if it did, I would prefer if it was Tony Iommi who called me ;-) That would be much easier since I already know all the Sabbath songs:-)
Bad English: Do you have any last words for our readers?
NPJ: Stay metal!
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