NEW REVELATION is the name of Astral Door’s latest brilliant new album. When the opportunity to interview the lead singer Nils-Patrik Johansson knocked on my door I took the chance to once again talk to this amazing but very busy singer. As you can see we talked about the new album, the up-coming tour through Europe and about what the future holds in store for Johansson. The interview was made just before the tour was about to kick off so watch out for a live review from the tour premier.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Live pictures taken by: Anders Sandvall
All promo pictures are taken from the bands website
Thanks to Claus at Intromental Management for setting up the interview.
Hi Patrik, nice to talk to you again, I hope that you are in the mood for some questions.
I have read a few reviews of the new Astral Doors album now and most of them have been really great. Did you think the album was going to be so appreciated amongst the critics?
Absolutely, I mean, it’s such a great album, so everyone should enjoy it. But on the other hand: you never know, our album “Evil is Forever”, which most fans think is the best, didn’t get too good reviews in the big magazines (I do not consider 8 out of 10 a good review for us) compared to the first one; really strange and a big shame. Since then I find it very hard to take critics seriously.
Let’s talk a bit about the new Astral Doors album called NEW REVELATION, when and where was it recorded and when did the work on the album began?
It was recorded between December ’06 and April ’07 in our own studios. The song writing process started right after the Blind Guardian-tour.
You have written all the lyrics. What are the lyrics about and where do you gather inspiration when you write? Many of your previous lyrics are very dark. Do you think that the lyrics on the new album are as dark?
I feel that the lyrics on the new one are a bit happier than on the previous ones actually. It depends a lot of what mood I’m in at the moment I sit down to write the lyrics. I find my inspiration everywhere: on the news, in movies, in books, in my life etc. It can be about anything.
Why did you choose to call the album NEW REVELATION?
Why not? Hahaha. Well, we just thought it was a good title. No big deal.
Were you well rehearsed before you entered the studio and in which studio are the album recorded?
No, we don’t rehearse when we don’t have something to rehearse for. We write songs at home, each and every member sits by his own, to come up with new cool stuff. Then they send it to me through the computer and I come up with the vocal lines, vocal melodies and lyrics. When I’m finished, I go to the studio and record my stuff. Then we make a new one.
11 tracks finally made on to the European press of the album, on the Japanese edition there are 2 bonus tracks. Did you have a lot of material that in the end didn’t make it on to the final album?
No. We only wrote eleven songs for this album. The Japan-bonus tracks are leftovers from the previous album.
Do you think Astral Doors have developed music-wise since the last album? If so, in what way?
What we have developed is the production part. The new album sounds so great that it really stands out compared to the first three albums. Music-wise, I believe that we found the winning concept on the first album, and there’s no use what so ever to change style. Look at AC/DC: they have released the same album 20 times or so, hahaha, and it works damn good.
You have always had really nice cover artwork on your albums, who does your cover artwork? Do your covers symbolize anything in particular?
We’ve had different artists on every album. On this new one, it’s KILLUSTRATIONS from Germany that has created the cover art. We just sent him the lyrics to the title track and gave him free hands to create a picture out of how his way to read the lyrics.
How would you like to describe what kind of music we can find on NEW REVELATION?
Classic hard rock and heavy metal deluxe. It contains much more variation and moods than previous Astral Doors releases, but we still stand steady with both feet in the classic hard rock style.
You returned to Big Turn Studio and The Darkside to record the album, what makes those studios so great to record in do you think?
Hahahaha, well: Big Turn is Joachim’s Studio and Darkside is Martins studio, so the main reason to why we record there is the fact that it’s cheap!!
The legendary Peter Tägtgren has again mixed the album together with the band, what’s it like to work with Peter?
It’s very easy for me since I’m not involved in the mixing process. On the mixing of “New Revelation” I didn’t even visit The Abyss. Martin and Joachim were there all the time, but I had other obligations this time around too bad since Peter is the nicest guy around AND a master of his art.
The band has produced the album, what’s it like to produce your own band? Isn’t there any risk of being home-blind?
It’s a big risk, you’re right there. I just hope that we haven’t been home blind yet, like some of the old heroes have been. As long as we feel that we’re getting better and better on what we do, there’s no reason for us to change a winning concept, right?!
Is the album released world wide yet?
The bio says that this album is a masterpiece that’s gonna make you legends and that the album unites fans of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and Accept. How do you comment that?
It’s not as strange as it sounds: Our influences come from bands like Accept, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath and our style is really a mixture of those bands with a touch of Rainbow of course. Lyric wise we are pretty close to Blind Guardian and their fans seemed to like us on the tour. So I guess that the album really should unite fans from all mentioned bands.
You are a band that sure works fast, your last album ASTRALISM came last year. Do you think you’re going to keep up this fast pace in terms of releasing albums?
No, I think we have to wait at least two years before the next studio album. We could tour on our first four albums for five years if we wanted.
Are you happy with the work your label Locomotive Records have put into your albums and the band?
Oh, yes. I mean in Germany they have great connections and I truly feel that Germany is my second home country. Astral Doors is so much bigger there than in the rest of Europe. In fact I think Sweden, our own home country hasn’t opened its arms for us yet, hahaha; on the Blind Guardian tour, and the Swedish fans were the ones that gave least support to us. Sad but true. On the other hand, Locomotive focuses on the markets were it actually sells records and Sweden is not one of those.
For how many albums are you signed for at Locomotive Records?
I think for two more after this.
NEW REVELATION is your fourth album so far. Do you think that the latest album is the best one? What do you think of the new album?
I am the wrong person to ask here. Of course I must say that the new album is the best one, I’m here to promote it! To be honest I truly think that our albums all are strong as hell and they all have amazing moments of quality hard rock.
You are heading out on a smaller headliner tour at the end of this year, are you excited about that?
Sure! We’re leaving tomorrow. We start out with two small gigs in Scandinavia and then we hit Germany and some other cool countries in mid/Southern Europe.
Is it your first time out as headliner act?
We have done some club gigs in Sweden as headliners, but this will be the first real tour with Astral Doors as headliners.
What can we expect from an Astral Doors show? How would you describe a show with Astral Doors?
A non stop rock’n’roll orgasm with a lot of heart, sweat and emotions. You can always expect that we give everything we have to please the crowd and ourselves.
Do you think the band is gonna do more live shows during the next year?
Hopefully, we are even better live than on a record, so I hope that we can be on tour as much as possible.
Are you going to try on any newer songs on this tour?
Sure, that’s why we’re doing the tour: to promote the new album. Obviously we have a bunch of old songs that we can’t leave out of the set list, but there’ll be some new ones as well.
Is it hard now to put a set-list together now that you have more material to choose from? Are there any songs that you simply have to play that the fans have to hear?
No it wasn’t too hard. It was only fun really. Some songs are a must to play live; goodies like “Cloudbreaker” for example.
With thought of that older albums today disappears really fast from the shelves are your older albums still available in stores today? I have searched for your album but the only one I could find was ASTRALISM.
What? That’s bad. But I guess it’s just to ask the record store and they’ll bring home copies for you!
Are there and plans of doing a DVD with Astral Doors any time soon do you think?
Yes there are plans for that! The next Astral release will hopefully be a live CD and a live DVD.
You released an EP in 2005 called RAIDERS OF THE ARK, any plans on releasing another EP soon?
No, not really. When we got enough bonus material and leftovers, we’ll put them on an album to please our fans.
According to your myspace website you’re currently rehearsing for the tour, how’s the rehearsing go?
No problems what so ever. We got a good set that will work nice live, so we’re all very exited about the tour…
The same site also hints that you’re longing to do a solo album, is that true? Are there any actual plans on doing a solo album at the moment?
At the moment there’s no chance for me to do a solo album: I haven’t got time enough. One day I wanna do it, but it will take years before it’ll be reality. I got a lot of song ideas that I’ll keep to myself until the time is right and the world is ready for a NPJ-solo-album.
Now, let’s talk about you Mr. Johansson as a singer. Besides Astral Doors you are also singer in Lions Share and Wuthering Heights. Is it hard to combine three bands?
Sometimes, yes, but what the hell: singing is my job, so it’s up to me to deal with it in a professional way.
Lions Share played at Sweden Rock Festival this summer how was that? How was the crowd?
Absolutely great, we had a lot of thousands watching us there and they seemed to like what we did. We rocked our brains out and it was a good feeling all along the show. I’d like to thank all the fans that showed up there and supported us.
You did a surprise rehearsal show in a smaller club in Stockholm before the album was released, how was that show? Were you nervous?
No, I was not nervous. I’m made for standing on stages. It’s my life. The reason why we did that surprise gig was just for the fun of it. It was a rehearsal in front of an audience and it was very funny. Their old drummer and singer were actually there to watch the gig.
Which one of the Lions Share shows was the best to do, do you think?
Oh, tough question. They were all pretty good. Sweden Rock was magical of course. The response from the audience during the show and the signing session afterwards proved that there are a lot of metal heads out there that still love Lion’s Share. Another cool show was the one at Magic Circle Festival were we played for 15 000 people or so: amazing.
Did the old hardcore fans of Lions Share welcome the two newcomers, you and Sempo to the band? Is it hard being a newcomer in an already established act like that?
I don’t think so. Sure, the band is established, but after the six year long break, there are new metal fans out there, and during that period, I’ve made a pretty good name out of myself. So I think that the bands old die hard fans are still there and the PJ-fans are gathering as well. The new Lion’s Share is a brand new start and a fucking good band!!
When do you think we can find a new album by Lions Share in the stores?
Fall 2008 if everything goes the way we’ve planned. Lars Chriss has already started creating new stone hard riffs. He’s getting angrier and angrier the older he gets hahaha. It will be a monster album.
You took part in the song writing process in the new LS album EMOTIONAL COMA; is that something you’re gonna continue with?
Sure. As long as I’m a member of Lion’s Share, I will be a part of the song writing process. I try to write about other things than I do in Astral Doors. My lyrics on Emotional Coma are probably the best I’ve ever written.
What do you think of your effort on EMOTIONAL COMA? Are you happy with it?
I’m very happy with it. The lyrics are darker and more futuristic than on an Astral Doors-album and my singing is as good as it has ever been. Some of the stuff, like “Sorcerers” are among the best singing I’ve ever done. And how about that “Soultaker”?!! I love it!
You are also involved in a third band called Wuthering Heights, what’s the status in that camp at the moment?
The status is that Wuthering Heights has been something of a cult band for many people and a bit mysterious since we don’t do so many gigs. A new album will come, but I haven’t got a single clue when as it’s Erik Ravn who writes all music and lyrics!! Actually, the last Wuthering Heights album has done incredibly well all over, and especially in Japan and in Sweden it entered the sales-charts.
Last time I talked with you, you said that there were plans on doing some gigs with Wuthering Heights, how did that turn out, are there going to be any shows in the future?
It didn’t turn out good at all, hahaha, not one single gig. I doubt there’ll be any in the future either. But as I wrote in a song on the new Astral Doors album: Never say never again!
Any plans on releasing anything new from Wuthering Heights soon?
I know that the main man of WH, Erik “The Raven” Raven is writing new stuff, so there will absolutely be a new WH some day.
What’s the most common question you get from fans and do you enjoy meeting fans?
If I am DIO in disguise and other Dio-related questions. Of course I enjoy meeting fans. Without them I wouldn’t be anything.
What are your plans when the Astral Doors tour is over?
To write some stuff with Lion’s Share, doing some more shows with Astral Doors and celebrate Christmas with my great family.
And what are the plans for Mr. Johansson during 2008?
To stay alive, hehe. Beside of that it looks like 2008 will be a normal rock’n’roll year with a lot of gigs and stuff like that.
Anything you’d like to tell the readers and fans out there?
Metal Rules and Evil is Forever!