DREAM EVIL - Fredrik Nordström
Interview by EvilG
LIVE Photos By Arto Lehtinen From Sweden Rock 2002
people know who you are as a producer, so if you don't mind I'd like to
start out the interview by asking you some questions pertaining to the
work you have done as a producer before we move on to Dream Evil.
[OK] Since most people know you've produced bands like HammerFall,
Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, etc.. Can you start out by telling us about how
you began working as a producer and where you learned the art of
As for producing I've obviously loved playing music and stuff but
I've also been really addicted to technical stuff like recording
equipment and stuff like that. So when I was young I found four track
recorder. And from there I started and built a small studio. The plan
was to record my own music. But for some reason I got in contact with
Jesper Strömblad and Oscar Dronjak now In Flames and HammerFall
(respectively). They had a band together then. The bands name was
Ceremonial Oath. So that's where everything started. I didn't understand
it, nothing what they were doing, they were playing quite brutal Death
Metal. I had never heard of that music before in my life.
So you kind of picked it up on your own? You didn't go to some
type of technology school to learn about things?
No, I was purely dedicated to the world of recording.
Looking at other people who are producers, or have been producers
(past or present) do you have someone you look up to who is at the top
of their game?
Bob Rock? (laughs) For what he did to Metallica?
Not only, he did Motley Crue!
Yeah. Doctor Feelgood.
Do you know that album?
Yes, I own all the Motley Crue albums of course!!
On "Power To The Music (In the Streets)" with singing the
chorus and first verse, I don't remember the name of that album (ed.
note: It was self titled - Motley Crue). It had very good production I
think. Almost everything he's done is very good. He's (someone I look up
to), he's very good.
Anyone else that you want to mention or.....
And what band has he done?
The Beatles? I wouldn't know that, as I don't listen to The
He actually got an award from the English Government. He's
"Royal" now (as in "Sir George Martin").
Wow, isn't everyone in the Beatles are "Royal" (Sir Paul, Sir
etc etc..), so why not him too right?
When you're approached by a band, or maybe a record label who says
"We want you to produce such and such band", do you always
want to hear what the band is about, or is it "Hey, if they want to
pay to come in and have me produce their album, I'll do it!".
I prefer listening to it first actually. Sometimes the band are
really good and sometimes not so good. I don't have any special things
when I decide to do a band or not. To be honest I don't go around and
call myself "producer" (laughs). So I want to listen, so it's
not too bad. Sometimes recording can be
the only reason why studios try to save their playing - for example. I've done it so
many times that I don't want to do that now because it's very hard work
and quite boring actually. For example, if you take a band like Spiritual
Beggars or Arch Enemy with Mike Amott, those bands are very good musicians, and
also from At The Gates are very good musicians. It's so much easier to
get good results when people can play their instruments. There are some
bands, they think
that, for example, when they go into Bob Rock - he's a "magic
guy" who can make them play good.
So that leads me to my last question related to production type
stuff and that is, perhaps you can tell me what band has been maybe the
easiest to work with in the studio, and why, and what band was probably
the hardest and why?
(Laughs) I think it would be Dimmu Borgir in both cases (for easiest
and hardest). I think the bands Spiritual Beggars and Arch Enemy have been very
easy to work with because everybody is so professional with their
instruments and stuff in both bands. Dimmu Borgir were also a very
nice band to work with, but also it was one of the hardest because it
was such big production. You know with so many songs, string
sections... The keyboard
player he's a very talented guy and has great technique. He wanted a sound,
like water dropping. It would end up we were standing with a mike in the kitchen
you know, recording water until we got the right sound. And the singer
he wanted so many different sounds of vocals. So I was burned out for two
months after that recording because of all this creativity we had to
come up with.
So did you take a break from recording for awhile after that?
I didn't. That was very stupid, I wasn't expecting it to be so hard.
Fredrik Nordström - Guitars & Keyboards
So onto the actual side of you that's involved in creating music,
not just helping other people produce it. You're a guitar player, so how
long have you been playing guitar? Has it been something you've been
doing since before you got it in your mind to produce albums kind of
Yeah, yeah absolutely. I started playing guitar when I was six years
old, when I saw Jimi Hendrix on television. I was like "Wooowww!". When I was
five I was into bagpipes.
Haha. Good you didn't take that up eh?
(laughs) I dunno, when I saw this on television with the kilts and the bagpipes
it was very
bombastic. It was forty people playing bagpipes and I was so impressed.
And then I saw this guitar player and I was like "Yes, this is what
I'm going to do." When I hit seven years old for a birthday present
I got a guitar, that didn't work, so I think when I
was ten years old I got my first guitar. I went to guitar school for two
years and learned three chords.
Haha. It took you two years to learn three chords?
Yes. Then of course my mother bought me an electric guitar and I
started learning because that's what I wanted to do. Because I'm left
handed I wanted to play like Jimi Hendrix, but in guitar school that's
all they know, you have to play the other way. It had to be right
when it should be left.
So which way do you play now?
The normal way.
Besides Jimi Hendrix who else would you say was an early
inspiration, or helped you develop?
Thin Lizzy, absolutely! I was listening to their album Black Rose
everyday for three years. I was so impressed by the guitar playing.
Also, early Scorpions. With Accept, I didn't discover until like seven years ago or something like
that. That was the first time I heard "Balls to the Wall" and
I was like "Whoaaaaa! What a sound!". So maybe I'm a little late.
A late bloomer.
Retarded maybe. Haha!!!
Hahaha. Have you ever looked outside of Metal for inspiration for
guitar playing, or has it mainly been Hard Rock and Heavy Metal types
With guitar playing I've been trying not, I'm not a big listener of
music to be honest. I try to go my own way, always. It takes a long time to do you
know, to go somewhere. But I've been trying to go my own way. Of course
when you're listening to Heavy Metal, it's so powerful, so of course you
get inspired by that music. I really don't know what I should say my
inspiration is. (laughs) And finally, I once was playing a lot of pop
That must have been frustrating, Haha.
Was it frustrating having to play Pop music?
No because I wanted to do it at the time, but I started playing this
metal music instead.
Do you think that the time that you've spent in the studio with
other musicians, has anything like that ever helped your playing or
influenced your playing?
Yes I think so. Mostly it taught me a lot of stuff about what I
think about music and what kind of mistakes that you shouldn't do. For
example, when you take a band like Opeth, I had them in the studio. And
the deal with them is I only do the sound, I have nothing to do with the
music at all because they have a totally different way to looking at
music, like nine minute songs and stuff like that. I'm not really into
that kind of stuff. But I love Opeth, I'll tell you that, but for me
it's not my world of trained music, you see. I'm more like you know,
basic intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, solo. More simple
and always trying to find a hook in the song. It sounds very like pop
producer work but I think for example "Balls to the Wall" you
know, that whole song is a hook. Everything you know, the guitar riff,
the chorus, everything. What I try to do is take stuff forward and put
it in the face of the listener.
All the while that you were working with bands, were you in some
way envious of them, the way they were creating and recording their own
material when you had this desire to obviously do this yourself?
Uh, no. I have never felt like that. But sometimes you feel, when
you have finished with a band after recording, you feel like a member of
that band. But
then they go away on tours and stuff like that and I'm not jealous with
people that go on tour because I know that touring means a lot of boring
time, and I'm a guy who wants to be crazy all the time. Sitting in a
tour bus takes sixty or eighty percent of your time and it's not
something I look forward to. Of course it's going to be funny but I know
it's time consuming....I'll find a way to have something to do in a tour bus, and everybody
in a band is saying the same thing, and we are planning to write music
when we're on tour.
So regarding the band Dream Evil, perhaps you can tell me who came
up with the name Dream Evil, and what is the story behind why you chose
It was me that came up with the idea because I was sitting in the
studio and listening to a Dio album.
Ahha! I thought it might have been Dio.
Actually it was. When I'm going to the music store and I'm
going to buy some new music, I always come out with some old, good
albums, you know, Accept or something like that. So now I came out with
a Dio compilation. I haven't listened so much to Dio, and then I was
like "Wow! This is a great singer". He's incredible. He's one
of the best I think.
Yeah for sure. And he's fifty plus and he's still kicking ass. Ha!
Yeah! So I was sitting in the studio and I saw this song title
"Dream Evil." At that moment we were discussing what kind of
band name we should have, everything from "Dragon Heart" to
"Dragon Foot" and "Dragon Kidney". We didn't know,
we had a lot of different names. All of the songs from that album are
tied to a dragon story, so we were thinking of having something with a
dragon name. We had this discussion with Century Media also, and I used
to say that name to Century Media like "Oh, I came up with the idea
of Dream Evil", and they were "Yeah that's very good, very
good, very good!". So Dragon Slayer was actually an idea for the
band name from the beginning. So they said "Yeah, you're going to
have the name Dream Evil and the album should be Dragon Slayer",
and we said "Okay, let's go for it".
The band first started to form I believe, was it in 1999?
And you first hooked up with your guitarist Gus. Can you
tell me about how you found him, or he found you or whatever, and was
the chemistry immediate between the two of you for writing songs and
things like that?
I met him on a vacation in Greece. He was living in Greece and he was
living a lot in America also. So we were speaking out there
and he said he had planned to go to Sweden. So when he came to Sweden I
called him up and asked him "Do you want to come down to the
studio?", and I asked him what his plan was in Sweden and he said
"Yeah, maybe I'll try to find a band to play with", and I told
him "I have this idea. I have some songs here for a band. Do you
want to listen?", and he was "Yes this is very good" and
suddenly we became a band, just me and Gus. We decided "Okay, we're
going to do a metal album."
Gus G. - guitars
The very well known drummer Snowy Shaw is your drummer. So
basically, from my point of view he's been out of the international metal spotlight since he left King Diamond, although he has been active
in bands like Notre Dame and stuff like that. So I was wondering how did
you recruit him? Were you buddies with him kind of thing? How did that
whole thing happen?
had seen him in the studio, one time doing recording and I met him him a
few other times some more. We were never really friends, or nothing like
that. After we met Peter (Peter Stalfors - Bass) in England and we were like "We need
a drummer" and I was like "Yeah, but a good drummer because I
don't want to record an album with a bad drummer because there's too
many albums with bad drummers." So we were discussing it and I said
know Snowy Shaw a little bit and I can call him up and ask him if he
wants to play on the album anyway", and then after we record the album
(with Snowy) we would have to find a (permanent) drummer. So he went down to the studio recording the
drums. Actually he heard the songs not so many times, so every
time we did a re-take of a song we had a new version of the drums. It was very cool.
He has such creativity behind the drums, he's incredible and he can make such drum
fills...you'd die. Then when we completed the album we started discussing about if he
wanted to be a member and he said "Yeah, why not." He liked
the songs and felt comfortable with the people in the band, and now we
have a good chemistry between us. We're on the same level, everybody,
maybe not Gus because he is much younger, he is every way on the same
level but younger.
You discovered your vocalist Nicholas when he was doing backing
vocals I assume, for the first two HammerFall albums. Prior to this was
he in any other recording bands?
Um, no. He was in a couple bands, he was playing music in Gothenburg,
Do you know how HammerFall themselves found him? And is there any
reason why he wasn't the backing singer on the third HammerFall album?
Yeah, because they recorded the third album in the USA.
Right. So they didn't want to fly him all the way over there eh?
Yeah I think so. I don't know what's happened with HammerFall on
their third album. I think they went a little bit "Rock Star"
or something like that. (laughs)
No but actually Peter, our bass player, he's a very good friend with
the Joacim, the singer in HammerFall, so when Nicholas came to the studio to do
backup vocals we were like "What the fuck, this guy is a great
vocalist" so he did a lot of harmonies and then Peter was together
with me and we did the big choir stuff.
So that's how you first discovered his talent. What was the deal
when you were looking for a vocalist? Did he come to mind right away or
did you try out ????.
No he didn't. I didn't think about him first. We we discussing a lot
and I was actually thinking maybe we should
call up Dio (laughs). But we were discussing a lot of different vocalists and we
didn't find anything we felt comfortable with. And then I was like
"Yeah, I remember this guy. He was a very, very good singer. I will
call him up." And then he came down to the studio and tried on
three songs and like, you know, directly he was there, and Gus was
jumping up and down and screaming "Yes!!! This is the guy. This is
the guy!!", and he was like "Yes these are very good songs. Can
I be a member of the band?!?!" and we were "Yes we need a
singer", "Ah great. I know a bass player", "Is he
good?", "Yeah he's very good. I will call him up. He's Peter.
You know him.", "Yeah, call him up". It was like that.
Niklas Isfeldt - Vocals
Last question related to HammerFall. Obviously no doubt, I've read
some of the reviews, not my own review but I've read some reviews, and
people have been mentioning Dream Evil and HammerFall in the same
sentence you know, kind of comparing the two in some way. And uh...
Yeah, and that's very easy to do of course. But not because we are
the same musically, it's because Niklas, myself and Peter, and all three of us
were involved with HammerFall.
Sure. The only place I could see where that comparison would have
some merit would probably be a song like "The Prophecy", but
the rest of the album didn't really come off sounding much like HammerFall,
in my opinion anyway.
No, I don't think so either. Actually we tried to stay away from
something that sounds like HammerFall when recording the songs because
we know that everybody is going to compare this to HammerFall,
especially the background vocals, and the company knows it and they
write that in the bio, of course.
Sure. Do you mind that people compare or it doesn't matter or?
It's okay. I don't think they are right. I think HammerFall is a good
band but if you don't know anything about metal we maybe sound the same,
but if you're listening to metal music we're different.
On some of the songs on Dragon
Slayer, first of all you use Gothenburg's Philharmonic string
section for a few songs. What was that like for you to bring those guys
in, or you to go to their area to record them for the album?
That was in the studio, and they are so professional. It's like, you
think you're working with good people and when they show up, you are
like zero! They don't tune because they have to tune with their fingers. Everybody tunes in
their own way, everybody at the same time. You make sound check, thirty
minutes. Sound check, the notes and you have the conductor and
everything. And then you say "Let's record from bar
thirteen", and then you press record, and then stop. It's incredible.
They are very good.
Did you have the music written out for them, exactly what they
were to play or?
Yeah but, because I don't know anything about scores and stuff like
that, and I know this guy, the same guy who did the string
arrangements for Dimmu Borgir, and so I called him up and he was very
nice and he is very talented. So I called him up asking what to do to get the
arrangement of strings. I told him which part I was thinking about and
whatever I was thinking about for the parts but he did his own arrangement and it was very good.
The title of the album Dragon
Slayer is something that fans of power metal will obviously
think "Oooh, this is going to be a great Power Metal CD." So
do you mind that association, or do you consider Dream Evil to be power
metal, or do you just not want to bother with the whole labeling deal?
I don't consider us as a Power Metal band, but I remember it was the
guy from Pantera who was first lumped in power metal. But power metal,
is it that the German "Book baak book baak book baak"? (imitating
fast double kick drums) (laughung) No, I see
us as a Heavy Metal band. If they want to call us Power Metal it's okay.
We call it Balls Metal.
You call it WHAT Metal?
And what are some of your favorite songs on Dragon Slayer, and why would you pick them?
You gotta say you like them all. Haha!
Yeah, I do. Maybe "Hail to the King" didn't turn out too
good maybe. But I think the rest of the songs turned out very good. My favorite
song right now is "In Flames You Burn". And the ballad...
The song "Losing You" you mean?
Yeah. I know many people listening to this kind of music hate ballads
but "I'm a very romantic guy."
Haha, yeah. When I heard "Losing You" the first thought
that came to my mind was this sounds like something that could receive,
in some areas, some radio play. I was wondering if that was something
you maybe kind of hoped for? Or do you think the audience of a band like
Dream Evil probably aren't tuning into the radio anyway?
Yes hopefully. And no, I don't see the ballad as a radio play song.
The ballad for me is something I want to perform live you know, with a
string section behind the band. Me sitting with the piano, playing,
Niklas alone. You
know, arena rock size. Something like that is what I see with that song,
but I know it's very hard to play ballads live. We already tried it live
and it didn't turn out at all.
And there's a song on there "H.M.J.", or I guess
"Heavy Metal Jesus." So what or who in particular is that
All the songs are following a story, and in the song
"Prophecy" he finds a prophecy carved in stone he has to find the guy who's going to bless him so
he can kill the dragon. Because if he does not get blessed, the dragon
will kill him. So he rides away to the town to find the blesser.
When you find the blesser, that is the Heavy Metal Jesus. The Heavy
Metal Jesus, he doesn't use water and stuff like that, he uses the
flying "V". You can find it in the second verse: "If you
want to kill the beast, you have to be blessed by the man from the east.
So why don't you get down on your knees, and I will bless you with my
Haha, cool. Did you write most of the lyrics yourself?
No we actually do that together. That stuff about Heavy Metal Jesus I
had a long time ago, I came up with it. Then I though it would fit in
the story so I said "Hey listen, I have a song here" and it
was like "Whoa, cool". It was a more fun project doing that
recording of that song. One of the favorites in the rehearsal room.
The cover art of the album shows I assume the Dragon Slayer
himself, but it didn't show the dragon that he is slaying. I was
wondering why you didn't include the dragon on the cover too?
It was there from the beginning.
Yes, but when you scaled it down with dragon and everything, the cover was so
messy. There was too much colors, too much stuff. So they actually cut
it out. You can find it in the CD a little bit.
On the back. Right.
And there also you can find the whole story of
Cool. I just got my copy yesterday actually, and I got the promo slip
case from the record label. So all last night I had the CD going about
ten times. Over and over all night, haha. It's really good.
Oh, you like it?
Yeah definitely, I liked it a lot! Related to touring, I know you
said you don't envision touring to be something you're extremely fond
Maybe it's going to be the best time in my life,
but from the stories I heard from the bands it's going to be like the
small tours I've done before.
I know you're playing Sweden Rock, and I believe you're playing
Wacken. So are you also going to do a tour, or is it mostly going to be
festival things like this?
We haven't discussed a tour with the label, and it one of the things
about signing the contract. We had the promise to do one tour, actually everybody is looking forward to go on that tour, but we don't
know when. I think it's going to be a European tour. Because what I have
seen of the marketing plan of the USA, I think the kind of music we are
playing is quite dead in the USA, is that correct?
I don't know if I'd call it dead, but I'd call in unpopular.
If we were playing with Limp Bizkit or P.O.D. maybe
it would be better but I don't like that stuff.
No. I can't stand it either. It's not music. It's just mass marketed plastic
stuff that the label puts together. There's probably one creative band
out of all of them, and they make ninety clones.
All right, that's everything I had to ask you man. So I'd like to
thank you for taking the time to call me.
Transcribed by Joel