Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview with Bassist Nils Eriksson

Interview by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Cindy @ Century Media Sweden 
for the help and promo pictures of the band

Here we have an interview with Nils Eriksson, bass player of the power metal band Nocturnal Rites from Umeċ Sweden. We spoke about their new/sixth album NEW WORLD MESSIAH that will be released soon, about the tour through out Europe with Edguy, and about their plans for 2004.

Does everyone in the band still live in Umeċ Sweden?

Yes. Well, Jonny lives about 15 minutes outside the city, but I guess he qualifies as a citizen of Umeċ anyway.



Would you like to explain where Umeċ is located?

It's about 8 hours north of Stockholm, meaning we're in the north of Sweden. It's cold, evil and dirty up here - and that's what's making us sound so mean on albums. Up here only real men live. No one but native Umeċins could last more than week in this grim climate ;) And we talk like real men too. No sissy accents like they have in the south, we sound mean and brutal, haha!



What has happened with Mattias your keyboard player? Has he left the band?

Yes, he wanted to focus on other things and try something different. We're still friends and meet all the time, so no hard feelings were involved.



Who is it that plays keyboard on this album?

A really talented guy called Richard Frohm plays on two tracks. It was really cool to record him, since he did it all live in the studio. I think it turned out really well. On some of the other tracks friends are helping out and the producer is playing some stuff too. Keyboards are so much fun to fool around with in the studio. Keyboards and vocals are the most interesting and sound changing elements - I love them!!!



You have been around for a while as a band, how have you developed music-wise through the years do you think?

I think, and hope, we've all become better at what we do, both as musicians, songwriters, and as a band. As you said, we've been around for quite some time, so it would be strange if we hadn't got any better. We all work hard, practice, write songs all the time and really devote all our time to the band. If you go through our back catalogue it will be very obvious that we've always strived towards change and to develop and never remake albums. That's what makes being a musician interesting and fulfilling.


Have you done a lot of touring through the years?

We've toured Europe about five times, toured Sweden, Japan and played lots of festivals. So, yes I guess we've done our share. But there's more to come, believe me. Touring is what it's all about.



You were out on tour in Europe with the metal legends of Saxon last year, how was that?

It was truly great. I grew up listening to Saxon and for me it was an honour to tour with them. The tour was real fun and intense.



Why didn't the tour come to Scandinavia?

Well, we had nothing to do with how the routing of the tour was planned or booked. We would of course have loved playing in Scandinavia. The reaction from the fans was awesome. Pretty much every night was sold out and the whole package had some real success on this tour.



You were also in Japan with HammerFall last year, how was that?

Awesome, of course. It was our first time in Japan, so it was really new and exciting to see a different culture and country on the other side of the world. Going with HammerFall was of course also lots of fun, since they're really nice guys and we had a blast.



Have you grown and developed as a live act through the years?

I'd like to think so. We're able to just have a good time and enjoy every second of it. Playing live is the biggest reason why we do this, why we spend all that time writing songs and recording them. Touring is the biggest pay off. There's no feeling in the world that beats being on stage.



How do you look upon you previous album SHADOWLAND today?

It's a great album that has a really rough edge for being our genre of music. I think it sounds awesome and really in your face. I still like the songs and do believe the album has a unique feel to it, like the rest of our records.



What was the response from the press/fans on SHADOWLAND?

It was really cool. Both fans and press seemed to really enjoy what we did on that record.



How many copies do you think you're selling per album?

I don't have the faintest idea. I know for every album we get bigger and bigger pretty much in every country. But I'm sorry, I have so sales figures.


You recorded SHADOWLAND in Uppsala, Sweden why have you switched to record this album in Umeċ?

Recording away from home in both good and bad. The good thing is that there are really no distractions and you can't focus on anything but the record. But then again, recording at home gives you distance and a more relaxed vibe. Rounding up Shadowland was quite stressful so we thought it would be nice to at least record this new record at home and go away for the mixing process. We had a great time both recording and mixing this record.



Who has produced the album?

SHEP produced the record. TT Oksala mixed it and Mierva Pappi mastered it.



Who writes the music/lyrics in the band? And how does it work when you're writing new material?

Fredrik, Nils N and me write the songs. It's pretty much been like that for the last four records. Usually Fredrik or Nils N come up with a riff or an idea and then the three of us sit down together and jam around that in our studio. Sometime Fredrik writes alone and Nils too. However, when we have the major parts of the song done, we make a rough demo that we take back home and work with vocal ideas on. Then Jonny comes in and we work out how vocals should be together. After that I take a tape back home again and start working on lyrics.



Are you satisfied with the new album?

Very much. I honestly believe this is our best record. It's diverse, has a unique spirit and really sounds fresh and new. It think our love for the band and our music shines through and the album is really special to me. I love it and I'm proud of it.


Is there something that you're less pleased with? Something that you could of done better?

As a musician and a songwriter there are always things you can do better, or else why go on trying? Once we write an album where NOTHING could be done one more time, be it a keyboard line, a note on the bass or whatever, then we'll stop. However, that's not the point of recording records. It's about having fun and playing the music you love.


You have always such a nice looking cover on your albums and that reflects your music well, who decides what kind of cover you should have?

We do, together with a friend of ours that sketches out the ideas. Thanks and I agree - especially the last two covers look absolutely amazing and brilliant.



Why have you chosen to let Leo Hao do your cover on this album as well as the previous one?

Because he's really, really good. We loved what he did on Shadowland and when we saw the cover for New World Messiah we were blown away. I absolutely love the colors, the atmosphere and the image in itself.



Later this year you are going out on tour with Edguy, are you excited?

We are all very excited to get back on the road again. This is what we live for and the biggest reason why we're in a band. We love to be on stage and to meet fans from all over the world.



What do you think of Edguy's music?

I think Edguy is a truly great band. They sound unique and the band has a nice feel to it. They don't seem to take themselves too seriously and they seem to have a lot of fun. So, a great band in my mind.


What do you think of the Swedish power metal scene? Do you have any favorite bands?

The scene is constantly growing and more and better bands come out all the time. I always enjoy HammerFall because they do their own thing really well and also In Flames are very good.



Are you going out on tour as a headliner act during this year?

Probably late this year. We'll try to tour as much as we possibly can on this record and the fans definitely deserve a full set from us after so long.


I think that you play power metal, how would you describe what music you play?

I have no idea. I think describing and analyzing is up to the people buying records. We never analyze how we sound - we try to just write songs we feel confident about and that we like and that's basically all we can do. Power Metal, Heavy Metal or simply Metal. It doesn't matter really, as long as it's metal we're happy.


Why don't you tour more in Scandinavia?

We have five Scandinavian shows coming up on the Edguy tour and we've really built a strong fan base up here, so in the future there will be more touring in Scandinavia for sure.



Why have you chosen to call the new album "New World Messiah", does it mean anything special to you?

We always like to have a song title represent our albums. We thought New World Messiah sounded mostly like an album title and was easiest to illustrate on a cover. The cover has two manings in it, that's why we like. Interpret it whatever way you choose - it's either an illustration of pending doom or the coming of something bright and new.



I think that you new album has a more lighter and warm sound picture than the previous albums, how come?

I guess everything is a result of how the songs sound, the feeling you have in the studio while recording and so on. We had a really friendly easy going feeling while doing this record, so that might be part of the explanation. Also, the mix was very relaxed and I guess all this combined got the record sounding warmer and maybe, as you said, lighter. I love the sound and the production, it's really what we were looking for.



The song "Egyptica" falls a bit out of frame of Nocturnal Rites I think, why have you chosen to put that song on the album?

We thought it was important to have at least one song that stood out from the rest, one song that kind of broke the pattern a bit to make the album more diverse. I personally think it adds another dimension to the record and that the song in itself is truly amazing and different sounding than the rest of the record.



Are the lyrics about anything special on "New World Messiah"?

All songs are different and their own "stories". I've always been weak when it comes to nightmare scenarios and people going nuts. So, of course, there are a few songs about those kinds of things. Also, it was inevitable to shy away from the fact that a lot of things have happened in the world between our two latest albums. Wars, terrorist attacks and so on. The world has grown colder and darker and I think that is reflected in some of the songs too.



What are the plans for Nocturnal Rites during '04, except for touring with Edguy?

Have a great time, tour as much as we can and simply do what we love. No exact plans are made yet, but we're working on a few things.



Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Play it loud and know that the Messiah is coming.

Official Nocturnal Rites Site: www.nocturnalrites.com

Label: Century Media Records

Nocturnal Rites Reviews in Metal-Rules.com

Past Interviews with NR in MR:
2002 interview with Nils Eriksson
- 1999 interview with Nils Norberg