Heart of Steel: Interviews

Nonexist - Existence After Arch Enemy 

Interviewed by Luxi

DeusDeceptorWhat sort of associations do bands like Carnage, Furbowl and Arch Enemy bring in your mind? Think again. Fine Swedish Death Metal may be the correct answer to all of them, but what about specifying your answer a bit more? Yes, thatīs right, a proper yet very accurate answer is that Johan Liiva has once been a part of all these bands. In fact, the first two mentioned bands can well be considered HIS bands while in Arch Enemy he may have been only a charismatic frontman and vocalist for the band according to how Michael Amott (ex-Carnage, ex-Carcass, Spiritual Beggars, etc.) thinks as this topic goes…

Anyway, after Johanīs departure from īthe arch enemiesī and putting all his efforts to a new deathly creation called NonExist with another Johan (Reinholdz, a guitar wizard and song writer in a progressive metal band named Andromeda, too!), it was time to ask about his feelings of the new band, today's metal scene, music business in general and so forth. Read on what else you are about to find out as Johan spoke out the most honest and sincere way what he had in his both mind and heart…

 

C-YA AROUND... īTHE ARCH ENEMIES...ī

nonexist1So Johan, I guess one important question that needs to be asked is why on earth did you leave Arch Enemy in the first place?! For many, that announcement came like a bolt from a crystal-clear sky īcoz at that time, Arch Enemy was going really well and you already had a huge fan-base created around the whole world. So what indeed happened? I know itīs just hypothetical speculations, but rumors were telling that you didnīt get along with Michael Amott too well in the very end before your departure from īarch enemies... ī?

Well, one day I got a letter from Mike that said like "We are going to try out a new vocalist, youīre now free to do whatever you want…!?". I tried to call him but there was no answer, but finally I managed to reach him and then he told me about the situation and thatīs about it. The thing was that during this time I was about to get out of my printing company that was nothing but a sinking ship and I felt 98% burnt-out (yīknow, that modern national disease) and depressed. I decided to focus on the music (i.e. Arch Enemy), but destiny had some surprises left in stock for me, so... guess one gets used to it? As for Mike and me, we never had any disputes. We got along very well. The same goes for the other guys as well as all of the previous members that went in and out of the band. You know, Iīm a really nice guy, or at least thatīs what they say... (HAHA!!)

 

Are you saying that he - I mean, Mike, really didnīt hold anything against you when he let you know through letters that you should really step aside and start looking for another band for yourself? Wasnīt he maybe even a bit afraid of a tiny possibility that as many consider Arch Enemy as HIS band, there still was a bunch of people that thought Johan Liiva is THE Arch Enemy - and not Michael? Like in the public's eye your name would have been connected to Arch Enemy more than Mike was able to swallow at one go?

No, I guess he didnīt have any problem at all with getting rid of me - otherwise it would most likely never happen. I mean, you donīt just fire a vocalist like that. It wasnīt like I was "the fifth wheel" or anything. I guess itīs more to it than that. A lot of people said it was because of envy, but I donīt know... And being replaced by a vocalist that is both mediocre and self-confident at the same time just doesnīt make sense to me. Maybe itīs a big secret...yīknow? As for my "come back", well, I guess it came as a surprise to "the Enemies". Theyīre not comfortable about it. Thatīs my "revenge", HAHA!! They can slander and backbite me all they want in the media, but I donīt care. I feel OK with my vocals, my personality and what Iīm doing, so... There will always be like 2 different camps: One for Arch Enemy and one for me. Still, no hard feelings from my side really. Daniel is a super-nice guy and if it wasnīt for the situation Iīm sure that weīd stay in touch, but unfortunately we donīt, so...thatīs life.

 

BREEDING A NEW LIFE

Talking about your current metallic incarnation NonExist next... You have just finished your recordings for your debut album titled DEUS DECEPTOR at Abyss Studios; Tommy Tägtgren and your guitarist Johan Reinholdz (also in Andromeda) being the main guys responsible for the production for it. So, would you enlighten us, how were those twelve days at Abyss Studios you spent recording the album? Was it merely like a normal routine experience for you? Or did you become more than excited about how the recordings might turn out...keeping some crucial facts in our minds, this was your 1st ALBUM under Nonexistīs moniker anyway?

Sure, it was intense and exciting to be back in the studio with such strong material and to work with such a nice, down-to-earth guy like Tommy Tägtgren. The atmosphere was extremely relaxed and inspiring. Itīs kinda cool, to be back in business. We went there with those tunes, began with the drums (Matte was flawless, finished in less than 2 days!) and went step by step towards the final result. All that time putting the pieces of the puzzle together. One could feel that this was going to be a really heavy and intense album once we were finished. And it all went so smooth - no bullshit, just pure efficiency all the way! So, as for me, I was never worried or uncertain about the way it turned out...and I truly am proud of every second on it.

 

 

You make it sound like there were no problems, whatsoever - at Abyss Studio at all as far as the actual recording and things like that for the whole process are all concerned. Well, thereīs no band that wouldnīt have any kind of problems while they are captured to that process, so could you kindly just stop lying there (he!) and hell us what was (or were) - notwithstanding all of your plausible explanations, the HARDEST part or parts, to get some things done for DEUS DECEPTOR; being it some different effects, single vocal parts, whatsoever…? There just HAD to be something that wasnīt that easy to be accomplished as far as some certain studio techniques were something to be a little worried about, so just kill our curiosity once and for all…

HA-HAH..., - well, OK! Of course it wasnīt completely without problems to deal with, no way! It never is. There was stuff like finding a suitable snare drum-sound, so Tommy had to try different solutions for that, replacing the microphone and stuff like that. It took a few hours, but what the hell? Itīs quite normal. What else? Well, of course I got some shit in my throat after a few songs, but it was eliminated easily by drinking a lot of water and some "vocal cord-siesta". As for Johan Reinholdz, it was like all these leads and soloīs that he really wanted to get top-notch perfect, as the perfectionist that he is. He was like playing guitar all night and went to bed like 8-9 in the morning! So, "unfortunately" it all worked out very smooth in general. It was fucking great actually!

 

By looking at the songs on DEUS DECEPTOR, you have even three instrumental songs on the album and actually DEUS... is opened up by an instrumental tune called "Entrance". Hmmm… thatīs pretty īunusualī way to kick an album in the air if you ask me. Is there any reason why you decided to start the album with this instrumental song? And why did you record 3 instrumental songs all in all just for this album? To have 3 songs as instrumentals out 12 songs recorded for DEUS..., well, ainīt it pretty… īunusualī as well?

Yeah, I guess it might occur kinda "unusual", but then again, Johan (Reinholdz) is very determined to do exactly as he wishes, yet keeping it as original / innovative as possible. Heīs that kind of musician who tries to avoid copying others and repeating himself and instead try to find other, new and unexplored ways of writing and presenting music.

The good thing about instrumental and acoustic songs in my opinion is that you allow things to sort of calm down and then explode again. I think we got a fine balance on the album as for the essential ingredients of brutality, heaviness, intensity and melody.

 

What have pre-reviews of some medias been saying about having 3 instrumentals (out of 12 songs) recorded for this particular album? Have none of these pre-reviews been somehow īrudeī and even some way īidioticī by saying that those instrumental songs there on your debut, only are sort of an ego-trip of one skilled musician who only tries to prove to the whole world that without him this band probably wouldnīt be anything; like bringing in a bit of this topic about an "Yngwie Malmsteen" syndrome, kind of?!

No, I havenīt heard anything like that from anyone. Most people who've heard it is more like "Shit, I canīt believe how heavy this is!", "Itīs technical, but still very brutal!" etc. So far no-one's complained or had any negative things to say about it. This may sound pathetic, but this album is a creation straight from the heart. Weīre 100% behind every second of the tape and every inch of the finished product. Itīs like Johan Rīs songs and his ideas - but Matte put his unique style of drumming there and I arranged my lyrics to fit each song the way I wanted to. We "decorated" it our own way and ended up with something that we really stand up to. So, itīs natural to have these instrumental tunes there as a part of the "artistic freedom of expression". It gives you some time to catch your breath, so I think itīs cool.

 

What could you tell us about the songs on this release? Obviously you have written most of them, but I bet some of the other guysī involvements can be traced down for some of these songs as well. Well, you as the father of these songs, could continue from this on…

Well, for example the drum lines were programmed, so it was kinda impossible at times for Matte to do EXACTLY the same. He kinda replaced some "rhythms" and made, what he called "a Vader" (grind aīla Doc, HA-HAH!!) or something instead. As for the vocal lines, Johan and me had gone through the basic way of singing the lyrics, but I guess I had some "aces up my sleeve" that came as a surprise for him while we were in the studio. Then as for everything else, it was totally thanks to Johanīs talent, hard work and stubbornness that made the music what it is. I came up with 2 riffs (for the song "Faith") and 95% of the lyrics. The rest is all Reinholdz!

 

Whoops…(!), that fact I did not know at all; - eh, I mean that itīs Mr. Reinholdz whoīs almost 100% behind all that how NonExist sounds like. Just wondering why havenīt you shared your song writing process a bit more between each of the band members īcoz I strongly believe both Matte and you might be such killer wizards on this particular department. As well, you are both experienced musicians with all of your previous bands (Carnage, Furbowl, Defleshed, Arch Enemy, etc.)? Do you believe that itīs just easier and clearer for your band if only one guy takes all the responsibility to create a musical concept around the band?

Well, it just came naturally in a way. Johan got all these songs and was just practically flooded with riffs, so there was just not any need for any further contribution as for the song-writing. It looks like as if Iīll be bringing more of "my riffs" into NonExist in the future though as heīs quite occupied with Andromeda at the moment and all what that means as for song-writing etc. All this to say, I wouldn't mind if for example Matte came up with all what heīs capable of and put even more of his style into the music. That would be killer, for sure!

 

You recorded DEUS DECEPTOR with the following line-up: You handled all the vocals, Johan Reinholdz took care of both guitars and bass and Matte Modin (known also for his duties for both Defleshed and Dark Funeral) was behind the drum kit. How was it to record the album with these two insane musicians as they are known for their killer instrumental mastery? How does their influence show on DEUS DECEPTOR? Did Johan R. bring some of his more progressive elements out of his another band Andromeda into the sound of NonExist whereas Matte provided some of those more aggressive vibes for this album of which Defleshed has become know for?

First of all, it was an honor to get together with these guys in the first place. I mean, Matte Modin is a mastermind when it comes to groove while doing a 180 km/h! Not many drummers are able, or have the talent (guts?) to play the way that he does. Itīs just amazing!!! As for Mr. Reinholdz, well, what can I say? Heīs a young and extremely musically talented guy. I think the combination of the people involved in NonExist, ranging from Wez (the spider in this web) to Tommy Tägtgren, makes the band to what it is. Thereīs also an influential meaning in everything that later pops up from the subconscious to become, hopefully, a good and satisfying result. I think DEUS DECEPTOR is a proof of all this - itīs very varied, yet with a consequent structure and not just a mish-mash of riffs and beats.

 

How did you find these dudes anyway for the band? Were they recommendations of some of your friends or was there a longer period of friendship between you and the rest of the guys in the band already?

Well, I had never met any of the guys before when I was in Arch Enemy. I knew that Matte was an extraordinary drummer since I headbanged to the rhythms of Defleshedīs UNDER THE BLADE in the bus during the tour with In Flames, Bodom and Dark Tranquillity back in `99 - he was like THE drummer! As for Johan R., I didnīt know anything about him until I got in touch with Wez (NHR, formerly War Music) and got acquainted with him and his skills as a guitarist. I felt and knew as soon as I heard his demo that he was the right guy to work with. And when I finally got to meet him I even liked him as a person, HA-HA!!

 

As it can be read from the homepage of New Hawen Records (http://www.newhawenrecords.com/nhr/frameset.htm), you are now auditioning another guitarist to play in NonExist and also bass playerīs position is still open on that same "Wanted!" list as well. So, how have things been developing as far as those additional musicians are concerned; is the search over yet? Are those guys mainly meant to be play gigs for NonExist or are they going to be permanent members of the NonExist line-up? What kind of qualities should they fulfill in order to get hired for those jobs anyway? Are you looking for the most professional guitarist you could possibly get; who could be some sort of an ace pupil of the Yngwie Malmsten school and know how to play those goddamn catchy yet effective solos without faking a second - and a true bass virtuosity who even could be able to play without having any ideas of how to read notes?

Weīve had a few promising auditions, yet the search continues. Itīs not like the end of the world, weīre in no real immediate hurry to find the right musicians, so itīll just have to take the time it takes. As for qualities, well, obviously it would be great if they are somewhat used to play on stage in front of a crowd, to sort of have a routine that you know - "anything can happen!". Skilled on their instruments. Some kind of "laid back" attitude (who needs an asshole anyway?). Long hair maybe? HA-HA-HA!! It doesnīt matter really, just as long as thereīs a pleasant chemistry within the band to prevent any risk of negative energy or whatever to break the unit down, itīs fine with me. To be a 5-piece is not like just "the more the merrier!", itīs to make it as powerful and impressive as possible LIVE. At the studio on the other hand, itīs far easier being only 3 people. Well, thatīs easy for me to say as I just have to focus on the vocals, but I guess you get my point...

 

 

ABOUT CHEMISTRY

nonexist3

Hmmmm… how would define a concept for "a pleasant chemistry" between each of you in the band? Do you think that you could go out, hang around and have those a couple of beers together even outside of the band activities as well - just like constantly keeping in touch to each other; having like a real tight bond of friendship somewhere in-between the mandatory band activity and each of your own private spare time?

Iīd more like to go for the "give and take". I mean, weīre 3 totally different personalities. Johan R is more like playing the guitar and work out at the gym, Matte is "Mr. Party-All-Night-Long" and Iīm more like "philosophical", stay cool and relax at home or whatever... but it works! Itīs all about showing consideration. Weīre all determined to "rock this place", HA-HAH!! Yet at the same time we have our own space where we can just go our own way. Itīs gonna be quite interesting to try this out while stuck on a tour-bus together for letīs say, 3-4 weeks. For example, Matte must think Iīm pretty boring as I didnīt join him at the Garage-club while in the studio to party until dawn. My excuse was to finish my lyrics (as the environment in Abyss was very inspiring) and that Iīd get tired already around 1 or 2 AM. It was true really. I had to work on it, but at the same time I really wanted to go out and get totally "fucked-up"...guess itīs a question of priority or something. Also the fact that we live quite far from each other makes it a bit more "disconnected", but we stay in touch easily anyway as thereīs the internet, SMS or simply pick up the phone to just like, "whatīs up?"

 

As we know DEUS DECEPTOR was released in Japan first rather than in the rest of the world. Have you been informed yet what kind of reactions it has already received in the land of īRising Sunī? Any idea how many copies has been sold so far and are you at least a bit surprised regarding to those selling numbers? Does that Japanese version contain any extra song(+s) ?

By the time you read this itīll most likely be out on Toyīs Factory in Japan, yes. The release date is set on the 21st of March 2002, but itīs already been reviewed in Burrn! Magazine where we got 84 (out of 100) which was very good I think. Also, some Japanese friends of mine who heard it say that they really dig it, and thatīs cool! Later on itīll be released in Korea, America and Europe - no definite release dates, but I guess around May/June (Luxi: Sorry for a bit out-dated info in the interview!). Of course the Japanese version features a bonus-track. Itīs an old Carnage song called "Carnage Bloody Carnage." It was recorded for THE DAY MAN LOST demo back in 1989, but due to some problems to get it tight it was never finished in the studio back then. I wrote most of it, so I decided to give it a 2nd chance (HA-HA!!) and put it on DEUS DECEPTOR. Itīs been well-spread in the Death Metal underground via tape trading as we had quite a few rehearsals recorded, so some people will recognize it for sure. Itīs a killer version, amazingly fast and incredibly heavy, piercing through like a dum-dum bullet - just the way it should be.

 

 

CARNAGE BLOODY CARNAGE

So, how on Earth can we Europeans - or the rest of the world, get a hold of that tune - some other more reasonable way than ordering it straight from some distributor from Japan, as it sounds like "Carnage Bloody…" īs new version simply fuckinī R-I-P-S…!!! Maybe you might put it in the net as mp3 -format later on… (a hint taken, -EH!?)?

Yeah, well - itīs always like this with Japan that they ask for a bonus track. I think itīs OK. I understand why they need something "extra" for their own market. I guess anyone whoīs interested in hearing a really cruel version of this old Carnage classic (thatīs only been known via tape-trading in the underground as a rehearsal) should get a copy of the Japanese CD as soon as possible! But sooner or later itīll end up as an MP3, available to everyone in the net I guess...

 

What kind of expectations do you have towards this release? Would you like to see people understanding that Arch Enemy, once and for all, has now been left in your past as a part of your long lasting musical history - and not caring for a general opinion, what somebody might think of it as you will certainly keep things going on for NonExist as your main priority from now on? Like thereīs no looking back if you can take my īhint…ī?!

Yeah, what the hell!! I mean, Arch Enemy and me went separate ways, but I wasnīt finished. Now Iīm back to kick some serious ass with a new band and I donīt have any problem whatsoever with the fact that AE got a new vocalist and are aiming for the big league. Probably we wonīt sell as many copies of the album, doing 6-7 shows in Japan or end up on the same management as Megadeth. Thatīs fine with me, Iīm not that desperate. I have my integrity and feel for whatīs right or whatīs wrong - and Iīm free to do what I want. Iīm very grateful for the time in AE, but one canīt hang on to the past - no one else does it so why should I?

 

No, I think you shouldnīt - and guess the wisest thing to do is just to move on and not looking back that much any longer. The past is the past, so just accept it and deal with it, right?! Anyway, I bet youīve heard Arch Enemyīs new CD called WAGES OF SIN with Angela doing the vocals on it. Sheīs, however, pretty damn impressive, isnīt she? What are your thoughts of the new Arch Enemy album in the first place? Do you think they have, more or less, topped all their previous albums by its now more īfemalesque energyī (saying THAT, in the positive tone of the word, of course!) and having also been capable of maintaining pretty much that famous ībig soundī of which Arch Enemy have indeed always been known for in their music?

Well, itīs a really good album. It was almost just as I had expected it to be, except for the vocals that I thought would be more "normal" now when they wanted to go major or whatever. The drumming is fantastic, most of the songs are quite catchy as always. Some songs tend to be a bit "uninspired", like "Weīve been working so long on the arrangements now, so letīs just get this shit together". If itīs THE Arch Enemy album? No. But of course, if Iīd be in the band still, I wouldīve been very satisfied I guess. For me, itīs still a battle between BLACK EARTH and BURNING BRIDGES, but I guess the debut will always be extremely special to me. It meant a lot to me as it nearly blew my head off - and Iīm glad it didnīt, so...(-EH?!),well… yeah!

 

Moving on to your new incarnation up next, what pleases you personally in this band most? Is it the fact that now you can now have a much better control over things than you probably used to have in Arch Enemy - and youīre able to come up with exactly that kind of stuff for NonExist like you want to and you just donīt accept any īnousī from the other guys in terms of your own musical exploration?

Most of all, I like the whole idea about this band. Itīs perfect!! Also the fact that Iīve got full control over the things in general makes it even better than any of my previous bands in the past. It doesnīt necessarily have to be a "democrazy", but just the feeling of control and participation makes NonExist so different to any other band that Iīve been part of. Once again, itīs the chemistry and combination of people that makes this so special. Also important is that I now work for New Hawen Records together with Wez, and that is totally killer! This means one helluva lot - it couldnīt have been much better than it is right now.

 

 

NEW HAWEN RECORDS

Yeah, you just brought nicely an interesting subject up, namely this new Swedish label named New Hawen Records. Now when youīre working with Wez there with a bunch of some other guys as I assume, what kind of profile would you like to build up for the label? How would you like people to see it as far as all the bands you have already signed for it; and are about to sign in the future - and some of the labelīs releases are concerned? I honestly have to spit it out as for starters that your web pages are really neat and cool that definitely have a very positive impact on anybody who finds his/her way into these professional-looking pages, so obviously coming up with N.H.Records isnīt by no means any rushed thing… ?

The motto is to "not rush fast"! Itīs of the utmost importance that each and every release feels true and correct to us. That we really love the music that we can talk to the band on a kind of a "friend-to-friend"-basis that we can release an album and say "This is fucking great and you will love it no matter what!" and so on... Weīre honest. If we donīt like it - no deal. If we really get into it, thereīs like no doubt! Weīve got 3 bands at the moment: Andromeda, Naglfar and NonExist. More to come of course, but itīs a good start. We feel that the bands have a lot of potential, therefore we just "go for it". Itīs a matter of quality - all the way.

 

According to the site of N.H.Records, youīre also working with some gigs for NonExist for this Summer. Are these mainly going to happen in your home country of Sweden and nearby your home town, or do you already have far greater plans for touring existing somewhere?

As for gigs we plan to do some shows around here, maybe a weekend trip in Europe somewhere. WHEN, we do not know yet, but sooner or later itīs "show-time"! Weīve already been offered some festivals, so it looks bright as far as live performances are concerned.

 

So what ībout Finland? It would be extremely cool to see you guys over here and possibly share a couple of īliquid power dropsī both before - and after your gig, maybe? I would offer the first round for you for sure, so how ībout it?!

Well, you know, weīre kinda straight edge so we donīt drink or have fun at all...HA-HA! Yeah, thatīd be fuckinī awesome! Iīve never played in, or even been to Finland before, so that would be great! First roundīs on you? Well, OK - Iīm going! HA-HAH!! But only if you promise to place me in a Sauna with AT LEAST 2 Finnish babes, Tarja and...hmm - someone else.

(Alright, you be my guest… anything you say dear Johan… -HE, -HE!!)

So, what can people expect from your live show? A lot of bone-hard, violentīnīhot METALLL into vein of goodīnīolī thrashing and bashing performed by 5 long-haired īdinosaursī onstage, -eh?!

Yeah, something like that, HAHA!! Nah, but I guess itīs gonna be wild and intense - like it should be! With the right people in the band, anything is possible. It could be a once in a lifetime experience if everything synchs, something extraordinary that is value for money. But it depends on a lot of things how something like a show turns out in the end. Weīll just have to work on it and see what happens.

 

 

IT WAS EASIER IN THE PAST...

Is it easy to get gigs for metal bands in Sweden nowadays? Some Swedish metal bands have complained that it has become pretty hard for them during these past couple of years or so…? Is that the truth? What has changed?

I guess itīs become harder for bands in general - and of course especially for metal bands when it comes to gigs and so on. Isnīt it a bit like this all over the world, or am I wrong? Holy shit, there are so many bands around and a wide variety of individuals. Mainly I feel that the kinda "D.I.Y" -thing hardly exists anymore, donīt know what happened. Musicians today, even without a record deal sometimes expect to be treated as kings. Thereīs this band for example with 1 or 2 CDīs out who were asked to come and play here in Helsingborg. They wanted 15.000 SEK (approx. 1.500 $US) for a show, the venue had a budget for 1.500 SEK. The band turned it down... at first! Then they get back to the venue and ask "Do you still want us to play for 1.500, cause we really wanna play!". Well, that kinda says a lot what is going on. Itīs kinda freaky. As a band youīll just have to do your "shit tours" to harden yourself and build up a solid fanbase, a myth or whatever. Itīs not easy, but who said it would be easy? Iīve been there, too, so I know. Guess itīs the attitude (of the bands) that has changed the most along with the overall development in the music industry. Well, one could go on forever - I better stop here.

 

Talking about the music industry a bit more - thanx for the hint again, by the way, he! Anyway, how would you say itīs changed since you started your splendid career in the mighty Carnage, right up to these days? Like over 10 years ago, there were less (professional) labels, less (professional) bands, less truly professional music organizations behind gigs and big open air festivals - and less greedy bastards and morons and less everything really!! Surviving amongst all these things nowadays has become much tougher and you really should have a business manīs eyes in order to make a decent living out of this all by trying to find īa product (or products)ī that could have a real potentially good chance to hit it relatively big if you know what Iīm saying? Besides, a possibility to get ripped off is more present today than it used to be in the past in my opinion īcoz people in this business have also become pretty darn clever and more greedy when money comes into the picture…

Less greedy bastards?! Hmmm... well, I dunno. Guess everybody wants to make a living out of what they really "burn" for!? Anyway, itīs all changed quite a bit since I got into this particular music-scene and I guess that if you want to continue and live from the music you have to be quite smart and calculating - like a businessman. Itīs not so underground anymore, so one better watch ones back. Anyway, itīs still a "privilege" to be part of this weird machinery, but a bit more of that thing called honesty (say what?) wouldnīt do any harm.

 

Do you demand more from yourself nowadays than you did in the distant past as far as all this song/lyric writing thing is concerned? And what kind of topics do set your mind on fire nowadays anyway if we stick with a lyrical side of yours?

I look at things more seriously now than I did "back then" I guess. Itīs much more like you have to deliver something that really means something, maybe even sacrifice a part of your personal sphere. Maybe itīs just me and my imagination? The last years Iīve felt that I just have to open myself up, and if itīs too personal or not - I donīt care. I just have to write about it, to sort of get it out of my system. My previous lyrics arenīt that personal, itīs more like "this is expected from me - war and destruction" or whatever. Now I write from the heart and soul, because I have to. Most of the lyrics on DEUS DECEPTOR is very personal, and I couldnīt stop it. Itīs like it just had to come out. Itīs a prediction of a broken heart, the dark emptiness of lost love, religion and war (that really gets on my nerves sometimes), the end of friendship, the feeling of being in love but at the same time aware of the unavoidable end of it... you know, stuff like that. Nowadays I simply canīt write about things thatīs not inside of me, that really bugs or torments me. Maybe it wonīt be like that on the next album, but where I am right now itīs like natural.

 

What ībout musically then; what kind of explorations have you been doing musically lately if we take a look at your own music library in your living room, for example? Has any of that stuff been an influence for DEUS DECEPTOR possibly when talking about some single riffs or melodies or vocals and so on…?

Oh shit, I listen to a lot of stuff nowadays, not just BLACK EARTH like I used to, HA-HAH!! As for pure influential sources Iīd mention Dimmu Borgir PURITANICAL EUPHORIC MISANTHROPIA, At The Gates SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL and Carcass SWANSONGS. But as a direct influence on the album, Iīm not sure... maybe I just kinda brought what I had with me and "did my thing", I donīt know!? I wanted to aim for a more "screaming" approach with my vocals than I did before, which was more kind of dark and growling with some twisted deviations within it. I tried to find a level that felt comfortable, yet at the same time aggressive and kinda "evil witch". I like it so Iīll work more on it in the future. As for vocal-influences, I donīt think there is any that I know of at least. Maybe subconsciously, but I donīt try to imitate anyone on purpose anyway. The same goes for the song-writing. It wouldnīt make sense to say that it wouldnīt have been influenced by this or that or sounding similar to something else - just as long as itīs not obvious enough to deserve the accusation of pure and simple theft.

 

You just must have some sort of expectations towards this album if the albumīs sales come in question at some point in the coming months. How many sold copies would honestly please you; Would you be pleased, letīs say, with 10.000 sold copies worldwide? Oor do you think it just has to be more; otherwise you have failed and 1) should be sent out to the Alcatraz Island to practice harder... or 2) meet your ultimate destiny there; becoming monks and lecturing to the whole world that Heavy Metal is the Devilīs music, HA!

I would be lying if I said "It doesnīt matter if we sell just 3.000 copies". Of course Iīd be in some way disappointed, because itīs a really good album! But at the same time itīs not like the end of the world. Just as long as we ourselves are pleased with it and can stand behind it a 100%, itīs OK. I try not to have any expectations at all as far as the sales are concerned. Weīll just have to wait and see. If itīs not "enough", weīll just have to work on it and give it another shot!

 

Well, first off Iīd like to thank you Johan again for sharing some of your precious time with me and politely answering to my questions. Also, I wanna thank YOU for all the GREAT music which youīve been doing in the past and present and hopefully your metal will be flowing as effortlessly in the future as itīs been doing thus far. Now, just take my advice and bless us with those obligatory īlast ritesī of yours…

First of all, A THOUSAND THANKS TO YOU LUXI for being such a cool guy. I really appreciate your support and it was great doing this interview. To all you reading this, check out our debut album DEUS DECEPTOR thatīs out on the 28th of May (States) and mid-June (Europe). Also I wish to go out on at least one more tour before I die, so hope to see you all then! And remember: Just be yourself at all times.


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