Nocturnal Rites – Nils Norberg
Interviewed in July 1999 by David Lee
Of all the bands flowing forth from the Northland few have as successfully captured the spirit and intensity of melodic Heavy Metal as NOCTURNAL RIGHTS. Since their inception in 1990 the group has steadily climbed the industry rungs until they have reached their present position as one of the finest bands on the up and coming Century Media Records roster. With label mates as diverse in influence and presentation as SKINLAB, ICED EARTH and STUCK MOJO, NOCTURNAL RIGHTS should find it challenging to get the requisite attention that is needed to continue their climb. They are prepared and willing as say as much on their latest effort, “THE SACRED TALISMAN.”
The duel of metal guitars comes as close to overblown as any band dare get without sacrificing the melody. Keyboards that are slight yet vital to the overall mix and classic hard rock vocals round this band and show that they are worthy of rolling along the same path as their forefathers in IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and HELLOWEEN. Exciting and new yet every note is familiar and comfortable.
Nils Norberg set his guitar down for about a half an hour recently and filled us in on what the band expects to achieve and what the fans can in their turn expect from NOCTURNAL RIGHTS in the coming century.
I suppose you’re excited about your latest CD?
Yes, I am.
It seems to me that I got your last record not very long ago.
Well, the previous album came out in Japan in November of ’97 and in Europe in March ’98. We’ve had some time to write the songs. We just went in when we were ready and did the album.
Was it a lot different for this record compared to the last one?
As far as budgets go, yes it was different. We had time to do the things we wanted to and make a better record.
How did the money allow you to do that?
When we recorded the “TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION” album we weren’t on Century Media yet, so we got sold to Century Media during the time between the release in Japan and Europe. This is the first time we’ve actually recorded an album for Century Media.
So are they hard taskmasters to work for?
No. They have been really good to us, they’re really cool. We have the greatest relationship with them.
You can generally tell when the publicists call which bands they’re just working because it’s their job, and which bands they’re really into and they’re trying to push. NOCTURNAL RITES is one of those bands so, you can pat whoever’s in the office on the back.
Matt from Century Media has been really good to us. He’s the master of finding interviews. I have to go till about 3 this morning!
You are doing them all over the world?
Well, today is America day, the album’s been out in Europe since February 1999 but the US release was May 1999 so it is the American area now.
Have you been playing this record live over there yet?
Oh yeah, we’ve just done a tour with NEVERMORE.
Oh, that’s right! How did that go?
It went great, we had so much fun. We toured last year with NEVERMORE and OVERKILL, so we’ve known NEVERMORE since the last tour and we just had a blast. It was awesome.
You are coming out of Scandinavia, which seems to be the home of all progressive power metal these days, does it seem that way to you?
It’s getting a lot better here in Sweden now, but Germany is still the capital of Metal, I guess. Sweden is getting stronger every day, and there is a lot of bands compared to before, like when we started out in ’95 we were the only band playing metal in Sweden. It’s getting so much better now.
Is there a difference? Being American and being so blind to the rest of the world, like most Americans I think of Scandinavia, there’s Sweden, Finland, Norway, are all pretty much the same thing. What differentiates the bands that come from, say, Finland?
I don’t know. The only band I know from Finland is STRATOVARIOUS. I don’t think there is a big difference between the bands from Norway and Sweden and Finland, songwise, I don’t think so. I think there is a special unique German Style. I think that’s where the whole concept of power metal was born and that’s how every band tries to sound.
For me, this record, when you hold it up to the last record, it seems to me to be more of an individual song type record, whereas the last one gelled together as one magnum opus type of record. Is that how you see it or have I taken it entirely differently to how you intended it?
We try to write different and interesting songs, and we want each song to be unlike the other songs on the album, to make it an interesting album. We want to have all the tempos and all the paces, the ballad songs the happy songs; I want the album to have it all. I think that’s the secret of how to make a great album.
Have you seen much of a progression between the first and third albums and how much of that progression was been intended and how much just kind of happened?
I guess none of it. You always try to take a step forward with each new album, but you never try to change your own sound, or try to write your songs differently. We just write songs from our hearts and whatever comes out comes out. It’s always been the same thing.
Whoever wrote the bio said that you guys tapped into whatever made you get into Rock and Roll. What was that and what bands influenced you in the beginning?
In the very beginning we started out as a death metal band in 1990, and we played death metal for a few years. But we all grew up listening to the great metal bands like HELLOWEEN and DIO and IRON MAIDEN and SAXON and JUDAS PRIEST and all of those great bands, so I would guess that is what the bio author means.
Well, the reason I ask is a lot of those bands are somewhat predictable, people would say you can hear certain things in the music. You know, JUDAS PRIEST, MAIDEN, DIO, stuff like that. Those bands are still around in one form or another. How do you feel about the prospect of being around in ten, fifteen or twenty years, or in Dio’s case, forty years?
It’s so cool, It shows he’s really still into it, he’s not doing it for the money, he’s just so into the singing and playing metal. That’s exactly what I want to do, you know? You form a band and you’re in a band because it’s fun and I’m going to keep doing this for as long as I think it’s rewarding for myself and as long as I think it’s cool.
‘Till somebody comes and drags you off the stage?
Exactly! Throws things at me or knocks me off the stage. It’s bound to happen at some point I guess!
You are probably going to play a bunch more festivals this summer (1999), right?
We’re going to do Dynamo and a festival in Sweden is booked. I hope we can do some more. We’re planning a Japanese tour sometime soon. We’re going to have lots of fun with this album.
The festivals in Europe, never having been there, I hear that those things are completely nuts. What’s the difference playing in front of a sea of fans, then playing smaller, more intimate places?
We haven’t actually done many really big festivals, but playing in front of a large crowd is really different from playing small club gigs. They’re both really intense and really different. I like them both. The intensity you get when you play a small club, you have people crawling on the monitors, then you play big stages where people are dozens of feet away. It’s really cool.
Have you noticed a change in your fan base as time goes by? Do you see the same faces out there when you go out and play?
There’s a lot more younger fans now. A lot of younger people get into this type of music now, I think that’s really cool. It’ll help this old thing survive and last for a long time.
Well, you’ve just had this album out, but I suspect you’re looking forward to the next record, always planning ahead. What’s the next one going to be like?
We have a couple of new songs and we’re always writing new material but it’s going to be pretty much the same thing. We’ve never deliberately changed our style or whatever, so it’s going to be NOCTURNAL RITES once again.
OK, well I know you’ve probably got to move on in a minute, but before you go, let me ask you what would you like kids, or anybody, to know about NOCTURNAL RITES that they probably don’t know?
That’s a tough one. We’d really like to come over and tour in the States. I’d like people to know it’s not up to the band, it’s up to the label and the promoter, the bottom line is record sales. We’d love to tour the States. We’re just waiting for the day when it happens.
If you come over, because you haven’t toured here yet, you have treated all of the American bands you’ve taken out on tour with you over there nice, right? Meaning they’re not going to get you back when you come over here?
No! We had the greatest time with Nevermore, they’re cool guys and I’d love to tour the States with them. That’d be really cool!