Nils Eriksson is the bass player in the Swedish act Nocturnal Rites, a band that celebrates a decade as a band. Their new album is now out in the stores, it’s called GRAND ILLUSION. I got in touch with Nils for the second time around in order to talk about the new album and the fact that the band have been in the business for a stunning 10 years.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Jenny Walroth at Century Media Sweden for help with the interview
Thanks to Century Media for Promo pictures of the band
Hi Nils, I have to congratulate you and the guys for 10 years as a band, how does that feel and did you ever think that the band was going to last that long?
When we started out it was more a fun thing. We had no hopes of ever touring the world or even sell decent amounts of albums. We were very young back then, of course, and as you grow older, start touring and realising that a lot of people in fact buy your records we understood that we had something going on. This was around the time we were signed by Century Media. It sort of opened our eyes. The first album was released on a very small label and there were no money for promotion or touring. Looking back on these ten years now I feel great. We’ve had lots of great times, got to tour all over the world and have our fanbase increase all the time.
You re-released your first 2 albums earlier this year, as a double disc version, in order to celebrate the 10 years, what do you think of those 2 album when you hear them today?
At least on the first album it shows that we were still learning a lot about song writing. It sounds very young and rough around the edges. The second album is more polished and has more logical structures as for song writing. I however love these albums still today. I think they show a very hungry band that had a lot of fun being in the studio. These albums scream creativity and honesty.
What had the media to say about your first 2 albums?
The first one wasn’t really reviewed in that many magazines. But from what I remembered people seemed to love it. Back then almost no bands were doing this genre and I guess the magazines kind of gave us kudos for doing what we did. The second album was received really well too.
Are your earlier albums like THE SACRED TALISMAN; AFTERLIFE and SHADOWLAND still available today? I have only seen AFTERLIFE out in the stores
Our full back catalogue is still available. If the stores don’t have it, it can be ordered. Everything is still in print.
For the bonus material who came up with the idea to re-record the old songs “In a Time Of Blood And Fire” and “Winds Of Death” with the current line-up and why was it done?
We wanted to do something to show where we are today and also give something back to the people that bought the album. To do these semi- acoustic versions was our idea, I think. They turned out great and I know the fans loved them. We all love bonus stuff and just being able to do a very special packaging, not only an album, you know.
There haven’t been many member changes in Nocturnal Rites even though you have played for 10 years, how is that? Are you all very good friends or are you good at compromise?
We are all very good friends and know each other really well. The whole idea behind our band is to have fun – on stage, in the studio and while writing songs, travelling or whatever it is that we do. That way I guess we stay alive and don’t kill eachother.
Do you have any plans on releasing a live DVD any time soon with though of you celebration?
Yes, we have talked about this for quite some time. We have started making some loose plans and we will make up our minds on how to get this done ASAP.
Are you satisfied with what the band have achieved so far during these 10 years, is there anything that you have done that you regret?
Yes, I am quite happy. As a band, though, you always strive to get higher and higher and therefore you are never 100% satisfied If you were I guess you cold throw in the toal. There are a lot of things I would have done differently, looking back. Certain things with signing contracts, how we could have been much more effective in the start of our career and so on. But no regrets. I am very happy with all that we have achieved and experienced over these ten years. Seven albums is quite a track record for 10 years.
Last year came your last studio album NEW WORLD MESSIAH, what did the media/fans think of that album?
It was a great success. Our best selling album to date. The new one is already doing better, so we couldn’t be happier. With NWM we doubled and even tripled our sales in many territories.
You made videos for three of the tracks from that album, “Awakening”, “Against The World” and “Avalon”. Have the videos been played on any TV-channels? I mean, usually the TV stations aren’t that good at playing any slighter harder music.
Yes, these videos have been aired in more than ten European countries and I do believe they have helped us in quite a lot of ways. There isn’t much metal on TV, but you have to start somewhere. If the TV stations aren’t given any metal videos there will of course be no metal on tv. I think it is very important to do these kind of things.
Are those three tracks available as EP’s or singles or only as videos?
Only for radio, not for resale.
You did a 6-week tour with Edguy throughout Europe last year, how was it to tour with those guys and how did the European fans greeted you?
It was a really cool tour. Everything worked really well and we all had a great time. The package was really cool because all three bands brought something really special to the bill. We all had our individual sound and the fans definitely got their moneys worth.
Why have you done so few shows in Scandinavia over the years, you haven’t done any real tour here I mean?
Yes, I know. That’s a pity. But things will change now with the new album. We have already booked an 11 date tour in November and December and we will continue booking in 2006. We love playing in Sweden and will be doing all the shows we can.
You did something called Demons of the Opera together with a 50- piece symphony orchestra, can you tell us about what that was?
It was a great experience to have 50 guys backing you up on stage. I think these experiences are probably once in a lifetime and I feel very grateful for having been a part of this. The idea was to do a merging between the orchestra and a few metal bands from our area. We said yes straight away when we got the offer. It was recorded and has been aired on national radio in Sweden as far as I know. It was also recorded for a future DVD. We don’t know yet when we will use it, though.
My bio describes your music as melodic metal, can you agree with that or how do you like to describe what kind of music you guys play?
I agree. We play metal with lots of attitude and with a very cool balance between melody and aggression that I think a lot of bands lack in today’s scene.
You have currently released your new studio album GRAND ILLUSION, what’s the album about?
10 songs of sheer power and in your face metal.
How long did it take to record the album, who has written the music/lyrics and what are the lyrics about?
We started writing when the touring ended for NWM sometime in the fall of 2004 and wrote up until April, right before the demons of the opera show. The music was mainly written by Fredrik, Nils Norberg and me. I wrote all the lyrics and they are pretty much about idiots in general, all the crap that’s going on in the world and about not letting people tell you what to do. Life is too short for that.
You have once again recorded the album in Toontrack Studio in your hometown of Umeå, what’s so special with that studio that you returned to it again?
Because they have a great production team and because we work very nicely together with them. It is also nice and relaxing to be recording on your home turf. We don’t have to sit and wait for other members finishing their parts and can go on with our lives as normal. We love working this way.
Who’s produced GRAND ILLUSION?
Where do you find inspiration to write new material?
Just from writing songs in general. We are all very different in what we listen to at home so we couldn’t possibly single out any certain bands that we would consider as influences. We just crank it up and have a good time and that way great music just comes out of us, you know.
Why the title GRAND ILLUSION? Does the title mean anything special?
It means that nothing is really ever what it seems to be. It could be applied on a lot of things. You know, a lot of things may look nice and shiny on the outside but are actually very dark and rotten inside. People are like that sometimes, religion sometimes, and so on and so on.
I think you always have had really ass-kicking cover art-work, who’s done the cover to GRAND ILLUSION and what do you think of the art-work?
Axel Hermann. I think he did a great job. On all other albums we have always made very careful sketches of what we want the finished product to look like. This time we didn’t have time to do so. We just gave the title to a few different artists and we all liked Axel’s idea the best.
Are you happy with the album or do you feel that you should have done anything different on it now that you look back on it?
Actually I am quite happy with everything on this album. I think it turned out way above what I had ever dreamt about. I love the production, the songs and the general vibe on this album. I do think it is one of our strongest releases.
Do you have any favourite song on the album? If so which one and why?
Fools never die and Never Trust are two songs I love, both playing live and how they turned out on the album. Why? Well, I guess they just flow very nicely and have spunk and attitude. Actually I think all songs on this album has its own vibe and they are all kind of special.
You have used quite a lot of keyboards on the new album, who’s playing the keyboards and how are you going to solve the keyboard-problem when you’re going out on tour because there is no one listed as keyboard player?
One of our producers are playing all the keyboards. Live we have slimmed it down a bit but like a lot of other bands we have some essential keyboard parts on harddrive. It works out really well.
You have a lot of guests on this album, like Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) on keyboard, Stefan Elmgren (Hammerfall) on guitar, Henrik Danhage(Evergrey) also on guitar and Kristoffer W. Olivius the lead singer from the black metal act Naglfar, how did these people ended up on your album, do you know them from before?
We had the idea of having a lot of guests on the album before we started recording and some of the ideas of which guys to use came when we wrote the songs. We know all of these guys either from touring together or for other reasons. I think they helped making the album a lot more special and I personally love these kinds of things and I do believe the fans do to.
The strangest guest you have on the album must be Per Elofsson on guitar, the world champion of cross-country skiing, how the hell did he ended up on GRAND ILLUSION?
We went to school as kids and hung out when we were younger. When he is not skiing he is playing guitar and he loves metal music. So it was just a cool thing for us and him as well. Is there another metal band in history that has had a world champion skier on their album? No, ha,ha, I guess we wanted to be the first one.
What do you think of all these guests efforts on the album?
Great. Like I said, I think they helped making the album a lot more special.
You have released all your albums shortly after each other, are you going to keep this pace in the future as well do you think?
As long as we have fun writing songs and won’t have to settle for anything lesser than we know we can achieve we will do it. We love doing albums, that’s a big part of being in a band, you know.
The limited first edition of the new album contains a DVD, can you tell us a bit about that?
It has about 1,5 hours of footage, both from recording the album, rehearsing with the orchestra for demons of the opera and making the first video off the album. It also has the three videos from NWM and of course the brand new one for Fools Never Die. The good thing is that the album doesn’t cost more with this thing on it!
Have you read any review of GRAND ILLUSION yet? What have the media to say about the album?
So far it’s been great. Both fans and media seem to be loving Grand Illusion and we are blown away by how it’s been received.
Does all of you guys still live in Umeå (a smaller town located in the north of Sweden)? Do you see any disadvantages with living in Umeå compared to living in Stockholm or any of the larger cities in Sweden?
Yes, we all live in Umeå. Well, the distance between Umeå and the south of Sweden is a bit annoying when doing shows sometimes. But we all like up here in the cold so we won’t move.
You have been support to Nightwish during three shows in Sweden how was that? The album wasn’t released then, did you play any newer songs on the shows?
The shows were great and we were a little surprised of how well our show went over with the kids. I mean one of the reasons we did these shows is that Nightwish has a completely different audience and this was a way of reaching some new people. It all went great and we had a cool time.
You are currently supporting Gamma Ray out in Europe, how has that been so far?
I am right now in the production office at the venue in Pratteln, Switzerland. So far everything is going really well and we’re having a blast out here.
Why doesn’t the Gamma Ray tour come to Scandinavia?
I think they will do a second leg in Scandinavia. We will not be a part of that. Like I said, we are doing our own shows in Sweden this fall.
When can we look forward of having a new Nocturnal Rites album in the stores?
No idea. Right now we just want to have a lot of fun with this album and work as hard as we can.
What are the plans for Nocturnal Rites during the rest of 2005/06?
Tour, beer, beer.
Thanks for answering the questions, is there anything you would like to say to the readers of metal-rules.com?
Play loud and scare the crap out of your neighbours with Grand Illusion!
More info about the band