Guitar hero and bandleader Johan Reinholdz – NonExist
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Mighty Music for the promotion pictures of the band.
Additional live pictures on the band taken by Anders Sandvall
Attention all fans of guitar hero Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda) – because here comes an update on what’s going on in his NonExist camp. This is an up close interview with the mastermind, promoting a new NonExist EP, the brilliant IN PRAISE OF DEATH. The EP is a tribute to the death metal bands Reinholdz grew up with and features a lot of famous people making appearances (make sure to read the entire interview to find out who they are). This is the second EP and is only available for download. Since we last spoke, Reinholdz has also joined together with ex-Arch Enemy member Chris Amott and the legends in Dark Tranquility which I also asked him about.
Hi Johan! It’s really nice to talk with you again, are you ready for another round of questions from me and Metal-rules.com?
Johan: Hell yes! Let’s go.
The band’s brand new EP is called IN PRAISE OF DEATH and it is the follow up to the first EP, THE NEW FLESH, which came out 2016. How come you focused on releasing eps and not full length albums?
Johan: TNFEP (= THE NEW FLESH EP from here on) was not really a proper Nonexist release but more a way of presenting the new line-up, or to be frank – to introduce me as the new front man. Thus the title and the re-recorded vocals. So it didn’t feel motivated to make it into a full length album.
Regarding IPODEP (= IN PRAISE OF DEATH EP from here on) it just came about that I wrote a couple of songs that were very old-school and it seemed right to release them together as an EP. I didn’t have more songs in that particular style at the time.
Are there any thoughts behind releasing the EPs as strictly download?
Johan: Regarding TNFEP, it didn’t seem warranted since we released it ourselves and it would be a big investment for us to print it and a big risk since there were no new songs on it. I don’t think the appeal to buy it was high enough. About IPODEP – the label didn’t think it was worth to release a physical EP. So that was their call.
When we last spoke the band was about to unveil TNFEP, what did fans and media think of it?
Johan: Since it was a pretty low-profile release, there weren’t that many reviews, but the ones I read were very positive.
Did you record IPODEP with the entire band or was it only you in the studio doing the work?
Johan: With the exception of the guests, Mikael Stanne, Chris Amott, Markus Johnsson, Kalle Nimhagen and Alexander Wittbom, I did everything, including the front cover and the mixing. It was, however, mastered by Markus Nilsson at Sunnanå Studio.
Is IPODEP released by Mighty Music?
Johan: That is correct, sir.
On TNFEP you re-recorded some of the old songs and added your lead vocals; was it hard to pick which songs you were going to record again?
Johan: Not really. My thought was to include songs from all three albums released so far, and then it became pretty easy to choose.
DELIRIOUS TONGUES (OFFICIAL LIVE VIDEO)
The last song on the EP, “Delirious Tongues” is a live-song, where was it recorded?
Johan: It was recorded at Dr. Feelgood’s in Malmö, January 2016.
A Promise Unfulfilled (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
In the bio you state that “the EP is an homage, a tribute to this genre that has meant so much to me, going back to my childhood”, and you thank acts like Morbid Angel, Massacre, Merciless, Nihilist/Entombed, At the Gates etc… were all those bands an inspiration to you back when you were young?
Johan: Yep, that is exactly it.
Except for one, all of those bands are Swedish, why do you think Sweden became so successful in that particular genre?
Johan: Hmm, but you made a selection out of the bands I mentioned in the press-release. There are more bands from other countries that I listed that you didn’t write. Also – both Morbid Angel and Massacre are American…
Why is Sweden such a good country for death metal? Well, I think Sweden has good and successful bands/artists from all types of genres of music.
I think it it’s because of our knowledge of English, we know the language well which makes it easier to write lyrics and such. Also, pop/rock-culture came pretty early to Sweden, so we have a long tradition. Another factor is our music-schools, which offer pretty cheap music/instrumental lessons for the kids. This gives us a lot of young musicians that start bands. Thirdly I’d like to mention the climate. Because in the autumn-winter there is shitty weather, so we sit indoors and create stuff.
If you had to pick one Swedish and one foreign band that have been your biggest influence as fan/musician, which ones would you pick?
Johan: Swedish – Opeth, foreign – Metallica.
You also name Carnage, fronted by Johan Liiva, as a favorite act, how was it to work with Liiva?
Johan: It was great! He has a really unique and cool voice. To find someone who has that originality is very rare. A really funny guy and good friend as well. We had a lot of good times together. Both recording and just hanging out.
A few really well known names in Kalle Nimhagen (ex-Embraced, Deathening, Välta Stället, ex-Burning Engines), Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) and Markus Johnsson (Eucharist) to mention a few of the singer guests on the album, how much do you sing on your own?
Johan: Everything, except when they sing.
Chris Amott (ex-Arch Enemy) makes a guitar solo on “A Meditatio Upon Death”; how was it to work with him?
Johan: It was great! He recorded it at home and then it to me and I had no objections, just perfect!
Were there any thoughts of asking Johan Liiva to guest on the EP?
Johan: Didn’t seem to be much of a point since he just left the band. His voice is all over the three first albums. I wanted some fresh blood on these tracks.
You have written all of the songs on your own, what are the lyrics about and when a song is born in your head how do you get it out on to a final product?
Johan: Most of the times I get a couple of riffs that seem to fit together, find out which one has which function in the song. Then I take it from there, add more parts or just make variations of those riffs already used. I make sure the structure of the song works, that there is a good intro and an ending that wraps it up so it feel natural.
Lyrics? On this EP just death, death and other various topics related to this subject, haha.
Was there any vocalist you wanted to feature but couldn’t make it?
Johan: Rogga Peterson of Merciless and Dan Swanö. Two of my all-time favourites.
Were there any songs that didn’t make it on to the final edition of the EP that you wanted to feature from the start?
Johan: No, not really. I have more Nonexist-songs lying around though. But these five seemed very solid for this particular project.
The title of the EP speaks for itself. How did you come up with the name and did you have other options in store for a title?
Johan: It is just what it is – old-school death metal songs that reflect the influences of those bands I grew up with and loved. The title was perfect, so no – not other candidates.
You took the cover photo yourself, what was the thought behind the cover?
Johan: It just had the right vibe for the title and the music.
Musicwise do you think IPODEP is similar to the other things you’ve done prior to the ep or do you feel you’ve developed musically on the ep?
Johan: There are some other songs we’ve done that are in this style: like “The New Flesh”, “Necrotified”, “Enter Eternal Night” and “Rodents of War”.
I think the EP is brilliant, are you happy with the outcome?
Johan: Thank you so much! I’m very happy with it!
Studio and production
The ep was recorded in your own studio Multipass Studio in Malmö Sweden, what’s the best thing with having your own studio to record in? How many hours per day do you spend in the studio?
Johan: Best thing – I can work whenever I want. Worst thing is that it’s easy to become distracted by everyday things.
How many hours per day?
Johan: That varies a lot. When I really get down to recording or mixing a song it can be nine to ten hours. And some days nothing.
I read that you recorded guitars, bass and vocals there, did you use programmed drums?
Where did all the guests record their parts?
Johan: Everyone except Stanne and Amott recorded them at my studio.
Did you produce the EP? You also mixed it, how was that?
Johan: Great! I enjoy it very much!
How was it to once again work with Markus Nilsson that mastered the EP?
Johan: Just awesome. He really knows what he does and funny as hell too.
Label and management
Are you happy with the work Mighty Music have put into the band and the eps so far?
Johan: Yes, we are.
Are there any plans on releasing IPODEP in physical form any time soon?
Johan: No, but we’re gonna add five to seven songs or so and make it into a physical full length album.
How about the TNFEP, is it going to be released on cd or stay as a download purchase?
Johan: Nah, it stays as a digital release.
Are you happy with the outcome of the last album THRONE OF SCARS?
Johan: Yes! I am. But the production is flawed though.
How many copies did it sell?
Johan: I don’t know the sales figues actually.
The debut DEUS DECEPTOR was digitally remastered and re-released with bonus tracks last year, how was that?
Johan: Good! It wasn’t available online so I thought it was about time to fix that. I remastered it and added some bonus-tracks too.
Any plans on releasing the debut on cd or vinyl?
Johan: Not at the moment, but it would be great!
Who own the legal rights to your albums today?
Johan: The two first I own. THRONE OF SCARS is owned by Mighty Music. For five years at least I think?
Are you happy with the fact the album FROM MY COLD HEAD HANDS are only available in Japan or would you have it out on the market world wide?
Johan: That is obviously not good at all. The problem was that the company that were supposed to release it worldwide went bankrupt, so then we were fucked. And then after that no one showed interest in releasing it.
What are your views regarding the meet and greet phenomenon that grows stronger today where bands charges fans a lot of cash to meet them?
Johan: I think it’s fine. I enjoy it. And it’s good extra income to bands.
But sure – it can get a bit tedious some times. When you do it every day. But that’s just a part of the job and the fans get happy. So it’s totally ok.
The music industry has changed a lot over the past few years and bands/artists have to write biography’s, make wine etc. in order to earn money, what are your thoughts on that? What can we expect of the industry in the future?
Johan: More of this. And hologram-concerts.
In 2016 you got endorsed by Ibanez guitar brand, how did that feel?
Johan: That felt great! I’ve been playing Ibanez since 1992 so it’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been loyal.
The same year you also joined forces with the Gothenburg metal legends in Dark Tranquillity, are you a solid member in the line up now?
Johan: I hope so! I don’t know. I’ve received a lot of good feedback so it feels very good. Lovely chaps to hang out with as well.
Chris Amott is also a part of Dark Tranquility, how is it to work together with him?
Johan: Works very good! I had some recording sessions with Chris back in 2000 actually so we knew each other a bit already. But he’s very good of course and we have a lot the same humour so that helps a lot too.
Last year you launched a pledge campaign for the making of your other band Skyfire’s EP, how did that go?
Johan: Went even beyond expectations! I’m not too involved in that band though so I can’t go into any specifics, I’m afraid.
2017 an EP by another one of your band Murdered Beats came out, what did fans and media think of it? How do you find the time recording and keeping all of your bands alive?
Johan: Yes, that was fun. Murdered Beats is more of a project-type thing. So for now we are just happy to have a release out. We haven’t really made any grand career plans or even promotion campaigns. Although we have one video, we are also working on a second video, for the song “Shadow over My Heart”.
Excavating the Egg of Life – official video
Besides all that you also put down a guitar solo on the new Deathening album, how was it to work with the guys in Deathening?
Johan: That was a lot of fun! I did some guest vocals on a couple of songs a year back or so. And then a couple of months ago I returned and did some guest-solos too. Turned out cool. The album is supposed to be mixed by now. I haven’t heard the fininshed product yet though.
How was it to kick off the European tour together with Dark Tranquility back in May?
Johan: Well, the tour started in March and ended early May. It went really well. There was a lot of focus on eastern Europe this time and the fans there are just great! Croatia, Serbia, Greece, but Romania was perhaps the best gig. Incredible crowd!
Have you and Amott been greeted well by the DT fans worldwide?
Johan: Yes, it feels good!
The DT tour isn’t over yet and the band is going to perform at the classical Roskilde Festival in Denmark this summer, are you excited for that show?
Johan: Yeah, Roskilde went really good! It was definitely on my bucket-list to play that festival.
Later this year in September/October it’s time for a second longer North American tour with DT, are you looking forward to it? Is Amott also going to participate?
Johan: Yeah! It’s gonna be a blast! Great line-up of bands I think: DT, Amorphis, Moonspell and Omnium Gatherum. All bands have references in common but still diverse among ourselves to make it a varied show for the fans. Chris is also gonna do the tour yes.
Was it hard to learn all the DT songs?
Johan: It took some time because before the first tour I didn’t know which parts that I was gonna play. Because Dark Tranquillity almost always have the two guitars playing different parts. So, I learned all the parts for both guitars. It took some time, but I wanted to be very well prepared.
What’s going on in the Andromeda camp at the moment when you’re away?
Johan: Eehh, not much. They recorded some vocals though.
Isn’t it time for Andromeda to release something new for the fans soon?
Johan: Yes, indeed it is! The sixth album is done. There are some vocals and keyboards missing, then we are done.
You made a guest appearance on The Universal Mind Project album, THE JAGUAR PRIEST from 2016, how did you end up on that album?
Johan: Michael Alexander, the main guy behind that project knew my stuff from Andromeda and Nonexist and got in touch. Easy as that.
Are you going to make an appearance on their next album as well?
Johan: I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything about it.
What inspires you to write lyrics and music?
Johan: Oh, could be anything. Music of course, but also books, movies and tv-series. Just picking up small phrases and saving them for later could spark a whole verse, chorus or the complete lyrics for a song. When it comes to music it’s hard to tell because sometimes I get subconsciously inspired by other genres and then it shows up in metal-songs I write. I don’t only write metal though. It’s puzzling sometimes where things come from.
Lately I’ve been listening a lot to The Midnight, Röyksopp, Gunship, Lana del Rey, Chvrches, FM-84, Ghost.
Do you always write material or do you sit down between 9-5 and come up with stuff? When during the day, or night, are you the most active and come up with most ideas?
Johan: Ideas can come whenever, and then I’ll record it on my phone or computer. To really sit down and put together songs I have to dedicate some quality time to it. Night-time mostly, for sure. I’m a real night-owl.
A Meditation Upon Death (Official Lyric Video)
The band hasn’t done many live performances, any plans on taking the band on tour or do more single shows?
Johan: Tour – doubtfully, too low level. It’s gonna cost way too much money and time. Single shows – perhaps, but not right now because I’m very busy with DT. Also, since I’m singing and playing guitar in Nonexist now it takes some practice and my singing is very out of shape right now
Last time we spoke I asked why Nonexist didn’t have a website and there still isn’t one; any thoughts of creating one or are you depending on reaching out on the other social media forums?
When can we expect to find the next Nonexist studio album out in stores?
What are the plans for you for the rest of the year?
Johan: We have some more festivals this summer with Dark Tranquillity, like Wacken Open Air, John Smith and Rock al Parque in Bogota to mention a few. Then we’ll tour USA/Canada like I mentioned before from September 7 till October 15. Then we have more gigs coming up, but I can’t say more about that at this moment in time.
Are you happy with what you have achieved so far in your career?
Johan: Yes I am!
Well, let’s finish the interview off with the usual question – what would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered the musical world of Johan Reinholdz yet?
Johan: “Check it out”? Haha.
Thanks again for taking the time talking to me and Metal-rules.com, always a pleasure! And thanks for making such brilliant music! Take care and hope to catch you live on stage soon.
Johan: Thank you so much! Take care and goodbye!