Heart of Steel: Interviews

Persuader - "Kicking Large Amounts of Ass!"
An Interview with guitarist Emil Norberg

Interview by EvilG
Transcribed by Theresa Gaffney

From their VISIONS AND DREAMS demo, to the glorious debut THE HUNTER, to the inklings of what to expect with the track "Raise Hell" on Metal-Rules.com Volume I, Persuader has always been a band that I've been a big supporter of. With their winning of the Young Metal Gods battle of the band's styled competition, Persuader won themselves a record deal with Noise Records. The end result is one of this years best albums - EVOLUTION PURGATORY. I spoke to guitarist Emil Norbeg about the band's new album and of course about what it feels like to kick so much ass. Enjoy...

Let's start with the new Persuader album, EVOLUTION PURGATORY, that I've been waiting for, as you probably know, for quite a while. It's been well worth the wait!

Thank you very much!

Are you guys happy with the outcome of the recording?

Of course. The only thing that might have been a problem was they wanted us to record even earlier than we did. I think we started in September (2003) or something. They wanted us in the studio in July, but I think we had four more songs to write at that time. It was quite a hurried production to make all the songs in time.



How long did you actually get in the studio?

Four weeks. A couple of more days maybe, with the mixing.

So what were your main goals that you had in mind when you went off to Germany to Piet's (Iron Savior) studio to record?

Basically, to make a really good record. We had listened to a couple of his productions that we thought might be cool. We really don't prefer that kind of…how can I say, the bands he has produced earlier are really not our kind of music to listen to. But they had a pretty good drum sound, and guitar sound, so we kind of thought it might be a really good time…


What was it like to work with Piet?

It was really good, actually. At first we were doing the drum sessions, and you know, to meet the big German rock star (laughs). He looks kind of dangerous with his big dog and all that, but he was just a great guy and lot's of fun.



Has all the reaction that you've heard from the fans or from the journalists for the new CD been 100% positive?

Absolutely not!

Absolutely not? Really?

Of course we mainly have good reviews, but it's a couple here and there. They think it's a lot…too much like Blind Guardian, that it's just a clone and stuff like that.

Well that's people that only listen to the surface, obviously.

Exactly, I think so too.

They listen to the CD once and say…

Oh, it sounds like Hansi Kursch on the vocals, they have copied them…yeah, but we are pretty satisfied.


Yeah, good. I was wondering: the only criticism I could conceive that someone would have with [the album] was where Piet was involved with the backing vocals. You used him for backing vocals, so some of your choruses have a very big, Iron Savior choir feel to it, right?

Well, I can agree on that. But I think that when he and Jens did the vocals, they were the only ones there in the studio at the time, so we had really no control over that (the rest of the band).



Did the rest of you guys do any backing vocals?

No, we are not any good at singing! (laughs) But, that is to say, we did not have many choices to have different backup vocalists come in and do backups. I think it's pretty important to use a different vocalist to do backup vocals to get a richer sound in the harmonies and stuff like that.


The choruses do sound very good and full, but the only comment I would make is that it reminded me in some places of Iron Savior.


Which is not that bad, because I actually like Iron Savior a lot anyways!

Works out fine for you! (laughs)


So you guys got your record deal with Noise Records, as everyone should know by now, by your participation in the Young Metal Gods competition. I was wondering if you could just tell me a bit about what it was like to play that and how you got involved to do it.

The whole thing started with Jens (Jens Carlsson - vocals) who was flipping through the Sweden rock magazine where there was a small ad for the Young Metal Gods competition. We had just finished recording the promo we were going to send out forty packages to different labels. So we threw a CD to Young Metal Gods competition, and they called us pretty quickly after all the voting and stuff like that had happened. They told us we were in. That was the only thing we sent out to any labels. Things went pretty good down in Germany as well when we went down to play. We had some trouble at the airport waiting for them to come pick us up. I think they were 2 or 3 hours late. The time was like 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, and we were pretty angry! But they finally showed up, so we got to the hotel and got some sleep. Then we went out to the gig. We had a sound check and with the other bands had some beers before the show, and went out to play. The only down thing was that there weren't too many people at the show. There was some fantastic weather or something, so everyone must've stayed home and barbequed or something. There were maybe 15 people there. It could have been a little more exciting.



So from those people that were there, you must have gotten a good reaction.

Yeah, absolutely.

Do you think you that would have gotten your record deal without this competition?

Yes, absolutely I think so. We felt we had pretty good songs on the promo, and we were very satisfied. I think time was right for a band with a little more aggressive kind of music as well as having a lot of power metal elements. So, I think we definitely could have pulled this off anyway.



Is this a one-off album deal with Noise Records, or…?

No, actually we have four options more if they want to. After that I don't know.

That's probably too far off to think about, right? (laughs)

Absolutely, four albums is miles away! I can't even imagine.



The title of the album, "Evolution Purgatory," is an interesting title for an album. I was wondering…I guess I have my own ideas of what you might have had in mind with that, but from your point of view, what did you mean by the title "Evolution Purgatory"?

(laughs) I will try to explain it in English. Well, it's kind of symbolizes a rebirth through purgatory, of course…We had some trouble with the breakup and the record label being bankrupt and all that - but that was before my time, but anyways…we kind of felt the songs on this album are dealing with the darker sides of human nature, it also fits in with the title of the album. That was pretty much the idea.

Is it kind of a statement on where mankind's evolution is in history?

Yeah, I think we're at a point we'll go up or down, so to speak.

But right now we're still in purgatory?


Do you work on the lyrics, or is that someone else's domain in the band?

EN: It's mainly halfway the drummer, and Jens, the vocalist. The other two of us kind of correct spelling mistakes and stuff like that. It's mainly Efraim and Jens who write the lyrics.



How would you say Persuader's style has changed or evolved from the previous album, THE HUNTER to now, EVOLUTION PURGATORY?

It's a little more even than the previous album. I think we have at least…well, at least in my opinion I like all the new songs off the new album, and maybe only 4 or 5 off THE HUNTER that I listen to frequently. So, I think we've tried to blend a little more of the death vocals on the new album, some harder elements, as well as power metal, trying to get a little better blend of the two.



Was this a conscious choice to move in that direction or was that just how the songs fell together?

Both, I think. We didn't want to get stuck in the HammerFall category playing "happy metal." We are angry people here in Sweden! It is cold, and we're mad! I think we really want an album that is more than only power metal.



Do you know yet if you'll be doing a new video for any of the tracks on the new album?

Nothing is planned at the moment. But we'll see if the record company wants to do one, we'll be there. We'd have to do professional…I mean we could always do another "Hunter" style video. It's fun but nothing you can show on TV. We really want to do one. It's fun.



Why did you decide to rerecord "Fire at Will" for the new album?

I think as the album had been released in France, not many people had heard it…and we really needed to fill up space on the album as well. (Cell phone rings) Hell! Where was I? Well, those were the two main reasons. Also, since I had started in the band, we had changed it for the live version. So we decided to record the live version.



Has there ever been an interview where your vocals or the band hasn't been compared to Blind Guardian?

(laughs) Not yet!

So everyone always brings that up?

Yeah, everyone.

To set the record straight, what bands have influenced you or the band as a whole?

A whole lot of stuff. All of the Swedish death metal stuff from the early 90s. Entombed, Dismember, stuff like that. New Devin Townsend, Strapping Young Lad, all his solo projects. Pantera…I listen very much to Yngwie Malmsteen, Europe…so many bands, so little time!

Have you been playing any gigs in your hometown of Umeå, Sweden?

Yeah we've played a couple of gigs since we started with me on guitars. I think we had about 3 or 4 maybe.



Do you want to play a CD release type show in your hometown?

We're not sure, actually, we'll see what happens. If we get any good gigs, we can definitely try to incorporate a CD release party thing. But I don't think we'll be having one on our own.



I assume that your record label must be looking into getting Persuader some shows to do. So is there anything confirmed, besides the Sweden Rock Festival?

We have the 2000 Decibel Festival also. But other than that, there's nothing really confirmed. We're talking about things, but nothing I can really yell out.


I know you weren't in Persuader when the name was chosen. But what has been relayed to you by the other band members surrounding what the name represents?

Video games. There was a Nintendo or Sega game where you could use a weapon called "the persuader." (laughs) We persuade people to do things, evil things. So…it's a name from the video game!

 I see, I didn't realize that! (laughs)

I know, it's strange.


It's an original name anyway…Persuader basically came out of nowhere it seemed with THE HUNTER and kicked everyone's ass who heard it, and surprised a lot of people because the band was so good already on the first CD. I was wondering what impact did you see the CD make, before you were in the band, on Sweden, worldwide, or online?

I really have no idea. All I've been seeing lately is a lot of people sending emails about wanting to get a copy of it after. Before I became a member in the band, I knew all the guys that went to the same high school. I listened to the "Visions and Dreams" demo and thought it was pretty good but nothing out of the ordinary at that time. As the album was only released in France, you really didn't see much of an impact. It's kind of hard when you live far away from the rest of Europe.



I get asked by people myself where they can get a copy of THE HUNTER. Do you know if there is anywhere at all they can buy a copy, or is it totally unavailable?

I think I saw a copy in a German CD provider, but I'm not sure if it's in stock or if they have run out. I am looking myself. Ebay is the most probable place to find it.



The last time, I asked you about the band's rights to re-release THE HUNTER. At the time, you said you didn't have the rights to release it. Is that still the situation?

Yes that is still the situation.

Are there any plans for Noise Records to obtain the rights to re-release it?

I don't know, we've been talking about it, but you know with the new album…of course if we sell a million records, they'll re-release it but there are no immediate plans.



On THE HUNTER, do you know what the sound samples are at the beginning of "Fire at Will"?

Of course. It's a lot of indy bands. It's Meshuggah…

Yeah, Meshuggah is the only one I know.

Also, there is a band called the Phaser (sp?) also. A little more melodic pop-rock stuff that's in there. And a lot of radio stuff, actually I think the song "The Hunter" is in there as well.



How did Persuader manage to hook up with Jens Ryden?

He's from Umeå also.

So you guys are friends?

Yeah, absolutely. There's no big deal.

There are a fair number of bands from Umeå.

Yeah there is.

Is it a friendly atmosphere among the bands, or is it competitive?

Definitely friendly. Meshuggah has moved to Stockholm and they're way above my age, so I never really met them or anything like that. But I hear they are sick people. They do strange stuff! But it's us, Nocturnal Rites, and others, we all go to the same bars, hang out. It is definitely fun.



Even though your new CD has basically just been released, I was wondering what plans exist for the next album because I am hoping there won't be as long of a wait between albums.

Well, we've started writing new songs, and we want to take it one step higher. A little more aggressive, a little more soft…I can't explain.

More diverse?

Exactly. Try to find some new ways to make a heavy metal album. Like I said, I've been listening to a lot of Devin Townsend, try to incorporate some of his stuff like that. A little more diverse.



I've been wondering about your website. It's in need of an update.

Yeah. We're on the way actually, we're just waiting for some information to put it up.


In your website under your profile, you mention that your favorite actor is Johnny Depp.

Yes, absolutely.

What is your favorite movie with him?

I think "Sleepy Hollow" or "From Hell."

Are you a big movie buff?

Um, kind of. But I'm not really one of those with a really wide screen TV. But I really enjoy watching a good movie.



Your brother, as a lot of people know, is in the power metal band Nocturnal Rites. I was wondering if you've ever been in a band with him?

No, not in a band. We jam sometimes, stuff like that, but nothing professional.

Did you learn anything from him, or is he the reason you picked up guitar in the first place?

Both. I think my mother gave us a guitar as a Christmas present and we kind of had fun with it, and then we started taking it a little more serious. It's really good to have a brother like that, where you can trade information and learn stuff.

It must be a unique thing for your mother to have two of her children in metal bands signed to record labels and making a good go of things with it.

I think she is very proud of us.



There was a great reader-submitted question on our forum. I think I'll read word for word so it becomes a part of this interview because it was hilarious. The question was: "What is it like to kick such large amounts of ass? Do you kick so much ass that you indeed kick your own ass as well? I bet you wake up sometimes and think 'Damn, we rule!' and then go back to bed."

(laughs) I don't know what to say! Maybe on Saturday morning when you wake up with a headache I can say "Damn, we rule" and go back to sleep. Most of the days I have to get up and go to work and wipe some asses. But its so glamorous.

I thought that was quite a good and funny question.

Yeah. It feels really good to kick large amounts of ass.


For sure. Since you are being interviewed by Metal-Rules, I was wondering if you could tell us why do you think, if you agree, that metal rules?

(laughs) Because it comes with a lot of beer, a lot of ladies, a lot of good friends, a lot of good music, and a just a great way of living. That's why metal rules….and because it kicks large amounts of ass!

(laughs) For sure. That was all the questions I had on paper here, but of course the final words are yours. If there is anything that I didn't cover that you want to tell the people about the album…

What can I say…you're in Canada, right?

Yeah, so do you think you'll ever be playing in Canada?

I hope so, it depends on if someone buys your album.

So if a million people buy your album in Canada, you'll be playing in Canada?

That's the way it works. But I'd say buy the album, or download it, listen to it…at least listen to it. And if you like it, you can buy it and we'll come to play for you and kick large amounts of ass in your hometown!

(laughs) Thanks, that's gonna have to be the quote of the interview! I think I'm going to have to make that the header of the interview. "Persuader - Kicking Large Amounts of Ass!"

Yeah, with big, big letters…

Yeah, big, big ass…Thank you! It's been great to talk to you. I'd like to wish you all the best with the album, and I hope that people buy it. Hopefully you will be on tour throughout North America someday!

Thank you. I hope so too. We'll see what happens!

Official Persuader Site: www.persuader.nu

Label: Noise Records

PERSUADER Reviews in Metal-Rules.com