» Mats Nilsson - Brothers Of Metal
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Interview conducted March 27 2022
Interview published May 8 2022

Brothers Of Metal is kind of in no man's land at the moment in preparation for the third record. A new single was however put out in March to get the word out again and as the band came down to Stockholm for a show a few weeks later Metal Covenant got some time with one of the band's three vocalists Mats Nilsson.

Band lineup:
Ylva Eriksson, vocals
Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson, vocals
Mats Nilsson, vocals
Pähr Nilsson, guitars
Dawid Grahn, guitars
Mikael Fehrm, guitars
Johan Johansson, drums
Emil Wärmedal, bass

Tobbe: You recently put out a new single, The Other Son Of Odin, and that song is obviously a taste of a new Brothers Of Metal record.

Mats: That's our plan anyway. But when that record comes out, we will see. But we're in the studio right now, recording it song by song, so to say. It's takes a little longer time than what we're used to. Well, it doesn't really, but we have to split the recordings into lumps. So it will be done sometime this year and we will see when it comes out.

Tobbe: So I won't ask any detailed questions about the album, but I guess I can say that it probably follows the footsteps of the two first albums.

Mats: Yes, with some development, I would say. It's extremely hard to tell since all the songs aren't done yet. But the theme and the general idea are absolutely the same as it has been, you know. And we develop as songwriters and musicians on this journey. It's hard to find peace in doing the same thing every time. You want to keep the core of what you are, but still try some different stuff out, and we will absolutely do that.

Tobbe: So the lyrics will be about Norse gods and party.

Mats: Yes, that sounds very reasonable.

Tobbe: Might it sometimes be hard to come up with lyrics, regardless of you guys having a coming record or not? You know, coming up with new subjects within the same kind of subject.

Mats: I think you can find a pretty narrow niche. You know, strictly hypothetical you could make a whole album about, let's say, one day in Asgaard. I'm just speaking strictly hypothetical. So it doesn't necessarily has to ever run out of material. But of course, there are a limited number of gods to write about.

And I mean, we have several songs where Thor is mentioned, for example. And Odin is mentioned in pretty much every other song we make. So there are aspects and parts that we can write about every time. So I wouldn't say that I'm worried about running out of material to write about.

Tobbe: So, to the single you just released, The Other Son Of Odin. What can you tell me about that song?

Mats: It has kind of a hero theme. It's about Vidar, who is Odin's other son. One of them actually, because he has a whole bunch, which is also funny, and we kind of bring that up in the title. He is the only one of the gods who, according to the prophecy, survives Ragnarök. [This is actually incorrect.] There is not so much written about him, besides that he is very reticent and has a shoe, one shoe, or a boot, which is made by every left-over leather piece from every shoemaker. So, it's special, one might say. [Laughs]

Tobbe: I just wonder how they landed that story once upon a time.

Mats: Well, there might have been some psychedelia behind it. Very possible, very possible. A lot of the stories are, like, "How did you come up with this idea?". Very funny. A lot of it is very humorous and you kind of don't have to do so much with it for it to be funny.

Tobbe: About these subject that you write lyrics around. Do they come from an old interest of yours or is it more about that they can be quite fun subjects to write about?

Mats: That's a tough question. Well, there are a few of us that have a pretty keen basic interest and think they are good stories, so to speak. So we have studied that through life, in a way. I think that's the biggest inspiration, but also those stories work well with metal.

You know, I think if our songs were kind of Johnny Cash-like it wouldn't have been working out as good. Heavy metal and power metal call upon a lot to the epic, and I think often the comical, in this bombastic and exaggerated stuff, you know. And that we have to use to the fullest, in a way.

I haven't given it much thought why we do it, but it just started out that way. But we have some songs that necessarily don't follow such a theme, like Siblings Of Metal, Fire Blood And Steel, and then Kaunaz Dagaz from the new record. Well, from Emblas Saga [2020]. They necessarily don't strictly follow a Viking theme, but we think it fits, so "Let's go!".

Tobbe: As you don't know when the next album is out, isn't it a little bit special to just put out a single at this point?

Mats: Yes, it is, I guess. But, you know, we could definitely argue about that, but we have never cared for what we're supposed to do, you know. We think more in a way, like, "Now it has been two years of piss, so everybody deserves some heavy metal.". [Laughs] It doesn't have to be any harder than that. But, you know, it has been terrible to not being able to come out and play live. It's really sad, so we want to release some music and make everybody happy.

Tobbe: So it's not so frustrating that nothing is really decided yet? Some bands have been waiting for a year now to get their album out, you know.

Mats: No, no, no. You know, we were able to do a European tour together with Elvenking before Covid came and everything shut down. We haven't really been able to tour for Emblas Saga. We haven't played a song off Emblas Saga on a festival yet, so we don't want to have an album out before this summer's festivals, for example.

This year we want to get a chance to play the Emblas Saga songs, since we haven't done that. We will probably release a couple of singles every now and then, and then a record will be out, roughly, between late this year and the middle of 2023, I would say.

Tobbe: It's funny that you called Emblas Saga "the new record" before, as it is two years old now. It's not so hard to see that you haven't come to the finish line on that one.

Mats: Yes, exactly. We haven't really gotten to play those songs live. We don't even know how they work. Maybe we will be booed off stage when we start playing those songs. [Laughs] I have no idea. We don't know. We haven't been able to play those songs.

Tobbe: Maybe it's hard to answer this question then: Which is the best album of Prophecy Of Ragnarök and Emblas Saga?

Mats: Yes, of course it's hard to say. I think both have certain qualities that I like very much. Generally seen Prophecy is a little bit "simpler". The song building is a little bit simpler, or whatever I'm gonna call it. There is great power in many of those songs, like the title track, and Yggdrasil, which is very popular, is on that record, and Fire Blood And Steel and Defenders [Of Valhalla].

They are songs with a lot of power, while Emblas Saga has maybe a bit wider range. We have a few that are very dark, like Hel, and then Chain Breaker, which is more a classic Judas Priest inspired heavy metal song. So maybe a bit wider spectrum of songs and a little bit more technical in the songwriting on Emblas Saga.

Tobbe: You worked with Prophecy Of Ragnarök for a very long time, so maybe that record has grown into you guys in a different way than Emblas Saga has, which on the other hand you made when you were more experienced and had greater skills.

Mats: Yes, that was on my mind too. Prophecy Of Ragnarök we wrote during a period where we in the beginning of that period weren't even a band, but we were just a few buddies that made music together. And then later, just before the recordings, we finished quite a few songs.

And already at that point, in, like, 2016, we had started a few songs that are now on the Emblas Saga record. We also have kind of a back catalogue that we will probably do something with too. It's songs that are a little bit like odd one out, that haven't really fit the albums. There are a few of them that we like very much, that we will probably do something with. Well, time will tell what will happen.

We have evolved over time and Emblas Saga was written in a shorter time period where we were more experienced, absolutely. However, how that affects the music I don't know. Maybe the songs on Emblas Saga are more on the same level than on Prophecy, but Prophecy is more raw and simpler in some way.

Tobbe: Prophecy was independently released at first [On April 1st 2017] and then it came out on AFM Records later [On November 18th 2018]. After it was released independently did you guys started looking for a label or did they come to the band?

Mats: You know, the recording of Prophecy was completed sometime during 2015, or maybe it was done sometime in 2016. Then we had it for, like, 9-12 months. We sent it around, I used my contacts in the music industry, and reached the bigger record companies, and we were like "Because it's a hobby, it's fun, we have done everything ourselves, it sounds good, we're happy with it, we don't want to sign some shitty deal and if we should sign up for a deal it has to have its worth.

The record company must see this as a good investment and realize that we have done this ourselves. We don't need the record company to make good music, but we need the record company to distribute and to reach more people.". And not so many record companies agreed on this, because we had never been tested and we have a band name that is super stupid, in many aspects. So it took its time.

Without mentioning any names, one pretty big record company sent a deal and he and I went back and forth with it for 8 months, and in the end he had enough and told me "Okay, write the deal you want to have.". So I wrote that and the answer I got was more or less "We are not a charity project. If you ever get this deal from anyone, take it and don't look back.". And then we got that deal with AFM. So everything was cool in the end. And then later that guy came back, like, "Hey! Would you be interested in releasing an album with us in the future?" and, you know, "We're not a charity project.". [Laughs]

As a band it's great to not be dependent, because we really weren't depending on a record company. And that's why we released it independent too. In the end we said "Let's just set this aside. Let's do it ourselves. We won't sell so much. But we don't do it for the money, but we are proud of this record and we want to get it out.". And so AFM found us. We started to negotiate and it was actually done pretty quickly.

They probably saw our potential and I guess it was easy for them because they had seen that we were an unsigned band that had put up music on the internet and we had a good number of streams already back then. They already had the key in their hand when they bought it and, like, "We can multiply this." and that's what they have done.

Tobbe: The band has two guys named Nilsson, two guys named Eriksson and one guy named Johansson. Might this cause some confusion abroad?

Mats: Well, I think we notice it mostly on YouTube, where there are many rumors. Often in reaction videos and stuff like that. For some totally unfathomable reason, and it feels just stupid, some people say "How can they be called Brothers Of Metal when there is a girl in the band?" and, you know, "How can they be called Judas Priest when there is not a priest in the band? How can they be called Iron Maiden when there is not a…".

Do people think about this for real? I don't know. Well, never mind. So when we get that question there is usually a reply from some know-it-all: "They are actually called that because Ylva and Joakim are siblings." and I'm like "Okay? Where did you get that information?". And sometimes I have read that someone corrects them, like, "No, actually they are not. It's a very common name in Sweden.".

But I don't know. I guess everyone has their prejudice. So it is what it is. I don't put so much thought about it and it's just something that adds to the building of a myth. Ylva and Jocke have also heard that they are married to each other. But I and Pähr have never gotten to hear that we are married to each other.

Tobbe: Is there any kind of kinship in the band? Like a third cousin or whatever.

Mats: No, I don't think so.

Tobbe: You guys have Falun as your home base, but where are you guys actually from?

Mats: One of us is from Falun. [Laughs] Six of us is from Malung, which is an even smaller town, and then Johan is from Bålsta and Ylva from Falun. Then it has become Falun for various reasons, like with schools and stuff. It just turned out to be that we derive from Falun, because that's where everyone has lived.

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