Nocturnal Rites, one of Sweden's
premier acts in the melodic metal scene, are soon about to release their
new and steaming hot effort Grand Illusion. When the opportunity arose
to question the bassist and one of the main men Nils Eriksson,
Metal Covenant were not late to line up the questions. The following is
what he has to say about the recent happenings in the band.....
Mat: Hello there Nils! I just want to start
with saying that the Metal Covenant Staff and readers really appreciate
that you've taken the time to participate in this interview and letting
us know what's going on in the band and your feelings regarding your new
album, Grand Illusion.
Mat: A little early to have a good overview
of the overall opinions of your new album Grand Illusion, but the little
I've come across, including my own personal opinion, is that you've accomplished
yet another great and solid release. Are you pleased with the reactions
you've had so far and have they lived up to the expectations you had?
It's also the general opinion that Grand Illusion just might be the album
that really is going to be your big break through and the last couple
of years you've finally also begun to get some serious and very well deserved
recognition. You were even highly praised by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet
a while back and they usually have a strong tendency to really discard
metal and power metal especially. You must be very pleased where things
are heading now?
Nils: Yes, we are. What else can I say? We've
never compromised with our sound but always been one step ahead. We
were doing this melodic metal 10 years ago when no one else did it
and no one give us their time of day. I think the bottom line is that
we have a lot of fun in both writing, recording and performing and
somehow that always shines through in the end. We love doing what
we do and it's really just encouraging that people on a larger scale
are starting to regognize that. With NWM we tripled or doubled our
sales in a lot of territories, so it will be interesting to see where
"Grand Illusion" takes us.
Mat: As far as I'm informed, you've changed
studio with this release. Your former albums have been recorded at Tonteknik,
but with Grand Illusion you've chosen Toontrack Studio instead. Any special
reasons for this or was it just time for a change?
Nils: Well, NWM was also recorded at Toontrack.
Afterlife and The Sacred Talisman were recorded at Tonteknik. Two
studios that start with "ton" might be a bit confusing,
I know. The only reason why we decided to record the new album in
Toontrack is because of the excellent cooperation we have with our
producers SHEP. They definitely add something to our sound and we
have a terrific time working with them. It's also very relaxing to
record at home. You don't have to plant yourselves somewhere in the
deepest of Germany and do nothing but stare at the ceiling while the
others guys are doing their parts. By recording here we can go on
with our normal lives in the meantime and I think the creativity is
just getting a well deserved boost by that.
Mat: Grand Illusion is also your fourth
CD with the same line up. You must be really comfortable with each other
by now and must have a good general idea about how the others are thinking
and how they feel about the compositions when you write and record your
music. Would you agree with me on this?
Nils: Yes. We have a very well working way
of writing songs that really is working perfectly by now. For Fredrik,
Nils, me and Jonny it's sort of a team effort where everyone has their
individual roles. When we're all active in this process we easily
write songs that differ from each other and in the end manage to write
really diverse albums. I think this line up works perfectly. We're
all good friends and have a good time, which of course is the most
In comparison to your former albums, in what ways does Grand Illusion
differ but also resemble those of the past in your opinion?
Mat: Looking back in your CD-catalogue there
aren't really many longer songs but you still have a real knack for writing
tracks that despite that a very epic feel to them. Is this intentionally
or can we expect some longer epic tracks like for instance Egyptica from
your former New World Messiah in the future?
Nils: I don't know. We generally don't like
songs that go off into long instrumental parts. But in some songs
it's called for and when we stumble on this, we go with it. Like on
Egyptica, for example. So, who knows? There might be more of that...or
not. We never make any plans, we just write songs and play them. Simple.
Mat: You've got some real interesting guest-musicians
on Grand Illusions also, and among them Kristoffer Olivius from Naglfar,
Hammerfall's Stefan Elmgren and Henrik Danhage who's in Evergrey. How
was it to work with them and what do you think they mostly contributed
with in your sound-frame?
Nils: We had an idea from the start to have
some guests and friends join us on the album. Mostly because we all
thought they could add something to it and also because we know the
fans of our music are also fans of Hammerfall, Stratovarius, Evergrey
and so on. So, it should serve as a nice little bonus treat. We didn't
"work" with them per se. The modern technology made it possible
for them to record on their own and then just send their stuff to
us. Listening to it now, I think they all did a great job and that
they all added something new to the songs they appear on. I'd love
to have had even more guests on the album. Haha, I love things like
these. Especially Kristoffer's contribution is cool to listen to.
It's so far away from what we normally do in our music, which definetly
makes that specific song brilliant.
Mat: I've also come across a rumour saying
that Swedish cross-country skier (and fellow citizen) Per Elofsson performed
as a guitar guest musician on this album
The already known musicians
I can understand why they came on board the project but if the rumours
are true it seems like Per Elofsson's got other skills as well =) So basically,
is there any truth in this at all and if so, how did it happen that he
Nils: Yes, Mr Elofsson in in there as well.
We went to school as kids and also hung out, so we knew each other
a bit. I know from the past that he plays a little guitar and we just
thought it would be a bit of a shocker to throw him in. He loved the
idea and just came in and did some noise. Like I said, we all love
the idea of having guests on this album!
What is Nocturnal Rites for you band members? Of course it's a
place where you can express yourselves musically and just hang out and
have a great time with the guys, but is it also something more, like for
instance somewhere where you can deal with personal problems, other experiences
- Nils: Some bands
go as far as saying their band is their extended family, but I think
that's bull. Most bands hate eachother. We don't luckily, we're all
good friends and we enjoy hanging out and having fun. Basically that's
what we're all about. If it weren't for the fun part of it, we would
probably not be doing this. There is no greater award than being out
there, playing, drinking beer, meeting people from all over the planet,
travelling the world and even getting paid for it. But we don't meet
upand deal with personal problems. There are professionals for that,
in case we would need it.
Mat: One of the main reasons I guess that
the first albums didn't do too well was mainly due to poor distribution.
If you compare that situation with the one today, do you think matters
are different now?
- Nils: Yes, very.
Our first album was out on a small label with poor desitribution and
virtually no budget for promotion. So, things are definetly different
now. I think our career started when we signed to Century Media. There
is no way to get out there if you have no money behind you.
Mat: What are you looking for and expect
from a record label and what requirements would they have to meet to be
considered by you? Are you satisfied with those requirements and your
situation with Century Media? How many albums have you signed for with
Nils: Our contract
with Century Media is nearing completion now. However, they've been
pretty decent to us over the years, so we'll see where we'll end up
once the contract is up. Maybe we'll resign, I don't know. However,
a good label stands behind you, supports you in whatever way possible
and in the end sells records. Easy.
Mat: What do you love and hate the most
with the music industry? Since you've been around for over a decade now
you must have come across many twists and turns
Nils: I love the
fans and their devotion, the "brotherhood" between metal
fans and just the scene in general. What I don't like is that bands
generally don't get what they deserve in terms of money, that "standard"
deals are generally really stupid and that young bands almost always
sign these shitty contracts that last forever.
Mat: And speaking of decades
You've thus been around for
10 years on the metal scene with Nocturnal Rites and as a tribute to this
released the double CD box, Lost In Time. But did you celebrate this anniversary
in other ways too and in that case how?
- Nils: Not really.
We got drunk and naked, that's about it. But then again, that happens
every weekend, so I wasn't that special after all.
Mat: A 10-year period is quite a long time
and many things of course have happened in the band since the start. What
would you say were the hardest parts and also vice versa, the best parts
of your career so far? The major turning points if there have been any
according to you?
- Nils: The best
part of our career is undoubtedly all the shows we've done, the countries
we've been to and the fans we've crossed paths with on our way. We all
love playing live and being on the road. This is the biggest pay off
for us. So, I guess the major turning point was doing our very first
tour back in the day. From then on we knew that this was what we wanted
to do. Hardest parts...Well, I can't really think of a lot. It's always
a bit hard to start writing an album when you have nothing written and
are compeltely blank. But part from it's been a nice run.
Mat: You also have an upcoming tour with
legendary Gamma Ray. Sounds like a great touring partner that most certainly
will attract huge crowds. That really's got to be something very interesting
and a great thing to look forward to I guess?
- Nils: Sure, it
will be really cool. We have never toured with them before and I am
sure that together we'll be a really nice package and people will definetly
get value for their money. We will also be doing headline shows in Sweden
during november and december, so we have filled pretty much all of 2005.
Mat: And speaking of tours, you have played
in Japan on more than one occasion and I'm a bit curious about that. What's
it really like to play over there? Are the fans just as fanatic as they
seem and the rumours say? What do you generally think of the country and
the metal culture over there compared to other places in the world?
- Nils: The fans
are very devoted and it's really cool playing for them. I can't think
of a nice country to spend time in or to be playing in. I just love
everything about Japan. Playing in Japan is very different from playig
in, say, Germany. But mostly I think it's because of the culture and
because everything looks so different. In Europe all of the countries
look the same. It doesn't really matter if you're walking around in
Belgium or somewhere in Germamy. In Japan everything is so new and different.
I would encourage everyone to visit Japan at least once in their lifetime.
Mat: If you would briefly give your own
description of each individual band member, including yourself of course,
how would you put that?
- Nils: Me: lazy
and hard working (when it comes to doing something I like), like coffee,
whiskey and beer. Part from that a pretty normal guy (with my standards
in mind). Fredrik: his memory is about as good as a gold fish's. He
eats like a ton of candy every day and doesn't really gain any weight.
Part from that he's quite weird and gets a cubical hairdo and fish eyes
whenever he drinks. Owe: likes watching movies and drinking coffee,
probably even more so than me. He also directs and produces music videos
and is actually very talented (he's done our last three videos, including
the brand new Fools Never Die). Jonny: he's always got something going
on and can't sit still for five minutes. Norberg: likes playing his
guitar, making his own wine and beer and likes to drink weird things.
Mat: And finally, I thank you very much
for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your
thoughts with us so these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words
you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought
for the future?
- Nils: Get your
hands on Grand Illusion - it will blow your mind. Play loud and see
you all soon somewhere!
That was all I had for now, Nils - the staff at metalcovenant.com
wish you all the very best for the future, and we sincerely want to thank
you for keeping the spirit of Metal alive!
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