Interview conducted June 6 2018
Interview published July 31 2018
"Everything must be perfect. We are perfectionists
in terms of production and performance."
Metal Covenant talked with bass
player Nils Eriksson of Swedish metallers
Nocturnal Rites before the band's show at this year's edition of Sweden
Tobbe: Every hard-core fan to Nocturnal
Rites knows it was 10 years between the last two records [The 8th Sin
out in 2007 / Phoenix out in 2017], but my question to you is not about
that it took 10 years to put a new album out, but rather: Will it take
another 10 years now before your next record is out?
Nils: I can't promise anything, but I don't think
so because now we're kind of on the move. There's thousands of reasons
to why it took 10 years. We have always had long-term plans, like: we
have, you know, made a record, then we have been on tour, then back
home again, written a record, recorded it and back out on tour again.
know, basically done this thing since '97 or '98. We did it for 10 years
in a row and after The 8th Sin we decided to not make any plans and
then it took 10 years, so. [Laughs] And we lost some member along the
road and so, you know. But now we're going again and it's fun to play
and we have said that we're gonna start writing new material this fall,
so a new record might be out pretty soon, for all I know.
Tobbe: And why did it feel right to put
that record out at the time you did?
Nils: Again, it just turned out that way. 3 of
the songs we recorded in, like, 2012, and then those songs were kind
of in the vault. We were writing songs from time to time and we were
bouncing ideas. We started recording in 2012 and finished it in 2017.
And the same thing there: Per [Nilsson, guitar] joined the band, the
final piece of the puzzle in a way, and we had a complete lineup.
Tobbe: When you're writing songs for a record
during such a long time, isn't it tempting to just change the songs all
the time? Because you change as a person, someone get a kid, new wives,
or whatever that triggers you guys to change some of the material.
Nils: Fredrik [Mannberg, guitar] and I are the
ones who always have, you know, put the songs together and been the
creative motor in a way. We have never ever gone into a record with
an idea like "This record is gonna be more melodic. This one is
gonna be heavier. This one is gonna be more modern.", but we have
just started writing songs that have become a theme that we have tied
together for the record. Some of the songs were written already in 2010
and recorded in 2012 and I personally hear no difference between the
last song we finished to the first we did on the record, so it all sticks
together in some way.
Tobbe: Might Nocturnal Rites in the end
be a band that stops putting out new material and just relies on the old
Nils: No, I think the band would just naturally
die then. Personally I think that the actual creating of the music,
and above all in the final stages where you polish it and make a record
out of it, is what's really fun. It's great to go out and play live
too of course, but if looking at the creative side, that's what gives
me the most. You know, to do the definitive, that it becomes a record.
Sometimes it might be arduous to write a record, you know, and nothing
happens. There's sessions where we're just staring at the ceiling and
nothing comes out, but sometimes we finish a song in one night, and
some songs take 10 years to finish.
You guys are obviously going again, yet you aren't as active as you once
were. So how important or less important is actually the music for the
band Nocturnal Rites nowadays? Honestly. I mean, you guys probably got
other things to do as well.
Nils: Well, I mean, in one way it's probably
more important than ever, since we see it from a different perspective
now and realize how few people there are that are able to do this thing.
A lot of people I grew up with have played music all their life and
never ever have they played outside of town or been going on a tour
or, you know, have fans and release albums.
When you're right in the middle of it, when you
make record after record after record, in the end it becomes nothing
special about going to Japan or be on tour with some fucking band that
you've listened to since you were young. It becomes, like, everyday.
Well, everyday, I mean, it becomes nothing special about it. But if
looking at it in another perspective, it's a fantastic thing to have
done during a lifetime.
So when now having some distance to what we have
done, when we were the most active, it's perhaps even more important
now. But on the other hand, it's maybe less important, because I think
we have a greater distance to the music now and we can do it, you know,
because it's fun. We don't have any career goals. If you rewind the
tape 20 years it was like "We have to do it like this
must talk to the record company; they're not doing anything.",
but we don't give a shit about that today. We just play and make music
and the rest we can't do so much about.
Tobbe: I personally am absolutely sure that
you've lost some fans during this long hiatus and in what way do you guys
look at this matter?
Nils: Well, this is kind of strange, you know.
I thought we had lost a whole lot of fans, because we hadn't released
one tiny bit of music since 2008 and then the first single off the new
album came out in June last year. We had no idea how it would be received.
Were people gonna be like "What band is this? Is it a new band?",
But what's fantastic about this new way you distribute
music and how people consume music today is that, you know, 2 minutes
after we published this first song there were comments coming from Chile,
Japan, Germany, Sweden, England, everywhere, from all over the world,
like "It's great to see that you're back. Where have you been for
the last 10 years?". This wouldn't have happened 15 years ago,
where people were gonna scratch their head, or see some ad in a magazine,
or hear it on some weird college radio channel and then go buy the album
in a store. Everything is instant now; it happens in a second. And that's
fun and you get that confirmation and, you know, feedback right away.
this was a big surprise, because we come from, you know, this old school
where Facebook wasn't
You know, when we stopped, Facebook was
kind of new. That's how fucking old we are, really. So we have never
been into the social media part, where you kind of communicate in real
time. In our time you went on tour and were in the magazines.
Tobbe: When the band became a name within
metal, I would say you guys played straight power metal, so why didn't
you guys stick to that type of music? Now it's more melodic metal and
was progress more important than fame?
Nils: I really have no idea. It's the same with
this. We have never ever made such a plan. If you look back at our discography,
I think maybe our most non-melodic album we've ever done is Afterlife
from 2000 and it was during that time power metal was on top, in a way.
You know, with dragons and demons, and then we made some kind of backlash
to that. We have always walked our own way and maybe because of that
we've always been an outside/underdog band who has, I think, pretty
good cred, but has never been, you know, a household name in a sense.
But we've always just written songs the way we feel like and then we
start writing a song for a record and then that one sets the tone in
Tobbe: In the years after the millennium
change, you guys were a pretty sought-after band in the metal scene, at
least the way I saw it, and today when you have kind of all the answers,
should you have worked even harder than you actually did back then to
really get somewhere?
Nils: Yes, I believe so. We have never had that
kind of drive. We have always had the band as some kind of a side thing.
We have never, you know, dared to let go and said "Now we're gonna
do this for a living! Now we're gonna tour for 300 days a year!".
But we were very active there for a while and played live a lot, like
around The Grand Illusion  and just before that. But of course
we could have put even more effort into it. But I don't know, already
by then we were kind of old, I think. [Laughs]
If you look back at your discography, which album are you the most pleased
with and proud of? You can under no circumstances pick the latest album.
Nils: Well, if we ignore the latest one, then
it's probably The 8th Sin. I think everything fell into place there,
regarding production and so. We put it together in a really neat way
and we put down time on it and we utilized all modern techniques during
the recordings. When we started out, we went to a studio that we hired
for a month and recorded, but when we made The 8th Sin, technology had
in some way caught up with us, like: we could track all the guitars
at home, we could do the drums in a real studio, we could lay down the
vocals in our own studio and really work it through.
When we made Shadowland  for example, Jonny
[Lindqvist] came down and sang for 12 hours, 3 days in a row, and he
kind of vomited in the car when he came home, because he was completely
exhausted, and that's not how it's supposed to be when you record an
Tobbe: So, which album are you the least
satisfied with? This is worse. Now you have to criticize something you've
Nils: Oops. Well, maybe it isn't so hard, really.
I think it's Tales Of Mystery And Imagination from 1998. The first record
[In A Time Of Blood And Fire, 1995] was more of a demo, basically. You
know, it was just pretending, almost. But when we were gonna make Tales
Of Mystery And Imagination, it was hiring a studio and record in a specific
way, like "The tape is rolling, guys.".
But we've always been that kind of band that
really wants to sit down and listen. Everything must be perfect. We
are perfectionists in terms of production and performance. But on that
record it really feels that we're young and that we're basically playing
live and we maybe weren't really able to do that then.