Interview conducted August 16 2019
Interview published August 31 2019
"Yes, but then everyone goes to my village Lumsheden
to shoot shotgun and eat moose steak."
In mid-August Metal Covenant was at Sabaton Open Air in Falun, Sweden,
and met up with singer Christian Eriksson
of power metallers NorthTale to talk about the band's debut album Welcome
To Paradise [Out August 2nd].
Tobbe: You have recently put out your debut
album. So, tell me a little about it.
Christian: Well, we wanted to make a record that
we want to listen to ourselves and a record that means something to
us. A record that if were 14 and have heard it we would have been mind-blown
and when we are 85 we can take it down from the shelf and be proud of
it. That's our intention with Welcome To Paradise.
For those who know you from Twilight Force. In what way does this music
differ from that band's music?
Christian: Well, we're not as symphonic as they
are and then we choose to focus more on everyday life in our lyrics
and in our message, rather than fantasy stuff. All respect to that,
but we want to do something that we feel means more and beyond to us.
We're more like melodic metal, rather than bombastic and grandiose.
That's what's different, I guess. Back to the roots, on our part. We're
a live band to 100 percent and everyone in the band is singing. Our
idea is to be able to do a show anywhere.
Tobbe: When you built the album, was it
kind of inevitable to include two ballads on it, to get some variation?
What were you thoughts in that aspect?
Christian: Well, we didn't think about it at
all. The first ballad, Way Of The Light: I've had that one for 12 years
or something. I presented it to the band, but never thought it would
make it to the album, or that anyone would even like it. But the rest
of the band insisted that we were going to have it on the album.
The second ballad [Even When] is dedicated and
written to my children. But there are, you know, no obligations, because
we don't follow a model, but two ballads just were included on the album.
Will there be 5 ballads or none on the next album? I don't know.
Tobbe: Heavy metal and hard rock have been
around for, like, 50 years now and when making music today, is it even
possible to find something new, or do bands have to kind of make music
that has already been done?
Christian: You know, people are constantly saying
"That's nothing new!". And this isn't anything new, because
that's not what we're trying to do. You know, we're not trying to invent
the wheel again, because the wheel already exists, which we are fully
aware of. We usually use Greta Van Fleet as an example. Kids today love
Greta Van Fleet. They sound exactly like Led Zeppelin. When I listen
to Greta Van Fleet I think of Led Zeppelin and I guess it's the same
for those people who haven't heard Led Zeppelin, Great Van Fleet is
the real deal. Those people don't give a shit about Led Zeppelin. And
to me, as a singer and songwriter in NorthTale, the greatest reward
happened just about 20 minutes ago. I was talking to this girl and she
told me that she had found strength in one of the songs, because it's
an anti-bullying song [Time To Rise], where I tell about when I was
young myself and was being bullied. And she had listened to it, because
she had been bullied a lot, and she started to cry when she was talking
to me. And then we're talking about a whole different level, as far
as I'm concerned, because then I've been able to communicate something
that's more than just music, if you know what I mean?
So the whole basis for NorthTale is to do what
we love, what we think is fun and to share our own experiences and a
message that we hope that people can absorb. So many people are experiencing
bullying, and panic attacks, which we also have a song about [Sirens'
Fall], and if we are able to make those people feel just a little bit
better, then I've won.
Tobbe: NorthTale have without a doubt been
influenced by the old power metal bands, but are there any specific records
for you personally that have meant a little bit more to you?
Christian: Well, I guess you can say that. For
example, I love Painkiller by Judas Priest , Power Plant by Gamma
Ray , and Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1 and 2 [By Helloween
1987 and 1988]. I mean, those are giants within power metal and heavy
metal, so of course you get colored by them. But I also get colored
by other stuff, because I love all kinds of different shapes and forms
of music. Like our drummer [Patrick Johansson] often says, he has borrowed
it from someone else, "There's good music and there's bad music.".
It doesn't matter what genre it is, you know.
I also love our Swedish heritage within folk music, where we have very
melancholic melody structures, that I'm most likely inspired and influenced
by as well, because I love that melancholy, which yet have a bit of
Tobbe: When you were younger and started
to sing, did you look at different singers at that point, or were you
just winging it?
Christian: Well, I remember listening to Gary
Moore's Hiroshima [From the album Dirty Fingers. Recorded in 1981. Out
in 1983 in Japan and 1984 in Europe.] and that's when I decided "I'm
gonna be able to sing this song!". In the beginning there was a
lot of Ritchie Valens, with La Bamba and Come On, Let's Go [Both songs
out in 1958]. Then came Michael Kiske from Helloween and Freddie Mercury,
so of course I've listened to them to find out how they do it.
since I'm self-taught I've probably stepped into every trap there is
regarding vocals, but I've also analyzed and split everything to molecules
in order to be able to shape my own sound and already at an early stage
I thought about coming out as myself and not as a copycat of someone
Tobbe: At what point did you realize that
you actually can sing?
Christian: Oh! I think I have yet to realize
that. When I was little it was like "When I become a rockstar everything
will be fine.". I've been standing on incredibly big stages and
I've done, in people's eyes, stuff that is very cool, but one thing
I always come back to is "I am always I.". This was something
that needed to land within myself, that it doesn't matter if I'm in
front of an ocean of people, "I am still I.". So, it didn't
come like a revelation, but I've fought my way to this.
I decided when I was 5 years old that I was going
to be a rockstar, and it's been like that since then. I have bumped
into obstacles, stepped into several traps and taken a lot of strange
ways, and now, finally, I feel with NorthTale that this is what I want
to do, for real.
Tobbe: About not being in Twilight Force
anymore. Has that something to do with, like you just said, "I am
Christian: Well, you know, life is very short.
I must point out: when we had fun with Twilight Force, we had such an
incredibly good time. It is hard to beat the joy we had at those times.
Then things changed. It's like any other relationship and sometimes
it doesn't work. I mean, if someone would call you and ask why it didn't
work out with your ex-girlfriend, it's like "Well, we were too
different.". And this is kind of the same thing. If I ask you,
"Your ex-partner. What happened?" you would say "Well,
it didn't work out.". Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it
doesn't work out, and in this case we grew apart.
Tobbe: People often want to hear bands air
their dirty laundry in public.
Christian: I have no intention to smear them,
in any way. Their new singer Alessandro [Conti] is a good buddy of mine.
He has designed the NorthTale logo, you know. I wish them all the luck
and there shouldn't be any bad blood. And especially in the heavy metal
world, which is so small. So it's better to have fun, be friends, and
if you're not friends you don't have to talk to each other. You know,
it doesn't have to be more difficult than that.
Most guys in the band are still members of other active bands. So why
do you guys start NorthTale when you guys have other bands to play with?
Christian: Well, there's a difference. You know,
everyone must eat. Some guys play in other bands, where they are hired
and get money to pay the rent. I make animated films, and we dub animated
films, you know, because I have to eat. In those bands they are hired
musicians, but in NorthTale we do what we want to, in a completely different
way. Everyone has a say in one way or another. Everyone can feel that
this is their thing, instead of being a hired musician to someone else.
Tobbe: But isn't it hard to create a solid
band unit when you live in different parts of the world?
Christian: Yes, but then everyone goes to my
village Lumsheden to shoot shotgun and eat moose steak. [Laughs] We
have done that. We met, together as a band, and then we have lived very
intensively, and then we were out and we felt instantly that it was
right, like "This is our band.". And although we have been
working from different places, and online, now that we met everything
seemed just right.
Tobbe: To what extent can you guys with
connection to the town of Falun thank Sabaton for placing this town on
the heavy metal map?
Christian: Well, those guys have done an incredible
job, and first and foremost Pär [Sundström, bass]. I mean,
we grew up together, we have partied together and we have done all kinds
of funny and stupid stuff over the years, you know. I and Pär used
to work as window cleaners. We were driving around in a van and cleaned
windows. Back then he said, "I will take Sabaton and make it the
biggest.". And he has come a long way already. All kudos to him.
I guess there is no one else in the world that
is able to work as much as he does. He's unparalleled when it comes
to working. So, of course, we guys who come from here do everything
we can to keep this festival alive. It's amazing to be able to have
a festival in Falun.