Interview conducted March 09 2009
Interview published March 10 2009
In recent years, Patrik Johansson
is a metal vocalist who have made himself a name as a phenomenal singer.
You may or may not have heard him yet, but if you have ever lent an ear
to either of the bands Astral Doors, Lion's Share or Wuthering Heights,
you know what he is capable of. One of his bands, Lion's Share, is just
about to release a new and great album which is in the metal press generally
seen as their best so far and Astral Doors have earlier this year begun
the work on their next effort. Curious about him, I decided to take the
pulse on him a bit as a person and also briefly on what happening around
Tommy: Just to clarify for the readers who
might not know for sure: Which of the bands you are currently seen in
is really your main band? I guess it's Astral Doors, since that is the
band you kind of started in, born as a continuation of your former bands
Staircase and Barfly?
Patrik: Well, sure Astral Doors is very close
to my heart and also my home town band, and in that perspective it
is my main band, but Lion's Share is also a main band to me, so you
could say that I have two main bands.
Have you ever felt that you, on a more serious level, want to sing something
in a completely different genre than what you normally are known for?
Patrik: Absolutely not. I'm a hardrocker and
a metal freak. That's what I do and that's what I'll continue to do.
I have sung some crazy shit already though, especially in Wuthering
Heights and in Space Odyssey. The bonus track for my second Space
Odyssey album is pretty much "musical". Check that out;
Patrik goes Frank Sinatra or something. But: metal is my thing.
Tommy: Have you ever had an offer from someone
to join a serious and big scale production, for example a musical? Personally
I think your theatrical voice could fit well in such a production.
Patrik: No, I've never had an offer like that.
You may be right, I'd probably get away with it, but I have never
thought of a career as a musical artist.
Tommy: Has it ever happened in a studio
that someone has said that your vocals "take up too much space"
in the sound picture, and you have been asked to tone it down, so to speak?
You sure have a massive voice
Patrik: Never. Honestly it's actually the opposite;
producers want to bring out a maximum effort of me, to lift the music.
It's all or nothing when I record my vocals. The mixer guys can adjust
it to the sound picture afterwards, but when I sing it's always 100%.
Tommy: On what album, or with what band
in general, have you on the other hand been given the most space to "act
Patrik: Since I do a lot of the music and all
the melody lines in Astral Doors, I got very free hands to do whatever
I like behind the microphone and I improvise a lot in the studio.
In Astral Doors I can do what the hell I like and that's fun. On the
new Lion's Share album, I also wrote most of the vocal melody lines
and of course all the lyrics. Sampo Axelsson, but most of all Lars
Chriss, really trigged me to perform at the top of my game. I'm really
happy with "Dark Hours". The Lion's Share studio sessions
are much more "serious" than the Astral sessions. Lars got
a certain opinion on how the music and vocals is supposed to be like
so there isn't much space for me to play around with the songs. However
we pretty much share the same vision so we usually feel the same about
everything. Guess we're soul mates or something, hahaha, but the answer
to the question is of course that I got most space in Astral Doors
to act out.
Tommy: I may be wrong, but I just assume
that you can not yet really live off your metal singing alone. If I remember
correctly, you have worked a day-time job as a music therapist. Do you
still do that, and what does that involve exactly?
Patrik: Yes it's strange that someone who has
released 10 albums in six years can not live on the music, but we
all know why and I don't want to get into the illegal downloading
debate in this interview. My daytime work is to actually perform and
teach music to handicapped. It gives a lot back, I really enjoy my
work. So I work with music 25 hours a day!
Considering that you are involved in as many band as you are, has the
private life had to suffer at some point? When one band finishes the work
with an album, the next one perhaps begins, and perhaps you don't get
as much spare time as you would like or need?
Tommy: Do you feel creatively satisfied
being in three bands on this level? Have you ever thought about, or got
an offer, to join a band where you can do this professionally?
Patrik: First, I consider myself to be in two
bands: Lion's Share and Astral Doors and I am satisfied with the work
I do for those bands. Wuthering Heights is Erik Ravn's baby. My two
albums with the band are more or less session jobs from my point of
view, even if I know that many of my fans, if I have any, consider
the WH-albums to be my best work. When you talk about to do this professionally,
I must say that I already do this professionally: Both Astral Doors
and Lion's Share are top of the line in this country and actually
world class when you talk about classic heavy metal, so I can't get
any higher in that perspective. It takes up all my time between 16.00
and 24.00. I've been asked to join a pretty big band from Germany,
but they could not offer me so much that I could quit my day time
job, so I felt it was no use to join them.
Tommy: Do you get a lot of offers for guest
appearances on albums with up and coming bands, or even as a steady member
from more established bands?
Patrik: Sure I've received some offers through
the years, but I don't wanna be considered to be some kind of gun
for hire, so I've turned them down. I have also had some requests
from established bands. (see the answer on the previous question)
Tommy: How involved are you in the song
writing in the bands you are singing with? Do you step in later in the
process when the music is written, or are you in it more or less from
Patrik: In Lion's Share, Lars and Sampo write
all the musical backgrounds first. Then they send it to me and I try
to come up with the melody lines. Sometimes Lars already has a completed
melody line and I work with it and put words to it. In Astral Doors
we have worked the same way on previous albums, with backgrounds and
me coming up with melody lines and lyrics, but on the new one I think
that I so far have written 9 songs or so from scratch, then Martin
Haglund and Joachim Nordlund have arranged them to bring them into
the Astral style.
Then finally just a few words about the latest news from your current
bands: Lion's Share are just about to release a smashing album, and a
handful of shows in Sweden are scheduled for the spring. Any bigger plans
there for the summer?
Patrik: Not that I know of at this moment.
We are looking for a bigger tour. Had some offers, for example we
were offered the chance to hit the roads with Saxon and Iced Earth,
but the good news reached us only 14 days before the tour kick off,
so it was impossible for us to go. Shit, it would have been great
fun. Love both bands.
Tommy: Astral Doors have begun the work
on their new album which has a tentative release date around September
2009. How is everything rolling along? Do you have a feel on the direction
it will take yet?
Patrik: Yes, I feel that this time around we
go back to the roots: It will be rawer, rougher, heavier, faster and
most important: better than the previous albums. Astral Doors is at
its best when doing classic hard rock and old school heavy metal.
We have completed 16 songs or something and I really like all of them.
Astral Doors will be back with a vengeance, that's for sure.
Tommy: And finally: It's quiet as in the
grave from the Wuthering Heights camp. What is really happening with the
Salt album, which according to all sources have had a release date set
for January for a long time? All done and ready for release?
also: review of the
upcoming Lion's Share album