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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 his bands.

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.

Tommy: 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 out" vocally?

  • 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!

Tommy: 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?

  • Patrik: I don't complain. I live for the music so I couldn't dream of another life. Spare time? Not really, but what the hell, I'll rest when I'm six feet under.

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 to start?

  • 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.

Tommy: 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?

  • Patrik: To be quite honest: I haven't heard a single tune of the new songs and I haven't heard anything about any recording plans either. We'll see what happens in the future; I got my hands full with Astral Doors and Lion's Share at the moment so: to be or not to be; that is the question.

See also: review of the upcoming Lion's Share album

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