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 Draconian Interview with Darkside

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President M. Sweetness
President M. Sweetness

Posts : 326
Join date : 2009-04-15
Age : 25
Location : United States

PostSubject: Draconian Interview with Darkside   Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:20 am

Doom metal in its classical shape has passed its best times as of today. But the genre is far from over, and noteworthy releases keep coming out, even though, just like it’s the case with Swedish band Draconian, it’s loyalty to 1990s traditions (viscous guitars, slow pace, grief, hopelessness, and gloomy lyrics) that primarily singles their songs out. Their 2005 album “Arcane Rain Fell” made Draconian known to nearly every follower of the scene, and we couldn’t but ask vocalist and one of founders of band Anders Jacobsson a few questions. It took Anders quite a long time to get ready with them, but now we see that it was well worth the wait.

First of all, could you tell us a bit about the upcoming bonus album ‘The Burning Halo’? What demos and covers will it contain? Have you fixed the release date already?

The release will be September 29 in Europe and October 10 in the U.S. So many fans wanted a chance to hear some of our most popular demo songs, so instead of releasing a poorly produced demo from the past we did a few remakes. The remakes are “Serenade of Sorrow”, “The Morningstar” and “The Gothic Embrace”. The covers are “On Sunday They Will Kill the World” by great 1970s progrockband Ekseption, and “Forever My Queen” by Pentagram; a U.S. cult band from the 1970s which meant a lot to the doomscene.

Whose idea was it to put together such an album?

As I said, the fans wanted it from the start, but when Napalm presented the idea for the band it was received with mixed feelings. I pushed it further. Personally I thought it was a great idea, because these songs deserve to come out. If I had had my way we should have recorded a whole album with remakes. There are many great songs from our past that never really got the chance because of unfortunate circumstances.

Were the bass parts for “The Burning Halo” recorded by your ex-bassist Jesper Stolpe, or do the new songs feature new bass player Fredrik Johansson? By the way, is Fredrik a relative of your vocalist Lisa Johansson? If no, how did you meet him?

Most of the bass parts were recorded by our new bassist Fredrik, some parts were recorded by Johan (Ericson, guitarist). The reasons were mostly practical ones. There are no relations whatsoever between Fredrik and Lisa, Fredrik is an old band mate of Jerry (Torstensson, percussion) from his early projects. We all knew him more or less from before. He is a great, talented and serious guy. We are lucky to have him.

You have recently added new guitarist Daniel Arvidsson to the ranks. How is it like working with him? What was his input in making of “The Burning Halo”?

Daniel has been with us for over a year now. There was some complications concerning our old guitarist Magnus Bergström… we were a bit lost there for a moment, but when Daniel joined the pieces fell to place quite easy. He is a good guitarist and a good friend some band members have known for all their lives. Yes, he recorded his parts on the new album. Some of his parts were also contrived together with Johan.

Now let’s go back a bit and talk about your previous album “Arcane Rain Fell”. It’s been more than a year since its release, so what are your thoughts about the CD now? What do you like and dislike about the album? Would you like to change something on the CD looking at it from the present-day standpoint?

Personally I like the album, but I cannot help always hearing things I would like to have differently. The production is very nice, but to me it’s too hygienic and sterile. So yes, I would like to chance some minor things, but it’s just the mixing part really.

The album has a concept about Lucifer and the fallen angels. Who inspired you to write the lyrics about this theme?

Yeah it is… more or less. I regret now that I didn’t make the lyrics for being put together, as a theme. To me the concept itself a little confusing, even though the idea is very good. But I have learned from this mistake, so I will really consider everything when we record next concept album (I have a theme in mind for a future release). Who inspired me? Lucifer himself perhaps. I don’t know. The myth about Lucifer and the fallen angels has been something that has intoxicated me for many years… left me in a mystified haze. I feel so much inside when I read and write about it. I guess it’s all thanks to John Milton and Elend’s interpretation of the tale. Lucifer is the perfect role-model, a true hero.

Narrative parts on the album were recorded by a guest musician named Ryan Henry of the American doom/death band Necare. How did you get in contact with him? Did he record his parts in the studio with you or did you exchange files by e-mail? Who would you like to see as a guest in future?

Ryan has been an acquaintance of mine for a number of years now. He did this as a favor because he is my friend and a fan of Draconian. From my directions, he recorded his stuff in a studio in his town in Virginia. As for the future, I have played around a little with the thought of using U.S. actor Jeremy Irons’ voice on an album some time. He has an awesome voice… very dramatic. But I guess that would cost a lot of money, if he even agrees to do it. I guess it’s worth a try. With the Internet it’s quite remarkable how easy it can be to reach people.

How do you arrange vocal parts? Who decides what parts should be performed by the male voice and what parts should be handled by the female vocals?

It kind works itself out. But you can say it’s me and Johan who decide most of these things. Johan shows an idea for a song and then I write a lyric and during the process of rehearsals we try various stuff until it works. It falls into place quite easily. You feel it quite quickly.

Your debut album “Where Lovers Mourn” was recorded in Studio Mega under the supervision of Chris Silver and “Arcane Rain Fell” in Studio Underground by producer Pelle Saehter. How do you choose a recording studio? Where did you work on new songs for “The Burning Halo”?

For the first two albums we were recommended these studios by people we know in this business. Studio Mega was a bad recommendation for Draconian, but Studio Underground was better, much better. The creation of the new songs on “The Burning Halo” took place in our homes I guess… mostly at Johan’s apartment since he is the main songwriter. We did not rehearse the songs a bit before we recorded them. We just put them together. The actual recording took place where we rehearse by our own hands. The album is self-produced, except for the mixing process.

As everybody knows, the cover artwork for “Arcane Rain Fell” (as well as for the debut album) was created by Travis Smith. Whose idea was to make the cover black-and-white? Can you tell us anything more about it?

Both me and Johan like contrasts a lot and after have seen what b/w covers Travis made for such bands as Opeth and Katatonia, so we wanted to try it out. It’s very elegant and stylish with such covers, and I think it was Johan who first came up with the idea.

The 15-minute epic "Death, Come Near Me" is the longest and probably most beautiful Draconian song. Could you tell how this song came into being? It was previously recorded for the demo "Dark Oceans We Cry" in 2002, but why wasn’t it put on the debut album? How much is it now different from the demo version?

There wasn’t enough time to put it on the debut. I’m glad we didn’t, also because it would have sucked with that kind of sound we got. Well, the difference is mostly the sound and some minor things we changed. But honestly, I really prefer the demo version then the album version. So much more feeling.

What song in the entire Draconian history has been the most difficult to write and record?

“Death, Come Near Me”. Not because it’s a hard song to write really, but because it

was filled with setbacks during the recording (I mean on the demo). Luckily it turned out great in the end.

At the beginning of your career the band was named Kerberos. Why did you change the name to Draconian?

We found out Kerberos was already used by another Swedish death metal band, and we didn’t really think it suited us either. Not the direction the band took when I joined anyways. We wanted something we could define with larger things and we felt that Draconian was the right name for us. Andy (our former lead guitarist) was also very fascinated by old legends and myths about dragons and demons… and I myself was into the dark arts of Draconian magic, so it was quite suitable. Draconian still fits very well, because it reflects the dark side.

The band was formed in May 1994. How did it happen that the first album saw the light only in 2002?

Well, the musical climate in our little hometown was very, very poor. We suffered a lot of set-backs, and sometimes we didn’t rehearse for a very long time. I guess the band as a whole wasn’t serious enough either. Some us were though, and it created some problems. But we are still here… going strong. Some of us thought we were going to be signed on our first demo, because it was quite good, and a lot of labels were interested, but we blew that unfortunately.

How much did you style change during those ten years?

The style did not change that much really. We’ve been dark and kinda gothic from the start. We’ve just evolved. The biggest step was in 2000 when we decided to go for a doomier direction.

How would you describe the music of Draconian for the people who have never heard it?

Hmm… I just have ordinary definitions for people, pure emotional Gothic Doom Metal, in the honor of the real traditions.

Could you say a few words about each member of the band? Is there a distinctive leader making all decisions?

Say something about all the seven members, hehe… I’d rather not because it’s hard to describe a person in a few words. But here is not real bandleader or something. There are a few in the band who are more involved perhaps, and write more music, and take care of the practical things, but every member is really important. Johan makes most of the foundations of the songs these days, so I guess he is quite important. I really think the band is

beginning to become more and more equal… stronger.

The band’s line-up changes quite often. Do you think Draconian has a stable line-up now? How much do line-up changes influence the band and in what way?

The band only gained members until Andy left the band in late 2000. Then we had to make some changes. Then 2-3 years later our bassist quit the band and later rejoined for a short while the year after. Then our rhythm guitarist took a sabbatical and we gained a new member… yes there has been some shifting these past years, but we’re still a band, and me and Johan who are original members are still left. There’s still an adjustment left to make, I’m afraid. But I cannot really talk about that yet. But the line-up is about to be very stable I think. Finally, hehe.

How much time do you spend together when you’re not recording or playing live? Do you keep in contact to your former members?

Yeah, we’re all friends. Draconian have always been a friend-band. We’re all originally from the same town. All who are members or have been members are still good friends.

Draconian are sometimes compared to bands like Anathema, My Dying Bride and Theatre Of Tragedy. What do you think of such comparisons? Who has influenced you most of all?

Bands such as these I guess. There is no mistake when people compare us with bands like these. The bands you’ve mentioned are all great bands… hmm… well, T.o.T. were a great band anyways, before the “Musique” disaster. I think Anathema, My Dying Bride and bands like Saturnus have inspired us most of all. But also progressive bands and music from the early 1970s. We play the music we love.

Do you keep an eye on the present-day metal scene? What music do you like to listen to at the moment?

Well, there isn’t much good music coming out these days… not like it used to anyways. There’s too much of everything now… too confusing. The underground-scene is dead and music is less of an art… just a blur. Today a black metal member could go sunbathing on the beach or listen to reggae music… that was out of the question in the old days. It has just become something not meant to be. At the moment I listen a lot to the new album by Mercenary, and the album by Induktu (a Polish progressive band). I’ve lately discovered a great new Swedish band called Diablo Swing Orchestra, that combines swingjazz with metal and opera. Really great

cool stuff! I’ve also listened A LOT to Warrior Soul these days… old U.S. metal/metalcore… angry stuff from the early 1990s San Francisco scene. There are a lot various things right now.

You haven’t played any gigs since November 2005. Will you take part in any festivals this summer? Are you going to tour to support the next new album?

One of the unfortunate things with Draconian is that we hardly ever play live. I don’t know why really, so I just blame it on bad luck. There have been many promises of tours and big venues, but most of it came to nothing. But now we have some stuff coming up in November; a tour of almost three weeks throughout Europe. Also a gig on Halloween and maybe a festival gig in Mexico. But nothing this summer, no. We have signed to a good booking agency now, so we have our hopes up for next year.

Almost every Draconian member has a side-project. Can you say a few words about them? How much is their music different from Draconian?

Well, that is more or less true. There are too many to go into them all. But Jerry has a few successful ones, since he is out very often playing live and making profit. Just old progressive rock stuff, blues and things like that. Johan has a lot of projects, but his most successful one is Doom:VS that recently released an album though Firebox Records in Finland. Check it out… really dark and heavy stuff. He has also developed his Shadowgarden, a kinda gothic rock/metal inspired project (close to band like Cemetary and Sentenced) together with our former guitarist Andy. He also has a death metal project, and an electronic/industrial project and a country project and so on. The guy is like a robot, hehe.

Can you say a few words to your Russian fans to round up this interview? Maybe there are some things that we forgot to ask you and you would like your fans to know?

Haha, I think you’ve made a great job with the questions, and it pretty much sums it up. I am quite happy there wasn’t too much about my lyrics, since I am tired of defending my views and beliefs. Just read the lyrics… I stand behind them 100% I would like to send my praise to all the fans who know what this is about. I am really thankful for your support. Without you, we are nothing. Thank you!

Special thanks to Alexei “KIDd” Kuzovlev (Irond Records) for arranging this interview

Ekaterina Fyodorova, Anna Babicheva
August 15, 2006
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