Formed in 2014, multinational heavy metal band LUCIFER are releasing their new album “Lucifer III” on 20 March 2020 through Century Media Records. We had the opportunity to talk about the upcoming release with singer Johanna Sadonis and drummer Nicke Andersson. Read the entire interview here.
Your third album “Lucifer III” is coming out in a couple of weeks. What are your main feelings on the new album?
Johanna: Well, I’m excited…
Nicke: Yeah, it’s going to be good to have it released…
After listening to the promo I felt that the general tone of the album is maybe a little darker than “Lucifer II” and maybe closer to your debut. I don’t know if you agree with that.
Nicke: We’ve done a few interviews in the last couple of weeks and everyone seems to say either what you just said or the opposite.
Johanna: It’s really funny, like the perceptions are so different. I think musically it’s of course closer to the second album because we have the same constellation with Nicke and me in the mix. But maybe thematically it’s closer to the first album, it has a bit darker lyrics, I guess.
Yeah, I was just going to say that maybe the lyrics are a bit scarier this time.
Johanna: Yeah, totally. I think I said to Nicke that I would like to approach more horror themes for this new album.
Nicke: But then again, “Lucifer II” wasn’t exactly the cheeriest record I’ve ever been part of either.
Johanna: Yeah, that’s true. There was a lot of talk about death in that too (laughs).
“Stay Stray” is probably my favorite song in the album. I wanted to ask Johanna if the lyrics are very personal to you, do you consider yourself a lonely rebel or something like that?
Johanna: Well, I wish I wasn’t a rebel. Definitely it’s a song about liking to be alone and seeking solitude. That can also mean, you know, Nicke and I, I think we are both more introverts than it may seem. So, as being alone together where we live for example, we live outside of the city, away from people. We love that, it’s a good balance to the social act of touring stuff. In general, I’ve always had the need to be alone. So yeah, it’s definitely a song glorifying staying astray, away from people.
I noticed in the album credits that you have combined your last names. Was that an artistic decision, something personal or maybe legal?
Nicke: Well, we’re married …
Johanna: Yeah, so we are in the process of changing our names right now. So, this is who we are now.
I’m very curious about the story behind your first meeting. I understood that you started working together in 2016 when Johanna parted ways with previous writing partner Gary Jennings. How did Nicke come into the picture after that?
Johanna: The thing is that before Nicke joined LUCIFER we were already seeing each other. So, we had just started being in a relationship, and then Gaz left and we started talking about it with Nicke and he said, “Hmm, how about we do something together,” so that’s kind of how it came about.
The last tour in support of “Lucifer II” was your first time on the road together. Did the touring experience shape your creative and personal relationship in any different way?
Nicke: Not so much the writing, I think that’s pretty much the same compared to before the tour. I mean it’s what we do, so it’s hard to see any opposites, you know.
Johanna: Yeah, it’s also not only the touring, I mean. We’ve been touring now for two years almost together, but since we live together it’s not so different being on the road than us being at home. So, we spend a lot of time together and of course we talk about music a lot. Over the course of the last years we’ve been together, I think now we know each other very well, especially when it comes to music and the stuff that we like. We listen to a lot of stuff and we discuss other people’s music and our own, and I guess we know each other’s musical language even better now.
Last February it was the 50th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s debut album and it’s clear that this is one of the main influences of Lucifer’s sound. Could you name a few other classic albums that you take inspiration from when writing songs for a new album?
Nicke: I don’t think it’s anything in particular, but the stuff that we connect with. It’s a lot of music but I think some of the cornerstones would be the first six albums by BLUE ÖYSTER CULT…
Johanna: And BLACK SABBATH. But there’s a lot of stuff that maybe is not as obvious as BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and BLACK SABBATH. Of course there are these great rock bands from back in the day who are a big influence but we also listen to other stuff.
Nicke: Johanna is a big fan of FLEETWOOD MAC, which I’ve never really listened to before. But now, I’ve discovered it through her. Maybe it’s not so obvious in our music but it’s there, anything else we listen to. I mean, we both like Neil Young, maybe that’s not the first thing you think of when you hear LUCIFER, but it’s there.
Johanna: Yeah, we both come from an extreme metal background, even that’s not obvious but it’s in there as well. There are so many different types of music, I think. The one red thread that goes through all these different genres is that it’s all fucking old (laughs).
Nicke: Well, we like a lot of stuff from the seventies and beyond. But to me personally, I think the seventies, that’s where, sonically, music had its peak. I’m sorry to say, actually. I mean, that’s when everything sounded the best. There were great songs written in the eighties, but they didn’t sound so good.
Yeah, exactly. I think Lucifer’s music style also fits really well with the vinyl revival, you make these 40-minute albums that fit into one vinyl and I understood that the first album was pretty much recorded live. Have you used analog recording techniques?
Johanna: Yes, but of course it all went through a desk and a computer as well, but it was also pulled over a tape. I think we did that also with the last two LUCIFER albums, right?
Nicke: No tape. I would say everything is analog except I used the computer instead of the tape machine because that’s too expensive.
I noticed you did a collaboration for Nergal’s upcoming album with ME AND THAT MAN. Can you share a little bit about that experience?
Johanna: Well, Nicke was playing with THE HELLACOPTERS in Finland, and Nergal was playing before with BEHEMOTH. We met backstage, he’s a super nice guy, and he asked us “Would you like to participate? I have this song in mind for you guys.” And we were like, sure! And he sent it over and then Nicke and I, we took the lyrics apart and… because he had prepared everything for us, but we took the liberty to change them to fit us. We swapped lines, Nicke and I, and then Nicke played a really great solo on the song. And then we sent it back to Nergal and now it’s out I guess, or it’s coming out in the next month? He’s a great guy, Nicke and I, we love to collaborate.
Nicke: Also, these days it’s so convenient to send tracks over the internet. You don’t really have to go anywhere.
Johanna: We have a studio here, so that makes it very easy to record something quick.
Going back to LUCIFER. There’s been quite a few changes in the band’s lineup. You have toured for a while with Linus Björklund and Martin Nordin. Then there’s Harald as the newest member. They’re all playing for the first time in an Lucifer album if I recall correctly?
Johanna: Harald is very brand-new, he didn’t record on the album because he joined the band after the album was recorded. So, Nicke played all the bass again, like he did on the second album. But Linus and Martin, they joined LUCIFER actually right before the second album came out; they played with us at the release party. We didn’t want to wait to record the second album until we had a band assembled, so Nicke, Robin, and I recorded the album. While the album was… it takes a couple of months for the record label to get it to the pressing plant and everything before it comes out. During that time, we were looking for members so we’d have a steady line-up to tour with, so Linus and Martin joined us then and we’ve been touring with them since the second album, so they are fixed parts of the band.
Although you’re the two songwriters of the band, is there any contribution that you would see or some new elements now that you have these two guitar players recording with you. What kind of input did they have?
Nicke: They contributed with their playing.
Johanna: Yeah, because everybody has their own style of playing a solo, for example.
Nicke: It’s not like we’ve closed all the doors for future collaborations but, I don’t know. When we write songs, we’re pretty much done. When we have a song it’s not like there’s room for other stuff, but then again if Martin comes up with a killer song idea, we’re looking forward to hearing it
Johanna: The door is open, but the thing is that we make demos before the others hear it. We write a song together and then we send it to the other guys, and they learn the song and then they come in. Nicke makes a solo for example in a certain part of the song, but then Linus plays the way he would play his solo in that spot, you know. He doesn’t copy what Nicke is doing. So, that’s their coloring and their special spice that they bring in, but the songs themselves they are there.
I see. Is this meant to be a stable line-up if nothing goes wrong?
Nicke: The first line-up was also meant to be, but things just happen…
Johanna: Yeah, life happens sometimes, you know. Robin, he left because he became a dad right when the second album came out and then he realized that he can’t do baby, full-time job, and go on tour with LUCIFER. So, he thought he’s going to be a shit dad if he tries to juggle at all. You know, these things happen, that’s just life. I mean, we’re still friends. Of course, we are hoping that this lineup is a stable one, but you never know what happens down the road. Hopefully it will last.
Yeah, and what happened with Alex [Mayr] was also quite surprising. I don’t know if you’ve heard from him, how he is doing?
Nicke: We were surprised as well.
Johanna: Yes, I mean we’re still friends with Alex too. Alex had a burnout, he didn’t feel well. He was the only guy in the band who had a full-time job, and that is really hard to maintain when you have to tour a lot. Not every boss grants you enough time off and you never have time to recover, you go straight to your job after touring for two weeks in the US and you’re fucking exhausted and Alex’s body just couldn’t handle it. His doctor said, “You have to stop working and you have to stop touring,” so that’s what happened. I mean we were heartbroken, Alex was heartbroken about it too. But the thing is, because we’re kind of in the middle with everything we can’t stop the band because of that. That’s why we found Harald.
Nicke: I’m surprised you didn’t say, “The show must go on” (laughs).
Johanna: The show must go on! It sounds heartless, but it’s not.
I saw you guys last year in Helsinki. It was a very intimate sold-out show, you could almost reach out and touch the band. As the band gets bigger the venues also grow. How well does the Lucifer live experience transfer to bigger venues or festivals? For example, you are playing Wacken this year…
Nicke: Well, we’ve done a few bigger festivals and I think we feel pretty comfortable on both small and big stages. I mean, it’s the same but also different. I don’t know.
Johanna: I love both, I like the atmosphere, especially that show in Bar Loose in Helsinki. That was a lot of fun because the spark was flying between the audience and us. I felt that it was really close, you felt that the audience was having a great time, then the band also had a great time and it snowballs, so that was awesome. I really like both, you know, the festivals and theaters are also great because then I have more space for my fringes and stuff (laughs). We are, right now, at a level where you still pretty much get everything, you might end up in a small bar, you might end up on a huge stage, we get everything and it’s all great, you know.
You’re coming back to Finland to play a couple of shows in April, first Tampere and headlining DesertHel in Helsinki. How do you feel about returning here?
Nicke: We love Finland!
Johanna: I’m excited, because my last memory from Tampere and Helsinki last time was great. So, I’m hoping it will be as much fun.
Nicke: It’ll be definitely warmer this time.
Johanna: Oh yeah, it was fucking cold last time. It was like minus 28 degrees or something in Jyväskylä.
Oh yeah, you went there in the middle of the winter. That was brave!
Nicke: Yeah, that’s how we pick our shows (laughs).
To wrap up, would you like to share any message with the readers of Tuonela Magazine?
Nicke: Not more than that we can’t wait to come and play!
Johanna: Exactly. We are excited to play some stuff from the new album. Actually, the two Finnish shows are the first shows where we play stuff from the new album that we have not played live before. So, I’m super excited about that. I hope people show up.
Thank you guys for your time, see you in April!
Interview by David Araneda