Interview with Nils Patrik Johansson from Astral Doors (October 23, 2003)

Hi Patrik – thank you for taking the time to do this little interview with me. I can see that you are a very busy man at the moment, 2 releases (Astral Doors and Space Odyssey) this month alone and Wuthering Heights in January, 2004. But you sort of came out of nowhere – could you tell a bit about your back-ground and who has influenced you?
  - I grew up with the 80's metal-scene so my first favourite-bands were Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest etc. One of the first albums I bought was "Mob Rules" from Black Sabbath, so Ronnie James Dio has meant a great deal to me. Dio was a great source of inspiration. You know, like Blackmore was for Malmsteen.
I've been around in local acts here in my hometown, Borlänge, for years. Bands of all types, but my heart has always belonged to Heavy Metal. So when Claus Jensen from Intromental called me, after he had heard my skills on a demo-cd from prog-metal-band Lunatic Parade, and offered me to sing on the third Wuthering Heights-album, I thought: What the Hell, it can be fun!!

I would call Astral Doors traditional heavy metal with strong roots in early 80’s metal like Rainbow, Dio and Black Sabbath – would you agree, and how do you feel being compared with them all the time?
 - Well, I don't bother at all. After all, you could be compared to worse....hehe. We never tried to make the songs to be in a certain way, they just came out the way they did. We would never say that we're not influenced by bands like those you mentioned, but our sound is much more fresh and modern.
It's a bit funny that they market us like an old school classic hardrock-band. I think that bands like Hammerfall sound much more old school than we do. I guess that they had to compare us with something and it was close to compare us with "old school hardrock".

Being in 3 bands at the same time must be hard – are all 3 “serious” bands? Aren’t you afraid not to have enough time to be 100% comitted to all 3?
 - The members of Astral Doors all live in the same town, so I guess that makes Astral Doors my "home band". The guys in the band are all long time friends. Me and Johan for example: we played together in a band for the first time back in '92 and after that we had a band called BARFLY SWEDEN. With Barfly we were so close to get a major deal that we could almost touch it. Astral Doors is like family.

With Wuthering Heights and Space Odyssey it's a different thing:
 - Wuthering Heights is Erik Ravns baby. Everyone knows that. He IS Wuthering Heights. No doubt about it. I sing just like he wants me to sing and the other guys play like he want's them to. He is the composer and the conducter. However I feel strong for his songs and I like them a lot, and even if I sing them how he want's it, I do it my own way. People who like me as a singer should love the new album. It's like an ABC-book for metal singers. I also like Erik very much as a person, so Wuthering Heights means a lot to me.

 - The only thing I've done with Space Odyssey is the recording session. I haven't met Richard after that. I talk to him on the phone now and then, but I find it hard to say that it's a band situation. However, we have begun talking about a follow up. And Richard says he'd like to work closer with me on that one. That would be cool. I think we could do, if possible, an even stronger Space Odyssey album. I guess we have to wait and see what happens. My doors are open.

On your question if I can be a 100% member in all three bands, is the answer: Yes!! As long as the situation looks like it does today. I take one day at a time

Will you be going on the road with “Of The Son And The Father”?
 - I sure hope so! I know they are planning for it, but nothing is settled yet. Astral Doors LIVE will be a juggernaut, that's for sure! Be prepared!!!

You (Joachim and Johan) have produced the album yourself, but the mix was done by Peter Tägtgren, who’s more known for his death-metal productions, why did you chose him and how did that co-operation come about?
 - Well,  we recorded it ourselves, in Joachims studio, but to bring the songs to the highest world-class, we knew we had to mix it somewhere else. Peter Tägtgren is the Master behind the board, so he was the obvious choice. Peter is also a very close friend to Johan and Martin, so it was no question about it. Peter is not just a legend in Death Metal; he's also a guy with a sense for what is good. I think he took it as a challenge to do something different and man; he did a great job!

Why does the Japanese release have 2 bonus-tracks compared to the European – and don’t you think the Europeans feel a bit cheated?
 - That's how it works. They want something special. Don't ask me why. The songs they got for bonus, are songs that didn't quite make it to be on the official disc, even if they are great.

Swedish metal is known for it’s very high standard, no matter if it’s death, power or traditional metal – it’s almost like a quality guarantee. Why do you think that is?
 - Tough one there. Maybe it's in our mentality. Swedes are so afraid to make a fool out of themselves, so they must make things perfect. It's probably the same thing with swedish musicians. I don't listen to a lot of Swedish music myself. I don't know why, but to much quality can be boring, if the heart and the fire's not in it.

What topics do you deal with in your lyrics and why?
 - My lyrics can be about anything: things in real life, tales or legends, what ever you want. I like to create a dream world for the listener. Everyone can make their own picture. I wrote the lyrics to this album in the shadow of the 11 September-attack, so in some of the songs I deal with that issue.

To finish things off – could you pls. make a all-time Top 5 sort of the 5 most important albums in your opinion?

  • Deep Purple (All albums between 70-75)
  • Rainbow - "Rising"
  • Black Sabbath - "Heaven and hell"
  • Iron Maiden - "The Number of the beast"
  • Accept - "Restless and wild"

Thanks!! See ya on tour!!


Cool you had the time to make this little interview with me Nils Patrik - hope to see on tour real soon. Also a big thanx to Claus (Intromental) for setting up the interview.

Astral Doors - Of The Son And The Father

Album out on Locomotive Music

Click on the album cover to see more info on Astral Doors.