Interview with vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson from Astral Doors (May 1st 2006)

This is fourth time I have the opportunity to interview Astral Doors, so this time around I’ll take a different approach…  

“Astralism” is your third album (and an EP) in as many years – are you guys workaholics?
Patrik: Hehe, I guess that I must answer yes to that question. We don’t like to sit at home rolling our thumbs and watch TV, we want things to happen. Johan for example; he’s a god damn riff-machine. I think he has at least 200 new riffs recorded on his pc for future releases. When we’re not rehearsing for gigs, we make new music. It’s as simple as that.

Your new album has been very well received in the media – and the only way for you seems to be up – culminating with the support act for Blind Guardian in the fall of 2006 – where do you go from there?
Patrik: The next step for us, after the Blind Guardian-tour, is to be able to tour Europe as headliners. Hopefully we have reached that point after the tour; that is the plan. A live release has also been up for discussion. The future looks bright for Astral Doors.

What kind of expectations do you have for the tour with Blind Guardian?
Patrik: To meet a lot of new fans of course. We have a lot of die hard fans, but I hope and believe that the Blind Guardian fans will take us to their hearts as well. I also look forward to hit the road with the Astral boys again. We had a blast on the Grave Digger-tour, and we always have fun when we’re together. There are no “divas” in this band, hehe.

Do you have any touring plans before the Blind Guardian tour?
Patrik: We’re doing a couple of shows this spring, promoting the “Astralism” album, and some really cool festivals during the summer. In May we’ll pay a visit to beautiful Copenhagen for a gig at THE ROCK. I know that we have some fans in Denmark as well, so I hope they’ll show up to make that show special for us. It will also be a great opportunity for us to break our “beer-record” form last year!!  

Once more you’ve delivered an outstanding album, which shows an even more mature band – I feel you’ve grown stronger with each album. In which direction do you see the band moving in the future?
Patrik: Good question. To be quite honest: I don’t know. It would be great to deliver a concept-album to the world. I got a story I would like to share with all of you, but I can’t really say at this stage if it will happen on the next album or the album after that. We’ll see.

The biggest difference between “Evil is Forever” and “Astralism” I see, is in the lyrically side of things – you are dealing lot’s of very serious issues on this album – maybe you’d care to comment on some of them?
Patrik: Sure! Give it to me!

“Black Rain” – dealing with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.
Patrik: Correct! I saw a new documentary about it last year. (On the “sixty years after-day”) It showed the whole scenario: What led to the bombing; what happened to the victims and what happened to those who survived. Right after the program, I went straight to my computer and wrote the lyrics to the song. It’s important that the next generations don’t forget Hiroshima. We must tell and tell.

“London Caves” – dealing with the bombs in London.
Patrik: We try to look inside the head of a suicide bomber: What on earth can drive a man to kill, not only himself, but also hundreds of innocent people? Terrorism is the scariest and the worst of crimes: Where will they strike the next time? No one can feel safe these days.

“Israel” – dealing with situation in the Middle-east.
Patrik: Israel is such a historical and mystical land, surrounded by myths and legends. Our song “Israel”, talks about the past and the present situation. Will it ever be peace there? I sure as hell hope so.  

“The Green Mile” – dealing with the death penalty.
Patrik: Yes, it’s a story of a guy sitting on death row waiting for his execution. Many people think it’s about the Stephen King story “The green mile”, but that’s not really the case. I had the main part of the lyrics ready but couldn’t find any good chorus, when I got the words and melody in my head: “I’m on the green mile trying to get out”. I re-wrote the lyrics to fit the chorus, and the result was awesome. It’s a very dark song with a spooky atmosphere.

On the other hand you’ve also written a metal hymn in “In Rock We Trust” – is this sort of a thank you to us the fans?
Patrik: I guess you could put it that way. It’s a celebration to the fans of hard rock. At the end of the day we’re in this business for our fans and “In Rock We Trust” is truly a metal hymn. It’s also a way for us to say: Hey, it’s a free world and you can believe in what you want. It’s up to each and every one, but we; Astral Doors only believe in rock’n’roll: That’s our religion!

Tell us about the James Bond connection on your albums – on this one it's “From Satan with Love”, on you last one it was “Evil is Forever” – do you plan for another play on words on your next album?
Patrik: Haha, I think it’s quite enough of the Bond-themes on our albums for a while. Humour is important for us, but if we do it again it might be too much; but as a certain guy said: 

- Never say never again!  

That’ll be all for us this time around - thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you…
Patrik: First of all I want to thank you for the great questions and your interest in Astral Doors. It means a lot. Secondly I would like to thank and salute all the fans of Astral Doors for supporting us. We do this for you guys! See you on tour and remember:


Astral Doors - Astralism

Album available on Locomotive Records.

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