About Me

Interview with Night Viper

Night Viper is a Swedish thrashy heavy metal band that is about to unleash their 2nd opus “Exterminator” through Listenable Records. They are about to embark on an European tour and Sofie-Lee and Tom told us all we need to know…

M.I. - How did the name Night Viper come up?

Sofie Lee: It was Tom's idea. He came up with a bunch of different names, I remember one of them being "The flick of the lions mane" or something similar and I was a bit scared at that point haha..! We choose between Night Viper and Night Screamer. But Night Viper lies better in the mouth, and it's also easier to do graphics around than a screamer, hehe.
Tom: I've noticed that it's really fun to shout 'NIGHT VIPER!!!!' at the top of your lungs, which is a definite plus for a metal band name.

M.I. - How would you define Night Viper’s sound?

Sofie Lee: Punchy, meaty but detailed and with lots of soul and speed! 
Tom: Thrashy heavy metal with a rare danceability!

M.I. - The band released the first full-length “Night viper” on Svart Records but the 2nd one “Exterminator” will be through Listenable Records. Why the change?

Sofie Lee: Listenable has showed interest for us since even before the first album, and when only having a one album deal with Svart, it felt natural for us to pick it up a notch and really see how far we can take the band. Svart makes beautiful releases and is great for their true love of music, but we needed a bit more of machinery. 

M.I. - How did the deal with Listenable come up? What do you expect of it?

Sofie Lee: As mentioned earlier, they got in contact with us before we even released our first album so we've been in touch ever since. So far it's been meeting our expectations greatly, also with a lot of help from our great management at Holy Cuervo, we're getting a lot more press and we feel Listenable is really excited and pushing us. 

M.I. - Why the title “Exterminator”? What gave you this idea?

Sofie Lee: I was so happy after finishing all the lyrics and song titles and then realized, yes we need an album title... Hahaha, it was so easy with the first album. "Night Viper - Night Viper" ok, finished. We were thinking about this for quite some time, and didn't decide on it until we saw the finished cover artwork. I first felt the word "exterminator" was way too hard and macho sounding for us. But together with the artwork it gets an almost mysterious, sophisticated cling to it! It's taken from the track "Exterminator" which is about being a woman in the music industry. No, actually, it's about being a woman among men, in the music industry.  

M.I. - What inspires you to write the lyrics?

Sofie Lee: Mainly the song itself. I start working with lyrics, and then the vocal melody, after the song is more or less finished. I always decide what to write about after what feeling the song gives me. It maybe sound pretentious, but it's a very stress-free way of working. So, whatever the song makes me feel I write about. But since being an annoyed anti-capitalist, over the hill woman and feminist, the feelings provoked are usually the mentioned subjects hahaha. 

M.I. - What’s the best track of “Exterminator”?

Sofie Lee: My favourite is 'Lady Bad Luck'. It's proto speed metal with a dash of NWOBHM, quite melancholic and very melodic. The song is about being unlucky in love and accepting that fact and embracing your emotions instead of shaming them. I guess self-acceptance is some overall lyrical theme actually.
Tom: That's tough.  I have a lot of favourites.  'No Escape' is exactly the frantic opener I was hoping for, 'Exterminator' has that mixture of a super busy riff and simple AC/DC beat that I love so much, and 'Ashes' has really good changes in mood and tempo.

M.I. - Can you summarily enlighten us about each track?

Sofie Lee: No Escape: The influences for the intro is a mix between Hans Zimmer's Batman soundtracks, and AC/DC's opening track at Donnington in 1991. I really love the spooky vibe for this. Tom and our producer Ola finished this in the studio after we left, so we only heard it once we were back home. The song is about being hunted by your own mind. The little backing choir is the brain letting you know, you can't get away. 

Summon the Dead: This is the first song we did after the first album. I guess this is where we took a thrashier turn. Tom wasn't sure that this would suit us, but we all loved playing it so much (and still do) we stayed on this line. We recorded it as a self-released single, our first work with Ola in the Holy Cuervo studio. When re-recording it for the album, to get the sound the same for all the songs, I realized to great annoyance the tempo had gone up. Haha! 
Never Win: I love this song because it's so optimistic - hard to know from the title. But it's about overcoming life obstacles, believing in yourself and accept your weaknesses and hard times in life as a part of you. The intro this song has such a great "lonely cowboy" feel to it. And after the intro it's just rock n'roll mayhem. 
Exterminator: Surprisingly, I love this song, although it has that chunky, muscly sounding riffing in the middle section that I usually dislike. Jonna's drumming on this track is just killer - it gives so much flavour and flare to the earlier mentioned chunky riff section. I'm happy with the vocals for this one, the song is so thrashy but the vocals are very soul sounding. The song is about being reduced to an object/woman as a musician, by men, when taking space in the music industry. 
On the Run: The working title for this song was "Arena rock", it really has that fist raising, hip swinging mid-tempo arena feeling to it. It's not a typical Night Viper song, but it fits in really well with the other songs on the album. Love the relief after the pre-chorus, it's very unlike us to leave something that airy but it's really nice as a change! And a great way to end an A-side, if you ask me! 
Ashes: Another not very typical Night Viper song - but one we all really love. I told Tom I wanted to do a soul/death metal song and he went, "well, here you have it". I really think Ola smashed it on this one. The guitar sound is really aggressive yet still very clear. I'm really into cymbal sounds and love that bell Jonna is adding - I'm air drumming it every time we play it! The lyrics are about your own and social verdicts when having an abortion, and refusing judgement about it. 
Going Down: We did a punk song! True to the musical form, it's about Donald Trump and his voters. It's Tom shouting in the background and we were blown away first hearing it: that was another thing he and Ola finished up in the studio after we had left Madrid. I just love it! 
Lady Bad Luck: Like I said earlier, I love this song. Ruben wrote this, I called it "the Dio song" because when working with it, I thought the vocal melody had a little Dio cling to it, which might not be audible to anyone else since I've got a pretty bizarre way to use references, also the title is a little wink to Rainbow. The mid-section, "the doomy part" as well call it, was added after the song was basically finished, and I had such a hard time finding a way to sing over it. Ruben said all the time "don't force it, maybe we can leave it instrumental" but I refused it and I think it turned out really good in the end! 
Revenge: This is an old song Tom has been wanting to with Night Viper since him and I started playing together. The tempo made it very difficult for me to find my regular fluidity to sing over, it all ended with Tom having to write all the lyrics and send me a rough demo how to do the phrasing. Musically, I think it's cool and I love both Jonna's drumroll in the intro and the twin guitars later on! 
All That Remains: Another song Ruben wrote. I think it contains everything I love - disco beat, tasteful epicness and super encouraging feminist lyrics. I was very unsure of the vocals to start with, but now I love singing it. And Johan's guitar solo - HELLO. He had come down with a stubborn fever during the recordings and when I entered the studio and heard him playing it I was completely blown away, you couldn't hear the smallest sign of lacking in energy..! The lyrics are about coming together as women and bring down the patriarchy, without compromising ourselves, taking care of each other, encourage each other and have a good time! 

M.I. - A video has already been released… how have fans been reacting to it?

Sofie Lee: The reactions have been great! It's our friend Lalla who's playing the hunted/hunter and she really did an amazing job. Tough, cool and full of emotions. 
Tom: Magnus from Horisont said to me, 'Tom, I usually can't even get through music videos these days, but I got through yours, and I loved it.'  That's a good sign, I think!

M.I. - Tom Sutton is obsessed with Metallica but Sofie-Lee can’t stand them. How do you cope with everyone’s tastes?

Sofie Lee: It's usually not a problem for the music making, but the car rides can be a bit troublesome from time to time, hahaha! The problem is that I (Sofie Lee) don't really like anything. Ruben always teases me and says "how many bands do you like, 10?", he's not that far away... 
Tom: Haha!  It could be offensive that she hates my favourite band, but I'm so used to reading everyone's 'clever' comments about them online that I'm desensitised now.  Hehe!  She doesn't like Megadeth either, so it's not personal!

M.I. - Musically speaking, which bands/musicians inspire you personally and as musicians?

Sofie Lee: Jinx Dawson is my biggest inspiration as a vocalist. It was something with her technique that was so compelling to me. I tried copying it, and this is the turnout I guess. I listen to metal of course, but it doesn’t really influence my singing. All the vocal melodies are quite bluesy and/or poppy, I listen a lot to 60-70’s pop and rock. 
Tom: And I think that's part of why we sound unique.  Sofie Lee's approach really is like blues or soul music.  I love it.  We all listen to a tonne of stuff, but the most obvious direct influences on how I write for Night Viper are Metallica, Sepultura, Entombed, and later Motörhead when they sounded more metal.

M.I. - Considering that harassment has been a hot topic these days with the Harvey Weinstein scandal and musicians coming forward saying that similar situations happened to them… have any of Night  Viper members faced any sort of harassment? How did you react?

Sofie Lee: Nothing serious, besides the regular bullshit you have to suffer through for being a woman in general. We’ve had sound engineers and other bands tour managers as well as people in the crowd being sexually offensive, and if you think about it being the other way around, men being treated like that, it would be so absurd. But now, it’s more like “thankfully, nothing serious has happened”. Walking around being thankful for not being criminally assaulted.
Tom: Sometimes people will say something like, 'Jonna's the best female drummer I've ever seen!'  They of course mean it as a compliment, and I understand why they are thinking in that way, but we are looking forward to people being able to just say, 'Jonna's a killer drummer!' and have that be the end of it.  We'll get there.

M.I. - How complicated is it being the frontwoman in a scene still dominated by men? Do you feel intimidated somehow? Are women treated equally?

Sofie Lee: Well, women aren’t really treated equally at any place in the world I'd say. Just have a look at any big metal forums comment section, and you can literally smell the misogyny through the screen. I “love” how men take the opportunity to insult me by giving me, according to themselves I guess, very valuable tips I’m pretty sure they never would’ve shared with another man. It’s not as much “you’re a bad singer” as “you could be a great singer, if you just follow my (unsolicited) advice”. Sometimes showing up to a venue, the sexism is just oozing around you. It can be quite uncomfortable, sometimes I wish I was invisible (and preferably deaf as well). But when we’re on stage, it never feels that way. The unity of the band together is so much stronger. 

M.I. - The band has already a few concerts lined up and Indian Nightmare will be the support act. How excited are you?

Sofie Lee: We’re so excited we’re out of words! Can’t wait to take this album on the road! And to play shows with Indian Nightmare is always the best times. They’re such an awesome band and also the best people there is. We love them so much and can’t wait to go on tour!
Tom: Yes, seriously!  Indian Nightmare are one of the most instantly loveable live bands I've ever seen.  If you get the chance you absolutely must see them.  You will love them.  And like Sofie Lee said, I'm dying to take the new songs on the road.  I love this album, and it's exciting to finally be in phase two for the band.

M.I. - I read that you want to tour forever! What’s so great about touring?

Sofie Lee: Playing shows is really when you see your music come alive. I’m personally not the biggest fan of touring since it’s really constraining on the voice, but to play shows every day is such a great feeling. Also, there are no better company to go on tour with than these people. We’re having such a great time hanging out. 
Tom: Yeah, we all love each other very much, so that's a big factor.  We have the best fun together, and we know how to support each other through tough times too.  That makes being together a lot a pleasure rather than a chore.  Playing live is my favourite thing in the whole world, and I love seeing new things every day. Every day on tour is like a week of normal life.  That's when I feel like I'm living the life I should be living.

M.I. - Even though Night Viper have been around for a short period of time, what’s the best memory thus far? And the worst?

Sofie Lee: We played a full hall at Hell Over Hammaburg this spring, it was really amazing. We're not a big band and people were going nuts. That was really a magic moment for us. We did a show in Sardinia this summer, open air on the beach. We were completely shocked by the great response from the audience, who were more of a stoner crowd. After the show I ran into the ocean and floated on my back watching the Milky way, whilst hearing the party going on in the distance. Those are the best so far... The worst... On this trip to Sardinia, Jonna got food poisoning and was feeling sooo ill just as we were driving down the steepest, most windy roads. She was puking out through the window. On our first tour, we played a venue which was an old hospital, that had only one tap with running water in the whole building. You flushed the toilets with buckets of water. It was a typical scary movie- hospital vibe over it and you got lost really easily. It was super cold, the show was not well attended. Our door handle to the sleeping area was a fork and our driver squashed a mouse in her sleep. 

M.I. - Night Viper’s members are/have been involved in other projects?

Sofie Lee: Tom has been a little bit of everywhere. He's got another band called The Order of Israfel which is pure doom, where he sings and plays guitar. He was also in Swedish retro rocking Horisont, but had to leave seeing he didn't have time for all of his bands... When he lived in Japan he was in Church of Misery and also Firebird.  Ruben's past band are my favourites of everyone’s! He used to play in Miasmal, Swordwielder and a super cool thrash band called Radiation. Jonna played drums in retro stoners Mud Walk when she joined us, who sadly disbanded shortly thereafter. And Johan came fresh out of Lethal Steel to us. 

M.I. - What’s your opinion of the heavy metal scene nowadays? What’s the last great heavy metal band in your opinion?

Sofie Lee: I'm not very opinionated in regards to the scene. I rarely go to shows and since being so goddamn restricted in my taste of music, I don't listen to that many new bands. One band that I do love is Christian Mistress. Christine Davis's voice is so cool and I love her melodic sense. I also love The Oath, it's a shame they disbanded. Such great song-writing and production, love that album. 
Tom: I would say that Black Breath are one of the new bands that I've really loved.  And I'm digging Myrkur a lot.  The last great metal band?!  Yikes...I don't know.  What I do know is that 10-20 years from now, all the gods will be gone, and it will feel very weird to be without them.

M.I. - Are there any great heavy metal songs Night Viper would love to cover? If so, which ones?

Sofie Lee: We actually have done a couple of covers, two of them Judas Priest (Riding on the Wind and Hot Rockin') and on the B-side of the 'Summon the Dead' single, we covered Nazareth's Expect no Mercy. We don't have any cover plans at the moment - we enjoy playing our own music so much, and we don't want to get tired of our favourite songs by playing them over and over :) I know that Tom has a Slayer song he really wants us to cover - let's see what the future will bring..! 

M.I. - Please share a message with Metal Imperium’s readers.

Sofie Lee: Thanks for reading and hope to see you on the road! Night Viper in the Night! 

For portuguese version, click here

Interview by Sónia Fonseca