About Me

Interview with Draconian

When you think about Doom Metal, which bands and sound do you associate with? Do you like that genre and what it represents? If so, you will enjoy the interview we had with Johan Ericson (former drummer and now guitarist) of one of the most important bands of this genre.
“Under a Godless Veil” - one of the best albums of 2020 -  was released on the 30th October, via Napalm Records. We unveiled some mysteries and details behind the cover, videos, song writing and more. Enjoy the record as much as we did!

M.I. -  Hi. Thanks for the interview and I hope you are fine. This amazing album: “Under a Godless Veil”, was released on the 30th October, via Napalm Records. How is it working with such an important label?

Thanks! Napalm has always been good to us. We have a long relationship and perhaps in the beginning, around 2003, they tried to steer us in a certain direction, but I think after a while they stopped, realizing Draconian always walked their own path. Since then, Napalm has grown a lot and broadened their rooster immensely.

M.I. -  Did you have any help with the mastering and mixing of the sound or did you do it yourselves? Was it in your hometown (Säffle, Sweden) that the magic took place?

The album was mixed by Karl Daniel Lidén and he didn’t actually master it. This is how the end mix sounds. We also did the drums at Studio Gröndal under his supervision. The rest was done at our own place, Dead Dog Farm.

M.I. -  Anders said, and I quote: “This album is by far the most diverse album we have created. Inspired by some of the music closest to your heart; everything from traditional Doom to scaled-down, Gothic Rock-inspired pieces and more.” Which songs and bands/artists are important to you, that helped write the lyrics and music?

Inspiration comes from so many corners, but the essence and emotion can be traced to artists like Fields of the Nephilim, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Emma Ruth Rundle, Johann Johannsson and many more. I actually created a playlist for this, bands and music that inspired some of the music for “Under A Godless Veil”, can be found through our Facebook page, if someone is interested to dig deeper.

M.I. -  This is the second album with singer Heike Langhans. How is it working with Heike’s angelic, female voice and Anders Jacobsson‘s death growls? Do you think that she was the missing piece of this brilliant group?

Nothing wrong with Lisa’s voice but when Heike replaced her, I personally felt a growing inspiration. New ideas instantly came to me and Heike’s voice has a deep impact and she can deliver with such emotion. So, it’s been great.

M.I. -  Five years went by between “Sovran” and this album. Why all these years? Did you write material for this record, after or while you were recording the previous one?

We did a couple of tours after “Sovran” and then we had to take a break, because of Heike’s visa situation here in Sweden. She wasn't able to go outside Sweden for shows, so I then started working on new material. It was a slow process this time. My family and I bought a house and sometimes it’s hard to juggle family life, a full-time job and writing music.

M.I. -  What was more difficult: the lyrics or the music?

For me, the music came rather easy once I was able to sit down and write. I wrote most of the stuff with my acoustic guitar, at home. Then I translated the main ideas in the studio and built from there. Probably my favorite things in the whole process of writing. 
When it comes to lyrics, I think Anders did a huge amount of writing for this album and he actually had a hard time picking out the parts that would deliver the core and essence of the storyline. There was some tweaking going on right up until the end.

M.I. -  With this new beautiful record, you embraced the Gnostic philosophy more directly. Did you discover new things, regarding this philosophy? Would you so kindly tell us more about it, please?

This would be a great question for Anders, since he is deep into the texts and ideas of Gnosticism. For me it was an education and I felt I had to do some study on my own to keep track. I feel Anders did an outstanding job on the lyrical theme this time.

M.I. -  The album cover artwork was made by Natalia Drepina and the cover photo by Eleni Liverakou Eriksson. Who are the characters and what is the symbology behind it?

All the artwork photography was done by Natalia. You could say that the female figure in the artwork, represents Sophia. The title refers to the gnostic myth of the Wisdom goddess Sophia and her fall from the highest realm of being. With this fall, a veil - or cloud - was established between the highest realm, called the Pleroma, and what was to become our material world. 

M.I. -  "Lustrous Heart" is the first single. Was it a difficult choice to choose this single?

Yes, a bit. I remember we had a quick vote. We felt almost any song could be a single on this album.

M.I. -  You translated "Sorrow Of Sophia" into several languages, including Portuguese. Who had the idea? Who helped with the translation?

I think it was requested by someone and together with our management, we found some fans, that were willing to translate the song for us into all these languages. Not everyone understands English all that well or has English as their first language, so this helps them to come closer to music in a way.

M.I. -  "The Sacrificial Flame" is the third single. Can we say that this is your favorite one? How did you write the riffs, melody and the doomy atmosphere?

Yes, it’s a favorite for some of us, indeed. For me, this was the easiest song to write. It actually came about one early summer morning at my parents’ old cabin. I woke up quite early one morning and together with a cup of coffee and my guitar, I sat on the porch and wrote the song in about 5 minutes. Songs like that will always have a natural flow to them. 

M.I. -  You release another single: “Sleepwalkers”. Could you reveal more details of the video, please?

The video is directed by the same artist who did the cover. Natalia Drepina together with Anders did a layout for the basic idea of two lovers sleepwalking. Never being able to connect. I interpret these lyrics myself as a view on the state of the world. 

M.I. -  You make part of a genre that is well appreciated, alongside My Dying Bride, Trees Of Eternity. How does it feel? Will we ever see a collaboration between these bands?

I think the appreciation has grown over the last decade for this kind of music and some of the bands have been around for a long time and have earned their respect in some way. Why not a tour together, or a special album project?!

M.I. -  70000 Tons Of Metal is a huge festival on a cruise and you played there. Did you like the experience? What bands did you see? If they invite you again, will you say yes?

Yes! What an experience! Great concept, vacation and performing together with all these great bands. I saw a lot of bands and I really enjoyed Avatarium, Unleashed and childhood heroes, Anthrax. Also, I met a great deal of friends from other bands and it’s nice to catch up and have a beer or two.

M.I. -  Next year, you will headline a European Tour next year, alongside Greek metal masters, Nightfall. What did you feel when they invited you? 

Anders and I listened a lot to Nightfall in the 90’s growing up. It feels good to have them come onboards, for our European tour, next year.

M.I. -  What are the songs that people want to hear the most and, in your opinion, which is their favorite album?

“Arcane Rain Fell” is still considered a favorite, but I think almost any song from the latest three albums works really well in a live show. We have a great amount of newer fans that have been discovering us in the last ten years or so.

M.I. -  Portugal has a festival, that is dedicated to Doom and is “Under The Doom”. On the 2018 edition, you played here and were one of the most expected bands. Did you like the country and the festival? Will we ever see you again? 

Yes, that was our second time playing the “Under the Doom” festival. Great people and a really nice mini festival. I’m sure we will return within the next year or so.

M.I. -  Seven albums and 26 years in the music business. Did you accomplish everything you want, musically speaking or are you the type of band that constantly chases new goals?

I think we reach the point where we feel comfortable. We have a good sense and understanding of what a good album needs and we are always looking to broaden our musical horizon for each new album. It’s a big motivator, to incorporate new things and influences each time.

M.I. -  Thanks for the interview and I hope to see you here in Portugal. Any final words for the fans, in general? 

Let’s hope this COVID pandemic will stop soon so we can see you on tour next year. Take care of each other.
For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda