About Me

Interview with Majestica

“…Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells…”. Sorry. Wrong tune. This holidays, you will be surprised by other songs and tale and what will it be? A grumpy, selfish old man, named  Ebenezer Scrooge is the the main character of the tale. The name? “A Christmas Carol”, 4th December, via Nuclear Blast, is the date for the release. Metal Imperium had the privilegie to chat with Tommy Johansson. A very pleasant chat,  with lots of laughs and surprises about this album.Get a copy of this album, sit by the fireplace, with a cup of tea and a traditional Swedish “Fika”.

M.I. - Hi there. Thanks so much for accepting the interview. How are you, your family and how’s the current situation in Sweden?

No problem. My pleasure. Well, the situation in Sweden is quite ok. It’s not the best situation. It could be a lot worse. So, for that, I’m grateful. I mean, we still have people getting sick and we still have a lot of restrictions. So, we can’t really do so much as we would like. My family is doing fine and I’m doing fine as well. That makes me happy, knowing that no one in my family, or close, has been sick. I know a lot of people that have been sick and have this disease. 

M.I. - You’ve started under the name ReinXeed. Why did you decide to change it? Any particular reason?

Actually, we released six albums with ReinXeed and, at the end, on the last album, we had a lot of difficulties with our former drummer and we had issues with the record label. We had a lot of issues to take care of. When we recorded this album with a new drummer, Uli Kusch from Helloween, we needed a fresh new start. That was actually a good idea, mainly because this would mean, instead of making a seventh album, we released our first album and that has been a very good connection and I think that was the right thing to do. Even though, ReinXeed has been my child for many, many years, it was sad to give that up. For a couple of reasons, I had to do that. We needed to star over. With a new name and everything. It was the right thing to do.
Also, when we got signed to Nuclear Blast, we had some issues with our old record label, with the rights for the name. We decided to go for a new name, so that our new record label wouldn’t have any problems with that. Rights, politics, stuff and all that. That’s also one of the reasons we changed the name.  

M.I. - “A Christmas Carol” will be released on the 4th December, via Nuclear Blast. What did they think about this new album? Did they like it?

Yes, they liked it very much! I really believe in this album and that makes me and the other guys very happy. I mean, if they don’t believe in us, that would be bad. But they do  and that makes us very happy. When we said: “Ok! We have this idea! Let’s do a Christmas album!”, there were no hesitations. They listened to two songs and said: “Wow! This is cool! Let’s do it! Let’s do it right away”. 

M.I. - Was it difficult to mix elements inspired by the likes of Twilight Force, Rhapsody, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, John Williams and your pure Symphonic Power Metal, into this new universe? In what ways?

No! It wasn’t difficult, actually, because this is something that I’ve done before and this is something that I really enjoy doing. For me, to do this, was not a challenge. Well, of course, it’s a challenge to make an accurate album, because it’s not easy. It was a challenge, but it was fun. I had a lot of fun writing these songs. I would gladly make it again. It was a challenge to try to find the right elements to make it sound good, you know? It needs something Christmasy, it needs to sound epic, symphonic. That was a bit challenging, actually. But I think we pulled it off quite well. I’m very happy with the result.

M.I. - The music was written, recorded and produced by you, during this Summer, at Nygård, Ekshärad. Was it difficult to write? Did you have any other help?

Nygård means new farm. No! I would say it was easy without any type of problem with it. Everything went fine. I really felt that we had everything under control, even though it was very stressful for us to complete everything in time. We managed to do it and was fun to do it as well. It was a fun process to write all these things in time. We recorded all the drums, the bass, the guitars, the vocals, everything, in ten days. We worked stressed, that everything was done in time. We pulled it off.

M.I. - The mixing and mastering of this album was made by Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry, Raubtier) at Black Lounge Studios. In what ways did he help you?

He’s the guy who has mastered and mixed the Sabaton albums. That’s the same guy and that was fantastic, because he’s a great guy and also a great musician. When I told him what we were looking for, he said: “No problem! I hear you!”. That was nice (laughs). It wasn’t an issue at all for him to mix this album, because he knew right away what we wanted to have and he made it happen.

M.I. - The story of Ebenezer Scrooge is the main focus of this album. Where did you first hear this tale? Do you think that it is still relevant in these days?

I first heard this tale, I think, I was many moons ago. When I was seventeen, I played at this school play. So, maybe that’s where it started, I think. Of course, I knew of Ebenezer Scrooge before that, but it was after playing Scrooge in front of the entire school, that I got to know Scrooge better, to understand who he was and why he behaved the way he did. 
Absolutely! Of course! It is a different time now, but still the message is clear: “Do good things and good things will happen to you, just like Earl Hickey, from ‘My Name Is Earl´!”. It’s the same message. I think that’s absolutely very important to think about to know not to forget, because sometimes people tend to forget that. That’s sad, unfortunately, because we shouldn’t be selfish in these times. Specially not nowadays when the world is going through a bad thing. It’s a good theme to sing about for this time. But that’s not only why we chose the theme. It’s also because it’s a great story. One of the best stories to read and to listen on Christmas. So, why not make a Metal album about it? No one has ever done that before. Let’s be the first to write a Power Metal Musical Christmas album. A new kind of music. 

M.I. - Let’s talk about the guests: Veonity, Hot Beef Injection will take part on the album and all the band members will do lead vocals. Which characters will they represent? Will every member sing in one song?

They will represent the Ghosts and many more characters, I guarantee you. Expect for more surprises!
Yes! Every member of Majestica is actually singing on this album, which is pretty cool, because we’ve never done anything like that before. So, this time, everybody in Majestica is singing, which is something new for us. So, that was a cool thing to add to the story. Everybody in the band are great singers. So, when we started to do it, we said: “Yeah, sure! Everybody can sing! Let’s do that!”. It was a fun idea, because it was between me and Chris, the bass player. He said: “I want to sing on a song!”. I said: “Yeah, sure! Let’s find you a song to sing!”. Jacob Marley would be perfect for him. He plays Jacob Marley and then he said: “Well, no!” and I said: “What about we find some other characters for the rest of the guys?”. So, we did that. Joel is playing a businessman, who asks Scrooge for help, like: “Can you help the poor people?”. Then you have Alexander Oriz, he plays the part of Bob Cratchit in one scene and, then, a funny thing happened. We needed to add something to the story with Bob Cratchit. 
At that point, Alexander Oriz had already made it that hole. So, we needed to record the song, while singing Bob Cratchit. So, we took Joel to sing Bob Cratchit in the same song. In the same song, you will hear two people playing the role of Bob Cratchit, which is quite unusual and unexpected. But it worked out fine, because you will not know that there’s two different people in there.

M.I. - Different voice actors take part on this superb album. What kind of professionals were you looking for? Will there be a narrator?

I actually took it as it went by, because we didn’t mean to have any voice actors at all, at first. It was something that could happen and that we could use, when we were recording the album. “Mmmmm! Maybe we can use this voice to do that!” “Yeah, sure! Let’s do that!”, and so on. We didn’t plan at first, to have different roles and different characters. It just happened along the way. We were recording and then we felt: “But we need a female voice!” “How about we use some of it and play this one here?”. Then we found this girl singing. Once she was done, we asked her if she could do some speech, as well, some voice acting. She said: “Yes!”, she did that and then we said: “We need someone to talk on this part as well!”. So, we asked Joel and he said he could do that, but maybe we could try another voice, not to sound like him. In one song, there’s four people talking, but three different voices, because he can talk high and low. You don’t think it’s the same guy.
We have that at the end. Since this is a Christmas album and musical, I told a guy I knew, who could do some voice acting. He did that but, unfortunately, we didn’t receive it in time, because the first take he showed us, had problems with the recording. It had a lot of distortion in the background. We asked him to record again and he couldn’t do it. Later, when I said: “We need to send this to mixing now!”. He couldn’t have time to redo it! We needed to find someone who really sounds British!”. That’s the most important, because we don’t want to sound the same. And, so it happened: Scrooge went out to the town. We want someone to say: “And so Ebenezer realized that it’s not too late…”, in a theatrical voice. I ended up doing that. I also pinched down my voice, so it sounds deeper, that it actually is, so people wouldn’t maybe recognize that is me, Tommy, but someone with a British accent. 

M.I. - The artwork was made by Madeleine Andersson and she is known for the work she did for Twilight Force. I know that you’ve known her for a while. What was the first work you’ve seen from her, that impressed you, that made you want to work with her?

She did some fan art for Twilight Force. Some cover for fun and I thought what she did was very cool. I asked her if she could do something similar for us and she didn’t hesitate for a second. She said: “Yeah, sure! I would love to!” So, she did that! We’re so very happy with the result, of what she did, because it was fantastic. Of course, it took a while to make the artwork. That’s not something you do in a day.
 But she was very fast and we were very happy with what she did and I just told her: “We´re looking for something like this! Can you do something like this?”. And I sent her a couple of pictures of Ebenezer Scrooge. She said: “Yeah, sure! I’ll give it a try!”. And so she did! We were very happy with that and we said: “There’s no question about it! Let’s continue!”. 
So, we continued with the artwork and she finished in time and we’re so happy, because I always wanted to have this kind of artwork for an album. For some reason, when we did the ReinXeed album’s, we weren’t allowed to have the kind of cover we wanted, because the record label had this contract with a guy, who would make all of the albums. That was a little bit sad, actually, because we wanted to have something of our own. We couldn’t do that, because of the record label. So now that we are not on that record label anymore, we got the opportunity to do this. It was very, very nice. I’m very, very happy and, hopefully, we will continue to work with her for our future albums, because she knows what we want.

M.I. - The first single was released on October 23rd. Who directed it? 

Yes! It is for the song called “Ghost Of Christmas Past”. It will be the first single. That’s one of my favorite songs on the album, because that’s the song Scrooge is narrating the entire thing. He’s going back to the past, talking about what happens in the past, when he was a child and so on. He talks about what’s happening. It’s pure Power Metal. That’s what people can expect, but also Power Metal, that really sounds Christmas. We have all the Christmas elements, that you need in this song. 
It is a really cool lyric video, because we found it would be a good way to do that right away, so people can understand: “Ok! This is our song!”. It’s the best way why we decided to make a lyric video as well.
That will be us. We directed the video and recorded it ourselves, because we had the opportunity to do things like that. When you can do things on your own, why not doing it? We decided to do it ourselves and it actually turned out very good. I’m very happy about that.

M.I. - What more surprises can fans expect from this album?

They expect a lot of Christmas songs. If they like Christmas, then this is something they will really enjoy.

M.I. - What were your influences, while making this record?

It was mostly bands such as Twilight Force, for example. Alan Silvestri, for the movie “A Christmas Carol”. That’s mainly the inspiration. So, it’s Alan Silvestri and Twilight Force. I love Twilight Force and I love the guys of the band. They’re friends of mine and I’ve been listening a lot to their music. 

M.I. - How do you think this new work will be received by the fans and the media?

I think the fans and the media will like it, because we’re doing something new. We’re doing something that no one has actually ever done before. No one has ever recorded a Christmas Power Metal album before. I think it will be very well received. At least, I hope so. 

M.I. - Your tour with Dragon Force was cancelled. Will it happen eventually?

I hope so. We’re not sure how it will be, because people are working, we have different works, stuff like that. When this tour will be able to happen again, we will just have to see, if it will be possible. Hopefully, we would love to make it happen. We would love to make this tour, but it’s not something we’re talking about quite yet, since it’s a long time for that. We hope we can make the tour.

M.I. - I know this is way too soon, but will you tour again? Which countries would you like to visit? Portugal, included? Which ones did you like and what were your favorite experiences?

I would love to visit Portugal, of course. I’ve played in Portugal a couple of times with Sabaton and that has always been a pleasure. Really! It’s a great country, great people and great arenas. When we played there, I don’t remember all the names of the arenas we have played, but I do know that every time we’ve been to Portugal, it’s always been a fantastic time. I’m really looking forward to go back to Portugal again.
I don’t think there’s a country I don’t like, because every country has their own thing that no one else has. It’s not a country that has what Portugal has or Spain, for example. That’s why I really enjoy travelling, because you always find out something new, that you haven’t found out yet. That’s cool. 
I don’t know. As I said, a lot of different things happen in the countries we’ve been to. So, there’s good stories in every country we’ve been to. Japan was fantastic. There was something new, because we didn’t expect to go to Japan. But we went to Japan with Majestica. That was pretty amazing, because that part of the world is completely different from the rest of the world. To go there, was really inspiring.

M.I. - You are also the guitar player with Sabaton. How do you reconcile your time between the two bands?

It works out fine. No problem at all, actually. I try to find time to make it happen. It’s hard.

M.I. - Thanks so much for accepting the interview. Any final words for the Portuguese fans and the Metal World in general?

Thank you so much for this interview. It was a pleasure to talk with someone from Portugal. I hope you like the album as much as we did recording it and we can’t wait to see you on the road. Cheers.

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Raquel Miranda