Interview with Pär Johansson (vocals) - June 10th 2005/ by phone
((those comments in brackets are personal comments or translations of me= Twilightheart for a better understanding))
Pär > Hello...
Twilightheart > Hi.
Pär > I´m having my first beer right now.
T > Have you given a lot of interviews for the new album already?
Pär > Quite a lot actually. I´m kind of surprised as usually it`s like 2 weeks before the new album gets released, then the promotion period usually kicks off for real, but this time I think for 3 weeks now I´ve had almost every night filled with some interview, so I´m shaking and trembling when I think about how it seems to be ahead. Usually the promotion period keeps going also a month after the actual release of the album… so I guess I will not have a lot of free time in the evenings…
T > Oh, I´m sorry for this ...
Pär > No no no, I actually enjoy it.
T > So you aren´t sick yet of always answering the same questions again and again?
Pär > Well, not so far... but if you would ask me in 3 weeks from now, I guess I would say “Yes”…
T > Before we start to talk about your new album, let me first quickly ask you about your gig at the „Demons of the opera“ festival in Umeå, because I didn´t find any reports about this festival in the web. So I wonder if you could tell our readers what kind of festival this is (as here in Germany we haven´t got a clue)… I just heared something about some bands playing with a symphony orchestra there… is that why the title contains the word “Opera”?
Pär > Well, the thing is, it´s not a real festival. This was the first time they arranged it. And the name “Demons of the opera” comes from the fact that the festival took place at the “Norrlands Opera” in Umeå, the opera house of this part of the country so to speak. And there were 3 bands playing with a symphony orchestra, and they played during the day, because it was kind of… you know… even small children could come and watch with their parents and so on. WE played on another stage called “The black box” at the evening. We headlined the first day on Friday. So that was simply a normal festival gig, so to speak.
T > And you introduced the new songs there?
Pär > Well, two of the new songs. We felt like playing more of the new songs before anyone have heared them would be like … ähm… it´s no point, it´s better to play the songs that the people already know and like. So we just introduced 2 of the songs.
T > How was the fans’ reaction to those new ones?
Pär > Oh, really good.
T > Okay... now let´s start to talk about the new album.
Pär > ((tells how to pronounce the word „Hydra“ correctly...))
T > Why did you chose exactly this title for the album?
Pär > It´s actually a vague summing-up of the lyrical concept in a way... kind of abstract I guess you could call it. Because we´re not referring to the greek mythological Hydra, we´re referring to the Qlippothic Hydra of the occult = dark side of the Quabalah ((=Kabbalah)), which, if I should simplify it, is the same thing as Satan or Luzifer, as the lyrical concept of this album is pretty much “questions” about… what the hell.. about just life and so on… and it felt like you can make references as if it were Luzifer putting God to the wall and telling him “What the hell…”
T > In the information sheet of your label is written, the lyrical content of your album is “Will”… ähm… that´s pretty much the only information there… the will of mankind or so…
Pär > Yeah, that`s correct. Like I said, the title of the album is the overlayer, then the real concept of the album is will basically… what is will?… do mankind have a real free will?…do God really rule you?…does the devil rule you, or… ? Are we all alone, do we rule ourselfes?… is God just some kind of a thought-up being, not being for real, or…are there only devil and no real God, and so on and so on…
T > What conclusion did you come to for yourself?
Pär > Of course I have a conception of my own opinion on these matters, but they are very unimportant. I want people to think for themselves and make up their minds on their own, so my opinion of these matters is of no importance at all. Like I said, I have my own conceptions of how things are or how I think they are. But I really like when people think themselves and not just follow the words of others, so… I should keep mine for myself.
T > So you hope your album lyrics make people think... ?
Pär > Well, hopefully, but on the other hand, if they don´t care to think I hope they just enjoy good Metal music. That’s enough also…I mean, people shouldn´t think that they have to be very pretentious to listen to our music. Basically we are a Metal band and… at best I might influence someone to start thinking about things I think are important to think about, but I´m very pleased also if just people listen to the music and like it. So people don´t have to sit and study the lyrics to enjoy the music.
T > Yeah... I almost wanted to ask you, if you really think that anyone hasn´t made up her/his mind yet about those things…
Pär > Well, I think most people are kind of swaying and I think most people probably have some kind of conception of how they believe things are or are not. But I mean I can perhaps provide with a different view on those questions and perhaps they can ask themselves the questions again, because I mean as long as you live you will fucking learn. And only ignorance would not want to learn, and in this case I hope they learn on their own, so to speak. I´m not the one teaching or saying how things are. I just mean that certain things are worth questioning over and over again. Because until you really really really know … then you should keep asking yourself things if they are important…it´s like science > all science must always be available to be scrutinised and questioned over and over again, because if it´s not… hey… what the fuck… we wouldn´t even have electricity today if we had stayed with the knowledge for the 16 th century. I mean, nothing is definite. We can always take things further.
T > By the way, about what you mentioned before: what`s YOUR definition of “Kabbalah”?
Pär > It´s basically a system of defining and finding God basically from the start, derived from the Jewish belief on what God is. And I think the definition “Kabbalah” came about in …I think it was the 12 th century or something… but the believe system in itself is much older and you can trace back resemblances of it back to Babylon and Samaria actually. And in the occult and the magic, as I deal with, we have a kind of different approach, we’re not dealing with Kabbalahs… ähm… it´s not this kind of naïve fucking shit like Madonna says she`s into Kabbalah and blahblahblah and that’s only rubbish. Real Kabbalah is pretty much basically an ever changing science you could say. Kabbalah and quantum physics (=about atoms and even smaller things)… how the universe works according to science. Kabbalah and science is actually pretty much the same, as Kabbalah is not a definite belief, Kabbalah changes as our knowledge changes. It´s a way of trying to understand how the world works and you can actually be an atheist not believing in God or devil or anything, it´s just a method of trying to pinpoint how mankind and the universe works.
T > Okay. But there is one song which concerns a bit a different topic > “The vengeance is hers”?
Pär > It´s basically the same because it deals with will in a way. I mean I´m a strong proclaimer of that each man and woman should have his or her own free will at hand. In this matter I think the worst crime you can commit against any person, not just regarding will, is rape actually, because it´s worse than murder in a sense that the victim will survive and has this pain going on for the rest of their lives… in most of the cases. It´s meant to be a song that stands on the side of those that have been victims. I wrote it when I was so fucking furious because one of my closest friends she had almost been through a rape. Luckily she didn´t. But on the other hand I have way too many female friends that either had been or almost had been through rape situations. And I really feel like … people that are capable to commit a rape > I don´t wanna share this world with them. I wish to put a bullet in their head. I don´t think they are worth anything but that. So that`s the concept of this song.
T > Hm... you know I can´t understand the lyrics clearly by listening… and I don´t have a booklet to read the lyrics, I just have to rely on what your label and you told me about it.
Pär > It´s meant to be like an imaginary picture of how the vengeance should be like, what all the women that have been through this …probably in most cases anyway you aren´t like “forgive and forget” (which I don´t think many persons really are, if they are honest) , it´s meant to be a picture of how the vengeance COULD look like and what it SHOULD be like.
T > What should it be like?
Pär > It should contain the concept of death for the offender basically. I think persons who commit this crime should be put through a fast and short trial and then killed. Because if you commit this kind of crime I don´t see you as a person anymore. You´re like a dog that should be put to sleep.
T > Ähm... that was not nice against dogs. But anyway I understand what you mean. I know it doesn´t excist in Sweden, but in gerenal you´re a person who is for (pro) the death penalty for certain crimes…
Pär > Yes, I am. But I also understand that … ähm… I really don´t want it to be like in the United States, but the legal system does not really serve justice in all cases. Of course this is both for good and bad, I mean I would hate to see anyone innocent going to be executed, but on the other hand in certain cases (when you know the person is guilty) I don´t have any moral problems with saying that some people really don´t deserve to live.
T > So this goes for murderers as well?
Pär > Ähm... murder... no, not really. Not in all cases. Because murder can be caused by a lot of different things. I mean for instance if I kill a rapist I don`t think that I should die. I mean there are reasons for killing a person which perhaps are correct, I hope you get what I mean…
T > Yeah, but it´s a very controversial subject.
Pär > Yeah, very controversial, but then again I think political correctness never had brought anything good to mankind, I mean, on the other hand I´m not that very controversial, but in this matter I think that some people should die… simple as that. And I think if one searches his or her heart I think most people would say the same. I mean, for instance I don´t think that many people were crying if Ceausescu from Rumuinia was executed, for instance,… or this … I don´t remember the name… a Russian serial killer that killed x people…
T > Yeah, but those people (serial killers) are just ILL, don´t you think? I don´t know if they really know what they are doing… they`re nothing but sick and ill…
Pär > I don´t think they are ill. I mean, of course there are people who ARE ill, but not in all cases. And even if the person IS ill mentally it´s a known fact in psychology > you can´t help anyone that doesn´t wanna change… and in the case of rapists (at least here in Sweden) those are the offenders that most after getting out of jail for having been there for rape, they keep doing it. And if they get treatment, psychiatric treatment … it does not help. So what do you do? Shall one person's life go before perhaps 3 or 4 or 5 or in worst cases more lives? Thew are destroyed forever, just because this person is getting a chance after a chance after a chance and so on. I don´t think that´s right. There is no logic in my world in that kind of reasoning anyway. But of course there are people that need help and they should get it of course. I´m no pro death penalty person really, I just think that the poetic justice would be death for certain people. But in reality I know it would probably not be a good way.
T > Okay, back to the album... to the musical side now. I really had problems when I wrote the review, because this album is totally a different style from the usual kinds of Metal. So… how would you yourself describe the musical style of Satariel on this album?
Pär > I totally agree with you, we are not easy to define in genres and so on, and that is very concious at us also, because we don´t wanna be in a certain genre, we wanna be free to evolve as we feel like. But I would call our music without saying too much or too little just as extreme melodic Metal.
T > Because I wasn´t even sure if I should call it Metal. But otherwise I don`t have any other word for it.
Pär > No? I see your point, I mean... we don´t feel aimed that it has to be very hard all the time… if we wanna write a song about this or that, then we write the song as we feel it should be. We don´t concern ourselves with whether this will fit or will fall in the taste of the common MetalHead. We really don´t care. We like good music and we like to play good music, but we don´t concern ourselves with how people will perceive it or categorize it.
T > I had to give the CD several runs in the CD player, because to me it's very difficult to digest, the melodies just don´t meet my taste (but that`s maybe as I´m normally used to the harder stuff).
Pär > Yeah, I`ve read your review. I think I know how you mean, but on the other hand most other people have said exactly the opposite. They said it´s very easy to digest. So in the end I guess it´s a matter of personal preferences and so on, but it´s cool… I mean everyone will perceive it in their own way.
T > Do you think there`s a market or a request for your kind of music?
Pär > Definitely. We know it.
T > You know it? How successful do you think will this record be?
Pär > I don´t know and I don´t care really.. ähm…
T > Then what is it that you want to achieve with it? Or… which group of people do you wanna reach?
Pär > Not the dumbasses… hopefully. No, but seriously… there is no real aim, I mean, if you mean like “trying to make a bundle of money out of it” or so, because then we would not play Metal at all, if that was the case. We hopefully just can make people enjoy good fucking music. And while doing that we also enjoy making the music. I mean that`s basically what this band is about. We´re not on any cruisades or having a financial goal or anything. We just enjoy what we do… and hej… we´re just a typical Rock’n’Roll and drugs and fucking around band basically.
T > You are?
Pär > We`re not some pretentious assholes, we just enjoy making music… and all that comes along, I mean, touring and playing live and so on. Those are the things that we care about and that is our goal to keep doing that. We don´t wanna be so fucking naïve that we think we´re gonna change the world with our music or anything like that.
T > Is it a coincidence, that many people think you´re influenced by other bands, as your music reminds them of specific bands?
Pär > I guess it´s no coincidence because of course we are influenced by other bands, but no particular band and not in a concious way. You can´t get away from it when you´re writing music to be influenced by whatever you have heared. In some way that will shape what you do, but we try to avoid sounding like any specific band as much as possible. But in the end of course… ähm, if you only listen to classical music and you never heared anything but classical music then if you sat down and started writing your own music it would probably remind of classical music also.
T > So what are the bands that you listen to, which influenced you?
Pär > It constantly changes. I don`t only listen to Metal music, I listen to everything that´s good basically. Some genres though does not produce anything that is good in my taste, like HipHop and Rap and so on, I have a very hard time for that kind of music. I listen to anything from Depeche Mode to fucking Abruptum. But some favourite bands that’s always been in my CD player are Anathema for instance, or Morbid Angel. My Dying Bride is also a favourite band of mine.
T > And it´s YOU doing most of the songwriting in the band?
Pär > Well, I write all the lyrics and I always have done, but musically until this record me and Magnus, one of the guitarists, we´re kind of shared writing all the music, we’ve written like 50 / 50 of the 2 previous albums. On this one Magnus actually wrote the greater part. I wrote 2 of the songs: “The freedom fall” and “Scattering the Timeweb”. The new thing for this one was that Mikael Granqvist also started to write and he has also written 2 of the songs: “Claw the clouds” and “Nihil Juggernaut”.
T > And how often do/ did you usually meet to rehearse all the stuff?
Pär > Almost never I would say. Because we live scattered all over Sweden nowaday, and when we started out, four of us, everyone except our drummer lived in the same city and he lived in the neighbouring city, so that was not a problem back then but nowadays we live like 100 or 1000 km apart from the one furthest away etc. So we only rehearse like before a gig once and before we enter the studio we rehearse perhaps twice. So we don`t really rehearse a lot but then again we don´t need it too much either, because we played with this setting so long that everyone knows their stuff anyway. We just send the songs along as we have written them to the members and everyone knows the songs pretty much when we enter the rehearsal room.
T > Talking about rehearsing before a GIG > does your label have any major tour plans for you?
Pär > It´s not the label that will put us on tour, it´s probably our management. And we have some discussions, but I can´t say anything for certain at this point of time, because it´s a bit premature. The album is not even released, but hopefully… ähm… our aim is to have some European tour, hopefully in the autumn, as it seems….
T > Maybe you´ll go on tour with Thyrfing then... hehe…
Pär > Oh, I would love that also. They are friends of ours. Thyrfing is really great.
T > How often have you been on tour in the past?
Pär > We´ve only been on one real tour. It was the first opportunity we had where we´d not be losing money from royalties and so on as “Rock Hard” Magazine sponsored it.
T > Which tour was it?
Pär > It was in 2003. We were on tour with Necrophobic and Impious. It was a jolly ride… But we constantly turn down offers because if it means that we lose money going on tour, I mean, everyone has jobs … we´re not in the position where we wanna go back like thousands of dollars because we just wanna have a fun vacation. We wanna go on the plus-side, so to speak. But the offers are getting better, so…there will be more tours, I can assure that.
T > Can you tell us any funny tour stories from the tour with Necrophobic?
Pär > I could tell you a whole lot of funny stories, but I don´t know if I should, because some things are probably explicit, so to speak. Oh hell… it happened a lot of funny things. Our guitarist Mikael Granqvist actually managed to walk in his sleep in the bus one night coming down. People thought he was going to the bathroom or something. He only sat down, didn`t say a word, poured up himself a full cup of whiskey, and he had already been drinking loads of whiskey before he entered bed. Then he drank it all in just one go, went upstairs, went to bed without saying a word. The day afterwards, when he came down, he was going to the bathroom to piss… and after like a minute we heared “barumbumbum” ((Pär copies the noise of rumbling)) from aside there … then he had fainted, because he was so fucked up. And like half an hour later we were sitting in the bus watching some crappy movie, he actually sacked down in the middle of all and I think it was the drummer of Impious who shouted out: “Hey, look, he´s fainted again”. And his eye balls were all rolled back and just looking white.
T > Oh...
Pär > And I myself made a spinal tab thing. I wasn´t drunk, you know, so it’s even more pathetic in that sense. I happened to get a concussion while we entered Austria. So I had to spend 1 day on the Krankenhaus ((hospital)) in Vienna. Yeah. And then we have the more explicit stories about groupies and so on, but I think I´ll spare you from.
T > Yeah, I don´t really wanna hear the groupie stories ((although I know some of my readers wouldn´t mind reading…. )). But I´m surprised that you all have them and like them.
Pär > No, as a matter of fact I hate groupies. I mean, it´s very flattering and so on. But it stays with that for my personal point of view anyway, but not everyone thinks the same way as I do.
T > Everyone I talk to says he doesn`t like them, but in the end they are everywhere. ^^
Pär > Yeah, it´s kind of impossible to avoid groupies when you´re on tour, and I think it´s okay as long as they behave. And I don´t mind girls coming up and wanting to have a “Go”, but when it’s… you know… the obvious groupie that just goes: “Oh, you play in a band” > I don´t consider those persons like my cup of tea. It´s kind of annoying, really.
T > Okay.... back to the questions! You play in other bands like “Belsemar” and “Torchbearer”…
> “Belsemar” has actually not been around since 1995. It was my solo
project and it does not excist anymore. I have actually considered picking it up
one of these days, but I will probably rename it and it will not be this kind of
very primitive Black Metal that I played back then. But it´s not an actual band
these days. “Torchbearer” though, we have actually just recorded the next =
the second album, so I think it will be out also through Regain Records in this
((That means you´ll probably read a review about that one as well here in Sheol Magazine, when the time is up.))
T > Aha. Which of the bands has your most attention and love then?
Pär > Of course Satariel is my own band, I was the one starting it, so of course in a way that is the one I feel the most for. But on the other hand I don´t play in any band (I would never do) if I didn`t give 100 % to that also. So “Torchbearer” is just as important to me these days as Satariel is, but I have more nostalgia with Satariel.
T > Okay. Who did the cover artwork for the new album?
Pär > That was me.
T > Is it a painting in reality, or just a computer graphics… or…
Pär > Actually it´s all of them. It´s both, a painting and the scull itself is actually just a drawing that I made, then I did some work on the computer, so it´s painting, drawing and computer…
T > How long does it take to create something like this?
Pär > Not long at all, really. I think that picturing took like an afternoon. But I mean, it´s my profession. I work as a graphic designer and illustrator normally besides the music. But when I started doing these things I actually started as a painter, making painted artwork for albums. Then it could take like 3 weeks to make a cover.
T > What does your artwork cost?
Pär > I mean, it depends. I`m always negotiable, but if you have a large band like… for instance I did the last “Strapping young lad” artwork, of course if you sell a lot of records, I mean, it´s like royalties for the record. I mean…
T > You take more from them…
Pär > Yeah. Of course. If you´re a small band selling like 1000 copies I will take that into consideration also.
T > But would you still do it free of pay for friends’ bands?
Pär > Well, I have done that all too many times. I really can´t do it, because I don´t have the time to make favours so to speak. Nowadays I´m pretty much booked up, so if I make the effort, it has to pay also, because otherwise I lose money.
T > Talking about pictures… I saw a photo of you holding a scull in your hand…
Pär > Oh, these ridiculous photos… It´s a friend’s scull. It´s an imprint of a scull from Auschwitz, the concentration camp, that a friend bought when he was there.
T > I already thought you borrowed the scull from Marcus of Naglfar… haha…
Pär > No, you know he lives in Umeå, I live in Luleå, so we don´t get to meet too often, we meet like perhaps 4 times a year. … I´ve known the guys in Naglfar since their first demo tape. And I´ve done T-Shirt prints and so on for them, artwork and so on. So we´re good friends and always when we get to meet we’re out and have some beers and we speak on the phone occasionally. It´s actually in their rehearsal room that we rehearsed quite a lot, as we don´t have a reheasal room of our own with Satariel, as we rehearse so little, it would make no sense to have a specific rehearsal room… so we tend to borrow from our friends.
T > And could you imagine any musical projects with them?
Pär > Who knows!? It would not be impossible in the future actually. But at this moment there are no plans for anything.
T > Talking about pictures again… on your homepage is a picture “Mike bränner en femty lapp” ((“Mike burns a 50 Swedish-Krownes note”)). You guys have to much money? Or are constantly drunk or… ?
Pär > Hahaha, I think it´s a total anti-thesis to reality. Mike is always the one who is most poor, so I don´t know why he burned it. I guess it was a drunken thing.
T > The next question you probably heared a thousand times. But what does the band name Satariel actually mean?
Pär > It´s originally Hebrew… noways used in the occult world, or amongst those of us who seriously study magic. I could most easily translate it to “The concealed”. It´s a term referring to Qlippoth, which is the dark side of the tree of life. So that´s where it comes from. But I have to say, it was just by chance that we chose that name, it´s not something that defines us as a band and what we are. Basically it was a name that sounded good in our ears when we chose it.
T > You study occultism and magic?
Pär > Yeah. I guess the two are the same, really. When I talk about people who study it, I mean to exclude people who are into New-Age and such stuff. I mean serious study of magic is pretty much a process that is quite similar to making scientific experiments. It´s really a very methodic work.
T > So you believe in unexplainable phenomenons?
Pär > Of course I believe in that. I´ve been through quite a lot of them. But the thing is, the approach thematic when you work with it … we try to be scientific about it, we don´t think it´s something that can´t be explained or anything. It´s like science, we try to understand it, why things happen when they happen.
T > I heared you did a video to the new recording?
Pär > I´m sorry, I can´t say much about it. We´ve seen only like 1 minute, a clip from it. The final result is being made right now, so I can´t say very much apart from the fact that it´s totally computer generated and in 3D animation… for the song “The vengeance is hers”.
T > Will it be downloadable on your website then soon?
Pär > Yeah, probably. And I think it will be good enough to get some air time in TV stations around Europe. But I´m pretty sure we will also make it downloadable, if it doesn`t turn out to be total crap when we see the final result, but I don´t think that will be the case.
T > TV stations?? VIVA and MTV or what?
Pär > I have no idea. It´s up to the label to send it out to TV stations, I don´t really know what channels are out there in Europe besides VH1 and MTV pretty much and I don´t think we will be played on those.
T > Will there be a new Satriel homepage soon? I read somewhere it´s just a temporary version…
Pär > We had some kind of crash, I don´t know really what the problem was. A lot of information got lost and so on. But the thought is that around the time of the release of the album we will make a serious update… from the looks and the information and everything.
> Okay, I`ll let you go to your pub party now or whatever that was.
((Some friends of Pär were already waiting for him in the next room to get to the pub with him or something.))
Pär > Yeah, my friends are pretty bored by this point, but … yeah… I have to thank you for a great interview anyway.
T > No, thank YOU. I will send you a link when it´s online and so on…
Pär > Where in Germany do you live?
T > Near Munich.
Pär > Okay. Well, if we go on tour and we´re around your place…
T > ... then I´ll be there anyway...
Pär > .. yeah, feel free to come and say „Hi“.
T > Yeah, okay... so then… have a nice evening and we`ll hear from each other…
Pär > Yeah... take care...
T > Bye bye
Pär > Bye bye
Satariel / photo used with permission of Mikael Granbacke of Satariel /
Interview partner Pär = on the very left of the photo / more about the band on: www.satariel.com
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