Through this interview, the Swedish singer Christian Eriksson (ex-Twilight Force) introduces us to the new band he formed with the American guitarist Bill Hudson (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, UDO, Savatage, …) : NorthTale. At that time, the band composed of well-known and experienced musicians was about to release its first album, « Welcome To Paradise », and hit their first stage under this new name. Since then, everything seems to rock for them !

My first question is quite simple : « Welcome To Paradise » will be released in a few days now… So, how do you feel about that ?

I’m starting to get nervous right now actually. Because during this period of time when we promoted it and recorded it, I didn’t even think about releasing it. And now, we are a week away… I’m starting to feel the nerves. But it’s ok. It’s a lot of anticipation on my side. The only thing we can do now is hope that people will like it !

But you already had a lot of feedback on your first single and they seem really positive.

Yeah there’s actually a lot of positivity ! Of course, we are super happy about that. We also received a lot of reviews and many of them are like ten out of ten or almost. We shouldn’t complain I guess. (laughs)

Apparently, you and Bill met during a festival in Sweden last year and that’s how the project began. From that point, could you please sum up the building of the band ?

We met in my hometown that summer in 2017. But we were just talking and initially Bill wanted me to sing on his solo album but I turned it down at that time, because I was too busy with Twilight Force and he was also too busy with his stuff. And then, after my leaving of Twilight Force, Bill called me and Patrick (drums) called me, because me and Patrick are from the same hometown and we’ve been discussing things of starting a band for like 10 years, but it never happened. Both Bill and Patrick called me and said basically the same thing independently from each other. They said : when you’re ready again let’s make that band, let’s do this for real. At first, I was so tired that I didn’t want to continue with music anymore. But then I gave it some thoughts and I thought that if we can write and record an album that we can be proud of, that if we were 14 we would have shat our pants if we heard it, we had to do it. That was the goal for this band. So we decided to start that band but we needed members. So I brought in Mikael, the bass player, and Bill brought in Jimmy (keys) because we knew them from before. After that, we needed a name, because we didn’t come up with anything. So then we thought : let’s try and make a contest out of it. We noticed that we had some fans around this band with not doing anything. So we announced a contest and we thought that maybe we could receive 20 names or something, but we received 1500 names ! That’s pretty much how we ended up as a band and with the name NorthTale.

Then, how did you manage to have your debut album ready so quickly ? Could you please sum up the creation process of this first album ?

Actually, the day before yesterday I received the CD from the label and I was sitting on my couch and I held it in my hand and I was like : how the fuck did we manage to do this in one and an half year ?! (laughs) But somehow we did ! Mainly, it was me and Bill writing all the songs and we were sending things back and forth online. The thing is we have the exact same vision of what we want to do with the music. So, it was super easy actually even though all odds against us with living across the sea.

It was a question for Bill actually, regarding the guitar parts, but maybe you can answer for both of you if you know. What inspired you when you wrote for this album ?

Actually, I also wrote music. I mean, me and Bill wrote the album and some songs I wrote all the music on and all the lyrics on and some songs Bill wrote all the music on and also the lyrics. We can say it’s a 50-50 process with this and that’s what we wanted. If you look at power metal like 20 or 30 years ago and if you say power metal today, our metal can be so many different things. But we wanted to go back to what we call power metal. I mean, that era of the old Helloween, Gamma Ray, Stradivarius, but also some of other influences like Judas Priest or Yngwie Malmsteen. We basically wanted an album that we wanted to hear, whit elements from the bands we love throughout the years.

Regarding what you just said, do you think that power metal is now less rich or less interesting ?

No, not at all. I don’t know how to say this without sounding rude ! (laughs) But I think nowadays many bands are trying to take everything to the next level, they’re gonna dress up in costumes, they’re gonna take things on stage, they’re gonna do whatever and they are taking everything to the top. But in my opinion, the top is already reached and for us, I think we just wanted to focus on great songs and not like have a gimmick or… We just want to play music. I’m not saying that other bands don’t write good music. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel because we know that it’s been done before, but hopefully we can catch the essence of what is NorthTale and form something on our own.

If you allow me a personal comment, I was really surprised by the album because I was expecting a sort of power metal cliché, if you know what I mean, but the music is really rich, the guitars are really crazy and the choruses are amazing. Everything is very powerful….

Thank you, we appreciate that. That is exactly what we wanted to do with this album. And I mean if you listen to the album you can hear that it’s it is a very diverse album. We take a lot of different directions Because we didn’t want to write songs like this or like that, wanted to explore and the sky was the limit. Because if you listen bands from the 70’s, there is a huge spread of the songs, they don’t follow a certain template. And that is what we wanted to focus on.

On another hand, was it difficult to convince Nuclear Blast to sign you with this new project ?

Well… No. (laughs) I mean, that was also kinda surreal, because at first we said that we’d release the album on our own. Because, initially we wrote an EP and we recorded that. So we thought : let’s just release it on our own. But then we started to get some offers from small independent labels, like they wanted to sign us without even hearing a word or a note… So then, we realized that we had some good connections with Nuclear Blast. So, we decided to try them. But we never expected them to sign us, we were nobodies, we’re a new band and we haven’t put anything out. But they got super into it. I mean, right away. That was a really cool experience ! Then, we had to finish up for a full length album. I’m not saying that it didn’t take time but we didn’t have to be standing on our knees and beg. We were presenting ourselves and ask if they wanna work with us and they said yes. So yeah, we were surprised and very happy about it.

You said a few words about that earlier, but if it was not so difficult with the record label, what about the audience ? Because, like you said, you are a new band. So, is it difficult to start a brand new band, especially nowadays, and build a new fanbase ?

I don’t know, actually. As I said earlier with the name and the contest, we saw that we had some followers from the start. And a lot of fans and friends I had from before, from Twilight Force, and a lot of fans from Bill’s side, from UDO, from Trans-Siberian Orchestra and also Patrick with Yngwie Malmsteen…So we were like getting together and people started to show interest in just us being together and like feeling really hyped about us. But it’s super weird because I don’t know how it happened. Now the single « Higher » reached 60000 views on YouTube or something now and that’s a good vibe for the album.

Back to the album now, it’s called « Welcome To Paradise » but the cover artwork looks a bit dark and cold, which doesn’t represent the idea we have of paradise, or at least to me… Do you have a comment about that ?

Yeah that’s exactly why we wanted it that way ! I mean, what is paradise to you ? What is paradise to me ? Hopefully, we wanted people to think about that. Because my paradise, I’m sure, isn’t the same as your paradise. Paradise can be whatever. And this title is picked from the opening track of the album where paradise stands for something really bad in my opinion because that song is about what I call a cult in which I grew up in. But for those who were in it and running it, they thought of it as a perfect paradise. So that’s why we wawe wanted to call the album « Welcome To Paradise » and right away you see this is not paradise but it could be to some people.

Back to the essence of power metal with NorthTale

So, when you write lyrics do you always inspire you from personal events or experiences ?

Yeah, always. The topic are picked from life. For example, « Time To Rise » is like me singing to myself when I was a kid because I had a period of time when I was bullied in school. And the message with that song is that it’s time to rise, it’s not always gonna be like this. There is a better future to come. And « Siren’s Fall » is about how I experience anxiety attacks, because I’m living that since I was a kid and nowadays I can handle them. But I also wanted to put that in words because I do believe if I sing about something that is close to heart, that is emotional I sing better, hopefully. (laughs)

But it’s really interesting because when you hear the songs for the first time, you don’t especially pay attention to the topics. I’ll do it the next time I’ll play it. But now, do you know what Bill’s songs are about ?

« If Angels Are Real », for example, that song is dedicated to his friend who passed away. They played together in Circle II Circle and that it’s a tribute to him. So, it’s all about real life experiences. That is also one thing we want to get away from, we are not a fantasy band. I respect the guys who do that, but we want to try and write about real stuff.

And it’s also something that doesn’t make the band sound like a cliché, actually. It’s really interesting. But now here is a question that most of the artists hate : do you have you a favorite song out of this album ?

Actually, it very much depends on my daily mood. It’s hard, but the songs I listen the most are « Bring Down The Mountain » and « The Rhythm Of Life ». I mean, all the songs are personal, so it’s very hard to pick a favorite but for me today, it would be « The Rhythm Of Life ».

You will play a few festivals in August and especially the Sabaton Open Air. So how did you get the opportunity to play there ? I had an interview with the bass player of Sabaton a few weeks ago and he said that it was really important for him to bring new bands on stage to keep the scene alive.

Sabaton and me grew up in the same town and I used to sing with Sabaton back in the days. We’ve always been friends. They created something, I mean, Sabaton is a unique band, there’s something special about them. And they created a great festival and they always wanted to work with local produced things. I mean, from local produced food to local produced bands. So, that’s great for us that they believe in us and then wanted to take us in. So that that would be our world premiere show there.

So, how are you getting ready for this first show ?

First of all, it’s starting to get real : we are really going to play this first show ! I mean, we’ve been going in this bubble like, yes, we’re gonna play live later… And now it’s only three weeks away ! (laughs) Now, we need to start rehearsing for real and everyone is rehearsing at home now, then we will meet up a week before the festival for some production rehearsals. And hopefully, we won’t sound like shit ! (laughs)

But by the way do you think we can call NorthTale a super band ?

No ! (laughs) I mean, I know that we’ve been labeled like a super band. But the thing is we never called ourselves a super band and we will never ever do it. But what is a super band ? We’re just five guys who like the same music and join working together.

So, after a few festivals you will play next month, do you already have plans for touring after the season ?

Yeah, we are working on that. I can say we have a booking agency that wants to work with us, but I can’t mention the names right now. But things are looking good !

I’m now done with my questions, so I let you the final words for our readers…

Yeah the only thing I can say is that I really hope you’re gonna like the album. And I hope to see you soon ! I mean, our work is done. Now, we can only hope. I’m not gonna say : if you like us do this or that blablabla… Just take a listen if you like it !


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