– Hello Tom. First, of all, thank you for ansewring to our questions. How has everything been lately into the NIGHT VIPER’s camp? How does it being about to unleash your second album?
Tom: Hi! Sofie Lee is gonna join me. We love you guys, and she wanted to jump in on this interview too. We feel great! Super pumped, actually. We are all extremely happy with the album, and we can’t wait for people to hear it and to play the new songs on tour. We got the new album from the label a few days ago and had a band party to listen to it. It sounds killer!
– This new release is entitled «Exterminator», a straight-forward name, one of those that just sticks, and quite Heavy Meal sounding I may add. How does it realte to the album?
Tom: Sofie Lee was against it at first since she felt like it was a bit too macho or something, but now that the artwork is done, and you see the connection between the quite elegant imagery, the lyrics to the title track, and the album title, and it all works really well together. The song is about the treatment women face from men in the hard rock world, so the album title and artwork all work together really well. And I like that it’s simple and memorable.
– Starting to delve into it, I would like you to shed some light on some songs on the album. To begin with there’s a lot of Thrash Metal elements on this record. For instance «Summon the Dead» has a lot of early METALLICA. You already had released this song as a single but re-recorded it for «Exterminator», why did you decide to do so?
Tom: Yes, there’s a lot of early Metallica all over this album. We loved that song, and knew the single would be pretty limited, so we wanted it on the album, so people could get it easily. Even though we recorded the single version in the same studio with the same producer, it still would have sounded different to the rest of the album, so it was important to re-record it. And I’m glad we did.
– Then songs like «Never Win» are basically Rock n’ Roll. What would you tell us about this song?
Tom: Yes, absolutely! I guess that’s one that shows our Motörhead side, although a lot of the main riffs are still that ‘Kill ‘em All’ vibe. I love it. I think Sofie Lee’s melodies are so catchy on this, and she sings really great on it. And I love the defiant nature of the lyrics. Like, life is tough, but I am tougher. I like that. It’s a super fun song to play.
Sofie lee: hi, I’m jumping in to shed a little lights on the lyrical theme! 😊since this song is happy riff-rockin’ it was a bit of a struggle to do suitable lyrics for it; I’m more of a complainer. Despite the negative clinging title, this is probably the most cheerful set of lyrics I’ve ever made. It’s about overcoming hard times and questioning social pressure. The way we value success today, I find more to be a personal loss. So, «winning is for losers».
– The dark «Ashes» specially took my attention, since it has that old school Swedish DM kind of sound and thickness to it, something you also played a little bit around with on your debut, but it also has that eerie vibe a la early NWOBHM or even KING DIAMOND. What’s the story behin this track?
Tom: Haha! You nailed it. This song was originally for an Entombed/Dismember style band I wanted to do, but never had time for. I wasn’t sure it could work as a Night Viper song, but it’s turned out to be one of the best songs on the album. I’m really proud of that one. Jonna’s drum parts are cool as hell on it.
Sofie Lee: when Tom showed us this song, we all went waaaaooow! And even though it’s quite different from the other songs, I think it really oozes of Night Viper. I wanted to do a Coven-death metal song, and Tom said well, here you have it! The lyrics are about abortion, I first wanted to do it about a woman killing her own child remorselessly, but the social realism won again. It’s very non-judgemental, and about not accepting judgement around the issue.
– Then there’s «Lady Bad Luck»,with some NWOBHM dose and that subtle epic from the style. What does this song deal with?
Sofie Lee: this is probably my favorite song of the album, because of its melancholic atmosphere. This was also the most natural song for me to add vocals to even though it’s, yet another, song that’s not really typical Night Viper. It’s about unreturned love. Most of the songs are about being angry for various reasons, but I like having a sad one among them. It felt important to embrace my sadness without feeling weak about it at the time.
– On the other hand «Revenge» sounds a lot like HELLACOPTERS to me, is that kind of punkish rock n’ roll song we also found on your first release.
Tom: Nailed it again! Man, you guys really know your stuff. That’s exactly where it came from. I wrote this around 2003, and was listening a lot to The Hellacopters at the time. Well, I still do, of course! I feel like early thrash had a lot of rock ‘n’ roll in it, and I think it’s such a fresh-sounding mix. I’ve heard people say it’s like UFO or Diamond Head, but you’re right. It was The Hellacopters that inspired that one.
– And one my favourites is closer «All that Remains», it has a strong feeling, but I’m specially interested in knowing what did inspire its lyrics (if you know). I don’t know if it is a little bit autobiographical, social or both? It’s encouraging and has a certain sense of empowerment. Unfortunately I think these kind of lyrics are still relevant and even necessary in our time.
Sofie lee: thank you! That’s exactly what they’re meant to be. The song is about women coming together and bringing down the patriarchy whilst having a good time, I guess! I wrote it especially as a homage to my awesome loud lady friends, but it goes out to all women. The music business is, compared to normal standards (which aren’t that impressive either), embarrassingly far behind when it comes to gender equality, but I find it really endearing and empowering to see how most women within the industry are so supportive of each other. I really wanted to do a song to encourage and salute that.
Tom: Actually, I often get a bit teary in the part where Sofie Lee sings ‘rise and unite!’ I just get this image of her in my head, fist raised, leading women everywhere to empowerment and equality. It’s a great moment in that song.
– Basically every song on the album has its own identity. Is this something you strive for, or something important for you as a songwriter?
Tom: Thank you. That’s something I’m really proud of, actually. No, it’s not on purpose. It just happens, thankfully. I guess we have a feeling for what Night Viper sounds like, and it doesn’t have to be the same song ten times in a row. I guess one thing I did this time was to try writing in different keys so that you get some variation there. Ruben wrote three songs on this album, so that helps broaden the sound too. It’s a bit unfortunate that some bands pick a very niche sound and then make everything sound exactly the same from start to finish.
Sofie Lee: I always get a more or less finished song to work with, I’m way too self conscious to just «play around» singing in the practice space. And I don’t like to make alterations, I see it as a fun challenge to always make the song work as it’s originally written. So the mood and the tempo of the song always work as the blueprint for the vocal melodies and lyrics, never the other way around. It really doesn’t sound like it, but I think that can be something that adds to the variety, that there are two very separate ideas merged into one song.
– Anyway, despite this diversity, the common thread between all songs is their straight-forward energy, their simple and fresh approach. Is it something easy to get to blend so many different elements while keeping a straight forward, not complex core?
Tom: I always want the songs to be headbangable and not longer than they need to be. The songs are pretty compact. I want people to feel like they have to move throughout every song. I like dancing! Hopefully we’ve found the common ground that exists between heavy metal, thrash and rock ‘n’ roll, and it all blends together well.
– You always keep that sense of RNR, or that RNR nature in your songs, it doesn’t matter if they head more into a NWOBHM or Thrash/Speed direction, or toward a more Punk side. It’s always present in structure, in that simplicity that turns everything effective. In fact my very first impression when listening to «Exterminator» for first time was this was the most rocking Thrash Metal album I’ve heard in a long time. Due to this I would like to know how do you approach the songwriting, if it’s something planned or rather something more spontaneous? As it feels quite natural when listening to these tunes.
Tom: I love that! Actually, after a show in Berlin, one guy said to us if Entombed are death ‘n’ roll, then Night Viper must be thrash ‘n’ roll. Haha. It’s pretty accurate, actually. Ruben and I both work in pretty much the same way. We come up with a more or less finished song structure before we show it to the rest of the band. We usually do a rough demo so people can get an idea of the whole song, then we work on it as a band. Once it’s playable, we do a quick recording and give it to Sofie Lee to work on the vocals.
Sofie lee: Vocal wise, I don’t draw much inspiration from metal singers, but more of 70’s rock and even pop. I’m not trying to force anything, but just do a melody that comes natural to the song.
– I’ve found a huge improvement in production terms, this time you worked with Ola Ersfjord and recorded in Madrid, at Cuervo Recording Studios, that bands like DEAD LORD have also used. How was the whole experience like and how pleased are you with the final outcome?
Tom: We agree 1000%. We love the first album, but sound-wise it could have been better. This album is just how we imagined it. We love dirty, noisy records, but also need a certain level of clarity. We were talking about Entombed’s ‘To Ride…’ album, but when Ola suggested ‘Seasons In The Abyss’ as a blueprint, we all thought that would be a perfect starting point. I’ve heard ‘Exterminator’ a lot of times, but I’m still blown away by how energetic, punchy and exciting it sounds. Ola did an amazing job. Recording with him in Madrid was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We LOVE Madrid, and had the best time there. It’s a wonderful city, and our management team is based there. And they are just the best people. We had beautiful weather, and a perfect recording experience.
– Your debut album came out with Svart Records, and this one is being released with Listenable. How did this move happen?
Tom: Actually, Listenable were interested in us from the beginning, but we went with Svart for the first one. When it came to album number two, we felt like we wanted a label that was more promotion-minded, so we signed with Listenable. One other big metal label offered us a deal, but the deal Listenable offered was better, and we could tell they were super enthusiastic about us, and that mattered a lot.
– Some time ago your gutiar player Emil left the band and some months later you found a replacement in Johan, whom previously played in LETHAL STEEl. How was the quest for a new guitar player like? How has Johan fitted in?
Tom: Johan’s amazing. We knew him before he joined the band, and he already felt like one of the gang as soon as he joined. He’s a lovely person, and a great musician. Actually, looking for someone to replace Emil was really tough. I was starting to think the magic was over for us, actually. We tried someone else, and that didn’t work out, then we had to do a tour with Kristofer from Horisont filling in, then Emil came back just to fill in again. We had to keep rehearsing the same songs over and over again with each new guitar player. It was tough. We asked Johan earlier if he was interested, but he had recently moved to Stockholm to concentrate on Lethal Steel. When we heard he had quit the band and was moving to Gothenburg, Ruben called him straight away, and it was on. The band feels fantastic now.
– On the other hand you have again a black and white cover. Was it something planned, like trying to keep a trademark? This time was done by Karmazid. How did you work on it?
Tom: That really just started because it’s Sofie Lee and my taste. We like that look. The first single was black and white, and everything has stayed that way. It’s funny, ‘cos the music is pretty cheerful a lot of the time, which maybe doesn’t make you think of black and white. But I think there’s something that really suits us about it. I know when we were planning the artwork for the second album, Jonna was really adamant that it fit alongside the first one. And it really does. Karmazid did a truly wonderful job on the artwork. We were just overjoyed when we saw it. And now that we’ve seen the LP, we can say it has turned out perfectly.
– All this about «Exterminator» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Tom: Hmmmm…over-excited face-melting bangfest. Haha! I love hyphens.
– Now talking about yourself, you have played in different bands throughout the years. How of a mind expanding, or of a learning experience, is to explore different sides of your playing and to work with different individuals?
Tom: Sure, I’ve learned a whole lot from different people. The two biggest learning experiences were joining Church Of Misery and playing with Horisont. Church Of Misery was the first really great band I played with, so I played my hands off to get myself up to standard. Same with Horisont. I played 4-6 hours a day for six weeks to prepare to fill in for a 5-day tour. Haha! But I ended up joining the band, so it was worth the effort. Actually, that was a huge challenge for me. I had never had to play so precisely with such a clean guitar sound before. I really had to get better as a guitar player to play with those guys.
– Of all the bands you have been involved in, what does NIGHT VIPER provide you (both on a musical/creative level as well as on a personal one) that the others can’t our couldn’t?
Tom: I guess musically, this style of music was my first love, so it feels like, ‘aaaah, home at last!’ Metallica, Sepultura, Slayer, Kreator, those were my first favourite bands. And at least right now, it’s the style that I find the most exciting. On a personal level, I’ve loved all the bands I’ve been with, but there seems to be a special magic in Night Viper. I just love these guys.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
Tom: It’s gonna be release shows in Sweden in November and a European tour in December. Some of those shows will be with our favourites, Indian Nightmare. We are such good friends, and they are one of the best live bands in the world too. Everyone has to check them out! After that we’ll start working on another music video and start planning the next tour. And I already have some ideas for new songs.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Tom: Thanks for checking us out! Night Viper in the niiiiiight!!