Timeless Landscapes An interview with Joakim Nilsson, frontman, guitarist and vocalist of the Swedish hard, psychedelic, blues rockers Graveyard shortly before they invaded the Underworld in their well-deserved role as the impeccable headliner. Fabiola Santini
Welcome back to London, to a sold-out Underworld! In 2006, Graveyard became a band in the wake of important chapters of the Goteborg music scene such as Norrsken, Witchcraft and Albatros; how did it all happen? Thank you, it’s always great to be back to London! Well yes, let’s say that Witchcraft came definitely first. Norrsken and Albatros were some kind of in-between projects before Graveyard was definitely finalised with our intentions to be fully involved this time. I am happy that with Graveyard I went back to singing, which I did not do when I was in Albatros. How would you describe the Graveyard sound today? It’s somewhat hard for me to describe what we play, we only try to play the music that we like to listen to. It’s hard for us to play anything else as this is the music we have always been involved in since we were kids. We are definitely not trying to be a seventies band as we have been influenced by so many other styles and periods, too many to mention. I think Graveyard is a separate reality from the traditional Swedish metal/ rock scene which today has become more extreme and heavier. Would you agree? Yes, and it’s really easy for me to answer this question: I have never listened to any extreme metal band even if, being from Goteborg, we are all friends with some of the guys in those bands. We just never got influenced by that sound, that’s all. Is there any particular Swedish band beside Graveyard that makes you proud of being Swedish? I admire a Swedish musician by the name of Bo Hansson; he was just great at playing the organ. He even made it outside of Sweden, even if it was a while ago. Between Graveyard (2007) your debut album and the Hisingen Blues (2011) it took 4 years, why did it take so long for the follow-up? When Graveyard came out in 2007, we started touring immediately and that lasted for two and half years. We started recording after we stopped for a while; we needed to get the ideas all together after so much time time on the road. Hisingen is an island in Sweden which forms the Northern part of Goteborg, but why Hisingen Blues, what does the title stand for? Rikard (Edlund), our bass player, lived in this part of Goteborg which is indeed one island in the northern part of the city. He started writing how he felt at that time, which was not too good. We just liked what he came up with and we choose to call the album just like the place it originated. This part of Sweden is not a slum or anything like this; however, it’s not the happiest place either. The artwork is amazing; it brings memories of fantastic fairytales like Peter Pan. Who is the author and how was the concept born? I am glad you like it. We had very little influence at all on the choice of the concept, it was all the artist’s work, our friend Ulf Lundén. We started talking about a shipwreck in the ocean and because of Hisingen we just wanted to give the effect of lots of water surrounding it. He came up with the whole rainforest idea, which we thought was pretty amazing. Are you happy with the results you have achieved with Hisingen Blues, and what was the reaction of your fans when you played it live for the first time? Yes, absolutely. Last year, when Hisingen Blues was released, it marked a very important step for us. We found ourselves opening for big bands like Iron Maiden and Deep Purple. The response that we had by taking the album live was just amazing, we are all very happy with the results. Is there any particular song from Hisingen Blues that you like to play live? All of them! But probably Uncomfortably Numb is still one of my favorites now. How did an underground heavy blues/psychedelic rock band sign a contract with a giant metal label like Nuclear Blast? They really liked our first album. They are probably trying to add some variety by signing us in their great catalog, so to become different from other metal labels. We work really well with them as they are all into the music they represent. Are you happy the way the current tour with Horisont and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell is going? It’s been sold out in every city, we could not have asked for anything better. Any festival rumors? We are playing few European festivals including Wacken this year, we cannot wait! (Taking place in Wacken, Germany from August 2nd to August 4th. For info, head to www.wacken.com).