Draconian - Of The Burning Halo And The Future
By: Ofir Messer
Interview With: Johan Ericson (Guitar), Draconian
Draconian is not your typical doom metal band which only heavy doomsters will identify with. The Swedish band's debut album, released 3 years ago, brought something new to the heavy and depressive mix that makes doom metal, that attracted many new fans. Following the success of their second album, "Arcane Rain Fell", the band's followers grew and grew, eagerly awaiting their next release, finally here in the form of "The Burning Halo", a bonus album that includes re-recorded demo tracks and several new songs. To find out what's up in the Draconian camp prior to the recording of their 3rd full length album, we spoke with the band's lyricist and guitarist – Johan Ericson.
First of all, congratulations on your new release, The Burning Halo. Now that it's out, can you tell us why was it almost a year overdue?
We had several problems with the recording finding spare time to actual record our parts for it.
What is the meaning behind the name, The Burning Halo?
It’s for each and everyone to decide for themselves.
Why do you call this album a "Bonus Album" and not an EP or something else that fits this release? What makes it different then regular releases in your opinion?
The whole idea from the beginning was to just record new versions of older demo songs but in the end we decided to add some new ones and a couple of cover songs. So it’s a mix of how Draconian sounds today and how we sounded seven years ago. To avoid the confusion of this being the brand new Draconian album we decided to call this one a “bonus” album.
Your new release contains, among other songs, 3 songs from one of your demos, but since not many people listened to it [the demo], you can say these songs are new for everyone else. What made you re-record them?
There was such a huge demand from our fans to hear how we sounded before we released our first album. Instead of giving them the old versions from the 1999 demo “The Closed Eyes of Paradise” we just re-recorded the songs we thought would be best.
Draconian have existed since 1994, but it took you almost ten years to release your first album. What was holding the band from releasing albums all this time?
We never really tried to get a recording contract in the early days. It wasn’t until the 2002 demo “Dark Oceans We Cry” that we went looking for a deal.
Over the years you developed a distinct sound among Doom Metal acts, not entirely a doom-oriented band, with your melodies, and special gothic atmosphere. How did you develop this unique sound?
I guess it all comes natural. We don’t decide how to sound it just develops into a sound.
Some time has passed since your line-up changed, with the addition of new guitar and bass players. How did you find these replacements and what made them fit the band?
They’re both good friends to the band and are very passionate about music. Things work really well at the moment although we since also have a new keyboard player.
During the last couple of years, Draconian members where involved in some other projects, including Doom:Vs and Scorched. How do you find the time to do this and how does it affect the work with your main band?
You just need to find it. It’s hard sometimes but I wouldn’t be left without it. It’s just great to have different channels to spread your music with. The main focus will always be on Draconian I think.
What creates the need for bands outside of Draconian anyway?
Take Scorched for an example. Daniel who is the main man behind the project is very into black metal and therefore I think he just needs to create the music he truly loves. Same goes for me with the DOOM:VS project, some ideas are very hard to fit into the Draconian sound and therefore I created DOOM:VS.
I understand that your latest tour got cancelled. What is the current situation with it? Will you reschedule?
I don’t know at this point. There been talks about trying to get a tour together in the spring.
Can you describe to us how's your live show like and what feelings do you want to reflect upon the fans during it?
The same feeling they get listening to our records I guess. We are not a big show band with costumes and stuff we’re all very natural and we always let the music speak for itself.
Back to your latest release, you included 2 covers for classic songs "On Sunday They Will Kill the World" by Ekseption and "Forever My Queen" by the legendary Pentagram. What made you chose these songs and how did those bands affect Draconian?
My all time favorite band is Pentagram and it felt good to take the opportunity and record one of their songs. I don’t think that their music affected how Draconian sounds but they are indeed a great inspiration for me. The Ekseption song is a heavy song that we thought would be fun to do our own version of. Not many people have heard the original song either.
Can you describe the process of work on a new Song / CD?
I usually sit down and write some riffs and record them. I present the stuff for the band and they add their own stuff to music. I think we will try to make more of it together in the future. We’ll see how that works out.
How did you come to the concept of Anti-Religion, Sorrow and Such on the Draconian songs?
Thru how we feel as persons. We never saw anything in good in religion and it’s just a natural response to it. The sorrow comes perfect with the mood of the music. You can’t really sing about happy times and birds and shit if you’re playing in A minor. It doesn’t fit very well.
What other bands, old and new, are on your play list? Do you like other metal genres?
I like most types of music. Everything from Death Metal to Country. As long as I find it interesting and good. It’s usually minor key songs though.
In the band's "History" it says "...The months that followed were less productive for DRACONIAN, as two of its members completed their military service..." Here in Israel, military service is required almost from everyone at the age of 18, for 2-3 years. Is it required in Sweden as well? and what does it take from a person to do it?
It used to be but the government keeps on cutting the budget down every year for the Swedish military so they can’t afford all people to do military service anymore, which is a good thing. Sweden is such a small country and wouldn’t be able to defend herself if we went to war anyway,
What is the situation regarding your next full length album? Any details you're willing to share?
We will start writing very soon I think and it will probably be recorded in the fall of 2007.
Is it too early to think of a DVD release for Draconian?
Yes, we find it hard to even get proper shows right now.
What other plans do Draconian members have for the future of the band and/or themselves (with other projects)?
A great deal, Scorched is in the making of a new album. I’m also planning for another DOOM:VS release. Jerry (Drums) is in the process of finishing two demos for 2 of his projects and Fredrik (bass) have just finished a brand new recording with doom stoner rockers The Goddamned. So we’re busy, busy, busy!
That’s it for the interview. Please, share with your loyal Israeli followers some last words of wisdom.
Words don’t come easy.