Grand Magus – None the Wiser At Midnight

Sunday, 31st March 2013 With The Hunt, what is most striking is how each song seems to flow well into the next. You can listen to it all the way through without wanting to jump to the next track. Are you a big stickler for this when putting the songs together?

Christoffersson: That was one of the main things that we were concerned about. Doing the albums we grew up on – the Black Sabbath stuff, Rainbow, the early Dio albums and such. We wanted variation, we wanted dynamics. We didn’t want just ten heavy metal songs on top of each other, but we wanted all the weirdness that sometimes turns up when you listen to early Judas Priest…it’s definitely heavy metal, but there’s a lot of “stuff” going on that’s not streamlined. So that was a very conscious effort on our part. In terms of your vocal performance, some of these songs like “Valhalla Rising” and “Storm King” rank among your best. You strike me as a humble guy, but where have you seen your own development?

Christoffersson: [pauses] I guess I’m more confident. All the albums in the past I’ve been like, “Oh, where’s this going to end?” You go in blindfolded or you’re chased by someone with a gun while blindfolded and you’re running in the forest. This time, I knew I will end up in the clearing, I won’t run into one of these tree-trunks at the end. I think that made it more relaxed. The whole atmosphere when we were recording was just me and Nico [Engstrand, producer] duking it out. “Okay, that’s a good take, but you need to re-do the second verse because it sounds like shit.” Whereas with Hammer of the North, it was like “Oh, this is never going to work!” So you’re saying that by simplifying things, you made it more effective.

Christoffersson: Maybe. I think that to me, the best heavy metal music is a simple dish, but you need to be very on your toes when cooking it. The performance is everything and the songwriting is everything, but keep it simple. That’s what attracted to me to heavy metal in the first place – it got me going. You don’t want too much fluff or complicated stuff, you just wanted something you can bang your head to and sing along to. That was the guiding light. If you go back, songs like “Like the Oar Strikes the Water” or “The Shadow Knows” are some of your best, but most simple. I think that’s when Grand Magus is at its best, don’t you think?

Christoffersson: Yeah, maybe, but simple is very hard [laughs]. If you really, really like the be-all, end-all, it’s AC/DC, but that’s the most incredibly hard music to play because only AC/DC can pull it off because they’re such excellent musicians. We like it very meat and potatoes, but the most important thing for us is the emotional delivery. Simplicity is not always heaviness or stone-age riffs. Simplicity is also a simplified song structure. Going back to when you were first cutting your teeth in Grand Magus or when you joined Spiritual Beggars, did you think you’d last this long?

Christoffersson: No. I’ve always been the kind of person that has lived day-by-day, and I’ve never had a masterplan for anything. Life’s experiences have taught me that everything can end tomorrow. I think that’s one of the reasons for our longevity. If you have a big plan and it falls apart, you give up, but to me, this is like breathing…it’s just something I felt the desire to do. Every new album and every gig is like an adventure. It sounds like fucking bullshit, but it’s true. The adventure is not necessarily something enjoyable, but it’s adventure. I’m curious: How old were you when you stumbled upon the fact that you could sing well? You and I both know people that claim they can sing, but they really can’t, so when did it hit you that your voice wasn’t too shabby?

Christoffersson: [laughs] I think I started singing in ’96. Me and [bassist] Fox were playing together [with another singer], but he left. So, I just winged it. We noticed that it’s an easy way to run a band with just three people, but I didn’t think too much of it, but it worked. Plus, you can left-brain, right-brain it. That’s a trick in itself.

Christoffersson: For me, that’s one of the reasons we play really simple music [laughs]. Some guys, one guy who I think is amazing is John Sykes (Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder) because he can play the most complicated thing on guitar and sing awesomely at the same time. That’s not what I’m doing…I’m playing very simple guitar underneath the vocals. But I guess if you have the will, then you can do it. Have you followed what’s going on with Candlemass now that Robert Lowe is out?

Christoffersson: Yeah, I got a call a few weeks ago, so I knew what was going to happen. What can I say? I’m not involved in the band, I know the guys…I don’t have much of a comment other than Mats [Leven; Lowe’s temporary replacement] is an awesome singer. No one is going to be disappointed. Hypothetically speaking, if you weren’t so busy with Grand Magus, do you think you’d give that gig a shot if asked?

Christoffersson: I actually sung vocals for their 25th anniversary show. That’s right. I can’t believe I forgot.

Christoffersson: I did “Well of Souls.” That was a magical experience. There would be no point, really. I love Candlemass, but they are Candlemass and we are Grand Magus. I love those guys, I really do. It was such an honor to sing with them, but I don’t think it would be on the map.

Grand Magus official website

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