Lucifer – One Foot in the DarknessSunday, 8th March 2020
There’s always something to be said for bands that play exactly what they want to play and ignore the current trends of the times. While Lucifer has had a number of line-up changes in its span of three albums, the established core of vocalist Johanna Sadonis and drummer Nicke Andersson returns for the latest Lucifer offering. Continuing onwards from the sound of II, the heavy rock elements still draw from the old without feeling aged. Lucifer writes exactly what they are interested in [as you will see below], and that makes for a genuine feeling to come from their music – something that’s also devoid of feeling like it comes from a certain time frame. We discuss this topic, along with the band’s recent US tour, what they have learned on the road together, and much more in this candid chat.
Dead Rhetoric: How’d the recent southern US tour go?
Johanna Sadonis: It was fun. We had two great support bands with us – Savage Master and Overdose from New York City. They were a sweet gang and we had a lot of fun with them. For me, it was a bit difficult because my father passed away at the beginning of the tour so it was a bit of a rollercoaster.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel people can expect from III – how does it compare to your last two releases?
Sadonis: I think it ties in more to the last album, naturally. I would say that it’s slightly more horror themed. I would think it is kind of a continuation of the last album.
Nicke Andersson: The differences between the three albums so far is mainly the personnel I would say. The first album had a different line-up, the second album had Johanna, myself, and Robin, who is out of the band – he quit just after Lucifer II was released, as he became a dad. We are now with the line-up that has toured since Lucifer II. It’s basically three albums with three different line-ups.
Sadonis: The third album was written between Nicke and I, just like the second one. So that’s why it’s a continuation.
Andersson: But the personnel is different. Other than that, it’s just new songs I think. You know how it is – it’s so much easier for an outside person to analyze the music. To us, I think we are just done with it, because we have thought about it and been in it for so long – we don’t really think about it so much.
Sadonis: That’s funny, because by the time an album comes out, for the band it is kind of old news. It’s been a while and the songs have been circulating in our household [laughs], without the world to see. Another difference is that the production is similar but it does sound a little different. It’s similar writing, but sonically it’s different. But it was also different in the studio – Nicke moved studios.
Andersson: But it sounds the same…
Sadonis: I thought it sounded a bit clearer than the last one.
Andersson: Maybe, but it’s the same studio. We just moved the crap into a new house [laughs].
Sadonis: We popped the cherry of the new studio.
Andersson: Also, I think our preferences haven’t changed, so I guess it’s similar in that regard. I think it’s good, that’s what we think. Only time will tell.
Sadonis: What do you think?
Dead Rhetoric: I really liked it – I liked the direction that you took with the last album, so hearing this one, it felt like the next progression with that. What I caught up on with it was that there’s still the heavier guitar parts but there’s a lot of melodic pieces without it being too ‘commercial’ sounding.
Sadonis: That sounds nice – I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you.
Dead Rhetoric: Working with together for two albums now, do you feel this one was easier to write with you knowing where the other is coming from more?
Andersson: Maybe, in some parts.
Sadonis: We were kind of surprised with the second one in how easy it felt [to write]. We had just met, so it kind of clicked right away for the second one. But once you have that confirmed and you live together and you listen to so much music together and talk about music so much, I guess it becomes even more fluent, what both of us want to get out of the album.
Dead Rhetoric: As I was talking about with the heavy and catchy parts, is there something you can look at? Is there some sort of line that you can see where you know that’s a direction that you want to go in, or is it just something that happens naturally?
Andersson: I think it’s more song by song.
Sadonis: It’s more song by song – I’m a fan of catchy, and if that goal is somehow is achieved then I am extremely happy. But it’s important not to forget the heavy parts. When you have certain numbers that go in one direction, it’s like, what does the album need in order to balance it all out so that you keep some sort of tension throughout the album. You don’t have only doom songs, or high energy songs. I guess we just start somewhere, and after a few songs, we ask ourselves what the album needs in order to be balanced. We didn’t try to reinvent the Lucifer wheel with this one.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you find that your lyrical inspirations come from?
Sadonis: From all sorts of stuff. There’s always a wild mix of personal stories that I usually try to shroud into some sort of metaphors. But it’s also more direct sometimes. There’s also just stuff that I’m into, or that I just make up in my head. I try not to limit myself – anything goes. I think on the second album, I was maybe a little bit more ready to leave some of the hocus pocus stuff behind me and go into more personal stories. Nicke was kind of encouraging me to…
Andersson: Keep one foot in the darkness.
Sadonis: Exactly. I fully embraced that idea where I have one foot in for this third album.
Dead Rhetoric: You have album I, II, and III. Is this something that you feel is going to keep progressing with numbers for each title?
Sadonis: Anything goes. It might also have an odd title, or we skip straight to number 42 [laughs]. It’s really open.
Andersson: I think it’s great to have this. You never have to worry about an album title, which I have had done a few in my time [laughs]. Sometimes it comes naturally and sometimes it doesn’t. So having the numbers is a blessing to me. Maybe it’s getting boring for you…
Sadonis: I’m a fan of uneven numbers. For some reason, three is a number that a lot of things come in. We’ll see where we are at for number four. It could also be a combination of words and numbers, like Danzig III: How the Gods Kill.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel defines what Lucifer is with three albums worth of material?
Sadonis: In general, I would describe Lucifer with a heavy/hard rock band with roots in proto-metal and a certain part of doom. I think that’s the continuing theme, even though on the first album, maybe the proportions of those elements were different. I guess it was more doom then the other parts, and now it’s more of a hard rock band. I think all the elements are still there, but its with different weights on the individual spices.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you learn as the band continues to get more touring time in together?
Andersson: This goes for any band – I think the ultimate way to make music would be to tour for an album and then record it. It really shows how much better the songs get after you are on the road for a while. Just playing together makes it so much better.
Sadonis: It does – that’s the way it used to be back in the day. Before they had a deal – then a band got a deal and recorded everything and it just sounded aces. That’s why the first two albums by any band are awesome. But the problem is that you also want to entertain people, so when you go out on tour and you play an entire unrecorded album, it doesn’t really work.
Andersson: But it would be awesome.
Sadonis: Maybe it would be better – we don’t rehearse. We get together to rehearse right before we go out on tour or to a festival. But we don’t just casually meet up to rock out together. So we don’t feel we have that ability to break in new things before it gets recorded unfortunately.
Dead Rhetoric: Last time we talked it was mentioned that something you don’t like about modern productions is the sleek and polished feel. What do you particularly like about the ‘sound’ of Lucifer?
Andersson: It’s not so much the sound that we have. For me personally, I know how I want a snare drum to sound, and it’s just a preference.
Sadonis: It’s just like, you like your coffee with almond milk or sugar or something…
Andersson: Let’s just say black [laughs]. It sounds better. I don’t know, people like what they are used to. To what’s familiar. If you listen to more modern/contemporary stuff, you are prone to like what you are used to. But we don’t like that stuff. We like the sounds we hear in the records that we listen to. It doesn’t matter if it is Fleetwood Mac or Pentagram – they still have good drum sounds, for example. Everything sounds more like it should sound. That’s not us being ‘retro’ or ‘vintage,’ I just think it sounds better. It sounds more like it should sound.
Sadonis: Maybe that’s because we are fucking old [laughs].
Andersson: I think it’s more like, we are right and they are wrong. It must be that! It can’t be any other way! [Laughter] I don’t know, it’s almost like, if we had a modern production, maybe more people would like us, but that’s never going to happen. We just have to wait and people realize that this sounds better. Do I sound full of myself here?
Dead Rhetoric: A little bit, but not to that point…
Andersson: I can get worse [laughter]…
Dead Rhetoric: It’s funny because a lot of times you don’t hear that confidence. But you’ve been doing this for so many years – you have to have that confidence to stick around.
Andersson: I’m only confident in what I hear. Again, that’s just a preference.
Sadonis: You should see the grin on his face though [laughs].
Andersson: Well, I know what I like.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, and we find that out as we continue to get older and we can dig deeper into those preferences.
Andersson: But then again, when you are older a lot of other things will pass as well. So it’s both – when you are like 18 you hate this because of that, and you like only this because of that, or whatever. It’s not like that for any of us anymore.
Sadonis: What is important about any band is sincerity. If we were to go with something to sell more albums or ‘make it’ somehow, we would go for a sound that is unnatural for our personal tastes. That would suck.
Andersson: Then we couldn’t sleep at night.
Dead Rhetoric: I think there is that market too – the sound Lucifer has kind of falls into vibe with the ‘70s influences to make it feel, to me, more timeless in a way.
Andersson: Thank you, that’s what I was going to get to!
Sadonis: Yeah, that’s a good word in music.
Andersson: If you have this, generic is what I call it, sound today. Like, that snare drum is the same one that is out there on this album that came out two months before – that’s not going to sound timeless in a few years. It’s going to sound dated. Whereas I don’t think…I’m full of myself again I’m sorry.
Sadonis: We just do what we love, and that feels good. I don’t have to cringe when I hear the music.
Andersson: Wouldn’t that be horrible if you heard an album you made, say 5 years ago, and then you are like, “Why did we go for that sound?”
Dead Rhetoric: You were saying that the two of you talk a lot about music earlier. What are some of the bands/music that comes up?
Andersson: Blue Oyster Cult, and Blue Oyster Cult.
Sadonis: We have exchange with friends going on as well – we were sitting in the van for two weeks on our last tour and we had Philip Shouse filling in on bass. He usually plays with Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley, and he just joined Accept. We had a problem that our bass player Alex couldn’t do it and we needed someone in America because they wouldn’t need a visa. So we asked Phil, because we met on the Kiss Cruise last year, and he was up for it. He is made from a similar mold, so there was a lot of music talk. Mainly, he and Nicke talked a lot about Kiss [laughs]. There was not one hour that went by without some sort of Kiss talk. But there was a lot of other stuff in the after parties after each show, and everybody playing their bargain bin discoveries – old rock from the ‘70s that was maybe not popular. There were so many finds there. We talk about a lot discoveries and old stuff.
Andersson: Yeah, bands that never made it. Which there’s a lot of hidden gems there.
Dead Rhetoric: When you did the touring for Lucifer II in the US, you did it in little patches. Did it make it easier to do it that way instead of a big, sprawling tour that went coast to coast?
Andersson: Yes and no.
Sadonis: It was more expensive to do it that way because we had so many flights. Nicke has a small son who is 5, so we can’t be away for so long. But also, after two weeks – it’s not like we are in a big bus on tour. We are sitting in a van. There are those long distances in the US so it can be pretty exhausting. In this last two week run, we had one day off. After two weeks, every night I have to drink wine and recover in the morning [laughs]. But seriously, after two weeks I think everyone is ready to do laundry and sleep in their beds. We are still jet-lagged and recovering and we have been home for a week! Nicke and I both have had these super long tours in the past and it works, but it also makes you want to not tour. If you take too much out of the energy bank. I think it’s good to keep it a little bit shorter and to the point.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s planned for Lucifer this year?
Andersson: It’s mainly touring.
Sadonis: Since we’ve done the States now three times, we have to focus on Europe too. We will do tour European tours in May and November. We have a lot of festivals coming up. We will go to Russia for the first time. So yeah, mainly touring.
Andersson: Playing shows, and writing songs for Lucifer IV.
Sadonis: I’m actually looking forward to going back into the studio now.