Ladies and gentlemen, Lucifer is amongst us. But before you run to the nearest church and ask for cover, let me clarify: rather than talking about an evil entity, I’m referring to the amazing 70’s revisionist band originally formed in Berlin, which are now experiencing a second incarnation.
Fronted by Johanna Sadonis (ex-The Oath) and with her now-fiancée Nicke Andersson (The Hellacopters, Entombed) on drums, they are influenced by Blue Oyster Cult, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath, and are ready to release their sophomore album, entitled “Lucifer II”, in July 2018.
Lotsofmuzik’s Rodrigo Altaf had the chance to catch up with Johanna S and Nicke, and they spoke about how the second incarnation of the band came to fruition.
Lotsofmuzik: Johanna and Nicke, nice talking to you! To start things off, tell us how Lucifer was formed.
Johanna Sadonis: I formed Lucifer right after The Oath ended, because I wanted to do music right away and thought I had something to give. I had a concept for Lucifer, which, honestly has more to do with what we’re doing now on the second album. Then Gaz Jennings was recommended to me and he was up for it, so we released the first album.
LOM: How did you chose that name, and are you aware that there are other acts called the same – have you guys been in trouble for that yet, are you expecting any kind of trouble?
JS: Of course there are other bands named Lucifer. If you look into metal archives, any word you might be interested in as a potential band name, there are twenty bands who already used it! With Lucifer I found five or six. And just after we recorded the first album, I got a message from a German thrash band saying that THEY would change their name. Honestly, I didn’t find any other band who could be bigger than us at this point, only bands that didn’t even exist anymore. I just thought it was a great and catchy short name that begged to be taken, so I used it!
LOM: The first thing that came to mind when I looked at the material was that the font in Lucifer’s name is EXACTLY the one used on Rush’s first album – has anyone else made that connection? Are you Rush fans in particular?
JS: Not in particular, just the first album. And that was kind of on purpose – I like the songs and the artwork of Rush’s first album. I contacted Alan Forbes, he’s a screeenprint artist from San Francisco and asked him to use that in the same font in our logo. But at the same time, there are other bands who used a similar font!
Nicke Andersson: Yeah, it’s also on Elton John’s self titled album – it was a pretty common font then, but the on that sticks out is the Rush one.
LOM: Lucifer II is a very different animal from your first album, so tell us a bit about the lineup changes that occurred between the two releases.
JS: After the last European tour last year Gaz left, and I had no songwriting partner. Meanwhile, Nicke and I saw each other the same day that Gaz said he’d leave, and pretty much there and then Nicke asked if we could write together.
LOM: Nicke, when you started writing for this album did you refer back to the first one as a starting point, or did you start from scratch?
NA: Well, first of all, since we started seeing each other, I almost interrogated Johann about the process of writing together, because I always wrote songs on my own. At some point during a Lucifer show I even asked Gaz how that worked, because I was generally interested – it seemed like something I’d want to do but simply didn’t know how to do it. When we started writing together, we discussed a lot about the direction the band was going to go and Johanna’s vision of it. I understood what she wanted, and agreed that we would stay down tuned to C#, which is the classic Black Sabbath tuning, and not change things dramatically.
JS: And after the initial surprise when Gaz left I took this as an opportunity because I thought “ok, now I can rethink what Lucifer should be”. I guess we are now reshaped to reflect what Nicke and I like musically – it’s diving deep into the music crate of the 70’s. At the same time we don’t steer away too far from our approach on the first album, because you don’t want to alienate fans completely. I’m really happy with how the album turned out, and I think it’s a step up.
LOM: What do you intend to play live when you go on tour? Any material from The Oath?
JS: No – Entombed doesn’t play Hellacopter songs, so why should Lucifer play The Oath songs, right? (laughs)
NA: We played four shows so far with the new lineup, and we mixed the first and second album in our set.
JS: I wanted to focus just on the second one, but Nicke said that we cannot leave the songs form our debut behind, because a lot of fans still want to hear those songs. So we balanced it out.
LOM: Tell us about the video for the first song on the album, “California Sun”. I couldn’t help but think about that movie Death Proof by Tarantino – was that the intention?
JS: Not really. Tarantino is great, but I think he’s too contemporary. My idea was more to draw inspiration from the videos that Deep Purple and Steppenwolf did in the 70’s with the green screen and the primitive special effects of that era, with all the psychedelic motifs. It was also a good opportunity to let loose and not seem too serious or dark. We had fun and to me it was a good chance to show that Lucifer is not all doom and gloom.
LOM: And Johanna, you directed the video yourself, is this something new for you, and did it come naturally?
JS: Well, I had the idea in my head of how I wanted it to look, with the motorcycle, and we hired one guy who had all sorts of different ideas that weren’t what we wanted. Eventually we decided to do our own thing. And Nicke and I have a very strong and similar vision of the aesthetics we want. That’s why we decide everything concerning the artwork by ourselves
NA: Also because we can’t afford to hire someone else! (laughs)
JS: That’s for sure! (laughs)
LOM: One of my particular favourite songs of the album was the cover of the Rolling Stones, “Dancing with Mr. D.”. In your version it has a distinctive Black Sabbath vibe, right?
JS: Yeah, it was my idea to cover that one, which is on Goats Head Soup. It has a creepy vibe – Mr. D is the devil of course, and Nicke picked up right away that this could sound like a Black Sabbath song with the right tuning.
LOM: Faux Pharaoh is another song you seem to be particularly proud of – tell us about the title of that song and what it’s about?
JS: I think it’s maybe the heaviest and doomest of the album. A pharaoh is a king in Egypt of course, and I made this expression “faux pharaoh” up, about someone who takes himself too seriously.
LOM: Nicke, you played most of the instruments on the album – did you feel challenged in any way to do that, or did you feel comfortable to do it?
NA: I am a bit of a control freak, so I guess it has its advantages sometimes. We were really eager to record the album, and instead of auditioning guitar players and bass players, we thought “let’s work with what we have so far” – that was me, Johanna and Robin on guitar. I love playing all instruments and it was in no way to show off, but just to get the album ready.
JS: And nowadays I live with Nicke in Stockholm, but when we recorded the demos for the album, every time I came to visit him we used the studio in his house and it was just much quicker to do it that way.
LOM: And now you have new members in the band for the upcoming tour, right?
JS: Yeah, after we recorded the album we knew we had to get more members, because we have to play live. And now we have Martin Nordin on guitars and Alexander Mayr on bass, Robin Tidebrink on guitars and Nicke is taking on drums. They are permanent members of Lucifer now, and for the next album we’ll record everything together.
LOM: Revisioning the sound of the 70’s seems to be a trend these days, with many bands not just paying homage to that era, but almost acting like we’re still in the 70’s, with the clothing, the looks, the tones…why do you guys think that that became a trend?
NA: I’ve looked the same for twenty years, maybe even more (laughs)! I think that trends come and go, and like you said this is trendy right now, but for me it has nothing to do with it – I’ve always prefered this type of music – as a sound engineer, I think the sound of the albums from the 60’s and 70’s are better than any other decade.
JS: Yeah, in modern recording technique, everything is so slick and polished, there are click tracks, and to me it’s horrible, because it takes the life out of music, it loses its charm and doesn’t sound organic. For us, looking back at the 60’s and 70’s is not a trend, this is a timeless thing. Even the bands who are not engaged in this “retro” thing, even more modern-styled bands, mention other bands from the 70’s as influences heavily, because this is where good music was. There aren’t many bands out there than can match up the craftsmanship of the late 60’s and 70’s.
NA: I have many albums in my collection which are from the 70’s, and they’re so dramatically superior to anything that came before or since! And I guess the secret is that you shouldn’t try to emulate that if it’s not in your heart – if it doesn’t come from within and you’re doing something just because it’s a trend, you’re always going to be late.
LOM: What would you say is the secret to achieve that perfect vintage tone? Is it about the pedals or effects you use, and/or how the recording is made, or the mix?
NA: I think it’s a combination of everything and even more so the mindset. I don’t go for the tone or the mix with a specific frame of mind, I just do it and to me it sounds right. My sonic preference usually falls into that, and that’s what I usually try to achieve. With guitars, I think it’s more the style of playing rather than the right use of pedals. I have tons of pedals, just because I’m a nerd (laughs), but they won’t help you if you don’t play the guitar a certain way. There are no shortcuts really. If you wanna sound like Ace Frehley, you gotta play like Ace Frehley!
LOM: You’re playing Hellfest this year – what are the expectations for the festival, and what other bands are you eager to see while you’re there?
JS: We’re excited, and we just booked our flights to that festival! I can see The Hellacopters, because we’ll play and then I get to see other bands. But Nicke will play drums with us and then he’ll play with The Hellacopters, so he won’t get a chance to see much.
NA: We heard it’s going to be really hot because it’s in the French desert (laughs). And one of the bands I’d like to see if I get a chance is Gluecifer, because they’re having a reunion.
LOM: What else is planned in terms of touring this year for the band?
JS: There’s gonna be quite a few festivals. We were invited for a show in Las Vegas and we’re planning an European tour in the fall and then maybe Japan later in the winter. We want to go to the U.S. and Canada, but not this year, because it’s really expensive and time consuming to organize the visas and flights over there. But we’ll make it happen!
LOM: How can the fans become aware of news about Lucifer?
JS: We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the addresses are:
LOM: Thank you so much guys, and all the best with the new album!
JS and NA: Thanks!
Lucifer’s second album “Lucifer II” comes out on July 06th via Century Media. The lineup and tracklist can be seen below:
LUCIFER II tracklist (42:00)
01. California Son (03:26)
02. Dreamer (04:46)
03. Phoenix (05:47)
04. Dancing With Mr. D (04:11)
05. Reaper On Your Heels (05:06)
06. Eyes In The Sky (04:30)
07. Before The Sun (03:38)
08. Aton (05:05)
09. Faux Pharaoh (05:25)
Johanna Sadonis – Vocals
Nicke Andersson – Drums
Robin Tidebrink – Guitar
Martin Nordin – Live Guitar
Alexander Mayr – Live Bass
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