LUCIFER – An Interview with Johanna Sadonis


Interview by Miriam Cadoni

Photo by Linda Åkeberg

Although nowadays we are living in serious precarious times, the only thing that can keep us alive is music. Naturally, the impact on the music business is enormous and we still are not awake of its consequences in the entirety but let’s get distracted for a while from this Corona shit and let’s focus on the new album by Sweden‘s well-treasured jewel of retro rock/doom heavy rock called Lucifer. The Swedish quartet is back with their album aptly named “Lucifer III” via Century Media Records and for know more about it, we get in contact with the amazing Johanna Sadonis, the singer of this magic band. Enjoy and wash your hands!

Hi Johanna, welcome back to Femme Metal Webzine. How life is treating you nowadays and how everything is going?

Hi, nice to talk to Femme Metal Webzine once again. Well, life is complicated right now. We’re home on a self-imposed quarantine because we just got back from South America. I was accompanying Nicke during his tour with The Hellacopters. So, everything started while we were in South America and now, we’re at home. It looks like we have to postpone our tour in May. We’re just trying to make the best of it and you know, try to use the time at home and we thought since the circumstances, it was time to work on new music. So, it’s what we have to do.

So, the new album of Lucifer was released exactly on the 29th March 2020 and in retrospect, what can you share about its writing and producing session?

Well, we recorded throughout the last winter and we recorded at home in our studio. Nicke and I produced and mixed the album and we had Linus [Björklund] and Martin [Bordin] playing the guitars with us who are part of the band after “Lucifer II” was released, so we have been playing for almost the past two years and now, now it’s so nice that they are part of this album too. The cover artwork was designed by Graham Humphreys who’s a British illustrator which still works in old school style by painting everything manually. We were excited that he accepted our offer to collaborate with us for the cover artwork. I’m very proud of the album, I’m excited about it and I hope that people dig it and maybe now that everything is going through difficult times, I hope it can help people in spending some good time and people that are into our music will enjoy the new album.

Well, “Lucifer III” was introduced by 3 singles which are “Ghost”, “Midnight Phantom” and “Leather Demon”. Please pardon me, maybe this is my opinion but I’m an old school listener and I usually like to be surprised. Don’t you think that releasing three singles in a row might offer too many spoilers for the listeners?

Well, it’s a matter of opinion but the thing is that what the record company wants from us, they want to release that amount of singles and then, you have also decide which one is the first to be released and we consequently decided for “Ghost” because it was the first song that we wrote for “Lucifer III”. Also, we have been playing it live since last year already and people seemed to like it. It’s not something that often happens that people like a new song at a show because the audience expects to be entertained and they just want to listen to songs that they already know. It appears that it has worked very well and I thought that “Ghost” was a good representation  because it also covers other aspects of us as a band. Then, you know, the label wanted two more singles and we chose “Midnight Phantom” and “Leather Demon”. The first one is kinda a smooth kind of doom groove and the second one because it was a bit different than the rest. It’s difficult to pick songs that represent you but you have to in order to promote an album. You just release singles and it is how it has been.

“Lucifer II” was released back in 2018. Which are the main musical differences that can distinguish between “Lucifer III” and “Lucifer II”

It’s difficult to say for me because I’m so into the music and I’m not objective enough. We just follow our hearts, we just write stuff that feels good for us that we can sleep at night, you know? Maybe the difference is that I could deliberately decide to dig deeper once again into horror themes but other than that, musically speaking, I think it’s more of a continuation of “Lucifer II”.

This question might sound overrated. I was wondering if is it possible to continue reinvigorating and to keep captivating throughout the years your musical formula?

The thing is that we don’t really have a formula, you know, it’s very intuitive. We just write whatever it feels good. I mean if it turns out that you like it then, it’s awesome. However, it’s planned at all and it doesn’t feel so difficult. I just hope that with every release that we don’t lose quality. You know, I’m already excited to write the next album with Nicke [laughs]. So,I just hope to not let down people but it always starts with us first because we have to be convinced with it then if people like it, it’s a bonus for us.

Earlier you mentioned the single “Ghost” and I was literally flabbergasted by its chorus. In the song, you sing “How long before you come back?”. To who or what are you referring to?

Well, the song is literally about ghosts, you know, everyone of us have people in their lives that have died and sometimes you think about those people. In a way, it’s so hard to understand the situation and what makes it much harder is that they’ll never come back. Death is ungraspable and it’s almost like a child-like naive question: “How long before you come back?” and it’s a very sad and quite misunderstood notion of death. It’s about the ghost I live with, people that I was close to that are gone but are still part of my life as ghosts.

Photo by Linda Åkeberg

Both “Midnight Phantom” and “Leather Demon” videos were directed by Max Ljungberg

They are directed by Max and us because the idea always comes from us and I always know exactly what I want and we always need to find someone who can do the actual filming work and turn our ideas into reality.

Now that you have introduced the topic, I want to delve with and learn more about the ideas behind the videos, about its shooting process…

Well, for “Midnight Phantom” we had the idea to perform in a really classic old-school TV studio like one that you see in the old Rolling Stones and Deep Purple footage in the late 60’s and we wanted to emulate that. We had a lot of fun and for that, we went to Gothenburg whose studio was built by Max himself and some friends in a big studio hall. We shot that video in one day. Instead “Leather Demon”‘s shooting was divided in two parts: some of the shots were also shot the same day as “Midnight Phantom” in the same location while the second part was shot in Stockholm in a big cemetery and Max travelled from Gothenburg only for this occasion. We also needed an additional day of shooting and we went to my friend Malin because she had some lovely horses and we were in need of a black horse for shooting the Grim Reaper part. It’s quite a recurrent figure in our lyrics and in Lucifer‘s music. Everything’s quite D-I-Y and we have just a smaller crew and we do everything ourselves. However, my original idea for “Leather Demon” was to take inspiration from Danzig‘s “Mother” where the band sits in the shadow and actually, it’s what we shot in the studio and of course, I wanted also to have the cemetery stuff because it’s one of my favourite place to go to [laughs].

I really love “Leather Demon” and I personally feel that is like a semi-ballad and consequently, like a personal dedication to something/someone. I’m not sure, maybe this is just my personal opinion. Would you like to share with us your interpretation?

Well, the Leather Demon is a fictionalised figure that derives mostly from stuff that I’m into. Everything started when I was a teenager because I was hanging out in cemeteries while I was listening to music on my Walkman in the 90’s. Leather Demon can impersonate a slender and slim Joey Ramone with long black hair and a black leather jacket. He also hangs out in the cemeteries smoking cigarettes and I built a story on that. In the lyrics, this demon is confined to wait around a cemetery until he gets summoned. Furthermore, “Leather Demon” might also represent me because I run around always with a leather jacket smoking cigarettes [laughs]. It’s just a playful mix of images that comes from my brain and that I also had them.

“Midnight Phantom” was defined by yours truly as a mix of Blue Oyster Cult and Autopsy. If we should offer a musical analysis of this single, which peculiarities it shares with these aforementioned bands?

Actually, it’s related to something funny that Nicke said and for some reason, it ended up online. Anyway, he said that because the riffs that he composed for this song resemble very much to Autopsy. If you really think about it and analyse it, they are alike to a death metal style. Of course, we contextualise it according to our style but whatever we put on top of that and the instrumentation, that’s the outcome. Well, about Blue Oyster Cult, just start to consider all their work and discography, here and there in the song, you’ll hear some clear references. It’s curious what might be the result when you work on a death metal riff and you add on it a poppy vocal melody when you recognise you did start totally from a different point of view.

Unfortunately I have to ask this question, even though it’s a precarious time: what 2020 has in store for Lucifer in terms of touring and promotion?

[Laughs] Well, we were supposed to go on tour on May. However, this tour will get postponed for later during the year. Our main plan for this year is focusing on touring Europe because lately  we have been playing a lot in North America. Hopefully, the summer festivals will happen and in the fall, we definitely have another European tour that we haven’t announced yet so we’ll come on tour in Europe later this year and we plan to play also at the beginning of the next year. In October, we will play in Russia and basically, when all this corona-virus madness will be easier on us musicians, we’ll tour and write new stuff too.

So, Johanna, we’re almost at the end and with this please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you so much for this interview.

Thank you so much for talking with me and taking your time. All I can say is my name is Lucifer, please wash your hands.

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