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| 21 February 2023 | Reply

Photo credit: Mats Vassfjord

According to a recent press release: “Twenty-seven years into a career that continues to grow, Swedish metal band Narnia takes huge steps into an exciting chapter with the new album Ghost Town. The seasoned five-some once again shows how to shape a masterpiece with this melodic metal future classic. On the ninth studio album, Ghost Town, Narnia has picked the icing on the cake from its vast catalog. You can’t simply label this album a neoclassic metal album or a power metal album, even though these elements are present. There are also parts that are progressive, modern, heavy, or just creatively different. But you can summarize by saying this is well-crafted piece of classic and melodic metal. Co-founder, guitarist, and producer CJ Grimmark is the crucial architect of the band’s sound, and also its primary songwriter along with co-founder and lead singer Christian Liljegren and bassist Jonatan “Jono” Samuelsson. Through well formulated lyrics and melodies created to enhance the music, the songwriting team has explored new modes of expression that are well represented in songs such as “Thief,” with its dramatic arrangement, anxiety-laden, expressive imagery, and the progressive “Modern Day Pharisees,” a song dealing with the subject of hypocrisy.”  We get Christian and Jono to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Christian: This is a very explosive album release that shows the many styles of hard rock and metal you find in Narnia, it is a journey where you can hear elements from our first albums until now with new fresh modern production still with the Narnia trademark. I believe this is an album you can listen a lot too and find new things. It will grow for every listening.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Jono: I grew up in a family where music was a natural part of our life. My father played in bands when he was young, so did my both grandfathers. When I first heard rock music in the early 80’s, I just knew it was what I wanted to do.

Christian: When I started to listen to rock music in late 1970´s through my cousin with The Sweet and Rainbow it immediately took my heart and when I was 11 I know I wanted to be a rock singer and frontman since that day I have the passion and still the fire there 40 years after as I have just turned 52 years old.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Jono: For me it was a cassette tape with a live version of the song “It’s Mad” by the Swedish rock legends Jerusalem in combination with my first rock live experience with the local rock band Arons Skägg in Borås.

Christian: When I heard the song “Action” by the SWEET I was blown away and it has all the elements I love melody, energy, passion fantastic vocals and guitars when I saw Europe live on The Final Countdown tour I just wanted to be there on stage too. The rest is history.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Christian: It woud been amazing to do a song worked out together with producer Bob Ezrin who has done Kiss, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and more as he arrange and work the songs in a marvelous way.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Jono: I find it meaningful to meet people. Spending time with family and friends. I know that may sound like a cliché answer, but it often gives me energy and inspiration. Just as much, I enjoy just being alone and being creative.

Christian: I agree with Jono, the meeting with people and within the members that give you a spark for being creative but also being alone in your creative process. I love both.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Jono: When I describe it to a person who is not into music, I just say ‘rock music’. If I were to describe it to a fellow musician, I would say that our core is ‘classic and melodic metal’, but we also include other elements. I find it very misleading to read a review that says Narnia plays ‘power metal’, ‘neoclassic metal’ or ‘progressive metal’. There are some elements of that in our music, yes, but it’s much more than that, and I think people will notice on this new album.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Jono: We have a great time together and the boys are great travel companions. I guess all members have different tasks. Andreas (drums) is the logistic guy and is more or less the one you just follow in airports, because he knows where to go. Christian (vocals) is the social guy, who handles most of the interviews and the contacts with tour managers before we go on tour. Martin (keyboards) is the financial guy, who decide when it comes to financial decisions of various kinds. CJ (guitar) is the architect behind the music, and he’s the one who makes sure we all play and sing right. I manage social media, webshop, merchandise and such things.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Jono: Actually, I was a bit starstruck in September 2019, when we toured with my teenage idols, Stryper, in South America. But it passed pretty quick, since they are a bunch of really nice and down-to-earth guys.

Christian: When we played Sabaton Open Air some years back I met Steve Harris from IRON MAIDEN but I didn´t dare to meet him and shake his hand or take a selfie. I just stood there.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Jono: Being a musician is a great way to express yourself. I consider it as a gift, and I am very grateful to be able to devote some of my time working with music. I already also work with other creative things, such as graphic design, film, and web design. So, I guess I’m already working with what I love.

Christian: The music is the glue in my life and I love to create and to listen and watch concerts and deeply happy to have music in my life, I work today as a jobcoach but the music gives energy everyday and joy to my heart and keep the passion alive.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Jono: I think most of the interviewers know the band, and then the questions are interesting. When it feels like the interviewer has no idea of who you are, and you’re asked to describe your band, or what music we play, you can get tired.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Christian: I actually think all things happen for a reason both good and bad. You always learn of everyday. Of course I can see things that I should do different today or not. You have to live now and live it full. Mostly things have went good with the music but it is through the hard times you learn and don’t take it for granted.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Christian: I would love to back to The Sweet – Give Us A Wink from 1976 to see and hear their creative force in the studio and their wonderful playing and singing for real. Still when I hear this album is magic for me as they were my first music heroes.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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