It's been quite awhile since the last album of the Swedish band Zonata hit the stores, but I was still interested in doing an interview with the band. After the release of the album the record label did promotion, but due to changes in their staff my interview (emailer) got kinda lost... So I contacted them through their website and here are the answers from Zonata's guitar player Niclas Karlsson.
Hi there! This is Niclas Karlsson! The new guitar player of Zonata and I will do my best to answer your questions!
The band was founded in 1998 and very soon caught the interest of different labels and soon you signed with Century Media. When you look back, how was that experience?
It was great that such a big label showed interest in the band and we were of course very happy.
In 1999 you recorded and released Tunes Of Steel. At that time you got good reviews, but critics say that the influences of certain bands are too obvious. Do you think this critics were right, when you know think about it?
When a new band release an album everyone compare it to other bands, but you have your influences and people hear that, but when you listen to that record and the next, you hear that, even if the songwriting has evolved the personality and the sound of the band is in there. Maybe some songs remind of other bands but I think it still sounds Zonata.
Now as a quartet you released the follow-up Reality which you recorded in Sweden. Why another studio?
Well, we aren't a quartet anymore and the Underground Studio in Västerås has a very good reputation and it's much easier to work in the studio when you speak the same language.
With Reality you leave your influences a little more behind... The similarities are not that obvious anymore. What caused that change?
We have grown as musicians and composers and done our best to write as good song as possible and the production is much better. And you start to find your own identity.
Also the artwork and title left the metal cliché behind. Is this the new image of Zonata?
You don't want be a band beside many, you want to do your own thing. But it isn't the new image of Zonata. It was the thing that felt best for that moment. I think the title of the new album is a bit more 'metal'. ;-)
The cover is done by Derek Riggs who worked for e.g. Iron Maiden and Stratovarius before. How do you get in touch with him?
We found the picture in a gallery that he had on his website an d we liked it. The record company got in touch with him and asked, if we could use it and it was fine.
Who had the idea for the cover artwork?
Well, the artwork was already made, but on the new one we have all come up with ideas for the cover and we are really excited about it.
What song from Reality do you think present the new Zonata best? And why?
It's very hard to pick just one song. I think the all present Zonata in their own way.
As far as I know there was planned to do a video clip. Could you do it? I never seen it, please tell us about.
We haven't done it yet, but we will start to film live gigs and work out an idea to a cool video and mix live sequences with film parts.
Please tell a little bit about the lyrics and what inspires you musically and lyrically!
The lyrics on this album has a darker mood than before and even though some are fantasy they aren't the usual 'dragon metal lyrics'. I think they're a bit more poetic and deeper. And for inspiration it can be everything from books and films to thoughts about life and death. Musically it's mostly classical music and good old heavy metal.
Can we expect to see you live soon? Any plans for festivals?
We really like to do a European tour to support our 3rd album and if the response is good I think the record label will arrange something. There are no plans for any festivals yet, but we will work on it.
How do you write songs? As a band? Or does someone comes up with a song?
Mostly we write our songs almost finished and show them for the band and then we arrange them together, but sometimes someone plays a riff and someone else adds a melody and the pieces fall together.
How was touring in Sweden with Nocturnal Rites?
The first gigs were great, then Johannes got problem with his voice, so the last gigs he was really hoarse, but it was a great experience.
Have you had more chances to play live?
Yes, we had, but we took time of to introduce me (Niclas) into the band and to write songs to the new album.
Do you think that festivals like Sweden Rock Festival helps young bands to catch attention of fans and labels? Especially SRF gives a lot young bands a chance....
Yes! It's a great opportunity for new band to show them and establish contacts.
Please tell us something about the coming release!
Well, it's the first album that I'm playing on and I have written some songs and lyrics on it as well. It has a more mature feel over it and it is very variable. There are a lot heavier songs than before, but the melodies are still there. Of course there are the classical fast and melodic songs as well. It is by the far most complicated album Zonata has made so far and the songs are very strong. The record company was overwhelmed when they heard the result so it feels very great and we're very excited about it. It will be released on September, the 23rd.
At the moment it seems that the Scandinavian metal scene is changing. What do you think is the reason for this change?
Metal is becoming stronger at the moment and that gives more bands a chance to show themselves.
Do you feel that this trend affects Zonata? Do you get more interest; coz media is more focused on Scandinavia these days?
No, I don't think so. We do what we feel is right for us. We don't follow any trends. We would have done this album even if ALL other bands were playing hip-hop metal!
Germany was and still is the main market for metal in Europe. How are the reactions from other countries?
They are great and we really hope we're going to come over and play in all countries that our albums are sold in.
Do you get a lot fan mail through your website?
Yes, it happens and it is of course something we like.
Can the fans find some special things on you homepage? Do you sometimes do chats there with the fans?
We're working on a completely new homepage at the moment, so we'll have to see.
Famous last words.... Anything you want to say to the fans?
Thank you for buying our records and I really hope that you're going to like our new album. Cheers!!!
So, now we have to wait a few more weeks until the new album of the Swedish will be out, but here Niclas gave us a little idea what to come... After the release there definitely is more to talk and we'll keep you updated about them!