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Interview von: arne mit JOHAN LIIVA & JOHAN REINHOLDZ, am: 13.01.2013 ]

Johan Liiva (ex-Arch-Enemy, -Carnage, Hearse) und Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda, Skyfire) melden sich mit NONEXIST nach längerer Sendepause unverhofft mit ihrem Zweitwerk zurück. Die Schweden haben auf „From My Cold Dead Hands“ wieder richtig viel Spaß am gemeinsamen Musizieren und inszenieren einen variantenreichen, hungrigen Death Metal.


Musicscan: How big is the interest in Nonexist being back as band and with a new album? Do you get lots of requests from your fans and press people? What are they asking or telling you these days? Are there unexpected questions / thoughts, or something that is different compared to when you released your previous record?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: There’s quite a few people that I’m in contact with for example via Facebook who are really excited about this. Also some of them say like “aah I didn’t know you’re still playing” and so on. And new people pop up all the time showing interest, which of course is nice! The biggest difference between the first album and this new one is that now we’re able to network directly with the fans via the internet – it wasn’t the same back then. Nowadays the word spreads like a forest fire thanks to all these communities online, 10 years ago it was much more tricky to make promotion. So, all feels good!

Musicscan: What's to say about the reactions of people already have had the chance to listen to the new tracks?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: As for me I only played it for maybe 4-5 people who really, really liked it - and they’re kinda close to me, so it’s hard to tell what the general crowd would feel about it as they of course should be more objective in their opinions I guess.

Musicscan: When a band writes the songs for a record over a longer period, I'd say that these songs can easily stand for a certain period in a band's career, right? But would you say that From My Cold Dead Hands is representative for what Nonexist wants to stand for in 2012, 2013,...?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: The songs were written between 2009 and 2012 so that´s a pretty long period which contributed to the variation of the style of the album. But the lyrics were written more quickly – during 2011-2012 so they are more cohesive and very much repesentative of our states of mind right now.

Musicscan: A more general one: Have you been surprised by the fact, that listeners from different musical tastes were getting Nonexist when the debut came out? Is this something you can understand or explain somehow, and what will it be this time around?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: I think that´s really cool! I haven´t really thought about it too much, but it might be true. I think that might have something to do with the fact that me, Liiva and Matte Modin – who played the drums on “Deus Deceptor” – all play in other bands too, in different genres. I mean – because of Liiva Arch Enemy-fans surely checked out the album and the same goes for fans of my other band Andromeda – which is more progressive metal with clean vocals.

Musicscan: Being around the scene for awhile, does it bother you when you see or meet listeners who ignore you or who have a different understanding of what metal means to you? Btw: what keep you interested in what you are doing, and what fuels the fire?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: Oh yes, it’s been a while for sure now, hehe.. no, that doesn’t bother me at all. People, well - we are all different and who am I to judge anyone else if they don’t get all worked up and excited about my music the way I do? We’re all entitled to our opinions. For example if there’s a band who says in an interview for some reason that my music sucks – well, maybe I won’t be their biggest fan, but for sure if their music is good I would never let any grudge stand in between their statement and me enjoying some good music. I’m too old for that shit. The things that keep me going on, well... first of all I feel that I needed some rest from music, it’s been 2-3 years now since the last HEARSE-album and it was necessary at least for me to kinda “re-charge the batteries”. I always loved playing music – both for the creative part of it as well as the social, to do something together with other people. There are quite a few ingredients for that fuel. Main sources of inspiration are love and hate, life and death... basically the crazy and freaked out (but still wonderful) world we live in.

Musicscan: How do you feel about your place within the metal scene at all as well as in between tradition and gaining new ground to bring forth what the metal heroes you grew up with did before Nonexist were around?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: Nonexist has always been about making metal “with a twist to it”, something different but still not too far-fetched that it goes beyond craziness. We feel very free as composers and writers, no pressure whatsoever as for delivering something totally expected or unexpected. It’s pure hard boiling metal to the bone in the bottom, then decorated with whatever comes to mind, basically letting the creativity juices flow freely.

Musicscan: Looking on extreme metal in general you can find lots of sub-scenes and styles, the metal underground is changing all the time. Are there bands you feel connected with that might have a similar agenda to what you have with Nonexist?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: Hmmm, don´t know really because I´ve lost track of the scene and where´s it at. I never read music magazines anymore and don´t check out that many new bands. Well of course some – if I get a tip from a friend and such. So it´s hard for me to answer this question.. I do feel however that we have an original style and that´s what important to us.

Musicscan: Do you think it's more important for bands to observe the traditions of their style, or to push the genre's boundaries? Is there a way to achieve a balance between progression and tradition? What's to say about what Nonexist are doing in this regard?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: I think it´s vital to push the boundaries, or more precise: to do something original. It´s damn hard actually, it´s so easy to fall into tracks already trodden by so many bands before. But we try to mix old and new influences and by doing your own original mix you can put your very own stamp on the music. And I think we´ve succeeded with this on “From My Cold Dead Hands”.

Musicscan: Do you still remember when you wrote your first song for/with Nonexist and what it felt like and how it feels like now when you finish a song? How has your relationship to the music and the band changed over time?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: Yeah, I remember – it was fun! And it´s still fun, that´s the main thing. There´s a bit of a feeling of liberation and easy going playful creativity about writing Nonexist-songs comparing to writing for Andromeda. Andromeda is more progressive and demanding which has it´s merits too. But with Nonexist it just comes easier, this style of music is in our bonemarrow – it´s just comes very natural. Our DNA has been mutated by metal, haha! - for the better!

Musicscan: From my point of view your taste in music has become wider over the years. True? And were there any musical elements you meant to incorporate in the music for the new album by choice?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: I like all kind of music so yes my taste has definitely become wider of the years. But that process started already in my teens when I got into classical music, The Cure, Enya, Allan Holdsworth, Sisters of Mercy and such. On this album I wanted to incorporate some blackmetal-influences, a bit more synths, some clean vocals and more blastbeats so the sprectrum of the music is clearly wider than on ”Deus Deceptor”.

Musicscan: From My Cold Dead Hands finds separation through passion and honesty, something you are not hearing too often these days. It's well balanced, brutal and having a good dramaturgy to keep things interesting. What is your attitude towards metal in general and towards being Nonexist in particular?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: Well, all bands, artists and musicians are free to do whatever they feel is good for them. What we’re doing is first and foremost good for us. If we enjoy it and like it, then for sure other people will like it too. Something I personally find quite positive these days is that this “creative stagnation” among the metal bands has faded out more and more. There’s more guts to aim for something different, more thinking “outside the box”... at least that’s how I feel. And that’s a good sign, that the development is heading in a fine direction.

Musicscan: Listening to From My Cold Dead Hands makes one wonder about the intensity and brutality of the songs. It´s definitely more than just music. It´s also the atmosphere you create. Is the mentioned intensity something you are striving for?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: Definitely. There´s a lot of frustration and anger in our lives and in our view of the world outside that makes it logical and satisfying to write such intense stuff. It goes hand in hand. It´s a great release of negative emotions turned into something positive.

Musicscan: Do you still have to deal with limitations when it comes to the songwriting or are you in a position to realize all the ideas you have?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: Well, we wanna keep the music pretty varied so it doesn´t bore us or the listeners. But of course it stays within some kind of framework of references and genres. The base is brutal metal – but the influences range from blackmetal and grindcore via thrash- heavymetal and gothic rock. I think the cornerstone is darkness and aggression in some form or another. I think the album has more variation than “Deus Deceptor” - a broader sprectrum.

Musicscan: I got the impression that you had the chance to experiment a lot more with the intensity on From My Cold Dead Hands. The record offers partly different sounds and textures. Would you agree to this?

Nonexist: JOHAN LIIVA: Oh yes, for sure! The first album was, well maybe not made in a hurry but there perhaps wasn’t enough time to do anything else than just record it, you know just “rock-on-straight-ahead”... now, there’s been much more room for all these ideas – especially considering it’s been a long time since the debut. And this naturally gives the music some extra spice to it as well, that we are a few years older, crazier and, hopefully wiser as well, haha.

Musicscan: Is there something like a guiding line listeners have to know about to get a better understanding of what you are trying to tell them with From My Cold Dead Hands?

Nonexist: JOHAN REINHOLDZ: Not really. I don´t believe in such things. I think the best way to appreciate an album or a film for example is just to observe and make up your own mind and interpretations.

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