Interview with Johan Niemann


“Music is the means by which the heart is able to fly”


Evergrey are preparing to release their new album “The Atlantic” on January 25th, and go on tour with Kamelot and Visions of Atlantis. So our writer Andrea got in touch with Johan Niemann (bass) to talk a bit more about the new music, the upcoming tour, and the importance of music in people’s lives.

‘’Hello Johan, how are you doing?’’

 JN: ‘’Pretty good. We’re preparing for the first few shows of this new album we have coming out. Practicing and relearning songs. It’s a lot of work.’


‘’Now that the release of the new album is approaching, how are you? Are you relieved, excited, exhausted ...?’’

JN: ‘’All of the above. Plus a few more. Like anxious, nervous, happy. We can’t wait for people to hear the music, to get out and play these songs and get that immediate response.’’


‘’It’s been more than 20 years since the band was formed (in 1995), how would you describe the progression of the band’s sound?’’

JN: ‘’I think there has been a natural progression, in the sense that we’ve never done anything to sell more records. We’ve never compromised, but always stuck to our guns and our vision of what the band is. Obviously, that has changed over the years, as we get older and better as songwriters and musicians.’’


‘’We are all influenced by different things as we get older and experience more. For you, what has changed as a songwriter and the way in which you approach music?’’

JN: ‘’Hard to say. Just being open to new and different music than what we usually listen to is key. That being said, we all have pretty diverse tastes in music. But being able to listen to something, be influenced by it, and creating something that works for us is a really amazing part of the creative process. And you have to trust yourself. If we like something, there’s a bigger chance that others also like it.’’


‘’Your upcoming album “The Atlantic” is part of a concept started with “Hymns for the Broken” (2014) and then followed-up by “The Storm Within” (2016). Could you talk a little bit about the general themes and ideas behind these 3 albums?’’

JN: ‘’It’s a trilogy that starts off with frustration, upheaval - a revolution, if you will. Then it goes into realizing that you have to do something about your situation. And now, you’ve made the decision. The journey starts here.’’

‘’“The Atlantic” will be out on the 25th of January. What can you tell me about it in terms of musical styles and production?’’

JN: ‘’We wanted a more analog sound this time around. Dirtier and woodier. I think that really suits the music, which is a little more aggressive. But it has more progressive elements, as well. It’s more of everything, really.’’


‘’What is your favorite song from the album, and why?’’

JN: ‘’One song that is special to me is “Departure”. Rikard brought in two piano ideas that got us all fired up. It came together very quickly, in a couple of hours. Me and Jonas recorded this album, like the previous ones, live. And this was the first take. We did a few more takes but decided that the first one was the keeper.’’


‘’I know there was a break-in at your studio, in the first couple of weeks since you started recording the album. How did that effect recording process and the music itself?’’

JN: ‘’The break-in happened in the middle of the vocal recordings. It definitely came at the worst possible time. As if there’s a good time for it. We had to take a break to recover. And get the stuff back. But I think the result speaks for itself. There’s an urgency in the vocals that just grabs you. An incredible performance, start to finish.’’

‘’You’ve released the video for the first single, “A Silent Arc”. I love how it’s just a panoramic view of an ocean (probably even the Atlantic itself) with the song on the background. How do the visuals relate to the music and the lyrics?’’

JN: ‘’We wanted to capture a vibe, more than anything. That’s how we work. Find a vibe and go with that. We wanted to use water as a metaphor, but also quite literally. The point was to get that vibe across, you know? “This is what this record is about”, sort of.’’


‘’Are there new themes or new sounds you wish to experiment with in the future?’’

JN: ‘’Absolutely. We’re far from done. I feel like we just keep getting better and better. And we’re having more fun than ever, too. We’ve opened some new doors on these last three records, there is definitely some uncharted territory for us to explore.’’


‘’I know you’ll be touring with Kamelot and Visions of Atlantis, so I am curious to know, what was the first song you heard from Kamelot, and what did you think of them at that time?’’

JN: ‘’I don’t remember; they’ve been around for so long. But we toured with them in 2011 and they were a great live band. And probably even better now. And Tommy Karevik is a great singer.’’


‘’Apart from this support slot for Kamelot, do you have any other touring plans or festival appearances?’’  

JN: ‘’Yes, we do. We’re doing a headline tour of Europe, then festivals in the summer. North America after that. Possibly some more before the end of the year, like South America. Hopefully.’’


‘’What is the best thing that happened with Evergrey until now? What is your favorite memory / show / moment?’’

JN: ‘’Everyday with these guys is the best thing. Quite seriously, since Jonas Ekdahl and Henrik Danhage came back to the fold, things just keep on getting better. But some highlights include the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, for sure. The recordings have been incredible, the touring has been really smooth. It’s impossible for me to single out a specific moment.’’

‘’Could you tell me something about the band (or yourself) that the fans might not know?’’

JN: ‘’I’m an idiot? That’s no secret, though... 😄

They are all comedians. If they didn’t play music, they could easily make a living doing comedy. And they’re great cooks, as well.’’


‘’What do you think about the way music affects people’s lives, even changing them?’’

JN: ‘’It’s mind-blowing. We’ve gotten that a few times and it’s...incredible. It’s kind of hard to take in, that what we do has such an impact on people’s lives. And at the same time, if it weren’t for certain bands and artists, we wouldn’t be here.’’

‘’Outside of the business aspect, how has music affected you, personally?’’

JN: ‘’Well, like I said, if it weren’t for music I wouldn’t be here. Literally. I mean, I constantly think about music in one way or another. Whether it’s a song in my head or something technically I need to work on or something gear-nerdy like picks. All. The. Time.’’


‘’Would you ever consider writing songs in Swedish?’’

JN: ‘’No, I don’t think so. Swedish just doesn’t sound “right” for this kind of music. To me.’’


‘’How would you continue the sentence “Music is…”?’’

JN: ‘’“...the means by which the heart is able to fly.” Poetic, isn’t it? I amaze even myself 😄 Another answer is “sometimes great, sometimes not”.  “Everything” is yet another answer.’’


‘’Rock and metal bands generally have lengthy careers, some with more than 20 years doing this. Why do you think that is?’’

JN: ‘’Because the fans are generally very loyal and supportive. They buy the records and the shirts and come to the shows and hang out. They follow their favorite band through thick and thin. And not what’s “popular”. We greatly appreciate our fans for sticking by us all these years.’’


‘’In conclusion to this interview, do you have any kind of life advice for our readers & us?’’

JN: ‘’Make sure that you love what you do, no matter what that is. Follow your passion, whether it’s music, art, mathematics, tennis, cooking. It can be anything, as long as it makes you happy.’’


‘’That is, indeed, a wonderful piece of advice, thank you!’’

Review for “The Atlantic” here.


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By Andrea