Interview with: Anders Jacobsson
By: Basak Günel
On a calm Friday evening in Germany, I had the great opportunity to interview the vocalist of the doom/gothic metal band Draconian via Skype.. As some of you know, after many ups and downs, Draconian has undergone a line-up change; South African musician Heike Langhans (ISON, Lorelei) joined the band in 2012 after Lisa Johansson parted ways. Despite these obstacles, the band has managed to release an amazing record called “Sovran” at the end of October and there were so many questions in my mind!
Surely, I was wondering about how Anders has been feeling after all the hardwork and asked him if he read any reviews that were published already. He admitted that he actually didn’t have time to properly listen to the album or read the reviews, which is quite understandable and he explained that such good feedback was not expected. “The people have been really graceful as always and helpful. I have been worried for a year about how people would think but the feedback has been great”.
I have to say that during the interview, I kinda overcomplimented the album but this had to be done 😀 “I can never listen to Draconian the way you and the other Draconian fans would listen to” said Anders after all the compliments. “There have been so many trials and tribulations with this album also with Heike joining the band… So many long periods, going through the same songs all over again”. From these statements, it’s already clear that the whole process of creating this record has not been so easy…
This conversation made me spontaneously wonder about the songwriting process.. When did the band start this process then? “It started already at early 2012. We had the basis of most of the songs finished a couple of years ago. It has been a lot of ‘getting shit together’. You have too much time on your hands with the songs and that can be dangerous. You tend to overthink it and I think that’s what I did with this album even though the core of my lyrical content remained the same. Sometimes, I realized with this album that you shouldn’t have too much time for the songs; you are always gonna change shit which doesn’t have to be changed 😀 I prefer when we work continuously (without overthinking) but of course this time we couldn’t do this for obvious reasons..” I gotta say that I did not feel the ‘overthinking’ part though and I also told this to him; the album sounds really natural and there is actually a continuous flow within it, making the album very smooth to listen to.
Fans of Draconian will also notice that this album is quite different.. Just take a look at the cover artwork and you will wonder what the album is about. I personally got the vibe that the album carried some kind of message or concept within itself. What was the band’s opinion on this then? “I can speak from my and Heike’s point of view because we were quite close during the songwriting process.” explained Anders and of course praised the new vocalist Heike Langhans, who also happens to be one of my favorite female vocalists after hearing “Sovran”. “ I am happy to have a coworker to work together who actually has the time and passion. She has a lot of innocence in her voice which is heart-felt and that makes a great contrast with the darkness in the raw vocals. The album is not a thematic or a concept album but now that it’s done, I just realize that it is indeed a concept album in a way; you don’t have a story but each song speaks for itself and some songs stand out a bit more because of the lyrics”..
So which ones are Anders’ favorites? “”No Lonelier Star”, “Stellar Tombs” and “Heavy Lies The Crown” are crucial to me when it comes to what I’ve been through in the last few years.” These songs are indeed some of the highlights of the album so no wonder that they are his favorites!
Back to “Sovran” and the whole meaning behind it.. Anders had a very great and informative explanation about the whole concept: “Sovran is almost like a Shakespearean work for royalty/your highness/your kin. I don’t believe in that kinda stuff but I do believe that the universe is connected ; there’s a consciousness which is the big eye on the album. That connects everything; the in and out spectrum of life.You see the starry skies on top of the album which is the Draco constellation that connects to our name. You have the trees and the earth; you see that the stars go down. So everything is connected and that’s what the eye is. That’s the Sovran and that’s the only thing that can be Sovran; the rest is just illusion and the ego, our blind wants that is manufactured and put to our heads by society that is deeply disconnected from nature and the universe.That’s why we are suffering and hurting and we have forgotten who we are. That’s a little bit of what the album hints at.
Draconian is not all about this though; surely, there is a romantic approach to the band’s sound. “Very often, I sing about love in one way or other but I do believe that love is connected to the one consciousness; we all share it, we want it and the rest is something that we are told to do” added Anders so the concepts of love, consciousness, nature and the universe are some of the aspects that the listener will definitely feel or experience while listening to “Sovran.
Considering the concept of the album, I also wondered about the main differences between “Sovran” and the band’s previous record “Rose For The Apocalypse”. Surely, the vocalists are different but there were definitely some other differences that were recognizable. How does Anders compare the two records then? “Wow, I think this album is really different and I would say this one is different compared to all our other albums. The lyrical concepts are also quite different and it’s not so up-beat. There’s a lot about love and seperation. I think it’s more back to the 90s. When I heard the final mix, I got the feeling that the rhythm guitars are very dark which makes the album quite threatening but also romantic and I think that’s what makes the album different soundwise. I believe that the Draconian sound is still there but this album is more doomy.”
So can we say that “Sovran” is a highlight in the band’s career? According to Anders, “the album has become the highlight whether we like it or not. This is like a new start for the band so it’s definitely a highlight. It’s a strong album as well and it’s with a new vocalist. That’s always a big thing.”
One of the songs that definitely stands out is “Rivers Between Us” which features Daniel Anghede (Crippled Black Phoenix) and the story behind the collaboration is interesting. Anders stated that he is a big Crippled Black Phoenix fan and the whole collaboration arose thanks to Heike, who knew Daniel: “When Heike first moved here, Daniel, who was then the singer of Crippled Black Phoenix had an industrial band (Hearts of Black Silence) that she has been listening to. I realized that the vocalist is the same vocalist in Crippled Black Phoenix. Heike knew him a little bit because he asked her for a collaboration for the industrial project then. We played around with the idea and I was like a fanboy, telling myself ‘Oh we can get him into the album maybe!’ But then I started thinking about it seriously because you tend to think differently when the chances are high that he will be in the album. So we spoke to him about it and he was more than happy. Since then, we have become good friends and he even appeared on stage with us and played live with us.”
So much about the album.. Does Anders follow the doom metal scene and any favorite albums recently? “Mostly people that I know; my friends in Weeping Silence and of course My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost. I really liked the new albums of My Dying Bride, Moonspell, Deafheaven and of course, Faith No More, which I am a big fan of. Entwine’s comeback album was not bad either. But [generally], I haven’t listened to many albums.” He also added that he is not the music nerd but he experiences bands that are old. “I just started experiencing Colour Haze… It’s like Queens of the Stone Age on downers; semi-instrumental stoner rock with a lot of psyche. I really like their stuff.”
Now that the album is out, there will definitely be tour news announcements.. How does the future look for Draconian? “We have a tour in the making, I can’t say the exact dates but we have a lot of gigs planned for next year so it’s gonna be very interesting. We have played a few gigs and it was a good warming up; the feedback was really nice. We did 2-show gig in Russia. It was a first time we played in St. Petersburg and we also played in Holland in FEMME – Female Metal Event- which was superb as well. We also played in London after many years!” So too many firsts for the band, which is quite exciting and which shows us that “Sovran” is indeed a big highlight in the band’s career! As a Turkish person, I couldn’t help but invite the band to Turkey to play and Anders was beyond excited! “We are waiting for your promoters to get in touch with us!”
Last words? “Coming back to what we spoke, it would be awesome to play in Turkey. We had such a nice time when we played there and I hope we will see our Turkish fans when we play next time!”
Special thanks to: Napalm Records Promotion and Anders Jacobsson