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Civil War

Het Zweedse Civil War, met in de gelederen bijna volledig oud-Sabaton, is behoorlijk productief geweest in de eerste jaren. Drie albums in vier jaar, er zijn tegenwoordig niet veel bands die hetzelfde kunnen zeggen! Eind vorig jaar kwam als donderslag bij heldere hemel het nieuwsbericht dat zanger Nils Patrik Johansson de band plotseling had verlaten. Vervanging werd uiteindelijk snel gevonden in de ervaren frontman Kelly Sundown, waardoor de geplande Europese tour toch door kon gaan. Deze tour stopte ook in Eindhoven en daar maakte ik gebruik van om eens bij te kletsen met drummer Daniel Mullback en gitarist (en bassist op de albums, want Civil War speelt live zonder bassist) Petrus Granar over onder andere de zangerswissel, maar ook over de muziek van Civil War en natuurlijk die link met die ene grote band waar ze nooit onderuit zullen komen, Sabaton.

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

You now are two days into the tour. How was Leiden?
Daniel: The first show of a tour is always like a big test. It’s hard to enjoy every minute, you constantly think about everything that should work. But everything did work yesterday, everything went fine. Good atmosphere, great audience, and we did a good job as well… I think!

You have two shows in The Netherlands, a very small country. Aren’t you worried you have very little people showing up? After all, your potential fanbase is not exactly German-sized over here.
Daniel: We’ve been in The Netherlands before and it’s always a good crowd. It does not matter how many people there are, if they feel good then we feel good.

Let’s take off the burning one first. Nils left you a while ago a time ago as you stated “without any further notice”. Any further notice about it now? Have you had contact with Nils ever since?
Daniel: Not so much, he did not want to tour that much as he said. He continued with Astral Doors, and we continued and found a new singer. I did not have any contact with him afterwards.

Petrus: Me not that much either. He just didn’t like all the travelling.

But you have a very worthy replacement I think. Kelly has been leaving his footprint around for about a decade now. I found his performance on the latest Darkology album simply great. How did you find this guy? I mean, Texas is not really next door.

The tour manager, who was working in the same room, oddly enough knew best how that started.

Tour manager: Daniel Myhr, the keyboard player, he knew about him before and that’s the way it started. He was in Firewind before, and we’ve had every former Firewind singer auditioning, except for the guy singing there now.

Daniel: We had a band meeting, and we had like four different singers we wanted to go over that night. Then Myhr said “and we have Kelly”, so we heard him out. We put on a music video with Kelly, and I fell in love with his voice immediately. So I was like, “skip the rest, take him!”, so here he is.

Yes, here he is. So now you are on tour with a singer with whom you never really recorded anything. How have the first reactions been to him performing? For example yesterday.
Daniel: Very, very good. We only got positive reactions when we got the news out, also before we did any shows. So I think everyone is very positive about it.

Are you planning to release any live footage of this tour to introduce him to your fans?
Daniel: I really hope so. I really hope we can do something to give some material with him.

Petrus: We are recording the shows on the tour. Not yesterday, but hopefully today we’ll get it to work. We are making plans for the future, but hopefully we can do something with Kelly soon.

If you ask me, Nils really had a “power metal-ish” voice while Kelly has a more straightforward heavy metal sound to his voice. Do you feel Kelly’s addition to the band gives you the opportunity to venture into different musical territory?
Daniel: Both are very good singers. It does not really matter in which style you play, both are very talented and they can make any song good. I guess we will see when we start writing new music, a new adventure!

You also got quite the support act for this tour, Nightmare, who released their legendary debut album when, well… you were still in diapers shall we say? How did this package come together?
Daniel: I toured with them before with my former band, so Daniel Myhr, Richard and I knew about them before. I think Myhr had contact with Nightmare and that’s how it started. We’re not label mates, I believe they are on AFM and we’re on Napalm Records. But we knew each other.

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About your music now. On the latest album, a striking song is of course ‘Tombstone’, any comments on that one?
Petrus: It’s fun to play, haha.

Daniel: Year it was a crazy idea at first. I think it’s my favourite one to play live, at least one of them. It’s very fast and I really like playing fast. It’s a good happy atmosphere in the song, so everyone is happy and smiles when we play it. A lot of people dancing and jumping around with smiles on their faces, so that’s fun for us as well.

Petrus: It’s one of those songs that is really fun to play, also on guitar for me. But it’s a workout haha.

Not only ‘Tombstone’, but also many other songs on this album like ‘Savannah’ are set in America. This makes ‘The Last Full Measure’ an album that focusses more on one topic than ‘Killer Angels’ and ‘Gods And Generals’, that covered a wider array of topics. A deliberate choiceor was it something that happened during the songwriting?
Daniel: It was Nils who wrote all the lyrics for it, so it is hard for me to say!

Petrus: I came up with a lot of song structures for the first demo. For me it was not a conscious decision either.

So now with Kelly in the band, you might get a slight change of direction in topics?
Petrus: Well we haven’t really talked about that. Those first three albums have been a lot about America and those kinds of topics. I would guess we will venture into some new topics, but we’ll see when we start writing.

Well we have to get to that Sabaton reference eventually, so let’s just get that over with. How does playing in Civil War play different compared to playing in Sabaton? Do you feel like you have more artistic freedom now, like Thobbe Englund stated as a reason for his leave recently?
Daniel: The big difference is that we don’t tour that much. Actually, Sabaton had heavier songs to play, at least for me. The drums were more punchy and pounding. Civil War songs are faster, and it’s a bit different style of playing. The big difference is that it’s not that much now, as we don’t tour that much now.

’The Killer Angels’ still had that Sabaton-styled punchy drum sound of yours, but that gradually changed.
Daniel: Yeah, I have a style and I try to use it in every song I play. Of course you can hear my Sabaton style in Civil War as well. At least, some people always tell me that haha.

Petrus: Civil War has more different styles of songs, it’s more diverse.

Have you had any reaction of Joakim or Pär on your music lately?
Daniel: I’ve talked to Pär and he really likes the band. Joakim likes it as well I think, I haven’t talked much to him lately. We ran into each other sometimes on festivals but we don’t talk music that often then. We’re more friends than fellow musicians so we also talk like friends then.

Something different now then. I saw that instead of offering gold-priced VIP packages with a meet and greet and a picture, you have decided to give these out for free in exchange for a “share” on Facebook. Why this decision? Any lucky person tonight?
Daniel: I don’t know about tonight, I’m not really up to date haha. We wanted to give the audience a chance to be closer to the band. It is fun for us as well to meet our fans. They always tell interesting stuff, like suggestions and ideas, it’s always nice. These people can come backstage, see the tour bus and have a picture with the band. But also after every show we go into the audience, so we try to meet everyone anyway, but people winning this thing have a little extra to it.

So after this tour, what are the future plans? After all, you’ve been through a few changes lately…
Daniel: I think it will be planning the future! We have to plan what to do with all the recordings and think of a new albums somewhere in the future, some shows and tours and stuff. We will try to lift ourselves to the next level.

Petrus: It’s like a new start now with Kelly. It’s a new chapter, you don’t know anything but that you have very good ingredients. It’s a good motivation to write new material with a new singer. Really looking forward to that.

As do we! Well that is all that I wanted to ask you. So, still something on your plates that you would like to get out there?
Petrus: … Daniel… Say something! Haha

Daniel: It’s like you said, a new chapter for us now, we have a piece of unwritten paper. It’s interesting to see what will happen now. We will start talking to all parties about doing something productive soon. We always have a good time and we want this to work out. The future looks bright!

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