Jay Hawkins here, and it’s always cool to catch up on the latest news from a great band, so here you go – this was my interview with Johnny H of Sorceror…….
Greetings, we’d like to feature a quick interview with you guys, for our site music224.com as I’m aware you have recently released some new material, which has been a long time in the making. I’ll keep this short with 10 questions in total, as I’m sure you’re a busy person at the minute.
Firstly, I believe Johnny Hagel, the bands bass player will be answering these questions of mine and if so, when did you join the band and why? If not, same question to whomever is being kind enough to take the time out to answer these questions. Thank You!
I started the band in 1988 together with guitarist Peter Furulid and Tommy Karlsson (drums). We just wanted to play heavy and epic music and back then it wasn´t many who did that.
1. Sorcerer are back, bigger, better and ready to doom our arses throughout the 21st century, is it exciting times for you guys at the minute? Does it feel good to be back together? Who’s the funniest and grumpiest members in the band?
It feels great. To release an album after over 20 years is amazing. I think our drummer, Robert Iversen is both the funniest and grumpiest in the band. He has no limits…..
2. The new single “Sumerian Script” (which is a great piece of work by the way) has been taken off your new album, ‘In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross’ and released by Metal Blade on March 24th 2015, how has the album been received so far? Which is your favourite track to listen to and play from the new album?
The album has got amazing reviews. Everyone seems to like it and that feels good as we all think it is a really good album. It changes but right now my favorite track must be ”Prayers For a King”.
3. The album was mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend). Have you worked with him before, if so, what made you work with him again, if not, why him?
No, I have never worked with him before but I know his works. It was actually our drummer who knows him who suggested that we should use him. We are super happy with Jens work.
4. Are your fans happy to have you back? Was it your fans that prompted you to agree to appear in 2010 to play the Hammer of Doom Festival in Germany? If not, what was the deciding factor to reform and play that show?
I think so. I haven´t heard any bad word from anyone so we have to asume that. No we got a mail from Oliver Weinsheimer (Hammer of Doom Festival/Keep It True Festival) who asked if we could play the Hammer of Doom festival. This was in 2010. I called up Anders Engberg (singer) who was the only one I had contact with since the ”old” days. We talked about it for a while and we weren´t really up for it but decided that we should think about it for some days. After a couple of days I called him and we decided to do it. We really tried to get hold of the other members but didn´t have any luck with that so we decided to look for some other musicians. After that gig we talked a little about doing some new music as we got so good a response. We then did another gig in Greece and I think it was after that we really decided to do a new album.
5. Can you clarify something, “The Sorcerer” which was released in 2011, do you class this as an album, or an EP? I actually discovered this collection of tracks and the band via Spotify back in 2012. Seeing as Spotify are based in Sweden, was this the reason you decided to make your material available for live streaming? Do you still think the likes of Spotify and other streaming sites offer artists like you a valuable service?
That release was just a re-print of the CD that was released in 1995 by Brainticket Records. We just decided to release all the songs digitally so people could buy/stream our music. It wasn´t a big thing for us. As a fan, I like Spotify but there is also another side to the fact that people have access to unlimited amount of music. When people have access to all the music that is being released the ”value” (not value as in money) is gone. When I was young you waited for an album to come out and then you maybe bought one album and you listened to that. So I think before the streaming people valued music more.
I notice the new album is also available to stream on Spotify, as I’m a premium customer on Spotify, I’m currently listening to the new album as I write this interview, my favourite tracks are the current single and ‘Prayers Of A King’.
6. The band are classed primarily as being a doom metal band, I believe this genre has always had a loyal following but what prompted your sound when you formed as a band? Did you set out to be classed as a doom metal band, if so, what influences inspired you to become a doom band?
When we formed Sorcerer we didn´t have any thoughts about being a doom band or not. We just wanted to play heavy, epic metal. That was it. We used to listen to Candlemass, Metal Church, King Diamond and more classic metal as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.
7. I can’t imagine there were too many doom metal bands back in 1988, were you one of the pioneers of this sound? Have any of the current band worked with any other doom metal bands in the past, if so, how would you say Sorcerer differ from other bands, also classed as doom?
When we started it was Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus and maybe some others that I don´t know about. It is not right for me to talk about the other bands which btw I have all the respect for but I think we in Sorcerer always has had a little more regular metal in our sound.
8. When was the last time you played here in the UK? When will you be back? I’ve spoken to many metal heads over the years and many still affectionately remember seeing you perform here, surely its time for you to return? Has this new album opened any doors for festival appearances this summer? If so, which ones?
Sorcerer has never played in the UK. I have played in London in 1994 when I played in Tiamat and we supported Type O Negative. We would love to come to the UK, so if there area ny promotors reading this, get in contact NOW ! As the album came out too late for this years summer festivals we are looking at the summer of 2016. We have two festivals booked right now and that is Dutch Doom Days (Rotterdam) in October and Hammer of Doom (Germany) in November. We have some more confirmed but I can´t tell you yet.
9. There isn’t an awful lot of information available on the internet about the band or the members, what can you tell us that isn’t already available on the internet? It can be anything, what do you like to listen to personally, what got you all into music to start with, did you always want to be a bass player, can you play any other instruments?
I listen to a lot of different kind of music. Mostly metal but I love bands/artists like Tori Amos, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash and many more. I have always dreamt about playing music since I got my first cassette when I was 8 years old – Kiss ”Rock and Roll Over”. Then I went to my first concert in 1983, Accept on their ”Balls to the Wall” tour. I was hooked…. When I write songs, I often write them on guitar but I am not any virtouse in any way. I can also play keyboard if I must.
10. Finally, I notice Peter Hallgren, the bands guitarist has just become a father to a baby girl, please pass on our congratulations to him. I also noticed she was born on the 2nd of May (is this correct?) If so, she now shares her birthday with our royal family’s new arrival, Princess Charlotte. Will this provide material for a new track? haha? Seriously though, who is the bands primary lyricist? Where do they draw their inspiration from? I notice a lot of the music you guys write is very similar to other Scandinavian bands where you speak of all things mystical. Does your music harp back to stories you were all told when you guys were kids yourselves?
Yes, she was born 2nd of May. I will ask Peter if he wants to write a song about no sleep….Haha. Anders writes all the lyrics and on this album he wrote it together with a friend of his, Conny Welén. They talk a lot about what to write about and which themes to use. We had our vikings up here so we are used to tell stories about mystical things.
Again, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I hope to see you here in the UK soon.
Thank you for your support and hope to come to UK soon.
Johnny Hagel – Sorcerer
Interview by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)