This is Lee Walker from www.PlanetMosh.com conducting an email interview with Johan Bernspang from the band Katana.
LW – I recently had the pleasure to review your debut album â€œHeads Will Rollâ€ for PlanetMosh and I have got to say I am very impressed by it.
JB – I read your review! Thank you very much for your kind words â€“ Weâ€™re very proud of our album and it means a lot to us to know that itâ€™s having an impact.
LW – Can you talk us through your tracks that are on it ?
JB – It would be my pleasure!
Livinâ€™ Without Fear
Fast, energetic and to the point â€“ This is a perfect opening track, pulling you into the Katana experience in an instant! Some people have referred to it as â€œDonâ€™t fear the reaperâ€, because of the lyrics in the first pre-chorus. The lyrics do touch upon grim subjects, but itâ€™s a great deal of fun to perform live. It really gets everyone going!
Blade of Katana
A pure action piece. The Samurai are invading, wielding their Katana with relish! Horses are galloping, swords are flying and heads are rolling â€“ This is, of course, our anthem. In the early days of Katana, this song was very different, musically speaking. The band hadnâ€™t played it for years when I decided to dust off the lyrics and rewrite the music. It turned into a galloping mass of adrenaline!
Phoenix on Fire
This, my friends, is a powerful piece of music. I think Tobias hit the nail on the head with this heavy track. Fire is in the air â€“ and rest assured, there will be lots more when we have the capacity for it! I also love the guitar solo here. Definitely one of the best on the album. By the way, has anyone figured out what the lyrics are about?
The neverending story with the neverending guitar melody! This is the first of our more epic tracks, discussing the limitless nature of things â€“ humans included. The song itself also seems to want to break the boundaries of time and go on forever. Thatâ€™s how the lyrics came about. My original intention was to make this a semi-political song, but I realised that it didnâ€™t come naturally to me, so I scrapped that idea in favour of something more philosophical. Now that is my cup of tea!
Heart of Tokyo
A classic Katana tune. Go to Tokyo and make your dream come true! This upbeat feel-good song is one of our oldest and it still works. It might very well be our most popular song to date. Itâ€™s definitely easy to sing along to. Itâ€™s also a good closer for â€œSide Aâ€.
Asia in Sight
â€œSide Bâ€ opens with this heavy sailor song. With wind in our hair and waves crashing onto the deck, we travel to the far eastâ€¦ or is it west? Here, with the second half of the album, we get to explore different sides of Katana. This song has a kind of groove that you wonâ€™t find anywhere else on the record. I like it a lot.
Across the Stars
Now, hereâ€™s something else. I always thought that the intro seems to come from outer space and the whole track might be a bit out of this world for a band like Katana. I love it, though. Itâ€™s an epic track from years back. I remember Tobias soundchecking with the intro riff long before it was more than an idea. The lyrics are thought-provoking and I love the sci-fi aspect of it.
It is what itâ€™s called â€“ a rebel ride! Fast, hard and heavy. Grab your motorcycle and hit the road, â€˜cause weâ€™re about to spread this heresy nationwide! This is pure adrenaline.
Quest for Hades
Well, here is our grand finale. Itâ€™s an old school, progressive heavy metal track that tells the story of a girl who wants to bring back the soul of a dead boy. Since it takes place in ancient times around the Mediterranean Sea, the music was inspired by that musical culture. This was actually the first track that we recorded at Sonic Train Studios. It was a challenge, but we saw it through to the end and it turned out to be a great album closer!
LW – What is your favourite track from the album and why ?
JB – It varies, but Iâ€™m inclined to say â€œQuest for Hadesâ€, simply because it was a complex song that the band managed to bring together beautifully. I was especially pleased that Anders, our drummer, understood the song so well. He definitely made it work.
LW – There have been a lot of comparisons between yourself and a magnitude of NWOBHM bands such as Iron Maiden and Angelwitch. What are your favourite band of that period and why ?
JB – At the moment, itâ€™s probably Iron Maiden. Not just because of what they did in the 80â€™s, but because they have stood the test of time and managed to stay on top of their game. They are still one of best heavy metal acts in the world and a solid source of inspiration.
To get back to the old days, I believe that Iron Maiden had something very unique going on. There is that special â€œMaiden Magicâ€ that seems to permeate everything they did. They were excellent musicians and master songwriters. And they had Eddie!
LW – Sticking to the same theme what is your favourite album from that whole nwobhm period and why ? What is your favourite track/individual song from that period ?
JB – These are tough questions! Well, if we stick to the late 70â€™s/early 80â€™s, I think Iâ€™ll choose the album â€œPiece of Mindâ€ and the song â€œRevelationsâ€.
That album is a solid, consistent piece of art with Iron Maiden at their best. As a vocalist, I must admire Bruce Dickinsonâ€™s singing here. He has always been great, but when I listen to him going at it on â€œPiece of Mindâ€, I hear complete freedom. The man had no audible limitations at that point in time. Itâ€™s extreme, actually!
â€œRevelationsâ€ is a very special song. Never before or after have I heard anything like it and I love every second of it!
LW – There seems to be a lot of nwothm bands coming out of Sweden and the Nordic regions right now. Is there any reason for this ?
JB – After seeing us at Sweden Rock Festival last year, Stuart from Revelationz Magazine asked himself if thereâ€™s something they put in the water in Sweden, with all of these traditional heavy metal bands popping up all over the place. Who knows? That might just be it!
LW – What up and coming bands from the Swedish scene do you recommend keeping any eye on right now ?
JB – Portrait is an excellent band that just released their second album. If you like old school bands like Mercyful Fate, you should check them out. Be sure to catch them live if you get the chance â€“ These guys bring the whole package!
LW – What bands do you recommend keeping an eye on from the rest of the world ?
JB – Sadly, Iâ€™m not too knowledgeable about the comings and goings of foreign bands. Iâ€™ll have to get back to you on that!
LW – Do you have any plans for a UK tour ?
JB – Our management and Listenable Records (our international label) are working round-the-clock on finding the right booking agents for us and our plan is to embark on a tour as soon as we can. Hopefully, youâ€™ll see us in the UK before long!
LW – Do you have any plans to play any festival dates this year ?
JB – Not this summer, Iâ€™m afraid. Right now, weâ€™re writing and rehearsing new material for our second album so that next year, we can pull out all the stops and give everyone a full-blown Katana summer!
LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?
JB – Believe in your dreams and make them happen!
Also, watch out for the Samurai, because HEADS WILL ROLLâ€¦..