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woensdag 11 november 2009
Narnia: The Lion Roars Again!

Interview with guitarist CJ Grimmark of Narnia by Vera in October 2009

Narnia was founded in 1996 by Christian Rivel and Carl Johan Grimmark. Since then they released five excellent studio albums and a successful live gig in Germany was registered on the DVD/CD ‘At Short Notice – Live in Germany’. After the release of ‘Enter The Gate’ (2006), the Swedish band went through a confusing period. Vocalist Christian decided to leave the band. But fortunately they found a new vocalist in German Pascual and they are back with a great sixth album, called ‘Course Of A Generation’. We talked with composer, guitarist Carl Johan Grimmark about the renewed Narnia.



Important feature on the new album is the entrance of a new vocalist. Why did Christian leave? He founded the band in 1996 together with you, so I guess it was not an easy decision?
It certainly wasn't easy, but it was unavoidable at the then. Christian no longer had the energy and the passion to move on and he had been through both private matters and many projects that held him back. When he left, it was a mutual decision.

Fortunately in August 2008 you found German Pascual. How did you get in contact with him and decided he would be the new force?
We had our eyes on him for a while when we were going through mp3s of different candidates. And, as soon as he heard through a mutual friend of ours that we were looking for a singer, he immediately contacted us. We decided to hook up, and here we are!

Can you tell a bit more about German’s background and influences, since (until now) he is a rather unknown name (but an excellent vocalist!)?
He was raised in Brazil but moved to Sweden in his late teens. He sung with some different bands and projects such as Minds Eye and "Swedish" Latino star Mendez for a couple years and then decided to quit music, which he did for about seven years.

Let’s go a bit back in time now. ‘Enter The Gate’ was released in 2006. Could you tour to support this album and can you tell a bit more about these live experiences?
No, after ‘Enter The Gate’ we barely toured at all, sadly. One of the reasons was that Christian needed to stay out of too much pressure at that time...there were other reasons as well, but the general problem was our split views on how and when to tour etc. And sadly, the chance of jumping on a major tour didn't really come our way…

What happened to the band next in these three years before the release of ‘Course Of A Generation’?
Of course a great deal of time went into writing the record, but this was also when we started realizing that Christian was loosing interest and energy, so it was a quite confusing period of time...

Did you feel any differences in the writing process of this new album and what was the contribution of German? Did he write the lyrics or did he (until now) just executed the songs?
He wrote a bunch of the vocal melodies on the album, so we quickly developed a way of working together with great result, I think. Next time he will most likely contribute even more.

In the beginning I had to get used to the sound of the new album, to be honest. It sounds heavier, more straight forward and less epic. Do you agree with that?
Yes, I completely agree a 100%, and it was all meant to be that way. I felt that we really need to renew ourselves to stay hungry - we needed to explore new territories, or we would just bore ourselves to death (laughs).



What about the recording process? Did you use an extern producer or were there things you approached differently to get a more “modern” sound?
No, we had no external producer. I produced this one just like before, but with a new and different sound in mind. I think we just let go of all expectations about what a Narnia-album would sound like, and just went true to our hearts a 100%....which made it our best album ever in my not too humble opinion…

We all know that the lyrics have a Christian tinge, but without preaching. That has always been a strong characteristic of Narnia. What can you tell us about the lyrics this time?
The lyrics have the same goal and a message very similar to previous albums, but with a different "tone" and different language. The only reason is that I wrote the majority of them and my ways of writing are different to the ways of Christian, who did most of the lyrics back in the day...

In August 2008 you signed a deal with Nightmare Records for the US. What is the status of Narnia in the US and any prospects on that topic?
I feel very inspired about the US release indeed! It's our first real release over there, so I hope the album will be received in the greatest way possible. I hope we can get the chance of touring North America in the future.

And what about the land of the rising sun, Japan?
Well, we have a deal with SoundHolic, but the release got postponed for some reason...I hope for more news on that soon!

CarlJohan, as you are an amazing guitarist (and musician) how did you ever get into music and did you have musicians/bands that were important to inspire you (when starting)?
Haha...thanks!!! Well, my musical interest woke up very early, I'd say I was about five or so...then I picked up my sister's acoustic guitar, that she had taken over from our grandmother when I was about nine. I stuck a pair of headphones in the sound hole (that worked as a microphone) and plugged it in to the "mic in" on a cheap tape recorder and there was DISTORTION and I was hooked :) I was completely into Europe's stuff back then. Later I got into Yngwie, Rainbow and Led Zeppelin and so on, so there's been variety of influences.

Do you still play in Saviour Machine (I love that band too!)? Though it seems they are not that active anymore?
No, I wouldn't consider myself a member of Saviour Machine anymore and there is no activity to participate in either. I never was fired and I never quit...but it's pretty much a vacuum more or less...

But I am thrilled to hear more about Full Force! That seems very interesting to me!
Yes, that's cool! We have about 12 songs at this point and we might do a few more and then pick the best ones. There will most likely be a 2010 release as it seems.

Are there other projects/bands you or other members are still involved in, any news on these ones (new or old projects)?
Narnia and Full Force are the only ones active as we speak. I've worked a lot with Rob Rock, but we both been busy with other things the past 12 months. Andreas Passmark recently joined Royal Hunt, which is pretty cool.

In November you will be playing at Brainstorm festival in the Netherlands. Will it be a fly in fly out or maybe combined with other gigs in that area? What are the expectations?
It will be a fly in and out, but I do have great expectations. Playing Holland has always been a very pleasant experience!!

Are there other plans to go on the road and tour to support the new album?
We're doing 13 shows this autumn and we might extend it a bit into next year as well, but no full "tour" over Europe or so. We need YOU to request us everywhere...and tell our label as well! :)

Did you ever play in Belgium and is there a chance to come over for this CD?
We'd LOVE to come to Belgium. We played there with Rob Rock a few years ago, but it would be a dream to get there with Narnia as well. Sadly it's not only in our hands, but whenever there's a chance I'd do all in my power not to miss it!

If I look at the artwork I have the impression that it is a quite dark album, or am I wrong?
I wouldn't say it's entirely dark, but it's certainly not entirely bright either. It contains many moods and elements that are present in anyone's life, more or less. The lyrics are honest and reflect what's around us and where we put our faith. So, if there's darkness, there's always hope...

Are there plan to shoot a videoclip?
Not any firm plans at the moments...it's been discussed of course, but...

What are the plans for the near future?
We're finishing the tour dates in Holland and Sweden to start with, and then I guess it's time for a little break over Christmas. Maybe there will be time for some new song writing in the near future.

If there is any news I forgot to cover, feels free to add it…
I think You covered it all well. I hope many of You will consider picking up ‘Course Of A Generation’ after reading - it's definitely worth it!

Take care and God bless!

CJ Grimmark







Geplaatst door Vera op woensdag 11 november 2009 - 22:55:15
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