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Narnia

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Life can be like a desert land. That's what Narnia lead vocalist Christian Liljegren can confirm. The second album of his melodic metal band, Long Live The King, wasn't received as heartily by the press as their debut release. And in his personal life Christian went through struggles. On the new album of Narnia he gives others some insight in his life. Their third Nuclear Blast record is appropriately called Desert Land.

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Discography: Awakening; Long Live The King; Desert Land. Available through: Nuclear Blast Records. Official website: Narnia. Interview by: mpo  Date: January 23rd 2001

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Narnia is about to release a third album called Desert Land. How do you feel about it right now?

It's really good because we're very satisfied with the production and the songwriting for this new album. We have developed as musicians both production-wise and song-wise. So, we're really looking forward to the release. It's a heavier album and it's a strong unit. It's explosive with lots of energy in it. We think that we have found more of our identity on this album.

From what I've heard the band experienced many troubles recording this album. In what circumstances could you record the album?

The problems were not music-wise. They were problems with the recording equipment. There were some computer problems. But then everything was sold because there was new stuff. There were problems with the computer they had never seen before. So that was the reason for the delay of the album.

Desert Land is the follow up release to Long Live The King. This second album wasn't as successful as Narnia's debut. In how much influenced that the writing process of Desert Land?

No. Actually not. We just continued the way we felt from our hearts and we will always do that. We try not to be influenced by what people say. We try to do music from our hearts. Of course it influences you in some way. But we are not a trend-band that has to do the things the press wants us to do. We do what we feel from our hearts and I'm very proud of the Long Live The King album also. So, this was natural move to the next one.

Personally I feel the rhythm guitars sound heavier in the mix. Is that what you set out to do for this album?

Yeah, less keyboard and more guitars. We tried to get more of our live sound into the record. But it is always hard to find that energy and explosive sound that you have live and get it on the record. But we tried to do our best with this one.

How is your current deal with Nuclear Blast? How many albums did you sign for with them?

We have signed for five. So, we have two more to do and I hope that we will release two more albums. Of course it depends on the sales of the new album.

Narnia is not only a metalband but also a band with a clear Christian message. Do you feel you're taken serious being a band with such a message?

For us, it's like this: We are a melodic metal band. Everybody has a belief and that's an important thing in our lives. But I don't like the way people try to put us in boxes. Because I want people to compare us with other bands. Because everybody has a belief in something and we have found something in this. For me, the one who writes the lyrics, the stuff for the new album Desert Land is: People may come and people may go but for me the only thing that keeps me alive and gives me strength to carry on is my faith. So that's important of course when I'm writing the lyrics. That's also the reason for the title Desert Land.

Explain!

Sometimes everybody has tough periods when you feel like you're in the desert. And I've been going through some tough changes in my personal life since the Long Live The King album. So, the title and also the lyrics of the new album explain a little bit about some things that I have been going through.

Is that something non-Christians also can relate to, or is it only meant for Christians?

No, our main thing is to reach our music to everyone. We have never tried to write music only for the Christians. Of course, if Christians like it, then it's good but it doesn't matter for us. We want to spread our music to everyone.

I can imagine that a record company like Nuclear Blast might prefer watered down lyrics as to be more of a commercial success. Do you feel this sort of pressure?

Yeah, yeah. It doesn't matter when we're talking about music. When we're talking in this business, this music-business, it's only talking about money. Even when making the music. The record company wants to earn money. We told them, we will never comprise for this. Otherwise they can drop us because I want to be honest to myself. About what I'm doing. For me it's important that you have your own identity and that you stand for what you are. That's the main thing. So far they like what we're doing. I hope we will continue that way.

And do you think you could have the same successes as bands like Hammerfall and Stratovarius if you had watered down lyrics?

I don't think that way. We try to do our best. I think for Hammerfall, they came at the right time and there are many bands playing that kind of music now. They were the lucky ones with the perfect timing in many ways. I think, to me, it's the right people, the right timing and promotion. It's many different parts that make a really great success. I believe that if you have the music abilities and talent you could reach very high. If you play this kind of music you can have a very great success.

So, if there's the sufficient promotion you could have success with Narnia too?

Of course, it's the promotion and the marketing. If you have lots of money into that and got TV time and radio promotion, all that kind of stuff, that's very important. I know Nuclear Blast is trying to do the best for Narnia. Of course they have different budgets for different bands. So far they have been trying to do the best they can for our band. But I think both band and record label never get satisfied. You always want better things.

With the new release about to come out, I wonder about the touring plans of the band. I didn't see many on the Narnia page but could you give a sneak peak into the future?

We've already booked some gigs. We haven't put them on the internet yet. We play some concerts in Finland and Sweden. Nuclear Blast and our management MCM Music are working really hard to put us on as many concerts as possible. Because we will reach as many people as possible and see new places. So far we have done at least between twenty and forty concerts each year. Something like that.

And what bands would you like to tour with?

If I had to choose, it would be great to tour and be the support-act for Iron Maiden for example. Maybe Helloween. A good band like Uriah Heep or older bands. That's one of my favorites.

Do you want to tour with them because they are successful or because you have a personal interest into those bands music-wise?

I think it's important to have bands that are not playing the exactly same style. It think it's good to attract nearly the same audience. I think people who love Iron Maiden can also love Narnia. And people who love Helloween and also Uriah Heep. If they like the melodic stuff they will like what we're doing. That was the reaction we received when we we're touring with Ronnie James Dio two years ago. He's my favorite singer. It was absolutely amazing to tour with him.

Besides Narnia you also have a solo band called Wisdom Call and you have been working on the debut album for this band. Can you tell how that is going?

It's going well. It will be released through Massacre Records later this spring, April or May of this year. It's the drummer also from Narnia, Andreas Johansson. Then it's two members from a band called Stormwind, who are also on Massacre Records. It's a Swedish band. Bassplayer Andreas Ohlson is one of them. Then I have two guitarplayers. It's a six piece band. And the album is called Power From The Sky. It's more melodic powermetal.

So, it's a bit heavier than Narnia. You have also started your own record company called CL Publishing. Can you give a short profile for your label?

It's more a label on which I do my own stuff. So, it's not a record label that I'm trying to release many releases through. It's easy to handle the things if you have your own label and publishing. For example, I will use that for Wisdom Call and maybe some friends that I have in the business. In that case it's a small activity. It's a company more for my own music. And it will be melodic metal.

And what bands do you have right now?

Right now I have a band from the Northern parts of Sweden called Laudamus. And also a band from Stockholm called Sons Of Thunder. We will see what the future holds. Because right now I don't have the time to push other bands. I will concentrate on Narnia and Wisdom Call.

There's also another band and I heard they are on CL too. They're called Sanctifica.

That's my brother's band. I handled the publishing for that album. It's released through a Finnish company called Little Rose Productions. Do you like it?

Some songs. The last song for example with the hardrock singer Per Hagström.

He's the singer in CarlJohan's side project besides Narnia, called System Breakdown. He's the lead vocalist and he's also doing some backing vocals on the new Narnia.

At the end of this interview I wonder if we could go through all songs of the new Narnia album Desert Land. Maybe you can give some sort of introduction to each song, maybe an anecdote or some sort of background. Inner Sanctum.

That song has a lot of seventies vibe into it. If you like the old Rainbow stuff. Lyrically it's dealing about.....Everybody has a secret room inside that only you have the key for to open up the door. It's a heavy rock 'n roll song in the seventies vibe.

The Witch And The Lion

That's dealing about the fairytale of Narnia. It's a fast track. Typically neo-classical stuff.

Falling From The Throne

It's a heavier song. It's dealing about the man trying to be God and Lucifer's fall from the sky. Musically it's more the older style like Rainbow and Black Sabbath through the Ronnie James Dio period.

Revolution Of Mother Earth

It's a pompous ballad. It's dealing about things in your life that need to die so you should be alive again. It's like we can see in nature, that flowers die but new ones come. It's the same in our own lives. Some things have to die in our hearts to be alive again.

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

This is an instrumental song with different passages. If you love guitar playing, guitar solos, and keyboards and stuff like that.

Angels Are Crying

It's a song that's really influenced by the Dio style in the beginning of his solo band. It's also a very good live song that people can bang their heads on (laughs).

Walking The Wire

This is the fast track on the album and it's dealing about this computerized world. It's also neo-classical style. People will love that fast guitar playing, double-kick drums and they will love it.

Misty Morning

It's a calm instrumental piece. It's hard to explain exactly. It's an instrumental thing that's very beautiful and melancholic.

Trapped In This Age

This is the longest song on this album. It's a very epic one with different passages. I think that song really shows what I felt the last couple of years. I feel trapped in this age. In many ways it's been very tough. It will be the last song on the album and also the last song live. It's my favorite one on the album. This is also the most challenging song for me to sing. Because when I recorded the lyrics for this song I was crying. It has a very calm part with acoustic guitars and I had to stop recording and I went into the control-room and I was crying. Because it was so tough to record. There were so many things in my heart that went out.

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