Graveyard’s Joakim Nilsson Talks About New Album ‘Lights Out’

By Andrew Bansal

A little over a year after putting out “Hisingen Blues”, which turned out to be one of the best albums of 2011 in my opinion, Swedish classic rockers Graveyard are ready to release their third studio album “Lights Out” on October 26th in Europe and on November 6th in North America via Nuclear Blast Records. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to vocalist/guitarist Joakim Nilsson to discuss the making of this album, among other things like the Swedish Grammy and the Graveyard beer ‘Hisingen Brew’. Enjoy our conversation below, check out the amazing music video for the song “Goliath” off of the new album near the bottom, and visit the official Graveyard website for more info.

I was listening to a couple of the new songs, and I feel the album is different from the previous one. I think this one has more of a Deep Purple vibe. Do you agree with that?

Yeah, I can easily agree with that. Now that the record is done, it feels like may be it’s a bit more darker, and yes, I’d say it has a Deep Purple kind of vibe to it.

Have you done anything differently, specially in terms of your vocals, or have you just used the same approach as the previous two albums?

Yeah, I guess the vocals have been the biggest difference from the last album in how we play, actually. I’ve tried to use the full register of my voice this time, so I’ve laid down more mellow vocals with a darker pitch than I usually do. Till now I’ve been more used to screaming in a higher pitch, but on this new album it’s more like all over the register.

So, was it harder for you to record this album as compared to the last one?

No, I wouldn’t say harder. I mean, it’s always hard, and it’s a pain in the ass recording an album. But it was kind of the same, I think.

It’s been only 18 months since the release of your previous album “Hisingen Blues”. So it’s been a quick turnaround for you this time.

Yeah, because I don’t think we’re that fast at recording, but since we took so long from the first album to the second one, I think we worked a little bit harder on releasing the third album.

You did a US tour earlier this year. What was that experience like? From what I heard, every show was sold out, and even the merchandise was so popular that you had to order a new batch in the middle of the tour!

Yeah, it was great! We had been there a couple of times before but this was our first headlining tour. So it was real fun to try that out. I don’t think every show was sold out, but most of them I think were. A couple of shows got moved up to bigger venues and even then they got sold out, so it was really great. I don’t know about the merch, but you’re right, we did have to restock a couple of times during the tour.

Coming back to “Lights Out”, I feel that even the production is a lot more organic, earthy or whatever you might want to call it. Do you think you were going for a more vintage feel which would fit the music more?

Well, we used the same equipment that we used on the previous album, we recorded in the same studio with the same producer, so I don’t see a big difference there. We always try to get as much of a ‘live’ feeling on the album as we possibly can, but may be we just succeeded with that better on this one. The feeling that I get from the album is more gloomy and darker, and there’s a wider range between the hardest song and the softest one. That’s the main difference I think. And as musicians too, I think we’ve matured over the last couple of years, so you could hear on the album how we’ve naturally evolved as a band from the first album through the second and now the third. Each time there’s been a difference in how we sound, I think.

Yeah, that’s true. This new track ‘Goliath’ was recently released as a lyric video and then a music video (see below). I think it’s also coming out as a 7-inch vinyl, which is great. When it comes to vinyl, do you see it as collector’s items for the fans, or does the band also put some effort into the sonic aspect of the vinyl?

Yeah, of course. It should sound the best on vinyl, because everybody in the band is a vinyl nerd (laughs). We definitely like the best sound we can get on vinyl, but it sure is a collector’s item. I mean, I’m not a collector myself, so I don’t really want to make people buy all the different color vinyls and stuff like that. We just like it to be out on vinyl, and it’s up to the record company in terms of the number of different colors they want to put out.

When it comes to playing live, how do you manage to achieve the same level of performance with the vocals? I guess it’s easier with the instruments, but in terms of vocals what does it take for you to prepare?

I think it comes by practice. I’ve been singing all my life, so I guess that comes more easy for me that the guitar playing, actually. But you have to stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and smoke, and try to sleep as much as possible (laughs). At the end of the tour, the throat is really worn out, but there’s nothing really you can do about that, specially if you’re singing like I do.

It must be hard for you to avoid drinking, being a member of a band like Graveyard!

Yeah it can be quite hard, specially if the fans or the spectators want to party with us too. Then it gets really hard, but I try to take it really easy in the beginning of the tours anyway and then may be gradually party a little bit more (laughs).

I was also following some of the news about the band this year. You won a Swedish Grammy for “Hisingen Blues”. In Sweden, does the mainstream media take it more seriously than perhaps in America?

No, I wouldn’t say that, because if you compare to America, the radio stations are still playing rock music. We got rock stations here, but they play the same songs over and over again. So the Swedish media is definitely not good for rock music.

Interesting. Another thing I read was about the Graveyard beer ‘Hisingen Brew’. What was your reaction to that? 

Yeah, it started out when our Swedish label wanted to make something else other than records (laughs), but we had a lot of input in the beer too. We tasted it and tried to give our inputs to it in terms of how we wanted it to taste and how the cans should look. So it’s kind of our beer, but we didn’t come up with the idea.

So it’s available only in Sweden for now, right?

Yeah. I don’t really know if it’s ever going to be available in any other countries.

The album is coming out soon everywhere. After that, what’s the plan?

The plan is to play as much as possible! We want to perform songs from this record for as long a period as we possibly can. Right now we are at home doing press, rehearsing the new album and stuff like that. Then after the record is released, we’re going to start playing. After the new year, we’ll play in America, Sweden and then do as many shows as possible.

This past summer you’ve played a lot of big shows, probably more than before, because the last album did so well. What are some of your favorite memories from the summer?

This year we played a lot of shows that were really good. We played Sweden Rock Festival and had a bigger stage. It was packed, and a really great show. Last year we had a couple of big ones too. We played as opening act for Iron Maiden and we did seven shows in Germany as opening act for Motorhead, and also we played two shows with Deep Purple. We never thought that was going to happen to us, playing with legends like those!