After splitting up for a few years, the Swedish neoclassical/power metal band Narnia reunited a few years back, with From Darkness To Light the second album of the group’s second era, and their eighth studio album overall. Vocalist Christian Rivel-Liljegren fills us in on a new member, the latest album, touring, the challenges of being a Christian band and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, bassist Jonatan Samuelsson, come to join the band?
Christian Rivel-Liljegren: Jonatan has been a good friend of mine for years and I knew he was good musician and with graphic design. He was the team player we were looking for and shared the same vision as us so after nearly a year together he got the place as Narnia´s new bass player.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for From Darkness To Light compared to previous albums?
Yes. With this album most of the music and lyrics were written by CJ Grimmark (guitar) as I have had some tough years 2017-2018 from a burn out. But slowly day by day I am coming back with energy again.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
When I recorded the vocals for the title song “From Darkness To Light (Part 1). It was very emotional and it is like a miracle we have a new album. One year ago this would have been impossible.
What are the pros and cons of producing an album yourselves?
CJ Grimmark is the producer but we have our live engineer Viktor Stenqvist behind the mixing process. As we have our own studios we can take more time to get it as good as possible. We have enough experience and talent to make a very good sounding album. Of course we have to risk more money into the production and the whole thing but we really believe in our band and so far the fans are behind but it is very hard these days to make it going. Lucky this is working for Narnia.
How has your sound evolved from your 2016 self-titled release?
I believe this album has a warmer sound and is more diverse and dynamic. In my opinion we have never sounded better as Narnia. I really love the variation of songs.
What lyrical topics do you cover this time around?
We deal with the world situation and our personal Life experiences where our Christian faith is a natural part.
How was the video shoot for “You Are The Air That I Breathe”?
It was really fun and a good place, and the song is really direct with a cool melody hook so I think this will be a great song to perform live.
How important are videos these days?
They are still important and good as a marketing tool for the single and album and to concert promoters it is very important. The fans get both the visual and audio experience of the song.
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We start in Sweden then direct to South America (Paraguay, Peru, Chile, Brazil & Argentina) together with Stryper and Tourniqet and then dates in Switzerland and Germany. We are negotiating with dates for 2020 so it looks good.
Where haven’t you played live that you’d still like to get to?
There are some countries like U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Russia, Israel that we want to visit.
What is the coolest site/attraction you’ve been able visit while on tour?
It was really cool to visit the Jesus statue in Rio De Janeiro in Brazil and now on the coming tour we will visit Machu Piccu in Peru.
With the advent of the social media era, promotion of albums is easier and much more transparent with behind the scenes videos, several singles before the album is released, etc. Do you like that way of doing things, or do you miss the mystique there used to be before an album release?
It is both sides. Sometimes everyone knows everything but the way we can communicate with fans, promoters, labels is very good and speeds up the process a lot!
Since you reunited a few years ago, have the relationships between band members been better than during the first era of the band, or are they the same?
We are four original members since the start and it is more fun today as we have experienced both ups and downs together.
Sweden is a pretty secular country. How are your faith-based songs received there compared to North America and more religious countries?
In the beginning it was tough. Today more people are interested in spiritual things but sometimes people judge us before and not listen to our songs because we are Christians.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I love go hiking in the Mountains and with my Caravan. I love fishing and sports like tennis, running, skiing.
(interview published August 2, 2019)
Watch Narnia – “A Crack In The Sky” Video