Interview with Civil War's drummer Daniel Mullback and singer Patrick Johansson, Biebob, 15/02/2014
In May 2012, four members of Sabaton (drummer Daniel Mullback, keyboard player Daniel Mÿhr and both guitar players Oskar Montelius and Ricard Sundén) decided they'd had enough of that, each for their own reasons, and formed a new band named Civil War, with the aid of bass player 'Pizza' and ex-Astral Doors' singer Patrick Johansson. They recorded their first album 'The Killer Angels' in June 2013, and they're now touring to promote that album. But changes are already coming up for discussion ...
We saw the funny video you guys made, on Youtube, showing the fans that Civil War signed a contract with Napalm Records. So there's a change of Record Label? Any details or specifications that you want to share with us, about that new contract? Is it just for one record, or more?
D: I think it's 4. And it feels like we're starting right NOW, because it's so much better than our former record label. They didn't do any good job at all, except in Sweden.
Yes, I heard you sold over 20,000 copies of 'The Killer Angels' in Sweden!
D: They did a real good job in Sweden, so we became really big in Sweden, but apart from that it was just a couple of countries that they did .. .
P: The promotional work outside Sweden was really bad. We had no choice, we had to change.
I read in an interview that you did earlier, that from the start it wasn't the plan to do more than one EP and one album with your former label.
D: Yes, that was the plan, exactly. We just wanted to come out with our first album but we didn't expect that the promotion would be that lousy. We thought they'd do a rather okay job, but right now, it feels like 95% of the world doesn't even know that we exist, thanks to them. But now we have a proper label, and that's why we are out on tour right now, to show the world that we exist. We have so much in the future and we're starting to record a new album this spring.
D: We still have so much to show the world. So it feels really good. And right now, having signed with this new great label, it feels like Christmas!
Now that we're talking about new material ... are we having bag pipes on stage tonight?
For that new song, 'the mad piper'?
P: Nooo, we won't be doing that one.
D: But maybe in the future!
But you will be playing new material tonight?
No, we will play things from the EP and 'The Killer Angels' album.
The announcement (Biebob concerts) also mentioned a small Sabaton Tribute. Can you just play those songs, written by Joakim Brodén?
P: We can play whatever we like.
D: It's no problem. We will see! If the audience wants us to play them, then we will play them.
P: But actually, in Poland we did 'Primo Victoria', and the audience actually said: 'We don't want to hear Sabaton, we want to hear Civil War!'
Do you have the impression, now that you're touring -this is the 5th gig I think of the tour and you already did Poland and the Chech Republic- that the former Sabaton fans are coming to check out Civil War? Or are they just sticking to the name 'Sabaton'?
D: they really like Civil War! We even recognize the people, singing along with the Civil War songs now!
P: and also I have to add, there's a lot of Astral Doors fans at the gigs too! I see a lot of people with Astral Doors' T-shirts at the concerts. It's not only Sabaton!
So it's been good!
D+P: yes, absolutely! The best of two worlds!
P: The unholy marriage between Sabaton and Astral Doors, that's Civil War!
Coming up next on tour is Germany, Germany and more Germany. Is there a part B of this tour, because I don't see France here, or Switserland, or Italy ..?
D: Well, we have plans, but right now when we come home, we will focus 100% on the new album, so touring is for after that.
P: we're going to do some festivals this summer ...
Any festivals in Belgium that you can already reveal?
We will reveal that tonight! (snoozecontrol note: The band announced that they will play at GMM)
About the music: battle hymns and powermetal ... it seems to cheer up people even though the lyrics are basically about fights and killing. What do you think holds the secret to the succes of battle hymns?
D: Because it's good music! It's catchy and it affects people, it's heavy and has good ingredients to feel good in some way.
P: But you have to do it the right way. You cannot celebrate war.
Whose idea was it to name the band 'Civil War'?
Because you specialize in Civil Wars? (laughs)
P: No, no, it was just a cool name! I came to the guys, I had a paper with five of six suggestions. And everyone picked 'Civil War'. It was also a good thing because, first of all, half of the band is from Falun, and half the band is from twin city Borlänge, and it's a competition, a 'civil war'. That's how we see it. But also many people think it's like a war declaration against Sabaton: 'now it's Civil War...!'
D: People can think whatever they want. We're just out to kick ass.
Exactly where lies the difference between Civil War and Sabaton on the musical level or on the lyrical level?
D: The sound and the vocals. It's still both Heavy Metal, but Joakim sings very low and Patrick can sing very high.
P: and also the lyrics. Sabaton's lyrics are almost -what to call it- 'national romantic', celebrating certain people.
And now you (Patrick, nvdr) are responsable for most of the lyrics, even though everybody is more a part of the songwriting process now than before ... Are you the history expert of the band?
P: yes, well not the expert, I'm just interested in it, I had the highest grade when I was at school, for history.
If you were a history teacher, and you would have to teach your pupils this one historical fact that they could learn from to act in the future, what fact would that be?
P: one fact!?
P: the world wars, both World War 1 and World War 2. A lot of mistakes were made during those wars. I think nothing can really compete to that.
A last predictable question: it's been almost two years since Sabaton split up. Any regrets?
D: No. For me it was exactly what I needed. I needed a break from playing drums. I was so fed up with it, playing every day, all the time, I couldn't even think anymore. So, no, it was the best decision I could make.
If you want to add something you want to tell the fans: please go ahead ...
D: We have so much more to give in the future, we have so much to show the world. So, be patient. The EP and the 'Killer Angels' album were just the beginning. The new album that we will record when we get home, almost feels like it will be our first album. We have so many ideas, even besides those songs, so things are really looking good in the future.
P: I feel that our way of thinking of music is good. We want to do powerful, bombastic heavy metal and we want to play it in a way that you can't see other bands do it, because, for example, you have a lot of powermetal bands from Germany using the falsetto voice and doing that 'aaaaaa' (uses very high voice) .. We want to do about the same music but using deep vocals, and choirs.
D: and with different harmonies. When Patrick sings every song is so alive, it's like a story. And the fun thing is: every night, live, it sounds different and it's always perfect.
P: we got a lot to give, and a lot to prove!
We'll be looking forward to that!