“It's not important to make music that sounds different from Sabaton" - interview with Daniel Myhr, former Sabaton and current Civil War keyboardist

írta Jocke | 2013.01.28.

One year ago it could not be presumed that Sabaton parts in two sides and the quitting musicians will found a new band. But fate decided so and shortly after the release of Sabaton’s ’Carolus Rex’ it was revealed that the new band’s lead singer will be Nils Patrik Johansson, known primarily from Astral Doors. Civil War released it’s strong, self-titled single at the end of last year and in May comes the first full length album from the band around Daniel Myhr. There were lots to talk about with the keyboardist…

Hard Rock Magazine: First of all, thank you for your time and answering our questions! After listening to your first EP, we are really looking for your debut album, coming out in May 2013. What can we expect? And how much will it differ from the EP?

Daniel Myhr: Thanks for taking your time to ask us some questions!

When we made the EP we had no clue in what direction we would take our sound. We just got the band together and said: Let's have fun! I wrote the most of the basic instrumentals for all the songs on the EP in about 5 days and presented them to the guys, and they liked it. So then I sent what I had to Patrik and he wrote the vocal-lines and out of that we developed the rest. It was a very fast process, and simple. Pieces just fell into place naturally.

The album will sound a bit different than the EP though but not too much I think. Now we have settled down and it is not only me that comes up with material for the songs. Patrik has done a lot of songs for the album. We have very different ways of writing music, but as persons he and I think very much alike. We learned fast about each others weaknesses and strengths when it comes to composing, so we work out all the details together.

HRM: Where do you record the album? As far as I know, all of the songs aren’t recorded yet, are they?

Daniel: We will record the majority of the album in my bedroom actually, just like we did with the EP. The only thing I can't record at home is the drums since I live in an apartment and I don't feel like getting evicted just yet. Haha! Even the vocals were recorded there, and I was a bit scared that I would get complaints from the neighbours that we were too loud since Patrik isn't “that quiet” when he sings. But when I asked around if anyone had heard anything they just looked strangely at me. They thought I hadn't been at home even.

HRM: There is a cool but a bit strange cover on the EP, Nelly Furtado’s Say It Right. Why did you cover this song?

Daniel: It was a bit of a surprise to everyone except me actually. When I went down to meet with our record company the first time they asked me what we had in plan for the EP. I said that we have 4 songs and one cover in plan. After I had shown the 4 songs we had they asked about the cover. At this moment we hadn't discussed too much about the cover in the band, but I had made a try on Say it Right back in 2010 (though it sounded quite different from the EP-version). So I just took that one because I consider it to be a really great song. I got a quite surprised look from the company-guy. So after that I just had to go home to the guys and tell them that we'll make a cover of it.

HRM: Sabaton’s main songwriters were Pär and Joakim. Now you have the opportunity to compose your own music. Is it important for you to create music that differs from Sabaton’s sound or you don’t care about it?

Daniel: It's not important for me or anyone else in the band to make music that sounds different from the stuff that Joakim writes for Sabaton. If it is a song that we like......then we make it. It's not harder than that really.

HRM: And what about the lyrics? After listening to the EP, and of course knowing the band’s name, seems to me that you will carry on with the war-themes.

Daniel: We had the thought that we would move away from that theme at first. But Patrik is very interested in the theme of history and war so he wanted to hold on to it. Though he writes in a very different style from what Sabaton do. And since none of us are very good at writing lyrics, we won't complain either. And we like the approach that Patrik has to the subject. A bit more heavy metal, less history lesson.

HRM: After you’ve founded Civil War, have you got any offers from major labels? If not, what do you think, why?

Daniel: We had quite a few offers from different labels. But the thing that made us go with Despotz was that they didn't promise us “Riches and Fame ”. We got a straight “You get This and That”. No bullshit there at all.

HRM: I have some questions about the line up and about the birth of Civil War, but first of all I have to ask you about your former band. You guys left the band right before the album ‘Carolus Rex’ was released. What do you think about that album and how did it feel to see a fully new line up performing the songs you have recorded in the studio?

Daniel: ‘Carolus Rex’ is GREAT! We actually love the musical part of it. Though the emotional part of it all died due to the circumstances of the break-up of the band. And I don't see the new line-up as complete. They still miss a keyboarder I would say. Even if they have backingtracks for that it somehow takes away a dimension from the live shows. I got the chance to see them live at Rockstad 2012 for the first time. I felt quite excited about it since I read a lot of good things about their live performances. But it felt like a big anti-climax for me. It was like watching a movie you loved when you were 12years old, and now watch it again when you've reached your 30's. It was the same movie, you knew every line, every scene.....but it didn't feel the same.

HRM: How did the Sabaton fans accept that you quit the band?

Daniel: Many people were upset of course. I still get mails and messages from people that miss the old times. But things have slowly started to settle, and I think people are happy with things have developed with Sabaton and Civil War. And I hope it won't get any worse for anyone of us.

HRM: You were on the top with Sabaton, a well-known band in Europe. How does it feel to build up a new band once again quasi from zero?

Daniel: It feels great actually. Even if we had some things coming easy since we left a band that was really popular. But if we would have made too crappy music I think we wouldn't have gotten very far anyway. We do what we can from what we have, and people seem too like it.

HRM: Why did you choose to name the band Civil War?

Daniel: It was Patrik’s idea. He thought of the name since he's a lot into the history of the American Civil War. And we found out that there were only some pop-group that was using the name, and that they were not very active. So we figured it wouldn't be any problem to use it. Though we had a more relaxed approach to the actual name. Since the members are divided 50/50 between different cities (Falun and Borlänge) that have been in a bit of a feud for ages, we found it fitting to use it in that way also. “We love to hate/Hate to love” each other.

HRM: How did you get in touch with Nils Patrik Johansson?

Daniel: It's all thanks to Almighy Gunnar! Patriks neighbor and a longtime friend of ours. I don't remember exactly how it all came together, but Gunnar knew that we were thinking of starting a new band so he told Patrik about it, and Patrik thought it sounded interesting. The funny thing was that we had been thinking that it would be cool to have Patrik as singer. So when Gunnar told us that Patrik was interested we didn't hesitate to call him. So we just got together over a cup of coffee and then it was all set.

HRM: Patrik is a more versatile and professional singer than Joakim. Does Nils’ voice open new gates for you during the songwriting?

Daniel: He indeed does. I don't have to think at all about the vocals when I write any instrumental parts. Patrik just takes the things I do and adjust his voice to it. He pushes himself into singing the stuff I write. Not because I tell him to do it, just because he can. It gives a freedom that was never possible in Sabaton. I could just not imagine Joakim doing Custers Last Stand for example. It would sound just wrong. But I guess it would sound strange with Patrik doing a Sabaton-song also. They are two very different voices... plain and simple.

HRM: Patrik is involved in two other bands, Astral Doors and Wuthering Heights (and Lion’s Share too). It won’t be easy conciliating the three bands timeline, even if WH seems a bit inactive in the last two years – what do you think about it?

Daniel: We see no problem with that. We're not planning to do 100 gigs a year, and we plan things so it fits Patriks schedule. And so far it has worked out very fine.

HRM: We know all of you from Sabaton and Patrik from Astral Doors, but there is one “new” guy on the bass guitar, Pizza Eriksson. Could you introduce him?

Daniel: Pizza is not just any pizza. He's a goddamn Quattro Staggioni! He doesn't look very appetizing but he has many flavors. He has his musical roots in Death Metal and he also plays bass in a band called Volturyon. We got to know him during the tours where he worked as a roadie for Sabaton. He's a bit tricky to describe as person.....a mix of Goofy and Nikola Tesla I'd say. A very humble and funny guy that has great ideas.

HRM: What are your future plans with the band? Do you want to replicate the success of Sabaton?

Daniel: The plan is to have fun, make music and play some gigs. We don plan to conquer the world and become the greatest band in history or so. If this would happen it would be totally by accident, like most stuff that we done so far. Haha!

HRM: Are there any shows, festivals you are confirmed for? It  is hard to find the relevant information on your Facebook page

Daniel: We have a few festivals and gigs coming up for the summer and autumn, and we know that it's hard to find information about that. We were going to put up a homepage soon, but the guy that were going to make it got his computer stolen just before it was finished, and then he just vanished into thin air. So we're back to square one at the moment. But we're working on to get all the information needed out there.....please be patient.

Made by Jocke