NIGHT VIPER from Stockholm, Sweden really took us by surprise with their self-titled debut album. Mind you, it can be very cold in Sweden, but their music will surely keep you warm because of its power and very exciting sound. Although the band played their first gig in 2014, they recently earned a place at the prestigious Roadburn festival in Holland and the Swedish cult festival Muskelrock in Tyrolen. Both festivals capture the most significant and promising new acts on their stages. Obviously, more people seem to be impressed by these well-talented newcomers. I guess, there’s plenty of reason to introduce the band to you. Read on and know what these vicious night vipers had to tell us, before biting us with their venomous fangs. It isn’t always easy to be a reporter for Metal Maidens, as you can see. Just step into the world of NIGHT VIPER and you’ll be amazed!
First of all, thank you for doing this interview. When was NIGHT VIPER founded and how did you meet up with eachother?
Sofie Lee: ”I think, it was around 2013 me and my friend Martin had thoughts of getting some kind of rock band together. We asked Tom, who was new in town, to join us. He opened his riff archive and out poured stuff like ”Faces In The Mirror”and ”Chainbreaker”. Martin didn't end up staying with us and it took us a while to find his perfect replacer in Emil. We've never met before, but we have lots of mutual friends and the personal chemistry was great. Same thing with Jonna. We heard from friends that she was looking for a new challenge besides her band MUDWALK, so we got in touch and just fell in love with her. We've known Ruben from just being out and about, I guess. He was the last to join the band. He had millions of bands and we didn't dare to get our hopes up, that he would actually stay with us permanently. We're now about to enter a new phase of the Viper history, when Emil has decided to leave the band. We are still not set with his permanent replacer, but for our upcoming tour we'll bring Kristofer Möller (ex-HORISONT) and for our shows this spring we're very happy to still have Emil with us!”
Please introduce the band members to us, the instrument(s) they play and their background (previous bands)?
Sofie Lee: ”Tom Sutton is our guitar maestro. He is currently playing in The ORDER OF ISRAFEL and known from CHURCH OF MISERY and HORISONT. Tom is also an excellent singer and does some backing noises on our album. Jonna Karlsson on drums is the sultan of swing and she used to beat the crap out of her Ludwig kit in MUDWALK. Emil Ridderstolpe does not only add folk sophistication guitars to NIGHT VIPER, but he is also very talented with a fiddle. He plays guitar and sings in his band Ill WICKER. He was also one of the guitarists in MUDWALK for a while. On the album, he does fiddle and glockenspiel. Ruben Ahlander, our fast fingered four string strangler, is also the bassist in MIASMAL and a previous member of SWORDWIELDER and RADIATION. Last (but not least), I am NIGHT VIPER's unholy virgin and there are no previous bands.”
Sofie Lee is the ‘metal maiden’ in the band, who is your front singer. What makes her so special?
Tom: “Pretty much everything! I remember the first time she sent me a demo for a vocal idea for a song. I was back in Australia at the time. I just melted. It sounded like TINA TURNER singing for JUDAS PRIEST. The melody was super catchy and her voice had that amazing grain to it. She has an incredible voice and she also has a wonderful sense of melody. She loves VENOM and SABBAT, but she loves ABBA too, so she writes incredible melodies. She's a huge talent.”
Who actually came up with the band name NIGHT VIPER?
Sofie Lee: ”Tom! I remember it being a tie between NIGHT VIPER and NIGHT SCREAMER, haha. The last was more of a joke though.”
Who can we see as the biggest influence for NIGHT VIPER and maybe you can also point out some of the influences of each band member individually?
Tom: The biggest influence in general I'd say must be early METALLICA and JUDAS PRIEST. There's also the more metallic side of MOTORHEAD and there's a lot of ENTOMBED in there, too.”
Sofie Lee: ”For me, I get going on everything that's got that MOTORHEAD simple rock'n'rollishness to it. Singing wise, I tend not to listen too much on classic heavy metal vocals. It's no secret my house goddess is Jinx Dawson of COVEN. I'm not one of those "true" metal enthusiasts. I listen to everything that's sincere and honest.”
Ruben: ”For me, IRON MAIDEN is a big influence, along with all other bands I listen to, that is mostly old-school heavy and thrash metal.”
How would you describe your music?
Sofie Lee: ”High energy, high maintenance heavy metal!”
What’s your favorite NIGHT VIPER song and why? And what’s the crowd’s favorite song in your opinion? (Mine is ”Warrior Woman” by the way, but Rita votes for ”The Wolverine”)
Sofie Lee: ”Mine is probably ”The Wolverine”. That song is like a page from my diary during the time it was written. On our release shows, we used to finish our sets with this song and a silver confetti canon. You can't avoid falling in love, with a concept like that! And ”Night Viper” and ”Run For Cover” are two crowd pleasers.”
Ruben: ”My favorites are ”Run For Cover”, ”Dagger In Hand” and ”Warrior Woman”. Those songs have real fun parts to play with a lot of headbanging potential!”
Tom: “I really love everything. I guess my favorites are “The Wolverine” and “The Hammer” right now. Jonna's fills on that song are killer.”
In a short period of time, your career has taken quite a boost. You already played at Muskelrock in Sweden and did your first European tour in 2015 with shows in Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic with DEMON HEAD and in April 2016 you’re kicking off a tour with NOCTUM, which also leads you to the prestigeous Roadburn festval in Tilburg. Are you looking forward to that and have you planned something special for the people in Holland?
Sofie Lee: “I'd say we're looking so much forward to Roadburn, it feels surreal! The tour starts in less than a week and we're thrilled. We haven't decided on anything special for that show though, but one never knows. We might get some ideas in the van!”
Who writes the songs and the lyrics for NIGHT VIPER and what are they about?
Sofie Lee: ”Tom and Ruben write the songs. I do the melodies and lyrics for most of them. The main part of the lyrics are very freedom-themed, to say the least. I'm a very negative person, but I enjoy use the negativity in a positive way. The lyrics are quite reflective of that. Nihilism with a genuin happy face, kind of. We also got a few more ’dragon and fire’ lyrics. They're made up stories about witches and pissed off smiths daughters.”
Who did the beautiful artwork of your debut CD?
Sofie Lee: ”That’s the super talented american artist Mike Lawrence. Website: http://mikelawrenceillustration.com/
Do you play any covers or do you stick to your own penned material only? Which covers do you play during your live shows?
Sofie Lee: ”We've done two covers so far, both JUDAS PRIEST. For a while we did ”Riding On The Wind” and for a JUDAS PRIEST afterparty we played, we did our kind of spirit animal song, ”Hot Rockin'.” Right now we're working on new material, so we're not very focused on doing covers at the moment. But it's fun and there's gonna be more in the future!”
Which song is the most difficult one to play live and why?
Sofie Lee: “It's different for all of us. For me, “Curse Of A Thousand Deaths” is very tricky. It's difficult to go from super excitement to being calm and focused to give the song justice.”
Ruben: “The hardest song to play live for me is “Warrior Woman”, because of all the fast and complicated parts. They all remind of each other but are all different so it’s a bit easy to mix them up.”
Tom: ”I guess, it would be ”Run For Cover”. The riffs are really fast and complicated.”
What do you think of the metal scene today, are there any bands that you like to hear in particular?
Sofie Lee: “We've got a few darling bands in common, within the band. TRIBULATION is one of the bands there'll be no arguing in the van about listening to – haha! Berlin's INDIAN NIGHTMARE are about to release a full-length album and we're crazy about those mad metal punx. We played a show with STEEL INFERNO in Copenhagen and were blown away, their singer Karen especially is something the metal scene hasn't heard since the glorious 80's.” Tom: “I think the underground is really healthy. People can play whatever they want these days and still find someone who likes them. I don't see any big bands that will be able to replace MAIDEN, PRIEST and bands like that, when they go, so I think big festivals are going to have to change their approach. As for bands, I'm not listening to a whole lot of new stuff, but I think we all love BLACK BREATH. 'Sentenced To Life' is just crushing.”
How important is the internet for you and where can we find your website?
Sofie Lee: ”We love the internet! I used to present ”Warrior Woman” as a ’song about the internet’, a very inside joke, which no one appreciated. Hahaha! Seriously, for a small band internet is a blessing. We don't have a website. We've got a Facebook page, a You Tube channel and email - hehe. That's pretty much what we can handle at the moment.”
Do you have any goals for NIGHT VIPER?
Sofie Lee: ”To quit our day jobs! And go on tour with JUDAS PRIEST.”
The next two questions are for Sofie Lee, your vocalist. Our magazine is dedicated to all the female musicians in the (hard) rock and (heavy) metal. Do you feel you still need this kind of recognition?
Sofie Lee: ”It's a very thin line, I'd say. I think, separatism is great at some points and crucial at others. But there's also a risk it becomes some kind of special olympics genre. It's difficult and I change my opinion on this every other day. What I can say at least is I'm very tired of listening to what only men have to say about the world. And for that, I'm thankful there are media that raises the voice of women. Although it would've been in regular press in a perfect world.”
Do you also play any instrument(s) yourself?
Sofie Lee: ”I used to play flute, when I was a kid. Didn't really have patience for that. Now I play the piano from time to time. Don't really have patience for that either. I wouldn't be able to play it in the band, but it's a nice meditative instrument to play.”
Tom, you also play in HORISONT and THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL. Which band is the most important to you and isn’t it difficult to play in three different bands, that are gaining popularity pretty fast?
Tom: ”Well, that’s really been the problem, actually. I gave all three bands the same priority and it was kind of impossible. I actually left HORISONT a while ago, because it was impossible to make the schedule work. It’s not fair if people can’t say yes to a great tour just because I have other stuff booked. It was a tough decision, but really it was the only choice for me. NIGHT VIPER and THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL are both bands, that I started and have written most of the songs for. They’re incredible special to me. I love HORISONT, but it was an established band that I joined, so that was the one I had to let go of.”
We strongly believe, that the metal scene has been gaining a lot of popularity these past few years. Do you agree with that?
Tom: “Yeah, I would agree. Like I said, even very unpopular sub-genres like doom metal have really found their audience. I guess, the internet has changed everything. Now people can find that music. Before, you could go through your entire life without hearing KREATOR, if you didn't know the right person, but now anyone, who likes METALLICA can just follow the YouTube links and they'll reach 'Pleasure To Kill' soon enough. Anyone who loves BLACK SABBATH will end up hearing PENTAGRAM and then CANDLEMASS and then CATHEDRAL, etc.”
On the other hand, we also believe the music scene has changed a lot. It seems to be all about the money nowadays and not if you have any talent or not. What's your opinion about that?
Tom: “Maybe? Maybe it used to be worse? In the 70s you needed a big record deal with thousands of dollars behind you to get your music heard. Now you can get it out there yourself. I know almost no-one who makes much money from this, so I can't say it's all about the money for the people I know.“
Ruben: “There is also a whole underground scene with more of a DIY attitude, so I guess there is something for everyone. There is room for everyone and you can get to play shows both if you ‘just like to play music’ or if you are really trying to work your way up to the top and playing bigger venues and larger crowds.”
Do you have any hobbies or interests besides playing heavy metal?
Sofie Lee: ”I'm doing hobby gardering and handicraft. If I wasn't in a band, I would probably never set foot outside my garden.”
Ruben: ”I like riding the bike. Just got my bike stuff all together and I’m looking forward to the summer and a lot of biking!”
Tom: “I’m obsessed with Star Wars. I don’t have the money to buy stuff, but I’m always listening to podcasts and discussing things on the net.”
In closing. the famous final words of this interview are for NIGHT VIPER....
“NIGHT VIPER IN THE NIGHT!!!!”
Visit the official Facebook page of NIGHT VIPER at: www.facebook.com/nightviperband/
or go to the website of Svart Records at: www.svartrecords.com/bands/night-viper