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Saint Deamon's Toya Johansson: "...We were pretty much on the verge of quitting when Jan Thore suddenly recalled a great Norweigan drummer, Jarle Byberg, who might be available…"

Interview with Toya Johansson from Saint Deamon
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 06 September 2019, 11:33 PM

Right before drawing its final breath, Saint Deamon was saved from a harsh fate, and revamped back into existence in the melodic end of the world of Metal. Soon enough they will be releasing their comeback album, "Ghost", newly signed to the rising melodic driven label, Ram It Down Records. What better timing was it for Steinmetal to catch Toya Johansson of the band for a small chat regarding the new album, coming back from near extinction, songwriting and more…

Greetings Toya, I am glad that you could find the time for this interview. What have you been up to recently?

Lately Saint Deamon has kept me totally busy. Marketing, interviews, album covers for CD and Vinyl, all sorts of things associated with an upcoming album-release.

A solid decade with barely a word from Saint Deamon, and like a thunderstorm on a clear day you guys are back. What took you so long? What has been happening behind the curtains of the Saint Deamon camp?

Yeah, that is a natural question :-) It´s a long story, but I will try to condense it a bit: After the promotion tour on our second album "Pandeamonium" some disagreements within the band turned out to be difficult to handle. We tried really hard to work it out but we came to a point where the drummer (Ronny Milianowicz) decided to leave the band.

Obviously, this complicated things for the band. We needed a new drummer and found Oskar, a guy who today plays and tours with Engel. He was perfect for us, but given the fact that we hardly had any gigs he chose to join Engel when the offer turned up. The band fully understood this, and there were no hard feelings. In a way we work even more closely today than when he was in the band. He is the one who has mixed our upcoming album.

Still, him leaving was hard on the band spirit and we were pretty much on the verge of quitting when Jan Thore suddenly recalled a great Norweigan drummer, Jarle Byberg, who might be available.  And here we are now: A new album waiting for its release and Jarle is the reason the band did not “die” back then.

Signing with the newly emerged label Ram It Down Records is quite a confidence by both sides, yet I believe that since you guys have been around, signed once to Frontiers Records, the rate of confidence is mainly from you to the new label, is it not? How do you perceive Ram It Down Records as a means to get you back in the saddle with the services offered?

Ram it down is just right for us. At a small label it is easier to have a say and to keep a sense of personal ownership of our Album in everything from artwork to release-plan. It is also easier to build a personal cooperation and keep in touch with the label.

Furthermore, they showed a sincere interest in our music. They really like the genre, our songs and arrangements which made us feel confident that they would work hard for us. They have long-time experience from the music industry and an impressive set of connections in the metal world.

 “Ghost” is the title of your third album, a kind of title that generally is cut and dry, yet I feel that there is something of depth between the lines. What is the nature of the given title? Is there a conceptual tale involved?

Right, at Nobbys house (our bass guy), in the basement, there is actually a ghost. We have spent a huge amount of time rehearsing there over the years. I am afraid of the dark and terrified with ghosts, but at the same time I do love a good ghost-movie, kind of weird I guess. Moreover, given the fact that we did not give much notice during the past decade some of our fans started perceiving us like a ghost. Finally, that period is over haha

 What was your initial vision for “Ghost” while you guys sat down and wrote the songs? Was this vision turned out as you had hoped or there were a few bumps on the road, such bumps that may have affected your perception for the better?

Our vision was to create a really versatile high quality album. We wanted every song to have something unique and keep giving the listener new experiences every time he/she listens. Then strong melodies and lyrics backed up by a progressive rhythmic sound full of joy and dynamics are crucial. Furthermore I personally love an epic sound, which also gave this album a special touch. I think we did pretty well in making our vision into reality. I have listened to the album hundreds of times and I still want to play it all from A to Z. My dream is of course that our fans will enjoy it as much as I do.

Musically speaking, from where I am sitting, “Ghost” is a sort of pursuing the same direction of melodic Metal as it was let loose in your sophomore “Pandeamonium”. However, I do feel that there is a little more kick on “Ghost”. What is your take on that? Is nowadays’ Saint Deamon a tougher group with its heaviness, yet preserving the melodic sense, maybe with additional energies?

Yes, I definitely agree! Basically, the main difference is that on this album I composed all songs, and Jan-Thore wrote all lyrics. On our previous albums there were four or five composers involved. With me being a crazy power metal- fan loving bands like Helloween, Accept, Maiden and so on many songs are influenced by this. Nobby and I worked on most arrangements and we just love progressive rhythms accompanying Jan Thores voice. I would also say that there is a sort of epic touch to the album, sometimes giving it a feeling of movie soundtrack.

You have probably been looking sideways to what has been going on in the Metal scene worldwide. There has been a wave of technical approaches swarming all over. As if it is not enough for the songs to be catchy, those have to be interesting as well, with enough show of force by the musicians, to outdo themselves. How do you see Saint Deamon fit in this demanding era with “Ghost”? Is that sense of freshness a must for a band to succeed?

We truly believe that great songs are the most important thing. But the technical approaches are kind of fun I think, and at its best they spice things up. I just love bands like Dream Theatre and Pagans Mind where songs and technology walk hand in hand.

I know it might be a tough nut to crack, yet it is a must to ask I believe. Which of “Ghost”’s songs do you favor? Or perhaps better said as that one track that made an impact on you?

My favorite is ”Land of Gold“. It includes strong power metal melody lines, four different meters, soft dynamic parts, Jan Thore sings like hell and also I feel pretty satisfied with the way my guitar solo turned out.

 “Ghost” has a very good sound, highly polished and clean, making it easier to listen to, other than the catchy material of course. Who supervised the process of mixing and mastering the studio?  What is your appreciation of the efforts made? Do you like the end result?

Our good friend and former band-member Oscar Nilsson (Crehate Studios), nowadays drummer of Engel, recorded vocals and mixed the album in his Gothenburg studio. With our earlier albums Jens Bogren did a great job and so we were a bit anxious about the process with putting our sound in the hands of another technician but I must say we are very pleased with the result. A good sound is so important and we want our music to sound good everywhere, on all kinds of devises.

As time goes by, the old Metal gods, which all of us have been drawing influences from, are starting to fade away. Do you believe that there will be any substitutes for these major bands, which some of them started it all? Will the term Metal Gods still be valid years later?

Hell yeah! There are great bands out there, ready to carry the metal legacy.

I guess that supporting “Ghost” becomes a prime mission for you guys. Have you been planning shows or perhaps possible tours?

We have just started working with a Nordic Booking Agent called Lime Wire. What we are looking at right now is to partner up with an agent for Europe. So if you read this and have an idea of a good partner for us please send a message at our Facebook band page. We are dying to be out there and meet our fans again. That is the meaning of life.

Toya, thanks again for your time, much appreciated. “Ghost” is an amazing prospect, continuing your stellar work from years ago. Cheers mate.

Cheers! Thank you very much.



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