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nitrodive2015 01Interview with

Albert Norberg (guitar & lead vocals), Robert Johnson (bass & vocals) and Johan Gren (drums & vocals) from NitroDive

NITRODIVE is a three-man band from Gothenburg in Sweden. After their signing to Gain and their initial debut with an EP in 2009, they have released two albums so far, their first one called ‘Survival of the Fittest’ hitting #14 of the Swedish billboard charts upon its release in 2011. A lot of touring later, their second album ‘Re-Evolution’ was released in December 2014. The band currently is touring with HARDCORE SUPERSTAR and prior to the show in Mannheim on 24th March we had a little chat with them.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: How has the tour been so far for you? It’s been some concerts already, how is it going?
Johan Gren [JG]: It’s been really good actually. We just came from two shows – the last one was Cologne - and… we had a day off in Cologne, and we came from Paris. I think that both Paris and Cologne were pretty much sold out and it was really fun to see so many people. Especially yesterday on Cologne on a Monday, that was cool. We had a blast!
Albert Norberg [NG]: We were in UK as well and UK was pretty cold, but it was fun, it was our first time in England and Scotland as well. We really had a hella good time on our tour.

RoD: If you could choose a musician or a band to make a song with, whom would you choose?
AN: I think it’s a pretty easy question for a band like us. I’d say Foo Fighters, what would you say, guys?
Robert Johnson [RJ]: Yeah I think so.
JG: It would be cool to do something with the RAMONES, but it’s pretty hard because they’re…

RoD: Yes, sadly there are not many left of them.
JG: Yeah…

nitrodive2015 03RoD: Which is your favourite song of your own and why is it your favourite?
AN: That’s a hard question.
RJ: That is a hard question indeed.
AN: I guess one of our all-time-favourites is ‘Hold me back’, just because it has been sticking to our setlist. We wrote it in 2009 and we’re still playing it on our live-sets today, and there are not many songs we do that with. It’s something about that song that really works for us, that’s really our thing. I think it’s really ‘Hold me back’.
JG: I would agree. The sound of that song would be like… well, we work with it for the next album, album number three, so, yes, we get back to what we did when we did that song because it always works for us and it sounds very good, we think. (laughs) And we did a cool video to that one as well that got about 300,000 views on YouTube, so I think people like that song as well.

RoD: How did you become musicians? How did you start, how did you get where you are now?
AN: I think we were always having kind of a band, even before we knew how to do anything. Me and Johan were together in Kindergarten, so we’ve known each other all our lives, and we were always like “Oh man, let’s start a band, we should start a band!”. So we actually started one then…
JG: We tried! (laughs)
AN: Yeah! We did not know to make any music, but we were still a band… it was not until much later that we were… (to Johan) you were maybe like 15 or 14 when you started playing drums, or even younger?
JG: Actually, yeah, I think I got my first drum kit when I was 10, and I started playing and got off for about three or four years, and had my comeback with 16, 17, and that was kind of the start for us.
AN: That was about the same time when I got my first guitar.
JG: Yes! We started playing at my Mom’s garage and then we actually went to Albert’s grandmother and grandfather and built our own rehearsal place. That was cool.
AN: It was also a garage… we just called it our rehearsal room. (laughs)
JG: Yeah okay, it was a garage. (laughs) And then Robert came in the picture.
RJ: Yes, that was when I came in the picture! I had been in a band for like, what was it, seven years?
AN: Yeah, and you joined late in 2007.
RJ: Yes, and I started playing guitar when I was a little kid, I got my first guitar from my dad... ten or eleven years old, and I started playing in many different bands and constellations, and then I found these two guys!
AN: You were living in a totally different town.
RJ: Yeah, far from Gothenburg, and then I moved to Gothenburg right away.
JG: And that was about the time we started to get more serious. Trying to fix some, you know... we slowly started.
RJ: Trying to be a band.
JG: We actually did our 100th show with NITRODIVE at the Paris gig. So, we haven't done so many shows, but we're getting there.

nitrodive2015 interviewRoD: What inspires you most to write songs?
AN: That is a really hard question, it's different things, every time almost...
JG: Although maybe we tend to write songs about certain things many times.
RJ: We write about experience or like, you know, what we've been through, real-time-experience.
AN: Real-life-experience, yeah, of course. And, kind of the struggle being a band and making your way in this life. Even if you're not in a band, you're trying to achieve your own specific goals, so it's always the struggle to survive, and... to grow, to become something. We write much about that or we write about meeting women, and falling in love, being attracted to someone and stuff... so it's pretty much all over the place.

RoD: And of your songs, which one took the longest to write?
(they all snicker)
JG: Yeah, which one?
AN: Oh God... I think we started out with a guitar riff to a song called 'Someday', which we actually will play tonight, and it's on our latest record. We came up with the riff like two or three years maybe before we recorded the song, and we always had it and played around with it in the rehearsal studios. We had our songs and then we had our creative time - where we try new things and come up with new songs - and it kind of got stuck in there for a very, very long time, two years or something more.
RJ: So one song, two years, and then we had songs like Re-Evolution. It took how long, one month?
AN: Yes, I think we wrote that song in like three weeks or something. It's a day and night difference.
JG: That's sometimes just the way it goes to write music, you can't decide 'This song will take two weeks' because then you will end up taking two years. (laughs)
AN: And that particular riff in Someday, we didn't have a working title, the song didn't have anything but the riff and we played it and everyone was excited like 'Oh, this is awesome!' and then we didn't do anything with it. (laughs) So it took a long time till we actually sat down and wrote lyrics for the song and made an actual song. So it's probably the one that took longest to write.

RoD: So is it always like that, you start with a riff and say 'Look, it's a nice riff, come on, write some lyrics for it' and so on?
RJ: No.
AN: I'd say it's almost a different process every time you write a song. Sometimes you just come up with a riff and you start with that, that's probably the most common way. We start out with a riff or a drum pattern or bass line and we build on it, trying new things and... yeah. But sometimes it can also be that we only have a lyric, you only have “This is a fucking great title for a song, I don't know how it should go through, but it's a good title!”, or sometimes you just have a song melody. That was also the case for 'Someday' actually, because Johan came up with the song melody for the chorus and he pointed out the specific words that kind of were the general sense of what he wanted it to sound like, so it was like (sings the melody of 'Someday').
RJ: With a different kind of lyrics, just the melody.
AN: Yeah. So sometimes it starts off like that, sometimes it starts with a riff. It's a different thing every time.

RoD: Where do you see yourself as a band in five years?
JG: Madison Square Garden. (laughs) No.
AN: No.
JG: Yeah! Why not?
AN: Yeah, hopefully?
RJ: Why not?
JG: It would be really nice to have a bigger fan base and to kind of do this full time and fill places like this one on our own as a headliner. That would be a realistic thing to say. It would be really fun.

nitrodive2015 02

RoD: And what has been your most memorable moment as a band so far? Like, the concerts, signing your contract?
RJ: Switzerland, maybe? We were opening for ARCH ENEMY.
JG: And actually, as me, I would say the Paris show we did, that was an amazing show. And the crowd was like... when we as a support band came on stage, the whole crowd was screaming. It was our 100th show and it was a lot of tension that day, so that will go to history for our band as well.
AN: I should say that is my favourite gig, the 100th show.
JG: Yeah, maybe. But the biggest crowd was in Switzerland, and that was an amazing show as well. It's hard to say which one is the best, actually, but...
AN: Another memorable thing is when we were standing on top of the roof of the biggest indoor arena in our hometown in Gothenburg, and filmed our video for 'Hold me back', which we were talking about earlier. That was also memorable.
JG: You should see the video!
AN: It's on YouTube and Vevo, I think.

RoD: How often do you rehearse, is it still the 'garage rehearsal' kind or is it more professional?
AN: It's more professional.
JG: We have a professional rehearsal studio now, but it still looks like a garage inside. (laughs)
AN: Yeah, it's not far from that.
JG: It's like a professional rehearsal place-
RJ: Professional garage!
JG: …but it's like a garage. (laughs)
AN: And how many times in a week we rehearse, you mean?
JD: I would say when were not active as a band, like we've got shows or doing a record, when we're just making songs or something like that, we don't rehearse very much. And when we have a tour, then we rehearse about four times a week before the tour to get ourselves together. So it's different.
AN: It really depends on where we are in this process of making albums or touring.

RoD: The last question: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians? Like “This is something we wish we would've known when we've started”?
JG: That it's much harder than you think.
AN: Yeah, I guess.
RJ: But it's still worth it.
AN: I'd say it's absolutely much harder than you think, from the beginning, so you really need to want it. But if you do, you should never give up.
JG: You have to be very good, you have to write awesome songs, do great shows and never give up, and do that for 15 years, and then you'll have a chance.
RJ: Also you have to be really good friends as well. You see each other almost every day, if you rehearse or you're out taking a beer, or watching a movie...
JG: We're a family.
RJ: So we see each other almost every day, and if you can't do that for ten years, see each other every day, then you can't.
JG: It will never work.
AN: You have to say “I want to be a part of that family”.
JG: That's actually really important!
RJ: If you're sharing a tour bus like we do you sleep like this tight together (gestures a few inches) every day.
AN: Another piece of advice I'd give is, be yourself, find your own way. Because it's so easy to just look at your idols – we definitely have - somehow you've got to learn the craft as well, you've got to learn to play the instruments and write songs, stuff like that. But when you come to a certain level, you really need to take it in your own direction. Because otherwise you're just trying to be someone who is already the best and no one will ever listen to you. Why should someone listen to your band if you're trying to sound like AC/DC? Why should they not just listen to AC/DC? There are so many bands that try to sound like AC/DC but none is a big as them. If they just took their talent in their own direction, who knows?
JG: Yes, that's a good tip. Be yourself!

RoD: Thank you for the interview. We're looking forward to your show later.

Interview picture from Mannheim by Sandra Bentz. 

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