What makes a heavy metal band stand out? For me, two things – one – the riffs. There is nothing like a wicked heavy riff. Two – the voice. Look at the biggest names: Halford, Dio, Dickinson – metal is known for screaming multiple octave vocals belting out stories of demons and darkness. Sure death metal, black metal, and thrash all bring more growl to the mix, but Priest, Sabbath, and Maiden are three of the biggest metal bands on the planet and Halford, Dio, and Dickinson are the masters.
It just so happens that Gothenburg, Sweden’s Night Viper have both boxes checked. Night Viper play straight forward riff laden classic heavy metal drawing from Maiden, Priest and other NWOBHM bands like Saxon, as well the thrash of early Metallica. All amplified by the powerhouse vocals of Sofie-Lee Johansson.
There’s a lot to like about the bands’ 2015 self-titled debut and with album number two on the horizon this fall, this is a metal band to keep your eye on. We caught up with guitarist Tom Sutton for the low down.
Ruben Åhlander Persson – Bass
Jonna Karlsson – Drums
Tom Sutton – Guitars
Sofie-Lee Johansson – Vocals
Johan Frick – Guitars
Tell us about your hometown scene in terms of relationships with other bands…
Yeah, we have a lot of friends in bands here in Gothenburg and around Sweden. We’ve been in a lot of bands too, so we know most people here. We’re good friends with Antichrist, Graveyard, Armory, Horisont, Hypnos, and heaps of others. I really love the community here, actually.
Tell us about your gear.
Well, guitar-wise, it’s all Gibson. Johan has a flying V, and I play Les Pauls. Ruben plays a Jackson bass pretty much like the one Dave Ellefson made famous. Johan has a Fender Bassman from the early 70s, Ruben recently bought an Ampeg rig, and I play with a 50w Hiwatt Custom head, although that may change pretty soon. We’re recording right now, and the JCM800 is just killing it. It’s not very unique for a metal band, of course, but the sound we’re getting is total ‘Kill ‘em All’ crunch. I think it’s time to buy one for myself.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
I would say it was definitely when Emil had to leave the band. He was the guitar player before Johan. He has another band called Ill Wicker, and they were really his main focus, so it was going to be hard to fit everything into the schedule. It was a really sad thing, ‘cos we love him to death. Finding a replacement took a really long time. I was starting to wonder if we’d ever find anyone. Kristofer Möller from Horisont filled in on some shows, and he was great, but finally we got our hands on Johan, and we’re really happy. He was in Lethal Steel when we originally asked him, and he couldn’t do it, but he ended up leaving them, and joined Night Viper straight after that. He’s a wonderful guy and a great guitar player, so we’re full steam ahead now.
Describe your sound as a cocktail – what would it be called and what would be in it?
A full glass of Amaretto on the rocks. Sweet and powerful. And it would be called the ‘Back Seat Baby’.
If you could pick any time and place to travel back to for music, where would you go and what year would it be….?
Yikes….my standard answer is always Black Sabbath, 1972. ‘Volume 4’ would be brand new, and it would have been total magic. But now I’m really thinking I’d love to have seen Metallica in ’83 or even 86/87. When you see the footage of them around then, they are just vicious as fuck.
If you could tour with any band/artist right now who would that be and why?
Judas Priest. Absolutely. That’s one band we all agree on 100%. We’ve done three covers, and two of them have been Priest songs. Imagine seeing them every night for two weeks or something. It would be a dream come true. And they seem like really good folks.
Give us your 10 song playlist for the tour van/bus/plane?
Demolition Hammer: Skull Fracturing Nightmare
Judas Priest: Hot Rockin’
Jaguar: Axe Crazy
Acid: Max Overload
Black Breath: Feast Of The Damned
Coven: White Witch Of Rose Hall
Sepultura: Beneath The Remains
Tribulation: Wanderer In The Outer Darkness
Witch Cross: Fight The Fire
When you’re not playing and have some time off, where could we find you?
Johan likes climbing and vintage video games, Ruben is into cycling, Sofie Lee loves sleeping and her cats, I’m a Star Wars fanatic, and Jonna is mostly into drinking. Hehe!
What’s up for the rest of 2017?
Well, we’re right in the middle of recording our second album, so that’s the main thing. We’re recording the album in Madrid. It’s sounding killer, actually! We’re really happy so far. We’ll be on tour in June, and we’re hoping to release the album in October or November. No title yet, but we’ll think of something!