Aeon - Zeb Nilsson
14/12/12 || Pr0nogo
With “Aeons Black”, Swedish death metal/satanic crusader cult Aeon basically ravaged the scene. “Kicking ass” was definitely on the band’s to-do list when someone decided to write a new album. To discuss the new album with someone other than his hand, Pr0nogo enlisted Zeb Nilsson – guitarist and founding member of Aeon. Here’s what he had to say.
Global Domination: Hey Zeb, what’s up dude?
Zeb: Not much.
So, Aeon’s bound to be busy now that the new album is out. What are your plans for supporting “Aeons Black”?
Right now, our plan is to have a small tour in England and Ireland this January. Then we’ll go to the mainland of Europe, like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, supporting Obscura.
As a founding member of the band, how would you describe the sound of “Aeons Black” when compared to the band’s past efforts?
I would definitely say it’s more varied. Speaking for myself, what I did differently here was write more from an overall perspective. In the past I’ve always been trying to write the perfect death metal song, but this time I tried to write the perfect album instead. I think that helped a lot. I used to care if it “fit” Aeon, but this time I didn’t. If it sounded cool, it was in. I think it’s definitely more varied, more groovy, and that the sound is really killer.
Did any of the other band members approach the writing the same way that you did?
Actually it’s me and Daniel that write all the music, and I think he felt that it was good to approach it like I did. We probably did the same thing.
“Aeons Black” is still pretty new, but you’ve probably seen the reviews all over the place. From your standpoint, how has the reception been?
From what I’ve seen, it’s been really really good actually. The reviews that I’ve read, it’s almost exclusively eight out of ten or ten out of ten. It’s really something. From the fans, the only thing I’ve heard is good stuff. It’s really good this time, I think.
From your perspective, what has been the driving inspiration for the writing of the album? What really drove the band to make “Aeons Black” the way they made it?
Well, of course when Arttu rejoined with the band, that was cool. It really made me want to write more stuff. With this new lineup especially I really wanted to put out an album. Right away I wanted to try out some stuff. You come up with all these riffs, and you have to ask yourself how it will sound when it’s played live in front of a crowd. That kind of feeling, of giving people an experience, is probably what drove us this time.
Specifically talking about how the band works inside the studio, what allowed you to keep that inspiration during the recording process?
I guess it’s kind of the same. You want to have that really cool feeling of recording the song. You really want to feel like it’s a live show even though it’s in the studio.
How does the band write the lyrics? Is Tommy the guy behind them all, or do other members write lyrics, too?
Well, Tommy definitely writes most of it. I wrote for Sacrifice and Maze of the Damned, and the first song is directly related to a Mel Gibson movie called “Apocalypto”. It was a huge inspiration to write lyrics, for me. For Maze of the Damned, it was inspired from the thought of someone being chased through a labyrinth, by a Minotaur. You know that story?
The Greek one?
Yeah, that one.
I don’t even remember the name of it, it’s been so long since I was in history class.
Do any of the band members share ideas during the writing process? For example, do you ever have a riff that you show to Tommy or Dan and ask them how they would tweak it?
Sometimes you come up with a whole song and you record it with programmed drums and your guitars. Sometimes it’s a complete song and sometimes it’s just two or three riffs. I sometimes ask for feedback, like how to continue on from here, should it be heavy or should it be fast, that sort of thing. Usually I ask Tommy, since he makes the vocal patterns. I think it’s good to ask him how he feels about the structure of the songs, or if he wants me to change it in any way. Some other times I have a riff I never recorded and we play it in the rehearsal space, and we come up with drum beats. It’s all really different from song to song, but for most of them, Dan and I do it at home.
“Aeons Black” had a lot of different elements on it, such as the instrumental interludes. In your opinion, what was the biggest change in the band’s sound when it came to recording this record?
I guess the biggest change must have been with Arttu on the drums. He really has a pretty unique style, I think. I know we have interludes and intros on this album but we’ve used that in the past. It’s not really new or anything. In this record, we gave all the interludes their own index number and title in the track listing, and as a result people noticed them a lot more. I think that’s really cool, but Artu on drums really set it apart.
Did you have any goals you wanted to accomplish with “Aeons Black”, but couldn’t? Was there anything that you didn’t manage to do with this record?
Actually, I usually have exactly that feeling when we’ve recorded an album. With this album, I think it’s the first time I’ve not felt that way. I feel like it’s all complete, like it’s all there. It’s a good feeling.
I definitely think you all did very well with the record, and I’m sure it’s a very rewarding feeling to feel like an album is completely whole.
Oh, thank you! Yeah, it is very rewarding.
How do you go about warming up for tours and performances?
Usually we rehearse one or two times a week, but when it gets close to a tour we get more and more intense. In the last week before the tour we usually schedule all nights for rehearsal, but that’s about all we need to do.
I know you guys probably all have day jobs, seeing as how few bands make a living off of metal. How has that affected your lives as musicians?
We all have day jobs. There’s no way we can live off the music. There are so few bands in our realm that can actually make a living off the music. There are a lot of reasons for that but one of the biggest I think is that a lot of people download the music, so in turn bands have to tour more and more. It means there’s a really tough competition when you’re out their touring, because there’s gonna be five or six different tour packages a week, depending on where you are at. It’s really tough for everyone, I guess.
With all the work you guys have to do, how much time do you have to relax or spend time with family?
Well, haha, I wish I had more time. I haven’t really thought too much about it, but if we rehearse one or two times a week, then I’ll have five nights that I can spend with family or do whatever I want, so I still do have time to do, like, nothing. You know?
Yeah, sometimes it’s nice to just do nothing. What do you do in your spare time?
I try to actually practice the guitar but that kind of comes and goes. The ideal situation for me, as far as practicing goes, is to practice guitar thirty minutes a day. If you do that, seven days a week, you’ll learn very quickly. I don’t see any reason to practice for hours and hours though. The way I have it, practicing doesn’t interfere with anything else.
What kind of negative reception have you seen, and how did you take it?
Oh, well we’ve always had a lot of good reviews but people always tend to think that we don’t bring anything unique to the table. It’s like, “really good songs, really good music, but nothing new to it”. We just play what kind of death metal that we want to hear. If I were to walk into a store and buy an album by a death metal band that I had never heard before, how would I want that to sound? That’s the kind of music we want. The music we play is the music we want to listen to. To me, it’s more important to make good death metal than to be unique. That’s what people tend to hear in a negative way when they listen to the album – it’s all about how we’re not unique.
How do you personally feel about the fan reception, in general?
On one side you have this review saying it’s very much Cannibal Corpse, that it’s very much Deicide, and on the other side you have this review saying that it’s very unique compared to previous efforts. I would hope that that means we’re going in the right direction, haha.
How do you feel about the direction the band is going in with this album? How will it translate to the future of the band as a whole?
That’s kind of hard to think about, because right now I am so focused on this album and the tours we want to do, so I haven’t really considered to much about how we’ll do other things. I think we will try to continue to make music like this album, because this is the first album that we’ve all been really happy with, especially myself. We all feel like it was the best we could accomplish, and hopefully we’ll feel the same way about the next album too.
That’s all I had for you, Zeb. Any final words for our metalheads out there?
Yeah, I’d ask them to give it a shot. Listen to this new album, and maybe you’ll come to like it. Give it a try. I think that even people who aren’t into death metal can still find something cool about it.