Lucifer - Johanna Sadonis

Lucifer - Johanna Sadonis

Believe it or not, an interview can be also boring for the interviewer, if the person who is talking to is giving answers more expected than snow in Chicago during winter. The Skype session METAL KAOZ had with Johanna Sadonis from the newborn band LUCIFER had nothing to do with this and lots of interesting things were discussed. It's amazing when an artist is also a deep thinker putting meaning to the lyrics according to his/her philosophy and really it doesn't matter if you agree or not. As Descartes said "I think, therefore I am"...

Lucifer - Johanna Sadonis

Hello Johanna!
Hello, how are you?

I am very good, thank you, and what about yourself?
Slightly hangover-ed, following last night’s show with PENTAGRAM (laughs)...

Well, that was my first question actually! So, how was the show?
Oh my god, it was really great and fun! I was mostly excited about seeing PENTAGRAM again and we ended up partying the whole night. Lee Dorian was also in town, so it was him, Bobby and I with the rest of the gang drinking until 6am in the morning. Well, Bobby doesn’t drink anymore, but anyways, I am a little bit...

I hope I can ease your hangover pain with my questions.
I hope so too. But yeah, it was really cool because Bobby was watching the show and I was watching him while I was singing and this was the greatest thing ever for me.

Did you feel stressed at all with him watching the show?
I stopped feeling stressed during the first song for some reason and, in fact, it was really comforting and very cool. And he made me some nice compliments, something that I will never forget.

That’s awesome! Well, I hope you will tour the US with PENTAGRAM at some point, although you have already announced shows here for this Summer…
Yeah, we’ve just confirmed the US tour with HIGH ON FIRE, PALLBEARER and VENOMOUS MAXIMUS at the end of July for a whole month.

Yes, this show is already on our calendar.
That’s cool, what city are you at?

I am in Chicago, IL.
Cool, be sure to say hello when you see me there.

I’ll try at least. And now the obvious question; when did you decide to form LUCIFER, because as we all know this happened after THE OATH split up. So, when LUCIFER was born? (no pun indented)
(laughs) Well, I had a lot of plans for THE OATH and was seeing a future for that band, so it was really devastated when it died. I didn’t want to end it and it was really tough for me because I thought we had a very good thing going. I tried my best to kept THE OATH going. Anyways, there was no turning back and THE OATH was done and this was horrible for me. And then I thought that I couldn’t sit down and feel depressed about it. When a bad thing happens in your life, you should take this energy, create something new and move forward. Turn this negative energy into something positive. So, I sat down and formed a concept for LUCIFER.

What about the music? Because it’s quite different than THE OATH which was more guitar-oriented with NWOBHM influences whereas LUCIFER is closer to Doom or the so-called 'vintage' sound or whatever they’re calling it right now.
Yeah, I did this on purpose because I didn’t want to repeat the story because after all, THE OATH was done. I mean, I love the album we did but there is no point making the same thing again. I didn’t see a reason to do this and I wanted LUCIFER to be something that you just described; based on my big '70s Rock influences and on Doom. Of course there are influences in the core of the music but indeed THE OATH was more like a Heavy Metal band, leaning towards to NWOBHM.

And how did the name come out? You know, I was surprised that there weren’t 666 other bands with the name 'LUCIFER'.
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing but as it turned out, there were about seven other bands using the same name and most of them are not active anymore. I had this name in my head from the beginning and I was thinking if I should really do it. This is a powerful and beautiful figure to associate your band with and it’s such a catchy name as well. And this is why I was surprised by the small number of bands which have used it; I am sure if you try SATAN or DEMON, you’ll find many more but LUCIFER it was another story. Anyways, I had to take it because it means a lot to me.

Regarding the figure of Lucifer, you can ask three persons and you will get three different opinions for what he stands for.
That’s the thing because Lucifer is such misunderstood and a misfit; I also think he is a beautiful and positive image. I think that Christians have kind of abused him and turned him into the devil but this is their intention to use religion in order to keep people small. For me, he is the bright, shining and beautiful angel but he is misunderstood and a misfit.

If you think that Lucifer stands for being free from everything, then…
[interrupting] ...that’s what I think spiritually; you have to be an individualist and you cannot attach yourself to any religion, group, order or whatever. I think everybody should think for themselves and you can find inspiration for your spirituality in all of the religions and different philosophies. It’s a individualist’s concept.

The strange thing about it is that even though I like very much this idea, I am not sure all the people are ready to accept this type of freedom. So, in a sense they need religion to keep them in order and be good.
Yeah, but these ideas are for people who seek for more and not for those who don’t try to understand the universe, you know - they are just happy to have a stable schedule and a job which they know they can to until the day they’ll die. People who don’t want more and then you have the people who want to go deeper and search beyond. And this is what I identify with; I think it’s important to never stop asking always trying to understand, keep growing and developing and keep your eyes open.

Let’s hope that the band will help people to understand what Lucifer represents and how much different is from the religions' point of view regarding Satan. This is a huge discussion…
Yes, it is and you cannot ask from people start paying attention to such things, but I am glad you’re seeing it that way.

Anyway, let’s talk about the album and, in particular, the cover artwork; am I right when I say that I see the ‘all seeing eye’ on top of the logo?
Yeah, I did put it there.

So, is there a special meaning to such symbolism?
Well, there is and, in fact, it is attached to the ideas we just talked about. This is the eye that looks within you and it is also open to the outside as well.

Since we are on this topic, what do you find so special about the number ‘7’?
Well, [lights a cigarette] it’s a bit strange because at one point I discovered that my full name, which is Johanna Claudia Sadonis, has 7, 7 and 7 letters. And it’s all about Arithmology, and 7 is a really spiritual number. So, I got really curious about this and also there is a DANZIG song (I am a huge DANZIG fan) where he sings “Seven is my name” [from “777” from “Lucifuge”] and I thought “well, it’s my name”. And I started looking at other things in my life like my birthday is on the 21 which is 3 times 7, I was born on the seventh day of the week and there are more personal stories which I don’t want to talk about, but this number keeps appearing in my life, and therefore I think there is a reason why I am attached to it.

Well, there are entire theories on how the power of numbers affect our lives, and keep in mind that I am from Greece where Arithmology was born, and we can spend days talking about this.
Yeah, and even if I don’t believe that there is meaning in this number, it is still curious why this number keeps appearing in my life like crazy.

Sure, so let’s stay focused on the music then; first of all, how did the rest of the lineup come together?
Well, the drummer [Andrew Prestridge] was in THE OATH as well, the bassist [Dino Gollnick] was about to join THE OATH but when this band died, I told both of them to join LUCIFER to do something new and they immediately accepted. I was talking to Lee Dorrian about this and he proposed that I should ask Gaz. I had met him when THE OATH were playing at the ‘Rise Above’ anniversary, and since I was a CATHEDRAL fan since I was a teenager, I talked to him and he told me he liked the band; and this was really cool. So, when Lee proposed this, I contacted Gaz and he said yes. It was amazing!

And you wrote the album with him, right?
Yes, we wrote the album the two of us.

So, you wrote the eight tracks that we see in the “Lucifer I” tracklist, or you wrote more material?
Well, he sent me tons of riffs and the thing is that when we started working together, I was giving him ideas and kind of references like make song to sound like BLACK SABBATH’s “You Won’t Change Me”, or “Country Girl” and so on; and then he would send tons of riffs, I was choosing what I liked and we were working together to make the songs. We kept sending files back and forth because he was in England and I was in Germany. So, from those song-writing sessions there are lots of things leftover and, to be honest, I did start working on some of them along the way but they didn’t end up in the album. And then, I didn’t have the time to do it because we are so busy recording, preparing the release and playing shows. When we met the day before yesterday to rehearse for the show in Berlin, we started jamming on something new as well and we agreed that when we will be in the US, we will try to write some songs while being on tour.

Do you have any bonus tracks in the vinyl edition of the album?
Well, there is the die-hard vinyl edition of the album which contains two bonus tracks on a 7” disc. These are cover songs; one is on ANGEL WITCH’s “Loser” and the other is from a '70s German band called RATTLES and the song is “Devil’s On The Loose”. And these two songs will be in the Japanese edition of the album.

I will check this version because keep in mind the album here in the States will be out on June 16th, so we’ll have to wait a while. You also released a really cool video for “Izrael”, so who had the idea of driving a hearse?
It was mine (laughs)...

Is there a movie behind this concept?
No, I always wanted to drive a hearse. I am obsessed with death and morbid things, churches, cemeteries and I love hearses. The song is called “Izrael” and it’s an alternative spelling for Azrael, the angel of death; and I had a dream where he appear to me and took me away because I was dying. But the dream was very comforting and very positive and, in fact, I woke up with a warm feeling of being protected, comforted and sheltered by some short of a fatherly figure that was Death. It was a really cool and profound dream that touched me so much that I had to write a song about it. So, for the video, I thought that we should do something with a little bit of a smirk, like me driving the hearse through a cemetery.

And what is happening at the end of the video after opening the door?
Well, I leave this to your imagination. I mean, what is happening when you die and you open the door? No one knows and maybe you will be eaten by maggots or your spirit lives on... I have no idea and I cannot settle on one answer what lies beyond, and this is the greatest mystery.

This is why we have so many opinions about this because no one really knows.
Yeah, but maybe it’s better than here (laughs).

Will you make a second video for this album?
I don’t think so, but you never know. But it is not on our plans right now.

By the way, just by looking at the tracklist, I see “Morning Star”, so I am guessing it is about Lucifer again, right?
Yes, you are right.

After all, in Greek another name for Lucifer is 'Eosforos' which means the ‘light-bringer’.
Exactly, and the morning star is Venus that is visible during the daybreak when all the stars are not as bright. And this is why there is parallelism with the fallen angel who rises when everything else falls. This is one of the first songs that I wrote with Gaz, if not the first one, and it is also on the B-side of the “Anubis” single.

What is next in your touring calendar after the US live dates?
So far, we have just one gig in London confirmed and I think it’s for September 03rd - that’s pretty much after the end of the US tour and then we will tour Europe but I have no days to announce.

Yeah, I am sure you will be revisiting the US soon enough because there is a strong following for this sound.
Hopefully we will, because I really want to get this baby on the road.

I have one last question that I usually do in artists from Rise Above Records; is there any chance to see Lee getting into music making?
Yeah, and in fact, I think he just did something. If you search on Facebook for WITH THE DEAD, you will get a small hint.

That’s great! And then, you can get him touring again.
Well, let’s see (laughs)...

These were my question, Johanna! It was a real pleasure talking to you and I am looking forward to seeing LUCIFER live here in Chicago.
Thank you so much, Dimitris for the really good interview and the smart questions! I hope we will meet each other.

EARTHEN GRAVE - RELENTLESS re-edit w/ Studio track