We catch-up with Astral Doors vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson as the band release a new album 'Jerusalem'...

1. What are you currently up to?

-We are promoting the new album as hard as we can and we are also rehearsing for the upcoming European tour "The Desert Forces of Rock" with Riotgod as Co-headliners! It will be a blast!

2. Could you take us through the new album ‘Jerusalem'? (e.g. ideas behind the songs etc)

-It's pretty much a concept album built around religion. It's such a great subject to write metal lyrics about and we actually had the title of the album in our heads even before we started writing the songs. "Jerusalem" is a truly epic city in many perspectives and it's a perfect name for an album that deals with religion. Music wise, this new album is more straight forward than the previous two and that was the intention right from the start: to make a true hard rock/heavy metal album in the style of our first two albums, but stronger.

3. Astral Doors have never been afraid of tackling controversial subjects in your lyrics. Have you ever had any negative press because of this and why do you think metal bands can push the boundaries of lyrics more so than other musical genres?

-Well, the difference between us and most of the other bands in the same genre, classic heavy metal, is that 99% of the other ones write lyrics about mainly, fantasy; the Second World War; love and Friday nights out on the town. We think the fans deserve better: we write lyrics for the thinking man. Controversial or not. The fact that we write about perhaps not so typical metal stuff, makes it more interesting. At least that's the way we feel about it and we have never seen any bad reactions. And to be quite honest: look at the death metal scene, their lyrics are much rougher than ours!!

4. How did the Bang Your Head festival go? Do you get much time to check out the other bands at a festival?

-It was a ball. The audience was great and even if we played pretty early, we had quite a big crowd on our gig. After the gig we had a listening session for "Jerusalem" with the German press and when that was finished we rushed away to do a signing session. So...we didn't have the chance to see so many bands, but at least we got to see Slayer who did a great show.

5. How did the recent signing session go at Bifrost Records? Why do you think bands like Astral Doors are more popular in countries like Scandinavia and Germany but don't have the same sort of following in the UK?

-The signing session was cool. We love to support local record stores and Bifrost is a pure metal store so it was cool. UK is strange. I mean: this land actually invented Heavy Metal. Something must have happened in the 90's man....Heavy Metal wasn't cool anymore. It has recovered in the rest of Europe but in the UK it's still not so cool with heavy metal. However I know we have many fans there and also some requests to come there to play. We played there once, as support to Blind Guardia: it was amazing, a crowded KOKO Club.

6. In an ideal world which bands would you like to tour with?

-Oh, my answer is of course Black Sabbath. Imagine what a package: Black Sabbath and Astral Doors: sounds good in my ears :)

7. Is the rock and metal scene still in good shape or do you think there maybe to many bands out there now competing for an audience that isn’t growing that much?

-Good question. You got a point here! At many clubs in Germany they have concerts EVERY night. This means of course that people can't afford to see everything they want. Since the record business is fucked up today, every band must play a lot more live shows to be seen and since every band think the same, we end up in bad circle. The good thing with this is that it's tougher for crap bands to get real record deals with serious labels. Must save some the ears for many metal journalists, am I right? So, is the metal scene in good or bad shape, hmm, something in between I must say!

8. How do you manage to divide your time between Wuthering Heights, Lion's Share and Astral Doors?

-It's no problems at the moment: Wuthering Heights is resting at the moment, since the band leader, Erik Ravn has problems with his health; Lion's Share is not doing much either; we have a lot of song ideas for an upcoming album, but Lars Chriss doesn't really wanna do anything until I can focus 100 % on Lion's Share, so I guess that we won't continue with the upcoming Lion's Share album until after the Astral Doors tour. As far as I'm concerned, I really wanna make a follow up the amazing "Dark Hours", so I hope that we can find a solution.

9. Any good rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell…

- Too many:) One nice story that happened at the latest Astral Doors gig was this: After the gig we got drunk and visited some bars. When we got back to the hotel, the drummer, Johan, wanted to take a bath. The thing is that he fell asleep without turning off the faucet. The morning after...it was wet out in the corridor and in the hotel room it was like a flood, hahaha. Talk about a wet night! I don't know how much it cost him!

10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

-I like to watch soccer on TV and I like to read a good book. But most of all, I like to sleep.

Anything else to add and a message for your fans...

-Stay metal, buy albums and don't stop believing!