Last time I spoke with guitarist Bjorn Stigsson about Leviticus and a possible reunion, he mentioned something about a continuing of "The Strongest Power" line-up. Or at least he thought it could happen... somewhere down the road. Now in 2003 the reunion is indeed reality but Håkan Andersson (vocals/bass) is nowhere to be found (Kjell is back behind the drums though). Stigsson took some time off his busy schedule as famed producer here in Sweden to answer a couple of Q's.
My first question simply had to be: How come this particular line-up (which by the way is from the "Knights Of Heaven" days) became what is today?
BS - Times are changing and in these days we really wanted to restart where we stopped back in 1990. We had a good line-up in the "Knights Of Heaven" days and we had a lot of fun together, so that's pretty much why.
U - What made you pick up the guitar and think about Leviticus again? You finally had enough with all that pop/dance music? :-) (note to reader: Stigsson has been working as producer to a bunch of different pop bands in Sweden: A-Teens, Fame, E-Type, etc.)
BS -Yes I have been working with lots of Swedish pop acts the last 8 years and right now I do lots of production for "Fame Factory" (the most popular music TV show here in Sweden), but I am still a hardrocker in my musical heart. I had been longing to pick up the guitar again and put Leviticus back together and when we got the offer from Johannes at Bobfest, I felt that it was right to play there, and everone in band had the same feelings.
U - Would you say it's "easier" to play this sort of music now again? Then in the sometimes very dark and depressive 90's?
BS - Yes it`s much easier because melodic hardrock is back again!!
U - Your new CD "Live At Bobfest 2003" is already out. Tell us a little bit about your thoughts behind releasing a live album, and why you decided to record these 11 songs instead of others.
BS - We hadn`t released a live record before so this was very interesting to do and I thought maybe this could be a new start to make more studio albums in the future, if people like our music and the live CD. We have lots of songs to choice between, but we had only about 1 hour on stage and we want to play songs from all four records.
U - What about response from fans and friends so far? Everybody's pleased with the live CD? And where can people buy it now?
BS - So far we have only had good response and yes I think they like the live CD. Within Scandinavia everone can buy it in a ordinary CD store and at companies like Ginza, CDon and so on. The distrubition in Scandinavia is through Mariann Records (Grammofon - Bert Karlsson's label/Fame Factory), the CD will be released in USA in november. I have also special companies in Finland, Norway, Germany and Australia right now where the CD is for sale.
U - Are there any old live recordings or unreleased material in the vault? Any chance that we can expect a DVD in the future with both old and new stuff???
BS - No I don`t think so, but maybe a DVD with the Live at Bobfest concert.
U- That sounds great! "Bobfest" is originally the creation of 80's famed hardrock pastor Bob Beeman (the average fan may also remember him for his mullet). I believe he still runs the Sanctuary church in California? Did you get to meet him this time? Anything special you wanna say about this years event at Bobfest?
BS - Yes but I didn`t met him at the festival. He is a great person and pastor and he do great things for the kingdom of God. The Bobfest was very good and I can really recommand each and everyone of you to visit the festival. (Check out www.bobfest.com)
U- I'm very pleased to hear that Leviticus will record a new studio album next year. What can people expect to hear (nu-metal?) and most of all...when?
BS - We have just started to write songs for the new album and the style is a continuing of "Knights of Heaven". The sound will be more up to date and it will also be more keyboard oriented because of Niklas, he's such a great keyboard player. The release will be in spring 2004.
U - I'm guessing that both you and vocalist Peo Pettersson will be busy writing new songs? Any ideas about the new material and lyrics so far?
BS - Yeah thats right, the music is "melodic hardrock" with a heavy sound and the lyrics are in the same way as we've done before.
U - Leviticus started out with Swedish lyrics in the early 80's and you continued to release both English & Swedish versions up to "The Strongest Power" album. Did this have anything to do with the success of "Jerusalem" and their albums in Swedish? How come you decided to drop the 'Swede' stuff?
BS- We changed to English because they wanted to release the first record "I Shall Conquer" in the states. And after the concert in Greenbelt - 1984, we all felt that we wanted to sing in english, because of the US and European market, and all of the other Metal bands which were singing in english.
U- Did you experience any harsh words from your local church or other parish halls in the 80's? Hardrock was after all considered as the "devil's music" by many back then.
BS- Yes! We received lots of harsh words from many churches and christians at that time. They were sending back our posters which people had been setting up for concerts and we received letters where they told us that we were serving the devil! And in the christians newspapers they wrote that hardrock music was satanic music, even if you were a christian and the lyrics tells them all about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
U- Wow! That's tough love indeed! How was it to work with the Elefante bros. for the "Knights Of Heaven" album then? They were huge and produced almost each and every christian rock/hardrock act at the time.
BS- It was great because they were very professional and very nice guys too. We had lots of fun together and they have done lots of great works.
U- Do you still keep in touch with all past members of the Leviticus family? You know what happened to Terje (Terry H) and Sven Gomer after their "Jet Circus" days? etc.
BS. Not all of them, but I'll be in touch with Kjell, Peo, Niklas, Håkan and Sonny Larsson (back with Motherlode again). But I believe that Terje and Sven are still working together.
U- What's your opinion about the rock scene today and the comeback of many 80's hardrock bands? You know that Stryper is back at it again?
BS - I really like that many bands from the 80`s are back again and it`s great that Styper is back.
U- If there's anything you'd like to say, add, or promote. Please do:
BS- I want to thank you for the interview and God bless you all, God is good. You can find the official Leviticus site at: www.leviticus.se ,where you can download songs from the live CD and find more info.