This power metal supergroup has unleashed its second album, a true triumph of the purest power metal… with a modern take.
I had a chat with founding member guitarist Bill Hudson about the band’s new lineup and release, the current power metal scene and more.
Hello Bill! Rick here, it’s a pleasure talking to you. How have things been going since the album release?
Hi Rick, thanks for the opportunity! The album release has been rather successful if I may say so myself, the numbers are great and I’m really happy about it!
Eternal Flame features many different influences – from the classic power metal sound of Future Calls to the Priest-esque Midnight Bells, and a title track reminiscent of the German/Scandinavian tradition, a-la Helloween.
How did you go on about creating an album that could look at both the past and the future?
That’s exactly what I set out to do.
I am a fan of the 90’s era of Power Metal, but I’m the first to admit a lot of the production has aged quite badly, so I wanted to make sure our music sounded like what I love, but can also be enjoyed by people who are used to the big, majestic productions.
As for influences, honestly I just write whatever I want to hear…so sometimes it might sound like Priest, other times like Stratovarius… it really depends on my mood.
Perhaps the most surprising moment of the album are the South American atmospheres of The Land Of Mystic Rites. Can you tell me a bit more about this song? Where did the inspiration for such a song come from, and how did you make it fit alongside the other tracks?
Well, when we got rid of Christian (Eriksson, former singer), I found myself finally able to write whatever I wanted, without fear of getting into a dumb argument with the singer.
The first thing I wanted to do was to bring in my Brazilian influence to the music. I was born and raised in Brazil – though I’m also American – and our traditional music is absolutely beautiful. I wanted to try and show a little bit of it to the world.
Another peculiar song is Judas Be My Guide, not your classic Iron Maiden cover. Why was it chosen? I wouldn’t call it a deep cut, but it is an interesting choice.
That’s one of my favorite Maiden tunes, and also reminds me of the time I was a little kid and got that record.
Fear Of The Dark was the very first Maiden album I heard so it’s close to my heart, even though most fans don’t like it. Of course, Seventh Son and Somewhere In Time are my favorite Maiden albums, but I feel like most bands that cover them end up going for those albums, or Piece of Mind.
I just wanted to do something different.
The aforementioned Future Calls features none-other than Kai Hansen, plus his son Tim. How did the idea of a collaboration come up? Was Kai involved in the writing as well?
I asked Kai to produce our first album, but he was very busy and not available then. When the time to make this one came, I knew he’d be too busy for it again since he’s been back in Helloween, but I wanted his fingerprint SOMEWHERE!
So I asked if he’d do a guest spot. I didn’t even tell him WHAT to do, I just told him «be in my album» hahaha. And he himself suggested that he did vocals and his son, Tim K. Hansen (Induction) did a guitar solo. I thought it was a great idea to bring father and son together.
Kai slightly changed the lyrics I had written, as well as some of the melodies. He also recorded and created all the choirs you hear on the song, so I’d say he was somewhat involved, yes.
The one big difference between this album and its predecessor is that there has been a change of singer and Guilherme Hirose has replaced Christian Eriksson. Can you explain the story behind this change, and how do you think it reflected on the music?
We LITERALLY had musical differences.
It’s not just a press thing. Christian and I never agreed on anything and this started happening during the first album. Don’t get me wrong, he’s one of the best vocalists out there, and I’m still a huge fan of his. But he’s not the right guy to sing my music, mainly because he has a problem with being told what to do. I hated his demos and he hated mine.
Additionally, I’ve read that on Welcome To Paradise the bulk of the writing was done by you and Christian; now that Chris is gone did you do the job all by yourself?
That’s part of the reason. He did NOT write the bulk of that album, he wrote four songs, including the two ballads that I didn’t want to be in the album to begin with. He did write the title track, as well as The Rhythm of Life, and MOST of the lyrics (except for Shape Your Reality and If Angels Are Real) but I DID most of the writing, including vocal melodies.
But he didn’t want me to publicly say that. He went as far as suggesting that I put “all music by NorthTale” in the booklet. I DID end up putting “produced by NorthTale” when I was basically the producer.
This is also a big reason why he isn’t here anymore.
Speaking as someone who’s been in several different bands, what is the main difference between writing and playing music in a supergroup versus a “standard” band?
Well, this is really the first time I get to write music that I love, for myself. I’ve written music for other artists, such as Tommy Vext (Bad Wolves) and Elisa C. Martin (Dark Moor) but never anything that I wrote for myself.
Right now I’m on tour with Doro (Pesch) through Germany, and her songs are obviously a lot more rock n’roll than NorthTale, but I think the general feel is the same… I don’t see much difference in performing.
A true power metal veteran, you’ve been active in the scene for quite some time now; in these last years it looks like power metal has been on the rise again. In your opinion, how is the musical landscape nowadays? How would you say power metal has changed over the years?
Honestly, I never changed my personal taste. In 2006 I recorded with the band Cellador a very acclaimed debut album named Enter Deception which was more extreme, but still very Power Metal. This at a time where EVERYONE wanted to sound like Killswitch Engage.
I think the main difference is people are getting sick of the low tuning, the growling and the “you can’t fuck with me cuz I’m so tough” type of lyrics, and are looking for something “new”. Power Metal is “new” to a lot of these more trendy metal fans and I think it’s working out great for our genre.
Honestly, I feel like if NorthTale came out in 2010, nobody would have cared and we wouldn’t be doing this interview right now. I’m glad is changing and I’m really looking forward to the future.
Many thanks to Bill and to everyone in NorthTale! “Eternal Flame” was released on November 12th and you can stream it on Spotify. Don’t miss an update and follow the band on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Photo credit: Joao Duarte
Rick is a physics student from Italy, who besides loving metal music, also digs books, movies and science. He plays the drums, guitar, and kazoo.