Sevenstring.org Interview - Zeb Nilsson of Aeon
<div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/logo.gif" alt="Aeon" />
<b>Interview: Zeb Nilsson of Aeon</b>
<i><font size="1">By Ryan & Metal Ken</font></i>
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/1.jpg" alt="Aeon" /><span class="ivorange">SS</span>: First off, thank you for doing an interview with sevenstring.org! To begin with, tell us about your new album, Rise To Dominate. How is it different compared to your last two releases? And how do you guys feel about it, now that it's complete?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I guess the biggest difference is that this album was mainly written in about 6 months, so for us this feels much fresher and more mature. Looking back on Bleeding the False, that album took many years to write and nearly two years to record. With that said, I don't think that Rise to Dominate is strained in any way, We were just being more productive this time. In the past we wrote one song in about 4-6 months! We also thought that Bleeding the False was too clean, and that it the guitars were too low. It just was not metal enough, so this time we wanted to have really fat guitars and more of a live feeling to it. Tommy also sings more like he does live on this one too, and think it's much more raw. We are all happy with the results, I think that every one involved did a great job.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: For the new disc, you guys have signed to Metal Blade. What's it like working with them? Big difference than Unique Leader?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Unique Leader is a good label and they are great guys, and we were happy with them, but Metal Blade is the label that we've always wanted. The artists signed to Metal Blade always seemed happy with them in comparison to artists signed to other bigger labels. And so far, we're no differerent. Metal Blade has really showed us that they prioritize us. Of course, everything is more formal than being on a maller label, but so far so good.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Here at Sevenstring.org, we're all crazy about gear. What kind of amps, cabs, guitars and pedals did you guys use on the new disc? The tone is CRUSHING.
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I use an Ibanez RG1527 with EMG-707 pickups on it as my main guitar, an Ibanez Universe with original DiMarzio pickups on it as my backup. They're both really great guitars. I also have the Tech 21 PSA 1 SansAmp for a preamp, and a Rocktron 250 poweramp. The cabs I use are Marshall 1960 4x12's. On Rise to Dominate we used Daniels new bought Engl Powerball which totally killed! It worked really well with the EMG's.<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/2.jpg" alt="Aeon" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Do you have any guitar endorsements? It appears you guys are Ibanez & Schecter players.
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: No, we don’t, but I am kind of thinking that now is the time to start looking for it. I am thinking of filming myself playing some wicked string skipping techniques and stuff you know - just to make a short presentation of who I am, and what I am doing at this point. In my opinion, I have still not found any better seven string guitars than Ibanez, but Schecter is more price worthy guitar. If you're not going to pay a lot of money for a seven string, I don’t think Ibanez is the guitar to go for, since you have to pay more money for a good Ibanez compared to a Schecter. However I still think that the little more expensive Prestige guitars from Ibanez kick ass.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What drew you to your respective guitars of choice?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I just think the Universe has it all - cool design, wide but thin neck, easy to play, good string height and the best tremolo on the market.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Zeb, can you tell us a little bit about your Ibanez Universe? (we love universes)
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Sure can! I remember I always thought of it as a extremely cool guitar when I saw Trey (Morbid Angel) using one in the video for “God Of Emptiness”. We also had a guy here in town (Magnus Sahlgren) who had one. I just loved the look of it, with the black color against the green dots. I decided that it was the guitar for me. I have never played on a guitar with a more perfect neck, the string height it the finest I've ever seen, and playing on the lower frets you just cannot feel if you press down the string or not. This is absolutely no joke, but now I am used to the RG-model so I have to raise the string height a little on the Universe to be able to play it. I think that the Universe has the best seven string pickups except for the EMG-707 and the EMG 81-7. I like the EMG-707 the best, but I think Daniel prefers the EMG 81-7. The EMG 81-7 suites better with the ENGL Powerball, as you get more feedback with the 707 with that head.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What are your touring plans for the new album? Will there be any kick ass shirts or posters available for merch?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Actually we just had to cancel to our spot on Metal Blades 25th anniversary tour, which of course sucks VERY much. The whole recording and mastering was planned carefully so that the album could be out on the 4th of september, since the tour started on the 6tht. Metal Blade was very eager to get us on the bill, they actually made it very easy for us to just get there and play! But as many already know by now, Nils was asked by Dark Funeral to do their US tour, so he did that one instead. So what will happen now, no one can tell for sure. Nils wants to be in both Aeon and Dark Funeral, so I guess we will have to see if it possible. We just recently had to say no to several gigs this autumn so we'll see just how that goes. All we want to do is tour, so if this wont be able with Nils, then we will look for another drummer.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How long have you guys been playing guitar?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I used to be a bass player, even though I did play the guitar too. The guitar has been my main instrument for about 13 years. That’s when I started to play solos and actually practice scales and theory.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/album.jpg" alt="Aeon" /><span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Since our site is a seven string guitar website, what made you guys decide to make the jump from 6 strings to 7? What was the change like for you? Did it change the way you wrote music?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: It was first of all (like I said earlier) when I saw the black/green Universe I thought it was really cool. Besides that, I think that you need to have many possibilities when you write music and solos. Almost every Aeon song that I write demands a seven stringe guitar, And of course the pickups are actually made for the lower tones that you get on a sevenstring. I just love everything about them. They look so cool, and I think that it seems harder to go from 7 strings to 6 strings, than it was to go from 6 to 7.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What goes into writing a typical Aeon song? Do you guys jam as a band, or does one person come up with the music and share it?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I try to first of all decide what kind of song I want to make. Is it an “cool opening for a concerts” song, or a heavy song, or a hyper speed song, or a triple song, etc. Then I always try to think that I am creating the best Death Metal song there is (haha). But actually, we try to keep them (no matter how fast they are or how technical they are) to maintain a groove and be very catchy. The arrangement is often more important than the actual riffing in the song. We usually use the simple formula “verse-bridge-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-stick-solo-stick-bridge-chorus. And then some cool details and stuff to make it worth listening to. I also always try to add some thing very unique that really stands out for each song.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What are the best and worst stage moments you guys have had? Any favorite shows?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Worst would be perhaps a gig we did in Umeå (Sweden) and lets just say that everyone on stage wasn’t sober - that was a complete catastrophe. Best would be any of the gigs on the tour with Cannibal Corpse in April of '06.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Before Aeon formed, many of you were in a band called Defaced Creation. How did DC evolve into Aeon?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Defaced Creation did kind of end as Arttu left the band, and no one really had the inspiration to move on anymore. After a while, I did six death metal tracks that were more the kind of DM I wanted to play, and I asked Tommy, Arttu and Johan to help me out. Since I did play the guitar I really never asked Jörgen, but instead I asked Morgan Nordbakk to do some of the leads on it, and voila. We were all so satisfied with the recording that we formed Aeon and we sent those 6 songs to some labels, and Necropolis wanted to release them as they where, and so we did - the “Dark Order” EP.<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/3.jpg" alt="Aeon" />
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: How is the metal scene in Östersund? Was it hard to form a killer death metal band way up there?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Actually in north of Sweden there are so many good musicians. It's easier to find decent musicians here than in bigger cities, I think. Of course I speak in relation to how many people live there. Forming Aeon was no big deal, but if things will get ....ed up with Nils and the sharing of him with Dark Funeral, I guess we're in for some trouble.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: On your first album, Bleeding the False, one of the bonus tracks is an acoustic version of one of your songs. Can you tell us about how that came to be? And who exactly is playing the banjo?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: We do get those kind of questions often, but I think it's funnier to leave people guessing. I don’t want to reveal the details on it (haha).
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Are there any good tips and techniques you can share with us about playing death metal guitar?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Practice to a click, and if you're watching TV or a film or whatever.just grab the guitar and pick as fast as you can on any string, without putting to much strain into it. That will get your right hand building stamina and speed which you will need. You should pick no faster than that you should be able to keep doing it for at least 5 minutes, then it's up to everyone to find their own style, and work on that.
<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/newsimages/aeon/4.jpg" alt="Aeon" />I don’t ONLY use scales, I write cool patterns that I work up my speed on and add to my solos (like the 2nd part of the solo on “Soulburner” for example, or the last part of the solo on “Living Sin”), and I vary the scales a lot. On “Rise to Dominate” I use the minor scale, the harmonic minor, the harmonic major (which is the scale that Thordendahl of Meshuggah usually uses, you play the major scale but with a minor 6th , very cool scale I think), the phrygian scale but with a major 3rd which gives it a little exotic touch. That last one I mentioned is very easy to play fast since playing it over B, you have the same notes as in the harmonic minor in E. The only challenge is to learn how the scales work here and remember that the tones are the same but for example, the 7th note in E harmonic minor (D#) is NOT the septica in this specific scale. (It is the third note, but still D#). I also use a unnamed scale which has the same notes as the Phrygian (with major 3rd) but you just skip the 6th note. That one is cool too. It sounds harder than it is I guess. once you learn how scales work and not only how to play them fast. You should know what you are playing! I think you can do some wicked things with the wholetone scale too. I could go on forever babbling about this, but I think that'll do.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: What have you guys learned from recording three great death metal albums, guitarwise?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: I feel that I learn very valuable things each time we record and each gig we do. I guess that I polish my technique every time in the studio and actually when we recorded “Bleeding the False” I completely changed my righthand technique. Now I always have my pinkie finger muting the strings at the edge of the bridge.
<span class="ivorange">SS</span>: Does the whole band share the same religious views? Or is it just something fun to write about?
<span class="ivred">Zeb</span>: Yeah, we are all against religions. Tommy has had his problem with the Jehovas witnesses in the past. I guess people that have heard Aeon have had their ideas of that already hahaha. Anyway of course we can still laugh about it and have some self irony in the lyrics. Lyrics like “God Gives Head In Heaven” are supposed to be funny. If you cannot have self irony, then I guess you're no better than them. But on most of songs the lyrics are serious of course. To me Satan and Satanism is a symbol of the free thought and the individualism. We are all unique, and we are all beasts. No need to feel guilt for having instincts - it's in our DNA man!
<a href="http://www.aeon666.com" target="_BLANK"><span class="ivred">Aeon - Official Website</span></a> - <a href="http://www.myspace.com/aeon666" target="_BLANK"><span class="ivred">Aeon on MySpace</span></a>