Last updated: 06/18/2011 12:00:00 PM
Christian Liljegren - vocals / Carljohan Grimmark - guitar, vocals / Andreas Olsson - bass / Andreas Johansson - drums / Martin Claeson - keyboards
In the end of the year 1993 Christian Liljegren and I met for the very first time. The location was a no longer existing recordstore in our hometown Jönköping. Jönköping is a small town in the south of sweden, with a lot of musical activity going on. At that time Christian and his band Modest Attraction was just about to release their debut album "The truth in Your face". I was in a band called Sentinel. We had a short conversation, swapped phonenumbers and kept in touch after that first meeting.
The Years went by and we kept struggling with our bands. Modest Attraction released their second CD, "Divine Luxury", at the same time as I decided to leave Sentinel. At that time Christian gave me a phone-call. He asked me if I was interested in being a part of his future solo-project. He had a passion for melodic hardrock, a kind of music that he wasn't able or even allowed to perform in his band Modest Attraction. I said: "Yes, I'm in..." A few months later Christian called me again and said that Modest Attraction was going on tour to Germany and their guitar-player Stephan Mohlin wasn't able to go with them for different reasons. I was asked to fill the guitar spot for him, which I did. Then Stephan Mohlin quit the band and I was asked to be their permanent guitarist. At the same time as Christian and I was in Modest Attraction we kept planning the "project" that Christian had a vision of. We had some old songs from previous bands that we tried to shape up as well as possible. We entered the "Topz Recording" studio in september that year. "Topz Recording" was a small, analog studio, deep down under ground. (We eventually "named" it "Hell studio" because of the many stairs down under the street.) So, it was just me and Christian then. I played the instruments, Christian did the vocals. The recordings went on and on for months because of the very short recording sessions. 4-5 hours a day was the standard that was set by our two engineers. There were a few guest on this album. One of them was Jakob Persson who later on turned out to be Narnia's permanent bass-player. Janne Stark also did a guest-solo on guitar and Mart Hallek played violin.
In January we were finally able to see the light and the end of this quiet tedious recording. As we were going to mix the album I caught a flue, nastier than ever before. I was only there for two songs so Christian had to be responible for this by himself. After a week of hard work by Christian and our engineers, the "Awakening" album was mixed. After the mastering at Starec Studio we handed over a CDR to our agent at that time, Magnus Söderkvist. He went to the MIDEM festival in France and introduced our record to 10 Japanese labels. 9 of them were eager to sign a deal with Narnia. A bidding between the companies started and we eventually decided to stick with Pony Canyon. Other artist on Pony Canyon are: Marillion, Jens & Anders Johansson, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Paul Jones, (ex Led Zeppelin) Joe Lynn Turner (ex Rainbow) and many more.
In May Christian and I went on our last, short tour with Modest Attraction. We headed for Germany and Switzerland and during that trip we met Matthias Mittelstädt. Matthias had a managment company called MCM Music together with his brother Rainer. Matthias loved our album and offered himself to become our manager. We felt that the chemistry was right and ended up on MCM. Other bands on MCM are Saviour Machine, Rob Rock etc.
Now we wanted to play live of course. We gathered some talented friends and Narnia Mark I was born.
The lineup of Narnia mark I:
Jakob Persson - Bass
Martin Claésson - Keyboards
Fredrik Junhammar - Drums
Christian Liljegren - Vocals
Carl Johan Grimmark - Guitars
This lineup did it's first and last concert in Huskvarna, Sweden at the "Ung Kraft" festival on March 24 -97. Right after that Fredrik quit the band because of lack of time.
On July 18 "Awakening" was released in Japan. The release was a small success for us and we gained a lot of fans over there. We needed a new drummer and we found Andreas Johansson who auditioned and joined us in August. Since then Mark II is still together.
European record labels got more and more interested in Narnia. We signed with the German metal-label Nuclear Blast. Together with swedish Hammerfall we were one of the first melodic bands on Nuclear Blast.
Nuclear Blast released the "Awakening" in February. We did shows in Sweden and Germany and in April we got the opportunity to open up for Stratovarius in Turku and Helsinki, Finland. We also appeared on Finnish TV. More and more people heard of Narnia all over Europe. A big dream came true when we were asked to do a concert at the legendary "Monsters of Rock" festival in Milano, Italy. Of course we were overwhelmed. We were going to play with bands like Deep Purple, Van Halen, Dream Theater and many more. Two weeks before the festival we got the sad news that the festival was moved to a smaller arena, and a lot of bands were refused to play. That dream crashed and burned as dreams do sometimes but that same day we were asked to go on tour to Germany/Switzerland with Ronnie James Dio. That helped us to lick our wounds.
During the summer of 98 we spent a few hot months in the studio, recording our second album "Long Live the King". The location this time was "Berghem Studio" outside Jönköping, sweden. A very nice studio on the countryside. The "Awakening" album had a stiff project atmosphere because of the limitation of just two persons performing. This time we worked hard to make a band-record. The whole band was in the studio. As You might hear Christian tried a slightly different vocal style. He brought the vocal lines down a bit, to a lower register. As the producer of this album I tried to make it big, inspired by the sound of Black Sabbath's "Tyr".
The guests on this album was once again Mart Hallek but also Sonny Larsson who did some background vocals.
On the 22nd of september,the very day after the album was finished, we were on a plane to Germany where were going to spend the following three weeks in
busses, hotels, clubs and halls. The tour was called "To Hull and back" and it was a three band package. The running order each night was:
Black Symphony (fr USA with Jeff Martin - Badlands, Racer X)
We did 15 shows in Germany/Switzerland and it was GREAT. There were between 500-2000 people showing up each night. Many of the clubs and halls were sold out and packed.
As soon as we got home Christian and I was invited to Japan to promote the upcoming "LLTK" album. It was four hectic days of interviews with TV, Radio and magazines. (Luckily we also had one day off to see Van Halen at the famous Budokan arena.) During our Tokyo stay I met Caparison guitars that I'm now endorsed by.
When we got home from Japan we did a few more shows on our own continent that year. We headed back to Germany where we played the "Christmas Rock Night", Ennepetal with Saviour Machine and Ken Tamplin etc.
1999 started out good with the release of the new Narnia album "Long Live The King". We had a releaseparty in our hometown Jönköping that were totally sold out and there were hundreds of people outside.
Christian worked hard, doing interviews with radio, magazines and e-zines all over the world. We had good reviews everywhere, better than the "Awakening" but saleswise "LLTK" never really reached to the same level as "Awakening". We did concerts in Sweden, Finland and Germany.
Overall, this year wasn't as hectic as the previous year. There was time for us to do some different things. Sometimes I was even afraid that Narnia was dying.
Christian put his own band Wisdom Call together. "LLTK" was kind of a "slow" record and Christian's fascination for fast music, and the need to rehearse more often to keep his voice trained, made him put this band together. Together with a friend of mine, the singer Pär Hagström, I recorded a cover-version of Yngwie Malmsteen's "Dark ages". It was released as a tribute to Yngwie Malmsteen on the record "A guitar odyssey". I started to write new music for Narnia as well.
In the beginning of this year we had enough songs to start recording a new album. In March we started. Once again we were in "Berghem Studio". We recorded the drums and rhythm guitars there and then we moved in to my own "Dream Factory" studio to record the rest. I had just started to build this studio and we ran into some serious computer problems for a while. There were some drives that were striking. It's almost embaressing to admit now but for different reasons it was really hard to find the actual problem. I bought some new drives and we were ready to move on. We were looking back at the "LLTK" album and what we saw was something that were proud of but this time we wanted to do something different. We wanted to make our new CD more alive, basic and raw than any of the previous ones. Once again I was producing it myself. I tried to build up an aggressive type of sound, influenced by records from the '70s. More guitars, less keyboards, distorted bass and "basement drums". Christian's lyrics on this album are more personal than ever and Andreas, Jakob and Martin did their best and most relaxed performances to date.
The only guest on this album was Pär Hagström who did backgound vocals and on additional lead-part.
We recorded a cover of Uriah Heep's "Sunrise". This was made for a Uriah Heep tribute record. The release was set to the year 2001.
We did a lot of nice touring this year. We played in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Holland, England and Germany. In Holland Andreas was temporarily replaced by former Modest Attraction drummer Mick Norström. We were totally blown away by the crowds in our "first time countries" Holland and England. We just stood there with stupid looks on our faces, receiving a wonderful welcoming from the audiences in Rotterdam, Holland and Sheltenham, UK. The show in Sheltenham was at the old, famous Greenbelt festival.
We celebrated christmas-time with the Japenese release of our new CD "Desert Land" on December 20 and New Years eve with a big concert in Seinäjoki, Finland.
We started this year with promotion activities for the "Desert Land" release in Europe, North & South America and Australia. Christian went to Germany and the headquarter of Nuclear Blast to meet the press and to do phone-interviews all over the world. The reviews of "Desert Land" was better than any of the previous records.
The album was released on February 14 and once again we had a releaseparty in Jönköping. We did two concerts this night, to get everybody in. We've done concerts in Finland and Sweden this year so far and there are plans to go to Brazil and Germany etc.
We're all busy with all kinds of things as I'm typing this: Christian has just released his debut with Wisdom Call. He's also running his record label CL Music Publishing. Martin just signed a deal with the swedish publishing company Jimmy Fun Music, owned by Per Gessle of Roxette. Andreas works a lot (as always) as a session drummer for different famous swedish artists and has also started his own publishing company called Popmate. Jakob's got a band called Northern Delight, playing blues-influenced music. I'm doing some different things as well. Recording music with other bands, composing music for my new band System Breakdown etc.
That's the short version of the story so far, now we're looking in to the future. More concerts, a live album, new countries and places and the perpetual urge to make people happy with music and the message of our faith...
Yours Sincerely, Carl Johan Grimmark
Jönköping - 01/05/10
Very Special thanx to Ronnie Jaldemark for never letting us down (except for that single show in Norway...) and to our families and friends.