Lucifer’s Johanna Sadonis: The 10 songs that changed my life

Lucifer singer Johanna Sadonis tells all about being turned to the dark side by Danzig, having her mind blown by Metallica, and making mixtapes for her own funeral…

Lucifer’s Johanna Sadonis: The 10 songs that changed my life
Nick Ruskell
Chris Shonting

Like Mercyful Fate, Coven and Ghost, Lucifer do music for the Devil to party to. All cool Sabbathy riffs and witchy vibes, they make the dark sound irresistibly tempting. As they prepare to release their new album, Lucifer V, singer Johanna Sadonis takes a walk through her record collection, and charts her route down life's diabolical path…

The first song I remember hearing…The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack

“I have a vivid memory of my mum giving me a cassette tape, a ’50s rock’n’roll compilation called Rock Around The Clock. We had just moved from GDR, East Berlin, to West Berlin, and the whole world was a culture shock for me. All of a sudden, I got a Barbie and a Walkman. I got this compilation, and the song that stuck out to me was Leader Of The Pack. And I think it’s evidence of my love and affinity for drama, because it all starts with a car crash. It’s love and death and everything combined – the very essence of a Lucifer song.”

The song that reminds me of school…Danzig – How The Gods Kill

“When I was 14, I had my first boyfriend. He was a huge Danzig fan, and so was I. We went to see him, and I think it was really the moment in my life where the Devil stole me away into the dark side. The first three Danzig albums made such a huge impression on me when I was that age. I immediately started getting cross necklaces and turning them upside-down. That whole visual thing with Danzig is rock’n’roll, but it's black and leather-clad, with super-cool leather jackets and black hair. To this day, I would say Danzig is one of the reasons that Lucifer exists. I loved the artwork for this album, which is a painting by H.R. Giger. I had it on my wall as a giant poster.”

The first song I learned to sing…The Beatles – Yellow Submarine

“My mum always sang songs to me, but they were classic German folk things. But the first song of a band would be Yellow Submarine, because that's something that was big with elementary school teachers back then. Also Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I guess my teacher was stuck with one foot in the past. I love The Beatles, but I think I preferred CCR, because Yellow Submarine was so nice.”

The song that reminds me of my first love…Metallica – Welcome Home (Sanitarium)

“My first boyfriend and I went to see Metallica when I was 13, and then again when I was 14. He was a complete Cliff Burton lookalike – he would wear the bellbottoms, he had the long brown hair, he played bass in a Metallica cover band and would wear the same Misfits shirt and everything. I would go to these concerts with a beating heart because it was so exciting to be somewhere with thousands of people like that, and it made a huge impression on me. I still have the tickets. It was extremely exciting and overwhelming as a teenage girl.

“I remember when I bought my first Metallica album, I only had money to buy one. So I picked by cover, because I'm a visual person, although you could pick any of those first four! I went for Master Of Puppets because of the cemetery – I just thought it was the most striking cover. Again, I recognise myself from nowadays back then, you know, being drawn to crosses and the more morbid side of things.”

The first Lucifer song I heard on the radio…Lucifer – Anubis

“That was our first-ever single, which is on none of the Lucifer albums. It was a seven-inch single that came out on Rise Above in 2015. And that only came on the radio because it was on the weekly heavy metal show on the Berlin FM rock station. It's very cool to hear yourself on the radio, though. And I have to say, I'm not very spoiled, because Lucifer is not mainstream enough to get a lot of radio play. So any time it happens, it’s a celebration.”

The song that picks me up when I’m feeling down…Tom Petty – Even The Losers

“There's a lot of music that I can find comfort in, but I noticed that I tend to go to Tom Petty for some reason. He has something very comforting and fatherly to me. The lyrics to this song go: ‘Even the losers get lucky sometimes.’ That has a comfort, but with a twist of humour, which I think is very important and can be a great survival tool. When you're really down and out, or you go through something really horrible, humour will always save you and put things in perspective.

“Something I really like about Tom Petty is he never came off as full of himself. In a lot of music, there are people who would never put themselves down in lyrics, and it’s very cocky and so on. I think I'm more of an underdog fan. I love the shy ones, like Joey Ramone and Tom Petty, the ones that are a little fragile. I identify better with that. I find it more sincere and somehow I believe them more.”

The Lucifer song I’d go back and change if I could…None of them

“I thought about this one, and it’s actually none of them, because if I started to scrutinise them too much I'd never stop. It's recorded, it's done. We would never release something that feels unfinished or not good enough. It's a testament of the moment in time when it was recorded for us, and that's good.”

My favourite Lucifer song to play live…Lucifer – Reaper On Your Heels

“It's about death and being aware that this could be your last summer. You never know exactly when your number is up, but you are aware of it hovering over you. It's a little bit of a song about all the people that I love that I have lost. It's a rocking song, but then it has a moment where it gets very quiet and very kind of fragile and sad. But then it erupts back into this crazy Southern rock solo thing – it's a lot of action onstage, then it implodes and everybody's happy and the show is over. It's always a lot of fun to play.”

The worst song ever written…The Knack – My Sharona

“First of all, it’s sonically extremely annoying, I don't know why, I just instinctively never liked it. I never really paid attention to the lyrics before – they're really horrible. They're extremely sexist. Okay, let me quote this line: ‘Never gonna stop / Give it up / Such a dirty mind / I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind.’ What the fuck? I saw this on Google, so then I had to, of course, read up on the story. Apparently, I think it was the singer who was 25 and in love with a 17-year-old girl. Why would you put that in the lyrics? It didn't make me like the song more. They’re very cocky and unlikeable in the video as well.”

The song I want played at my funeral…Blue Öyster Cult – Don’t Fear The Reaper

“I always thought it would be this, just because of the irony of it. I like a little bit of humour. When I was a teenager, a friend of mine gave me the album [Agents Of Fortune]. I was very morbid – I used to make myself mixtapes to be played at my funeral, and this was on it. I’d make lists of what type of tombstone I wanted, and put, like, ‘Oak coffin in shiny black piano lacquer.’ I was romanticising, and I used to take a lot of walks on cemeteries and stuff. And I still do, actually, when we are on tour.

“Blue Öyster Cult are probably the one of the main influences for Lucifer, next to Black Sabbath. And actually, when Nicke [Andersson, drummer, guitarist and Johanna’s husband] and I hit it off for the first time, we got talking about Blue Öyster Cult and just never stopped talking. By the end of the night, we were together. So they’ve played a big role in Lucifer, and I still love this song. Somehow I never get tired of it.”

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?