Thyrfing interview (10/2008)
|With:||Patrik Lindgren (guitars)|
|Conducted by:||Thryce, Bararey (e-mail)|
Hello there good sir. My name is Mathieu, from the international metal webzine Metal Storm (http://www.metalstorm.eu). I would like to thank you straight away for taking the time to do this interview, I appreciate it a lot!
Let's get started, shall we. I guess there is no need to introduce a band like Thyrfing, as I assume we all know who you are. But for those readers who aren't familiar with the band yet, how would you introduce the band and the music to them? Why should people listen to the music Thyrfing is making?
Ok, trying to make it short: a Swedish band who's been around since 1995, and released six full-length albums ever since. Thyrfing is a Metal band, often referred to as "Viking metal" or "folk metal", due to the lyrical and imagery concept used throughout the years. This tag is still somewhat attached to the band, even though the concept has been transformed into something darker and less fictional during the last albums. The music of Thyrfing could be regarded as a blend of extreme Metal, Rock or Anything. So if people have a taste for good and honest music - the same as our taste that is - I am sure they could find something interesting herein.
The last past year has been relatively quiet for Thyrfing. Were you guys busy working on the new material all the time, or did you also take some time off?
Thyrfing is not our full-time job so "taking some time off" is a luxury we can do now and then. So this about us being quiet, is a regular situation for the band. I would also say that we almost work on new material most of the time - it's a constantly ongoing process, even though it's only things that take shape in your mind, or if you are trying out sounds for a demo recording. I think three years might be regarded as a long time between two albums, but probably this is the time it will take us to make an album that can measure up to our previous creations.
Let's talk a bit about the new album "Hels vite". What can people expect from Thyrfing on this brand-new record?
To me, "Hels vite" is the essence of Thyrfing, and a mirror of ourselves when it comes to music. There is a great feeling of consistency and power throughout the album, that hopefully the listener can appreciate to the same extent as we do.
"Hels Vite" is your sixth album already, the first one with a new singer, Jens Rydén. Other than that, so musically speaking, what is, according to you personally, the biggest difference between this album and the other five?
The album is more epic and massive than any previous Thyrfing album. There are only 7 songs, but still the playing time exceeds 50 minutes... To quote a review, I'd say that this could be seen as the "bigger brother" of all Thyrfing albums. It simply includes the best sides of the band seen in a retrospective way, all brought to a new level and dimension and as a single, strong unit.
How was the experience to work with a new vocalist after so many years with Thomas Väänänen?
It was a little different of course, but I wouldn't say it was such a major changeover. Both Jens and Thomas are great in person and profession, so even though it was of course sad to see Thomas go, we couldn't have found a better replacement.
With the departure of Thomas Väänänen and Henrik Svegsjö, who both were responsible for a big share of the lyrical and musical writing, how did the writing process of "Hels Vite" go? And how much was Jens Rydén involved in composing the new material?
Not such a big difference here either. Even though Thomas and Henrik indeed put their mark on Thyrfing and contributed with some lyrics and music, the four original members and main composers are still in the band, so there was no need to adjust our way of working. Jens was very involved in the both the writing, but especially arranging the songs. So in that aspect, he was just as active the other four of us.
Can you tell us a bit more what the lyrical concepts on "Hels Vite" are mainly about? For starters, what does the album title mean?
"Hels vite" could be translated as "The Fine of Hel" or "The Punishment of Hel", where Hel is the goddess and ruler at the kingdom death in the Scandinavian mythology. The lyrics can be pure stories of mind and thought, usually expressed through metaphors to make it more interesting, both for the writer and the overall experience. I'd say the lyrics need to pass a certain "Thyrfing filter" to suit the feel, artwork and imagery of our albums. Fortunately we don't share one brain so the lyrical content do differ depending on the writer and his outlook, views and state of mind.
On a related note, most of Thyrfing's lyrics are in Swedish. Why does the band choose to sing mainly in their mother tongue?
This is something we have done since Day One of the band, and even though Swedish not might be the typical language for rock music, we feel that it's more natural to us, and that we can create something better and more unique if we use our first language. Through the years it has also become a part of the bands "sound" and identity, so it's nothing we ever question our think about nowadays.
"Hels Vite" features only seven songs, but all are easily exceeding the five minute length. Is there a particular reason why Thyrfing wrote such lengthy songs this time?
We were tired of constantly being aired on radio stations, so we decided to do something about it... Nah, it was just how it turned out, really. As the tempo is mostly mid-paced and there is a lot of atmosphere and parts we wanted to include, most of the songs became really lengthy this time.
What does "Hels Vite" mean in Thyrfing's career, you think? What does it stand for in the band's history?
That's really hard to say after such a short time, but it feels like some kind of "new start" - naturally to the new line-up - and right now I feel it's definitely the best album we have created this far. However, that's the case after every album, so we'll just and wait and see. But I feel very confident that it's an album that will stand the test of time.
What was the most memorable moment when recording this album? And what was the funniest incident during the recording process?
I think most of it were quite memorable and "fun", but the most bizarre happening was probably when Jocke hosted a barbeque in the industrial area outside the studio after nailing the final drum part.
Let's go back in time for a while. The "Vansinnesvisor" album was quite different than the usual Thyrfing releases. First the layout of the CD and the artwork differed a lot and also the logo was completely different; what the reason behind this change?
We never realized how "different" the end result was going to be actually. When it comes to music and production, I think the studio and producer (Daniel Bergstrand) itself played a rather big role, while for the artwork we simply felt we needed something new. We were happy with Kris Verwimp and what he did on the first three albums, but it was indeed time for a change. The new logo was actually an idea from the guy who created the layout (Niklas Sundin), and to be honest the original Thyrfing logo doesn't really go well on everything. So it felt suitable for the rest of the artwork. Then afterwards it occurred to us that also the album sounded a bit different so the whole "album experience" led to that "Thyrfing has really changed this time". But it was not a single major decision - it was pieces here and there that eventually led to this.
So why exactly did Thyrfing drastically change its logo for "Vansinnesvisor" and switched back to a modified version of its original logo afterwards?
Because changing logo is bad sell-out! ;-) Some people in the band weren't too happy with the new logo in the first place, and then Peter did a re-design of the old logo with the roots which we really liked and decided to base the "Farsotstider" artwork on. And now we're back with it...
Actually, at the very beginning, the band name Thyrfing was originally spelled without a "h", just like the sword in Nordic mythology. What's the story behind the change of the band name from Tyrfing to Thyrfing?
That is actually some false information you have there. We have always spelled it with an "h". I don't remember the exact reason for it, but we thought it looked good and also made the name unique and "our own" rather than to go with the most common spelling for the mythological sword.
What do you think about the current massive wave of folk metal, a genre that seems to become extremely popular in the mainstream metal scene these days? And where would you put Thyrfing in all this?
As with most genres there are both good and less good acts I guess. I find it a little bizarre to tag a complete musical genre after it's lyrical and visual concept, but some of the bands do it really "all the way", so I can understand the impact and that it's getting bigger... I can hear some traces from Thyrfing in many new bands, especially our older albums, and in most cases we are considered a part of this scene... it's nothing that we have anything against, but also nothing that we adjust or limit Thyrfing after.
It's a rare thing for Thyrfing to tour a lot, you guys have never been much of a touring band, and you're known for that. But now with the new album out, will you go on the road again with a headlining tour to support it?
No, there are no plans on longer tours at this point. We are a "festival band" bands now - and has actually always been. There will hopefully be a chance to see Thyrfing for most people, even though it won't be "every town, every year".
There were no Thyrfing live shows in 2007, does this mean the upcoming dates as part of the Heidenfest and Metalfest tours will be the first live shows together with Jens Rydén?
Yes, that's correct.
Will spitting blood into the crowd still be part of the band's live performance then?
I don't think so, even though the blood will still be a part of the show. Can't really say for sure, but the spitting was actually more of Thomas' "thing"...
While we're on it, tell us a bit more about that bloody ritual... And between you and me, that wasn't fake blood, right?
We simply see it as a suitable stage element that goes well into a Thyrfing show. Not saying it would be original though - I mean, many bands have used blood in their live shows ever since the early days of hard rock music. And no, it is certainly not fake blood. Who ever said it was...?
Now that Henrik Svegsjö left Thyrfing, the band has only one guitarist. How will this affect live shows? Does this mean there will be a session guitarist?
Yes, we already have a live guitarist, Fredrik Jansson, recruited for the upcoming gigs. There are many parts of our songs that require two guitars, so we decided early on that we would use a session member live.
There are a handful of live dates planned in the near future. Are you guys excited about those upcoming gigs? Any special treats you have for the fans?
Yes, definitely. The bills look strong and will probably attract a lot of visitors. We have a strong new album and line-up in our backs, and are certainly looking forward to bring it on stage! There will probably be the usual experience - blood, sweat, metal and beers. Simple, but yet highly appreciated...
And now for something completely different, imagine if you were a real die-hard Viking yourself, what would you do to the world?
I would hail, kill and fuck the world (in no particular order).
Last question, if you could trade places with any other person for three days, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with who would it be, and why?
That would be a dead race between the persons who are close to me. To live around myself for a couple of days would surely be interesting and a good learning. If you find that everyday and boring, I'll mention Elvis Presley as a more adventurous option!
All right! Thank you very much; it was a pleasure doing this interview with you. As it is customary here on Metal Storm, the last words to our readers are all yours. Cheers!
The pleasure is ours. Thanks for the interest and support! I hope that people will check out "Hels Vite" which is out now on Regain Records. Also lurk around at http://www.thyrfing.com for the latest news and events. Cheers!
A big thank you to Patrik Lindgren for his time, and Bararey for adding some interesting questions.
Thanks to Jörg Brauns from Regain Records for making this interview possible.
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