Saturnus interview (11/2022)
|With:||Thomas Jensen, Indee Rehal-Sagoo, Mika Filborne|
|Conducted by:||RaduP (in person)|
[Ed: If this was not the shortest interview of Radu’s I’ve ever had to transcribe, it was damn close. I’d like to thank Saturnus for making their interviews faster than their music and giving me an easy time of it.]
Radu: So we are here with...
Thomas Jensen: Saturnus and Thomas, lead vocalist.
Indee Rehal-Sagoo: Indee, guitarist.
Mika Filborne: Mika, keyboard player.
Radu: All right, how are you feeling tonight? [Ed: No, no, Radu, the band asks you that question.]
Thomas: Eh, we are a bit tired, but we are really up to the show. We have been on the road for some days now, so we are of course tired, but not tired in a bad way, but in a good way.
Radu: Yeah. The show is the best part of the day.
Thomas: Yeah, absolutely.
Indee: Always. Always the best part of the day.
Radu: All right. How does it feel being in Serbia for the first time? [Ed: Is Radu going to conduct each successive interview from a different country now?]
Thomas: Really excited for it, because as you said it’s a place we haven’t been before. It’s always interesting to get new places and see how the reactions are and also to see different countries. I’ve never been here before. I’ve only been to, like, before the war was going on, as Yugoslavia, but it was in the north, so interesting to me, as I said, as a tourist as well, so it’s pretty cool.
Radu: You’ve been in Romania two dates before this.
Radu: I’m a bit pissed that you didn’t stop in Timişoara instead of Novi Sad, because that would have saved me some trouble. [Ed: Does it matter where your wallet gets stolen?]
Thomas: We are sorry for that. (laughs)
Radu: Well, at least I get to see Novi Sad again, and it reminded me that I need to do the periodic inspection for my car. Otherwise they wouldn’t have let me cross the border.
I have checked on setlist.fm what countries have you been to, at least what their database has. As far as they say, you haven’t played in Sweden?
Thomas: We have played in Sweden. [Ed: They’re from Denmark. They’ve probably played in Sweden by accident before.]
Radu: All right.
Radu: Well then, their database is –
Indee: Not on this tour.
Thomas: No, not on this tour.
Indee: Not on this tour, no, but we have played Sweden.
Radu: So it was way back when, or…?
Thomas: It was in… we actually played in 2015. We played a show in Stockholm. But even though Sweden is our neighbor, we have only been there, like, two times, and the first time was supporting Moonspell back in ’95 and then in 2013, and it’s kind of weird because Copenhagen and Malmö, which is the second or third largest city in Sweden – [Ed: third]
Indee: It’s so close.
Thomas: It’s just 20 kilometers away.
Radu: Well, I mean, you don’t need to play in Malmö. They’re gonna see you every time you play in Copenhagen. [Ed: Please, Radu. That’s a little too close to the joke I already made.]
Thomas: Yeah, but it’s kind of strange, because there’s actually not that many Swedish bands going to Copenhagen as well, so it’s kind of – I don’t know what’s wrong, what’s going on there.
Radu: At least it’s easy to cross the border between the two cities. [Ed: It is if you don’t tell Interpol that it is, dummy.] You can just check the events for both cities. Just a bit more inconvenient.
How’s progress on the new album?
Thomas: It’s done.
Mika: It’s finished.
Thomas: It’s finished.
Mika: It’s been finished for a while.
Indee: So it finished off earlier this year, around… I think April time, April-May time? It was mastered by that point. The only issue is that we have – obviously, with all musical projects and labels and whatever, there’s delays all over the planet –
Radu: Yeah, especially with vinyl plants and so on.
Indee: And that’s what’s killing us right now. We’re waiting for vinyl pressing. Everything is ready to go, the vinyl’s ready, it’s just waiting in a queue like many other records to be pressed. But it’s been finished for a while and we’re really excited to get it out there.
Radu: We’re excited to hear it.
Indee: That’s why we decided this time ‘round we asked the label if it’s possible for us to play some new songs from the record, so we’re doing that in this – alongside supporting the EP which we’ve made, we’re also kind of giving a little teaser for the new album.
Radu: Are any songs from the EP going to be on the new album?
Indee: There’s a version from the EP of “All Alone”, and we mix it kind of with the EP version and the classic version that’s on the record [Veronika Decides To Die], because fans love the original as well, so we thought we’d do a little bit of a hybrid. So far it’s been very popular, it’s been really good. We love playing it that way.
Radu: Right. So about the new EP, Lighthouse Sessions. I haven’t been able to find that much information about it, let alone listen to it. It’s a tour-only thing, right?
Indee: It’s a limited to 500. If we have any left over afterwards, then we will continue to sell them, but the point of this is that we wanted it to be a special release for this tour, but we also wanted to give it to the people that come out or the people that are able to get it. If there are some left, we’ll happily pass them on.
Radu: So you have them on the merch table right now?
Indee: We have them on the merch, right here, right now, so if you get that release, you’re one of the special few that gets that release.
[Ed: At this Radu dashes off to the merch table and leaves Saturnus in the dust. The next 15 minutes of the interview are merely the sounds of a different band warming up onstage in the background. The text that follows here is how I imagine the interview would have gone, had Radu been there to continue it.]
Radu: So just to be perfectly in the know, if I get it, do I get a Bandcamp code for it or something?
Indee: It’s a CD.
Radu: It’s a CD. [Ed: You’ll have to excuse Radu. He’s new.]
Indee: It’s a CD. It’s a special CD, there’s no Bandcamp codes, there’s no Spotify link, nothing to it right now; it’s just that CD.
Radu: Well, the bad part is my new laptop does not have a CD burner. [Ed: Nor does mine. I hate this shit.]
Indee: (laughs at Radu’s pain)
Radu: I will get it, perhaps. But I have no way of listening to it. For a while.
Indee: Well, that’s the label’s prerogative. For a while.
Radu: For a while.
Indee: Let’s see, let’s see. We’re not in control of that part, but that’s what was suggested, that we do a limited run. That’s what we wanted.
Radu: So let’s just say it will bite you in the ass if you accidentally release it.
Indee: We won’t accidentally release anything. (laughs) Let’s see what happens.
[Ed: Were you listening earlier? They can’t even purposefully release anything.]
Radu: All right. How does it feel having new blood in the band?
Thomas: It feels really good. Really, really good.
Indee: Well, three years new. (laughs)
Radu: Well, in the grand scope of things… [Ed: In the grand scheme of things, Denmark is new.]
Thomas: Of course it’s great, but it also feels kind of normal. It’s not like we need to tell the new guys what to do. It’s just like – for me, it feels like we’ve been playing for 20 years together. But it also helps that we know each other very good from the road; we’ve toured together from the different bands they have played in. Indee, for an example, with both Eye Of Solitude and Clouds, and for Julio’s side is Autumnal, and we have kept the friendship because we get really good along on the road. So it was just like – it was so natural to start to play together. And of course in the beginning I didn’t know what to expect, and I remember the first rehearsal before we would do our first show, I was kind of… “What if all this goes wrong? There’s no turning back.” Because we had a show booked one week after. But it all went perfectly.
Thomas: And they also bring in some new energy to the band and everyone wants to do this even more now, because everyone is happy and focused –
Radu: Does it have something to do with how long it has been since Saturnus In Ascension? [Ed: He means Saturn In Ascension.]
Thomas: Yeah. Yeah, of course, and we don’t want to be that long about doing albums, but the atmosphere now among us is that after this tour is finished, we’re gonna start composing again, and when the album is out, of course we’re gonna tour with that, but still in between we’re gonna compose so it will not take another ten years, because we all want to come back on the road again. And going back on the road, it needs a new album.
Radu: Perfect. So you’ve been touring with Esoteric for a while.
Radu: What’s your favorite Esoteric song?
Indee: Oh, I got one.
Thomas: You’ve got one?
Indee: “Stygian”. For sure, “Stygian”, yeah. [Ed: I’m not familiar with Esoteric, but I’m assuming he means “Stygian Narcosis” from The Pernicious Enigma.]
Radu: All right.
Mika: Ah, I think “Circle” is my favorite.
Thomas: Yeah, I jump on that. I jump on Mika, too.
Radu: Have you asked them what their favorite Saturnus song is?
Thomas: Mm, no, but actually… We had a talk yesterday and we’re playing “Embraced By Darkness” in this set, and they are really, really fans of that song. It moves something in them.
Radu: About the new album: what do you think will set it apart from previous Saturnus records? [Ed: How many interviews have you conducted, and you still don’t know that the answer to that question is “heavier and more evil than the last one”?]
Thomas: I would say in some ways it’s more hard, but in other ways it’s still this, kind of still the same, it’s the same thread going through with the music, like the melody lines, the lead guitar. It’s kind of natural, but I would say more hard in some ways.
Indee: It’s definitely a heavier record in terms of its general vibe – it’s slightly darker in places, I think – but like Thomas said, it still has all the trademark, signature sounds. It’s a little grander as well, in places; we’ve used a few more soundscapes and a few more – a good example is “Paradise” has the birds, and in the new album we’ve got linking themes and sounds that bring it through, and also those same linking themes and sounds are in The Lighthouse Sessions as well, because the two records are kind of connected, not just by music, but by artwork as well. So we have connecting themes between this whole kind of double release, you know? But the new album is definitely… how to put it… the same but different, basically? Yeah.
Radu: Next year is gonna be 30 years of Saturnus.
Thomas: Oh, yeah. [Ed: Thomas’s life flashes before his eyes here.]
Radu: Which is a great reminder, right?
Thomas: (laughs) It means that I’m old.
Radu: I did search for some Saturnus interviews before as research, and the only one I found easily was when you were celebrating your 20th anniversary. You had a show and you mentioned something about bringing some old people in for guests and so on. Do you have anything planned for the 30th?
Thomas: No. [Ed: Of course not. He only just remembered.] Actually not, because our 30th anniversary will be together with the release of the new album, so I don’t think there will be some kind of special 30-year shows –
Indee: I think we might postpone it a little bit so we can do it and give it justice, but it kind of overlaps, so we’ll be out there doing the new record’s promo. But we’re talking about what we can do and when we can do it. We haven’t forgotten about it, it’s not going to go away; we just have to give it a little bit more time and thought in the middle of other things.
Radu: Right. And before Saturnus, you were called Asesino.
Radu: Have you ever considered the idea of reviving that project?
Radu: Even for just one show?
Radu: Why not?
Thomas: Because it’s impossible. There are only three persons left of the band. One is living in Spain and we don’t have contact with him anymore. He’s originally from Spain. And our drummer from that period is dead. So it’s actually only me and Brian [Hansen, founding and current Saturnus bassist] and one guitarist that’s not playing anymore, so that would be an impossible project, and I would also say it doesn’t need to be resurrected, because… Of course it’s a part of the history, but it cannot be compared to Saturnus at all. It’s pure death metal, so no need for that.
[Ed: No need for death metal. That’s why the Swedes never visit you.]
Radu: Were there any recordings that surfaced from that era?
Thomas: No. Only rehearsal tapes. That’s the only thing that exists.
Radu: All right. Because I haven’t heard any.
Thomas: You won’t, never.
Radu: Ah. I wish. Right after that, you have released your first demo, which had two songs, one of which eventually ended up as a bonus track on Saturnus In Ascension. [Ed: Stop calling it that.] Why? [Ed: Because your editor told you to.]
Thomas: Yeah. That was because with that album we kind of wanted to close the circle and start from afresh, and “Beware Of The Atheist”, which was one of the songs from that demo, was released on a Danish compilation. That was the first-ever release from us. And then, like, all the other albums which kind of connected with hidden things – for example, the EP For The Loveless Lonely Nights have the hands tied on the CD, which you can see on the cover from Martyre, and there is also a hidden thing on Saturn In Ascension from the Paradise Belongs To You cover. All those things are connected. And so the only thing we actually needed to close the circle total was to release that song which has never been out, which is “Limbs Of Crystal Clear”, and therefore we decided to let this track go on the digipak as a bonus track.
Radu: So this is why it was just that song and not “Beware Of The Atheist” as well.
Thomas: Yeah, because “Beware Of The Atheist” is available.
Radu: Already in the Danish compilation.
Radu: And is that Danish compilation available?
Thomas: It should be, yeah.
Indee: Yeah, we actually found a copy in Copenhagen a few months ago.
Thomas: We found a copy in Copenhagen, yeah.
Indee: Apparently they’re still floating around.
Radu: Oh, wow. I’ll have to go hunt that. When was the last time you performed those two songs live?
Radu: The ones from the demo.
Thomas: Eh… we played actually “Beware Of The Atheist” when we released… when we had a release show in Copenhagen with Veronika Decides To Die. Then we actually had a two-hour set where we started from the beginning and ended with Veronika, so we started with “Beware Of The Atheist”, and then we played some songs from Paradise, and then we played some songs from Loveless Lonely Nights, Martyre, and then we played the whole of Veronika Decides To Die. So that’s 2006.
Radu: Wow. 16 years ago.
Thomas: We haven’t played anything from those demo tracks since. It’s actually – you can find it on YouTube. It’s on YouTube.
Radu: Yeah, I think I did.
Thomas: Yeah, it is.
Radu: I just wasn’t sure when that was, because it could have been the ‘90s.
Thomas: Yeah, that must have been 2006. We just wanted to do something special and play from the beginning of our career to where we were at that time. Kind of an interesting thing.
Indee: Very cool, yeah.
Radu: Well, you can do that again.
Thomas: Yeah, because we always end the show with “Christ Goodbye” and I think we played “Christ Goodbye” as the second or third, maybe fourth song, and that was –
Radu: But you’re supposed to play it as the last, because it’s “goodbye”.
Thomas: Yeah, it is. We normally do that. But this particular show, we didn’t. We played it as #3 or #4, something like that.
Radu: Or you can just play it as the second song and then leave.
Thomas: Yeah, yeah. Then it’s “goodbye”. Easy.
Radu: If you could get any living director to direct a music video for Saturnus, who would it be?
Thomas: Ooh. I would say… I think my favorite in modern times – Tim Burton.
Mika: Tim Burton, not bad.
Indee: Ooh, that would have been my choice.
Indee: But I’ll go with someone else.
Thomas: But we’re quite equal in taste.
Indee: Yeah. Okay, so I have to go with something different then. Hmm… David Lynch? [Ed: There it is. Thanks, Indee.]
Radu: Classic. [Ed: It’s a classic because you made it this way.]
Mika: Nice. If we want to do something a little bit strange, maybe… who was it we talked about? You just said it.
Indee: Lars von Trier.
Mika: Yeah, Lars von Trier.
Radu: Oh, all right.
Mika: Just for a little change.
Indee: Just for being a bit edgy.
Radu: Especially since he’s Danish as well.
Radu: Why does every Scandinavian I talk to, whether he’s from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, or even the Faroe Islands, say that Danish is the worst of the Scandinavian languages?
Indee: Ask the Danes, I’m not… (laughs)
Thomas: I have no idea.
Indee: I think – actually, it might be the potato-in-the-mouth thing.
Indee: Super hard to pronounce. As an outsider, maybe I can tell you. As a non-Scandinavian member of the band, I think one of the things that I have troubles with when trying to pronounce words is where they come from in the back of the throat or the shaping of the tongue and all that. I think other Scandinavian languages are a lot more phonetic and they’re a little more, eh –
Mika: Yeah, they sing.
Indee: Yeah, they sing a bit more and they’re less guttural, they’re less from the back. So I think maybe that’s what it might be, but he might be able to give you a better answer.
Mika: Well, the singing you get from people who come from Iceland, Norwegian, Swedish, they are a lot of singing, but the Danish language is more aggressive. If you go to Norwegian, you say, “something in Norwegian”, and in Danish it’s “something in Danish”. So I think it’s a real good tough and hard and aggressive language.
Indee: It’s fun, though. It’s a fun language. It’s a party language.
Radu: Because there was a skit that I’ve seen where they say that people in Denmark, they really don’t understand one another.
Indee: Are you talking about “kamelåså”?
[Ed: And kamelåså to you, too.]
Indee: Everyone knows about kamelåså. That’s one of our running jokes in the band. Me and – because Julio, the other guitarist, is from Spain, so when they’re talking, we’re like, “It’s not a real language. They’re not speaking a real language. They’re just making sounds up, trust me.” And it always ends with… “kamelåså”.
Thomas: Yeah. (laughs)
Radu: I think that’s accurate. Alright, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Indee: Well, we’re happy to be here. Amazing to be here for the first time. We’re really looking forward to the show. We’re looking forward to meeting new fans and share the music, share the vibe, share the energy, and we can’t wait to get onstage. Also we really want to get The Lighthouse Sessions into people’s hands and see what they think of it. The reception so far, all the personal messages we’re getting, they’re really lovely, they’re heartwarming. Because this record that we’re promoting, The Lighthouse Sessions, isn’t a heavy record. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s very soft, it’s heartfelt, and it uses instrumentation that hasn’t been used before in Saturnus in a grander scale, so it’s quite… it’s definitely a record that’s got a slightly more, I don’t know, sentimental side to it, I guess. Good way of putting it?
Thomas: Yeah. As I always say, it’s important for people here in Serbia to support their own metal scene. That’s much more important than supporting the international scene, because if there is no scene in the country, it makes it difficult to get international acts there. Because if there is no bands and no fans, there is no one to play for, for the international acts. So for me, it’s… we have a thing going on, not so much anymore, but in Denmark, people were kind of, “Oh, it’s a Danish shitty band. We don’t want to go and see that.” The scene has changed a lot in Denmark, but it has been like that the last 25 years, and I’ve always said but without those Danish bands there would be no scene, so it’s always so important to support your local scene.
Indee: Support your local scene. That’s it.
Mika: Yeah. Well, we’re glad to be back in Serbia – rather, it will be the first time in Serbia, so we just want to enjoy the concert and show some music for the people.
Radu: Right. And I hope that the band that is doing its sound right now does not interfere too much with the recording. [Ed: It’s okay. A little distracting sometimes, but largely muffled in the background.]
Indee: Well, let’s see. It’s us. That’s us sound-checking! (laughs)
Radu: Oh, that’s your sound check? [Ed: But then who’s driving the bus?]
Indee: Yeah, it’s us. That’s Henrik.
Radu: So you’re both onstage and here right now?
Indee: Yeah. We’re everywhere.
Radu: You’re like that character from Lost Highway.
Indee: Yeah. We’re omnipresent.
Radu: Fair enough. I’ll cut it here.
||Posted on 16.11.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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