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Rockstar story: Thomas Vikström (Therion, Mehida)

Rockstar story: Thomas Vikström (Therion, Mehida)
BANDS : Brazen Abbot, Candlemass, Mehida, Therion

Metalfan: First things first... how would you introduce yourself, except for what is already well-known to the crowds? Do you have a middle name, a nickname... secrets?
Thomas: Yes! I have actually three middle names. Sven, Erik, Herman. When I was a kid I hated them. But now I have accepted them. My mother still uses all kinds of nicknames on me. And my girlfriend too! Those nicknames are so far away from heavy metal as possible!! Not good for my image...Hahahahahahahahah....But one of them is Thomito! I am a very social guy willing to make friends with everyone! I hate conflicts (even if they are necessary sometimes). I am also a bit lazy! I love to enjoy life!!

Metalfan: What are you into or what are you up to these days?
Thomas: These days are very hectic for me. I just came home from a gig. A private gig for a company called "Frödinge". They make pastries and sauces and things like that. So now my refrigerator is full!! Tomorrow I will take the train to Vadstena to make backing vocals on an album with a Swedish band called Wahlströms. Then home same day. And the week after I will go down to Borås to record some songs for the second album of a band named "7days". In June I will go down to Italy for a recording with " Demon Angels". Fly back from Italy to Finland for a festival gig with "Mehida". A Finish band that I am in. I July I will go to Argentina for vacations. But I have a gig there too...And in september we start slowly to wake Therion to life again!! And THAT is going to be great! We have a new line up now that I am not allowed to talk about yet. But it's going to be great I think! In between all this I have private shows, like weddings, funerals, company kick offs and parties. And also a lot of studio work backing up vocals for a bunch of bands in different styles. I am also vocal coaching three people. WOW!! Its good for me to answer this. Now I realize I have a lot to do. But still I wonder were all the money is.....

Metalfan: I know you have put up a personal website which seems to keep you rather busy and so much in touch with your fans. How do you manage to put up with everything? Do you get any sleep; do you manage to do anything else?
Thomas: Yes, well, the website does not take so much time for me. I uploading new photos sometimes and write news or blog or what you might call it. And I erase a lot of pornspam....Hahahahah.. But the idea for the website that makes it special from other websites is that I answer personally to EVERY message in the guestbook. On this level I can do that! I think that the fans appreciate that. I would!! Sleep?? No...I get far to little!! I have very lustful fantasies about sleeping for 12 hours or more. I can't remember when I did that last. I will try to be able to go out fishing this summer in the Stockholm archipelago that is in my opinion paradise on earth summertime. And also soon it's time for ice hockey world championships. I will watch every game!! I am a huge Ice hockey nerd!!! I also have three kids (well two of them are grown ups almost) to take care of, and a lovely girlfriend on the other side of the Atlantic and Swedish time is 5 hours ahead of Argentinean time so...You can imagine. Thanks god for Internet!!

Metalfan: Yeah… you also seem to be a person that remember dates, festivities, you even send greetings on Valentine’s day… Do you believe in it or it’s just being polite?
Thomas: Both! I am actually very bad with remembering dates and meetings. But I have shaped up very much and write everything up now. And being polite...Yeah why not?? It does not cost too much!! If an old lady comes in to the bus I will offer her my seat! I am raised that way you know. But I still have problems showing up on exact time for a meeting. That annoys some people I know that. And I am running out of excuses...hahahahah. I call myself a time optimist!

 

 

Metalfan: Speaking about time, in 1992 you became the new (and glorious) voice behind a very acclaimed, and at the same time controversial, Candlemass album. How did that happen more precisely? I know Leif noticed you for your perfect Painkiller cover in a club, but maybe you can add some details and spices to this mere fact.
Thomas: Sure. I was playing in a club with a coverband that we called "The horny strings". It was me, Marcel Jacob from Talisman and Yngwie's band. Jake Samuel from The Poodles and Tommy Denander a great session guitar player. We played heavy metal classics and ended the show with Painkiller. The day after Leif called me and told me about Candlemass looking for a new singer. And invited me down to the studio to try a song. That song was Ebony throne and that take is the version that ended up on the record. Simple as that. And all of a sudden I was just in the band. Personally I really like the album Chapter VI. Some fans loved it and other fans hated it. It was a big step away from their doom style so I can understand the fans that did not like it so much!! But I really enjoyed my time in Candlemass. We were actually nominated for a grammy with Chapter VI and we won another  award for best heavy metal act. It was called The Zeppelin price! I will soon do backing vocals together with Mats Leven for the new Candlemass album!

Metalfan: How was the studio and touring experience with Candlemass, did you really feel like a member of the band or more like filling-in for Messiah?
Thomas: It was great! We had so much fun! I love the guys!  Mats "Mappe"Björkman is one of my best friends in private life! When I was in Candlemass I was very aware of how important Messiah was for the band. I mean say the word Candlemass and the first picture that will come to your mind is Messiah. It's almost like replacing Alice Cooper on an Alice Cooper album or show. I also told that to the guys.

Metalfan: Do you still remember any of the Candlemass songs? Still singing them occasionally? Well, except for Where the Runes Still Speak…
Thomas: Oh yes!! But only those that I sang with them. And yes It happens sometimes. I do guest apperances sometimes with other bands and a song I sing a lot is "The dying Illusion". If I would do a solo show I would definitely do two or three Candlemass songs.

Metalfan: What is the best and worse memory of those times?
Thomas: The worst memory is actually the same as the best memory. We were about to play the biggest festival in Sweden at that time. Hultsfred. And I woke up and could not speak. My throat was totally destroyed. And I was very sad because I knew it would probably going to be the worst gig of all time. When it was time to enter the stage I felt almost like walking my last step towards the guillotine. But like a miracle my voice came back and we did our best gig ever with Candlemass. It was even considered as best metal show of the year in the biggest newspaper in Sweden.

Metalfan: How was to be a rock-star in 1992 and how does it feels now?
Thomas: It's great now and it was great then. Some artists always say in interviews thaThomas: " Oh...It's so hard to be famous and bla bla".... I think that’s generally bullshit talk. They say it because it sounds humble and serious. If you don’t like it give the opportunity to somebody else!! It feels great!!! But you always have to be aware that tomorrow it can be over. And see it for what it is. I truly enjoy every minute of it. I think also that should be a guideline for life: Enjoy life as much as you can.

Metalfan: Well, set apart the ‘90s and the present times, I know you have a weakness for the ’80s can you point what is - more specifically - that vibrates in you when you get into that? Can it be some kind of preference for a specific generation of Swedes?
Thomas: Good question...I don’t have a good answer. I think a lot of good music came out during the 80s. And I also think that the music was positive back then. Every band came out on stage and did a show. Not only concert. A SHOW. And the market was exploding and there were bands everywhere that wanted to be rockstars. And there was also a place for them. We all had crazy outfits back then. When looking back on it, it looks crazy!! I had pink spandex pants, Indian boots, a t-shirt with holes and leather jacket onstage. It looked horrible but that was the fashion back then. And I prefer going up onstage like that rather then going up onstage looking like I just woke up or something like that. Mats Levèn’s first band "Swedish Erotica" had a song on their first album called "Welcome to rock n roll city". That song is so significant for the eighties. Its about a guy that dies and comes to heaven and meets god who says: (I quote)"Welcome to rock 'n ' roll city. Everybody here is a star. Welcome to rock n roll city. Everybody drives a flashy car. In the rock n roll city!!!" I know it sounds silly and I laugh at it too, but hands on your heart. Would not that be a perfect paradise?? Of course there is also a sentimental aspect of it. I only remember the good things. There was of course a lot of crap in the eighties. But I prefer remembering the good and the fun part.

Metalfan: So, who is – if any – your inspiration in music?
Thomas: A lot! The band that changed my life was KISS. They were my idols even before I heard them.
I also love Queen, Judas Priest, ABBA, TOTO, Dio, Alice Cooper… My father was also a great inspiration for me. He was an opera singer and he totally respected my choice of music. And I think that made me respect him and his music as much as I do today. I love Opera and Musicals today!! He did not consider himself like this serious Opera singer. He said: I am just an entertainer. Just like Rolling Stones but with a suit and tie... Those words became very important for me. It sort of torn down this grey and boring wall of Opera and I could enter and realize: Wow!!! This is so cool!!!!

Metalfan: Speaking of music and inspiration, When we shortly met at Wacken you seemed very interested in checking out Dimmu Borgir... if the memories are still alive, how did you like them?
Thomas: I thought they were great!!! It might not be my favourite music, but they have something that appeals to me. They go out onstage and give 100% and a great stage show!!! And a cool image!

 

 

Metalfan: And speaking of Wacken, how much time did you have to train and learn the new songs? And how did you feel to have your debut with Therion at Wacken, which is supposed to be the most important metal / rock festival?
Thomas: I had not so much time at all. The songs from Secret of the runes I recieved only a week before the gig... I was so thrilled when I went out onstage at Wacken and scared to death! It's like going out and fight Mike Tyson. It's not really the place you normally do a debut show at. But as soon as I got up there I loved it!! I think I did a lousy gig at Wacken now when I look back on it. But, I did the best I could. I had also a big problems with my in ear system and with the clicktrack which is very important on a Therion gig. But the best thing was to meet the fans after the show that told me like . Welcome to the family, good show Thomas and so on!! Because the fans to me is the most important thing! If they like it, I have done my job! (it's of course impossible to satisfy everybody but generally)

 

 

Metalfan: How would you describe your work with Therion compared with the your other collaborations.
Thomas: I have never enjoyed to be a part of a band as much as Therion!! That’s true! I like the music very much and the whole concept and the guys in the band! It's not just another job!

Metalfan: Speaking of touring with Therion, you were wearing a very much Dracula-like cape, what’s the story behind that? Would you like to play Dracula or any other big character of the kind?
Thomas: It was not my idea. It came from Tove. The girl that makes the Therion stage clothes. It's the same cape that is used in the video to "Son of the staves of times". As you might know I 've done some musical theatre like "Miss Saigon" "The full monty" and so on. My dream is to one day do Phantom in "The phantom of the opera". It's funny because a lot of people connect me with Dracula!! Hahahahah!! In USA a girl came up to me and said straight ouThomas: " Are you a god, a troll or a vampire??" I thought first she was on drugs....How do you answer that question.. I answered troll....Hahahahah. and in Holland I did a photo shoot for a book. They are taking photos of musicians and sport stars and put them in another persona or character. They called me and said: "We would like to take photos of you in the charachter of Phantom o the Opera and a Pimp/Vampire". And then I understood that maybe my stage persona reminds people a little bit about vampire, Dracula...Even without the cape. But just between you and me… I don’t drink blood!! Hahhahahh...

 

 


Metalfan: Indeed, you are more than just a singer; you are a total performer, so I bet you feel better on stage than in a studio. How would you describe the difference?
Thomas: I like it in studio too. But I prefer being on stage. In studio you don’t have that adrenaline rush that I like so much! Studio is more like painting a picture. Going out on stage is like opening the gallery for people with champagne and everything! To be onstage is for me like going to a great party!!! And that’s the feeling I want the audience to have too!

Metalfan: And what do you prefer – festivals or club shows?
Thomas: Both!

Metalfan: While touring with Therion you traveled to South America. I learned that the warm climate of Latin America - and maybe some other hot aspects of the region - is really appealing to you. What about the music, do you see yourself performing something of the sort?
Thomas: There is only one boring thing with touring with Therion. That is the hours of hours of hours spending in airports. Checking in checking out! Every show is a challenge! But a positive challenge! About South America. I love it!!! I really fell in love with the whole continent!! The warm climate of course but especially with the warmth of the people!! I also met my girlfriend in South America. In Argentina. Her name is Ludmila and she is in my eyes the hottest spot in the whole South America. If it wasn't for my work and for my kids I would move down there TODAY! But apart from having my woman down there, I love their culture and their way to look at life. You see people smiling everywhere and that is very contagious!! I really enjoy their music!! Even thou I dont see myself as a Salsa or Samba performer...Hahahhaahah!!! But there is also some great heavy metal/hard rock bands around that never has the chance to break it on the big market unfortunately. I will go down to Buenos Aires in July again. I can’t wait!!!

 

 

Metalfan: Is there any kind of music you truly dislike?
Thomas: There are of course exceptions, but generally I dislike Grunge, progressive modern jazz, and most Rap music. That’s it!!

Metalfan: What would be a good album for you?
Thomas: The ultimate album is where every song gives you chicken skin!! I think that a good album shall give you emotions, pictures, even though you might not understand the lyrics!!

Metalfan: Are you writing lyrics too?
Thomas: Yes I do!!! Some very good and some very bad!!! But I think it's more fun to do music!

Metalfan: The lyrics of many Swedish and Norwegian bands are tainted by mythology, occultism and similar imagery. Is that related in any way to specific cultural values?
Thomas: Yes I think so, and I think it's very cool! I never write about that because I dont have so much knowledge about it. But I like it very much. Our culture is a little mystique....

Metalfan: What do you appreciate and what do you hate about Swedish musical milieux?
Thomas: I think it's fantastic what Sweden has produced in the music scene since Sweden is a very very small country.
Metalfan: when it comes to the number of inhabitants at least…
Thomas: Yeah … How abouThomas: ABBA, Europe, Therion, In flames, The Hives, Roxette, etc etc.. Another good thing is that if you are interested as a kid to start to play or sing the education is almost for free. I cant come up with anything I hate.....Maybe the Swedish jealousy: "Don’t think that you are something special" mentality. That mentality makes it very hard to be respected in your own country. Here it's considered cool to minimize yourself, and I like to Maximize myself!!

Metalfan: Is there anything you cannot do with your voice?
Thomas: Growl!!!! But I will try to learn!!!

Metalfan: Now, before ending, I would like to thank you Thomas for taking the time, considering how ulta-busy you seem to be these days, and thank you for the very informative answers. One last thing, one does Romania mean to you – if anything – and a word for your fans there…
Thomas: To all you Romanian fans. I have not yet had the opportunity to visit your country. But I look very much forward to it! The other guys have told me that its great! My first love came from Romania. Nadia Comaneci. I was seven or eight and saw her on television and just...WOW!!!!!!!! and my father said: Thomas I did not know you were so interested in gymnastics. hehehee.....I also of course remember the Ceasescu couple. And when I was a kid I collected hockey stickers, and I collected the whole national team of Romania 1978. And of course Mr. Dracula... a faraway relative to me... See you on tour!! I wanna hug you all!!!

Autor: G.A.S.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Brazen Abbot, Candlemass, Mehida, Therion

   June 10, 2008  | 107 Comments  | 17796 Views « BACK

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