interviuri rock

TIAMAT: When I write about love, it's personal and when I write about hate, it's also personal - Johan Edlund

TIAMAT: When I write about love, it's personal and when I  write about hate, it's also personal - Johan Edlund
BANDS : Tiamat

The only thing I should say in this introduction is that without the precious help of Bogdan and Tier, you probably wouldn't have read my discussion with Johan Edlund as you can find it below. If it wasn't for them, you would have probably read it as I had remembered it. A digital recorder, a phone, a lot of expectations and nervousness which made me unable to switch the phone to the speaker mode, computers left by my colleagues with their speakers at almost the maximum volume, messenger contacts who had to buzz 4 or 5 times before realizing they will not get an answer soon, a mobile phone left on the desk which started to ring.... not to mention again the whole nervousness and illness that I get before every telephonic interview. Anyway, I think you have already got a glimpse of what I had to endure almost half an hour and what exactly my recorder actually recorded. So if it wasn't for Bogdan and Tier to apply all kinds of effects and corrections to the whole recording and then to each individual answer... everything would have been lost.

Leaving all this behind, Mr. Edlund was a very nice interlocutor, with almost a whispering voice sometimes, like he was making a confession, and he answered with great patience to all of my many questions. But enough talking! I'll leave you now in the company of Johan Edlund.

 


Tiamat

 

Your first two albums are labeled either as death metal or black metal. Which of these do you consider to be most appropriate with those records?

Well, you see, it was always too difficult to label what we do, therefore I gave up long time ago. I think we have always been interested in different styles, the truth could be somewhere in between, you know? We try to do our own thing and in the end depends on others how they would call us.

But do you still consider Tiamat a metal band nowadays?

We’ve always pretty much belonged to the metal scene. We are doing something that is quite different from the other bands in the last days and in our daily lives, a powerful metal band, so somehow we are in that scene. I think in the last ten years or so the metal scene has been broaden a lot, I mean there’s so many more things that you can do now.  I guess there are bands like Opeth, or Anathema maybe, they both belong to the metal scene somehow, so I guess you can still go on and describe us as metal.

One thing that has been with the band from the beginning is the fascination for the Middle East. The band is named after a Babylon Goddess, you have song names like “Sumerian Cry”, “The Whores Of Babylon” and there are a lot of musical themes inspired from the Middle East on all of your albums. How did this interest for the Middle East start and how is it that you haven't lost it after so many years?

I think the reason for this is because this is an area where many things started. Mankind has had it's origins in this area and religion started there, and everything that we have today and what we believe in, even the problems we have, started there many thousand years ago and they all developed, but it’s pretty much the same situation and the same things that people in the world fight about.

Love is one of the main sources of inspiration for Tiamat. “The Sleeping Beauty” for example is a love song, even though the music is pretty heavy. And then you have “Vote for love”, which is another kind of love song. Tell me about the message of these songs and how do you vote for love yourself, for example?

I always try to be very honest to myself when I write songs and I think it’s a natural thing that you write… I mean I don’t try to write fiction, I write about personal feelings, what I feel for the moment and love is part of everybody’s life so it’s just natural. I don’t try to take it away because it’s not metal enough or whatever... I write what I want. I don’t give a shit about pleasing the metalfans. When I write about love, it's personal and when I  write about hate, it's also personal.

On Judas Christ you are singing “Love is as good as soma”. Are we to understand that you have tried both of them?

Both love and soma? I don’t know what to say… over the years I did try a lot of things. Of course, it’s a thing that you do if you are a metal musician. You go around the world, playing shows, so it’s all about trying out new things.

And what do you think about people who use drugs to get inspired, to get more creative?

I don’t judge anybody, really. I mean… I know that we all are in different stages of our lives. I do not judge someone doing something that I might have done some years ago, just because I don't do it right now. We have different stages in life and they might all be important for where they’re gonna lead you. I can only say that right now I don’t feel that I need drugs to be more creative. I personally think it would be sad if I would need to take drugs to write songs. On the other hand, I have very often had a glass of wine or something before I take the vocal tape recorder to record something new. So, you know, it’s up to everybody how to write a song.

 


Johan Edlund

 

Wildhoney is one of your most famous albums, an atypical release in the metal scene of its time. Where did the need to use those psychedelic elements come from? Was Pink Floyd one of your sources of inspiration when you wrote the music for Wildhoney?

Yes, Pink Floyd was a source of inspiration for sure, but it was also that freedom of that, you know? The freedom to realize that we can do whatever we want. I think that the previous albums that we have done, there we tried to please, we thought that since we are a metal band we had to... there are certain rules, you know... All of a sudden we realized that the reason we started to play this kind of music was because we thought that there will be no rules. Since we believed there were no rules, we could do whatever we want and we were ok with it. Then we realized that this is where the metal scene is quite limited. But after a while we just had it our way and tried to do what we feel. I think Wildhoney opened our eyes a little bit...

One of Tiamat's major hits was the song “In a dream” from the Clouds album. A lot of other Tiamat songs involve the idea of sleeping and dreaming and you also have an album named A Deeper Kind Of Slumber. Do you really think that by sleeping we can open the gates to another reality?

I don’t know. I think it’s interesting to… I mean I’ve been influenced by dreams for a long time. Maybe more for the musical ones, but I still wonder why I get the dreams I'm dreaming, because I feel like they are a part of me and sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. So it kind of scares me sometimes, like when you have a dream and somehow fears pop-up in dreams that you don’t know you’re afraid of when you're awake. You know, you're only afraid of a dream if it turns out to be a nightmare, although you're talking and talking like you're afraid of it. I think you can learn a lot from it. There's a good way to get to know yourself better. Of course you do something with it, you just don't keep it in your head. You write it down, write it on paper. The thing is, I think, that you get a little bit closer to comprehend what's it about, although you might be far away from getting it to happen.

 


Johan Edlund

 

Your lyrics have an extra-planetary perception: you often refer to other planets, the sun, the stars. What do you think is out there in space?

I don’t know, but with every lyrics… I write them almost unconsciously. Usually I read them afterwards and I’m quite shocked about them. I’m not shocked because they are offending or anything, but I didn’t know that that was inside me. I didn’t really plan to write it, so when I read my lyrics I think like... at least I would... or just... I don’t really know where it comes from. But I would guess that I'm actually longing to be somewhere else, I think I’m quite misanthropic. Someone asked me sometime ago if I had a button to press and all of a sudden everybody else will die and I will be alone on Earth, if I would press the button. I said “yes, immediately”, I wouldn’t think twice. I don't know why, I can't answer why, but to me it's something like utopia. I hate big crowds... I mean I'm not talking about the concerts because I'm very used to that situation so it's something were I feel a little bit more comfortable. But to go out in town or to go shopping in big cities for example... I cannot stand the panic...

Then you'll be horrified in Bucharest.

I don't think we'll have so much time, but I've been living in big cities for many many years now, I've also traveled a lot so I'm very used to the rush and the crowded places, although I don’t like them at all.

Your lyrics (yes, there are a lot of questions about lyrics in this interview) often deal with religious matters, your website is a church and you named your band after an ancient goddess. Do you consider yourself a religious person and in what way?

Yeah.... I think I'm trying to find out where I stand myself. I never made things easy for myself, I mean I think so many people have made it very easy by just saying that I follow this religion and saying this is how it is and I follow this and this rules, I paint my eggs for Easter and I celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas or whatever. I think, really, a lot of people would like to do this, so it might never solve their problems... I’ve never done this, not with the band, not with love and not with religion either. You know, I'd like to find out exactly where I stand and it might be somewhere completely in between the religions that exist. I don't believe there is a God.  I can’t really say there is a God...

After all these years and so many albums, which are your most favorite Tiamat releases?

I think there are good parts on each album. I don't think we have made an ultimate album yet.

But can we expect you to make one?

You can certainly expect us to try (laughs) I think we can succeed one day but if I was to compile a compilation with the best Tiamat songs, there would be songs from many different albums.

Which ones? Can you give me some examples?

I think that for example To Have And Have Not from Skeleton Skeletron will be there, probably The Sleeping Beauty and A Caress Of Stars from Clouds, for sure something from Wildhoney and a couple of songs from our new albums. Divided from Prey for example, maybe Cain. So it could be... I mean I think when you record, you record everything, 'cause if this song is really really good and then there's something else on the album which is not so great but it goes with the picture... And then you try a bit harder next time, I guess.

Tiamat history is full of changes. Over the years you have changed and tried a lot of musicians. Why so many of them? Maybe the rumor that Edlund is a tyrant can be true after all?

I think that's a little bit exaggerated. If you could see the last five years or more... almost ten years in fact, we have had... not a stable line up, but at least me, Lars and Anders have been together since the recording of A Deeper Kind Of Slumber, which is almost ten years ago. They have been in the band all these years. Anders got out not because we forced him to leave but because he decided to take a break from the band because he got married or he got kids, stuff like that. There wasn't an occasion that we had to kick somebody out of the band. That was really long ago.

Yes, but people and media especially still like to talk about that and make assumptions on the subject.

I think that Anders was doing our first tour we ever did and then he decided that he couldn't be in the band. I mean, what can I do about it? I mean, it has been a few times that I actually said “I don't wanna go on singing with you”, but after all these years, compared to any band that has been around for such a long time.. I mean there are a few bands that have stayed the same 4 or 5 guys for 20 years...

 


Tiamat

 

What do you mostly want to achieve with Tiamat?

You know, I think that we may try to tour from time to time, to do something... I mean I get satisfaction from doing records because I like the creative process. The result of what you do, I mean if you head towards a result or something like that, that is a kick... I mean when you record an album, it is quite a... it takes long time. You start to write songs and you negociate with record companies, there are many people involved and… if the record is a hit, it's a kick...  I mean some years ago I was unfortunately using a lot of drugs, so I know what a kick feels like, I get the same kick times one hundred when we release an album which would probably not be what others expect or something. You have all these emotions and the pressure... Maybe that's the thing, you know? You have all these songs, but you have so many things in your head and when it's finally released you can see who likes it. You're doing right afterwards, you know...

How do you see yourself as a person in, let's say, ten years from now? And how do you see Tiamat in ten years?

I don't have any reasons to stop this because... I mean, if we were ... if the driving force behind the band would be to have success or whatever, we would've already splitted up… so I'm sure, because of the reasons of why we do this, I'm quite sure that we will continue...

I know you are working on some new tracks. Can you disclose some details about them and about your next album?

Yeah, we are right now trying to finish up three songs... and that would be enough for getting a new record deal, because we departed from Century Media and..... they are quite brutal actually. The first song I sent to Lars, our drummer, he got back to me and said he found it very aggressive. I don't know, but it's for sure a little bit... the question you asked earlier if I consider us to be a metal band, I think if you had listened to these three songs, you wouldn't have asked it...

So will you play some of them in Romania or you're not ready to sing them live?

No, the fact is, you know, we live far away from each other so we cannot rehearse and we can't experiment that much because... yeah, we don't rehearse and we have to stick to what we know... we don't have time to rehearse new songs. But we'll play the set that we also played in Ukraine, maybe with a changed running order of songs and also a couple of old songs.

What are your expectations regarding the concert you will play here in September?

I don't know anything about our situation in Romania I don't know what to expect at all... I have no clue. I mean we have done this many times before to go to countries where we have never played before, we have never been to before and hopefully we're gonna be surprised of how things will go.

And what do you know about Romania except the vampire stuff and the garlic that you asked people to bring you?

I don't know, I can't say that I know much about Romania. I have just recently learned a little bit more about geography because now that I live in Greece I started to look upon the map and I realized that I have never been to Bulgaria before and tried to go to Bulgaria with my girlfriend for a weekend because it's so close by and I've never been there. You could even go to Bucharest by train, it takes quite long, but... you know what? I get more interested because I live a bit closer now than when I lived in Sweden. Then it all seemed so far away and I was never good at geography then (laughs).  I traveled around the world quite a lot, but I never looked at the map...

You don't have to be ashamed, it's good that you do it now.

Yeah... but now recently, the last tour we have been a little bit more in this area. We just got back from Ukraine and I guess I was flying over Romania. And also last year we played a show in Russia, in Krasnodar which is also close to the Black Sea and you know, some years ago the Black Sea was something I had only learned about in school.

Vezi galeriile trupelor: Tiamat

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