There will always be bands that are one album miracles and those who keep on going no matter what. Therion are a band
that has been in the metal scene since they started going by the name Blitzkrieg in 1987. I've had the pleasure seing them
live since 1991 in Finland's famous, now unfortunately gone Lepakko, and numerous times abroad with different line-ups and
even with a small orchestra in Wacken. This time around they were playing in Nosturi, Helsinki, having a famous singer Mats
Levén (At Vance, Yngwie, Treat,etc) boosting the show way up with his adrenaline and the female soprano Karin Fjellander
decorating the other side of the stage and the four piece choir (two males and females) on the back. I had a chance to join
Christofer Johnsson, the leader, founding member and guitarist of the band, in the small backstage for a talk before the show,
while he was changing his guitar strings and Levén was resting and warming up his vocalchords with headphones in his head on
the couch next to us, while other members were moving restlessly around.
RockUnited - How are you doing tonight?
Christofer - Pretty good, it's been stressing though. We're looking forward to playing a lot. It's gonna be fun, the last
time we played in Finland was in 1998. On that tour we did I think 48 shows in Europe and Helsinki was one of the five best,
so we have very good memories from Helsinki. This is the fourth time we play here. But we're kind of a different band now
from those early days. We're very excited, but it's a stressy day as I said, because we don't have the crew with us. We're
making the same set as we did in Latin America. When we did the central European tour there were three bands on the bill, so
we did a shorter set. But now if the audience is as good as I remember we're going to play about two hours or more. We're
looking forward to playing some old songs we haven't played in many years and some songs we never played, like "In
Remembrance". There's so many bands that have made so many albums and we've done twelve studio albums, and those bands
always play the classics. If you see (Iron) Maiden, you always know what to expect from them and then they'll do a couple of
new songs. They're predictable and I don't like that. We have a few songs that will always be there for sure, but there's
also a lot of slots in the set which we rotate. We always play something unexpected or something we didn't play in many
years. So if you see Therion two years in a row, you'd see two different concerts. Otherwise it's hard to motivate if you've
seen the band many times, why see them again. If you see Iron Maiden, who are one of my favourite bands, maybe you can see
them the fifth time if you're a fanatic, but it's not gonna be like "oh, it's gonna be so much different", it's gonna be
the same people with the same songs. I think it's important to do that, many bands become cover bands of themselves. Especially
a band like Saxon who don't do that good albums anymore. They might have a few good songs on their new record, even if that.
When it comes to new songs it's important that people are interested in them. Like take a band like Saxon, they almost
apologize when they play new songs. If people weren't interested in the new songs I'm writing, then it wouldn't be interesting
for me to continue. So I'm happy to say we've never had as great reaction to the new songs as we've had on this tour. We
even had critics like why we didn't play more new songs. So that's very aspiring actually.
RockUnited - In Wacken you had an orchestra with you. How do you feel about having such a show ?
Christofer - Back then we worked with a very small orchestra. It wasn't really a big deal, it was only a few string
players. Since then we've made records with brass and other sections and even bigger string sections. So if we'd play with
an orchestra today, it would be about 70 people minimum. On the last album we had 160 people contributing, so it's a different
band again from the early days.
RockUnited - -Where did you get the spark for using orchestras, since you were originally a death metal band ?
Christofer - Well, for start, one of the biggest influences we had was the death metal band Celtic Frost and they never
used orchestra, but they experimented with classic influences. They had a soprano, a solo violin, they even had a french horn.
I always really liked the orchestral parts and then I was also really into the seventies progressive rock and symphonic rock
bands and they all used orcestra. So I kinda got into it because of the seventies bands and also I grew up with stuff like
Cat Stevens from the sixties, they used orchestra and Abba, who also used it, at least some strings. Also Baccara, Boney M,
everything that I heard on the radio, everybody used orchestra. So for me it was never strange to use those. But to do it
the way we do it is something I think nobody did before. We're the first band ever to replace the concept of having a singer
in the band. I mean if you say who's the singer in Iron Maiden, that's Bruce Dickinson. But who's the singer of Therion ?
Quiet. I'm the ex-singer of Therion, but nobody is the singer of Therion. It's different people on different records and
tours. So it's more like a musical constallation, rather than a typical band concept and I think that's where we
contributed more than someone else. We dared to break the standard band concept and be a free art form. Like if I write
songs and I need this and that, I get that. If I write a heavy metal song where I need a heavy metal singer, it's not that
I need a heavy metal singer, but what kind of a heavy metal singer. Who should do this specific song. Something you cannot
do if you're a regular band and you have THE singer in the band. We don't have these limitations, which makes it very
RockUnited - You actually started as a bass player. How did you take up on guitar ?
Christofer - I started playing bass, because it was a lot easier than guitar in the beginning. And after one year I
realized I probably should play guitar, because for one it's more fun and writing songs the way I wrote them back then
was definately more suitable for guitar. And I always wanted to do something new, like a new challenge all the time, so
I wanted to do something more complicated. And that has been on every Therion album, we've always added something new
there I was not familiar with before. Like on the last record we for instance used church organs, then I had to go to
churches and study a little bit to see how the organ works and how it sounds. It's not like when you have a keyboard
with church organ sounds. You have pedals and tons of buttons. It might sound complitely different to what you had on your
mind. So I went to three different churches to have three different type of organs and hear them in different ways, so I'd
know how to record them when I went back to Denmark. So it's always something new like this, new instruments that I didn't
know before, practising how they work for every record. Like this time we also have balalaikas and mandolins. We had a real
harpsichord. It's very interesting to always learn something new.
RockUnited - How's the tour gone so far, you've kept yourself quite busy since August already and travelled almost round
the world ?
Christofer - I have to say it's the most succesful tour we've done so far. France was especially surprising, it's usually
more a problem country. Nobody's doing well in France. I think this is the first band ever that did well in France. Germany
is THE metal country, but we did better in France. We did seven shows and when we booked the tour I was like we're gonna
play in front of 200 people and it was sold out in most of the places. And I didn't understand anything, I was like "it's
France ?!". And Paris for instance, we had thousand fans there. The official capacity is 800. In Strasbourg we had 730.
And fucking Limoges in the middle of nowhere, you don't even know where it's on the map, 650. It's like insane. I would've
guessed 50 people. So that was a big surprise. It's very interesting, 'cos it makes the tours look more interesting from
now on. From the perspective on planning a tour it will open a lot of doors, 'cos in the past we always had problems, we
didn't do well in the south of France, but we did well in Spain and Portugal. So we never really got there on regular tours,
'cos it's too far to do the drive. Now suddenly we'll go there and do tons of shows on the next tour. The two shows in Spain
were very succesful too.
RockUnited - So do you sell a lot of records in France ?
Christofer - Nobody really sells a lot of records, but compared to what other bands do here..but it depends on what you
compare with. On the last tour we did one show in France, on the tour before that one it was two shows. But we did a lot of
stuff we didn't do before, like England as a headline act and we played with Moonspell in '98 in London, which was sold out.
We did Slovenia, a lot of new interesting countries. So I have to say I'm more than happy. The only thing that didn't go
as I expected was Germany. Not bad, but like always.
RockUnited - Having seen Therion live three times the improvement through the years shows and also the change of style
along the way, but even in '91 you were already a good, firm live band. What still keeps you on the road ?
Christofer - It's still fun and actually I have to be totally honest and say I've never had this much fun, ever. I have
more fun on stage now than when I started to play. And that's what keeps us going. It never became a job. It's not like
ohh, another album and another tour. It's always a new challenge and always new things happening and probably the answer
lies in the constant change, since we didn't have the same line-up all the time, we didn't play with one style. If you
would've continued as a death metal band making twelve albums, I think we would've been dead and gone long time ago. Actually
it's important not to get trapped in what we're doing now, that there will be development from what we're doing now as well.
Otherwise it'll be like any other band, sooner or later everything starts sounding the same and people stop talking about
what you did ten years ago. That's never gonna happen, we will stop before that or we will sound different. You should
allow yourself to write freely and not have any boundaries. If you write a good song, record it. And if you like your
recording, release it. And how it sounds doesn't matter, there will always be people saying that and that record is the best.
People have different favourites. But it's a fact that we always have a lot of interest when making a new record and we
never had better reaction to the new songs than on this tour. "Theli" had the same thing though, since we had the breakthrough
with that. I don't know any bands that did twelve studio albums that are still keeping themselves fresh, maybe Rush. Otherwise
take Maiden, I buy everything they release and I like the new records, they're good, but not even with the best will in the
world I can say that the new records are comparable to the ones like "Peace Of Mind".
RockUnited - Do you like Blaze ?
Christofer - No, I don't like him. He can't sing, that's his problem. It's a pretty serious problem for a singer. Actually
I was amazed by his solo stuff. That sounded much better, not good but much better.
RockUnited - So you like Iron Maiden, but did you hear the sad news today about Dimebag Darrel being shot dead on stage
while playing with Damageplan ?
Christofer - Yes I heard it. I was never a Pantera fan, so musically it doesn't bother me, but it's always very sad of
course when someone gets shot. He's a musician that meant a lot to many, so obviously it's extra sad since he meant so much
to many people. But personally I was never into this tuned down, rhythmic kinda riffing, it was never really my thing. I'm
more into the seventies stuff like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and eighties heavy metal of course, Maiden, Judas
Priest, Accept. There's a few good bands from the nineties.
RockUnited- Have you ever been scared to go on stage thinking some nutcase might shoot you there ?
Christofer - It could happen to anybody, you could get killed while driving your car. But I think there's very few
people that own a gun for a start in Europe. And this was in USA, where there's all kinds of nutcases. I think very few
people even if they disliked a musician would be prepered to spend the rest of their lives in jail or get shot like this
guy (by the police eventually). There's always musicians and people who are more exposed (to public) than other people.
But you never know, you might get robbed on your way home or whatever. So I think I have no bigger reason to be scared
than anybody else. And on the other hand how many musicians have been killed compared to like...when was the last time
you remember a musician being killed ? John Lennon ? So it's not often these things happen. I'll probably be out of the
business before the next time. Also Therion is a band that is very angry to be at, because we're not one of these image
bands. Like some people think Manowar are jerks and Hammerfall aren't real heavy metal or whatever. Or bands that have
an attitude like Pantera. We're just boring people that make interesting music.
Coincidentally, John Lennon was also shot on the same day as Darrel, 8th of December, only 24 years earlier. Also as we
all still have fresh in our minds is the attack against Hammerfall singer Joacim Cans, where his eye corner got stiched. But
since Christofer mentioned Therion being a bunch of boring people making interesting music, what could be the most extreme
thing he'd go for musically ?
Christofer - No idea. I have no idea what I'd do next anyway. If someone would've asked me, say 1998, if I would concider
making a nordic concept album with some swedish lyrics, I would've said no, never. Sing in swedish, are you kidding ? And
then in 2001 we make a concept album with swedish lyrics, with swedish folk influences. So I have absolutely no idea what
we'll do next. If I knew what I'd do next it would bore me.
RockUnited - People have been comparing you to Nightwish or saying you're even more talented and whatnot, but I'm sure
there's no personal competition going on between you two and both of you have your own style. What's your take on that ?
Christofer - I don't see bands as competition, I see them as colleagues. I think that it's interesting that what we
started doing earlier so many bands got interested in. There's been so many bands that are fucking crap, but when a band
like Nightwish gets famous I get really happy, because for one they're a band that deserves it. I think they're quite a
good band, they're quite poppy. They're like any other band on this planet, they have their influences, but they did
something own with it. That's the way you should do it. You have different influences and maybe Therion was one of them
and like Stratovarius, I hear a lot of different influences, and they made their own style and they make it very good.
So that's exactly how you should do it or how I did it. You can hear a lot of seventies bands that I'm influenced by in
Therion's music, but we did our own thing with that stuff. That's the recipe for making interesting music and making
records that people will also remember ten years from now. So I'm very honoured and flattered if bands like that have
gained some sort of influence from Therion.
RockUnited - People always keep competing what's the best band in the world.
Christofer - The good thing is that you have lots of different kind of bands, so you don't only have one. Like Iron
Maiden are making heavy metal, so we don't need Judas Priest. It's more interesting like this.
RockUnited - You're a swedish band. How does Sweden take you ?
Christofer - We don't do well in Sweden at all. We do well in Stockholm, but nowhere else. I don't know why, but if
we play in Stockholm we pull 600 people, but elsewhere we should be happy with 200. We don't play elsewhere other than
Stockholm. We don't get any media coverage either, I guess we're too boring as persons. We don't have this going out and
getting drunk thing. I don't say we're shy, but people pretty much have their own things, we don't hang around musicians
or go out in public and be seen with other famous bands or whatever. We just do our stuff and stay out of sight. Live in
the boring suburbans, neighbours thinking we're in social wellfare or something, because we don't go to work like everybody
else. I kinda like that, because you come home and you can be yourself, you don't need to get reminded that you're a musician
every day. I guess we're more the typical swedish people. Like when we go to Latin America where people are complitely crazy,
we need to be escorted one by one out of the airport. Otherwise we don't get out of cars because there's people waiting there.
If that would've been the case in Sweden I would've stopped making music long time ago and move to Iceland or something.
Bought a house on the thundra without electricity or something. We're very bad rockstars I'm afraid.
SIRIUS B, LEMURIA
Therion released two albums in the past few months and had songs enough for three albums. The best idea though was to
promote and release two albums at the same time, because recording all three at once would've taken too much time and
by doing them one by one, when finally getting to the third one it would've taken too much time again. And by doing it
this way they'd again end up having material for another three albums. The only way to catch up with their creativity was to
record two albums. The reason for releasing them as a double was the youth, the band is aware they don't have the money.
People were given the chance to buy both albums in the first few months for the price of one without limiting the copies,
which were pressed as much as ordered by the distributors. After three months the pressing was stopped and only the
seperate albums were available anymore. Some distributors made overstocks though, knowing about the three month period. The
double will still be available for a while, but it's out of print now. These albums feature huge orchestra with 171 musicians
and singers involved. Is Christofer satisfied with the outcome ?
Christofer - With every album there's things that could've been better with millions of details. But as long as we take
and learn new stuff and don't repeat the old stuff, then I'm happy. Next time we'll be better and time after that we'll be
better and so on. I don't think there's a thing called perfection, 'cos as soon as you think you've reached your, how do you
say, your highest level, you find out about new levels you didn't know before. And you're not of course musically skilled
enough to understand those things. There's this old legend about a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you can never
reach the end of the rainbow, you'll always find it further away from you. It's the same thing musically. You'll always
find new things that you can do better, add something that you never did before. And doing a little fuckups gives character.
I don't like some of the records that are overproduced today. Sometimes you hear a band and think they're really tight and
then live it's like (making cacophonic sounds), they can't fucking play, 'cos they fix everything on the computer. Of course
we also take advantage of new technologies, copy-paste and save time and stuff like. Instead of recording for twelve months
we recorded nine months because of digital technology. But I don't like overdoing it. You should play the way you play. When
people hear you live they know it's the same guy on the record. They didn't fix their albums beyond what they could do.
They're live musicians. I think that's important. And people like to see you live, some songs might even sound better live
and that makes it more interesting, otherwise you can't listen to the records or see a live concert if everybody cannot play
the guitar or drums live. Sounds great on the record, but a disaster live.
RockUnited - Where were the choirs recorded ?
Christofer - In Prague, with the orchestra. We recorded most of the soloists in our studio in Sweden. We recorded the
drums, the bass guitars, the balalaikas and the mandolins at our studio and then orchestra, choirs and soloists in Prague and
church organs in Copenhagen and we also mixed it there. Also hammond organs and mellotrons.
RockUnited - How do you feel about using backing tapes on shows and how much do you use them ?
Christofer - Do you see any possibility on putting an orchestra on that stage (Nosturi with a small stage) ? (laughs)
It's not really an option, it's either we tour or we don't. I don't feel bad about it, because we use real orchestra and
it's pre-recorded and we take the raw recording from the albums, we don't take the mixed, finished ones. Everything is a raw
recording, so it sounds a little bit different. And also I prefer to have a real orchestra on songs than having a keyboard.
Sorry, but I don't think keyboards and samples can replace the real orchestral sounds. And probably with the stuff we do
we'd need two keyboard players. And it really wouldn't be that fun to have two keyboard guys standing there. We'd rather
save the money and put the money on light show or something like that. And also if I could afford to bring two more keyboard
players I would rather take two more singers. So at least we have singers with us, that's more important, because that's a
personal thing, you know you're transmitting something more personal through singing than playing in an orchestra. But we
will hope to do few shows next year with full orchestra. It's so expensive, basically one album production in one evening.
RockUnited - People have been complaining about the choirs not being as huge as before. Are you pleased with them ?
Christofer - I wanted to do something different, so I didn't take an opera choir, I took a choir that would sing requiems
and masses in churches. They have a little bit weaker voices, but on the other hand I made a much bigger choir. I wanted to
have a different touch of it, we always gave one microphone to each before and the voices were really close. Now we have
microphones far away, so they catch the whole room also. If you want this in your face, very powerful thing, I think you
might like the new stuff less, but it's a matter of taste. Somebody who discovered Therion with the new record and listened
to the back catalogue might think different, but the most important thing is I wanted to do something different and I did and
I don't regret it. I think it suites good for that.
RockUnited - You had quite a lot of work doing these albums. How long was the whole process then from start to finish ?
Christofer - That's complicated, since we did "Secret Of The Runes" in between. After that we started writing songs for
the new record and I had seven or eight songs. And then I woke up one day and all of a sudden I thought no, I'm gonna make
a nordic concept album instead. So the record that I was writing on which is what you hear now on these two albums, we put
on ice, and I wrote more or less the entire "Secret Of The Runes" in two months which just came out. Then we did "Secret"
and the came back to doing these records. That's why we had so much songs, because meanwhile I was writing more songs and
Kristian and Johan started writing songs. I think we had something like 55 songs and pieces that could be arranged to songs
to choose from. So some of the songs you hear now are very old. That's why they're very diverse, they've very different styles,
because they were written in a long period of time. The actual recordings from the pre-production till mix was finished was
effective nine months, but it was stretched over to eleven months, because we took some time off.
The non-concept albums have different styles and lyrical concepts and the album titles are taken from the songs.
Christofer writes a lot of songs based on mythology and history and is into "history, ordinary history, religion, different
mythology and legends. Also theoretic systems that are still excisting today". But he doesn't "write the lyrics, it's a guy
called Thomas Karlsson, he's one of my very best friends. For a couple of years he's done the lyrics, he's got a masters
degree in history and he's getting his doctors title any day now. So we sit down together sometimes with our ideas and if I
find something fascinating, ok, sometimes I have songtitles ready or at least concepts that I want to have on specific songs
and sometimes we just work on them together, what we should do for each song. Then I write melody lines and notate it
properly and I even write some nonsense lyrics first, so that he can follow the melody lines and sing along the nonsense
lyrics, so he'll understand exactly how the melody should be. Then he writes proper lyrics instead of the nonsense, but the
fall of the words are the same. I can give him a tape of how the vocals should sound on piano. He can get the exact feeling
of how it should be".
The band loves using new instruments and changing style constantly, but to a listener that doesn't care about
classical influences, Christofer likes to point out it has much more rock and metal singing compared to what they used on
their last two albums. They're also much more heavy metal than they've been for years with louder guitars and the sounds
are more dominant. They've even got some death metal vocals, which they haven't used since 1993. On the interest in continuing
on symphonic metal and choosing this style originally, he thought he "just wrote the songs I like. For me it was like
something was missing on the record store. Something I wanted to buy wasn't there, so I recorded it myself. I hope that we
can always be a band like Rush, that our audience follows no matter what happens. But let's face it, now and then there's
a big trend (which) I think both helps and doesn't help us. It helps us of course if there's a bigger interest on this
type of music, but on the other hand it doesn't help us because there's so many bands. Somebody who's young and discovers
symphonic metal today might not know about Therion being the first one (doing it). For them it's just another band. If you
buy a heavy metal album today, you don't start thinking who started it, you just buy it. It's the same thing. Then of course
when this trend is over it's gonna be like playing in 1998. When people are complitely bored with hearing opera voices, then
we're only gonna have the die-hard fans. But it seems like whatever we do we will sell 50,000 in Europe. I don't think we
can sell less if it's a good album. There seems to be so many people that have bought the Therion albums. If they already
have the ten albums, they will probably do like me, you buy them all. But the difference is we're not gonna make crappy albums,
if people start saying we're making those. Of course there's always a few individuals saying that, but if the majority said
they'd lost it with the new album, then we'd try another one and if people went to the old stuff, we'd stop it before we
RockUnited - How well have the older fans, even death metal fans, followed your career, have they stayed true to Therion
and how did they receive these albums compared to the earlier ones ?
Christofer - The new ones have sold better than the two previous ones. It's about the same sale as "Theli" actually,
but it didn't reach the "Vovin" sales. We went up like hell with that and then down with "Secret Of The Runes" and now we're back
to the level of "Theli". This seems to be our level. I'm more than happy with that. You have to understand we didn't have
so many fans then (early death metal days) compared to now. We didn't sell that much records then. The first albums sold ten
thousand worldwide. I think the old fans continue to follow what we did, but obviously we lost a few fans also when we
started using opera voices, but it wasn't much that we lost, because we were a cult band for many people. We were a band that
always had very good reviews in the media, a lot of music colleagues liked us a lot, but we didn't sell a lot of records
until "Theli". We kept like 50 percent of the audience. But I've met a lot of people saying they have all our records.
RockUnited - The guitar which was used for these new albums was stolen in your gig in Slovenia, but you got it back later
on. What's the story behind the steal ?
Christofer - It was not used for the new records. I've read a lot of strange things about it. I'm going to sell the
guitar which was used on the new albums. When I had the guitar stolen I bought a new one with the money the organization gave
me because the security was fucked up in that place. I bought a new one for the tour and I like it a lot. And now the police
found the old one and I don't want to get rid of that one. So instead we made a deal about the guitar, so I will get back
that one and I will sell the one I've used on the records. Somebody probably just took it and carried it out just like that.
The problem was that they didn't have clear backstage passes. Luckily for him it was the most expensive one, it's a very
rear copy from the seventies. Impossible to sell. I think that's how he got caught, he tried to sell it on the EBay. It's not
a very common model, it's a custom with that type of sunburst. Probably have a couple of thousand copies worldwide, but
in Slovenia there's probably not a similar one like that. Plus it was modified, it was Gibson with original mikes or
pickups, but not the ones for this model. They're original ones from another model. And if there was another one with this
kind of combination on the planet, I'd be amazed. Plus it was modified with other small things and there's the serial
number and so on.
There was also the incident with the guitar of Alexi Laiho (Children Of Bodom), but Christofer had no idea about it,
but thought the Randy Rhodes' Jackson model is a pretty cool guitar. Back to Therion and that is the forthcoming DVD, what
will the band exactly include on it ?
Christofer - Absolutely everything that we could have. Something I really hate is when bands put out a DVD, and then
two years later they put out another DVD with old stuff. It's like ripping off the fans, so we're gonna have absolutely
everything we have, every videotape we ever made, tons of old bootlegs like we did ourselves and from fans and everything
from eighties to now. We recorded two shows in Mexico City in the same venue, where we sold out two shows. We can cut them
to one evening with no overdubs. If we fuck up one song we take the other night and cut it to one evening. So there will
be a full live show there. We also have a show from Wacken and some backstage stuff and studio stuff when we recorded the
orchestra and choir. Little bit of this and a little bit of that. I also did this music for an art film in 1987, probably
there's space to squeeze this one in too, technically I think we can put three hours to a disk. So if it's double, it'll
be six hours, packed. I believe in making the ultimate DVD. If you're gonna have one, this is the one. It's better to do
quality stuff, then the fans don't get disappointed and you have a very good trademark. People will know if you release
something, it's quality.
RockUnited - You've recorded for Nuclear Blast starting from your fourth album, which is thirteen years now. You must
be pleased with them and the other way round. What do you think this co-operation has given you at its best and how long can
you see yourselves recording for them or them keeping you ?
Christofer - Well, they have two more options, a minimum of two more albums. But I think we'll stay with them because
what other options do we have. Major labels suck, because if the guy who signed you gets fired or quits, nobody cares. Then
you're stuck there. Then they interfere with everything you do and they don't know how to market this type of music at all,
not as good as a metal label. I mean, look at Cradle Of Filth, they sold less with the major label, or Paradise Lost too.
Everybody that goes to major label sells less. I'm very happy with Nuclear Blast and the thing that I really like is that
we have absolute artistic freedom. Just like last time I called them that I want to make two records, instead of going what
the hell, they listen to your ideas and if they think it's a success then they go for it. They're very open for ideas. And
they like the bands, they can listen to them and say if they liked the last record more and they really mean it. Also they
don't get to hear anything when I tell them we're making a new record and we need a bigger budget now. And whenever it's
finished, like this time it took eleven months, it's like a year that they didn't call me to say they just gave me 100,000
euros, where the fuck is the album. They just wait and check if things are going well. We let them know when we're mixing
and when we're finished they get the master tape. Then they get to hear it the first time. They don't bother you with the
artistic things, they know how to sell records and we know how to make records. So it's perfect. Everybody minds their own
RockUnited - You're a very productive band. How well do you work together then ?
Christofer - Very well. Especially me and Kristian have become very close in the last two years, because of changing
ideas between us and arranging and things like that. Johan has begun working on the song writing as well and the new drummer
can probably start contributing on the new records as well. I think we work very well as a band. Kristian and Johan have
been in the band now for five years and we always listen to each other and different points of views. Being the founder of
the band and being seventeen years in the band I guess somebody has to be the captain of the ship. But that doesn't mean
you have to run over people. We have different areas of responsibility, they don't really interfere with the orchestrations
because they don't know so much about that. On the other hand I let Kristian record like 75 percent of the rhythm guitars
on the last records, all the solos and harmonies. He's a better guitar player so he should take care of that. And he was
responsible for recording the bass for Johan, he did a lot of engineering, they just recorded and I'd go there later on and
listen and it's like it should be. I don't have to be there the whole time, because I can trust they do their parts. We do
pre-productions, we have a map how to go, we make a demo version of the album first, so we pretty much know how it should
be. But when we do the final stuff we don't need to interfere to others areas that much. In the end we just approve and
if something needs to be re-done we do it. But in 99 percent of cases everybody does what they should and we don't need to
step on each others toes.
RockUnited - So you don't get stressed out, since you're the only original member in the band ?
Cristofer - No, it's the best line-up we ever had, better than the original one. I don't think we ever had a better
band feeling than this, we get along really well. We don't really hang around together when we're home in Sweden and I think
that's one of the reasons it's so fun to be on tour, because you don't get on each others nerves all the time.
RockUnited - You've produced albums yourself. Which album are you most pleased about production and soundwise ?
Christofer - I think the older ones have better production, but then there could be different details that sound
better on another one. But overall we did the best one now. If you put it loud on stereo it has the most push.
RockUnited - Will you continue producing now and then ?
Christofer - I think we're gonna try something different on the next record and really allow our producer to produce,
because we didn't do that in a long time. That might be needed. I don't like it when you only concentrate on one thing and
you need wake up calls. So just because we can produce ourselves, we should take a producer next time. Somebody who
interferes with everything. I think that's the way to do it. Not just do another record like we always did. It should be
something new. We've had producers before, but a different producer.
RockUnited - You've recorded in Germany quite a lot and used German orchestras also. What has taken you over there ?
Christofer - We used Swedish orchestras on "Secret" and on the latest one we had Czech. We haven't used German orchestras
since 2000, so we've used a lot of different ones. But the Germans are world class, there's not a country where you can find
orchestras like that, they have world class orchestras in every town. But the best would be the Berlin Filharmonics. They
used to be even better, when Herbert Von Karajan was still the conductor. Especially string players and vibratos are so good.
It's the discipline you know. I like that and when it comes to composers like Richard Wagner, it's not easy to play, it
really has to hit the spot. Disciplined, but with emotions. It shouldn't be stiff. Disciplined doesn't mean you don't have
emotions, just that everybody plays together. Wagner used two times 16 violins, it's much more than you need. You could
basically cover up the mistakes because you have more players, but then it gets muddy. Everybody has to hit the spot. Then
you get this nice warm feeling. Also I don't like it when you have more of the first violin and less the second, it should
THE LAST LEG OF THE TOUR
In Helsinki Therion played songs they didn't play here before, since the last time they visited Finland was back in 1998.
Christofer wanted to play songs "we didn't play in many years and songs that we never played. A very varied set, heavy metal,
ballads, symphonic rock, a lot of clean guitars, you'll have even brutal stuff like death metal, some rock'n'rollish stuff,
even pop. If you're gonna have a set over two hours, you're gonna have a very varied set, diverse. Otherwise it's not
entertaining, it's just grinding on. We have pretty much routine from the tour and we have fun on stage. I hope that when we
have fun on stage, audience will also have fun. That's the key to making people have a good time. If you just stand there and
do your job, nobody will really get into it".
But people did get into it, maybe more from the listening and enjoying part, but Therion played a pleasing set that was
very varied and colourful. From Finland they headed on to Russia, which was their last gig on this tour. For the band it was
just another show, but as Christofer mentioned, "it's our first time in Russia and it's already almost sold out. We didn't
know what to expect there, so it's pretty cool. I think all the bands are playing there. 1,500 capacity, actually Cannibal
Corpse had 1,800 there. If you ask about the capacity in these countries, they ask you what would you like it to be ! So they
can squeeze in a little more than what is official. You don't have any fire department saying no. So I guess technically
1,800. But it will be special for us, I like the Russian culture, it's gonna be really great to go to Moscow. I'm a really
big fan of Mihail Bulgakov for instance, the author. Maybe I'll visit some of the places in Moscow he writes about
in his books".
RockUnited - Do you have any last words to the fans ?
Christofer - It's really great to be back in Finland after so many years and I hope we'll be here after every record
from now on. And thanks for listening and being patient.
RockUnited - Thank you.
Interview by Satu Reunanen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures by Kari Helenius, email@example.com