Turisas (en)

SOM has met with Turisas’s lead singer Mathias Nygård for an interview, when the band came to Pomona to perform one of the opening acts of the “Creatures from Black Abyss” tour. Check it out!

interview TurisasFirst of all, congratulations on your new record “Stand Up and Fight”...
Thank you.

Can you tell us a little bit about the overall experience of writing, composing and recording this album?
Well, basically the idea for the album came already before the previous record “Varangian Way”. For that record we plotted out this big story which would not fit in one album alone. We decided to focus on “Journey” first and then maybe carry on from there to a future release. So, the groundwork for this album [Stand Up and Fight] was already done around 2005 / 06. At that time we did at least a few US and European tours which kept us on the road for a couple of years basically.

It wasn’t until 2009 that we got into the actual writing process. In fact, I had to start turning down offers to be able to write.

I had some ideas to elaborate all the story of the previous record. Instead of being a source of inspiration, the original concept made us feel like we were putting ourselves into a corner… it was tying our hands too tight. So we decided to make it less tight and conceptional than the previous albums, to make some songs in more of a universal topic… make the songs more “timeless” in a sense.

In 2010 we started the recording. Working on the new album took pretty much the whole year. It wasn’t scattered out or done every once in a while, it was done 7 days a week. 2010 was for me like a big bubble. I don’t remember anything about it… it was just work, work, work, work!

We finally got the master done by the 1st of November.

So, what are your expectations for this new work?
Humm… of course you want to see everything going kind of on an upward instead of a downward slope. It’s not like we sit there and plan a record in a way of how we would make more fans or how we chant to a bigger crowd. I guess that would kill everything about it that we really like. Playing live is great, touring is great but nothing about it is so great that you would do it on someone else’s terms. Whether it’s your record label, your management, or even your fans, you know? You do it on your own terms. That’s what keeps it interesting and fun for yourself. The album was done definitely according to what we wanted.

Comparing the new album with your previous work, is this your favorite one so far?
I guess… of course you should always like your most recent release the most, because otherwise, if you think that the last one is worse than the previous ones, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

I still think that the albums are different. We take a lot of time in between records. That’s to make the music, the band and everything around it evolve and have some time to come up with new ideas and be creative in different ways so it’s hard to say actually. Personally I believe that we become better musicians, better song writers; that we have better lyrics, better production, better everything. But in the other hand, we just do what we feel right in the moment. I guess time will tell, later on, what succeeds. That’s the risk you bear, I guess… to do what you want.

About the band itself… you are six. Being such a big group is it difficult to manage all your activities and is it hard to agree on things or take decisions?
Not at all because I do them all (laughs). I look at it like this… there needs to be one person who is on top of things, who is in charge and doesn’t really have to ask: “Are you alright with this?” every time. If you fuck up in the long term of course, the people in the band would be mad at you and not let you make decisions anymore.

It is more like dictatorship under mandates basically. As long as it works and it turns out good in the end, everyone is happy. I think it would be a big mess if everybody threw out ideas all the time. We would not get anywhere. I think it’s important to have a vision and a person who is clearly in charge.

You will start the tour of your new album a few days after your return from US to Europe. What can the fans expect about this tour? Any surprises?
Of course it will be fresh! We toured so much from the previous two records that we totally played all the songs we ever could. Now, with 3 records we can have some songs change every night and try out different things.

Unfortunately, right now, when we are opening for Cradle of Filth for 30 minutes a night, it’s not how we would like to present ourselves. Of cou
interview Turisasrse it’s a great opportunity but it’s far from what we would like the band to be upstage, what we would like to set up and what we would like to play. But that’s a compromise you do, to just get out there and play shows.

You came to US in April/May 2008 for the Paganfest. Then, you came back later that year in November with Dragonforce. Is 2011 another double concert year for the American fans?
I hope so. It is such a vast country that coming over here and playing “one tour a year” doesn’t really make any sense. You do that one tour and then people forget about you after a while. We came twice in 2008 but then we had to take a long break to finalize the record. Now, 3 years later, unfortunately, we have to kind of start over, not as low but still kind of take a new start.

From now, we will hopefully have things more set. When we did our first American tour, we did it for a record that had already been out for what 1… 2 years? So now the first thing we do is America. We will definitely have it more in our agenda.

You have documented and made available videos showing the band’s experience in the studio. Was it fan requested?
I think, you know… the fans like to see that kind of material. Everyone likes to have that opportunity to go and have a look on what’s going on.

To be honest, personally, I find that a little bit sort of annoying… to be there and try to focus on song writing and having to think … yeah I have to tweet this and have to update Myspace, make this video for whatever…

Of course it’s important for the fans but I should be there focusing on the songs, on the production and on all that, and not on making this sort of studio reports.

So yes we did it, but towards the end it kind of went down a bit. We got far too busy with the recording process and forgot about it, which is kind of sad but still understandable. It’s fun but it takes a lot of attention from the main thing that you have to do.

Right now you are touring in the “Creature from Black Abyss”. How is this tour turning out to be? Any curiosities and /or highlights until now?
The whole storm weather thing it’s been a bit peculiar (laughs). We actually started up in Mexico and then we flew to Houston for a couple of days of pre-production and then we started the tour from Texas. We managed to get those shows done before it got really crazy, so I’m grateful for that. I know that some bands like Finntroll [touring in the states as well] got some shows canceled.

Now it’s California and everything is fine. But I’m sort of nervous about when we get up to Canada, especially the East Coast… We will see what happens...

You have been here several times… How do you guys like playing in LA?
In general I really like California, mostly because of the climate too, you know?

I like the wines, I like the girls, I like the climate, I like the atmosphere. The fact that you can do a show, stand outside, have a good night with your fans, meet new people, drink... all that stuff … where else? In some other places it’s not really like that. It’s just: do your show, pack up and leave.

You are playing tomorrow in Las Vegas and then you will be back here for the concert in LA on Tuesday. Any plans for your Monday off?
Actually we are going to shoot a music video in the off day. It is going to be out in the desert somewhere. We will basically leave the concert in Las Vegas and go shoot the video… get all the sunrise and sunset kind of shots. So it is going to be a very tough day because we don’t really get to sleep in between that show, then we spend the day off shooting and then get to LA and do a show again.

Did you know that Finntroll and Einsenferum will be playing in LA at the same night that you will? Do you think that this will split out the fans? And also… are you guys planning to hang out together?
Are they? Where? Maybe I will try to get a cab and go there after my concert…

Well… I guess it’s gonna split the crowd obviously. It’s great to see your own fans turn out to the shows, but if it will be a room full of our own fans, opening up for Cradle of Filth would be a bit pointless you see? Of course the challenge is to play to a lot of people that has never heard of us before… that’s a cool thing. Don’t get it wrong, but it would be kind of pointless if we had our entire crowd in there… then we could headline instead.

CCCC">Musically speaking, what inspires you when composing and writing? Is this something that you do on the road?
I really can’t be creative on the road. I tried it but… I’m just terrible. On tour, my brain just goes… [hand gestures around head]. I can still enjoy things and be influenced by them but even today trying to speak with the video director, I was like: I don’t know, do something… I don’t know…

During the Dragonforce tour we had this small studio built up in the back of the bus. We spent 4 or 5 hours total there in an 8 week tour. It just didn’t work out. That’s why we had a long break before this record: to just sit down, relax, spend some time in Helsinki and write some music.

What inspire us are all sorts of stuff. I guess it’s life in general: taking enough time to see things. There are so many bands pushing out their new record every year. It’s just getting very much of the same. I think it’s important to leave it for a while and maybe get different ideas and thoughts: go to a museum, see visual arts, exhibitions or what ever.

It can be anything. It is not very direct… it’s more like a… very unclear level, very unconscious. You just get this sort of vibe… just some sort of feeling and then you work from there. I don’t really listen that much to music to be honest. There’s so much of that going on all the time.

You just said that you don’t listen to music that much but what do you listen in your free time? Any favorite albums/ bands at this moment?
It’s funny because working on this albums with so many layers and things like orchestration, small details and stuff like that … the more it got complex, the more straightforward my music taste went, sort of speaking (laughs). A lot of punk rock, crust punk … I’ve been listening to Driller Killer for instance. Stuff like the Plasmatics or Red Gilbilly… kind of 80’s America punk, girl power… that kind of stuff.

Which musicians have inspired you in the beginning of your career? Any “idols” that you would like to meet one day?
Humm… I don’t really know... I mean… you get to tour and play in festival with a lot of bands.

I don’t think I’ve ever been really that much of a fan of anything that I would go totally insane meeting the person. We’ve played Download Festival in the UK, which is like the biggest Rock n’ Roll festival there is… really, really cool. Iron Maiden was headlining and Bruce Dickinson has this own radio show for the BBC and he was interviewing me. So, it was kind of fucked up you know? There you are… Bruce Dickinson is sitting right there like you are, asking me all the questions!

I’ve never been the biggest Iron Maiden fan but still… of course…somewhere in the back of your head, you are thinking… this is a bit sort of twisted!

When you are not touring or in the studio… what do you like to do in your free time?
I’m in such a lack of free time… I don’t know (laughs). The thing is… you think that playing in a rock band is touring and being in a studio, playing songs. I think music is probably like 10%.

90% is E-mail, Skype, phone calls, internet use, speaking to your management…all the administrational side of things.

But when I have free time, I don’t know… before this tour I actually had the opportunity to have a short holiday. And I did this sort of scuba diving license. I’ve basically done like 4 open water dives. It’s really cool. I want to do that again

I always wanted to do sailing, proper sailing, the normal kind of one day yacht sailing. I don’t know. There’s something about the sea that inspires me.

What are your expectations for Turisas in 2011? How do you see your year?
I see us being on the tour basically non-stop until Christmas. We finish this tour, we fly out to London to start a new European tour. Then, around May we will either go to Japan or Spain / Southern Europe…Then when the festivals start… play several times per week, in different countries so we have to fly all over the place all the time. By the time we get to autumn we will be touring again in some sort of package, maybe also in America.

Maybe South America?
Yeah… now we kind of opened the gate by playing our first ever show in Mexico. From there we will take it further. We will definitely be trying to make it down to South America!

Well, thank you so much for this interview!
Thank you!

Interview done by Deesse_de_la_nuit

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Deesse_de_la_nuit - 12 Februar 2011: Live pictures done by Vincent Nicolas.
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