Originally this interview was done in January 2007, almost ten years from now, when Therion was releasing and promoting one of their most innovative records, their full-length Gothic Kabbalah. The interview was done with Johan Niemann, one of the brothers who marked several records of Therion. Later, it turned out, that Gothic Kabbalah was their final issue with Christpher Johansson…
First time I had a chance to listen to your newest album Gothic Kabbalah it was really strange, and the songs were really strange comparing to previous Therion records. Can you comment a little bit more your newest album?
Yeah, sure. First I would like to thank you because you take it strange, we wanted to do something different.
Yes, and It’s totally different.
Yeah, good, I’m happy to hear that. We were talking about the new record back in 2004, while we were still on tour and, we wanted to change a few things around, like not focusing on the orchestral stuff and choir, but more on solo parts like vocals, guitars and drums, to sound more organic. I think we came really close to achieving that goal and I’m really happy with the record, and I am also proud to everyone.
I also find that every song is different from eachother. What was the reason to create such different songs? The album is very long, it was probably a hard thing to do. There is an epic touch in all of them, but every song is different.
Yeah, but I think that’s natural. Only five people contributed songs on the record. Christopher wrote four, my brother wrote two, Petter wrote five, our singer wrote one also. So, it’s natural, five people writing songs and putting them together on one record. It’s gonna sound different, it just happens. But also, it’s still complexed, at least to me. Therion has a history of change anyway.
How much time have you spent recording this album? Was there a long period?
Yeah, we started recording drums at the end of June, the mixing part in September. About three months. Yeah, it was difficult. The original idea was to start recording at the beginning of this year, but that didn’t worked well. We were delayed several times over because of different things. It took a while to get to songs. It was pretty stressful, but yes, it’s always more difficult than we think it’s gonna be. It always takes a little bit more. It always happens.
Do you have any special track that you want to depart from the rest of the album? Like a favourite one?
Favourite song? Yeah, but that always changes. Yesterday, my favourite song was Wisdom And the Cage, today is Gothic Kabbalah.
Yes, we have the same situation here. There are many good song.
Yes, well, I like different things about different songs, for, you know, different reasons. Some day, my favourite band is Pantera and some day I hate Pantera.
What is actually hidding behind the title Gothic Kabbalah?
Well, the album is based on the stories of an old swedish mystic that lived in 1600’s. He was a teacher to our old queen Kristina. He developed a system that he called Gothic Kabbalah. He wrote a book about the stuff he was researching, which was pretty advanced for me, because I was not familiar with runes, magic and astrology. I’m more of a music person than I am a reader.
Also, when we look at your newest promotional pictures, it’s different than the old ones. What are you trying to describe?
Yeah, we wanted to carry the whole concept of change into every aspect, not only music. We wanted to make it clear that something has changed. There is something different going on. Not only music, but also on pictures. And it’s gonna look a little different on stage, we have a stage setup that’s a little different. It’s all about change. We wanted to do something different for people to say:“What’s going on? That’s not what they usually do, it’s different….“
Also, the same situation with the album cover. This time it’s simple, it’s only one simbol. Can you explain me what is hidding behind it?
I wish I could (laugh). We wanted something really simple. It was that German guy that designed it, same who did the last one. I’ve never met the guy. But he is really talented and creative. I think he also did some stuff for Dimmu Borghir.
You have already, with Therion, recorded a soundtrack for a film, it was a long time ago 1996-1997, but, if you had a chance would you like to do it again for some other film? Your music just has a lot of atmosphere etc.
Yeah, that would be great, but it would take a very long time though and a lot of hard work. But there is also a different kind of soundtrack where people take songs that already exist and put them in a film. But again, writing for a movie, that would be really cool. If the right offer came along, I’m sure, Cristofer would jump at the idea. It probably wouldn’t be a commercial movie like hollywood stuff, more like the previous one.
Have you ever thought about recording one album, you know, without singing, only music? An instrumental album?
I don’t think so. I would have to talk to Cristofer about it, but probably no. People in general want to hear vocals. Especially if you have a good singer. I’m not sure he would like to do an instrumental record, but for me, that would be cool.
Do you have any chance so far to play with the whole orchestra?
We did one recently in Romania. It was very cool. I was very nervous at first rehersal. You know, it’s a new environment. But, we had rehersals over a week so it went well I must say. We want to make more shows like these in some other cities as well, but, we’ll see what happens. If it works out, it would be cool. This one in Romania was very good, and they have planned to release a DVD with maybe some other things as well, not only that concert, but something more.
That would be great. Now you’re going to have a tour with Grave Digger and Sabaton. Is it a little strange to have bands like Therion and Grave Digger on the other side?
Yeah, I think it is. I haven’t heard much of a Grave Digger so I don’t really know what they sound like. I think they are more like traditional heavy metal, hard rock, so I guess it’s a big difference. But I think it’s going to be cool. We are going to have different kinds of audience, and that will be interesting. I’m really looking forward to meeting them and hear them live. We’ll see what’s gonna happen, I’m exited.
You are also visiting Belgrade. There are people that like both of the bands. There will be a thousand people there.
Really, that will be great.
- Interview by Marko Miranovic, January 2007
- Typed by Darko Panic