A quick interview done down in Bristol with the lovely Liv Kristine, who took great care of our novice reporter Talia… Although she did pinch Talia’s Jaffa Cakes! The interview took place before Leaves’ Eyes show at the Marble Factory on November 4th. Thorsten wasn’t meant to be part of the interview but Liv has a way of ensuring her bandmates do as they’re told!
T: So, simple things first, where are you guys from?
LK: I am from Norway. Thorsten, guitar player, and Alex, singer, are Germans, Pete is Swiss and Hans and Joris are Dutch, so we are very multicultural.
T: How did you meet?
LK: It was basically an idea of Thorsten and Alex – I had just been kicked out of Theatre of Tragedy, this was in 2003, and I was really thinking about my future: “Am I going back to teaching, am I going to do my doctorate degree, or will I stay in Music?” And I definitely went for the right choice because the guys said “Let’s start from scratch and start a new band together,” and so that’s what happened, that’s us!
T: How long have you guys been playing together as a band?
LK: Since 2003, and now it’s 2015, so, 12 years! But this is just the beginning of a long marriage, I promise you that!
T: Do you have any influences, individually, or as a band?
LK: As a band? I think every member of the band has his or her own influences? Thorsten, who are your influences?
Thorsten: I’m not getting involved!
LK: Yes you are, answer the question!
Thorsten: I have lots of influences, sometimes it’s more guitar music, sometimes classical.
LK: Guitar music, classical music, folk, metal.
Thorsten: Anything that sounds good, and interesting I like it!
LK: I think that’s the same with everyone in the band. I come from metal, Pete comes from metal, Thornton’s been a member of Atrocity since donkeys years, and the same with Alex, basically, we all love metal. I have other influences too, I grew up with metal, but I love Madonna, Abba, A-ha from Norway, as well as Tchaikovksy, Edvard Greig, classical music, Kate Bush of course, Teri Amos, so there you go!
T: How would you describe your music and what makes it unique?
LK: That’s the most complicated question you could ever ask me, because I think the main influence, other than metal, is from folk music, and we do have a lot of classical music in our compositions. I think we’ve progressed with each album and of course, you can definitely hear it. That this is the sound of Leaves Eyes, but we’ve added spices here and there and we’ve grown and learned when it comes to recording in the studio and on stage and it’s made us what we are, very experienced musicians, some of us full time. Thematically, we’re very inspired by Viking mythology and history and my home county.
T: Has your music changed since your last album? Do you think it changes with every album?
LK: Yes! We do change, a lot has happened in this two year period since we started composing King of Kings. We just finished the productions for Symphonies of the Night, and it was over a morning cup of hot coffee, that Alex said “I’ve got this great idea – King of Kings” and I said “Who’s King of Kings?” and it’s Harald Fairhair. This whole story around Harald Fairhair – it is fact, there are a lot of facts, but a lot of fiction too, he won a decisive battle in one of the fjords of Norway –Hafrsfjord that’s my birthplace, and that decisive siege led him to become the first king of Norway, and so, all this is connected to my home country, to my birthplace, heritage. It”s very personal. I think it’s a brilliant idea. And of course, to make music is not only for the ears, it should be able to make you feel nice as well, and so that’s why we added all these instruments and the voices for this broad sound, and every song has been treated as one chapter in Harald Fairhair’s history, but also as one musical piece, so every song stands on it’s own, every piece on the album is very individual.
T: What’s the live show like?
LK: Oh, it’s been absolutely amazing to perform King of Kings on stage. It’s been really nice to practice for this tour, to hear how all the songs sound. We are aware of the fact we have to play some old stuff too, so there is a song from every album, I think. The setlist is very good, so I think we’ll stick to it for a couple of tours.
T: And how is the tour going?
LK: Very well. We just finished the first European leg before going home, doing laundry for a day and then heading north to the UK. Yesterday was Southampton, it was absolutely amazing. We lifted the roof and the audience were amazing. I’m really looking forward to tonight, in Bristol. It’s so nice to tour the UK, because you don’t have distances like 1200 miles to the next gig, so it’s very comfortable to come from city to city without massive distances, I really like it. We have a hardcore group of supporters and fans of the band who follow us throughout the UK.
T: That’s much easier to do here than lots of other places!
LK: Yes, the US or Australia would be impossible! We do a joke with the audience every night, because they all use one expression, “herrlich” which means “awesome”, it’s just a very cool word. We have a flag, a British flag, and it says Herrlich on, and the audience scream it at us, and it’s really fun.
T: Obviously you’ve just finished an album, are you working on anything at the moment?
LK: We will just be touring like crazy, and I’m doing a solo tour in December, touring with Raymond, the singer and co-founder from Theatre of Tragedy, I think on the 20th of December in London, at the Underground, so time for some nostalgia.
T: This is, I think, the second album you’ve written about a historical figure. Vinland Saga was about Leif Eriksson
LK: Yes, you’re right, Vinland Saga has some connection to King of Kings, when it comes to themes and concepts.
T: Are there any other historical people you’d like to write music about?
LK: Well, we already composed a bonus track for King of Kings, about one of Harald’s sons, Erik Bloodaxe, or Erik the Red, who actually became ruler of York twice. But he was gruesome and terrible, the worst son of Harald, of all of his sons. Erik was the unruly son! So we have the next generation, here in the UK! So who knows?!
T: That’s all my questions! Thank you so much!
LK: Thank you, it’s been lovely!