DATE OF INTERVIEW:
10th December 2013
METAL DISCOVERY: I have to say, the cover art’s quite surreal – a mix of birds and evil looking tree faces, and what looks like a couple of ballet dancers on the water. Did you give the artist a spec for the kind of piece you wanted or just let him do his thing, based on the music?
LIV: I sent him my lyrics and, basically, it’s Alex and Stefan; Stefan is the artist’s name. So it was the two of them doing some brainstorming based on my lyrics. We had a photo session at Stefan’s place and, a couple of days later, he came up with this cover and this artwork which I think is just brilliant. I just talked to somebody from the Norwegian press, from the Norwegian ‘Scream Magazine’, and I was actually told that: “Samantha Fox is just out of the question because of the cover… Sam Fox is a pensioner now and it’s Liv Kristine!”
(Liv Kristine on her cover artwork appearance for 'Symphonies of the Night')
"I just talked to somebody from the Norwegian press, from the Norwegian ‘Scream Magazine’, and I was actually told that: “Samantha Fox is just out of the question because of the cover… Sam Fox is a pensioner now and it’s Liv Kristine!”"
Leaves' Eyes - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2013 Stefan Heilemann - www.heilemania.de
Interview by Mark Holmes
Leaves' Eyes Official Website:
LEAVES' EYES DISCOGRAPHY
Into Your Light EP (2004)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
Leaves' Eyes Official Facebook:
Liv Kristine Official Website:
Elegy EP (2005)
Vinland Saga (2005)
Legend Land EP (2006)
My Destiny EP (2009)
At Heaven's End EP (2010)
Liv Kristine Official Facebook:
Melusine EP (2011)
Symphonies of the Night (2013)
LIV: I thought that was really funny!
MD: You are aware who Samantha Fox is then?
LIV: Yeah! [laughs] I was born in 1976 so Sam Fox is well known to me. You know, there are so many things you can do in Photoshop!
MD: Sam Fox had a singing career but she wasn’t very good. I think she made the top 10 in this country but it was pretty awful. The worst kind of pop music, you know.
LIV: She had a problem live, I think, and people tend to focus on other things than on her vocal chords!
MD: Yeah, she became famous for a couple of other things.
LIV: Exactly! That’s why the Norwegian press joked about that.
MD: A lot of bands and artists seem to like the experiment of stripping down the heaviness in their songs, like what Katatonia did this year with their last album. Is that something you’ve ever considered? You could maybe call it ‘Symphonies of the Day’!
LIV: Ahhh... [laughs]… ‘Symphonies of the Day’, I like that!
MD: Nice acoustic versions.
LIV: Yes, absolutely. Well, funnily enough, we sometimes do acoustic shows. I like that – it’s real and it’s more intimate, so that’s something I really like. But, yeah, I don’t know what the next Leaves’ Eyes album is going to be like; I have no clue. We just start from somewhere and see what happens.
MD: You have a new drummer as of last year so what happened to Roland, out of interest?
LIV: Well, actually, Roland had plans for another job, and he needed more structure in his life. Actually, Felix, who followed Roland, left the band just four weeks ago; five days before the European/Asian tour, which wasn’t really a pleasant thing to do… [laughs] You know, paying for visas and flights and stuff. He just decided to quit metal, so he’s doing party music instead now.
MD: Oh dear! If that’s his thing…
LIV: Yeah, that’s his thing but leaving the band five days before was a kind of a…errr…
MD: …big let-down, not very professional and so forth.
LIV: Yeah, exactly. So the Atrocity drummer, Joris, is actually my hero of the year, except for Nelson Mandela. Joris quit everything in the Netherlands and he left the factory where he was working, and he came to Germany, and he learned the whole Leaves’ Eyes headliner set within four days, and then we left for the European/Asian tour. So Joris is my hero and saviour! It would be disastrous to cancel a four week long tour, you can’t do that. But what is a band without a drummer? Okay, we could do acoustic sets but that’s just not a solution when you have a headliner set of ninety minutes.
MD: Is it starting to feel a bit like Spinal Tap what with all the drummers you’re getting through?!
LIV: It’s definitely Spinal Tap and I have no idea why this always happens to drummers! I have no clue but I’m kind of sick and tired of having people come and go. And in the beginning everyone’s very happy and enthusiastic and, “yes, it’s great to be in a metal band”, and some people just realise that, “okay, being a rock star is not that convenient all the time, and there is hard work behind everything.” And then they leave.
MD: That’s a shame. You’re back over here in January for five headline dates and your UK fanbase seems to be growing all the time. Is that something you’ve noticed each time you come back?
LIV: Definitely, and the UK for me is, at the moment, the strongest growing market for our music. And I always see that the UK audiences are always eager and happy to have you on tour, playing live. Many other places in Europe, especially in Europe, people are just spoilt with concerts every week, seven days a week, so people are kind of fed up and people just can’t pay to attend all those gigs. But the UK audiences are really hungry for more and that’s definitely something I realise every time we return to the UK. So I’m really looking forward to be back in the UK and play ‘Symphonies of the Night’.
MD: Brilliant, and you’re starting in Cardiff I noticed. I know you’ve said before that you’ve got a special affinity with that city because you were a student there briefly…
LIV: Yeah, yeah.
MD: So do you always tell your booking agent to make sure there’s a Cardiff show?
LIV: Yes, definitely, and it’s a very nice place to start because I know that first day, the crew is going to be very busy setting up everything and everybody’s going to be very busy. And there is really nothing much I can do, apart from giving interviews, so I always kind of disappear and visit all those places I visited back then when I was fifteen or sixteen. So, yeah, I’m always looking forward to be back.
MD: A nice bit of nostalgia.
LIV: Very, very nice.
MD: The last thing I wanted to ask is I noticed you’ve started offering original hand-painted pictures for sale. Has there been a big demand for those?
LIV: Well, I’m overwhelmed. It was actually my husband’s idea, Alexander’s idea. He just printed some new flyers for the tour we just did in Europe and Asia and, on the backside, on the second page of the flyer, he just put this, you know, “if you want a hand-painted picture for you or for a good friend…” That was a surprise. I did paint a couple of pictures in the past, just for special fans and just as very special presents. Painting is something I’ve been doing all my life, as well as singing and writing lyrics, so it’s something I take pleasure in doing, and now I’m even able to do it for other people which is a privilege, definitely.
MD: That’s fantastic.
LIV: Yeah, it’s fantastic, and I ask people, “what is your favourite song of any Leaves’ Eyes album, or solo album, or Theatre of Tragedy album; which is your favourite colour?” And then I get down and think, and get my thoughts and inspiration and we see what comes up.
MD: So you’re always painting pictures about a song, or around the theme of a song?
LIV: Yeah. I just had somebody asking for ‘Hymn to the Lone Sands’ and he told me brown, and red, and black are his favourite colours so, you know, that’s where I start from. It’s always a very personal hand-painted picture, and I take great pleasure in doing this.
MD: That one sounds like a challenge, but you said you like a challenge!
LIV: Yes I do, definitely! So I’m very happy about this and, for me, painting a picture means to switch off from daily life routine, and enjoy a great glass of red wine, and sit down and paint.
MD: That sounds good. Another creative outlet. A different way of expressing your emotions through art, other than music.
LIV: Definitely. I’m really aware of how lucky I am. I consider myself to be very lucky, yeah.
MD: Cool. Marvellous. Right, thanks so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you.
LIV: It’s been a pleasure speaking to you, it was a very, very nice chat, and I do hope… I don’t know if you’re able to come and see one of our shows in January?
MD: I live nowhere near any of the cities you’re playing but I’m planning to do the Birmingham one.
LIV: Oh, please do, please do.
MD: I’ll be there.
LIV: Lovely, that’s great news. You’ll have to come by and say “hi”.
MD: Good luck with the album, and see you in Birmingham.
LIV: Yes, see you in Birmingham and you take good care.