DATE OF INTERVIEW:
11th August 2015
METAL DISCOVERY: Congratulations on ‘The Seventh Life Path’, a really riveting listen. How pleased are you with how the album turned out?
MORTEN: I think we achieved more or less what we set out to do with this album. With the previous album we staked out a course in a more heavy and intricate direction, and with this album we continued down that path, trying to take it even further. I think that we've been able to improve a lot of the performances, especially on a technical level.
(Morten Veland on preserving Sirenia's creative individuality)
"I do not listen to other bands in the same genre anymore, that's something I stopped many years ago. I do not want to get influenced by them in any way. I choose to get my inspiration from elsewhere and I think that helped Sirenia sound different than most of the other bands in the genre."
Interview by Joshua Jaeger
Official Sirenia Website:
At Sixes and Sevens (2002)
Albums & EPs
Norway's Sirenia have been carving their own niche within the symphonic metal subgenre since the release of debut album, 'At Sixes and Sevens', in 2001. Now, with the release of their seventh record, the aptly titled, 'The Seventh Life Path', a sporadically challenging, yet ultimately rewarding listen, main man Morten Veland & co. are set to consolidate their reputation as one of a few bands who prove time and again that sympho-metal can transcend its generic underpinnings. Metal Discovery's stateside writer, Joshua Jaeger, quizzed Morten about the new album, his songwriting modus operandi, the band's creative progression and other random confabulations...
Sirenia - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2015 Tom Knudsen - www.tomknudsen.no
Official Sirenia Facebook:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
An Elixir for Existence (2004)
MD: It’s been out there for three months now, so how have the general reactions been from fans and critics?
MORTEN: We have gotten a lot of great reviews so far. At first it seemed as the reactions from the fans were a bit mixed. But ‘The Seventh Life Path’ is a more complex album and it demands more time from the listener to get under the skin of the album. It seems now, 3 months later, that most of the fans are quite pleased with the album, more or less as expected. I am glad that fans were patient and continued to listen to the album, giving it the chance to grow on them.
MD: When listening to ‘The Seventh Life Path’, I noticed that the songs seem to be very individual and not so much connected lyrically to each other; however, the album as a whole does have a terrific flow. Any thoughts on making a themed concept album in the future?
MORTEN: Yes, every song has been composed so that it has its own personality, its own individuality. I never thought it would be interesting to make a concept album, as it would put limitations and restrictions on the composing, but even more on the lyrics. But I will hold the possibility open for the future, as it would be a challenge and a new experience. I always embrace a new challenge and a new experience, but I have no plans for a concept album as of now.
MD: How has music writing changed for Sirenia since the beginning? Obviously new lead singers and style changes alter the sound a bit, but any comments about how the music has evolved?
MORTEN: All the song material is written by me as always, and I have developed my way of working over the years. I always discover some new things or techniques along the way, but the basics are more or less the same. At this point, I try to write albums that have all the elements of our style; by that I mean that I try to capture our old sound, our recent sound and, in addition, I always try to add some new stuff. I always preferred to work alone when I compose, as I always felt that was the only way I could really give 100%. I easily get distracted and lose focus when composing with others. I need to be in a certain mode when composing, and I can only enter this mode when I am alone. Regarding the vocals, Ailyn and I usually work together, though. I always write her melodies and lyrics at first, but next we come together and go through everything to see if there are certain things we can improve. In addition, Jan Erik also had some inputs to the music, which was cool. He listens to music which is quite different to what I usually make, so he helped out with some nice variations.
MD: What are some tactics you use when song writing to stay unique from other bands in your genre? Do you think you’ll have any guest musicians on any future albums? If so, who would be your dream guests?
MORTEN: I do not listen to other bands in the same genre anymore, that's something I stopped many years ago. I do not want to get influenced by them in any way. I choose to get my inspiration from elsewhere and I think that helped Sirenia sound different than most of the other bands in the genre. I always thought it was interesting and inspiring working with guest musicians, so most likely we will continue to do that also in the future. There are plenty of good artists out there who would be very interesting to work with but, for me, I guess the ultimate artist would be Leonard Cohen or Slash.
MD: I’ve read that you wrote your first song when you were 16 years old. Do you ever whip out any unheard guitar riffs from your childhood during practice?
MORTEN: I was actually 14 when I wrote my first song; it was an instrumental piece as far as I remember. I might have that recording on a cassette somewhere, would be funny to listen to it at this point. I think I forgot most of the riffs that I composed in my early days, not a big loss as they were not that good anyway. I think I began writing interesting stuff around 1995. I still have a lot of riffs I made in the nineties on an old 12-track hard disk recorder.
MD: I fell in love with the music video you guys worked on for ‘Seven Widows Weep’ and have really enjoyed the cinematic style that your music matches up with in the visuals provided. I want to be a Viking when I grow up! Have you ever given any thought to producing feature length films with Sirenia doing the soundtrack? I think you guys would be a perfect fit to make a TV show, movie or video game soundtrack!
MORTEN: It would definitely be interesting to do a project like that; again, that would be a new experience. Actually there is a song from the previous album that was featured in a horror movie, but composing the entire soundtrack would be a really cool project.
MD: What bands do you draw inspiration from, if any? Childhood favourites?
MORTEN: I listen to all kinds of genres, I am very open-minded when it comes to music and, as a composer, I think that is very important as well. There are things to be learned from all kinds of music. Most of the music I listen to, though, is pre-2000.
MD: What are some bands and/or artists that you listen to currently?
MORTEN: Leonard Cohen, Depeche Mode, Garbage, Emperor, Guns N' Roses, Edward Grieg, Black Sabbath and so on.
MD: What are some hobbies/side projects your band members have when you’re not working on new albums or touring? Are any gamers within the band? If so, what are some of your favourites?
MORTEN: As far as I know, none in the band are gamers. Personally, I always have some musical projects going on in addition to Sirenia; I'm a very creative and productive guy, so I need to do something with my compositions, even those that do not fit into Sirenia's musical concept. On my free time, I like to brew beer, make wine, collect cognacs or go fishing at times.
MD: What would be the wildest thing you’ve seen (on stage or off) during one of your tours?
MORTEN: Well, there has been some memorable stuff happening over the years. But I think the wildest show I ever was a part of was when I was on tour with Tristania in 1999. I remember we did a show in Berlin. It was our first headliner tour and we went onstage really late at night, most of us had been drinking all day and were drunk out of our minds when we entered the stage. I think the performance was shit that night but we put on a show. The craziest sequence of it all was when the violin player fell with his head into a guitar amp and cracked his head wide open, blood was just pumping out of his head spraying the whole stage and everyone near him. He was taken to the hospital to sew countless stitches in his forehead. Afterwards he continued the tour as if nothing ever happened, so he was really cool about it.
MD: Living in the USA, it’s sad to see we still haven’t had Sirenia come to tour. Any chance we’ll see you guys in the not-so-distant future?
MORTEN: I really hope so. We always wanted to tour the US; unfortunately, we have not been able to do so yet, but I hope it will be possible soon.
MD: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! We look forward to hearing more excellent Sirenia in the future!
MORTEN: My pleasure. Cheers!
Nine Destinies and a Downfall (2007)
The 13th Floor (2009)
The Enigma of Life (2011)
Perils of the Deep Blue (2013)
The Seventh Life Path (2015)