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15th September 2007
METAL DISCOVERY: How has your live show developed into what it is because your music and lyrics carry a lot of serious historical context with a big storytelling element, although your live show has a strong theatrical element to it, and a kind of carnival feeling to it?
MD: A hypothetical question - say you became as big as Maiden, and you had no budget constraints at all, how theatrical would you want to take Turisas; what would you do with the band - live, recorded…what’s your vision if you had millions?
MD: Oh yeah, but you’d put a bit of drama on stage using actors?
MD: So what’s going on theatrically on stage should be completely combined with the actors, music etc?
MD: Well, hopefully one day! Do you get out to many gigs at all - do you get time to go and see any gigs as a paying customer?
MD: So you would’ve wasted your money! Can I run a few band past you and ask your opinion of them…Skyclad, obviously the originators of violin in metal and the whole folk metal thing…
MD: Boney M…
MD: ‘Mary’s Boy Child’…
MATHIAS NYGÅRD: I think live you can still do both. To some, I know the whole party atmosphere might take over everything, but I still think we do play the songs which are serious, and with the kind of suitable expression to that. On the other hand, if we do Boney M cover songs or fool around with other stuff in between songs, it’s a good counterbalance to it, and it’s fun for the audience, and fun for us as well on stage. We don’t want to walk up there and make it a too overly epic show and be totally serious and all of that, so there’s space for both.
MN: I think there’s the other point of it of not just burning money into pyrotech or whatever just because you have…because I think what actually have made our shows fascinating is the ideas behind a lot of things rather than the money spent on it. That’s certainly something I would certainly like to keep instead of putting ten thousand into nicer stage decoration, to still come up with productive ideas and interesting things that don’t necessarily require any kind of financial big invests. But on the other hand, I’d like to work…I don’t know, probably with this band, but maybe as a separate project or whatever, I like all forms of stage art, so I would like to combine pretty much everything - the music, but also with the more theatrical stuff which is more connected maybe to musicals and opera…not meaning that we go in there and sing and dance…
MN: Yeah, combining of acting, music, also dancers and kind of a massive stage setting maybe combined with video and stuff like that. So kind of combine all kinds of different elements to make it a performance for…well this album, for instance, even a long time before going into the studio with the album I’ve been thinking of the thought of doing the album and scripting it down, the story maybe in the form of manuscript kind of thing, and then see what you can do with it. The soundtrack is already kind of written to it, at least for the parts in it, and then adding in between to make it full. Now, we are still a rock band that goes on stage and plays the songs which deal with certain things, but we are still a band playing the songs to an audience, rather than the story is there in the music, there’s a band performing, there’s the actors doing their role…
MN: Yeah, it should be one package where you go and enjoy the whole rather than you go and see a band with nice pyros or with a nice stage setting where the stage setting is just there for the band. But instead, create something where the band is one part of it but there’s a lot of different elements to it as well.
MN: Erm…well, always the summer festivals, there’s a lot of bands performing, but I don’t bother to go and see any bands…I go and see a band for maybe 1 or 2 songs if I have the time at the festival, but I can’t really be bothered with that. But club shows…on the other hand, I like to go to shows which are really just some kind of underground jazz evening or something like this, or a prog evening where you don’t know the bands, but you know there’s certainly gonna be skilled performers and skilled musicians and stuff like that so you can guarantee you’ll have a nice night out. I also like to go to concerts, but I seldom have the chance because our schedule is in the open all the time, and then there might come a tour and if you book a ticket, well, you could always sell it, but…Muse is coming to Finland in October, and I would have really wanted to see them live, but all of a sudden they sold out all the tickets in a few hours and didn’t get any, but now we end up going on tour at the same time anyway.
MN: I have to say, I’m not really familiar with the band. I know their status; I know where they come from; I know what they’ve done and so on, but I haven’t listened to their CDs. I don’t know who’s playing what in the band ; I don’t know when they released what, and to what label. I know that they’re considered to be pioneers of folk metal, but that’s all I know about them.
MN: Mmm…I have to say that there’s a few tunes they wrote that are actually really genius. The songs, as in how catchy they can be, even if they’re as stupid as hell, like ‘Rivers of Babylon’…
MN: Yeah, all of these are tunes that even if you hadn’t heard of Boney M, you’d still recognise if someone starts whistling them around. So there’s something special in that maybe.
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(Mathias Nygård on his open-minded view of music)
" I think people should just keep an open mind in music in general and not be like, well I’m a metalhead so I listen to metal and whatever is allowed. I like metal; I like extreme metal but, on the other hand, I like really soft stuff as well - pop and…you know, there’s something good in all music."
MD: I did have Lordi on my list, but I think I pissed you off with too many Lordi questions earlier, so I’m not even gonna ask that! Korpiklaani…
MN: Erm…well, having played several shows together with them, we always meet at festivals and so on, and they’re always fucking drunk! They’re nice people, but I think personally their music is a bit one-dimensional. It only has one face to it, and it wears out really quickly, and it’s not really helped by that they’ve done albums which are really similar to the previous one…in my opinion. At first, it sounded original and cool, but then if you copy yourself enough times, it just…that’s what I at least want to do with the band is to keep it moving all the time and not redo what we’ve done before.
MD: Orphaned Land…
MN: That’s the one with the Middle Eastern kind of…
MD: Yeah, they’re from Israel, and similar to Turisas in that they have a big storytelling, historical element in their lyrics.
MN: I have to say…I think they were at least on Century Media at some point…
MD: They still are…
MN: Ah, they still are…I think I heard only a couple of songs or maybe saw a video or something, but I think they had a lot of percussion things and stuff like that - it’s an interesting mix. Probably I could guess they’re quite skilled at what they do, but I can’t really say anything more.
MD: Cradle of Filth…
MN: I think I bought the ‘Vempire’ one, and the one that came before that, ‘The Principle of Evil…’ and then ‘Dusk…’ up to then, and when the record after that came out I lost interest in the band and haven’t really followed them since. I think what they did at the time was quite groundbreaking; quite new and fresh, both the strong image and the music they played was different from the Norwegian black metal thing. It’s certainly something unique in that way, but I haven’t found the latest stuff as interesting as what they did in the beginning.
MD: You might not have heard of this band - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum…
MN: Never heard of them [laughs].
MD: American band, and like yourselves…well, you don’t wear dungaree/dress type outfits, but they have a whole theatrical element to their show, and play violin, guitars, bass, and homemade instruments as well. Very progressive, I recommend them - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
MN: Sleepytime…..Gorilla.…Museum?!
MD: Yes, they’re as weird as their name! Are there any bands out there you think people who will be reading this on Metal Discovery should discover?…apart from your own band of course!
MN: I think people should just keep an open mind in music in general and not be like, well I’m a metalhead so I listen to metal and whatever is allowed. I like metal; I like extreme metal but, on the other hand, I like really soft stuff as well - pop and…you know, there’s something good in all music.
MD: Finally, where do you see Turisas going in the coming months, or do you not think to the future too much?
MN: I think to the future in the way of…we have to set the standards and hopes high, but still keep your feet on the ground. You have to be optimistic because nobody else will be, and then when you get somewhere, somebody will come and tell you - well, I knew this would happen, well done boys! But yeah, I think you have to plan forward and we have to be able to think even things…there’s very much within people, when somebody is dreaming of something big, there’s always people there to put you down and say don’t think so big, you’re not gonna make it. So you have to think way up over what other people would put you down for, but still keep your focus there, but still keep your feet on the ground, and don’t start floating around too much.
MD: Well, that’s about it - thank you very much indeed.
MN: Thank you.
Mathias on stage at Nottingham Rock City, 15th September 2007
Photograph copyright © 2007 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
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Battle Metal (2004)
The Varangian Way (2007)
To Holmgard and Beyond (2007)
Rasputin (2007)
Thanks to Sarah Lees at Century Media for arranging the interview.
Thanks to my ever supportive girlfriend, Hannah, for recording the interview.
A huge cheers to Mathias Nygård for taking time out to be interviewed.