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In Words: Tiamat

- Johan Edlund - Nov. 1999 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Johan Edlund & Anders Iwers - Jan. 2002 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Tiamat promotion photo

Johan Edlund & Anders Iwers
- January, 9th 2002 - Dortmund (Germany) -

In December I got asked by the promoters of Century Media, if I would like to do an interview with Tiamat and so we made an appointment for January 9th when Johan Edlund and Anders Iwers are in the Dort;mund headquarters for promotion. I got told that I would talk to Tiamat's bassist Anders. Unfortunately the new CD Judas Christ didn't arrived me in time and so I had just the chance to listen to 2 or 3 tracks before the interview took place. Not easy to do, if you don't know the music and just had time to read the biography once! The next surprise was that not just Anders walked in for the interview, also Tiamat mastermind Johan Edlund came in. I explained the situation and ask them to tell me about the album. Johan started to tell a bit about the music and the songs. "On this album we have rock songs as well as slow atmospheric ones. The 12 tracks have different moods, different sounds and so we grouped them in 4 parts. Every part is like a chapter in a book. Every song is like a page of a chapter." In conclusion it meant to me that every album is a book and the albums / books are like parts of a bigger one. Johan replied "Yeah, every album is like a book, a book in the bible of Tiamat!" Their website is which makes it all fit together... But also the album title is kinda liked to religion and belief. "I came up with the title Judas Christ" said Anders. And Johan added "It's provocative and even if we get older, we like to provoke! The title shows that we are not as mature as some might think we are and at the same time it's linked to our past." In the early years of Tiamat the band was more based in the death metal scene, their sound was rough and extreme and so where the lyrics, these days everybody expect some kind of heavy Pink Floyd. On the last releases Johan was painting pictures in the mind of the listener with his music. So the title is provoke as a reminiscence to the early days and to show that they still not grown up. Anders mentioned that it has also to do with their definition of black metal. I think I looked puzzled, coz Johan tried to explain. "Black metal for us was more than the music, for us black metal is belief, persuasion." The album cover fit into this concept as well showing a photo of a goat. The picture is taken by Johan himself who explained that these days he discovered photography as a hobby. A different kind of art which is a challenge. "I'm started taking photos, but there is still a lot to learn. I found out what I can do with a computer and pictures. I'm not quite good, but realized that with the right equipment I can do the artwork. I'm a bit naive in what I'm doing, but it's interesting. A different way to express myself." As a musician he learnt through the years how to handle everything, working in the studio or playing live. "These days we know well how a song should sound and how to get it. We don't have to work in different studios anymore." And so they have a song on Judas Christ which is very unusual for the Swedish quartet and which nobody expected. The song is called Vote For Love, a straight forward song with a positive feeling and message. You might wonder about that one, me too, and so I ask Johan about it. "Well, I'm no more young and inexperienced enough not to be touched by what happens in the world right now. It definitely made me think about my past and which memory people should keep in mind about me in case I suddenly die. I do not want to be the type of guy who is just spreading a sad and gloomy mood." But he's still trying to write the perfect song... "Perhaps I'll never write this song, but it's worth to try it." So I was curious if there is any song he would call perfect. "Perhaps Imagine of John Lennon or some Beatles tune... Perhaps there ain't a perfect song, perhaps there never will be..." In the past Johan said that we should never expect that a new Tiamat album will sound like the one before. This time it seems that they took something out of the last 3 albums... Not that they copied themselves, but.... Anders agreed that there are similarities, but that the next album might sound totally different. "I'm best when I have a deadline. Working under pressure has a positive effect on me, but this time we were running out of time and so I picked up ideas I had during the last years. Stuff which never been completed or didn't fit into the album we were working at. But if I would have used this material on the albums I was working at, it would have sound totally different!" Johan stated. Anders continued "In the past Johan worked a lot on his own, this album was done by the band." "Absolutely right, I'm glad that this time Anders and our drummer Lars spend as much time in the studio as I did." Johan is a perfectionist and in the past he tried to control everything. "I was a control freak and I'm still try to control everything. But during the production of the Lucyfire album I learnt that I have to pass some responsibility. To trust people and so I tried when we did Judas Christ not to control everything. It still feels strange, but the result proofed it was the right thing to do." Johan is proud of what he and his mates have achieved, but there are still things he's dreaming of.... "It would be great to play one day as opener for a band like U2." Johan mentioned. Even if the crowd might react a little harsh. "I feel that if we would get the chance to play with a band like U2 which is really huge everywhere, we can rock the people." I doubt that Tiamat will get the chance with this album, but who knows what the future will hold for Johan & co. If we all learnt one thing on Sep. 11th 2001, it's that nobody knows what the future will bring and that we all should try to change the world to the positive, even if everyone can just change something in their neighborhood. And enjoy every day, it might be your last.....

Claudia Ehrhardt


Tiamat: Johan Edlund - promo photo

Johan Edlund - Nov., 25th 1999 - Bochum (D) -

The Swedish band Tiamat been through musical changes in the past. Since the release of Wildhoney the band is no longer part of the death metal scene. Johan Edlund and his mates took the challenge and started to discover new musical shores. During the years they tend more and more to become a gothic rock act.... With their latest album Skeleton Skeletron the band followed their chosen way.

How is the tour going so far? I think the fans changed, coz you changed your musical style during the last years.

Yeah, we are older and wiser *laughs*

You started as a death metal band and now you sound like a little like Pink Floyd, just harder!

Yeah, I mean we have all this influences... From death metal to Pink Floyd! That's what I think makes it interesting, coz even if we play now stuff which is far away from where we came from, we still have our roots which show up and where we take from. I think that's really cool!

Do you think the fans from the early days can follow your way? Or do you think you pushing it too far?

Probably not......

There is a big difference between the first releases and the current album...

I can believe that it's hard to follow. For us it's really cool to have this. We have played black metal some years ago and we still have it in our blood. It's a scene we are relate a lot to, where we came from and although people don't see it nowadays, it's there and it can show up! Any time, maybe on the next record... Or live show! This little unsecure thing is interesting. Makes us very unpredictable! People don't know if we sound like Cradle Of Filth or Depeche Mode! That's what makes us, Tiamat, unpredictable!

How you came up with the title for the album Skeleton Skeletron?

I don't know. I don't like the question, coz I can't answer it.

Okay... No problem. When I first saw the cover artwork it remind me of posters of movies..... How you came up with that idea? It's not a typical cover, even in the past Tiamat never had this cliché covers. More people from other musical genres are interested in your music. You get airplay at the German music TV channels.

I think one reason is that this time I made all the record sleeve myself. Than you can be more experimental with it. If we would had someone else, he would have take a look what we had in the past. They can be afraid of what to... to take it to the edge. They don't know the band and they don't know if it's too much in one direction. I can do it.

Perhaps the point is that you have to explain it to another person, make this person imagine what you visualise..... What's in your mind.

That's the perfect way. I mean I had about 10 suggestions for the record cover... A few I didn't used, coz they remind me of what we done in the past. This orange looking.... This album is different, so it has to look different!

I think with this album you caught the interest of people who has nothing to do with metal.... I mean I never ever expected to see an album critic in a computer magazine.....

That's cool!!!

In the music TV channels the video is not just played in the genre shows, it's played anytime and that's a step ahead for you...

That's pretty cool! Finally made it into some daytime airplay!!! So we can scare some little kids which came home from school...... *smiles*

Do you think you can scare people after they saw Marilyn Manson and so on...

No, we don't even care about. that's not the point... *smiles*

Do you chose the single / the video, coz you think it's the track which presents the current release best?

Yeah, I mean, it's always hard, coz our songs are usually different from each other... But this song is pretty close to be representative for this album!

This is the 3rd show on this tour... How are the reactions so far?

Yesterday we played in Paris... In a nice place and I forgot the name of it... It was pretty good....

Perhaps it was the La Locomotive...


What people have to expect? I mean it's hard to understand. You are involved...

If people want to have it easy, have easy solutions....

You are the wrong band?

They don't have to listen to Tiamat! It takes some time to understand and if it doesn't take some time, it won't last for long!

Last time you toured you had a fantastic light show and visual effects. Can we expect this again?

We still bring a light show which is very different from what we have done in the past. We used this projection and stuff for a lot of tours and we actually go a little bit far from that this time. We have a light show which this time brings the music a little bit more to the front. It's not as much standing and watching the light show...

Last time the light show was amazing, but the people forgot the music about the lights and effects...

They won't be able not to think about the music! We play louder and more in front... You know.

So you always do what they don't expect!

I don't know what they expect, but it felt good to do... Coz we got a little bit bored to critize what we done in the past, although we are pretty happy with what we have done in the past and the light show was pretty cool. It worked pretty good most of the time, but it made us a little bit lazy! We kinda thought that we can just stand there... Like in a rehearsal. People concentrate on other things. This show we have now leaves it up to us, if it's a good or a bad show. We have to struggle a little bit harder, which I think it's good! It reminds me a little bit of how it was when we were young... The first tours we did...

I know that you moved to Germany quite a while ago. Did the change of the surrounding make you change a little bit, too? Was the music affected also?

I don't know really. I was here so often, anyway, we toured so much the last years. So it's a little bit weird, we don't feel home anywhere!

Did you leave Sweden, coz you can't play there live a lot? You said you did the recordings in Germany, anyway. Or were other reasons make you move?

I moved only because I have my girlfriend here in Germany!

As a musician you can work everywhere....

Yeah, I can work here as good as anywhere else! The taxes are smaller here anyway! *smiles* I live better in Germany than in Sweden! *laughs*

And perhaps a lot of things are easier, coz it's the centre of Europe....

Of course, when I lived in Dortmund, I recently moved to Hamburg, but in Dortmund I had walking distance to the record company and to our management! That was not only good, of course, it could be bad as well.

You play almost everywhere in Europe. Will you play or have you played in Turkey?

We had an offer, it was almost close to happen... I think it was because of the earthquake, perhaps it's better to be here right now..... *smiles* I heard that there is a huge interest in us and that the people want to see us live....

I think it'll be cool, coz the fans there are not used to see so many concerts...

That's usually cool with those places! And it's really something special for them! It's more euphoric than Paris for example. They are a bit snobby, they are used to see bands every day... Hamburg as well, probably here as well... Most bands play somewhere in this area... Bochum, Essen or Dortmund. and people get spoiled I think. I know it myself, when I lived in Stockholm my favorite band didn't made it up to Stockholm that often!

I think it's interesting to play Greece or Turkey, coz it's a different culture which might effect you and the writing afterwards....

Mmh, yeah, we played in Israel and it was very, very cool!!! And Mexico as well! We didn't know that we sold records there, coz they sell a lot of bootlegs. You see the sales and you go there and a lot of people are there at the shows!

Isn't that a little bit strange?

No, anyway, it's cool! As long as they are into the music!!!! I don't care, if they buy bootlegs or the real product! May they burn the CDs, I don't care!

Most musicians / bands don't like this bootlegs. Your opinion is very outstanding for a musician!

They want the money and I want to spread the music! If there are good ways of spreading the music without me getting money, I like it also. This is the formal art, that's why I started the music, to make the people listen!

That's very cool, but most see it in a different way...

But I don't make it for the money. Most people are stupid!

A great and unusual statement! But Johan is absolutely right! Music shouldn't be made for money, it should be made for people to listen to. Beside that Johan told me that he see doing promotion a part of his job, but for his music he lives. He wants to play in front of Tiamat fans and not at festivals, even if it's good for promotion. Promotion is a part of his job which he doesn't like, like doing interviews! Therefor I have to say thank you for spending time answering my questions!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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