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In Words: Tristania

- Kjetil Nordhus - Oct. 2010 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

© Angst-im-Wald

Kjetil Nordhus - October 13th 2010 (by email)

Tristania have been through some changes and now they are out to promote their new album Rubicon live. While on tour Kjetil was so kind to answer my questions.

Let's talk about the most obvious thing, the line-up changes since your 2007 Illumination album. Some live members became permanent members, with Mariangela you have a new singer. And you replaced Østen Bergøy. A lot of changes, it's almost like a new band... Does it feel like something new? Or is it already like being a family?

For us, it doesn't really feel like a new band, but we do understand why many people might see it as almost a new band. Tarald, Ole and Mariangela have already been in the band for years, and you get to know each other really well during a creative period like the one we've been through. Adding an incredible number of hours used to compose Rubicon, I think the Tristania anno October 2010 is a mature band – being almost like a family as you say. Remember, both Einar and Østen contributes on the album although it was clear quite early that they weren't going to participate in live shows.

It seems that it was a logical step to ask you to replace Østen. But how did you found Mariangela Demurtas?

Mariangela was one of more than 200 singers from all over the world that sent a presentation to Tristania when it was clear that Vibeke needed to be replaced. She really stood out from most of the others, with her edge and energy, and she was invited to Stavanger to meet the band and try to work together creatively. That obviously worked out really well, and she was asked to join, moved to Stavanger to give the band 100 percent focus, and the rest is history.

Have the songs been collected over the years? Or have you wrote the song when you knew you'll head into the studio?

Some songs are really old ideas, some songs was started on after the release of Illumination in 2007 while some of the songs, or at least some parts were made close to entering the studio this spring. For example the closing track (which is also called Illumination) on Rubicon is an idea Einar has had for more than five years, and he never felt the potential was fulfilled before now. I remember having a really creative process with Einar in his basement studio during the pre-production sessions, and I'm really happy that the song turned out how it did.

Did the songwriting differ compared to the past? How much influence had the new members?

All the band members contributed in the song writing this time, and that way Rubicon is even more of a collective output than earlier Tristania albums. I think it was important for the band to do it this way, not only for the new members to feel like we were in the creative loop, but also because the fact that the new members do have something to contribute with – and we wanted Rubicon to represent Tristania anno 2010.

It's almost like a new start... Did you feel under pressure? Or did you have doubts, if the fans will accept the 'new' Tristania?

That's an aspect we could have chosen to use a lot of time and energy on, but we chose differently. We know we have a big fan base that are the most loyal fans in the world, and it's so nice to see that people are really into the new look Tristania now. During the first days of the Rubicon tour that has been really evident, and that's something we hoped for, and to a certain degree knew was going to happen, but of course it's always really nice to meet all those smiling faces after the gig, getting great feedback on what just happened on stage.

Why the album title Rubicon? Do you feel like crossing the Rubicon with this album?

Tristania crossing the Rubicon isn't really the main reason behind the title, which more refers to lyrical themes on the album – being mentally or physically on the point of no return. But having said that, I do understand many people are asking if the title refers to the band's situation. It's not at all like this is a point of no return for the band, but if you also know that 'crossing the Rubicon' can represent a fresh start, I think it can be a link to the album title.

You have a video for Year Of The Rat. Why did you choose this track? And who had the idea for the video?

We discussed quite a lot which song would be the most suitable for a music video, and ended up with three alternatives. In the end we agreed with both our management and our record label that the ideas for Year Of The Rat were the most likely ones to turn out really well. The ideas came from the Swedish producer Jakob Arevärn and after some discussion about the concept Mariangela went to Sweden for the recording.

Will you do another video? If so, what song will it be?

I'm not sure, to be honest. After getting to know all the songs on the album even better I think there are several good alternatives. We have brought a film guy on the tour, and he would like to make a 'live video' of Exile, with stage shots and general shots from the tour. I think that could turn out really cool, and I'm crossing my fingers that this idea will be fulfilled not too long after the tour.

How was the record release party in Stavanger? I guess it was a blast!?

The release party was a fantastic experience, to be honest. Østen and Pete joined us on stage (it was actually the very first time them two shared the stage), there was lots of friends and family in the crowd, and there had been flying in people from England, Germany, Bulgaria, Mexico, Holland and Poland as I know of. So – of course that was a brilliant night for the band, kicking off the Rubicon tour in a very special way.

What do you think about the Rubicon tour package?

That's a funny question to answer right now, as I'm sitting in the lounge of the tour bus right now, with music on my ears, looking at very happy members of Tristania and Asrai hanging out and having a great time together. Unsun is in another bus, but they are great people too. And for the music, it seems to be a good package. We're only a few days into the tour yet, and I have already noticed some songs by the other bands I wait for every day while preparing for our own show backstage.

At the end of the tour you'll play at Female Metal Voices Festival - not for the first time. Are you looking forward to get back to Wieze? To this special festival?

Yes, we're really happy to return to the Female Metal Voices Festival. It's an important festival for many bands, and it will be a very special way to finish off the tour with a nice festival. After playing so many days in a row before that, I'm sure we'll be very well warmed up, and ready to surprise a few people with our live show.

Can we expect the Rubicon tour to go to more place? Will more shows be added?

We're definitely hoping for that, although not directly after the European round we have now. I know we've had promoters from South America wanting us to return, and we really hope for that. USA is also somewhere we think we should go touring, and we've discussed this with our management. So – hopefully there will be touring in both those territories before returning to Europe again for the summer festivals in 2011.

What can the fans expect live? Are you already rehearsing some old tune with Mariangela? Will there be new versions of old classics?

There's a nice mix of new and old songs on the Rubicon tour. Obviously, after releasing six album it's getting harder and harder putting together a set list – because you always want some extra focus on the newest material, but I think we did a good thing and rehearsed almost two hours of music before leaving Norway. That way we can adjust the set list from day to day if we want, something that will keep things fresh both for us and for the audience, which won't know exactly what they will get.

And after the European Rubicon tour, what's on your schedule?

We have agreed on getting together very shortly after the European tour to start the process of making new songs. Although we won't release a new album soon, I think it's necessary to get our brains focused on things that are going to happen in between the touring. And the earlier we can start doing that, the more ideas will come up, and things will hopefully be more mature at the time of hitting the studio again, maybe late next year.

I have to thank Kjetil for answering my questions while being on tour. And for me it's good news that they plan to return to the stages in Europe in 2011.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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