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In Words: Vision Divine

- Olaf Thörsen & Fabio Lione - May 2000 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Olaf Thörsen - Feb. 2009 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Olaf Thörsen - February, 20th 2009 (by email)

The Italian band Vision Divine is now around for about a decade and reunited with singer Fabio Lione. They have a new album, so time to talk to Olaf Thörsen!

First of all, can you enlighten us what lead to the departure of Michele Luppi and how did you get Fabio back in the band?

Well, as it always happens, when there is a change in a band regarding the line-up, that means things were not so heavily anymore.
I don't really like to tell the secrets behind the whole story, and I also believe they are not so interesting to the people (beside the obvious gossip, which is always interesting).
Different persons, different ideas, different tastes and most of all a different way of intending the commitment to the band and its future.
Once I relalized I had to replace Michele, I knew that I wouldn't have been happy to look for another new singer, as I am sick of problems once they get 'bigger'. So I immediately thought about Fabio, 'cause his problems with Magic Circle are not existing anymore, so there was no more reason that he had to stay away as it happened time ago. Since our first contact he was more than happy to join back what he also consider his band, and so it happened.

Soon after the return of Fabio was announced there was a show - or was it a few days before that, sorry, I'm not sure... How was it to be on stage together after several years?

Yes, due to the circumstances, that made the change happen so fast, he had to jump on stage and sing for more than one hour in a big festival, where the show of course was more focused on songs from our last period. He did very well, and the emotion has been strong for all of us as we almost didn't have the time to get used to the change. Fabio still rocks!

Did the return of Fabio had an influence on the song writing? On the album?

Of course it did. It would be crazy to write an album without knowing who would have been singing it, so I first waited to know the singer, and then I started writing it. The whole album is this way, also because I knew Fabio was going to sing it.

The album is called 9 Degrees West Of The Moon. Please tell us the story / idea behind the title!

Even if not being a concept album, every song is related to the other ones. They are all about a father and a son who's never born. Every song is a moment, a dialog between this father and his son, and 9 DWOTM is the place where the spirit of this son is found, like a star.

Where are The Streets Of Laudomia? I can only remember Laudomia de Medici...

Hahaha, no. This Laudomia is one of the invisible cities from the book of Italo Calvino.
In particular, this city has 3 cities at the same inside itself: the first is the one for the living people, the second is for those who died, and the third is for those who never born, so this is the reason why the father is dreaming of going to this imaginary city, in order to have a chance of meeting his son.

And what inspired you to write Letter To My Child Never Born?

We could say personal reasons, but I wouldn't like to talk to much about this, you will forgive me. I think music is the best way for me to cleanse some pain from real life, and I alwyas used it this way.

It seems that the lyrics always been very important. And they usually have a deeper meaning... a 'hidden' message... What inspires you?

I don't know, really. People who like Vision Divine are caring a lot about my lyrics, and of course that makes me happy right, because I generally don't write about sex'n drugs'n rock ' roll, so it's nice to see people reading what you have been spending a lot of time on.
I am inspired by my real life, but as I always say, I also try not to leave it as raw as a chronicle. this is music, so I generally mix it with some invention, or better to say I mix reality with some of my fantasy, related with the real matter.

Which songs are lyrically the most important for you on this album? And from all the songs you've done?

The most important for me are surely Letter To My Child Never Born and 9 Degrees West Of The Moon. Another one from the past that I like a lot is The Fallen Feather from the album Stream Of Consciousness.

Back to the new album.... Is there a video for one of the songs? At least I haven't seen anything... And if there is no video, which track you would choose for a video? And why?

No, we chosen not to make any video as generally nobody then from the TV's wants to play those metal videos, so it's a waste of money. Of course having it would be cool, but why should I then realize something and try doing my best, if there wouldn't be any chance of playing it?
As song I would have chosen Violet Loneliness as it's one of the favourite ones, from people, and it's fitting perfectly for a single-video.

What about a tour? Any dates outside Italy already on the way?

Yes, we already fixed some show in England and Spain, then we are dealing for our comeback in Asia and South America. This year it seems there is a big interest in our band, so we are trying to play as much as possible, everywhere it will be possible!

Can we expect to see you at some festivals this summer?

Oh, if we could choose I would tell you 'for sure', but as you know this is up to the promoters and to the labels. If anybody will call us, we'll be there.

Olaf, how annoying was it that in the beginning people always compared Vision Divine and Labÿrinth? Especially as many seemed to love Lab¨yrinth and were disappointed by Vision Divine?

Well, the most annoying thing has been to see how some people wanted to force VD into being a side-project band, even while we were strongly repeating it was not.
I can't change peoples mind and I am used to respect any other people's ideas, but sometimes some of them are really nonsense.
The disappointment I guess has become bigger and bigger when I decided to leave Labyrinth and focus only on VD, but there was nothing I could do about that. When it's over it's over, and it's time to let it go. I think in the end I did the best for all of us, Labÿrinth, Vision Divine, and myself.

You said that you had a vision and this vision became Vision Divine... Do you have another vision now? A music related dream which haven't come true yet?

Yes, before I will quit with music, I dream of releasing an album of the music with which I really started playing. Sooner or later I will release my solo album and it will be much more aggressive than the music I am playing now, as I started with thrash metal, in the very past.
I already have an album almost ready, but being Vision Divine my priority, I won't record it soon, as I am busy with the band.

Did you ever thought when you started Vision Divine that it will last for so many years?

No, absolutely. I am doing music as I do everything else in my life. As long as it's fun, I do. The day it won't be fun anymore, I will quit. So nice to see I resisted for almost 15 years, so far, haha!

For awhile you did dancefloor / Eurobeat stuff, but quit that by now. How you got into it? And was it a kind of challange to do it?

I can answer for you, even if he's not here, 'cause I also played and composed some of those songs. Fabio was offered to do some of these songs from Dave Rodgers, one of the best and million-seller producers in this kind of music, which was totally unknown to all of us.
This music is mainly sold in Japan, and Fabio found it interesting to try something new, as a kind of funny experiment,or challenge as you said. Some of his songs went really good, and he did something more in the years after, but for what I know, of course he always saw it as nothing but a way to do something different for a little while, and with no particular troubles in doing it (he should answer you this part much better, of course).

Something more general... There are a couple of bands from Italy which are known well by the metal community... But what's about the underground? Any fellow countrymen you can recommend?

Oh oh, every time I talk about the Italian movement some people get offended here, so I better tell no name (so I won't forget anybody).
I just tell you that there are many good bands here, and even the underground is more than alive. I am pretty sure you will soon hear some new name coming out from 'the boot'.

Not long ago one story divided Italy... The story of Eluana Englaro - or more precise about letting her pass. - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a decree that would have forced the continuation of the treatment of Eluana, and thrust Italy into a constitutional crisis when the President of the Republic refused to sign the decree. Stating that, "This is murder. I would be failing to save her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate", Berlusconi went on to defend his decision by claiming that she was "capable of having babies", politely arguing that comatose woman was still subject to menstruation. (source: wikipedia) - Can you understand the 'battle' about Eluana? Do you think Berlusconi was going too far?

First of all I think that when we are talking about life and death, any politician who's trying to open his mouth should be shoot with a gun in his head, be it of any party. I don't care (and everybody from any party tried to take advantage from what happened. I was disgusted).
This fact was terrible, and I honestly find it very difficult to tell you my opinion, 'cause everything I know comes from TV and Magazines, who only speak the lie according to the rule who wants them to change reality into something affective so that people can stuck at the tv or the magazine.
As I didn't ever meet Eluana, I didn't know her nor her parents, I guess I have no right to say what was right or not right.
In general, I think it should be right to let people write a paper and make it clear about their will in case of something similar. Even in this case, anyway, I find it hard to have a clear vision of the problem, as even if I think about myself in something like that, right now I am healthy, so I am afraid we will never have the chance of really understanding what WE WANT or what WE THINK unless we should live it for real.
So, over this whole story, only a word comes to my mind and stays there: RESPECT. Respect for those who are suffering, and for their decisions, even if those could be different from what I would do. I am not the one in pain, so I cannot even talk about something I don't know. I can only RESPECT the pain of that poor people, and the pain of Eluana.

So, will 2009 be a busy year for you? Will it be the year of Vision Divine?

Haha! Who knows! I see things are going good, and the interest is growing, but you never know in music. For sure we are preparing ourselves for the 'pit fight', and be sure we will be ready in case we get a call! ;)

Seems that Vision Divine will be on the road in 2009 again and hopefully more territories will be covered... And I'm curious to hear Olaf's solo album, whenever it will see the light of day!

Claudia Ehrhardt


Olaf Thorsen & Fabio Lione - May 2000 (by email)

When I received the CD I listened to it first and later took a look at the biography and I was surprised to see that members of Rhapsody and Labÿrinth have recorded the album. So I wanted to know a little more and took the chance to do an interview by email with them and I have to thank Rob for contributing some questions!

Do you see Vision Divine as a project or as a band? How you get in touch with the other members?

We spent this whole year in making all people and magazines understand that Vision Divine are not a project, but a real band, and to make this concept stronger, our intention is to record the next album in August....

Why do you named the project / band Vision Divine?

The first name of the band Labÿrinth, when I created it in 1991, was Divine and the title of the last album I was recording, should have been Divine... So, when I finally understood this shouldn't have been a simple project, I decided to give it a real name, and I thought Vision Divine was great...

How would you describes your music?

We always considered our music simply Heavy Metal! Of course, sometimes we're fast, sometimes we're heavy, but this is always HM, for sure....

Can you understand that fans see Vision Divine as a kind of copy / mixture of both bands?

Yes, but just partly... I think in the most of the cases, this happens just because magazines present Vision Divine as the project of Fabio from Rhapsody and Olaf from Labÿrinth! And honestly I don't think it's true, neither honest... This music is full of bands that play our style and none ever thought to compare these bands to Labÿrinth or Rhapsody! In this case, instead, sometimes sound like we almost copy our other albums and this is really funny: Did anyone ever think that also Iron Savior are playing the same stuff like Gamma Ray or old Helloween? Or that Luca Turilli's album sounds the same as Rhapsody? Well, honestly I don't understand why so much rumours around an album that I consider is great. No matter of the name of the band, or the members...

Do Vision Divine give you the freedom to try stuff which you won't do with Labÿrinth?

Yes, of course... Another thing ? Well, I would like to explain that Labÿrinth is a band that exist now since almost 10 years! So it's like a son when it gets older and he doesn't need too much care anymore, because he can walk and think by himself. With Vision Divine things are again like in a new band, you feel yourself totally free to experiment whatever you like or simply to play the music you like without being worried about what people are expecting from you for the future... And also, me and Fabio are really very good friends, this his was our last chance to play music together...

What inspires you to write the lyrics?

I simply didn't want to write about swords, dragons and epic battles! I'm really bored by that... I thought this band would have been the right one to talk about our inner soul, problems, the fear of death and the meaning of life. This are the things that Vision Divine will be always talking about...

Why do you choose this cover artwork? Did you have the idea?

When we decided to name the band Vision Divine and the album too, we also knew that all the lyrics were strictly connected to religion or soul. We thought it would have been interesting to have a cover with something really connected to everything. So we asked Simone (the painter) to have a 'Divine Vision'. Which could represent the band and the album, too and so we thought about the Archangel. I really like the cover! I think it's one of the best of the last year.

You signed with a small Italian label. Now the album is out for several months. Are you satisfied with their work?

Yes, we are! Atrheia is a new label, that's true, but of course before we signed, we had the certainty that they could give us the same as other bigger labels can and even more. Here we are just Vision Divine and not the b-project of Labÿrinth and Rhapsody! So here we have the best attention for this band and we were just looking for something like that. Instead of signing with one of the labels that already have signed Labÿrinth or Rhapsody, which would have mend to have less priority and less attention.... And as I said, we want Vision Divine to be a real band, not a project!!!!

How are the reactions so far?

Reactions are great! I'm not a guy that usually likes to talk about the number of copies sold, this means nothing to me! So I won't ever tell any number, but belief me, some people would be very surprised to know how much response Vision Divine had this year! The only problems we had, they came from some label or distribution or even some management that didn't want to deal with us. Just because they said we shouldn't exist, because we have to play just in Labÿrinth or Rhapsody... That's crazy! Anyway, we really don't care and as long as people will like our music, Vision Divine will always exist...

Are any concerts planned or a tour? Festivals?

As I told you, sometimes it has been very diffi;cult to find someone who wanted to invite us and I really don't understand why... Anyway, we have one festival in Spain, at July 8th. Then after this summer, we'll fly to South America where we'll play a tour. Than maybe we'll have to go in Israel... Then we'll see what the future holds for us... You know, for example we asked to play at your German Bang Your Head festival, but when they hear our name, they said "NO"... And now I heard, instead they invited another Italian band, smaller than we are... I don't mean it's a mistake, but someone should tell me why Vision Divine not get the possibili­ty and why a smaller band got it.... Strange...

Is it difficult to plan live shows due to the fact that you have to care of the schedules of Rhapsody and Labÿrinth?

Not too much. Of course, we have to plan things for a longer time period, but till now, it works... I think, we have enough experience to manage this situation...

Are there any plans for a 2nd album so far?

Yes, of course! We already have the 2nd album written. This month we'll start to make a kind of pre-production and then I think we'll enter the studio around Aug.\Sept... To have the new one out at beginning of the next year... Belief me, this new one is really kicking ass.....

What do you think is the reason for the wave of Italian bands?

This is a question that a lot of people asked me and honestly I have no answer! I don't think there has to be a reason why. Simply, in these last years, Italian bands have improved the quality of their productions and maybe people are also getting a little tired to listen to the same bands... So we have more attention, but the way is long and we have to work hard yet....

Do you think it's good for the Italian scene?

No, I don't think so... Too many bands here are just copying what other bands did in the past. There's no will to change or improve and this is bad... But I don't care about the others, I walk by myself, so....

Does the success of Rhapsody and Labÿrinth kinda started this new wave?

Yes, I think so. Of course, when Labÿrinth signed In 1995 for the Japanese Teichiku (label of Royal Hunt, Deep Purple, etc.),it sounded impossible and the same happened when Rhapsody came out with their 1st album. Before that, in Italy there was nothing, now we have good venues where bands can play and fans are growing in numbers year after year... I cannot say we 'invented' a scene, but surely we helped it to grow faster, I think...

Any newcomer from Italy you can recommend? Or from wherever?

Ah ah! I don't know... I was so busy during the last months, that I listened to nothing new... I really need some time to renew my collection, ha ha!

Do you think that internet is a chance for young bands?

Yes, of course. Internet is getting bigger and bigger and as always, if you are the first, that's better.... I have a site, not very magnificent, because it's the first I ever tried to realize. Anyway without any experience, I try to keep it interesting and good looking with news, tabs, forum etc.... And for my great surprise, I'm having more than 1,000 visitors every month! If I tell you that I would have never thought it was possible, you have to believe me....
If you want to visit it, my address is

Do you like to keep in touch with the fans by email? Or talking with fans after the shows?

Yes, absolutely! We all like to keep in touch with our fans and of course I also have an email section at my site to which I answer personally. After every show, we usually spend a lot of time with people and in this years we made a lot of new friends all around Europe...

What's your opinion about MP3?

It's hard to answer. I think it's right to give a sample from a song via internet, so people may have an idea of an album, but I don't know if giving a whole album in internet will kill music... I'm afraid of that, really...

Do you support the copy protection for CDs?

We never had protections for our CDs and I don't think it could resolve any problem... If people wants to copy, they always find a way to... And after all, an original album, it's always unique....

Fabio, what is the reason for you to take part in Vision Divine?

Because me and Olaf are good friends and I also thought it was interesting to make again something with him... As you probably know, we already were playing in the same band (Labÿrinth) until 1996. And I consider some of those songs are one of the best stuff we ever wrote. So doing again something with him was really curious to see, to see what are we able to do again and I think we did it again!

At Vision Divine your voice sounds wilder and more ag­gres­sive. Why do you sing differently with Vision Divine than with Rhapsody?

There are 2 reasons why, first of all Vision Divine are different from Rhapsody and I also like to sing in different ways. The second reason is that in Vision Divine I finally can sing again the melodies I like... Or better I write. In Rhapsody, as you know are Luca and Alex the ones who write everything, so I cannot express myself totally. Here, instead, I'm totally free to do that and this is another reason why I like so much the idea of doing this!

If another album will be recorded by Vision Divine, would you take part?

Hey man, are you joking? We spent the whole interview (and this whole year, too) to explain that we are a band, not a project! Of course, I'll be part of that, Vision Divine is my band.... (Sorry, but I couldn't know your answers when I wrote the questions... - editor)

Fabio, which singers been and / or are a major influence for you?

Surely Freddie Mercury, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Tate, Rob Halford....

Andrew, when you play with Vision Divine your keyboard sounds more symphonic and progressive. What's the reason?

Because the songs that Olaf (and Fabio) wrote for Vision Divine are different from Labÿrinth, I mean in the work I had to do... Also, in this band there's just one guitar and Olaf likes to play songs that a band is able to play live, so he didn't play too many guitar lines and instead he wanted me to have more influence in the songs. So that we could easily reproduce the album in live situations...

Please tell us what equipment you use!

I have a Korg M3 (old, yes I know) and a Yamaha with which I reproduce some analog sound especially for my solos... I also use some expander for piano or Strings, but anyway I don't like to have hundreds of keyboards....

Why don't you use mellotrons? This kind of keyboards would make your sound warmer and more classical, also it helps to create many atmospheres and which you may sample with the sound of violins and violoncellos.

We'll see in the future.... Until now, I'm satisfied with the sound I have, but maybe in the future I'll try something new!

Have you think to use analog keyboards like Hammonds and harpsichords?

No, I don't like Hammond! About analog keys, as I said, I have a Yamaha with that I can imitate some analog sound... The problem is that our sound is very difficult to make sound good in the studio, but now we found a good balance and so before I change something, I want to be sure at 100%

Which keyboard player's influenced you most?

Well, I listen to a lot of key and piano player, but surely Johansson influenced me a lot! Olaf Mautsson from Malmsteen's band is another very, very good player... Anyway, usually I like to listen to jazz piano players....

What do you think of the following keyboard players? Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Tony Banks, Keith Emerson, Jens Johansson, Bo Hansson...

They are simply great! I'd like to think that one day I maybe did at least the half of what they did for music...

Thank you very much for taking time to answer all my questions and I hope to see you soon he e in Europe!

Thanks a lot to you for your interest and of course we all hope to meet you on tour!

I think that Vision Divine made a clear statement that they are a band and I believe them. First I that this is another so called band of a musician who gathered a few well-known names and call it band, but the different statements made me change my mind. In my opinion it's healthier for a band to have different songwriters, it makes it more interesting for the listeners and I guess it's more satisfying for the members. So I can just wish them good luck and that they'll get the chance to tour! I'm curiously waiting for the next musical sign from the Italians.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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