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Christofer Johnsson (Therion)

Interview with Christofer Johnsson from Therion
by Ian Kaatz at 06 October 2005, 9:19 AM

This being my very first in-person interview, to say the least I was very nervous. Christofer made me feel very comfortable, so I thank him for that. It was very cool to be backstage with the bands for only the second time as well. I would like to thank Christofer for taking the time to do the interview.

How does it feel to be in America for your first time on tour?

It’s been fun, so far.

It’s been fun, so far?

Yeah, definitely.

Why did it take so long to come over, was it because of P.R., or what?

You know, we don’t sell many records here, but after enough years of listening to the band we figured people would travel more for a band that they have been listening to for a number of years. I don’t really know, it just kind of happened.

Your earlier albums don’t incorporate as much of an operatic style but more of a Death style.

What do you mean by early records? As early as 1995 we had the solo vocalist, so the majority of our records have it except for the first three records.

Well those are the records that I was referring to, the first three but what in your opinion made the band change to this style?

We have always been a progressive band. If you compare our very first album to the band’s back then, instead of just playing power chords we had major and minor chord progressions, different drum rhythms, and we even had some keyboards on the very first album. It has always been there, it’s just been different. On our second album we had some Arabic scale playing, keyboards, some female vocals not operatic, but female vocals. We were always a band about breaking boundaries. On the third record we also had a lot of keyboards and some really thick songs that we used some Heavy Metal riffing, which was completely unheard of in Death Metal back then. We were always a band about doing something new.

Have you started writing any new material?

We have all the songs for the next record finished.

Wow.

We wrote enough material for 3 albums but only released recorded and released 2 albums, so we have to catch up.

Does the new material sound similar to the double disc (review.asp?id=473 - Nuclear Blast Records, 2004)?

It’s a double disc, not to be picky. It is two different records but they were sold together as a double disc because not many people have that much money. It was way over-stocked by distributors in the U.S, so that’s why they still have it. We didn’t limit in numbers. For three months people can buy as much as they like. The third one was writen in the same time frame, so it will be closer to these ones than to our previous records. That doesn’t mean it will sound the same. We divided the three records upon different solo songs. We saved the more progressive ones for the third one.

Oh okay, that sounds really sweet. Do you have a release date for the DVD? Because I know that in the previous interview you did with Metal Temple, you said you were working on a live DVD.

I am not going to say how many discs but it will contain multiple discs and it will be out in March of next year.

That’s awesome, I can’t wait. Do you have any plans to come back to the U.S. after this or was it just this thing that kind of happened?

We hope so but it’s not really up to us. It’s up to booking agents and venues. A lot of the venues said we are welcomed back any time. So I guess we will play the U.S. again but if it’s going to be a full blown tour, that will be up to us. We have a minimum amount of requirements to make this ship get rolling; I mean we aren’t making any big cash out of this.

Who is your main influence?

I would have to go with Richard Wagner. I have my roots in 80’s metal, bands like Accept and Iron Maiden and you can hear that in the music. 70’s prog; I am totally into that the Symphonic Rock music.

Like Rush…

 Well, I like Rush a lot but I wouldn’t say they are a big influence. Kansas on the other hand has influenced us but a lot of the newer bands like Eloy from Germany and Mandela Band too. 70’s bands like Uriah Heep definitely influenced me a lot, especially their guitar melodies and so forth.

Is there anyone you would like to have as a guest on a Therion album?

Well, Ken Hensley, the organ player from Uriah Heep would be awesome. Uli Jon Roth would definitely be great too…

Of course, who wouldn’t want him on their album?

He is the only guitar player I truly admire. I would say Mick Box from Uriah Heep is the only guitar player that influenced me but Uli Jon Roth is the only one that truly impressed me. I can’t say he impressed me because I can’t play anything near to what he did. \[All Laugh] Well, who really can? Actually his music as a solo record (Beyond The Astral Skies) really influenced me.

Well, I guess because we are kind of limited on time, I will ask one or two more. What do you think of the bands that are participating in this year’s ProgPower festival?

Well, I didn’t hear all of them but Stratovarius is a band I respect and what’s that other band…\[pauses]…Angra is a band I respect, it’s not really my style of band that I listen to, but they are good musicians and I really respect them. I am sure there are a lot of good bands on the bill but I am not very up to date. People ask me how is the Metal scene in Sweden? I would be the worst person to ask because I have absolutely no idea.

Are you just too busy writing music for Therion?


I am just totally trapped in my old music. 80’s stuff I grew up with and 70’s. Music today is just not really my cup of tea. There are a few bands that survived the 80’s and still put out records and kick ass, like Voivod did, but unfortunately their guitar player died, which is a big tragedy, very big tragedy. It made me feel very terrible, I mean we toured with them for one month, so we got to know them.

I haven’t listened to a whole lot of Voivod but what I have heard I really enjoyed.

I think Phobos is the best album of the 90’s. It’s a damn good album.

I will have to pick it up then.

Yeah, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Do you have any last words for the magazine?

Well, it is just very fun being here and we are right in the middle of a tour, so yeah, I guess that’s it.

Well, thanks for talking with me.

It was all my pleasure!



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