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Olaf Thorsen (Vision Divine)

Interview with Olaf Thorsen from Vision Divine
by Grigoris Chronis at 08 February 2009, 6:32 PM

Olaf Thorsen, a musician always bringing good news with his music, first with LABYRINTH and the last decade through brilliant Power/Heavy/Prog metallers VISION DIVINE. The Italian band's newest album, 9 Degrees West Of The Moon, is marked by three crucial facts: the return of the majestic voice of Fabio Leone (RHAPSODY OF FIRE, ATHENA, LABYRINTH), a new label deal with Frontiers Records(!) and - most of all - again some excellent music destined to be loved by the band's/genre's fans and - we hope - many more.

Interview with: Olaf Thorsen from VISION DIVINE

Hi Olaf, 2009 seems to start very good with a brand new VISION DIVINE album that sounds really great! Are you completely satisfied with the result? One year and a half after The 25th Hour and you do not seem to have wasted much time writing for a new album.

First of all,hi! Answering your question,yes I am satisfied with the result. I've been told by many people that I don't seem like resting that much,but you know, it's not I MUST do, nobody is pointing a gun to my head, so I can only say that if that happened it's just because I felt like it was the time for a new album.

It's quite reasonable to ask: under what circumstances did Fabio join again VISION DIVINE? Did Michele Luppi have to live or you decided you should end your cooperation with him?

Oh, I understand very well that this is going to be one of the main themes of this round of new interviews, but I hope you will understand that it's not so easy for me to answer these kind of questions without falling into the gossip, which I don't like. I will try telling you that I felt it was time to change. Of course, when things like this happen, it would make no sense saying it was all OK between us. On the contrary, there were many problems which I was trying to manage along these years. Unfortunately, these problems not only were not going to end with a solution, but they were consuming me, giving me a lot of stress wherever I was thinking about the chance of going for a new album. I couldn't go on like this forever, and surely not even Michele could. It was time to let it go and continue on my way, as I always did in the past.

Fabio came later, once I realized what I just told you before. Since I knew I would have replaced the singer, Fabio was the only solution to me, especially 'cause I knew he didn't have anymore the problems which forced us to part ways time ago (to be clear: his contract with Magic Circle Music was over, so he was free,once again). I just talked with him,and he was more than happy to having this chance of coming back into the band the also formed 10 years ago. So, here we are now…

Did you have the new album's songs ready when Fabio joined in? Or you started the songwriting after it was announced that he was back in VISION DIVINE?

I had the big plan ready in my mind,but of course I could work on that completely only once I knew who would have been singing on it. It would be stupid to write down things without knowing the voice that will end in the album, 'cause it could mean putting the singer in troubles.

Should we assume that Fabio is now a permanent member in the band? How's the chemistry now in VISION DIVINE with Fabio back?

Yes,Fabio is surely a permanent member. Working with Fabio is just great as always. We know each other since so much time ( we really started together, more than 15 years ago), that working with him is a pleasure and it's really easy as well.

Are there any other changes in the lineup, apart from Fabio, in regards to the The 25th Hour lineup?

No, absolutely. The rest of the band is the same since quite a lot, now, being more than 3 years we are together. I would like to specify that to me it's never a pleasure when I must change somebody, but if  I do that, it means it was the best choice for the band.

9 Degrees West Of The Moon seems to be a more powerful album, maybe the most passionate of the last three VISION DIVINE CDs, while you have not reduced the melodies and hooks the fans love you for. What was the main motive while composing songs for the band's new album? Did you write all songs by yourself or there was a 'team work' in some tracks?

Thanks a lot! I generally write down most of the music alone, but that's mostly 'cause this way I can give the whole album the atmosphere I have in mind. Lately everybody in the band is more than welcome to help, and in fact - beside Fabio who worked to all his vocal lines - I worked in team with Alessio (the keyboard player) for a couple of songs (Violet Loneliness and 9 D.W.O.T.M.) and Federico ( the other guitar player) for Angels In Disguise. I don't really trust in those one man band where a single person does all the work and then gives the job done to the others. I like the other musicians I have in the band, I really think they are some of the best you can find around, so that's why I want them to feel free to express themselves as they like, at their best.

Does the intensity in the new album have to do with the solid production, too? We can see Timo Tolkki behind the console again. Soon he'll be credited as the extra VISION DIVINE member, haha! Is it your third album in a row with him?

Ahah! You know, you are not the first one saying Timo looks like a 7th member of the band, and I am starting to believe that! Seriously talking, I think Timo did a great job and he helped us getting a new sound, which could fit to the atmosphere of these songs. He's working with us since 3 albums now, so he knows me and the band quite well, enough for giving us what we have called him for…

The 25th Hour album's cover artwork was 'dark' enough; what is the emotions the new album's cover artwork can create, you think? In what way does it relate to the music, in addition? Really, who drew it?

The new cover is related with the title of the album, and also with the lyrics we are talking about, in the whole CD. It's been drawn by the same guy, Davide Nadalin from Nerve Design. He's really great in listening to what I have in my mind and then making it become real. Beside the particulars you can find in the cover, I told him that I would have like a modern re-edition of the angel who was present in our first album we released 10 years ago, when Fabio was in the band.

Somehow, it's a message like saying we are back, all together, angel included (which is a kind of brand for VISION DIVINE).

VISION DIVINE's music so far has gone really successful in South America and East Asia. You think the fans over there will 'swallow' the new album as well? What about the USA? Does the band have a wide-spread name over there, two?

Oh, I don't know. There is not a formula for these things, you know. I wish there was one!

Sincerely, I see things are improving for the band in these last years. Every year we are gaining a stronger reputation, our lives have more and more people,and fans are more numerous. I don't know if this will end or it will grow even bigger. I can only do what I can, going on with writing the music I love and keeping the band at its best. 2009 seems to be an even bigger year, as we're receiving requests for playing in countries where we never played before, or from where we were missing since many years. If everything will go fine, I think this year VISION DIVINE will have a very intense tour,hopefully.

…which leads us to the new contract with Frontiers Records. This label was already known for its Melodic Rock/AOR roster mostly. Then we saw PRIMAL FEAR and then VISION DIVINE inking deal. Isn't this some kind of risk, I wonder?

Changing a label is always a risk, but at the same time brings new energies, new horizons that you can explore. Frontiers is a wonderful label, with many huge names in its roster. As you said, they are more AOR-oriented, but this is a reason more to feel honored by the fact that they decided to break the rules for a band like VISION DIVINE. I like to think that they like good bands, it doesn't matter which music they play, and maybe we're into their list, ahah!

Summer is on the way, but the new album can't wait. I'd like to ask you if you have scheduled any live dates for the band, both for individual gigs but also for summer Metal festivals?

You are right. We are trying to date the most possible number of shows, as I told you before. There are many promoters approaching us at the moment. I hope it will be possible to play the most number of shows in the highest number of countries as possible. For what concerns our will, the band wants to play everywhere it will be possible! At the moment we are arranging a tour in Asia, then we should go in Europe, where we are scheduling shows in Italy, Spain and England. Then We should go to South America, but before that I would like to have some more European Countries, if possible. We will see.

VISION DIVINE has been around for a decade now, plus it's your main 'focus' since you left LABYRINTH. You think you have - as an artist - accomplished what you wanted so far with VISION DIVINE?

Oh,man. You know, it's clear that there are so many bigger rockstars out there, but if I think of all the good things I had from music, from MY music, if I think at all the countries I had the chance of visiting thanks to MY music, if I think about the so many friends I have all around the world thanks to MY music, I can't be anything but proud of what I got so far, and as I know many people who are great musicians as well, but didn't have even a small part of everything I had so far, I really feel I've been lucky so far, and even more I feel like the story isn't over yet.As long as I will feel like this, music will be part of my life for sure.

Olaf, thanks a lot for your spare time to answer our questions. Anything you'd like to add?

Thanks a lot to you for your nice interview. I don't want to be ordinary, saying see you soon on tour, so I only thank you a lot, and I leave you with a STAY DIVINE! Ciao!


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