Sons of Thunder
CoC chats with Patrik Lindgren of Thyrfing
by: Jackie Smit
Having long graduated from being the stuff of comic book nerds and pale-faced man-children, it's exciting times indeed within the Viking metal subgenre. With a huge influx of fresh, promising new talent coming to the fore, and innovators of the scene delivering career-best efforts, it's fast becoming one of the underground's most creatively vibrant scenes. Arguably leading the charge is Sweden's Thyrfing: a band whose bad luck with record labels may have stunted their popularity, but whose latest opus, _Farsotstider_, turned out to be one of 2005's sleeper masterworks. Guitarist Patrik Lindgren was on hand to shed some light on the new album, the band's new record deal with Regain Records, and the pros and cons of singing in your native tongue.

CoC: Let's start with the deal you've just signed with Regain Records; with the new album out, how has the relationship worked out for Thyrfing so far?

Patrik Lindgren: It's been great, and I hope that things stay the way that they are at the moment. We're only contracted for this one album, but I really hope that we're going to be able to continue this agreement in the future. For us, it's always quite useful to have a label in your own country, unlike what we had with the other albums. This record has only been out for a couple of months, so we can't quite see the fruits of everyone's labours just yet, but they've paid us a lot of attention and that in itself has been great considering the roster that they have. There's quite a lot of competition I think on this label when you look at the quality of material that some of these guys have been putting out. So, at first I was a bit worried that we were going to be confined to our own little corner, but so far they've done all the right things with the album.

CoC: What made you decide on Regain as your next move after Hammerheart / Karmageddon Media?

PL: The local factor played a big part. We'd never been on a Swedish label, so we wanted to try that out, and the offer was the best one that we had as well. Besides, Regain is a great label and they definitely seem to be on their way up, which was another reason.

CoC: Having been with Hammerheart for such a long time, when they changed to Karmageddon, was there no longer an opportunity for you to stay on the roster?

PL: They were pretty honest with us and they said that they'd more than likely not be able to offer us a very good contract; at least one that would be good enough to make sense for us. The last album that we did for them was done on a very high budget, and I think that they knew we wouldn't really be interested in going for anything less the next time round. Right now, they're basically cutting down on a lot of their activities, and most of the bands that were on there have left the label.

CoC: What do you think contributed to the label's downfall, especially given the fact that in relative terms, they used to be at least a tier two label in terms of their profile within the scene and the bands that they were carrying?

PL: It's hard to say and I don't know all the finer details. But when it comes to the business, I know that they took a pretty hard knock when Chuck Schuldiner passed away and they had just signed his band, Control Denied. They had put a lot of money into that and I think his death came as a very hard blow for the label from a financial point of view.

CoC: I remember there being a big dispute over the rights to the demos for that record between the Schuldiner family and the label.

PL: Yeah, and I think that got them some bad publicity as well. Also, I've heard a lot of rumours about bands not being paid their royalties. I mean, we were in a pretty good spot, I think, on a label and we never had that problem, but there were definitely a lot of complaints from a number of bands, which eventually led to them all leaving. As it always happens, when you don't have any good bands on your label, eventually the label dies.

CoC: The big news with the new record is of course your decision to use Henrik [Edenhed], rather than someone who was more known for producing metal like Tommy Tagtgren. What prompted that decision?

PL: It was a difficult decision to make, I'll tell you that much. But I was actually a bit worried before recording started as to whether it had been the right one. We all knew that he was a professional guy and that the studio was really good and that it was a huge and fancy place. He wasn't really known for producing any metal, but on the other hand, the situation has changed a bit since the '90s, where bands were going to very well-known studios who all had their own distinctive sound. Nowadays most studios have such advanced equipment that you can pretty much go anywhere and get the sound that you want. So it's more about the people, and in talking to Henrik and especially after we had started working with him on the album, he just got our sound and what we wanted to do very quickly and the entire recording process went very smoothly. It was definitely one of the more pleasant studio experiences I have had so far. As for the result, I think that things turned out great and I think that the melodies in particular stand out more than they did on the previous record. I loved the sound on the last album, but this one is definitely better, I think. It's a bit more distinct and clear, but it's still heavy and raw.

CoC: Given that it had been three and a half years since you had done your previous album, was there a sense that Thyrfing had to come back with a bang with this record, while you were writing and recording it?

PL: Well, actually we started to write this record very shortly after the last one came out. But it's a slow process for us now, at least when you compare it to what we did before. The thing is that you raise the level of quality with each album and that makes it harder to top yourself the next time round. With this record, we felt that we could possibly come up with something good if we gave it some time, and that's what we did. We would never compromise on the quality of a record for the sake of getting it out earlier, and if the next album takes three years, then so be it. I hope that won't be the case, but that's how it is.

CoC: In your recent experience, what do you find to be the most challenging element in the creation of a new album?

PL: <pauses> I think that we'd be able to write a record in a short amount of time that most people would think is okay and would be acceptable for at least some of our fans. The challenging thing is to achieve that feeling where you're happy with the song and you know in your heart that this is how the song should sound, if you know what I mean. That's the thing that becomes harder and harder the longer you go on.

CoC: This is the first Thyrfing record to feature a lyric set that's entirely in Swedish. Was this a natural progression for you, or was it a conscious decision?

PL: Actually, it was something that we decided from the start. On the last record, we had six songs in Swedish and two in English and that didn't sound complete to us in a way. We also had quite a few people passing comment on that, which affected us to some extent; it's not something that I think anyone will admit to, but it happens. We also felt within the band that it would give the album a better consistency if it was all in Swedish this time around, and I think that listening to the new album that makes a lot of sense because the language really fits the atmosphere. It also adds some originality. The drawbacks are that people can't really read the lyrics, but for myself, I look at a band like Skyforger whose lyrics are all in Latvian. I don't understand a word of it, but it gives it a certain sense of mystery, and if I could understand it, I don't know how much I'd actually enjoy it.

CoC: So for the benefit of those that, like myself, have no idea what you're singing about on this record, can you give us an idea of the themes that you're dealing with on the record? It certainly seems that the mythological and Pagan aspects have been kept intact.

PL: Well, we've actually moved away from the whole heroic / battle themed stuff toward something that's more bombastic and in many ways a bit darker and probably slightly more personal. There's still the Scandinavian connection, but for the most part it's really about looking at the world today, and it's looking at it from quite a negative perspective. I know it's quite cliché to talk about Armageddon, because it's been done so many times in this music. <laughs> But I think that we do it a little differently to most bands, and in terms of Scandinavian mythology, that does play a big part. So, that has been quite a big inspiration for me, and overall I think that the lyrics show a lot of angst and a lot of despair. Like I said, in many ways it's more personal, but at the same time the meaning is quite hidden. It's all mainly to go along with the music and the atmosphere. It's nothing people should lie awake about at night.

CoC: The big news in Thyrfing right now, apart from the new album, is of course your first trip out to the States to go and play the Heathen Crusade Metalfest, where you'll also have Tomi doing clean vocals for you for the first time. Are you excited about the show?

PL: Absolutely. This show is really a very big deal for us.

CoC: Why has it taken so long for you to get to the States?

PL: Before the last album, I don't think that we had any decent promotion in the States. There are people that know us from buying imports and stuff, but it's really only on the last album that people got to know us and that's something that I think will continue with this new one as well. We've been in touch with a couple of organizers in the past, but we've never been able to work something out with them. The guy that's doing the Heathen Fest is actually a friend of ours, so it's worked out really well and I think it's going to be a great show overall. There are a lot of excellent bands on the bill and having Tomi do vocals with us will definitely add an extra dimension to our sound as well, I think.

CoC: As far as live shows are concerned, you're also due to play quite a few more festivals in Europe this year. Can we expect to see you do more tours in support of this album than you've done in the past?

PL: Probably not. I expect that we'll keep things at the same level. We've never been much of a touring band. Of course we enjoy playing live now more than we did in the beginning, and now that we're a bigger band it's also much easier and more comfortable for us to play. But I still don't think that we'll ever do any more than just a couple of gigs every year.

CoC: So what else do you have planned following the release of the new record?

PL: We are looking at a couple of more opportunities for live shows, but more than anything we'll probably start working on the next album. That's something that we're all really excited about getting into.

CoC: Well Patrick, thanks very much for your time. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

PL: Like I said, we won't be doing a lot of live shows this year, but I hope that we'll get to see at least a couple of people who may be reading this on the road, and after that we're looking to get the next album completed.

(article submitted 17/2/2006)


ALBUMS
3/15/2009 J Smit 6.5 Thyrfing - Hels Vite
1/29/2006 J Smit 10 Thyrfing - Farsotstider
3/21/2003 A Lineker 8 Thyrfing - Vansinnesvisor
GIGS
5/5/2003 J Montague Ancient Rites / Thyrfing / Blood Red Throne / Skyfire Generation Armageddon Tour
8/12/1999 D Rocher Six Feet Under / Mayhem / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing / Darkseid Facing the Breton Storm Season
8/12/1999 M Noll Six Feet Under / Vader / Enslaved / Cryptopsy / Nile / Thyrfing Pig's Feet and All Things Yummy
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