Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album. To new fans
could you please fill us in on the history behind it all?
Kaj Gornitzka: Thanks a lot! Let’s see:
Form basically started out as a musical playground for Erik Aadland and myself;
somewhere around the year 2000 we both found ourselves without bands (he had
just left Lunaris, and I had quit Spiral Architect a couple of years before),
and since we had known each other since the late eighties, we began talking
about the possibility of joining our musical forces. Initially it was mostly a
social thing; we’d get together once a week or so, talk about music and – maybe
– test some new ideas on each other. Our respective styles are pretty distinct,
but we soon found that we worked well together and that each of us complemented
the other’s input in interesting ways. Finally we came to a point where we had
enough material that we wanted to play in an actual band environment, and we
asked David Husvik if he would be interested in doing the drums. We knew his
skills from Extol, which is still his main band, and I think he took it as a
challenge, a way to broaden his musical horizons even further. But the truth is
that we didn’t think about Twisted into Form as being much other than a place
for us to vent our creativity now and then. We had no concrete plans to record,
play live or anything else, it was more for our personal pleasure. This is, by
the way, why it seems that it took forever to make this record... Of course,
once we finally decided to go ahead and record what we had, which happened some
time in 2003, things went very quickly. We booked the studio for the drum tracks
and started working like mad to have things ready in time. I also got in touch
with Leif Knashaug at this point, asking him if he would like to do the vocals –
which he to my immense relief agreed to. I’ve known Leif for 20 years and worked
with him on several occasions, including the 1995 Spiral Architect demo, where
he contributed his talent as a session vocalist, and since I really love his
voice, he was the first and only choice for me. And there you have it, I guess.
How has “Then Comes Affliction to Awaken the Dreamer” been received by the
Kaj Gornitzka: So far almost all the reviews have been incredibly positive,
at least the ones I have seen, and we are extremely happy with the reception!
And it’s not only the reviews, we are getting a lot of very positive feedback
from people as well, which is just as gratifying – and even more so when it
comes from people who are not normally into metal at all.
I know artists don’t like to put a label on their music - but a spaceship from
outer space has just landed in your backyard, and is demanding an answer - so
how would you describe your music to an alien from another galaxy?
Kaj Gornitzka: Technical, progressive metal for the open minded, maybe?
We incorporate a lot of different styles into our music, but our foundation is
metal. Other than that, people can call it what they want – I don’t put much
faith in music labels anyway. Listen to it and make up your own mind, then call
it whatever you like. And alien or not, if he/she managed to get here,
he/she can probably make up his/her own mind about such matters!
If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?
Kaj Gornitzka: You would probably get three completely different answers
from the other guys in the band on this, but since I’m the one doing all the
talking today, I would have to go for... this isn’t easy, you know... but maybe
“melancholy” would be my choice. If you consider that an emotion and not a
mental state, of course... If not, it would have to be “sadness”.
Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Walk us through the creation of
musical inspiration tends to come from all the bands and artist that inspire or
have inspired me one way or the other, and since I’m fairly open when it comes
to genres and styles, I pick up little bits and pieces from an array of
different places. I listen to metal, of course, and I love bands like Death,
Cynic, Psychotic Waltz, old Metallica, Fates Warning, Alice in Chains etc., but
I also listen to pop bands like a-Ha, Kent, The Cardigans, Kate Bush and so on,
and I really enjoy a lot of so-called “world music”. I’ve listened to a lot of
flamenco and the more Latin inspired jazz/fusion of Al Di Meola, for instance,
and I’ve picked up a lot of harmonizing ideas from Eastern European choir music,
Andean music and African tribal music, to name just a few.
Outside of the
music itself, inspiration can come from anywhere, I guess, but for me it is
often a feeling or an atmosphere more than a concrete object or thing. In many
ways I think music is a state of mind, or maybe rather a mirror of whatever
state of mind you are in at any given moment, and so your life, or the way you
perceive your surroundings, is what ultimately inspire the musical output.
The way we
normally write our music is a fifty/fifty split between Erik and myself, with
input from both of us in all songs. David comes in to help us with the
arrangements. Now, when we first entered the studio, this is how we had done
everything, but because we were incredibly fortunate and had almost unlimited
time in the studio, we could expand on all our basic ideas and song structures,
and we spent hours and hours just playing around with the endless possibilities
we had at our disposal. This kept the recording interesting for us, too, and I
think the album clearly benefited from this.
Which subjects do your lyrics refer to, and who writes them? And what inspires
you when you write your lyrics?
I will usually
write most of the lyrics and all the vocal arrangements – with some very welcome
help from Erik on the lyrics when I’m stuck. We never sat down to decide on a
theme or anything like that, but in retrospect I see that there is a thread
running through the whole album. In general the lyrics tend to focus on
questions of an existential nature, intertwined with a rather overwhelming
feeling of hopelessness. With this comes a sense of sadness for everything lost
in the world... The world – and I’m speaking universally here, not necessarily
personally or even individually – is not a particularly happy place these days,
and I think that the lyrics are a reflection of this simple fact. Whether the
topic is relationships (individual or cultural), politics, the state of the
planet, employment or one’s personal feelings, the overall tendency is that
human beings are not very nice to each other or their surroundings, and since
most of the things we, as a species, are doing brings destruction to everyone
and everything around us, the human condition does not seem to have the
possibility of a very happy ending. Bleak prospects, yes, but personally I do
not see too many promising lights in the tunnel. Most of the time it’s too
little too late, it seems. This will inevitably affect how I write, and the
lyrics end up being somewhat gloomy, I suspect. How they are later interpreted
by others is up to them, of course, but I do hope that what we have written can
at least be food for thought among those who listen to the album.
Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Kaj Gornitzka: The album was produced and recorded by the band in
cooperation with Asgeir Mickelson, the owner of MultiMono Studio (and the
drummer of Spiral Architect, Borknagar and about 1.000 other bands), and it was
mixed by Neil Kernon, who has been involved in just about everything for the
last 30 years or so – Queensr˙che, Nevermore, Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Red
Harvest, and Spiral Architect to name just a few. He did an amazing job with
“Then Comes Affliction...” and we are extremely pleased with the final result.
We wanted the album to have an organic feel to it, far away from most of today’s
heavily produced metal bands, and I think Neil brought out the absolute best in
Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great
Kaj Gornitzka: The cover is designed by a Swedish guy called Samuel
Durling, who is a friend of David. We did go a few rounds with him before we
were completely satisfied, but we are truly happy with the final result – he did
a marvellous job with it. Actually, we were pretty nervous for awhile, because
the company that Sensory uses to print their things had never done this kind of
job before – printing four colours first, then a fifth (bronze) on top of the
dried first print – and they wouldn’t give us any guarantees at all, so we
basically had to say “go ahead, if it turns out a complete mess it’s our
problem, not yours.” We could have been stuck with a few thousand useless – and
pretty damn expensive – covers, but luckily it turned out great, just as it was
I do feel that an interesting and exciting CD cover is of great
importance; I can still remember all the hours I spent looking at album covers
and booklets when I was younger, reading them from end to end, looking for
details and cool stuff that might be hidden somewhere (I guess I still do that
if the cover is interesting enough), and that’s the feeling I want other people
to have when they see our cover as well. I know both Erik and David are much
more into minimalism, but personally I’m very happy that we ended up with a
little more on “Then Comes Affliction to Awaken the Dreamer”. As I said, we went
back and forth with the designer a lot to get to where we wanted, and I think he
managed to find that difficult balance where the cover kind of mirrors what the
band sounds like, both musically and thematically. Anyway, I hope people will
like it as much as we do.
Do you have any touring plans?
no touring is planned for now, due to our somewhat tricky rehearsal situation (I
live in Portugal for the time being, while the others are still in Norway). If
we are to go on tour, or indeed play concerts at all, we want it to be a great
show, and to do that we would have to rehearse and plan everything to the best
of our abilities. Since this is not possible at the moment, we’d rather just
focus on writing more material and follow up on everything that goes on with our
current release – like this interview!
Let’s speculate – you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice
– who would be your ideal touring partners?
Kaj Gornitzka: Well, since touring with Death unfortunately is no longer
possible and the same goes for Psychotic Waltz, maybe we could tag along with
Fates Warning for awhile – and if Gojira joined us for a month or two I really
wouldn’t mind either. It would be cool to go on tour with Metallica, though,
just for old times’ sake...
How do you feel about the co-operation with your label?
Kaj Gornitzka: We are pretty satisfied with our label, actually, but
since I had already worked with Ken Golden (the owner of the Laser’s
Edge/Sensory label) before – on Spiral Architect’s “A Sceptic’s Universe” – I
knew that he is in this for the music and therefore wants to do the best he can
to promote it. Sensory is a small label, of course, with limited resources, and
this will obviously limit the impact of any promotional effort, but I still
think it is a very good label for our type of music. It’s far better to work
with people who are truly into the music and do it for idealistic reasons,
rather than getting a crap contract on a big label who couldn’t care less about
what you do. There’s not much money in this music any way you look at it, but it
is still nice if the label isn’t the only part involved getting paid in the end,
and I know from the Spiral album that Ken is a fair man when it comes to paying
his bands – if there’s ever any money to be paid out, of course – hehe...
The internet is a very important source for many metal fans – how do you use the
internet and how important is it for you and other bands?
self-respecting band we do have our own website at
and it seemed pretty impossible to avoid making a MySpace page as well – so we
opened one at
There seems to be more traffic on MySpace than on the website itself, and even
if I personally prefer our website, there is no denying that MySpace has been an
important factor as far as spreading our name to the metal community – and to
people outside the community as well. For good or bad I think the net has become
essential to almost every band on the planet, at least if your goal is to reach
outside your own circle of friends and acquaintances. Of course, this is a
double edged sword, and as an artist I do find it hard to cope with all the
downloads – I did a search the day after we released the album, and there it was
in its entirety, ready for BitTorrent downloads for anyone to get... Not
particularly cool when you’ve spent five years making the damn thing, but then
again, I don’t know if it all evens itself out in the end. Hopefully the people
who hear the album and like it will go out and buy it in the end. Although I
don’t really believe that to be true, unfortunately... Anyway, there is no way
around the internet for today’s bands, and if you do it well, you can give your
band an extra dimension through a good website.
And how do you feel about the metal scene in general at the moment?
Kaj Gornitzka: I have to admit that I’ve been a bit slow in keeping track
of what’s going on the last couple of years, and I never much cared for the nu-metal
stuff, but there’s definitely a lot of interesting bands emerging. I’ve never
been a huge fan of black metal per se, but I think a lot of the things born from
the black metal scene are becoming very exciting, even taking their music into
the progressive spheres. Also, browsing through the immensity of bands that are
flourishing on MySpace, there is the occasional gem hidden in the multitude,
which is very promising for almost all genres. I also think it’s pretty cool
that bands like Mastodon and Opeth are doing so well – they are both, despite
the many obvious differences, really progressive bands. I’d have to say I’m
quite pleased with the metal scene, actually; there will always be at least ten
completely uninteresting bands for each brilliant one, but since so much is
being released these days, chances are that there are more of the greats ones
too, isn’t it?
Which song do you consider to be the best one on the album?
I really don’t
know, it’s almost impossible for me to judge the songs on “Then Comes Affliction
to Awaken the Dreamer” in any coherent way... For me it all depends on the mood
I’m in at any given time, and I have favourite parts in all the songs – some
because I like them musically, others because I know the way certain things were
made, or how much I struggled to get them right. I can give you one example,
though, to illustrate what I mean: I have a particular connection with “Erased”
because of the way we wrote it, and consequently how it turned out. When we were
recording the drums for the album, we asked David to lay down about three
minutes worth of drums without any input from the rest of us, just improvising
while the tape was running to see what happened. This was the basis for what
would eventually become “Erased” and it was an enormous challenge to write the
music on top of this very loosely improvised drum track several months later. It
was really difficult to make it into one coherent piece of music, but still
allowing the freshness and the “looseness” to lead it. I love the way it turned
out, though! And there’s an extra bonus in there for me personally, since this
is the only song in which I’m also singing more than just backing vocals – hehe!
Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and
Kaj Gornitzka: Just one of those, or one of each? Well, I’ll give you two
out of three, I think: There are probably a hundred albums that have been
decisive for me, at different stages of my life, but Metallica’s “Master of
Puppets” is probably the one that musically has marked me the most – I basically
learned to play by teaching myself every Hetfield riff ever made (well, up to
and including “The Black Album”, that is...), so as a direct influence on the
way that I play this is an extremely important album for me.
The event that maybe defined me the most was a six months long journey through
Latin America that started in California and ended in Chile, which I did about
ten years ago. It was truly an amazing experience, and I still think travelling
– if you do it with an open mind and heart, that is, and with a willingness to
learn – is one of the most important things anyone can possibly do. It makes you
grow as a person, and – most likely – you will see the world, and the way the
world works, in a different way afterwards. Actually, I think a few months’
worth of travel – not going south to a beach a week in August, but real travel –
should be obligatory for everyone. They should give it as a class in school.
Which kind of music do you listen to at home?
Kaj Gornitzka: I listen to a lot of different stuff, everything from
metal via pop to flamenco – anything that has a certain quality to it and can
convey an honest emotion of some sort. Lately I’ve been listening to Gojira’s
“From Mars to Sirius”, which I think is a really cool album in every way, and I
think “Armada” by Keep of Kalessin is quite the masterpiece, actually. As I
said, I’m not all that into black metal normally, but the bands who do it well
are often pretty interesting. Of the more progressive kind I think The Mars
Volta is doing some very exciting things, and I recently discovered an
incredible Italian duo of brothers called Citriniti – really wild stuff based on
bass and drums. On the slightly lighter side I should mention Norwegian band Bel
Canto (their old records are amazingly atmospheric) and Anja Garbarek (daughter
of Norwegian jazz saxophone player Jan Garbarek), the Spanish flamenco guitarist
Vicente Amigo, and Swedish rock band Kent. Throw in some Bulgarian choir music
and I think we have it! Oh, and Kaki King; she’s a pretty amazing guitarist if
you want something a bit different – and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?
Vinyl has had a small comeback lately – do you still prefer “the old sound” or
are you a CD/DVD kind of guy?
Kaj Gornitzka: Well, for purely practical purposes I guess I am a CD/DVD
kind of guy, but in many cases I do still prefer the sound of vinyl – it has
more warmth to it. If it’s a good production, that is. Actually, I kind of miss
my old records these days, because I left them in Norway when I moved here to
Lisbon – sadly, they are a little too heavy to drag across the continent...
Last question - do you have any famous last words for our readers?
Kaj Gornitzka: After all this I’m not sure anyone will ever want to hear
another word from me, but OK:
Comes Affliction to Awaken the Dreamer” a chance – perhaps it will take a little
getting used to, but it might just grow on you. Also, check out our websites and
let us know what you think!
Interviewed by Kenn.