Interview with keyboard player Finn Zierler and guitarist Jacob Hansen from Beyond Twilight (May 9th 2006)

2005 was an eventful year for Finn Zierler and Beyond Twilight, first they released the highly acclaimed “Section X” album, and then came the Jorn Lande “episode”, and then they were left without a vocalist just before going into the studio. Now all of those things are in the past and Beyond Twilight returns with a brand new album called: “For the Love of Art and the Making” and we have put a few questions together for Finn & Jacob:  

Finn, looking back at a very eventful year for you and Beyond Twilight, what have you learned from all of those experiences and was 2005 a good year for you?
Finn: Yes I think 2005 was a very good year but also a chaotic year. I think we’ve learned to take both success and bullshit with a smile.  

Without going into details, how did you and the band deal with all of the adversity last year – did you throw all of the frustration into the writing process…?
Finn: I think a lot is reflected in the writings. But used in a positive way to turn the negative frustrations into something good.  

Looking back at 2005, is there things you regret?
Finn: Trusting certain people!

I know you were supposed to record a cover-version EP with a few new songs, but that idea was thrown in the bin. Have any of the songs written for the EP been used for the new album? And will you somewhere down the line pick the idea of recording some versions up again? Why did you decide not to records the EP?
Finn: I wrote two songs but decided to trash them. It didn’t feel right at that time to write an EP. I had way too much to get off my chest with the new album. None of what was written in the tracks was used on the new album. I trashed it and don’t have any intentions of ever using it. The new album was written in an ongoing unbroken creative process.  

Did you have any songs in mind for the cover versions?
Finn: Yes we also discussed doing an EP with cover versions. A lot of different tracks were discussed. But that idea was trashed as well. It didn’t feel right either. Then I asked the guy’s in the band whether they would like to meet up and write the album together (we’ve never done that before) or if they preferred that I wrote the album like on our previous albums. They went for the last idea. It had been a while since I’ve written a symphony/opera so I asked the guys what they thought of the idea. It was go from everybody so I had 3 weeks to come up with the new album.

The new album was completely written in 3 weeks straight – I bet you were left physically and mentally drained after those 3 intense weeks, how did you get back to your “normal” life after such a big challenge?
Finn: I finished the writings on the same night the band travelled to DK to start the recordings. After that we worked day and night for 6 days. After the recordings most of us got sick. It was very draining and very extreme but looking back at it – it couldn’t have been made in any other way. I’m not sure I know how life gets back to normal? I’d been isolated and working for a month – completely devoted to the creating of the album. I guess getting back is a slowly process that you just try to adapt to.

“For the Love of Art and the Making” ended up being a one 38 minute’s long song – was that the plan before you started the writing process?
Finn: My plan was to create a sort of symphony/rock opera but original. Something that hadn't been made before. And within the limits of 45 min., which is a typical trademark for Beyond Twilight if you look at all our releases.  

Did you write the album from the start to the end, or did you compose separate parts and put it all together afterwards like a puzzle?
Finn: It was written from start to the end I wrote the puzzle in an ongoing process. Two parts were left open for pieces written on guitar. I insisted on having them although I think some of the guys had to adapt to the idea. I really saw this as a positive development and it is something I hope will grow. We’ve never done anything like this earlier but I think a positive seed has been planted in the band about it now. I met up with Jacob, who had a lot of riffs recorded and together we picked out the parts we found interesting working with. I think Jacob deserves a lot of credit and attention for those parts. But I think everybody in the band deserves a lot of credit and attention – everybody really has done an outstanding effort.

How did the rest of the band react when you presented the whole concept and the parts in the studio?
Jacob: I heard bits and pieces of the song while it was being made, so I already had this view of how it was gonna be, but we were never really presented to the song itself. We just went from the beginning and started building the song with each instrument. It was a great experience listening to the song growing. It was amazing! Everyone was very positive about the whole song and we all contributed by doing the best we could for this one.

In my word I have tried to describe the album and ended up with: “So many words come to mind when trying to describe the concept; fast and furious, emotional, remarkable, twisted, classical, hard and heavy. This is still progressive metal but without ever just being progressive metal just for the sake of it!” – can you agree with this description and would you add something?
Jacob: I never saw Beyond Twilight as your average progressive band, because Finn’s way of writing is just so different. I think – no pun intended – that many bands can be categorized into being influenced by either this or that band, but in Beyond Twilight’s case, it’s harder to pin point. The whole band listen to a lot of different metal, and Finn has also a very broad musical taste, which I think makes him much more open-minded, and careless about what you can and can not do inside the “progressive metal genre”. This is where I myself feel Beyond Twilight is so strong. It’s past any boundaries!

I think Björn Jansson falls nicely into the mould, and his vocals fit the music like a hand in a glove. People might know him from his work in Tears of Anger, but how did he become a member of Beyond Twilight? I know Kelly left just before you were scheduled to start the recordings of the album.
Finn: I was more or less prepared – the problems with Kelly had been going on for a while and it was getting to a point where we knew either he was going to get fired or he was going to quit on his own. I had Björn in mind for a while. I absolutely loved his voice and his vocals. When things with Kelly didn’t work out I got in touch with Björn. He delivered vocal shots at the new material in just one day and this was the commitment we were looking for.  

The album will be released on April 21st – the same day the band is celebrating its 10th anniversary. “Section X” was released on March 29th, which happens to be your (Finn) birthday. Do dates have a special significance for you? Do you believe in numerology and you real name is ZYzz228 PP89711???
Finn: I don’t believe in numerology. There are many symbolisms in numbers and you can say things with numbers that has a deeper meaning. You’ll find a lot of secrets in the lyrics on all Beyond Twilight albums. There’s a storybook to each album. The release dates have been part of the album concepts since the beginning. Everything Beyond Twilight does is with great passion and devotion for music and art. Many details can be found. The sign which is on all the albums I’ve written (not only Beyond Twilight) is a tattoo I carry on my arm – another example. The artwork and illustrations on all albums are part of the concepts too – another example. The video we did on the last album is part of the concept too – another example…etc.  

This time you’ve recorded in various studios, but have put everything together in Jailhouse Studios. The mix was once more done by you (Finn) and living legend Tommy Hansen in his Jailhouse Studio in Horsens . I bet you a very pleased with the result, and does it reflect your vision before you began?
Finn: I’m very happy with the end result. Yes is definitely reflect my visions. Working with Tommy is a great pleasure – he is so great. I think that Jacob has a big share of the result of the sound as well – he did a great deal of work too.  

Could you ever imagine working with another producer? And who would be choice if so…?
Finn: Yes sure. It would all be a matter of what kind of album it would be.

The artwork is rather unique, because you have used 2 artists: Mattias Norén and Robert Sindermann, whom you’ve worked together with before. I could imagine, it wasn’t an easy task to agree on which idea fitted each part the best… After all their styles are not very similar, and I bet they came of with very different concepts for the album...
Finn: The styles from both artists are different. So working on the same illustrations stopped before they even started. They are both great artists with both their trademarks. The project got more complicated than I imagined but in the end everything worked out just perfect. The artwork is really great, unique and full of details about the concept of the album.

“For the Love of Art and the Making” is your third album, and so far you have not been able to present any of your material live on stage. I know most of the other band members do have other obligations – Anders is touring like 200 days every year with a symphony orchestra, you (Jacob) are one of Denmark’s premier producers and so on… but now the all of the band is located in Scandinavia, so things might look a bit brighter on the live front. So when can we expect a tour from Beyond Twilight?
Jacob: We are all keen on playing live, but as you say so yourself, it might be hard to find the time for it. As for tours, I think they would be quite short, as we all have work that pays our bills, and thus far the gig offers to Beyond Twilight can not pay any bills. But we have been offered to play some shows, and I’m sure everyone in the band wants to make it work, so it’s just a matter of time!

Could you imagine playing “For the Love of Art and the Making” from start to the end live on stage, or would you select parts of the album? I know you’ve never played live – but what would an ideal touring bill consist of if you could choose your touring partners?
Finn: Not as for touring or festivals. It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. But maybe for a couple of special shows. Or maybe some parts of it on festival jobs etc.  

Jacob: Some parts of it could make quite a great live song, so we might make a medley of the parts that would suit a live performance well.
- For me an ideal touring package would be with band that has a foot in both the extreme metal genre and the more mellow type of metal, because I think Beyond Twilight could do something for fans of both. No such band comes to my mind right now, but I guess they are out there...

What are you doing beside Beyond Twilight, job wise as well as hobbies? Is there time for anything beside Beyond Twilight?
Finn: I have a private life :-) Basically I need more challenges and many other inputs. I think it is important to feed your mind with knowledge of all kind.

Thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you...
Finn and Jacob: And a big thanks to you too – a pleasure talking to you.

I have just one question left: "How on Earth will you top this one?”
Finn: By keep going beyond the limits and developing in new ways.

Beyond Twilight - For the Love of Art and the Making

Album available on Massacre Records.

Click on the album cover to see more info on Beyond Twilight.