Interview with Nils K. Rue, Pagan's Mind (June 27, 2005)

First off I want to congratulate you on your new album ”Enigmatic : Calling”
Nils - Thank you so much!

"Enigmatic : Calling" is your 3rd attempt to convince music journalists, that high quality progressive metal can come from Norway ... and do you feel you have succeeded?
Nils - To a certain extent, yes. We have felt the feedback the last past 2 years more strongly than earlier in our career, and these days a lot of musicians from Norway start to play melodic/progressive/power metal because they have seen that we have gained success. Kind of starting up a new trend, which I think is good since Norway always have been known for Black Metal. Of course, there can always be more success and we are not “there” yet of course, there is still a long way, but things are certainly starting to get better. We have received a lot more attention now than ever, which is good. Hitting the official charts on #15 here in Norway was good. Only Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon did that before us.

I know artists don¹t 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?
Nils - An alien asking what kind of music we do, ha ha maybe we would say “This would be familiar to you guys, as we play Space Metal ha ha!” No, I’m kidding but I really believe we have a “celestial”/”heavenly” sound, that is taking the listeners out on an “astral journey”. We are both lyrically wise and musically wise kind of spacey , floating up there in the stars with big emotions and a strong atmosphere, together with the brutality and melodicness to it we make “thinking man’s metal”, philosophically and deep intricate music for people who look out, up to the stars and like to let their mind wander...:-)

If the music of Pagan’s Mind was an emotion, which one would it be?
Nils - It would be AWE. Ever saw the movie “Contact”? (Jodie Foster) When Jodie in the last part of the film travels through those wormholes in space, the probe stops for a minute and through the walls she can see a beautiful scene appearing in front of her, with galaxies, incredible colours and unmentionable visions. She’s totally in “awe” when she sees it, and totally loses her way of speech! Awe...

Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Walk us through a song being born Pagan’s Mind style?
Nils - Movies and books inspire me, the sound of wind in the leaves and braches of trees, sound of waves, and a sparkling night sky, a strange deja vu, fore visions, nature and dreams. And all kinds of music. Usually there is an emotion starting off the process of a PM song (which one or more in the band come up with), and then we start working with it all together. If I get goose bumps when it’s nearly finished, its right and we might keep it! A PM song to me is a great puzzle and everybody in the band contributes putting it together, starting off with one single brick coming from maybe one person and the 999 other is made by the whole band together. I always make the lyrics as the last step, as the melodies always are the most important thing and shouldn’t come in second place. The lyrics are more easily born when the emotions and “images” I get in my head of the song already are there....

Science fiction seems to be very important in your lyrics, but I do see a deeper idea behind your songs – and it is possible to relate to the story on a personal level as well. Is it important for you to have lyrics, which are open to the listeners own interpretation?
Nils - Yes very much in deed. And I am happy that you understand the lyrical topics! They are a strong and important part of Pagan’s Mind. The lyrics are made out from fantasy, personal beliefs, dreams and visions and philosophy in general... Further I believe there is a connection between all “spiritual” aspects, all phenomenons relate to the same source – and it is in nature, above us, and in the entire universe. So you might call it it science FICTION, or preferably science REALITY, it’s all up to the individual but myself I have strong belief in the “unknown”. What would people 500 years ago say if they suddenly saw a TV or a computer? Magic, fiction, you name it – they wouldn’t believe it was true. 500 years of time is like a drop in the ocean in the history of this planet, and science will discover further and reveal “mysteries” one by one and bring humanity to a more wholesome consciousness I believe.

Jörn Viggo Lofstad
has done small wonders with the production, and I think he has really managed to capture your songs greatly. The mix has however been done by Fredrik Nordstrøm – why did you pick him? Listening to the album now – is there anything you would have done differently?
Nils - We used Fredrik on our previous album “Celestial Entrance” and were very pleased with his work. In just a couple of days he had made a sound so powerful and clear so the rest of the mixing process was just fun, and pickiness. We decided to go for him doing the mix again, also because he has mixed and produced so many great albums from before, and in my opinion he’s one of the greatest when it comes to metal music in the world. He has also become sort of a personal friend to the band. Jorn Viggo is a perfectionist to his heels and we totally trusted him, knowing the music even better than the other band member and has a talent for musical understanding, sound and dynamic so great I would think he could quit his day job and do music production full time, honestly!

Any future plans for touring with the new album? Perhaps we will be able to catch you at some the festivals?
Nils - This summer we have done gigs every weekend and done a lot of good ones. A lot of festivals here in Norway , and last weekend we did Sweden Rock Festival. We broke the audience record for that specific stage we played on, gathering 8000 people and we could notice that we have become more famous than earlier since the whole weekend consisted of signings, photo shoots and meeting fans. We are going to ProgPower in Holland in October, and will do a couple of gigs on the way down in addition, one in Hamburg I know. We have a break in July to take care of families and stuff, but august and the rest of the fall is packed with gigs. There is possibly a great thing coming up when it comes to touring, but I can’t reveal anything about that yet since nothing is 100% you’ll have to wait and see – but if all goes well you WILL hear about it for sure :-)

Let’s speculate – you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice – who would be your ideal touring partners?
Nils - He he, a lot of bands would be a dream come true to tour with, but of course to draw the biggest attention in public numbers we would have picked the biggest band. Maybe Dream Theater or Iron Maiden?

You are all from a small town – Skien – how has that influenced the band, and do you see that as a strength? Have you ever considered moving to
Oslo to further your career?
Nils - The fact that we’re all from the same town is a great strength. There is wonderful nature around the town here, which is an inspiration – and we get to rehearse two-three times a week together which makes up a tight band, and are friends on the personal level and also hang out occasionally apart from the band business. Of course this makes the band stronger, the chemistry better and everything is just better and easier to plan when we do gig, rehearsals and work in the studio. In fact I think it’s pretty strange that we managed to find each other, all members being such great musicians with the same musical goals and visions in this rather small town (about 130,000 inhabitants).
Oslo is just one and a half hour drive from where we live, and we do gigs there and I am often there to see friends and hang out at concerts and stuff. It’s no difference if we live here or there, we have done great in Norway and are one of the hottest bands right now, so it doesn’t matter really. Oslo isn’t THAT big either... But I love the town, its great.:-)

Your debut album was re-released last year – and I was very surprised just how big a difference there was between the original and the Tommy Hansen version – I feel the album has been given new life. But why did you choose to release it once more? And how has the responds been on the re-release?
Nils - It was Limb Music (our label) which wanted to re-release it, because of the success with “Celestial Entrance”, of course they wanted to sell some more records on our name. But we refused to do it without a total refurbishing of the record, we thought the original was way too bad. I did the vocals over again, we recorded two bonus tracks (sure you’ve heard it), we clipped and edited the songs and mixed the whole thing over again, and I agree, it was surely given new life. But the whole thing was more like a curiosity thing, nothing like a “full release”, and I think it sold pretty ok, but more like giving the fans something while they were waiting for the next album,. A lot of our die-hard fans already had the original version also, so I don’t know if everyone else understood that it was a thing anyway to do because I was never satisfied with the original. Kind of removed the “thorn in my pants” ha ha.

Over the last few years, a few very unique progressive metal bands have emerged in Norway – why do you think that is?
Nils - Good question. I think maybe it is a mix between different aspects. We have our musical heritage from the great Norwegian composers (as Grieg, with “hall of the mountain king” which a lot of metal bands all over the world as used in their music), the whole landscape, wild and harsh nature which creates strong emotions and feelings. The cold winter makes a lot of musicians creative when they sit inside a lot to keep away from the cold and you’re “forced” to create. And I also think we have the ability to create something from the bottom – not stealing too much influences from everyone else and be “trendy”. It’s as foretold a mix between different things, but Norwegians are a special kind in many ways, and I think some of the attitude we have comes visionary in our music.

And how do you feel about the Norwegian metal scene in general?
Nils - I think right now a lot of great things are happening. More power/progressive bands are starting to get out and most of them are of really high quality. I mentioned earlier that maybe some of our success has inspirited others. But we got inspired from Conception, TNT and likewise. I think it’s excellent that the metal world can relate to Norway by something else than Black Metal. A lot of BM is good, but it would be better to show a greater musical width, convincing more than just BM fans! I have to mention the Norwegian bands Circus Maximus, Illusion Suite and Karma. Great guys with great talents, look out for them! :-)

Any famous last words?
Nils - Don’t drink and drive, don’t do drugs, be nice to each other, respect and support art, music, philosophy and life in general. Love someone. See through the dull surface and discover what’s beneath it all. Look up in the sky and let your mind wander. Look out for us coming to a place near you, and show up supporting Mind Metal!

Pagan's Mind - Enigmatic : Calling

Album out on Limb Music.

Click on the album to see more info on Pagan's Mind.