Erik, since your last album “To Travel Forevermore”, there has
been a change in vocal department - why?
I can't really give too many details about this, but there
was some personal issues with our former singer, Kristian Andrén.
It wasn't anything I was personally involved in, so I have nothing
personally against him. On the other hand, on the artistic level, it
wasn't an easy job for Kristian to do the last album. It turned out
well, but I had my doubts during the process. And with our limited
budget, I must be absolutely certain that the musicians will be able
to do their job. I'm happy with what Kristian has done for the band,
but he was hired on an album to album basis, and on this new one, he
simply wasn't the first choice.
why did you choose Nils Patrik Johansson?
I heard a demo CD he had done with a band called Lunatic Parade
and which they sent to our management, Intromental. And his voice
really stood out. We thought he could do wonders with the Wuthering
material, so we got in touch with him, and luckily he was interested.
He had a really professional attitude, was very well prepared and
really worked on getting "into" the songs.
have always been the mastermind behind Wuthering Heights, do you
decide the direction of the music or is it a band-decision?
I do, through the fact that I write the music. In the old days we
were more of a team, but back then we also worked more together on
arranging the material. Since I now present a more or less finished
demo to the guys, it is naturally mostly my ideas that shape the
sound of the band. It also has to do with the way I write. I can't
jam things up in a rehearsal room, it's a more complex procedure for
me to write songs. And furthermore I write the lyrics first and then
the music. Since it seems that this is the opposite of what most
other people do, it is hard for the others to contribute to the
creating proces - considering the somewhat weird lyrics...hehe.
From The Madding Crowd” has some new influences like folk and
celtic tunes – howcome?
Well, those elements have been there from the beginning. But it's
true that they are more obvious than on the previous albums. The
sound is certainly more "organic", which also adds to the
folkish flavour. And of course using real acoustic bagpipes
immidiately transports you to the highlands... But anyway, I like a
lot of different types of music. So I naturally get inspired by
other stuff than metal. I think that folk music, especially of the
celtic sort, blends well with heavy metal. It has some of the same
energy to it. So it has always been my aim to blend those things,
but it is not something that you just do. It has to be learned like
everything else. So the albums have been steps on the way to
achieving this aim. Now with the new album I think we're fairly
close to the sound I've been trying to create.
have even a cover-version of The McGalster Clan’s “The Bollard”,
why have you chosen this track from an almost unknown band?
It has been a dream of mine for years to do this song. I have been
a fan of that band for many years, and I have always thought that I
could do something with this particular song. So it was great to
finally do it, and even to have some of the McGalster guys to play
on the album. I think it's a beautiful song, and it blends well with
the Wuthering material, I think. It doesn't seem as odd as you would
think. And considering the many folk influences in my own music, I
think it's sort of the ultimate challenge to do an actual folk song.
I think we succeeded pretty well. And maybe now The McGalster Clan (they
call themselves PLONK nowadays, by the way) will get a little
recognition from people who may not otherwise have heard of this
album isn’t as progressive as your last one – was it intentional
to make a more melodic album?
Well if you define "progressive" as "technical"
you're certainly right, but I think that is missing the point. Being
progressive is when you do something new, and I think we have
achieved quite a unique sound on this new album. There's nothing
progressive about doing the same odd rhythms that Dream Theater or
whoever uses. But trying to push the limits of what heavy
metal can be, is the real progressiveness. But yes, the album is
certainly more songbased. Most of the material for all three albums
was written during the same period back in the early nineties. Then
the songs were grouped together to form a musical journey somewhat
reminiscent of the journey in the lyrics. This means that the first
album sort of established the various elements in the music, the
second experimented a lot with them - taking things a bit to the
extremes - and the new album is intended to show things falling into
place, really. At least that is the general idea. You know, if the
songs are strong enough, there is no need for a lot of technical
flash. And I think this album has some really strong songs, and
basically that is what it's
all about after all.
you have any touring plans?
Not at the moment. It would be very difficult for us to get
together for a longer tour. And I'm not sure there would be
financial backing for it. Unfortunately that's what decide those
things. But there should be a chance that we could at least do some
festivals. It would be nice to meet the fans face to face.
topics do you deal with in your lyrics and why?
As I hinted at earlier, the songs describe a sort of journey, or
learning procedure if you like. Sort of a journey through life,
trying to find some meaning and retain your sanity in an insane
world. It's all based on my own life, though it is presented in a
sort of poetic, semi-mythological way. You could say that I'm really
writing my own personal mythology. I have sometimes referred to the
songs as "autobiographical fairytales"...hehe. The actual
inspiration for a given song can be anything really, but I try to
somehow place these experiences in a larger picture - every man's
place in his own life and mankind's place in the world. It can sound
a bit confusing...but anyway, it's definitely not the fantasy story
that some people might expect.
love Tommy Hansen’s production on this album (and the last), I
guess you are also very pleased with the job he has done, and would
you consider him on the next Wuthering Heights album?
Yes, it's great working with Tommy. He has such a long experience
in many types of music, so there is a lot of background knowledge to
draw on. Not only production-wise but also concerning instruments
and amps and stuff. And he's such a nice guy. Very patient about all
my crazy ideas. But most of all, as all good producers must be able
to do, he knows how to get the sounds that I hear in my head onto
the tape. Having worked with him, it's hard to imagine working with
anyone else, but time will tell, of course.
really think your first 2 albums are sadly overlooked, but can only
imagine how frustrating it is for the musicians, how do you keep up
the spirit and continue making music, no matter how much adversity
Well, it's not easy of course. And of course if I was in this for
the fame or the money I would have stopped long ago, but that's not
the case, naturally. But a lot have changed in the music business
since I started. When I formed my first band, it didn't seem as
unlikely to one day live as a "rock star" as it does today,
actually. As the business is now, especially in metal, everybody
knows that you can't make a living out of the music and that you won't
be on posters in a teenager's room. Music has become a product, sold
through commercials and MTV and the majority of the audience are
apparantly content with listening to crap. So the fact that we still
play is in itself proof that we do it because we simply like to play.
And of course those music fans that still believe in quality must be
very dedicated indeed, and naturally it's nice to be able to supply
real music to these real fans.
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 new
It's extremely important. The more underground heavy metal becomes
the more important it becomes to have alternative sources of
communication, when the big media won't have anything to do with
metal. So it means that even though the metal fans may be more
scattered than before, they can communicate relatively easy. And of
course it is simply a source of distribution. It can be hard to get
your albums in the shops, but then the fans can just buy it directly
from the record company on the net, or from online shops or whatever.
do you see the Danish metal scene at the moment?
Perhaps a little better than some years ago. Once in a while a new
band pops up that doesn't seem ashamed to play metal. But it's still
nothing like our neighbouring countries. And concerning media
coverage and the shops willingness to carry metal albums, it's
terrible. You would think, metal didn't exist.
Have you taken your name after
Emily Bronte's book of the same name or after Kate Bush's excellent
song? And is there any deeper meaning behind your name?
Erik - Hehe...the name has caused a lot
more questions and comments than I had imagined. I got the actual
idea to use the name, when I listened to Angra's version of the Kate
Bush song. But I also like the book, I think it has some of the same
atmosphere as the music. It's a rather gloomy tale of fate and big
emotions. So I think it fits well, without revealing too much about
the band or locking us in a certain genre. But mostly I just like
the name itself, regardless of books, movies or songs.
finish things off – could you pls. make a all-time Top 5 or sort
of the 5 most important albums in your opinion?
Hmm...tough one. My personal favourite albums are:
- Pink Floyd -
- Meat Loaf -
"Bat Out Of Hell"
- Sweet - "Level
- Tori Amos - "Boys
and I think
- Gamma Ray - "Heading
- Helloween -
"Keeper Of The Seven Keys"-albums.
And I would say,
except Tori Amos perhaps, those are also the albums that have been
the most influential on how I write music myself. But I don't
consider any of those as maybe the world's most important album, I
don't know if you can really measure those things. But they are
definitely important to me.
bit thanx to Erik for taking the time to do this interview and all
the best for him and Wuthering Heights. Also a big thanx to
Claus (Intromental) for setting up the interview.