Nocturnal Euphony International

Tiamat

Interview:

Band Members: Johan Edlund (vocals, keys, and guitar), Anders Iwers (bass), Lars Sköld (drums), Thomas Wyreson

Origin Country: Sweden

http://www.myspace.com/tiamat *** http://churchoftiamat.com

Amanethes - 2008

Prey - 2003

Judas Christ - 2002

Skeleton Skeletron - 2000

A Deeper Kind of Slumber - 1997

Wildhoney - 1994

The Sleeping Beauty - Live in Israel - 1994

Clouds - 1993

The Astral Sleep - 1992

Sumerian Cry - 1991

Q. Looking back now, well over a decade when Tiamat first began. What did you have in mind, what was the goal for the band?

A. I used to hang out with guys who were all playing in bands. It was just natural to start your own band… My friends formed Entombed, Dismember, Unleashed and At The Gates and Liers In Wait in Gothenburg. I just wanted to have a band as well. You know, do my own little praising in the name of Satan and earn a little teenage fun from it along the way. I didn't have any higher ambitions than that at the time, no set goal more than having a great time.

Q. The band developed a Gothic label. Was this the sound that you intended, or was it a natural quality of the music?

A. There was a moment when I realized the dark and gloomy atmosphere of bands such as The Cure and Fields of the Nephilim and this was something I thought I had found in metal music… But pretty much at the same time I realized that Iron Maiden was a bit too candy coloured for my taste and I got into Possessed, Bathory, Venom, Celtic Frost etc., I also got into the darker gothic/new wave scene of England in the late ‘80's.

Q. Before it was decided to do the now famous "Wildhoney" record. What was going on to almost end Tiamat?

A. The musical differences and different opinions got way too strong after Clouds. I felt as if I was losing grip over the whole thing and I was the only one in the band who cared about some kind of concept. I guess we were all in it for very different reasons and it got out of hand and in the end I solved it.

Q. What is it about "Wildhoney" that has made it so big, and stay popular all this time?

A. It was released at the perfect time. It was groundbreaking in many ways, also with its visuals. We did something that had previously not been allowed in metal, and it helped creating a new genre. I'm not saying it's the perfect album but it was the first of its kind. I mean, how many orange record covers with suns where not released after that? Orange was a big no no in the metal scene before Wildhoney. I think the colour orange has paid a lot of my bills the last ten years.

Q. By 1997's release "A Deeper Kind of Slumber" we see a couple of new members in the Tiamat lineup. Tell us about this album.

A. I guess we got a bit full of ourselves. It turned out a bit overambitious… You know, all of a sudden we had the money and the power to do anything and I guess – for a moment – we thought that everything we do is gonna turn into gold so we might as well just freak out, take some drugs and go mental. It's our “sgt. Pepper” or something. At its best it's pretty cool… Like “phantasma…” is a good song, I think. But there are also moments when you can hear that I truthfully believe that I'd get away with farting my way through a record.

Q. The name Tiamat from a Babylonian goddess, "The Whores of Babylon", several instumentals about Sumer. What is the connection to these ancient civilazations?

A. The interest over the power of these places that meant so much in ALL history of mankind. People are still fighting over Babylon. The way I see it Babylon is the cradle of all religions, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and even the Asian religions. A lot of power lies buried there. It's a very ambitious band name, but we're a very ambitious band.

Q. Tiamat's sound has been in a constant growth, and development since the beginning, then in 2003 the absolute masterpiece "Prey" is released. Tell us about the writing of this album, what did you want from it?

A. Well, for one there's a hidden story behind it. It is actually conceptual in a new kind of way. A bit as a riddle or something. Dan Brown could write a book about it, The Prey Code. I have never been working so carefully with music, lyrics and visuals and concept before, and as I did most of the work myself, it was quite a thrill and something I enjoyed doing very much, but it probably also made the concept a bit harder to understand. But we're not really here to make it easy for anybody. There are other bands doing that.

Q. Of all the amazing songs on "Prey" is there one in particular that is your favorite?

A. My favorite song on the album is Divided. I think it's the most complete song I've ever written and produced.

Q. Of the entire Tiamat catalog, which album are you most proud of?

A. That would have to be a compilation album which isn't done yet but where I would chose the songs.

Q. The title "Prey" tell us about why this title was chosen?

A. It's a quite Nihilistic way of seeing the world today, where we're either hunters or being hunted. A quite primitive way of looking at it obviously, but it reveals just enough of the concept of the album without telling you anything really, apart from the fact that I grew up with movies where the fight between good and evil was ever present, as in “Empire strikes back”… I love when the world and the view of it is presented in contrasted black or white.

Q. On more than one occasion you have been called a musical genius, what are your feelings on such titles.

A. There's a lot of abuse of words and expressions in the press nowadays. My way of seeing it is; we're all stars and we're all geniuses. I certainly consider myself as much of a musical genius as Mozart as well as my neighbours are as much geniuses as me. It's music, that's all there is, if I could persiflage Clement Greenberg's quote “paint is paint, that's all there is”. It's just nothing more to it. Everything is of equal value and no one has more of a right to judge and put up rules. Please don't take any of this out of its context, I might sound like a complete megalomaniac.

Q. Your music includes a great deal of passion and intelligence, what influences this writing.

A. The most clever way of showing some kind of intelligence is to stop thinking. Influences are the bad part, they are like viruses and if you deliberately decide to stick to a certain scene or label, you're doomed. My biggest influence in songwriting is my hope for being able to look myself in the mirror every morning without looking into the eyes of a whore.

Q. I read that you enjoy ambitious songs. Tell us more about this.

A. It seems to me that the last ten fifteen years or so, it's considered bad to be ambitious. It's more cool to just write easy straight-in-your-face songs. I mean, Pink Floyd were always hated by the press. It just wasn't dirty enough and had too much of meaning. I admire people like Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young etc… who dare to stand above that, because that's why we're doing this. We'd like to see music as some kind of language and just because some guy at Rolling Stone thinks ambitions suck it really shouldn't stop us. It's way too much to ask from an artist that he should take his job less seriously.

Q. In recent years the world media has focused strongly on disasters, from 9/11 to the recent conflict in Israel. Do you think this focus in any way effects today's music?

A. Yeah, for sure, whether we want it or not. I mean, I don't write about it in an obvious way but I'm sure it affected my mood that will then be mirrored in my songs. I mean, why do I always come back to the flood in the old testament nowadays, some years after the tsunami. It was weird, but we started a tour on the exact day of the tsunami. And you know, we had chosen to open with Vote Fore Love and end the set with Gaia, as they are the two most positive songs and we could add all the gloom and gore and death in between… It was a very strange feeling singing “when nature calls we all shall drown” as the last sentence of the evening in front of 1200 Belgian fans who had just learned about the tsunami from the news.

Q. Either musically or otherwise, what one person do think has affected history the most and why?

A. I really think that we're all equally important and everybody who lived on this planet affected it equally much. It would be easy to say that Einstein meant more to our development than a baby who died only six months old. But we don't know what we have learned from that death. I don't think there's a reason to glorify specific individuals.

Q. You seem to be well read. Do books play a part in the music of Tiamat?

A. For sure they influence the lyrics and also the music. But I can't say that I value book – or literature – more than any other form of art or expression. One of my biggest influences for anything I've done is Carl Barks. My parents always told me to read books instead of these silly Donald Duck comics, but I knew back then already what they should have known. The work of Carl Barks is sooooo much more clever than the books I was supposed to read… I mean, Enid Blython, come on…????? Just because it's black words on white doesn't earn its value.

Q. Do you have any personal philosopies on music or life in general?

A. Respect your neighbor and if he doesn't respect you, kill him.

Q. So the new DVD is out. What can we expect to see on it?

A. Pretty much everything we've done. All the videoclips and a full, recent liveshow which was properly filmed and mixed professionally in surround sound (whatever that means… I'm old…).

Q. What are your thoughts on videos, do you think they are important for bands to make?

A. It's fun sometimes. It's interesting to see that part of the business. When I did the promo video for LucyFire, I went to LA to meet up with some people working in Hollywood and of course it was interesting to see how it all works… But the bill is quite high and as long as the record companies are putting half of it on you, I stay ambivalent to its greatness… To say the least.

Q. In closing, what do you want fans to get from the music of Tiamat?

A. I hope they can forget their useless lives for a moment and be embedded in the false reality that there's actually something that could save them from their rotten void of nothingness.

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