Thyrfing - 12/11/2008

THYRFING was formed in 1995 by Patrik Lindgren (guitar), Jocke Kristensson (drums), Peter Löf (keyboard) and Kimmy Sjölund (bass guitar). From the beginning, the band was meant to be a side project, as Patrik and Jocke put their main focus into their other band, Pantheon. Northern mythology and the Viking age was an interest of all the members, so the lyrics and the concept were focused upon this subject. The music was rather primitive and built upon slow pounding drums, heavy guitars and medieval synth-melodies. After two demo tapes that gained a lot of positive response in the underground scene, THYRFING signed with the Dutch record label Hammerheart Records in 1997. In Stockholm's Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, their self titled debut album was recorded, showing much more varied songwriting. For their second album ‘Valdr Galga’, recorded in the Abyss Studios, their music took on a more symphonic approach, still keeping with the roots from the older material. For future live performances, Henke Svegsjö from Ancient Winds was recruited on guitar. Once again with Tommy Tägtgren, ‘Urkraft’ was recorded and released in August 2000.
 

In the autumn of 2001, the band entered the Dug-Out Studio with well-known producer Daniel Bergstrand to record the most diverse and mature Thyrfing-album to date, ‘Vansinnesvisor’ (Songs of Madness). The album was released in July the following year, masterly-packaged by Niklas Sundin, and was considered a big step forward for the band. With more experimental vocals, distinct and focused songs, odd instruments such as keyed fiddle and home-made percussion, and with a majority of Swedish lyrics, the band won new fans and rooted their position within the genre. Thyrfing entered EMI studios on April 18, 2005 to record their new album, ‘Farsotstider’ (Times of Plague), which was released on November 21, 2005. The band played their first US show in January 2006 alongside Moonsorrow and Primordial at the Heathen Crusade metalfest in Columbia Heights, Minnesota.

 

On March 13, 2007, the band posted a message on the official Thyrfing-site declaring that Thomas Väänänen (vocals) and Henrik Svegsjö (guitars) had decided to leave the band due to lack of motivation. Instead of Thomas, founder and ex-vocalist of Naglfar, Jens Rydén, will now be handling the vocals. The band has also decided to continue with one guitarist for now.

 

In summer 2008, Thyrfing announced that they were back in the studio. The album, entitled ‘Hels Vite’ was co-produced by Thyrfing and Jörgen Svensson of Tyroon Production. The recordings and mixing took place between April and June and the album will be released through Regain Records in October.
 

 

It appears there is much to talk about and Patrik Lindgren (guitars) was available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

First of all, how are you? And congratulations on the release of your new album ‘Hels Vite’ which came out recently in Europe, of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it. It’s been 3 years since ‘Farsotstider’ came out, in between there were some line-up changes, so can you give us a quick update on Thyrfing?

Patrik: Thank you sir! It’s true indeed, there were some line-up changes – rather drastic changes as our vocalist Thomas and guitarist Henrik decided to quit Thyrfing in 2006. However we did some final shows with the old line-up (for example Heathen Crusade in the US, Party San and Summer Breeze in Germany …), and when we parted ways it was definitely autumn. However the remaining four of us (the former and original members of the band) were still hungry for more, and instantly decided to search for a new vocalist – which we actually had just around the corner in our friend Jens Rydén who officially joined the ranks early 2007. After that we focused on writing and rehearsing the songs for the next album which was finalized and recorded during 2008.

 

How did you launch into writing material for ‘Hels Vite’ and how much time did you spend on the songs? Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?

Patrik: It’s hard to estimate the actual time spent … you know, composing songs for Thyrfing is never a linear process. Some stuff could be old parts from 3 years back, and some parts could be something you ended up playing during a jam session 5 minutes ago. Sometimes we just break everything apart and start over … so it’s impossible to give an exact answer, but from the day that Jens joined in, we more or less threw away the material we had and started all over, so from then it would be 1 year of writing and composing before entering the studio.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies?

Patrik: We hardly ever write the music with the lyrics in mind and the other way round. We usually treat them as two separate entities that later on are merged into a song. So there is no actual concept of when they have to be written, but we are usually faster in making music than lyrics, so probably that is often finished first.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Hels Vite’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album? Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

Patrik: We wanted to have a heavier and more organic sound than on “Farsotstider” which maybe was a bit too clean … you should hear the sound of the actual drum skins and feel the warmth of a glowing tube amp. Also there are no triggers on the drums, so what you hear is what is being played … There was also not much editing and “clean ups” afterwards, something we also decided quite early on.

 

After the release of ‘Farsotstider’ Thomas Väänänen (vocals) and Henrik Svegsjö (guitars) left the band and soon after that the ex-vocalist of Naglfar, Jens Rydén stepped in. Did the line-up changes have an influence on the new songs and did Jens Rydén contribute to the songs or were they already written?

Patrik: Of course, changing the line-up will influence the song writing in some way. However, I wouldn’t say it was such a big change. As stated earlier, the four original members and main composers are still in the band, and we are pretty confident on how we want Thyrfing to sound nowadays. Jens did contribute with both music, lyrics and especially arrangements of the songs. We had some parts ready when he joined, but most of the material was put in the waste bin actually, as we weren’t 100% sure that it would measure up to the standard we demand from ourselves.

 

What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?

Patrik: That’s an interesting question, but I’m not sure there is a universal answer to it … A song is a compilation of many parts, and I can’t think of any song that has only one significant part that makes it great. It’s rather how you put it together and make it all interact and flow that makes the overall impact of a song I’d say. For example, take the main guitar riff in “Smoke on The Water”: Everyone knows that. Everyone can distinguish that – even though they have no idea who Ritchie Blackmore or Deep Purple are. But is that riff really enough to make the whole song? I don’t think so …

 

‘Farsotstider’ was already a step forward, but ‘Hels Vite’ is actually the first album on which Thyrfing shows its full capabilities: What are your thoughts on this statement?

Patrik: That is nice to hear, and I must say that it’s a feeling I can connect to. It feels like we really got the most of the band this time, and everything was “full throttle”, it was “all in” for the whole band and anyone else involved in the production. There is more of a natural flow and enjoyment of playing than there has been in a long time I’d say …

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Hels Vite’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Patrik: ”Hel” is the goddess of death in the Scandinavian mythology, and “vite” could be translated as a “fine” or “punishment”. So the title could be translated as “The Fine of Hel” or “The Punishment of Hel”. Later on “Hels vite” also turned into the word “Helvete” which is the word used for “Hell” in today’s Swedish language. There is no “special” meaning behind, rather than we thought it was a good title that fitted the album and the title track.

 

Who was responsible for the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from? What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics?

Patrik: The lyrics for this album were written by me, Joakim (drums) and Jens. The inspiration could come from almost anywhere … things that you hear, feel, read, experience and think about … it’s hard to really pinpoint that – it’s just something that bursts out of you. The main themes are rather dark and foreboding … tales of death, downfall and Armageddon put into a Nordic and mythological framework, would be a short but suitable description.

 

One of the most typical songs from the new album I think is “Isolation”, a very dark, raw and powerful song. Is this an influence you wish to develop more in the future, or can we expect Thyrfing maintaining the typical Viking sound?

Patrik: Actually I find “Isolation” to be a rather melodic fellow … maybe one of the most melodic songs on the album. But I do get your point that it’s also dark, raw and powerful. It is also distinguished from the other songs by it’s up-tempo manner … I see no reasons why there shouldn’t be another “Isolation” on the next album, but I don’t see it as a specific direction that we want to shape all of our songs after.

 

How did the recording process proceed this time, did you work differently than on previous albums? How much time did you spend in the studio?

Patrik: It was a bit different this time. We have previously gone the “traditional way”, i.e. going into the studio with a producer for a month, recording for 8 hours, sleep, recording for 8 hours, sleep. And then after the number of days that was set in advance, the album was finished. This time we had the chance and “luxury” to record most of the parts ourselves, in our own tempo and by our own schedule. I think this gave us some “recreational” time to reflect upon what we were doing and what we actually recorded the other day … If things weren’t really working out on a specific day, we just said “f’*** it”, pulled the plug and returned the next day with new energy. Just like with song writing it is impossible to estimate the effective number of hours, but in “production time” it was 4 months.

 

Your sound on Hels Vite’ is excellent, the album was produced by Jörgen Svensson, what made him the perfect man for Thyrfing and can you tell me something more about him?

Patrik: We actually chose the working method first, rather than the producer/engineer/mixer this time. The working routines I described earlier were something that we wanted to try out so after commonly agreeing on that, we started to look for someone who could realize this in practice. As we wanted to work in our own home town where we live, Jörgen was obviously the best choice. He is not a profiled “metal producer”, he does all kinds of things in pop and rock music. He has worked with some local acts like Raise Hell and Crucified Barbara before, but barely any bands operating in the extreme metal scene. He also has his own studio called Tyroon Production where we did all the mixing and final touches on the album.

 

 

In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

Patrik: The whole album was actually demoed and pre-produced before we started the recordings. Everything was very well arranged and planned, so there was not much for him to do actually when it came to the songs and arrangements. But he surely added some stuff and extras here and there … especially when it comes to synthesizers and FX, but also for the guitars. I think the closing track “Tre Vintrar – Två Solar” was one of the tracks that “grew” most when taken into the studio.

 

Do you have any favourites on the album?

Patrik: I think all of the tracks are really strong and measure up, but if I had to choose one today, I’ll go with the previously mentioned “Tre Vintrar – Två Solar”.

 

Have you received any feedback on the album yet?

Patrik: Yes, the feedback and reviews I’ve seen this far have been nothing but great. It seems like people in general really like it.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?

Patrik: I do think seeking feedback and a receipt of your work is only natural. I’m having a hard time believing people who claim they never read reviews (if they come across) … But of course the band’s opinion is what matters in the end, and I can’t see us making any significant changes due to other people’s opinions. This might sound pretentious, but the big thing for us is writing the album of our lives and to be able to record it. Everything that comes along with that – press, reviews, live shows, possible royalties and sales etc. should be considered as the icing on the cake.

 

Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? Which element on the CD are you most proud of?

Patrik: I am utterly pleased with it, and I would say that the overall result is what I’m most proud of – and that’s what is most important; the overall result … There are always minor details that you might have wanted to change, but would that have improved the end result? That’s not always a sure thing … And we have never been much into “perfection in everything”, there has to be a certain level of nerve, feeling and “hazard” to the whole thing too …

 

Which song is your favourite one to play live? Which song do you find is the most challenging one to play live?

Patrik: Surely, the new songs will be the most challenging as they are longer, more multi-layered and more complex than anything we have done before. As we haven’t played any of the new songs live yet, I have to choose the favourite among the old songs, and then I think it will be “Far åt Helvete”, the opener of the “Farsotstider” album.

 

Who are your greatest influences - both in terms of composition, as well as your guitar playing?

Patrik: a). Quorthon b). Quorthon.

 

Taking it back a little, when Thyrfing  started out you obviously put in quite a few hours honing your technique. What was your practice routine like, especially during that period compared to now?

Patrik: My practice routines were (and still are) embarassingly bad. I have never been and will never be a “great guitarist” in technique and skills. I mainly see myself as a song writer rather than a “musician” in the true sense of word. I hardly ever practice for the sake of it, it’s mostly when I rehearse or write songs for Thyrfing.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?

Patrik: I hope you don’t take offense, but I can’t imagine anything in my private life that affects the band or would be of interest for the readers. And if they do – they are private and I intend to keep it that way. But I can say that I have no “deeper intentions” whatsoever except for making music and lyrics that I, and hopefully also other people can enjoy and gain something from.

 

With all the touring and over six albums under your belt, how far has Thyrfing surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?

Patrik: By far I would say! There was never really any “dream” set up when we got the machine together … just to fool around and write a couple of cool songs. Then it all came step by step: demo recordings, live gigs, record deals etc. So I would say since the first letter of appreciation we got, everything has been a bonus and a “surpassing” for us. To me the most rewarding part is simply the albums and the shows … even though it has been nice with appreciation and meeting some new friends through the music, those things are why we are struggling with it, in the first place. The difference is, while making an album the most rewarding feeling is only afterwards, while during shows it’s a great feeling both on stage and afterwards.

 

What were the highlights and low points throughout your career?

Patrik: The highlight right now is to finish off “Hels Vite” and get to hear the final result. We surely put down some hard work into it so it was definitely a great feeling. On the other hand, that is almost always the case with any new album, so that might not be an objective answer in a longer perspective … Also, getting the first record deal and playing abroad were a bit “surreal” back when it happened, and that is of course something we’ll always remember. The low points are probably the feeling after Thomas and Henrik left. We had been doing this for so many years, and even though the rest of the band were confident that we would go on, it felt a bit “empty” at first … This might sound a bit spoiled, but line-up changes don’t happen everyday in Thyrfing, so it was quite a big thing for us.

 

In the early days Thyrfing was meant to be a side project, what are your thoughts on the progress from your first album ‘Thyrfing’ to the latest one ‘Hels Vite’ and what can we expect from Thyrfing in the future?

Patrik: Well, the progress can’t be neglected, can it? I actually listened to our first album the other week, and it struck me that even though everything is on another level nowadays (production, musicianship, song writing etc.) I try to convince myself you can somewhat still hear it’s the same band … I think there are some profound ideas that can still be traced in our music. If that is the truth, and not just my own opinion, I’d say I feel really happy and proud about it.

 

Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?

Patrik: This is probably a big surprise, but if it’s only for Thyrfing and I can only name one, it would be “Hammerheart” by Bathory.

 

What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?

Patrik: Ever since we started with Thyrfing, people have claimed there was an “overload” of bands, but there are probably even more now with Internet, MySpace and such … It’s of course positive in a way that almost anyone can write and promote music for free without any parties involved, but it also makes any kind of “quality control” obsolete. It’s quite a logic and easy equation: the more to choose from, the harder to choose. What I miss is probably the “unaccessability”, which is a paradox to the positively charged “accessability” which is often used today. When I was younger I had to do quite some research and struggle to find really good bands – now it’s just a click away and I must say it slightly reduces the joy of it. It leaves you more with a “so what” feeling … Maybe this is just some negative drivel from my side, but that’s how I feel sometimes …

 

What can we expect from Thyrfing in the near future, any touring plans?

Patrik: We will do some festivals and festival shows at the end of this year and during 2009. There are not many dates confirmed yet, but we are currently negotiating for more … After that, it’s time to start thinking about the next album which indeed will be interesting and challenging!

 

Where do you see the band going within the next 5 years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?

Patrik: We will probably and hopefully remain on the same level (or higher), so that we can make the productions we want to. I can’t see there will be any major changes when it comes to musical direction. Now, with a little perspective I think we have found a style to operate within, and we feel very confident with the musical direction of the band.

 

Any last statement or something you'd like to share with us? Patrik: Thank you for the interview, and your well initiated questions! I hope the readers will check out “Hels Vite” which is out now through Regain Records. Hope to see you from the stage or something, sometime … Cheers!

 

Thanks for your time.

 

 

 

 

Current members:

Jens Rydén - Vocals

Patrik Lindgren - Guitars

Kimmy Sjölund - Bass

Peter Löf - Synthesizers

Joakim Kristensson - Drums

 

Former band members:

Thomas Väänänen - Vocals (1996-2006)

Henrik Svegsjö - Guitars (1998-2006)

Vintras - Guitars (1997-1998)

 

Albums:

Thyrfing (1998)

Valdr Galga (1999)

Urkraft (2000)

Vansinnesvisor (2002)

Farsotstider (2005)

Hels Vite (2008)