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Interview: TRISTANIA
Title: Still straight from the core

Since 1997, passionate disciples of challenging Gothic Metal have been able to hope for finest songs from this band. And while other groups who have started playing with the Stavangers have long ceased to be active since, the creative facets of this formation are still very lively.

The opulence, the bombastic spectacle, and the theatricality of past days have long given way to a rather moderate, rather musical musical variant, not least due to changes in the composition of the cast. But Tristania could respectively wanted not give up. Never. In 2007 they left their fans with the album „Illumination“ a well made disk, and the Scandinavian band took a lot of time to create the new and sixth album „Rubicon“.

In the course of this, Tristania also recruited the new singer Mariangela Demurtas, who came from Sardinia to the globally established Gothic Metal band. Carefully selected out of hundreds of applicants, she now replaces Vibeke Stene, who is now concentrating entirely on her real profession as a teacher.

So once again new things with the Norwegians.

That the house Tristania had anything but a vocal Vibeke-copy in mind or wanted such to hear, one can hear fully in the facetious organ of the equally hot-blooded as pleasantly handsome Italian woman.

As bass player Ole Vistnes knows how to report in a cheerful mood, the actual core of the Tristania sound remained untouched despite some changes.

Which facts are important to know since the last album?

„Since the last album some things are new, and some things are the same. What´s still here is the Tristania way of exploring new musical territories and stretching the boundaries of our music. One of the most important elements through the years has been the atmosphere and vibe in the music, and that is still present. Listeners who have followed us for some time will also recognize some of the grand, epic symphonic elements from our earliest albums. I´d also like to say that the attention to details in the music has been strong on this album, as on every Tristania album. I think you can listen to it many times, and still discover new elements. Since the last album, there are some new faces. Mariangela and Kjetil now make up the lead vocal couple, Tarald is on drums, myself on bass and Gyri on guitar. Even though it looks unfamiliar, Anders and Einar, who have composed all the music in Tristania the last 10 years, are still here. And even if Østen had to leave us to be able to spend enough time with his family and newborn twins, he has been writing several lyrics and vocal lines, and is also singing on a handful of tracks.“


How is to imagine an perfect album for Ole Vistnes?

„The perfect album for me is an album that instantly catches your attention, and yet keeps growing on you. After having listened to it for a while, you still love it, but you keep discovering new things. The best thing is if an album teaches you to like new music and expands your musical horizon.“

Please tell a bit about the songwriting process for the new output! How developed the new material and under which influences?

„Me, Anders and Einar have mostly written the songs together, but we have also worked separately, presenting material to each other at a later stage. A song for me normally starts with a general idea of a drum beat, a guitar riff, or how I want the song to sound. Then I normally make the first draft which I show to Anders, and we work out the rest together. Often the songs are totally reworked in this process, but the feeling is intact. A few of the songs on „Rubicon“ is based on ideas from even before the last record Illumination, for example „Exile“ and „Illumination“. In Tristania it is always a matter of working hard until every song has reached its potential, and „Exile“ for instance didn´t do that until it was given new life with Mariangela´s voice.“

Did you made any surprising changes in the new material? I've heard even some very dreamy nuances...

„Well, Tristania has changed drastically on every album the last 10 years, and to be honest I think it would be a greater surprise to our listeners if we did not change. I think the most notable change in the songs on the new album, is that some of them are quite up-beat catchy songs, and even though the dark atmosphere is present on some tracks, the general mood of the album is brighter. I would in many ways describe „Rubicon“ as the natural next step after „Ashes“ and „Illumination“.“

Where did you get the most creative ideas for your new songs, and when do they come at best in your head?

„Creative ideas are like thoughts, they come and go as easy as that. It´s a lot about focusing on preserving the ideas, either by writing it down or recording it on a cell phone or similar. However, my favorite creative ideas are the ones which stick in your mind. Many of the songs I´m most satisfied with started with an idea that just wouldn´t disappear. When this happens, it´s almost like the song already exists, and your job is only to write and record it.“

What is behind the new album title?

„„Crossing The Rubicon“ is an expression that means the „point of no return“. Many of our lyrics on the new album deal with death, moving on, fear of what´s ahead and so on. To cross the Rubicon, to be at a place where you realize that there is no turning back, is a very intense, frightening and sometimes exciting experience. I think the music on „Rubicon“ is all that, and more.“

Be so kind and tell about the main lyrical content of the new album!

„The lyrics on „Rubicon“ deal with death, fear of death, fear of loss, the bittersweet acknowledgement that life is over and you´re not quite sure what´s next. We have also a few songs dealing with how people react in extreme situations, and also how extreme religious fanatics, or fanatics in any way, perceive the world.“

Why you still do this at all – and what is nowadays the most inner driving force within your creative heart to do such music?

„We make music because we love music, and we think we have something to communicate. If the world ends tomorrow, and we´d have to move back to the caves, I´d still find a stick to hit a stone, and make a rhythm. This band is an excellent way to express our musical visions in a manner which fits our time and listeners more. „Rubicon“ is exactly what Tristania sounds like in 2010. It´s not what Tristania sounded like in 1998, and it´s not what Tristania is going to sound like in 2020. As we are growing as humans, the music we create grows with us.“

How did run the studio recordings for the new album?

„„Rubicon“ was recorded in three different studios. Drums and vocals were recorded in Oslo in two different studios (drums was Tanken Studio with engineer Fredrik Wallumrød, vocals was Amadeus Studio with engineer Sigmund Vegge), guitars, bass, violin and some vocals were recorded by me and Anders in Stavanger, K-Lab Studio. Me and Anders produced the album ourselves, with help from Waldemar Sorychta as a co-producer. He also arranged all the songs with us. When the recordings were done, Waldemar and his engineer Dennis Koehne mixed the album in Flying Pigs Studio in Germany. The mastering was handled by Svante Forsbäck in Chartmakers Studio in Finland.“

Do you still like it very much to play live?

„We love to play live, and we are very much looking forward to get back on the road by end of September! It´s a little bit hard to describe why I like to play live, but every time I am on stage, I know that I love it. The crowd’s reaction is maybe one of the things that keeps the flame burning, or maybe the burst of energy from the stage when we really hit it off musically. It´s not easy to choose a main factor, but what certainly is one of the most important aspects is to go around and actually meet the people who listen to our music!“

When you`re looking back in the beginnings of the Band – have your musical ‚dreams‘ mostly fulfilled so far?

„The musical dream of Tristania is always to create and recreate music in the only way that Tristania can. We have a long and proud history, but we are certainly looking ahead. The way I see it, every album fulfills the band at the given time. So as long as we´re around, our dreams are to go to the next stage, and keep fulfilling our dreams.“

With which expectation(s) do you looking forward in 2010 to Tristania?

„We hit off the Rubicon Tour in late September in Norway, and then take a 20 city run through the Northern part of Europe. My expectations are that we can keep up the touring and play to all the fans that write to us every day.“

Most important goal for Tristania in 2010?

„To present a live show in September/October that serves the album justice, both soundwise and visualwise.“

What’s your personal view about the Gothic Metal scene in your country ?

„I think all the cutting edge bands are mixing genres and creating new styles all the time now. It´s hard to speak of a Gothic Metal scene. I think you´ll find Gothic elements in many Metal bands, and you´ll hear traditional Goth bands experiment and play with genres. I believe that elements from the Norwegian Goth bands may have been adapted by bands from other genres, and Goth bands have been inspired by them in return.“

© Markus Eck, 06.07.2010

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