THERION – I try to have as much fun as possible
Ennå en treffende livsfilosofi, hvis det er hva man trenger, som jeg ikke kan være det minste uenig med. Kristian Niemann går god for den som en universell tenkemåte for gitar spillere, sangskrivere og andre entusiaster i metall fellesskapet.
Eternal Terror – Hi Kristian. How are you doing?
Kristian Niemann – Fine thanks.
Eternal Terror – How would you characterize the type of music that you create? Has your style changed or evolved over time?
Kristian Niemann – I'd say it's just metal. I don't like all these the different names people make up: «It's progressive symphonic operametal. – No, it's gothic metal. – No, it's operatic progmetal…». Our style has evolved quite a bit from Death Metal to what it is now and change is definitely a good thing!
Eternal Terror – Do you think that the sound and style of the type of music you perform express your personal beliefs and identity?
Kristian Niemann – Sure. The music one creates is of course very closely linked to ones personality and identity. If you are a shallow individual with no original ideas or thoughts of your own your music will surely reflect that and vice versa. That's why the crap that's on MTV and radio sells. It's brainless music for brainless people. A perfect match actually! Sort of an aural lobotomy.
Eternal Terror – That's the reason Public Enemy wrote the song titled «Empty V». What first attracted you to the music scene? What captured and held your interest?
Kristian Niemann – The music! I grew up on Kiss, Metallica and Iron Maiden and although I didn't start playing right away I was always listening. After a few years it seemed quite natural to pick up the guitar and start imitating what I liked. Then as I got better, the idea that playing music could actually be a career somehow got stuck in my head and after that I devoted all my waking hours to the guitar, practicing and writing songs. Here I am 15 years later and I still love doing what I do. Although I'm not rich, actually the opposite is true, I am very fortunate to be able to survive doing what I love. But to answer your question: knowing that there always is something new to learn or a new cool riff waiting to be written is what keeps me interested.
Eternal Terror – Because the type of music you perform is quite underground, it is difficult to market it and for a band to come widely known and respected. What was it like to establish a name for yourselves?
Kristian Niemann – When I joined the band in 1999 they already had a name in the biz, having just released Vovin, the big-seller (and Theli before that) so this is probably a question for Christofer but I can imagine they did everything they could to promote the band and get the name out. Touring in shitty vans that kept breaking down, sleeping on floors, eating shit food, loosing money, freezing, loosing more money, etc in finitum.
Eternal Terror – Please describe your experience of the Metal scene. What has it been like to perform, both when you first began and at present? How has the scene changed? Are the fans different? Are the shows different? Is the music different?
Kristian Niemann – When I started performing it was just in the crack between the guitarhero-era of the ‘80s and early ‘90s Nirvana/grunge-era so there was actually a lot of stuff happening. Lots of really great bands like Faith No More, Living Colour and Pantera was just getting established. Metallica was recording the Black Album. Guns N' Roses was still an exciting bunch of drunk weirdos. Rust in Piece (Megadeth, min anm.) was just out. Ah, happy days!!
Sure the music may sound a bit different and people look a bit different but it's not THAT big a difference. The biggest change is the lack of original ideas now and level of musicianship which has totally plummeted since then. Back then you actually had to have some talent to get somewhere, now just put your out-of-tune vocals, your shitty drumming and sloppy guitarplaying through ProTools and you have a record! But it's all bullshit and of course it becomes apparent live. It's frankly EMBARRASING and you ain't fooling no one!
Eternal Terror – What are the factors that you like most about the Metal scene?
Kristian Niemann – I like good music, whatever direction it comes from. Nowadays with metal I guess I'm a bit conservative and I listen mostly to my old records: Rainbow, Michael Schenker, Yngwie, FNM, Meshuggah, Racer X, T-Ride, Mr. Bungle, Accept, SYL, Death, Pantera etc. But I listen to new stuff as well. The newest Textures CD was really cool.
I like the fact that metal fans are a very loyal bunch. They might download your CD and listen to it but if they like it they WILL go out and buy it.
Eternal Terror – What are the factors that you dislike most or would like to see changed?
Kristian Niemann – I wish it was easier and cheaper to tour the States! 🙂
Eternal Terror – What do you think of the «Satanism» that is often attributed to the metal scene?
Kristian Niemann – 99,9% is pure show (which is ok too!) but I guess there are a few real Satanists out there. Whatever, I don't care either way. It was cool when you were 11 years old, but now….seems a bit silly. I mean, the Norway scene in the early ‘90s with the church burnings and people getting beaten up and even killed. That's fucked-up and totally wrong of course but I guess at least those guys meant and stood for what they were saying. Yes, they were crazy but there was also some really cool music coming out of that. I wasn't listening to that stuff back then so it has been a quite recent discovery for me, but De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas is fuckin' cool. It sounds like the real deal, as opposed to most of the bland shit produced today.
Eternal Terror – What sorts of personalities do you encounter most at shows? What are the positive trends and the negative trends that you have noticed?
Kristian Niemann – Personalities? All types of people and hey, if you come to one of our shows, you can be as fucked-up as you want. You paid to see us, that means we're your friends!
Eternal Terror – Personally I still feel free to attend a Therion concert anytime. Do you have a personal philosophy?
Kristian Niemann – Yes. It's «Have fun!!!» For me «fun» means touring, playing, writing, practicing, going for a beer, … I try to have as much fun as possible, every day.
Eternal Terror – What do you think makes your band's music something unique?
Kristian Niemann – Christofers vision first and foremost, and his writing. Now in recent years I guess we in the band are contributing a lot more to the sound, our style of writing and playing combined with his. I think it's way easier for an outsider to see what makes us different from the next band.
Eternal Terror – What is your perception of the current political battles over «violent» entertainment forms or films, music etc., which are believed to promote violent behaviour?
Kristian Niemann – Total bullshit. It's the parents' responsibility to raise their kids in a way that they can differentiate between kicking a guy's head in a computer game and doing it in real life. The government should stay the fuck out of any form of censorship and «we know what is best for you»-type behaviour.
Eternal Terror – Would you want Metal to go mainstream so it would be more prevalent and easier to access?
Kristian Niemann – It is already mainstream, at least here in Sweden. Maybe in other territories it could grow bigger. I wouldn't mind. More people to play for!
Eternal Terror – Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Please add any additional comment you might have.
Kristian Niemann – My pleasure, see you on tour!!