Interviews > Tristania
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Tristania take the listener on a musical journey that really is beyond the point of no return with their sixth album, Rubicon (Napalm Records) stretching their boundaries with well-thought out melodies coupled with raw power, still laced with their Gothic themes that audiences have come to love.

Check out their video for the new song “Year Of The Rat”!

Hailing from Norway, Tristania has again tweaked their line-up and have a solid chemistry that made past albums like Beyond the Veil (still one of The Crowgrrl’s favorite albums) great. This line up consists of: vocalists Mariangela Demurtas and Kjetil Nordhus, guitarist/growling vocalist Anders Hidle, synth/programmer Einar Moen, guitarist Gyri Losnegaard, bassist Ole Vistnes, and drummer Tarald Lie. The album also features a guest appearance by violinist Pete Johansen.

The Crowgrrl recently caught up with Kjetil via email.

You’ve tweaked the line-up yet again? Tell us about the new members and how they came into the fold.

Except for myself and Mariangela, the new members were already live members before they joined. Tarald on drums has done basically every show with Tristania since 2005, while Ole had done live bass for several years before joining permanently. Gyri didn’t come from out of nowhere either, as she had been rehearsing with the band for a while and also done a few live shows before being asked to join full time. Mariangela was one of several hundred singers from all over the world that sent in a demo after Vibeke left, and she certainly stood out, going to Norway to work with the band, and getting to know them before being offered the role as lead singer. And for myself, most people know already that I was supposed to be a stand in singer for Østen for a period, only for him to tell the band that he didn’t see himself returning to the band after having twin kids last summer. So – quickly – that sums it up. We do understand that people feel this is a very new line up, but for the people within the band, we do already know each other very well, the balance in the line-up is really working out well and we cannot wait to go on.

You’ve returned to Napalm Records?

Yes, when Napalm Records came with an offer, the decision wasn’t really that hard. We know Napalm very well from before, they know us, and they know our fans. So – we’re very happy to cooperate with Napalm Records again.

”Illumination” is one of the most powerful tracks on the album! Can you tell us about its inspirations?

” Illumination” is a song that had been in the loop also for the last album, but Einar, who’s written the song didn’t feel the potential was reached, so he decided to work more on it before suddenly everything something happened during the pre-production sessions for the Rubicon album. The lyrics are again about personal and religious fundementialism, and I agree it has really become one of the epic songs on the Rubicon album.

What do the Norwegian lyrics at the end of that song mean?

Basically that everything has an end. Personally I think it’s the perfect end of this record. It’s the first time Tristania has done anything in Norwegian, and it has attracted quite a lot of attention, really. And of course, with Østen singing it, it also has kind of a symbolic meaning for him.

”Patriot Games” is another stand-out. Can you tell us more about that one?

I like “Patriot Games” a lot too, with Østen doing a signature verse before the very energetic chorus kicks in. That’s actually one of the songs that we haven’t really been able to transfer 100 per cent to the live setting. It sounds good, but I don’t think we’ve found the “live x-factor” in it just yet.

”Sirens” sends chills down the spine. What’s the story behind that track?

“Sirens” is a dark and heavy tune that I feel reminds a bit about the Illumination album in atmosphere. Østen does the beginning of the song, and I’m taking over together with Mariangela. Lyrics wise it’s about war in real life and inside ones mind.

”Amnesia” is both beautiful and haunting. Can we get more in depth about that one as well?

I think “Amnesia” is one of the tracks on the album that’s most representative of Tristania anno 2010. It has some of the new elements I like so much with the album, nice vocal harmonies, and Mariangela really shines on this one, I think. And obviously “Amnesia” is one of the tunes that Pete Johansen joined us in the studio for. His violin parts are beautiful in my opinion.

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

On the Rubicon album, I guess Anders and Ole has done the most songwriting, and still Østen has done quite a lot of lyrics. But the good thing is that everyone in the band has contributed both when it comes to lyrics and music, and that’s a good sign for the future, I think. With the changes in the band, I think it was a good idea to involve all the members, for Rubicon to get the personal touch from Tristania anno 2010.

Do the lyrics come first? Does the music come first? What is the songwriting process like for you?

That depends on who’s working, really. But for the Rubicon sessions the case was often that the music came first – then the vocal melodies came with “project lyrics” before the lyrics were written properly.

What’s your personal favorite song on Rubicon?

It’s been different ones, really, but if I had to choose one that’s been “up there” all the time, it must be “Magical Fix”. It’s very powerful, and combines older Tristania with new elements, which I really like.

Any video plans for any songs?

We did a video for the opening track, “Year Of The Rat”! and there’s no plans for another one right now.

Tour plans? I understand that you’re doing a lot of shows in a small stretch of time for the tour’s initial leg?

We’re on the tour right now, and it’s working out really well. We were very excited to go, because we didn’t really know how everything was going to work out live. But the feedback from the audience and from reviewers has been absolutely fantastic, so we’re really buzzing, to be honest.

What is your live show like?

It’s become more intense and energetic, something which suits to the new songs, I think. We’ve been working quite a lot with also a visual image (if you check our official Facebook site you’ll see what I mean) and that’s also worked out really well.

Does your live set list contain mostly songs from Rubicon, or your other albums?

It’s a mix. Last night we did 13 songs, while five of them were from Rubicon. We try to present both new songs and older ones, some of them in slightly new versions.

How comfortable are the new members performing some Tristania’s classics, like “Beyond The Veil”?

It’s taken some time, but on this tour “Beyond the Veil” is one of the songs we’ve all felt most comfortable with. I think it’s right to say that it takes more time being comfortable with songs you haven’t recorded or written yourself, but I’m glad it’s all working out really well now.

What kinds of merch are you bringing with you this time?

New hoodie, two male t-shirts, two girlies, lighters, autograph cards, CD’s and some old stuff.

What do you do on your “down-time” on the road? Do you bring movies or videogames? If so, which ones?

There’s a nice lounge on the bus, where we can hang out watching DVDs or playing Playstation games. But most of the guys are drinking beer, really.

Are you filming any of the shows for a possible DVD?

Well, we’re not sure yet. We brought a friend, Eivind, who has been filming quite a lot of stuff during the tour in case we’re to do a DVD in the future. It’s nice to have lots of material if we get the chance to release a DVD.

How Hands-On are you with your Website and Myspace pages?

More than ever, I would say. The Official Tristania Facebook site has been a big success. It’s the only site on the internet that people can communicate directly with the band, and many people seem to appreciate that. We have great people helping us with Myspace and, and news there are frequently updated too.

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to talk about?

Ooh. You’ve asked about a lot.. haha. No, really – thanks a lot for your interest and support, and I hope to see you on the road!!!