Thyrfing on a epic search for a home
This year Thyrfing released already their seventh album called De Odeslosa. During Paganfest I had a talk with Patrik Lingren, guitarist of Thyrfing. In this interview you read why it is not frustrating that Alestorm was headliner of Paganfest, 18 years of Thyrfing and the remarkable line-up change, Joakim moved from drum to bass.
How is Holland so far?
It’s been great, we had some time off to walk around so we’ve been in town.
What do you think of the audience? You haven’t played yet, but it’s not your first time in Holland.
With our first five albums we were with a Dutch record label, we had a good connection and it’s been great. Hopefully tonight will be as well.
You’ve been along the scene for quite a long time at the newer generation of metalheads you are not really known. Do you have an explanation for that?
I guess it is a bit of a bad timing for us. We haven’t been touring this much, this is still not a regular tour. And of course we took quite some time for the albums, four and a half years for the new one, before that three years. In the meantime a lot of things happened.
And now you’re playing on Paganfest, is that also for the promotion?
We ended up on Noiseart records and Rock the Nation for the new album and so far it is good. We give it a try.
Isn’t it frustrating for a band that exists already for such a long time to play on Paganfest and then Alestorm, who don’t exist that long, are headlining?
Maybe but you can’t really see it that way. Everybody is doing their own thing and we haven’t been working with the band that much. They surely put their hours on the road, which we haven’t, so I think it is okay.
A couple days ago you have released De Odeslosa and you took quite some time for it, five years! Does the label give you that much space because you are there already for 20 years?
Actually we signed there this summer so they came in pretty late. Most of the songs were pretty much finished by then. We started working on the album in 2009, which is quite some time ago. Obviously we are not writing every day, still you are working on the song quite some time. What’s different now compared to when we were younger is that we now really can express our things. Back then we released an album every year now we take some more time. It takes more work to overdo yourself in time, reach your goal. And also because we are not a running business machine we can also allow ourselves to give us some time. But to answer the question: They didn’t mind. When you are younger you want to rush things out but also on a personal level it’s different. You get older, you get a family. It’s a bit more complicated.
Something I noticed on the new album is that the vocals sound a bit panicking. You already have the lyrics and the music to convey something to the audience, is it also something you do with the sound of the vocals?
Well I think Jens should answer that question. I know that he kind of changed the vocals for this album. I like it as well. It’s A bit clearer, you hear the words better. The lyrics changed. I think different style and I think it fits very well on the album.
I also noticed that all the lyrics are now in Swedish while in the past you also had lyrics in English. Why are now all the lyrics in Swedish?
Yes we haven’t been that consistent in the past albums. But I think this time we agreed on Swedish. I like the songs with English lyrics as well but in a way it changed the sound of the album and I think lyrics are really a part of the sound of the album. So this time we took a vision beforehand and decided to go for Swedish. But that’s only one part of it of course. The other side is that the language skills are on a different level in Swedish. With English you cannot really go to the next, poetic level.
A few albums were recorded by Tommy Tagtgren. This album by Jens Bogren. You’ve had some really good producers but all with a completely different sound.
I guess we still haven’t found our home. What I think that has changed now, actually before we did the recording and Jens did the mixing and the mastering. So I mean the scene and the budget has changed in the years, we had to think of a different way. We can’t afford to rent a studio go in there for months, we had to reinvent the system. Also technology today allows us to do it like this. Recording drums was in Stockholm we couldn’t think of much else, we tried it ourselves and we decided we needed a really good guy for that. I think it works that way, I’m really happy with it.
Your name comes from the sword Tyrfing, which doesn’t really have a nice history.
I get some questions about it like If I feel that the band is connected to the myth around the sword. When we choose the name it was quite by coincidence. We had a lot of different names and we always found out that some other band was already named like that. We added a h to the name, it’s not a spelling I have seen. So we came up with this and obviously we were the first.
Thyrfing now exists for 18 years. How do you look back on two decades of Thyrfing? What are the highs and the lows?
It’s kind of strange, we never really set out a big plan for the whole thing. I mean but if we go back to the day we started then I mean you look back on it with seven albums, tours. Quite amazing actually. I mean it is, when we stop, we have to one day, we definitely are going to be proud. A lot of unique experiences of course on and off stage and everything around.
And the lows?
There are always lows. But there are of course certain periods when you can’t be on top all the time when it comes to motivation and creative thinking. There have never been any major crisis. To say it like that. So even though we’ve been away for four years it’s been always in the back of your head somewhere. Even if you’re not working actively with the band it’s still growing.
What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever had in context to the band?
Well there are, obviously you will make mistakes on stage. But that is all part of the game you can’t really go around and be embarrassed about it. From personal view, on the early albums we had some bad experience with printing errors. By example on the first edition of one album there are two pictures of the same guy and my name is not on it.
On the new edition luckily it is fixed.
Around 2003 you changed your style a bit, introducing a more folk sound. Now a few years ago you’re getting more in the direction of black metal. Is that a conscious choice or more of a natural evolution?
I think when I look back at the 2003 album and the new album it is more black, that is the major dividing line. But I don’t think, well we weren’t really aware of that when we made the album. Maybe the producer had a finger in it for the sound. But also at that time the lyrics stepped away from saga’s and things, we were pretty much storytellers while from that album and nowadays it’s a bit more personal and we don’t use the same kind of language as we did before.
I agree the sound has changed at the new album, but it’s been slow progression. So I can’t really say there was a direct choice. for instant today we play songs from the new album. Quite different in style but I think it goes along with the old songs. There are some red lines through all the albums.
There are a lot of lyrics about Vikings and stuff like that. Do you think that the Vikings were really awesome people or is it more like going back to your own heritage?
Personally it’s been a really big influence, especially when I was younger. It still is. And around when the band was formed I was reading everything, it’s been a part of me for my whole life. When we decided to bring the concept to the band, which is not a unique thing there were bands even back in that time. We were also inspired by the bands that time, especially the epic bands. So but Vikings I mean there is a kind of silly with the whole thing with the horned helmet and stuff like that. Obviously it is not the historical correct but the powerful impact on people just that it works in stories it’s going to work in music as well. I mean somewhere sure imaging/ writing were awesome. But most people, like 90 % were farmers without horns on their helmets.
But you are proud of your own Swedish heritage?
Proud, proud, I mean it’s a part of our history, I think it is good to know it and not only ours, there are many others as well. So but I wouldn’t say it is a really big thing. It is a concept we used for the band and we developed it a bit. I still think there is the basic idea in the band even though we developed further.
What is the meaning of De Odeslosa?
It means those without fate. We’ve picked the myth of Askr and Embla who were according to the myth the first humans created by gods. Its kind in a way of the resembling of the Adam and Eve thing.
In the past there have been some line-up changes but this time you had a remarkable one. Joakim moved from drums to bass.
He’s always been playing most of the instruments. It’s merely by accident that he ended up on drums after some jam sessions. But now last year our original bass player decided to quit and Joakim told us that he was more or less done with the drums as an instrument. Since we needed a new bass for us it wasn’t that dramatic but I can imagine it sounds strange. But to us it wasn’t that strange since we saw him always playing guitar and writing songs. He felt that this is what he wanted to do it would be really stupid of us to hold him back.
Hels vite had a sort of creepy artwork if I can say it like that. Compared to that one, the artwork of De Odeslosa is really quiet.
It’s a bit coincidence. We didn’t think great, we didn’t had the artwork in mind. We told the artist about the lyrics and the vision and then we came with some ideas. And our vocalist Jens, he had some small thing on both covers so that’s where they are resembling. I think following the album sound. Hels vite was a bit darker while this one is a bit more aggressive.
Of course all songs on the new album are great but there was one song which I think is really the best. Veners Forfall, it is like a complete song, it has all the elements in it.
Yeah it is a great song. It sums up pretty much the band and how it sounds with all the elements. We put it up for streaming. Would be stupid not to play it tonight.
Do you see yourself as an example for the new generation of metalbands?
I don’t know. I guess some people have been influenced in some way by some albums, I know that. So I mean I guess we should me proud by that. As all musicians are influenced by someone, we are as well, that’s the natural cycle.
What are the future plans?
We’re not going to be on the road for twenty weeks or something like that. It is getting harder with your life now. I hope we will play some shows and another tour as well.
It is a bit early to think about a new album now but it is already in the back of your head. As I said in this interview we’re not really making plans, we never had. Whether that is good or not I don’t know but I don’t think it is going to change much. As long as you feel that there is some kind of creative merge. You can practically go on, in twenty years we will still be here. Or maybe we won’t.
Something you would like to say to the fans/readers?
Listen to our new album of course and I think that the people who enjoyed it in the past will like this new one.
Thank you very much for your time and good luck with the show!