TIAMAT "Love Songs For the Devil"

By Octopi Mills

Few bands are able to keep such a long legacy novel and a catalog of albums interesting, and to go on through a metamorphosis every album and still continue with a hunger for meaningful exploration in their craft. Sweden's Tiamat is a band that moves and changes like wild waters, and with any such change there is a sense of something new and fresh. Though I had lost touch with this band for awhile throughout the many cycles  and throughout the years, when I heard the new album "The Scarred People", I admit I was invested with a fresh interest in the music in a manner which was previously dormant. Read on as we speak with Tiamat's voice piece, Johan Edlund about the new album, and about a few other things the man had to say.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: It is certainly an honor to have you at WormWood chronicles, and just around good old Samhain....I would like to begin by asking you a little about your new album, "The Scarred People".What did you go in the studio with this time, as far as material? Were there any specific concepts you had in mind for this release?

JOHAN EDLUND: We just write songs and try to do our best.. Trying to come up with honest and heartfelt songs without speculating too much about it. It's a pretty subconscious process. We want to be surprised ourselves, and the concept comes naturally from deep within us, it's nothing we work hard on to come up with.

WC: Tiamat is a band that has released many diverse and unique studio albums...What was the song writing process like this time around and how did you approach the work aspects involved in recording this time? Anything different? Do you enjoy the recording in the studio or is it a painful experience?

JE: It's painful in a good way. I hate when things are too easy. I generally don't go for the easy solutions, I think a little struggle is always needed to keep me interested. With that said, I'm pretty experienced when it comes to songwriting and working in studios so my job was to fuck it up a bit, and try to make the ride less smooth and boring.

WC: With all the songs at your disposal for a live performance, how do you end up choosing the set list for your shows? Will there be a tour for "The Scarred People" album this time around?

JE: Sometimes we just throw pieces of paper with titles on up in the air and pick them up randomly to form a setlist. No tour is booked yet, I hope something comes up. Next show is the 70000tons of metal cruise in the end of January.

WC: Back when you started with earlier material, and especially in regards to the "Astral Sleep"- what was your inspiration as far as music? Some would agree that your earlier works could have easily been called black metal, due to some of the themes and imagery of the band.

JE: The devil is present in all my songs, even the love songs. But I was never much into labels and genres. The most important thing for me as a musician is to maintain artistic freedom. I won't let anybody limit what I can do, so I sure wouldn't do it to myself.

WC: When writing lyrics, is there an inspiration drawn from esoteric or occult sources, such as Crowley, for instance? One thing i greatly like about Tiamat is the lyrics, and I can't help but wonder. Is there an actual practice of certain rituals or ceremonies you might draw some creativity or energy from?

JE: I'm sure I have been inspired by Crowley's open-mindedness towards different religions and cultures, and at the same time also by his stubbornness to always go his own way. Rituals can be so much, and to me it's something highly personal.

WC: Does Tiamat ever plan on releasing any live material? Even though the old material is old, and the new just as good, do you still play or plan on playing any of the early material live?

JE: Don't know. I haven't thought much about it.

WC: Are the Tiamat members still involved with any other projects other than Tiamat, such as Lucyfire?

JE: Anders is about to re-release Ceremonial Oath together with Jesper (ex-In Flames) and Oscar from Hammerfall. I'm working on a solo album in Swedish at the moment.

WC: Some of the lyrics and themes would seem to have a hint of  almost supernatural themes, at times? Do you have any paranormal experiences therein you would wish to share with us for the holiday season?

JE: It's all natural to me. Everything comes from somewhere. I don't really write fiction.

WC: What are some of your favorite films, music or literature that may or may not have inspired you in Tiamat or just in general? Would you share with us some of your favorite authors or works in this area?

JE: I can't really say what has influenced Tiamat. I have no red line in my taste in anything. I don't listen that much to music, I get more out of writing my own songs. For books and movies I consume to be entertained. My biggest interest is art, especially what I'd call classic modern.. Late 19th century up to Pop. You know, the big ones, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Miro..

WC: "Messinian Letter" was one of the songs that surprised me on the new release, and I found it to be quite moving...what can you tell us about this song, and it's concept?

JE: It's a love song. Simple as that. It's a rewriting of a letter that my girlfriend sent me when I was still back in Germany waiting for my move to her in Greece.

WC: What was the strangest moment you ever experience when working with this music? Any memories you might share that stand out?

JE: Once I was in a studio laying down some pretty blasphemous vocals that really scared the sound engineer who wasn't familiar with this kind of music. After a while he falls to the floor shaking and foam is coming out of his mouth. In the ambulance he's without a heartbeat for over two minutes. He had been complaining that he felt very uneasy listening to my evil grunts so we were pretty chocked. It had a natural explanation we found out later.

WC: What are your future plans with Tiamat and this music? Will Tiamat continue to make albums and tour, as such? Is there a definite "finishing point" for the band?

JE: Tiamat will never die. Only posers too full of themselves split up bands just to reform as soon as someone pays them. Pretty fucking lame if you ask me. We're stronger than that.

WC: Thanks for being a part of this interview....I remember Tiamat from my youth and the metal underground, and would like to say the music is special and unique; something very different in the extreme genre of music that seems to have a longevity....Any last words for our readers?

JE: Thanks a lot! Hope to see you on tour in the near future!