Published on Sunday, 19 April 2015 20:06
Interview with: Christofer Johnsson
Conducted and edited by: T.V.
Luciferian Light Orchestra, a new band formed by the one and only Christofer Johnsson, a man behind the Swedish, maybe the most influential symphonic metal band ever, Therion, is about to release the self-titled debut album. With Luciferian Light Orchestra Christofer fluently executes his second passion, a vintage 70s influenced occult rock music, but yet there's found that special Therion symphonic trademark in it. Christofer always had a big passion for the 70s music and Luciferian Light Orchestra sounds like a 70s version of Therion, mainly inspired by the 70s occult vibes and themes. There's little known about this new act, who are the other names behind it, Christofer keeps a certain veil of mystery around it and he's doing it right, it's the music that it counts. We did a very in-depth phone interview with Christofer who revealed quite a lot of things about this new act on the scene, as well we talked about his main band Therion and about other interesting things. Christofer revealed a lot and gave us an insight how this new opus was created, but he wants to keep a lot of details in secrecy. Be welcome to read the interview with one of the biggest artists in the metal scene who's active in this business since late 80s, he has a lot of interesting things to say. And of course, watch out for the 30th of April when the album will hit the stores!
T.V.: And as well the symphonic part in "Venus Is Flames" does sound just as being taken from the Vovin album, doesn't it?Christofer
T.V: Hi Christopher! It's an honour talking with you and tell me how are you today?
Christofer: Thank you, I'm fine but a little bit stressed because we are getting the delivery of Luciferian Light Orchestra CD's physically today and I'm going to pick them up in about an hour.
T.V.: So, how are you satisfied with the final product?
Christofer: I'm happy with it, I mean there are always things not so good that you say, like "fuck, are you really satisfied with this and that, and is it something that I want?” You know I made over twenty CD's with different bands and with each and always I found mistakes that will always be there, but in general I'm really happy with the final product. It was recorded a little bit there a little bit here over a very long time, but it came out very nicely.
T.V.: I listened to the album several times and I like it very much, yet I find it very intriguing, but from what I understand some of those songs were meant to be Therion songs and somehow didn't fit on any of the albums.
Christofer: I've written much more music than I published. Some of it was a bit too poppy, yet something was too strange. These songs for instance were too vintage sounding, yet there was always a lot of 70s music in Therion, but I always disguised it in several ways and people didn't realize that. Now these songs were simply too 70s to get away with. I mean there are some songs more openly 70s like "The Dreams Of Swedenborg" from the Lemuria album. I'm often sitting with the guitar in the chair and thinking if something is just enough vintage or too much vintage for a Therion album. So I thought that maybe it's better to split it, go with the vintage stuff in one direction and with the typical Therion-ish stuff in another.
T.V.: And in which period were those songs done? A lot of songs have something in common with the Theli or even Vovin era of songs...
Christofer: Actually the oldest song is from 1995, from pre-Theli era, to be exact it was written right after the Lepaca Kliffoth album. The thing is that on Lepaca Kliffoth I thought it would be too expensive to include very symphonic songs and those ended up on the Theli album in the end. At that time it was very far from clear if I'll get the money to do it because it was a very expensive recording. I told the boss of Nuclear Blast Records back then: "Look, I don't want to do another metal album based on my vocals, I want to use different choirs, I want to use operatic elements, typical rock elements, I want to use tons of keyboards and stuff. And the money in the contract simply was not enough..." He told me: "Hey, don't worry, just go the studio and make your thing.” He didn't know how much all this will cost, you know. We were a band that didn't sell too much records at all back then and just of a sudden we had the biggest budget in the history of the label at that time. So fortunately Theli became our breakthrough album and the money came back. But I had a plan B, I always have a plan B, and I spoke to a friend called Tommy Eriksson, who played with the band live on different occasions, drums sometimes, guitar sometimes, he was close to me and helped me out with many things. I was thinking what if I don't get the money from Nuclear Blast to do this, then let's go with my second passion. My biggest passion was symphonic music and my second biggest passion was 70s sound, so I thought that if I can't do it big and operatic then I'll go with 70s. I started to rehearse together with Tommy and formed a band called Theli and soon we had two songs, but then Nuclear Blast got back to me with a message that they'll give me the money and there was no more need for a second band. I took one of the two songs that we were rehearsing, that's "Cults Of The Shadow", we rearranged it a little bit and it ended up on the album Theli. The name of the album Theli is some kind of a tribute to the band we formed under this name. The second song that we rehearsed I just saved for all these years. Funny thing is that I never recorded it and I used to remember it, so it must be a really cool song if I remembered it since 1995. The song was called “Where the Lilies Grow” and I was recording it for this album, but I wasn’t 100% happy with that version, so I decided not to use the recording and not to do it on the debut album. I want to re-record parts of it. Because if the song waited since the fucking '95 it must be exactly how I want it. No compromises. The other songs were written during all these years. The latest song I wrote for Luciferian Light Orchestra was "Dante And Diabaulus".
T.V.: Some of the songs have a very catchy character and go immediately in the ear, but on the other side there are as well many psychedelic, yet complicated elements and song structures. I wonder if it was your intention to write songs that need a lot of listens to be really grasped in its fullness. It's a bit different approach than the one we are used to hear from Therion...
Christofer: I just write music, I don't have any thoughts and whatever it turns out it just turns out. An interesting story for example is around the song "Moloch". It's a song that I wrote for another band, for the Swedish black metal band Ofermod, and their main guy thought that the song is too weird and it was out of the question that they'll release it. Then I thought why not have this weird song. Actually this song was recorded at the same time when I wrote it, and this is the only song that I ever recorded in an extraordinary state of mind, I was working almost like in a possession ceremony. It is very minimalistic, there's not a lot of variation in it, because in that kind of state of mind you don't exactly know where is your world. So, this song was recorded and written at the same time, I just recorded a lot of things on the guitar and later I tried to put those things together and make a song. I rearranged everything and it became a full song. Then the vocal lines and drums were recorded afterwards. It's very different from how I usually work and also during the recording we did a lot of various things which probably left kind of an impact.
T.V.: You've already announced that there will be more albums in the future from Luciferian Light Orchestra, so I suppose that there are even more songs already written and are waiting to be released?
Christofer: Yeah, I already have four more songs for the next album. For me to write this type of songs will be very easy because I have a lot of inspiration. You know, I play Gibson for all my life and I would never play anything else than a Gibson with Therion because it's the best guitar you can get on the planet, but now I worked with the Fender Stratocaster with old hand made pick ups from Year Zero or something to get that Jimi Hendrix type of burning sound and this is really inspiring. Normally I don't compose on guitar, I just hear music in my head, but when I play around with this one I just write songs by playing guitar and believe me that I haven't been writing songs on guitar since we were a death metal band early in the 90s.
T.V.: Very interesting, indeed! You already made publicly available three songs from the Luciferian Light Orchestra's debut. Tell me what kind of response did you get from the fans of Therion and as well from the rest of folk who heard them?
Christofer: So far very good. There were some who had something negative to say, but overall the things are very promising. It seems that to alot of them it sounds more Therion-ish than it sounds to me, but I guess it's just Christofer Johnsson trademark, you know, you can't escape from how you think musically. To me it sounds quite different, but in the ears of the fans it sounds very Therion-ish. That's good news for Therion fans because it means there will be a double amount of releases and I can record an album like this very quickly. I mean, a recording for a Therion album is a nine months long process at least, with the whole orchestra and other things, but this kind of recording, like for Luciferian Light Orchestra can take just a couple of weeks.
T.V.: But still there are many symphonic and orchestral elements used in Luciferian Light Orchestra. I wonder how did you recorded those. Was there at some point an orchestra involved?
Christofer: No, there's no orchestra. Everything is made on an old mellotron, it's a small vintage keyboard, just old stuff...
T.V.: I see. One of the songs that goes immediately in the ear is "Church Of Carmel" and I wonder if you can give me some background about this one because it's the one that really hooked me from the very first listen...
Christofer: It's just like any other song, it's very catchy. Actually in a way the chorus of the guitar is in a vein of "The Dreams Of Swedenborg". To me this one sounds quite Therion-ish in that very part.
: "Venus Is Flames" is the only song that I was not sure about it if it should be a Therion
or Luciferian Light Orchestra
song. But I thought because of the beginning which is totally like Jimi Hendrix
that is too vintage for Therion
in a way. To play that type of riff I need to have this kind of sound. To make it a regular Therion
song would be a waste. Because of that I decided this song to be right for Luciferian Light Orchestra
. If I would made it for Therion
then I will have to remove that riff and replace it with something different. It's really Jimi Hendrix
inspired and it needs to have that sort out sound.T.V.: As we were already talking about your 70s inspiration, can you mention some names that had any kind of a bigger influence on your artistic views? There's as well something that reminds me to Black Widow for example, but I'm just guessing...Christofer
: Yeah, I like Black Widow
a lot, especially their first album, the others were so and so. Then Uriah Heep
were a major influence to Therion
also. I really like Jimi Hendrix
, which is more 60s than 70s to be exact, and Deep Purple
. I like a lot of their stuff from late 60s.T.V.: As you mentioned, there actually are quite a lot of riffs and guitar lines similar to Deep Purple, especially in Luciferian Light Orchestra.Christofer
: I use a lot this typical type of chord that Ritchie Blackmore used in "Smoke On The Water" and also used before in 1967 in the song "Mandrake Root" from their first album. It's actually some 60s influence in Luciferian Light Orchestra
, late 60s and early 70s. Of course you cannot talk about 70s influences without giving a little bit of credit to Black Sabbath
. Everything which is dark in 70s is Black Sabbath
-ish, but still Black Sabbath
it's not the main influence. The third song which is named "Taste The Blood Of The Altar Wine" is obviously influenced by Black Sabbath
, but otherwise is just like a shadow behind my everything. I could go on forever, there are so many 70s bands to be mentioned that I like.T.V.: If I understand this right, there were two drummers, five guitarists, two keyboard players, three hammond organists, four lead singers and five backing vocalists involved in the creation of Luciferian Light Orchestra debut album, but there are no names. Do you intend to keep this as a secret or when will you reveal the names of those musicians?Christofer
: I'm trying a new concept here. I don't want that people are so focused on who did that and who did this. I've read sometimes on the internet that there are people who ask who is singing a certain part, they don't hear a difference and cannot say who is who for example between Mats Levén or Thomas Vikström, they don't know who's singing what on the record. So I thought, ok, why don't people just enjoy music and I'll keep the names completely anonymous. Then it doesn't really matter who I used for the recording and it doesn't matter who's playing live. It’s just the songs that really matter. And already with Therion
we became quite unique in that regard where it doesn't matter so much who performs it. It's just like with classical music where somebody writes a piece and then different orchestras perform it. Especially when it comes to lead singers people are normally very sensitive about that, like if you have a band with a certain vocalist and when you change the vocalist, people usually don't like it because he/she doesn't sound like the first one. But with Therion
concept we came forth with all sorts of people recording albums and with different people performing live as well. With Luciferian Light Orchestra
I just wanted to take this step even further, like why even speak about who did what and just do it.T.V.: Even on the CD there are no credits for anything at all...Christofer
: Yeah, it's left to imagination. I really like this mysterious 70s approach, it's actually as well the influence from that era in regard to all this. For example there was a band called Klaatu
in Canada which by the way was another huge influence to Therion
. They made five records and only the first two are good, especially the second one, Hope
(1977), is a big influence to me because it's a symphonic conceptual album. It doesn't sound like Therion
at all because of the very happy songs, but from how those songs were arranged I learned so much. They were always very mysterious, no pictures of the people in the band, no names on the vinyl,... There were actually rumours that it was The Beatles
secretly reunited, because there were some The Beatles
influences, and they sold over million of copies because of those rumours. This mystery factor is cool and I really like it and when I discovered their second album I looked at the cover picture and wondered how those guys look like, what their names are, you know, it sparks the imagination instead of taking a picture of some ugly guys. T.V.: I completely understand what you are saying. Must tell you that I saw Therion playing live five or six times and no matter what kind of a line-up was it always sounded like Therion. But, on the other hand we are no more in 70s and with internet and all that I believe that it'll be much more difficult to keep everything in such secrecy, don't you agree?Christofer
: Yes. It's not such an important task for me to keep it that way no matter what, and if somebody recognizes a voice and this comes out I don't have a problem with that. I just want to let it be mysterious and if somebody finds something out it's not a major problem. But on the other hand when you try to promote something, like we did it in a certain amount on the cover album, Les Fleurs du Mal
(2012), it was a big debate about what your opinion is, half of the fans hated it, another half loved it. You would think that everybody on the planet who likes Therion
would know that we made this French cover album, but when you read some comments on YouTube, for example, after all this time a lot of people say, "what the fuck is this? Is this the new Therion
? I don't like their new style...". They don't even know that those songs are covers, they have no idea about it, so even if you try to promote it and tell everybody that this is a cover album, there's still a lot of people who have no idea that it's a cover album and think that I wrote those songs. And there were questions like why we are now singing in French and making strange popy songs? So, even if the secret comes out there's very limited amount of people who will actually know it. First of all because it has launched by all sorts of rumours and it might not be true, secondly because the informations on internet can just drown in big noise, so in one way you can find all of the informations on internet and in another way it's very difficult to find it because of all this noise there.T.V.: I know, I read some of those comments you are mentioning and it made me laugh many times. But let's change the topic... I want to ask you about the lyrics on Luciferian Light Orchestra. Were those written like in the case of Therion by Thomas Karlsson (Swedish occultist and an esoteric author)?Christofer
: Yes, mostly. He wrote the Therion
lyrics since Theli
. T.V.: Have you ever tried to write the lyrics on your own since then?Christofer
: I wrote some stuff on Luciferian Light Orchestra
, but you know, I wrote all the lyrics before Thomas steped in, I even wrote half of the stuff on Theli
, but the lyrics were always something that I had to force myself with. Music just comes by itself and I was often in a situation when I needed words for my songs when we had already booked the recording studio for an album. I was always pushing myself to finish the lyrics in time. It's something that doesn't come natural, so for me was a great relief when Thomas started to write the lyrics. I wish it would be that easy with music, like to be able to just order songs from some kind of the web-shop on the internet from someone who will write the music exactly how it sounds in my head. So, with the lyrics I can just tell Thomas about which topic I want him to write and he knows exactly how I want it. Sometimes he comes up with his own topics and yet sometimes he surprises me, but in the end it is always what I want. If I don't like something, he has to redo it. For example, the song "Flesh Of The Gods" from Deggial
(2000) is a version number three. He wrote completely different lyrics for it that I didn't like, then he wrote another one with half of it that was ok and had to rewrite the other half. Still it doesn't happen very often because we are very synchronized now. In the beginning we were more experimenting and some of his lyrics were difficult to sing about, but we
worked out on a very good method how to work together. For Luciferian Light Orchestra
I started to write some of the lyrics and then he just continued. I wrote few lines here and there, just an idea that came naturally alongside with the music, but I couldn't finish the lyrics completely by myself, it's time consuming and you need a lot of patience.T.V.: Usually there was a concept behind the lyrics on Therion's album and I wonder if it's the same also in the case of Luciferian Light Orchestra?Christofer
: Yes, in general we wanted to give a little bit tribute to Black Widow
by doing something very direct, like Hollywood satanic thing, with a bit of glimpse in the eye, but then we thought what a waste that would be because we can do much better than that. So it's like a mixture between more light mindedlyrics and not so cryptic like Therion ones, but with a hidden meaning which is not so obvious, some more intellectual interesting story behind it that most people who read the lyrics don't know about. Like for instance for the "A Black Mass In Paris", most people would immediately think that it's just about a black mass in Paris like the title suggests, but it ties to a Swedish noble who was in Paris and having a lot of occult parties there with girls, opium, absinth and stuff like that, they were making scandals and were arrested by the police. Nobody really knows exactly what they did, if they were making real satanic rituals or if they just went through some flipped-out parties with occult attributes that were very serious, but nobody really knows. It doesn't bother me at all if people don’t get the meaning behind the lyrics as it was always the case with Therion
in 90 percents of the cases.T.V.: As you are mentioning a lot the occult and similar things, I wonder how much are you involved in this today? Do you practice anything in your private life?Christofer
: When you get older and you have kids, a house and stuff like that you have less time for anything except work. Becoming older doesn't change your world view and how you think about it, it's just that you have less time for practice that.T.V.: I know that you are a member of the order Dragon Rouge and could ask you a lot of questions about it. But let's get back to our topic... I can't go past another notice that the name Luciferian Light Orchestra is pretty much similar to the Electric Light Orchestra, a name of the British legendary symphonic/progressive rock band. Are there any connections?Christofer
: Yes, totally. It was actually a working title for the band. We took Luciferian Light Orchestra
as a joke to Electric Light Orchestra
. We worked for about a year, with a recording and everybody was asking about how to call it, and then we came up with the name Luciferian Light Orchestra
. And then in the end everybody just liked the name and it got stucked in our heads, it's a fucking good name. To get a proper name is so difficult these days because there are so many bands already, so how can you come up with a new name that is both original and cool? You know, you can just look in the dictionary and call yourself with a whatever word that nobody ever heard before or take another demon name from some grimoire that hasn't been used yet. It's maybe cool in most of the occasions. But beside some exceptions those are just names and doesn't get stuck in your head, so I think that it's very important to have a name that people will remember.T.V.: I agree with you that this name factor is very important. The album was recorded by yourself in your own studio named Adulruna. Is this the first time that you've recorded an album completely by yourself?Christofer
: No, not at all. We recorded Sitra Ahra
there. But, actually we did some recordings somewhere else. We recorded orchestral parts and some guitars in Polar Studio, but still I can say that it is the first time that it was almost 100 percent recorded in my own studio, but still we mixed it in Polar. I was building up my studio bit by bit, and we had the Modern Art studio before that where we recorded Secret Of The Runes
and Sirius B
. We recorded almost everything there as well. But the Modern Art Studio I had together with our past drummer Sami Karppinen who was the engineer and he was taking care of all the technical stuff. Then the album Gothic Kabbalah
was meant to be recorded with the mobile studio on different locations, but in the end most of it was recorded in our rehearsal room. The idea was quite fun to have this mobile studio, like Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, and how Led Zeppelin
would record stuffat the several odd locations, but in reality it just never happened, it was a good idea on the paper but in the end we just recorded most of it in a regular location. So, when I started to build my own studio, the Adulruna Studio, I had some of equipment left from Modern Art Studio, and I was starting to buy stuff made in an old manners and record straight from the source like they did it back in those days. We actually recorded the album like they did it in 70s or even in 60s in many regards.T.V.: And the mixing was done by Lennart Östlund at Polar Studios, the man who worked with Led Zeppelin and Abba to mention a few. How it was working with him and how are you satisfied with his job?Christofer
: It was great. We listen to the same type of bands, even though he's much older than I am. He used to play that kind of music back in the 70s and he's a big fan of Klaatu
as well. It's great working with him, especially on the record like this, because he was there back then and he remembers how things sounded and how he did things. With many of the retro bands today the problem is that they listen to the old bands and they try to re-make it that way, but he actually did it like that. The only thing that it's sounding a bit more modern are the drums, because I used to
record everything with a really old drummer who was fucking good back in the days, but he was not totally in shape anymore. There were actually two songs recorded that didn't end up on the record and I saved his drumming for one of them. But we kept his ideas in the other songs, he was still arranging a lot of drums for this record. Then we basically re-recorded it with another drummer and achieved more modern sound because he wanted to play in his modern kit. The original stuff was recorded with some old dodgy drums.T.V.: The album will be released by your own label, Adulruna Records, and I wonder if is this album meant only for Luciferian Light Orchestra or do you plan to release also other stuff on it? And can you explain what was the reason for this decision?Christofer
: I should say never say never, but I don't have an intention to sign other bands. You know, if there's something breathtakingly good and nobody else want to release it then maybe I could do it. But I don't think it would be a good label for other bands really, because I promote myself and my own products with enthusiasm. I would never work hard for someone else. My girlfriend Mina is helping me out and maybe she could work with another band, but we won't get much of a Therion
free ride on it, then we'll still be just a small label that could release stuff. I even don't know if I'll do it in the future with Luciferian Light Orchestra
because I got some pretty nice offers. I had spoken with Nuclear Blast already about releasing the debut album but their schedule was full for the fucking year and it would be released just in 2016. And the record will already be old at that time, with songs recorded over a year ago and I don't want to wait for a year or something. So, I checked around for other labels and I did get some fantastic offers, I really have to give credit to Napalm Records for giving me a really good offer. But in the end I spent too much money on this recording with all this different musicians and I'm a little bit “damaged” from working with Therion
, we spend around 75000€ on each record. So I spent way too much money and nobody wants to cash up that. The ironic thing is that even if I sell a fragment of the amount of records on my own record label I earn more. You see, I have to release it by myself to get my cash back, but we'll see how it will be with future albums and if I'm going to take any of the offers. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on some things, for example when the mix was done I was going to mix it down and send it to mastering and Lennart from Polar Studio said: "Hey, I have a friend, who is a client and he owns one of those old tape recorders with tubes. Now look, a tape recorder with tubes is very rare and it sounds really really good, but this one is in a very bad shape and in a town a bit far away.” The rent was not that expensive but then the transport costed a fortune and then we couldn't use it before we had to give service to it and it costed a fortune as well. In the end we spent something like 2500€ just to get a mix down on a fucking tape.T.V.: But it certainly gives a certain charm to the final product...Christofer
: It certainly does, but that sort of massive excesses is what I'm used from working with Therion
budgets. Unless this debut album is selling really well, I'm going to make a more realistic budget for the next Luciferian Light Orchestra
album. I had recorded this album a bit here and a bit there over a year and when I counted everything together I was like, "fuck, this is a shitload of cash, I spent over 20000€ on a new band for making a debut album." That's pretty much almost like as Theli
costed back then. We have to see how well the album does sell, but it's reasonable to have a more realistic budget for the next record. If somebody can offer me something that is reasonable then I'll go with that record label.T.V.: You've said that you talked with Nuclear Blast and Napalm Records. So, what do you think, which one of those two record labels would be a better one for Luciferian Light Orchestra?Christofer
: Nuclear Blast is of course a bigger and better label, there's no doubt about that, but Napalm offered me a better contract and they are really dedicated people, also big Therion
fans. Now, if you are a big band with a priority on a bigger label then is great, but Luciferian Light Orchestra
would never be a priority on Nuclear Blast, but it would be one a bigger acts for Napalm Records and it would have much more of a priority there. You know, there are always two sides of the coin and I don't want to say that one is better then the other for Luciferian Light Orchestra
, there are different advantages.T.V.: I understand what your point is. Now, can you tell me what do you think that it's the main reason that this 70s occult rock music became so popular in the last couple of years? For example Ghost B.C., The Devils Blood, Year Of The Goat, Orchid,... all gained quite a strong fan base and it seems that this genre is really growing these days.Christofer
: Well, there were stoner bands in the 90s who were 70s influenced...T.V.: Yeah, but they were concetrated on other things, like, "let's get high, smoke as much pot as we can, fantasizeing about green fields,...", they were not so much about dark, occult stuff, with some exceptions apart...Christofer
: Yes, you are right about that. I don't know but things always go in circles. I didn't hear any major progression in the last ten years and this is a funny thing because every decade always had its own sound, something special, something new,... the sound of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s,... Tell me, what's the sound of the last 15 years? I hear nothing unique for the last 15 years, there are just different combinations of old things, there's nothing really creative and it's based on old stuff. There's nothing completely new, like, "wow, we haven't heard this before", like when heavy metal came in the 80s and thrash metal, death metal and black metal came later on, as well symphonic, gothic metal. Of course in a way everything is just a combination, for example symphonic metal is a combination of things that existed before, but it was still a completely new niche, a new sound. Now I hear just new retro sound with the continuation of something old and I guess it's a consequence that people have nothing new to offer and are just polishing old things. This doesn't mean necessary a bad thing, there's a lot of good stuff, Ghost B.C.
is for example a great band, still I find them more 80s influenced, old Mercyful Fate
kind of thing.T.V.: You are right. Still, you are in this music business since the late 80s and I wonder how do you feel all this changes that occurred in the last 30 years?Christofer
: Well, the 90s were the golden age for musicians, the 80s were little bit better than 70s from what I've heard, record deals were not that shit. Anyway, in the 80s we were a demo band and I don't have much clue about how it really was, but I realize now afterwards that the 90s were a golden age. In 90s contracts were much better and the CD format made it much cheaper to produce albums compared to vinyls. There were tons of small indie labels popping out and it was much easier to get a contract, it was easier to sell records, to make a name,... I really feel sorry for the bands today because the contracts are mostly really slave contracts, even worse than it was in 70s or 60s.T.V.: I know, but on the other hand it's also difficult for labels, because almost nobody is buying music anymore and people are just taking it for free from the internet...Christofer
: I understand labels as well, but somehow it’s always the artists who lose, because labels are taking the money, instead from selling records they are taking it from bands. If artists can't make a living out of music then you'll never have any fantastic bands. You know, when bands have to work normal jobs and play only for weekends. You need to live for music and be able to do these crappy tours with a van and build up your band, it's a great magic in this. Also everybody tries to record cheaper and cheaper. These days you can make a decent sounding recording with much less money, but very few bands create something truly fantastic soundwise.T.V.: I've heard many records that were recorded by the artist on the computer in the bedroom and it sounded quite decent. That was unimaginable ten or fifteen years ago for example. Now I want to ask you about what's going on with Therion. You've said that you are working on a rock/metal opera some time ago and I wonder in which stage is it now?Christofer
: Oh, I don't know, we are working for one and a half year on it now and we will work for another year at least. I can say that we are in the middle of it. We have written tons of music but there's still much left. It's more difficult to write when you follow some story and you have to write music with a certain theme.T.V.: But wasn't in a way every Therion album since Theli kind of a opera thing?Christofer
: Yeah, but I just wrote music how I like it to be, and then we made lyrics and record it. Now, we need to do music in a special way. If there's a battle scene, you need to have some really dramatic music. If there's a love scene - you need something fitting for it. If we have a tragic scene you can't make a happy song. We need to write music that fits to each scene and fewer scenes that are left to choose the more difficult it becomes.T.V.: You've already tested some of this new stuff in front of the audience. How was the response to this new opera thing?Christofer
: Mostly good, but those were some very scaled down versions. Those songs that we presented are maybe like maps on how the real song will be and there was so much missing, mostly because of the fact that we didn’t have enough singers and we used keyboards for orchestration. I just wanted to show a few different things and if everybody would say that the piece is a total crap, then maybe we should go back to the drawing board again. The big majority actually liked it.T.V.: As well Luciferian Light Orchestra are meant to play live sets and when can we expect to see you playing live or perhaps on a tour, on any festival maybe?Christofer
: I don't know, because first we need to get the record out and get some reactions. If I go to the booking agent now, nobody knows what the band is worth, how we can sell it, how much people should pay for it. “Christofer Johnsson” might be worth a certain amount as a brand but if I'm not gonna play live together with the band then it would be different. I'm gonna write the songs and record the albums, but it'll be a different band live without my presence on the stage and I don't know how many people would come to see this. We need to see how the things work out and maybe Luciferian Light Orchestra
should be put as a support act. We'll see what the future brings. We are a little bit too late for the festivals this summer, maybe it'll work out for some festivals in the autumn or something, but nothing is booked yet. First the booking agents must see how the album sells, what's the real interest in Luciferian Light Orchestra
, how are the reviews, you know, if there will be only bad reviews and bad sales then the band will have to play on some small stages at the festival sometime around one o'clock in the afternoon. But if the album will do really well and everybody likes it then the band can play at the big stages late in the afternoon.T.V.: Yeah, I understand your situation, but I doubt that there will be any bad review. Ok, what about Therion, any live appearances this summer or in autumn?Christofer
: We have some festivals to play. One in May in Belgium, then some festivals in August and October,...T.V.: But do you prefer to play on big festivals or in smaller venues, clubs perhaps?Christofer
: I prefer big clubs, because we need a big stage, so bigger clubs or small halls are just fine. Ok, also festivals are a lot of fun when everything works fine. I just don't like all the stress on some festivals that's usually going on.T.V.: Now I remembered one bad occurrence that happened to you back in 2004 when you were playing in Ljubljana (Slovenia) when after the show your guitar was stolen. Do you remember that?Christofer
: Yeah, of course I remember that. Fortunatelly I got it back, you know, it's a very special guitar, Gibson Les Paul from the 70’s. First the organizer gave me the full payment for it if I don't get it back, it was no problem about that. We went to the police because it's an expensive thing, in case that somebody wants to sell it on the internet or somewhere. It's a guitar worth around 4000€ and you can't sell it just like that, you must advertise it somehow. Yet it is a very unique guitar and there are just a handful of them available around the world.
T.V.: I'm glad that in the end everything was solved just right. Now, I want to ask you that if you have to choose one song out of the Luciferian Light Orchestra debut album that is your favorite, which one would that be?Christofer
: "Venus In Flames" is kind of my favorite.T.V.: And if I ask you a similar question about Therion. Which album you made has the biggest value for you?Christofer
: It's a difficult question. That's is like asking which one of your kids is your favorite. I can't point out to just one album to be our favorite, but it's not one of my first five ones, for sure.T.V.: Some time ago you even had a poll on your official website where you were asking your fans about their favorite Therion album and it turned out that most of them voted for Secret Of The Runes...Christofer
: Yes, that's true. But personally I like to think about different songs on different records. I would say that my favorite song is "Land Of Canaan" from Sitra Ahra
which sounds exactly like it's my musical taste.T.V.: And what about the last Therion's cover album, Les Fleurs du Mal? How did you came to this idea to make an album like that?Christofer
: I wanted to make a cover album and I realized that a big part of the songs that I wanted to cover were the French ones. So in this way it came to the idea to make the whole record that way.T.V.: Ok, Christofer. I think that we covered pretty lot of things and thank you so much for all those very comprehensive answers, still is there anything that you would like to say to all those who already became fans and to all those who still will, of your new band Luciferian Light Orchestra?Christofer
: Thanks to you as well. And I wanted to add that there will be a gold CD version, real 24 carat gold plated disc that last much longer. You know that the normal CD's have a limited lifetime between 30 and 50 years if stored right, so there will be a limited edition of the gold ones sold for the same price, even if there's a big difference in price in manufacturing it. Those who will order it in the beginning deserve a gold album with an almost unlimited lifetime and this is my gift to them. It also comes in a beautiful digibook which is three or four times more expensive to manufacture than a normal jewel case CD. It will be something very special for everybody who jumps on it in the beginning.
Luciferian Light Orchestra links: Official website, Facebook