Thomas Väänänen


A new album is always a good reason to catch up with a band and especially if it is of such high quality as Vansinnesvisor. We had an interview with singer and frontman Thomas Väänänen about Thyrfing's new release and more....
By David Kaluza
July 10, 2002
Thomas Väänänen (Thyrfing) interview
Well, first off, the album originally was intended for a March 25th release, what were the reasons for this delay ?

It was pretty much our own fault. We were late in getting all the artwork ready for that date. But then we finally found Niklas Sundin who too care of business in a most excellent way.

Most of the songs on Vannsinesvisor are in Swedish this time around - is it easier for you to write lyrics this way instead of in English and how do you decide which song you'll sing in what language ? Will we eventually see the release of a Thyrfing album without English lyrics at all ?

Yes, I feel it's a lot easier to get the ideas from my head down to paper when I express them in Swedish instead of English. We don't have any special way of deciding which songs will be in what language - we just write the lyrics in the language the actual idea appears in. If we will see an album with only Swedish lyrics is something I don't know - but it's safe to say that you'll never see a Thyrfing-album with just English lyrics.

Can you give us a small rundown of all eight of the tracks and give us a bit of explanation what their titles means and what the lyrics are about ? Is there any special relation between the songs or between the songs and the album title ?

Draugs Harg is quite hard to translate but a Draug is a dead person, a ghost if you will and a Harg was a sacrificial altar of stone. So you could basically say that Draugs Harg is a sacrificial site for the dead. What Jocke refers to though is modern man and there lives. People in these times are pretty much dead in their souls - they wake up, join the soulless ratrace, come home eat a TV-dinner, go to sleep and then the same thing again. The Harg he's talking about is the big cities of today which most certainly are dead places in many ways and where modern man sacrifices himself. People forget what life really should be these days... something to be experienced - not something you suffer through - and that fills us with contempt.

Digerdöden is the Swedish word for the Black Death, (the plague, the great death) that struck Europe and other parts of the world in the 14th century and clamed the lives of millions. This is actually one of our better lyrics this far and is extremely well written and poetic.

Världsspegeln (mirror of the world) deals with personal thoughts about ending life by your own decision at the bottom of the ocean. It's all set in a framework of mythological words and phrases though, staying in touch with the Viking-concept. The music and lyrics on this one go hand in hand.

The Voyager is very typical Thyrfing-viking-metal. The song basically deals with the typical northmens love for the ocean and the travelling there upon. The song of course has a dark twist in the end.

Angestens Högborg (The Stronghold of Angst) actually also deals with how depressing life in the modern big cities can be. I wrote this lyric unbeknowing of the fact that Jocke had chosen the same theme for Draugs Harg, but as the lyrics are very different in nature, this one being more melancholic and pitiful while Draugs is more like a kick in the teeth of the modern man we used both ones.

The Giant's Laughter is pretty much Patrik's English interpretation of Swedish Poet Esaias Tegner's brilliant poem Jätten (the giant). The words paint a fairly depressive view of nationalism and a lost struggle... ah, read it damn it

Vansinnesvisan (The Madness Song) is basically just what the title says. It's about all those feelings inside when you loose your fucking mind with rage and anger and how you'd like to piss on the graves of those who have ever done you wrong.

Kaos Aterkomst (The Return of Chaos) deals with Ragnarök, Armageddon, the end of the world. It's far from being as infantile as most Metal lyrics dealing with the same subject, but instead a bit more subtle and poetic in it approach.

In the online studio report there is mention of a song called Blödorn - The Fourth Outrage, what happened to that ? And why did the album title change from The Fourth Outrage to Vannsinesvisor ?

It was simply omitted from the album because we were not as satisfied with it as we thought we'd be. I don't know if it will ever be used for something else. We'll see. The album title was never really changed - The Fourth Outrage was merely a working title we threw out to the public to have something to refer to when asking about the coming album.

How does a typical Thyrfing song get written, is the music first or the lyrics ? And does everybody work out their parts on themselves or do you all come together for this ? Could you give us an example of how you guys typically work ?

A song normally comes together by us all standing in the rehearsalplace and asking who's got a cool riff and then just rolling from there building the song piece by piece until we are satisfied. Sometimes people have complete songs done themselves and then it goes through the process of being taught (and inevitably changed as well) to the other members. Lyrics are always added after the song is somewhat musically finished.

Personally I found Vannsinesvisor to be the most balanced Thyrfing album yet, the keyboards seem to be a little less dominant and more compliant with the guitars - also a great deal of the songs seem to be a lot more aggressive and darker than the previous albums, where there any special reasons for this or did it come naturally ?

It's actually kind of boring for journalists to try and analyze us too deeply because we seldom do anything deliberately at all, haha... we just go with whatever comes out of us you know - we never think now we have to write a song like this or that - we just fucking play and what happens happens, haha. When it came to the actual production there was a bit of a conscious move though - looking back at the older albums the keyboards are way too loud in the mix resulting in the sound being more polished and nice than we would want it to be today.

The production has been handles by Daniel Bergstrand this time around instead of Tommy Tägtgren, how did you guys get in touch with him and why did the change in producer (who did an excellent job with previous albums imo).

We were actually thinking of going back to Abyss for a third time, but Tommy was booked when we wanted to record. In the discussion of which studio we should use Instead Dug Out just came up and everybody thought it felt like a good idea – and Vansinnesvisor certainly proves it was.

How do you look back on the previous Thyrfing albums starting with Thyrfing and Valdr Galga up to Urkraft, is there anything on there that you are extremely proud off or perhaps think you could have done better ?

All our releases are the best we could get out of our systems back then, so instead of comparing the albums to each other you could rather see them as documents of who we, as a band, were at the time of the recordings. I am still extremely proud of what we have accomplished and I still enjoy listening to them these days - especially with some alcohol in my system, hehe. Of course there's tons of things we would do differently if we recorded the songs today, but that's the way it is - you progress as a musician with each recording, with each rehearsal that passes.

Thyrfing is one of the leading bands (if not the leading band) in what people describe as the Viking-Metal genre - what's your thought on this classification and your opinion on other bands that play in the same style or deal with the same lyrical content like for example Einherjer, Jotunheim or Mithotyn (before they split of course).

I've got to tell you it feels good to hear that you consider us one of the leading bands, haha... don't get to hear that too often I think that classification suits us just fine. What I think Viking Metal is is about the whole package - the feeling you get from listening to the music, not just a bands lyrics. Take Amon Amarth for example - an okay death metal band with Viking lyrics, but not at all what I would define as a Viking Metal band, if you see what I mean. As what I call Viking Metal, just listen to Bathory's Hammerheart, and if you don't get the message after that there's something wrong, hehe. Einherjer have done some pretty fucking brilliant songs in their time... Dragons of the North is packed with VM hits and the titletrack from the Far Far North MCD is just amazing. Odin Owns Ye All is great too, but I think they kind of lost quality after that. I never really got into Jotunheim for some reason, but cheers and hats off for effort any way. As far as Finland goes I'd like to heartily recommend Moonsorrow - Finntroll-keyboarder Trollhorn's other band - a very Bathory-inspired act whose both albums are most excellent. Other Viking/Pagan/Folk/Whatever recommendations would be Storm, Falkenbach, Isengard, Falconer, Skyclad, Finntroll, Vintersorg, Otyg, Enslaved...

Just out of curiosity, has the band ever considered recording a Bathory cover ? Personally I think a song like One Rode To Asa Bay would be an excellent choice and fit the band perfectly - are there any plans to ever do this ?

Being a so called Viking Metal band it would be strange to _not_ have considered a Bathory-cover, heh. I'm not sure we could ever do one of those masterpieces justice, so we'll probably let them rest in peace.

What's the relation between Thyrfing and the Internet. The official web site is one of the best official band sites around so I was wondering what your whole take was on the net and how important you view it for the band, also what are your opinions on the whole mp3 situation.

The website is just basically a useful tool of getting information about our activities to anyone who might be interested. I don't really know what you mean by the mp3 situation, but mp3's are a great way of being able to sample an album before actually buying it - just like you do when you go down to the record-store and ask to hear a couple of songs from an album before considering to purchase it. I personally download mp3's from the web by bands I'm curious about and buy their albums if I like what I hear.

Are there any plans at current or in the future for touring ? And would you prefer a support or package tour over a headlining tour with a bigger band. Which bands would be your dream package ?

At the moment there are no concrete plans for concerts at all. We have promised the label that we will do some kinds of shows to promote the album, but there's no what/where/when decided yet. If it is with a bigger or smaller act doesn't matter at all, as long as we can get along with the other bands. A dream package would be with any bands we're already friends with... gangs like Raise Hell, Mörk Gryning, Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Primordial, Vintersorg or Sins of Omission could surely raise some hell in Europe with us.

Finally, is there any chance of a live album or is it still too early too even think about this ? If you did, what Thyrfing songs do you feel would have to be included for certain ? (Sweoland Conqueror anyone ? Going Berserk ?)

Considering the facts that we don't have that much experience from the live environment yet plus the still relatively small following the band has I don't think that a live album is realistic yet. The two mentioned songs would most likely be included in the set - although I promise nothing so I don't risk getting my teeth kicked in by a disappointed man from Metal Temple

And to round off the interview, any final words to the fans or readers in general ?

First off I'd like to thank you for an interview beyond the ordinary! Always nice with something else than the standard questions. And to everybody else, and you, have a brilliant summer!

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