Interview With Finn Zierler
Denmark has seen some really inspiring bands over the years to come out of that country with the likes of Pretty Maids, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Artillery, Twilight and now Beyond Twilight. Twilight was the band put together by Finn Zierler, and the band also featured Andy Engberg, who was the front man for Lions Share and now the front man for Section A. Since Twilight called it a day, Finn decided to carry on under the name of 'Beyond Twilight', which the bands debut featured the extraordinary vocalist Jorn Lande, known for his work with Ark, Masterplan and many more.... The bands debut 'A Devil Hall Of Fame', certainly made an impact within the Heavy Metal scene with fans and journalist talking about this exciting new band. Since the release of that album the band have just released their latest offering for Massacre records titled 'Section X', which also features new front man Kelly Carpenter from the band Outworld, a band yet un heard of by most of you, but will be shortly heard by many. If you would like to know more about Kelly's band check out the interview on my website. Kelly is a perfect replacement for Jorn Lande as you may already know. I had the pleasure of interviewing Finn, and I started by asking a little bit about 'Twilight' his previous project, here is what Finn had to say to the following and many more questions.
OK Finn, it's nice to speak to you again, I better start by asking you, looking back at the days with Twilight, is there any thing you would of liked to of changed and why?
"No not really Jason, we were so young back then and the debut album 'Eye For An Eye' did pretty well, it sold 25.000 copies But I don't listen to it that often. Saying that it's nothing that I am ashamed of, I was 20 yrs old when that debut was recorded and since then we have learned a lot over the years. I don't think there is anything wrong with the music, it's just that we have moved on in a different direction since then. My favorite songs from that period are 'Sail Away', 'Eye For An Eye' and 'The Black Manifeste', which is an early indication of 'Beyond Twilight'."
As we are talking about 'Eye For An Eye', this album re-released twice after it's first official release, why was that?
"It was re-released by Lucretia Records in Italy, and it was also re-released with 2 bonus tracks on Seagull International/ Long Island, who went bankrupt just right after it's release, and people to this day still are trying to get a hold of it."
Moving on the band went on to record the mini CD titled 'The Edge', wasn't that demo material that never got released?
"Yes it was demo material, you are right about that!! Well since the debut album was doing good we decided to release 'The Edge', which was for the fans to say thank you. I'm glad that people did request it - it was a tribute to the fans and as already mentioned it was a demo tape."
Do you ever speak to Andy Engberg, your previous singer? Also what do you think of 'Section A' CD? I Think it's a awesome album, and probably Andy's finest vocal work, do you agree?
"I talk to Andy a couple of times a year, we are still friends. I think the album by 'Section A' is a great album, especially Andy's vocals. Torben is a great guitar player also from Denmark."
Moving on now, let's talk about 'Beyond Twilight', has the line-up been the same until Kelly and Jacob Hansen joined the band?
Yes that's right. Please let me introduce the bandmembers. Since I decided to break up Twilight the only one I continued working with was our drummer Tomas Freden from Sweden. He is an excellent drummer with his own style that he has developed during the years. Taking drum education in USA is just one of many things that has developed him as a drummer. Forming the Beyond Twilight Anders Exo Kragh (Sweden) entered the band on guitar. Personally I think he is one of the most interesting guitar players in Heavy Metal. He is extremely skilled and could easily take place in the top 10 league of guitarplayers. He can play as fast as anybody else but what's important and what makes him unique is the emotion he manages to get into and out of his instrument. He is in total control of it and has his own special touch on every single note he plays. Besides from playing guitar he is also playing the lute travelling around the world with a classical orchestra making his living through music. On bass another multi talented musician in the league of his own Anders Devillian Lindgren (Sweden). By multi talented I mean he plays just about any instrument you give him. Drums, Bass, keyboards, guitars you name it. He even play some guitar parts on every record we do. It's a funny little thing that have developed within the band and we keep up the tradition. He is by far the most fast learning musician I've ever met. He is musical to the bone. On to the two new members. New vocalist is Kelly Sundown Carpenter (USA). Taking over from Jorn Lande was no easy task but Kelly is one of a kind. He has got the whole range from low, midrange to highpitch. There is not a whole lot of singers around who has that sort of range. He is a unique talent, capable of doing anything with his voice. So much power and such a great voice. Jacob Hansen (Denmark) a superb guitarist and one of the most respected producers in Metal. He is musically and technically extremely skilled. Besides having a great understanding of music in every aspect he is a perfectionist. Another really unique thing is the small details he put into his rhythms. Very original."
Why did Jorn leave the band and are you still friends? Was Jorn a hired vocalist or a full time vocalist for the band?
"Yes we are still friends. Well Jorn was actually in the band, I think it was a natural process somehow - he wasn't kicked out of the band and he didn't leave the band, it just seemed to run dead. Jorn knew we were looking for a stable vocalist but Jorn seemed to be very busy with other projects with the likes of Yngwie, his solo project and Masterplan. So it became too much and we couldn't wait around for him to come back for this new album. I was disappointed with Jorn as we had talked about this from the beginning as being a band and not being a project singer thing. We was supposed to be a band and I think Jorn did not live up to that and a few months after the release of 'The Devils Hall Of Fame' unfortunately he screwed up a few things, such as the 'Summer Rocks' festival with Slayer, In Flames, Manowar and then we had a festival with Metallica in Italy and the ProgPower festival. Our name was on those posters but we never did them. Jorn could not keep his schedule right so in the end we never played any of those gigs - sad but nevertheless the thruth."
Do you feel with the way Jorn screwed things up with the festival that they might not ask you to play them in the future?
"Well it's been 4 yrs now and they all know by now that we have a new lineup and that we are a stabile band. It was a sad thing with Jorn back then. As already mentioned today we are still friends. And I think he is one of the top 5 Heavy metal singers in the world, he is a fantastic singer, but when it came to stability while we worked with him obviously we ran into problems."
Just for the readers who never managed to get a copy of my Fanzine back in the day, I remember you telling me that 'The Devils Hall...' album was wrote in the Sahara desert. I listen too the music that you are creating now and it's certainly different from 'Twilight', with your keyboard sound reminding me of a circus type style, do you agree?
"Yes I agree with you, it is something different and I feel the things I do during the writing sessions captures the sound of Beyond Twilight, you know when it is us. The reviews we have been getting have been overwhelming but the press has found it hard to describe the style of Beyond Twilight. This is nice because at the same time they write that it is truly original - and this is of course a big compliment to me as composer and the brain behind it all"
When you listen to 'The Devils Hall Of...' album which songs do you like and why? Also do you feel that the album would of been as successful if Jorn had not sang on the album?
"Well I actually like all of them. I also feel the same about the new album 'Section X', because they are all very personal to me in both the ways they were written. The album sold very well for the band and I'm glad with the success that the album had. I think it is impossible to say if the album would have been more or less successful if Jorn had sang or not on the album. By many journalist The Devil's Hall Of Fame is Jorn's best performance ever and I also believe that Jorn also said it was his best performance to date. I can't imagine the album without Jorn doing the vocals, because the things he did on that record were unbelievable."
So Finn, are you happy with Massacre records, as you have stayed with them for 2 albums now?
"Yes I am totally happy with the label. The label are 100% behind us and they are supporting us all the way, they are also in it for our music and not so much for the commercial interest which is extremely important. Artistic freedom means everything to me."
Moving on Finn, we are here to talk about the new album 'Section X', so why the title? Also did you have any other titles for the new album?
"Well the whole theme is a little bit like 'The Devils Hall Of...' album, and it is another story book. Section X is one word that sums up the whole album. We had no other titles for the album and if you have read the story book then it does make sense. When I write an album I write a story book which is basically a whole album, all the songs rolled into one. Again it's a concept album and there is always a complex story behind the albums. I find a concept album more challenging to write. I write them 3 dimensional as a mix between fiction and reality. If you dig deeper into the lyrics you can relate to them in real life and on top of that the 3rd dimension. There is a lot of personal stuff in them as well. I'm hiding myself in there"
Was the artwork done by Progart?
"Yes it was, you are right, his name is Mattias Noren, and I was working with him for about 6 months. Mattias did an absolutely amazing job. He is so good and fast. Section X is released like a book and to every song you'll find a piece of art & illustration. The same is said for the front and back of the cover. The artwork certainly does reflect within the title of the album. The cover has a girl on a rope, that is the main character's love of his life and there is an ice cube with a key in it just waiting to melt - this is the 6th key to life which he finds in sadomasochism with her, that is why the girl is in bondage on the cover. We also did a video which features Morrigan Hel - a fetish super model, who is married to Adrian the drummer of Cradle Of Filth. Also her friend Lady Delilah is featured in the parts that was shot in SMIL a fetish club in Denmark. Scenes with bondage and whipping, we had a lot of fun making that video.
How did you hook with her for the video?
"Well she has done the Cradle videos, and she also did some fetish magazines, also Playboy etc... and I came across her whilst surfing the web where I finally ran into her website, so I started to read about her and I thought she was a really cool person. She just suited the video perfectly. You can write this if you want, we are also hopefully making a movie, we wanted to do this for the last album as our music is very theatrical and it would fit for an official picture. When we did the last album we were not big enough to do a movie but now it looks more and more realistic to us. I have been working on this for sometime now, and the record label is 100% behind this. So I think there will be a film for the album 'Section X', with a lot of graphics. It will be a fantasy film wiht a lot of BDSM elements."
So where was the lyrics wrote for this album? Also are the lyrics and music wrote just by yourself or as a band?
"I am the main writer of
the band. But the bandmembers have all contributed with their own personality to
the songs. I like to promote Beyond Twilight as a band and not a soloproject
although I am the brain behind it all the bandmembers have an influence in the
band. I strongly believe in a free creative flow and it is important to me that
the bandmembers have space to be creative and put their fingerprints and own
style on it. Everybody in Beyond Twilight is unique and they all deserve
attention and credit for their work. The writing sessions was made in 3
different stages. I started being locked up in a dark room, then in London and
also under water. It was recorded in 3 different studios, which was my own
studio, Tommy Hansen's studio and Jacob Hansen's studio. I wrote whilst living
on the street in London, it was scary at times, I didn't sleep much but when I
did fall asleep it was only for a short time. I wanted to live like a street
person would. I was trying to get all that paranoia & schizophrenia staying
there for 3 days and nights and translate the emotions into the compositions. I
ran into a lot of weird people, drunk people and drug addicts whilst I was
there, the whole trip was fucking scary man!!! That is why the album sounds
fucked up (Laughing). I also went to a dark forest lake at night and I
decided to write some music under water, and I was told by divers that if you
stay under water for 30 minutes you enter a new world - I did this in spring and
the water was so cold. Freediving I went under and tried to hold my breath for
as long as I could. Portrait F In Dark Waters came out of that - a song I'm very
So can you talk me through the songs on the 'Section X' CD?
"Well it's a very complex album which would take several hours to take you through Jason. Shortly told it deals with matters as sciense, cloning, love, what happens to people when they get power and control and what happens to people when they get so much of it that they loose it, there is a lot of bdsm in the storybook, a lot of numbers and small details which will make sense for Beyond Twilight fans, a 3 dimensional universe which you can relate to in 3 different ways"
OK Finn, moving on, I know Kelly Carpenter he is the front man for U.S. Power Metal band 'Outworld', how did you hook up with him as the new vocalist?
"Well that is a funny story actually, first of all we started working with Russell Allen from 'Symphony X', and we hooked up with him through our management and we just communicated over emails, and I sent him the stuff I had recorded. He told that he would love to do it but he also told that we was going to be very busy with the new Symphony X , and his solo album 'Atomic Soul'. Then came another album and then after that an album with our old singer Jorn Lande. So after a while we thought it could be a repeat of what happened with Jorn, and as Russell was busy we decided not to pursue it. We needed a stable singer. So I went through over 280 CD's and auditions trying out new singers, having singers going in and out of studios in different parts of the world. Mike Dimeo from Riot, did a brilliant demo in New York and right before he went on tour with The Lizards, everything looked like he was going to be our new lead singer. I met with him 3 weeks before we should do the vocal recordings while he was touring. Mike was going to fly from Paris to the studio, but then I remembered a demo with a band my manager had played for me. It was the demo that Kelly's was singing on and I remembered that I really thought he had a great voice, very powerful and very strong. So I listened to the demo again and I got in contact with him. Kelly was actually a Beyond Twilight fan, so that was an easy part (Laughing). But we were in time pressure so Kelly actually quickly recorded a rough demo on a harddisk recorder in his garage and sent me some short mp3 files which I then send to the band members. We all were blown away and there was no doubt that he was the right guy. The situation with Mike was really unfortunate because we told him he had got the job and then we got Kelly in the band. We didn't mean to piss him off, and I hope he is not! He is a great singer, but Kelly was just more suitable for the band. I wish Mike well and there's no hard feeling from me or the band."
I really do think that Kelly sounds a lot like Jorn on some of the songs from the new album, do you agree?
"Kelly is one of a kind. He does sound like Jorn from time to time, I think he has the same rawness to his voice like Jorn does. However I don't think one can compare them to each other"
What does Kelly's band think of him been the vocalist for Beyond Twilight? Are they cool about him also being in your band as well?
"Yes they are totally cool about him being the vocalist for us. No doubt this is good publicity for both Kelly and Outworld."
From the new album Finn, which songs do you like and why?
"Well Jason, I like them all, I can't say I have a favourite, they are all very special to me."
As you said earlier, you were inspired to write the lyrics in the UK this time for the new album, so do you have any where you would like to write the next album?
"I like Kelly to be credited on some of lyrics as well. Mmmm, I'm not sure yet, but when I get started it will be something special that is for sure. For the next album I have thought about involving the whole band to write the material just to see what we come up with as a team effort. It could be an interesting developement. It all depends on if it then still will sound Beyond Twilight? If it works good if not well ok then we have at least tried it and then I'll get isolated again and go wherever the music takes me."
Moving now, how popular are the band in your home country of Denmark? Are people starting to take notice of the band?
"I would have to say that only a few listens to Heavy Metal in Denmark, if we have a good year we might sell 1500 copies. People over here are listening to mainstream stuff. But in a couple of weeks we will be shown on T.V. in Denmark, and the program is actually about why Heavy Metal is not such a big thing in Denmark. If you are lucky you will hear Heavy Metal once a week on the radio at 11pm for a hour, it really does sadden me. So many good Heavy Metal bands are coming out of Denmark right now but the media are just ignoring the scene"
So you now have Kelly as the new front man, so how did you hook up with Jacob Hansen from Invocator?
"I have known Jacob for a number of years now, and I have always admired his work both as guitarist and producer. I love the album 'Weave The Apocalypse' by Invocator, it's one of my favourite albums. We wanted a 2nd guitarist and I knew Jacob is a awesome guitar player, so I asked him if he wanted to join the band. He gladly accepted. I wanted a heavier sound live, so adding another guitarist made the sound a lot more heavier. Besides I think he has added some more edge to our band"
What sort of press reviews has the new album been receiving, it's a superb 2nd album.
"Thanx, it has been receiving overwhelming reviews, a lot better than the debut album received. Most of the press have given it 10/10 as a pose 9/10."
Any ideas when we will see the band on tour? Do you have any plans to play any festivals and also maybe any gigs in the UK?
"Yes we have some interest's from some of the festivals and to tour in October. It's kind of hard for us to make any certain plans as we all live in 3 different countries, Denmark, Sweden and the U.S. A lot of festival's have asked us to play, but none of them want to pay our travel arrangements, so we are not going to play for nothing. As we are not playing some of the festivals, we have decided to play some shows to our fans to say 'Thank You' very soon. The tickets will be free, so we hope to see a few fans at our shows and I think it will happen in autumn. I think we will have a big gospel choir and classical musicians."
Well Finn, it's been a pleasure speaking to you once again. Best wishes with the album sales, touring plans and the future of the band. Do you have anything you wish to say before we finish?
"Yes thank you to our fans for their loyal support, we hope you enjoy the 'Section X' album. We hope to see you on tour shortly and thank you for the interview."
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