Exclusive Interview with Jorn Viggo Lofstad

Norway has some excellent Metal bands, probably the biggest been TNT, for over a decade the band has been delivering some fine music. Since the days of TNT, Norway has also had some other interesting band's such as Conception, Spiral Architect, Trival Act, and now Pagan's Mind. Pagan's Mind was formed out of the ashes for Nils K.Rue's old band 'Silver Spoon', who released only 1 album. Pagan's Mind are something special, mixing Power Metal with a lot of Progressive Metal elements and is certainly not another Dream Theater. No disrespect to Dream Theater, but I think the world has enough Dream Theater wanna be's!! This excellent band from Norway remind me of Conception in places, Fates Warning, Queensryche with the heaviness of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and many more greats!! I spoke to guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad to find out more about Norway's best kept secret til now. Here is what Jorn had to say. In the meantime please check out the bands albums, especially their latest offering 'Enigmatic - Calling' out now on LMP Music. I asked Jorn the following question, here's what he had to say. 'First of all Jorn, what did you think of Nil's old band 'Silver Spoon, what did you think of their music?'

"Well 'Silver Spoon' started out as a cover band and they also did some of their own material and 80% of the material on the debut Pagan's Mind CD 'Infinity Divine' was the best material that Silver Spoon came up with before becoming Pagan's Mind. I liked the album. There is one song on the 'Celestial Entrance' album called 'Through Osiris Eyes' , that is the original song by Silver Spoon called 'Sink Or Swim'. It is mainly the same song, but it was re arranged with new lyrics."

So why did 'Silver Spoon' break up?

"Well Silver Spoon were mainly a cover band playing biker festivals etc.. and Nils and Stian Kristoffersen, our drummer are the only 2 members from Silver Spoon who formed Pagan's Mind. Myself and the other 2 guys played in 2 bands together, one was called 'Bump', we were like a fusion type band & a Toto cover band."

So why did you decide to call the band 'Pagan's Mind'?

"It was the idea from the original bass player from Silver Spoon, he came up with the idea for a song title which became a song on the debut album called 'Angel's Serenity', originally it was going to be called Pagans Mind. We thought the name suited the music we are playing and Nils writes most of the lyrics within the band. He is influenced by such films like 'Star Gate' and he is also influenced by the theory that there is 'life on other planets', UFO's, etc.... So I think the name of our band fits very well together with the music and Nil's lyrics. We had no other names for the band."

So who would you say the bands influences are and how do they fit in with the music you're creating?

"Well we all have different musical influences, Stian likes a lot of 80's music like, Ratt, Dokken, Pink Cream 69, and he also likes Dream Theater, and Black Metal. Myself, I like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Pink Floyd. Ronnie likes, Jazz Fusion, and 80's keyboard players like Yngwie. Steiner our bass player likes, Frank Zappa, Genesis, Yes. He also like Power Metal like Gamma Ray. Nil's is a big King Diamond fan. We all have so many influences I think they all jell well together. We also write the music together and that is also important to us."

So how many demos did Pagans Mind record before the debut album was released?

"To be honest, we had none!! The only demo we recorded was a demo for the 'Celestial Entrance' album, we recorded 6 songs as a rough mix and then recorded them properly when we recorded the album."

Your debut album 'Infinity Divine' was released on Norwegian label 'Face Front', how did that come about?

"Well at that time we the label did not have big distribution out for Norway. They did a great job for Norway with promotion, but outside I think it was hard for people to buy the album. I think to be signed to the label today is a lot better as they now have good distribution. They heard our music and seemed very interested in us, so they signed us."

Is their any songs from the debut album that you like?

"Well I don't think we were happy with the first issue of the album, what is why we remixed it recently and it is now on sale once again. It sound so much better, a lot cleaner and more powerful!!! The songs that I do like are: Caught In A Dream, Embracing Fear, and my favourite is A New Beginning and also Angel Serenity. I do feel that the last 2 albums have a lot more solid song writing structure."

So why did you remix the album?

"Well the original album was mixed in 6 hours at Ronnie's studio from the band TNT, it was due to technical problems and maybe it was not the worst album ever but it seemed to be a lot worse by the time it was mixed. LMP wanted to re-release the album, but we told them that we would not do it unless we got the chance to remix it first. So we went to Tommy Hansen and it now sound awesome!! The album has 2 bonus trax, 1 is a new version of 'Embracing Fear' and also a cover song by King Diamond's 'At The Graves'. It is well worth getting hold of again, it is not a trick for people to buy it again just because it has 2 bonus trax, you really can hear the difference."

Moving on now Jorn, how do you see the 2nd album 'Celestial Entrance' as a progression from the debut album?

"As I told you before, the debut was left over songs from Silver Spoon and the only song that the bass player and myself wrote was 'A New Beginning'. When we started work on the 2nd album we were a band and we were working together and we had a lot of ideas. Beside Nils the rest of the band came up with the music and Nils took care of the lyrics. It took us 9 months to write the material and record the album. I think it was a huge step forward from the debut album for us."

I'm now looking at the cover for the 2nd album, it has the 'Star Gate' on the cover doesn't it?

"Yes it does, did you know that all 3 albums are concept albums? It is not an album from A to B, Nils writes about the same topics so each album is like a stepping stone, the next level!! I know Nil's is into stuff like 'Star Gate', but I really can't go into detail, that is up to Nils to tell you, sorry!"

Was the title for the 2nd album the only title you had, or was there any title? Did the album so sell well?

"Yes we did have another title for the album, we thought about calling it 'Epic Questions', because of what Nils writes about, is there life outside of our universe? UFO's. We also thought it was a good title, but then Nils got the idea for the 'Celestial Entrance' and the Star Gate and that was that!! Yes I do think the album sold well, I think it sold 20.000 copies, but I'm not sure! We thought that we would of sold more album when we first signed to LMP, but they didn't put a lot of money to promotion and we were a Progressive Metal band, and LMP has a lot of Power & True Metal bands, and it turned out that we are one of the biggest selling bands on their label now. It is a huge difference now, nice the 2nd album was released, we have had a lot interviews. They are doing a lot better promotion now as we are becoming a lot bigger band. Our name is getting known more now so we are happy."

From the 2nd album, what songs do you like?

"To be honest I like every song on the album, sometimes it depends on what mood I'm in, it can vary from day to day really."

Are you happy with your label, LMP?

"Well in a way yes, but with every band there is room for improvement. I just wish they would take us more seriously. I think we can thank ourselves for sending out 100's of promo packages from our own management, so to say I am happy with the promotion for 'Celestial Entrance', but thing now seem to be picking up with the new album. The only downfall with LMP is that they don't promote their bands enough when it comes to tours."

Ok Jorn, moving to your new awesome album, why did you call the album 'Enigmatic Calling'?

Well the title comes from a lot of the lyrics on the new album. It was inspired by Steven Spelsburg's 'Taken', were people are taken by Alien (UFO's). Nil's strongly believes in all that, so it was down to him again to write the lyrics."

From this album, which ones are your favourites?

"Yet again I really do like every song, but if I had to pick some songs I would say I like: Enigmatic Mission, Supremacy - Our Kind, I feel that those 2 songs show all the aspect's of the band. I also like the song 'Taken' and 'New World Order'."

How long did this album take to record, less time than the previous releases??

"Well we started recording in mid October 04, and I think we mixed the album is January 05 with Fredrik Nordstrom again. It took a while because we all have day jobs, so it was not like we could record and mix the album quickly. We had to do it when we were all off work, mainly during the weekends. I produced the album and we are very happy with the end results."

Could you tell me a little bit about the cover for the new album please?

"Well if you compare the 3 albums covers there pretty similar, if you look at 'Celestial Entrance' cover, with the woman's robotic face inside the Star Gate, and the story for the new album is actually before the 2nd album. So in the new cover you see a little bit of the Star Gate and this goddess in a more human form. Nils does the art work for the albums, he is a graphic designer. We are lucky to have him in the band as it saves on money too."

Is the band having any other record company interest's since the release of the new album?

"Well I do know that other labels are showing interest in the band, and our deal with LMP is for another couple of more albums. So we will have to wait and see what LMP does for the band this time, if they do a good job we will stay with them. At the moment we don't get much money to record the albums, this is something that we need to talk about with LMP for the next record. There are some bands on LMP that have a much bigger budget than we get right now. I wish they would take us more seriously so we can build a good relationship with them."

As a live band, I hear that you are extremely professional live, are you as good live as you are on album?

"Yes I would say that we are as good live as we are on record. The reason for that is, that we do rehearse every week, we meet up at least twice a week. We write all of our songs when we jam in our rehearsal studio."

Do you feel that you can take the bands music another step for the next album or is this the sound will expect to hear in the future?

"Yes I think we can take the band into another step with the next album. We already have a couple of new songs already wrote. We try to take every song a step further.. We have to make sure that we come up with good melodies and good vibes. I think we are capable of doing this.

How would you best describe your music, is it Progressive Metal, Futuristic Metal, what??

"Mmm, that's a tough question, maybe we can be called Sci-Fi Metal (laughing). I think the core in the band is Heavy Metal". We do have elements of Progressive Metal but I would not say we are Progressive Metal."

As Progressive Metal bands goes, who are your influences?

"Well I do like Dream Theater of course, I also like a new band called Circus Maximus', I also like Fates Warning. I'm more into Genesis, Yes, etc..."

Ok Jorn, what bands has Pagan's Mind played with and when do we expect to see the band touring, will there be any UK dates?

"Well I can't tell you where we will play in the UK, but we are coming over in 2006 (Ed: Great!!) that has been booked, but I can't tell you where yet, it's a secret. We have done a lot of festivals so far, but like I said LMP has not put us on a  tour for a month or something like that yet. We have played 50 gigs for so in Norway in the last 2 yrs, we also did the Sweden Rock' festival, we also did the ProgPower in the U.S.A. and in Holland, and we have played in Germany, Denmark."

Does the band plan on releasing a live DVD in the near future?

"Yes we do!! We are recording some shows right now and we had a release party in our home town in Norway in April which has 40.000 people and 3000 people turned up at the show. We had a big stage and it was filmed. We will also film 3 more gigs this year and we will pick out the best bits for a live DVD."

Well Jorn, thanx a lot for doing this exclusive interview for the UK, I want to wish you all the best with Pagan's Mind. You guys rule!!! Hope we meet some day, till then take care and do you have anything to ad?

"Yes thank you for your time and for interviewing me for Pagan's Mind. To our fans, thanx a lot for your support, we hope you enjoy the CD, please check out our wehbsite, (see friday13th links) and come and check us out live!!"

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