Let the Ecstasy flow - Jorn Viggo Lofstad speaks out.
Pagan's Mind are no strangers to the world of Progressive Metal, like their previous Norwegian act 'Conception' these guys are one of the top bands to come out of Norway in some time along with Dimmu Borgir, Communic, TNT, these guys are creating some fine music. Since the band formed back in 2000 out of the ashes of 'Silverspoon' Nils and Stian & former Pagan's Mind guitarist Thorstein Aaby formed what is now Pagan's Mind. It wasn't long before the band found Steiner on bass, Ronny (keyboards) and guitarist Jorn to complete the final line-up. In 2000 the band released their debut album 'Infinity Divine' and later on a further 3 albums would be recorded for LMP Music. Now the band return with their new label SPV and a new album 'Heavenly Ecstasy', which sees the band heading in a slightly less Progressive approach but still keeping their own identity. I managed to catch up with the band on their UK tour in Grimsby when I asked guitarist Jorn about the new album. here is what he had to say, in the meantime check out this great new CD.
OK Jorn, let's start the interview by asking you how the deal with SPV came about and who else approached you?
"Well we were looking for a label that would pay us a good advance for the studio time, and SPV seemed the right choice. So we had to have a chat with the people at SPV to get a good vibe going on and to make sure we were both happy with what each and that we could work together really well. SPV was the label that convinced us and they had believes in the band we we didn't want to end up been another band that would not get advertising, promotion etc... and the label are certainly behind us on this one. Olly Hann from the label has really been helping us and he is still hungry for new talent and he also understands the business and he is a big of metal music and he did a lot of research and we didn't hear anything bad about SPV and most of the bands who are or were on SPV gave us the thumbs up recommending the label. We had a lot of interests from all the major independent metal labels but SPV seemed the right choice.
So how long is your deal with the label?
The deal is for this album with 1 more album to follow. We are looking for a long time partner so we hope that things will work out with us and our label for future albums and we hope to give them good albums and products in the future so we can stay with the label."
Lets talk about the production of the albums, are you still producing the albums Jorn?
"Yes I guess your correct, every band needs somebody to produce an album from start to finish and in many ways we are a democratic band and have a lot of input in the songs and contribute to the songs to their own sound. If there's something that somebody doesn't like with the album or songs then we fix it so everybody is happy. (Ed: we all know when it's your guitar sound Jorn as it has a certain feel to Eddie Van Halen, do you agree? the cleanness of your sound). Yes I do agree and I am happy to hear this, and I guess it's the way I like to play the guitar, having a tight groove and my nature is not sloppy and I am not a laid back person when it comes to playing the guitar."
So let's talk about the title of the new album, why the title 'Heavenly Ecstasy'? Where there any other titles for the album?
"Well the title came from our singer Nils, he was also responsible for the ideas for the booklet of the CD and concept. Nils actually made all of our covers in the past, as he is a graphic designer, but this time around we had somebody else get involved because Nils did not have the time to do the cover, so we used Felipe Machado who has worked with Rhapsody Of Fire, Blind Guardian etc... and we are happy with the way the album art work has turned out."
Are the songs on this album wrote as a team effort as a band or does Nils wrote the lyrics and the band write the music?
"Well I come up with the ideas for the songs, with Stian and Steiner and everybody has their own input and I work with Nils of the melodies & Nils writes the lyrics."
Are you happy with the way you produced the album or do you feel that something could of been better with the album?
"Well the most important thing for me is to be present for most of the recording, and when it comes to the mixing I have everything planned and I go and work with Stefan Glaumann who has worked with Def Leppard, Within Temptation, Europe he has done a lot of albums. He is so talented and we don't want to sound like anybody else and he brings out the best in us. We are happy with the way the album with the way it has turned out. The album took a while to record as we could only record for several hours per day and we didn't want to kill ourselves and we always have a slow start which builds up to a pretty fast finishing."
I guess having you as the producer does save on money costs?
"Well we all have our own studios, so we did everything ourselves expect for the mixing we all have our own gear so I guess it better to put the money into the final mix."
What songs from the new album stand out for you and why?
"Well I think for me it has to be songs like 'Eyes of Fire', 'Intermission', 'Walk away in Silence', are my 3 favourites right now but every song we make are the best that we can at that time. If there is something about this album it has a lot of different songs so it has become a journey and maybe the less progressive album we have done. (Ed: Why is that?) I don't know, maybe we are just getting older have no idea and I think this time we have focused on writing better songs and with the early material they were very sci-fi orientated and now very much down to earth with very personal lyrics with him having a lot of ups and downs and a break up so I think that has something to do with the lyric writing for this album. I would say that a lot of the lyrics on the album are about staying positive and believing in yourself and it is a very positive album. The song 'Live your life like a Dream' pretty much says it all, be happy and fulfill your dreams. The song 'Revelation to the End' is more classic Pagans Mind and the song 'Eyes of Fire' could also be a song which could of been on the 'Celestial Entrance' album and the song 'Revelation to the End' is a very epic song with the riffs and all the different parts with the progressive elements."
How do you see this album as a progression from the last album?
"Well every time we do an album I am convinced that it is the best album we have done. We have had some great reviews in the past but 'God's Equation' didn't get so many good reviews because I think it may of been a little hard on the ears, this time around the new album is more accessible, but the last one did get a great response. I really like the last album and the title track is one of my favourite songs ever!"
So why did you cover on the last CD a David Bowie song 'Hallo Spaceboy'? Has David heard the version you recorded and what does he think of it?
"Well we did that song because we knew we would do it well. I saw a show of David on TV and showed it to the rest of the band so we talked and we worked out the arrangements of the song and it turned out great! We would not of recorded it if we knew we could not pull it off. For us to release it we had to play the song to David to get his approval 1st and if he didn't like it we were not allowed to release it otherwise we would of been sued. he actually loved our version of the song and our label at that time had received a letter from David personally say he would like us to release the song."
What sort of press reviews has the new album been getting so far besides me giving you a shit review haha!! (joking)
"Well they have been like your shitty review Jason haha!! So far the reviews have been really good but it has just been released."
How well is your tour going so far? This is your 3rd time to the UK, 1st time was at ProgPower UK and a little mini UK tour, 2nd time was with Sonata Arctica and now you are headlining. How do you compare the 1st UK tour with this one?
"It is great so far, it is our 4th show so far in the UK on this tour, and I think we were excited to see how this tour would go and we were a little nervous when we played in London but after the 1st 3 songs we knew we had the crowd with us, it was a great feeling to have. The reason why it has taken us so long to tour was because we had signed our deal in but we didn't sign till march and all the festivals we booked so we only got to play a hand full."
Well Jorn thanx for doing the interview once again, do you have anything to say to your fans reading this? Bets of luck with the CD and chat soon.
"Yes, thanx to our fans for their support, we hope you like our new album and I hope you have the chance to see us live. Thanx for the interview Jason once again."
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