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maandag 08 februari 2021
LABYRINTH: View on the modern world

Interview with guitarist Olaf Thörsen from Labÿrinth by Vera in January 2021

Labÿrinth has been an established progressive power metal band in the Italian scene since the nineties. Mid January their ninth studio album, called ‘Welcome To The Absurd Circus’ will come out on Frontiers and we had a debonair conversation with the man who happens to be the true moving spirit behind the band since the beginning, guitarist Olaf Thörsen.





It seems that you are dealing with a second youth after the comeback album ‘Architecture Of A God’ in 2017. Now I think the band is okay again…
Exactly yes. After that album we have been playing shows in different countries, including the United States and South America. In the very end – before starting to write the new album – we had three shows in Japan. The main difference from ‘Architecture Of A God’ is that this time we wanted to go a bit back to the so-called power metal. In any case we wanted to be a bit less progressive than the previous ones. So we wanted to be more straight in terms of music, a bit more heavier, and this time I think we achieved what we were looking for.

Indeed it is a bit more straight forward…
As a band – if people know the band and they take a listen to the previous albums - they will notice that we usually do not repeat the same album again and again, so along the years we have been moving from ‘Return To Heaven Tonight’ in 1998 – which was supposed to be a power metal album – towards switching from power metal to progressive metal through the years. The former album ‘Architect Of A God’ was actually quite progressive, so this time we really felt the need to be a bit more heavy and straight.

Like you said, you don’t need to make the same album twice…
Don’t get me wrong, I respect everybody and some of the bands I like, they are – not repeating – but playing a definite kind of music. That is what you actually expect from, let’s name a band above everybody, like AC/DC. But in our case, as you said, people change. We have been making music more than twenty years now, we are a bit older, we have proved ourselves as musicians and every time we are writing a new album, the music turned out slightly different. It is not like we changed completely, but the music is always developing. We felt the need to play easier, more heavy , like we were doing in the past. That is normal I think.

Did it have any consequences for the lyrics in this case as well?
Well yes. For this album Roberto Tiranti, the singer, took care of writing all the lyrics. In the past, at the time of ‘Return To Heaven Denied’, I was writing all the lyrics. Along the years we slowly started switching, it depends on how you feel or if you have actually something interesting to write about. This time I thought it would be good for Roberto to write his own lyrics. This time the lyrics are more focused on social issues, the things that we all experiencing these days, including the covid-19 situation and other issues like that. For the former album, Roberto already wrote most of the lyrics. I did three songs, including the title track, but now it was all Roberto’s job. I was a bit burnt out, because I just finished writing lyrics for my other band Vision Divine. I thought my brain was not recovered enough (chuckles) for writing a full album again.

Indeed, you are involved in several bands, like Vision Divine and Shining Black…
Yes, I also wrote Shining Black, exactly. Now that you mention it, I actually wrote lyrics for two albums and I was a bit over and out.







Tell me, why the Ultravox cover ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’?
Oh simply because I am one of the biggest Ultravox fans you may find around. I absolutely love the band and I had this idea in mind since many years. I knew that sooner or later I would have played one cover from them. As I often say, when we play cover, we don’t want to approach it as a cover band. We are not a cover band, but at the same time we don’t have the arrogance to change the song that much, because when a song is already so huge, so successful, it must be really difficult when you want to change it. Surely change for the better. The way we approach a cover when we record something, is the way of a fan. So we play something which we all like, then it is like a tribute to one band which has been important to us in one way or another. And Ultravox, in my case, has been very important, because I grew up developing the sense of melodies from them. Of course not only Ultravox, but they have been one of those bands which really made melody become important for my musical taste. I thought it was interesting to have it played by a metal band, but of course we are not the first band in metal who covered something from Ultravox, but when people ask me about it, I always say that it must be considered as something played by fans, not as a band who wants to do something different or to improve it. Our intention is not to make the song better, the song was already very good. I hope that people will like it, because I know that Ultravox is not a metal band, and sometimes the true metal guys don’t take it that easy, but I guess a good song is always a good song, no matter the genre. Of course I mostly listen to heavy metal, but the truth is that in my collection is another 50% of music and bands not coming from the metal scene, so I like good music. It doesn’t matter which genre it is.

Are you not in contact with DGM and Simone Mularoni?
Yes, Simone is a very, very good friend. We actually live quite far away, because Simone lives 450 km away from me, so it is not that we can hang out for a beer, but every now and then, especially when we work together, like in this case he did the mixing for the album, we usually find a way to meet and so we are having an excuse to have lunch and dinner together and drinking some beers. We are very, very good friends with DGM. For example with Vision Divine the last summer, no two summers ago, before the covid started, we had a show in Spain and we were headlining and there was a second band needed to be invited and then we decided to invite DGM to play with us. We really enjoy spending time together, they are a very great band and we are also very good friends, all together. We enjoy the time we can spend together, so it is really always good to have fun together.

As you said, you also released an album with Vision Divine. Can you tell something about that?
Well, that album has been released at the end of 2019, so it is one year ago. ‘When All The Heroes Are Dead’ has been the first album we released with a new singer, he is called Ivan Giannini. The album has been doing very well, we have been touring with Vision Divine. I remember when we came back from South America, - we had a long tour – and we came back just a few days before in Italy we had the lockdown because of the corona virus. So we have been one of the last bands to play a complete tour.

The last band I saw live was Rhapsody On Fire in February, also an Italian band…
Oh yes I remember, they were still touring and at the same time we were in South America and we came back on the third of March. We came back in Italy and I saw that other bands had to interrupt their tours because the covid was becoming heavy, serious, In our case it had been different, because we started in February in South America and back then there was no virus in South America, so we had the luck that we could play without any issue, with no problems. Then we flew back to Italy and saw that the situation was much worse here and a few days later we had the lockdown, everything had to stay closed for almost two months. But again it is going bad at the moment. There are no shows, stay inside as much as possible, it is for real. We don’t know what to do anymore. In the past months there were some promoters trying to start something up, like some shows or festivals, but they had to cancel and postpone it again. Actually right now, at this very moment, it sounds like everybody gave up. Nobody knows how long it is going to last. We only hope that it is going to end soon and that we can stay safe, there is nothing else we can do right now. It is really sad.

So true, in the end it will be a matter of survival…
Yeah I would never ever have believed that I would face such a period in my life. Nobody I think, it is unreal. There is nothing here, everything is closed at six o’clock pm, no bars, nothing, everything closed. I don’t think it will end soon. In music, some people tell me: since you cannot go on tour, why don’t you write more music? Why don’t you release more albums, but you know, that is not how it works.

But some of them do…
Of course, some people make it and I am happy for them, but in my case, I sit home and I cannot write ten albums, because I am home. It doesn’t work like that. For me, in my case, making music is not like building a house when you just take some bricks, put them with concrete and finally it is done. Making music is also a matter of feelings, how you feel and if you are forced to stay home the whole day, then you get depressed. It is not easy to make more music just because you have free time. You need to feel hope, some happiness, I don’t know, but at this moment it is not that easy.

Are you living from music or do you have another profession?
We live from music and with Andrea, the other guitarist in the band, I also run a guitar shop. Fortunately it can be open now, so at least I am keeping myself busy staying in the shop. I can play guitar every day in the shop at least.

Are you having plans for video clips for Labÿrinth?
Before the album will be released – at 15th of January – there is going to be a third song to be released and we will see if we make it to shoot a new video, because again, the problem is the covid. We don’t know how things are going to go. It is really dangerous now to book the shooting of a video, because you can plan everything but then again a week before, everything closes again. We are not announcing anything right now, because we don’t know if it will be possible. Hopefully things will get better and we can make another video in January. Another problem is Christmas Eve, because people will be coming together again and maybe the virus will go up again and the government will close everything again. So we really don’t know, we hope things will work out but we’ll see.

What can you tell about the artwork?
Ah the artwork. The funny story about that is when it was released, it was splitting people in two camps, because some people liked it and some people hated it. There has been a big discussion about the artwork. Honestly I am not used to it, because usually – of course we care for the artwork, but when you release a new album, nobody talks about the artwork, you know. In general there are some comments that they like it or not, that is normal, but this time it really became the main topic, even in the Italian forums and the magazines. Everybody was talking about this cover. Some people really hated it and got aggressive about it and some other people are going against them because they like it. It has been pretty curious, I am not used to see people discussing about an artwork that much. To be honest, I don’t know what to say, because some other journalists ask me about it. Especially in Italy. I don’t think an artwork is so important, especially these days when everything is digital. It is not like in the past when you buy a vinyl and you look forward to a poster, nowadays an artwork just comes out on a CD or on YouTube maybe, but then people are supposed to listen to the music, so I think there should not be so much discussion about an artwork. It is the first time that happens to me and I must say I am a bit surprised.

Has it something to do with the fifth song ‘Den Of Snakes’, because I read something about that?
When the first news was spread that we were going to release a new album called ‘Welcome To The Absurd Circus’, Frontiers naturally also released the cover artwork, together with the news and then people started writing more about the artwork than that they were talking about the fact that we were releasing a new album. People started fighting on the social media (laughs). It is the first time for me, with my band, that an artwork becomes a matter of discussion. I was expecting that people would discuss the music, but in this case they started discussing about the artwork, even before any music was released. That was a bit funny. I think these days the social media have become really strong, very important. Now everything goes on the web and people are always commenting everything. Especially when people hate something, they immediately go out and spit their hate towards what they don’t like. This is something I see everywhere, it is not only in our case, but with every band, there is always a hater who feels the need to write something. Typical for social media. I must say I am not used to this, I don’t feel comfortable with it, I don’t like people screaming on the web. I usually give up and I quit reading or answering. I don’t need to explain everything to everybody, if you know what I mean. These days you are supposed to spend the whole day on internet and this is not the life I am used to. I use the internet to keep myself updated and check the new releases from other bands I like, but if I don’t like it I just skip it. I don’t feel the need to spit my hate, you know. I feel really distant from this behaviour and maybe because I am from an older generation, but I don’t see the point of arguing on Facebook. That is really weird.






Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 08 februari 2021 - 10:49:49
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