RubiconUK and Muses Of Metal had the huge honour of interviewing the one and only Kjetil Nordhus, member of the gothic metal band known as Tristania. It was a privilege to have this chance, so many many thanks to Kjetil for his support.
1) Firstly, I'd like to give a huge congratulations for the new album. The samples sound amazing and you've really caught media interest. Since you are a relatively new member of the band, how active were you in the preparation and production of Rubicon?
Thank you so much. Even before I joined the band full time, it was decided that I was going to contribute on the new album, we just didn’t know just to what extent. But even back then, the composing process had been going on for a while. I’m happy with the impact I did have on Rubicon. I did have time to try out things, work with different ideas even in the pre-production sessions, and trying to give the different songs what they needed. On the other hand I think it was a good choice that Østen did some of the themes that was composed for his voice specifically.
2) One thing that has always been so important to Tristania is their utilization of vocals, including growls, operatic wails and deep baritone chants. What sort of vocalizations can we expect to hear on the new album and how is the interplay between the many vocalists you have, different from previous releases?
We’re a host of singers on the new album, really, with only one “golden rule”, that we’d use the voice(s) most suited to the different parts on each song. You’ll hear some operatic stuff, but that’s been toned down now. And I think many of the vocal harmonies on Rubicon are more challenging for the ear than on previous albums. Ole has definitely had great impact on vocal arrangements, and I think it sounds very fresh.
3) Let's not deny, Tristania can put on a commendable live show. Does the band have any special plans to make the upcoming Rubicon a special one?
We’re in the midst of rehearsing the new live set these days, and we’re constantly working on what to include in our live show and what not to. It seems like we’re able to bring our favourite light engineer to the Rubicon tour, and he’s also got some really cool visual ideas. So right now I cannot really say more than this, but the ideas and the thoughts about the live show make me feel really optimistic.
4) Will the setlist for the upcoming tour be mostly comprised of songs from Rubicon or some older material also?
It’s natural for us to include a fair number of new songs on our upcoming tour. The newest album is always closest to a band’s heart, and of course we will be out there to promote Rubicon. But there will be older material in there too. This is the first proper European tour for this band for quite a few years, so we recently decided to do a longer set than we were originally asked to do, to treat our fans. So – we hope people will appreciate that
5) On the subject of touring, what is the best and worst part of being on tour?
The best is with no doubt when you’re on stage and when you hit the x-factor; when the band is one, and when the band and the audience is one. It’s hard to explain, but that’s a fantastic feeling. I also enjoy meeting and chatting with our fans, and I normally go out to the audience not too long after being on stage. Worst part is probably the lack of privacy, staying on a bus for several weeks, with practically no private space can be really draining some times.
6) I'm sure you've toured with so many bands. But which band was the most down to earth whilst on the road?
We were lucky to being invited to the ArtMania Festival in Rumania last summer. The first day there, there were three bands in the line up: ourselves, My Dying Bride and Opeth. My Dying Bride has been very good friends of Tristania for years, but Opeth was also a band consisting of 100 per cent down to earth and cool people. We had a great party that night together, all three bands, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them all again.
7) I know you have already performed a good number of concerts with the band. How were they? Are there any Tristania songs you simply love to perform on stage?
I have hardly tried any of the new songs, yet, so I’d say that my favourite until now is Shadowman. And although I think that will continue being one of my absolute live favourites, I suspect two or three of the new songs will become great live songs. I am so hyped about playing them live now!
8) Which of the songs from Rubicon do you think really shine? Which are the stand-out tracks in your opinion?
My favourites have varied a bit from month to month, but two songs that has been “there” all the time for me has been Year of the Rat and Magical Fix. I’m also very fond of The Passing and Illumination. I think all these songs have new elements combined with older Tristania influences, something that I think make them quite complete.
9) There's been a lot of confusion amongst the online forums as to whether you have permanently replaced Osten. What information can you give us on this subject?
I do understand there has been some confusion. We have been waiting a bit on releasing the news, to be honest, because we wanted to give the news with extensive comments from all parties involved. The fact is that Østen told the band early this year that in his new life situation (he became a father to twins last summer) he didn’t see himself returning to the band. He didn’t want to return without being able to give the band 100 per cent, and wanted me to replace him. There’s going to be much more information about this on tristania.com within a very short time.
10) We're all very excited for the new video Year of the Rat, what can you tell us about it? Are there any more videos planned for the album?
At the time of writing this, I haven’t seen the finished video shoot yet, so I’m very excited too. Mariangela, who went to Sweden for the shoot is very hyped, to that must be a good sign. Regarding more music videos, there has been talk about doing one more, but this is not certain yet.
11) Could you see a guest return for the previous vocalist Vibeke Stene at any time? I'm sure it would delight many fans.
Vibeke decided to quit the band to get out of the lime-light, and I wouldn’t say it’s likely she’ll return to the band. I’m sure it would delight many fans too, but it’s important for us to have moved on, and look forward instead of backwards. I’m sure many fans understand that too.
12) Obviously, you used to be a member of Trail of Tears. How do you think your experience as a member in that band has helped develop and shape you into the artist/person you are today?
I think my time in Trail of Tears (and not least Green Carnation) has shaped me as an artist. Of course you get shaped as a person also, doing music in the extent I have been doing it, but I really think I’m basically the same person now that I was before entering any bands. The best thing about having been in bands a few years is the experience you get in different situations, and I can surely say that I solve musical problems and challenges (for example when composing songs) in a whole different way now than when I didn’t have the experience. I think it’s through experience you develop a signature as a musician, although you’ll always get new influences and try out new stuff on the way.
13) Finally, who have been your biggest influences in getting into the rock/metal scene?
I think it’s fair to say that it was Faith No More who are the “guilty” party when it comes to me entering the rock/metal scene. Back in the days I used to do some jamming together with Jonathan Perez (ex Trail of Tears, now Sirenia) and Runar Hansen (ex Trail of Tears) and Michael Krumins (ex Green Carnation, now Sirenia), and it ended up with me being invited to do guest vocals for their first demo. They decided to do one cover song on the EP, and that song was Easy by Faith No More (or, originally Lionel Ritchie, we learned later.. and please don’t ask me why this song was chosen in the first place.. hahah). That was my first experience as an MC artist (this was before the CD.. haha).
14) Is there anything you'd like to add?
I’d like to thank you a lot for your support and your questions. It was a pleasure answering them, and I hope to see you all on tour.
Once again, huge thanks for Kjetil Nordhus for taking the time to answer these questions.
Note: questions 4, 5, 6 and 13 were chosen by Joseph Pimentel as part of a competition at RubiconUK.
Interview by Lewis Kelly.Read the full story