This month I had the honour and privilege, to interview Peter Theuwen! vocalist/guitarist of the atmospheric death/black/doom band, Thurisaz! About their roots, new material, touring experiences and the band in general. It truly was a surreal experience, considering i got to interview one of my favorite bands!
First of all, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Peter! I stumbled across onto you guys on YouTube 2 years ago, when i was exploring the atmospheric death/black side of metal. I was truly impressed with what i was listening to. I had 'A glance of misperception' on repeat for days!
No problem! Thanks for having this interview!
Let's start with the inception of Thurisaz, I'm aware that you guys formerly went by 'Modilium', and later opted for a name change. How'd it all begin? And how would you say Thurisaz differs from 'Modilium'?
We started out in 1997 as youngsters and back then the name modilium seemed cool somehow. We originally were a foursome, without keys. When Kobe joined the band, we decided to take things more seriously and changed the name into Thurisaz. The name was inspired by the old Futhark runes. It has many different meanings, but we stick to "the merging of different opinions", as we were 5 guys with different musical backgrounds. I think that still reflects in the music nowadays. It's very hard to define our music, to put a label on it, because it has so many different influences. we never put any outlines to our music, as long as we like it, we'll play it!
That's really interesting. 4 studio albums in and a lot has changed. Speaking of different influences, what influenced the atmospheric sound of Thurisaz? I come across a lot of atmospheric black metal bands, but only a handful of atmospheric death metal bands. Any specific band or any other factor(s) which influenced Thurisaz’s rich atmospheric sound?
In the mid nineties we were heavily influenced by bands such as A Canorous Quintet, Dawn, In Flames and later on Devin Townsend, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. All those bands have definitely left a mark in our music. But I think another important fact is that we never sticked to listen to metal only. Even oriental music had an influence in our music somehow.
Really diverse. All the tracks sure sound like a blend of different ideas and musical influences. How do you feel Thurisaz has evolved since 'scent of a dream'? Do you feel like the band has evolved in ways you thought it would?
I think we achieved a lot more than we could ever imagine when we started out back then. We got the chance to tour throughout the world and see many beautiful places as well as meeting interesting people, which we never could've done without Thurisaz. As for our music, with every album both songs and sound become more and more mature. We can definitely say that the songs on our latest album are the most complete we have ever made. Sometimes the bands we tour with can be an influence too. Before we toured with Saturnus we were never really were into doom-metal. But these guys made us discover a whole new pallet of emotions in music. That influence was definitely noticeable in The Cimmerian Years. For our last album The Pulse Of Mourning we went back to the style and sound of Circadian Rhythm, as we wanted to go back to the energy of that album. But of course it's the evolved 2.0 version.
Very true, a lot of funeral doom esque influences on 'The Cimmerian Years'. I really enjoyed 'The pulse of mourning', truly is a masterpiece.
Speaking of touring, what's the most exotic location you've travelled to? Any fond memory you'd like to share?
Our trip to the USA was one of the greatest tours we ever did, with our friends of Novembers Doom and Saturnus to join us. But the location that definitely made the biggest impression on us, has to be India, when we played as headliner at the BITS Pilani Festival at Hyderabad. The festival was running out of schedule and by the time we went on stage it was already 2 o'clock in the morning. We thought we would play for a handful of people but 3000 metal fans stayed and cheered for the whole gig! An unforgettable experience!
Sounds like one hell of an experience! November's doom and Saturnus, both pioneers. How was your trip to India? Did the band get to go sightseeing?
You guys also did shows in Turkey, that must have been an electrifying experience.
We took a week to visit India. After Hyderabad, we got the chance to go sightseeing for 4 days in and around Chennai, with our friend Nicky to guide us around. So we got to see far more than only the touristic sites, which gave us the opportunity to really get to feel the local culture, which is fantastic. We would definately go back, if not as a band, then as tourists. Turkey was amazing too, we got to play in Istanbul, a very interesting and definitely worthwhile visiting city with both European and Asian influences. We have a special bound with Turkey because we have a lot of fans over there. Sadly we only got to play there once till now, but we are working on going back as soon as possible!
I bet a lot of fans would be thrilled to hear that you guys are working on going back to Turkey. Coming to the whole lineup aspect of the band, there's been a lot of shuffling on the bass side of things; several changes over the years. The current bass player being, Nick Meganck?
Yes, Nick is a great guy with a lot of experience. He's been playing for international acts such as Messenger, Ripper Owens and Blaze Bailey, so he definitely knows the drill. It's true that it hasn't been easy the last years, because of three line-up changes, but I think we found a stable line-up now for the years to come. It's also great to see that the whole band still has the fire to improve ourselves every day and to deliver at every live gig we play! I think we're good for another four studio albums.
That's good to hear! It's very true that the band's as driven as ever. 'Scent of a dream' to 'The pulse of mourning', a lot's changed, but the sound has only been evolving and getting more mature over time. The albums feel a lot more complete as they go, and the change in lineup sure adds to the metamorphic attribute of the band. New talent, new ideas. Would you agree?
I think we evolve more as a band all together than as individuals apart. We keep our minds open to new ideas all the time and as said before those ideas don't necessary have to come from other metal bands. We also keep on pushing each other to improve our playing and writing skills, every rehearsal we play. But of course it's always nice to add a great musician to the lineup, who can add just that little extra the songs needs!
Well said! Tell me a little about the band's first live release, 'Thurisaz - Live and acoustic'. How'd that come together?
After seventeen years we felt it was time to do something different with the band. On all our albums there are a few calmer songs we never play live, because they don't really fit on the setlist. But there a few songs who are very popular on the internet. 'Endless' for example has more than 680.000 views on youtube, which is an amazing amount... So we decided to play all those song live for once, but in a renewed version with extra string arrangements. It has taken us quite some time to put the show together, but we were and still are extremely proud to present the end result at two sold-out concerts in our hometown. We originally didn't plan to put it out as cd and dvd, but the results were that good we couldn't resist smile emoticon It's an entire other side of Thurisaz but definitely worth checking out, as it has always been a part of Thurisaz. You can watch the entire concert on youtube by the way.
I certainly have! Loved every second of it. It truly is a more spiritual and insightful side of the band, I'd say. I shall link it to this interview as well. Lastly, what lies ahead for Thurisaz? Any tours and live shows that are planned?
We're taking a few months off now to work on new material. In fall we have a couple of nice gigs coming which we will be announcing in a few weeks. We're planning to record a new album next year, which would be a record, since the previous ones took at least 4 years each smile emoticon But the fire is still burning and we're stronger than ever!!!
I can't wait! I'd just like to say, it's been a pleasure talking to you and thank you for taking your time to do this. I'm hyped and looking forward to more new material. You guys have come a long way, and it's clear there's no stopping you now. I wish you all the very best! Anything you'd like to add or say before we wrap this up?
Thank you very much for this interview! All support we get is very welcome.
No, thank you! For making time to sit down with me for a one on one chat.
Metal on loud, Peter!