Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal Entertainment Worldwide, we are here with Zorn, guitarist of the symphonic extreme metal band from Stockholm ‘Zornheym’.
1. You parted ways with Dark Funeral, and decided to create your own band with a unique style, what made you go this way? You took some great inspiration from the likes of Dissection, Dimmu Borgir too .
Music is my passion in life. The idea for Zornheym has been growing inside my head since the first time I picked up a King Diamond album. I loved his stories and I started seeing his stories like movies in my head while listening to the lyrics. Since the first time I heard bands including real orchestration in their music, I have been determined to one day do that myself and create this huge magnum opus. I personally consider Dissection’s “Storm of the light’s bane” the best black metal album ever made and it has been an album that I have listened to a lot in my youth. I love how they build in Swedish folk music and classical music into their songs. So basically it’s been an idea that’s been growing inside me for a very long time that needed to come to life. One day I pretty much decided to do it. I erased the word “impossible” from my mind set and now here we are.
2. Was it tough to gather up new members to be in the band ? Tell us how each came to be in Zornheym.
I started by doing the foundation work by myself. When starting a band I think it’s easy for people to misunderstand what sound they want to achieve due to different musical references. So I decided to write a few songs before fishing for members... so they would know what they would be getting themselves into! First one onboard was Angst. We've known each other for years. We actually come from the same area in Sweden and now we both live in Stockholm. I was actually the one that recommended him for Diabolical, since then I think we both have been waiting to do something together one day. When I showed him the tracks he was onboard right away and then he recommended for us to record at Sverker Widgren’s Wing Studio.
Next member to join the brotherhood was Scucca. He is also a great guitar tech and was originally helping me with switching pick-ups and setting up my guitar before the recording. I was hanging out with him while that was being done so I told him more about the project. He offered to help me record some orchestral percussion so I showed him the tracks. He was blown away and said that this was the kind of band he'd always wanted to play with. Since we shared the passion for the same music and Scucca has a lot of skills that I don’t have, especially when it comes to actually writing down notations for music, he felt like the perfect fit for us.
Bendler took a bit longer to find, even though we are from the same town. I have always known him as a guitar player. One day when I felt like I would never find the perfect vocalist for Zornheym I remembered a youtube clip for Bendler doing guest vocals for Scar Symmetry. I searched for it on youtube and I was so excited when I saw his stage present and heard his voice. I wrote him a very cryptic message on Facebook and asked him if he could put some vocals on 40 seconds of music. He replied to me almost right away and two hours later I had a mix in my inbox. I was so damn excited when I heard his voice. I sent him the rest of the song and he nailed it. The next day we were on the phone and he was equally excited about the song and the whole concept when I told him about it. I had finally found a vocalist!
3. Do you have a bassist yet ?
No, we don’t have a bassist yet.
4. Who would have played the bass on the album ?
I’m doing the bass parts on the album. In almost every band I've played in, I have written the bass lines and I used to play bass in a few bands as well so I know the drill.
5. You have a new single about to be released through your new Dutch label Non Serviam Records, out Aug 19 called “The Opposed”. How did you come up with the name for the single?
The song is about inmate ZH000A27 that suffers from Diprosopus meaning that he is born with two faces. ZH000A27 claims that the face at the back of his head is very much alive, it torments him, and keeps him from sleeping. He also claims that it feels more and more like this “Dark twin” is trying to seize control of his body. So they are two opposing forces trapped within the same body struggling for control.
6. Who writes the lyrics for the band?
In the beginning it was only me. Right now Scucca is getting more and more involved. We have even had lyrics sessions where we have been sitting down together and writing, something I haven’t really done before, but it has been working great with him. Bendler is also getting more involved with suggesting topics and doing vocal patterns/melodies.
7. Where did the inspiration come from to write the words ?
Inspiration comes from real serial killers, real stories, urban legends, and myths. I watch a lot of documentaries about all kinds of weird and horrifying stuff.
8. How many songs do you have on the album ?
The album will consist of six songs and four transitional tracks for a more consistent experience.
9. Do you yourself have a favourite among them? If so, why that one?
It’s kind of hard to pick. I think all these songs are the most well written I've ever done. Every song has at least one or two passages that I REALLY love. “The Opposed” is a very important song to me though, cause when I wrote that song I felt like I was really on to something.
10. Unique album cover, who did the artwork for it ?
The cover art picture is taken and edited by Jens Rydén, who has been taking pictures for bands like Marduk and Thyrfing. The key itself on the cover is drawn by our illustrator Anu Bring and then later crafted by Mikael Hrafn Karlsson - a very talented jewelry smith that we are working closely with. The key is symbol for the Zornheim asylum.
11. How did you go about choosing the artist ?
While recording the short movie for “The Opposed” Jens came along to take some pictures and the outcome of the pictures were fantastic. As a side note, he also has a role in the movie. When we decided to go with a “real” picture for the single cover, Jens was our first pick.
12. Did you give the artist some ideas, or did you explain what the music was about and he created his own artwork ?
We wanted to establish the key logo so that was a pretty easy choice. I sent him some reference images of what we were looking for, a simple image that would put the emblem at the center of attention. Jens has heard the music and understands our vision, so taking the picture and editing it was a cakewalk.
13. Can you explain to us what the image stands for ?
It symbolizes the key to the cell for inmate ZH000A27. This song is about him.
14. Was it a long time from the start, writing up the lyrics to having it completed in CD form ?
I started writing this particular song in April/May 2014. During the process I kind of taught myself how to arrange the orchestra. I ended up re-writing those parts 3-4 times. Petter Möller, the concertmaster of Dies Iona Ensembly, had some great input and he recommended some songs for inspiration and see how other composers have written their music. The full album is not completed yet. We actually entered the studio as a two piece, me and Angst, and picked up the other two guys on this epic journey. What we are releasing now is a digital single and the full-length album will be out later this year!
15. Did it all run pretty smooth getting it together ?
Yeah, very! Especially considering how many people are involved. Photographers, videographers, orchestral musicians, choirs, band members, studio people, illustrators, etc... Zornheym is already turning into a big machine before the first release.
16. What has been the best experience so far being in Zornheym ?
I’d say that it's turning out better than I dared to imagine! We have been so lucky to work with all these talented people who have been helping us turn our vision into real life. It makes me believe in the band even more and that we are really onto something big! Everyone that’s working with us have shown the same enthusiasm that we have for the concept, band, and the songs. It's amazing!
17. By the looks of your facebook page, it seems you are working on a video as well, can you tell us about it ?
Instead of making an ordinary performance video, that's been done maybe too many times already, we wanted to dig into our concept. Instead we decided to get a director and shoot a short film based on the Zornheym concept and the lyrical content of the song. We shared our ideas with Martin Strandberg (Shining, Sabaton, etc) and he was blown away by the story and the comic strip to the song, and soon we found ourselves planning to shoot a short movie. From day one we decided to avoid green screens and stuff like that, we wanted to go for the good old Star Wars feeling back in the ‘70’s-’80’s. To help us bring the story to life we got help from Ingela Larsson - a skilled makeup artist in Stockholm. Her cunning brought Anu’s comic strips to life, and both ourselves in the band and Anu got amazed when we saw the end result! It will sure be a fresh music video and definitely worth checking out. There is a trailer out for it at this link - https://youtu.be/nK0B6N_4JJM
18. How did you pick which song to put into video ?
I actually wrote “The Opposed” to be a single. The other two songs we recorded during the first recording phase are a few mins longer and the structures of the songs are a bit more progressive. “The Opposed” is the more accessible song of the bunch.
19. After your album “The Opposed” is released, do you plan on touring ? (Hopefully North America will be included) ;)
There is a whole lot of motivation within this band. Right now, we are in the studio and finishing up phase 2 of the album recording. Once that’s done and we've completed another short movie/music video, we will do some test shows. Then we will be ready to bring madness to the world's stages. Some booking agencies have already shown an interest and some promoters have already asked about shows but we just want to focus on doing it right from day one!
20. When did you first pick up a guitar?
By the age of 11. My dad had a black Ibanez guitar and a Hagström amp. He used to play in a band and then he tried to teach my big brother. He gave up very fast on the guitar and my dad thought I’d do the same so he actually sold the guitar and the amp shortly after I started playing. When he saw that my interest lasted, he brought home an acoustic from work for me and I played on that old thing all the time.
21. Did you take lessons for it, or are you self taught?
I’m mostly self-taught. My dad showed me chords in the beginning and I went from there. A lot of people my age played when I grew, Sweden actually offer students music lessons from third grade. Pretty much everyone in my class went except me. When I was 13-14 I learned a lot from jamming with people. Most people were obsessed with learning every Maiden and Metallica songs, while I was more into writing my own music. When I was 16, I started buying instructional VHS/DVDs with guitar players I liked. In my 20’s, I took a few guitar lessons from friends and other musicians who I met on tour. I’m a pretty quick learner, I know my theory. Today, I work as a guitar teacher from time to time.
22. Is there anything you would like to add that you want people to know about Zornheym ?
Be sure to check out the single “The Opposed”! It will give you a taste of what to expect from our debut album that will be out later this year. We put our heart and soul into this band and I think you will hear that when you are listening to the songs. We believe it’s something fresh and grandiose and know that we've crafted this with pure passion for the music! We welcome you all to the dark realms of Zornheim, asylum for the criminally insane!
Tack (Thank you) Zorn, for taking the time to do this interview here with us at Metaltitans. We wish you great success with your new album “The Opposed”. I know I will be picking it up.