WUTHERING HEIGHTS Interview with Erik Ravn Christensen
Congratulations with the new album, it is fantastic. I think it is the best record WUTHERING HEIGHTS has made so far. Do you agree with that?
Thanks! I donīt know, I guess thatīs really up to the fans to decide. Iīm probably too close to the whole thing to have any valid opinion. What I do know is that Iīm very pleased with the album, because we did what we set out to do. We wanted to make a really hardhitting heavy metal record, and I think weīve succeeded on that account. So Iīm happy!
Can you tell me something about the creating process of the songs. Where did you get the inspiration from, are all the members involved in the writing process, do you create songs on the guitar etcetera?
It all starts with the lyrics. They are the backbone of the whole thing, they determine the atmosphere of the songs and they are the skeletons upon which the songstructures are built. So weīre not so much a "riff-band", but try to be more song-oriented and have songstructures where nothing is there unless it helps move the story forward. Anyway, when Iīve got the lyrics I start doing the melodies and chords and only when I have the basic ideas do I start to actually play anything. Then itīs "just" a matter of finding the right sounds for everything, doing drum parts, layering the guitars, doing orchestral parts and so on. So itīs a very long process. And I guess itīs a little roundabout way to do it, compared to what most other people do - which is probably also why I usually write alone, and why Iīm not the fastest writer in the world. So, then I do a demo of the songs at my homestudio and send it to the guys for them to learn and give a few inputs. And then we have some usually pretty hectic studio sessions doing it all for real. As far as inspiration goes, I may snatch one or two small ideas from somewhere, but mainly I try to stay in my own little musical world and see where that takes me. I find that a more interesting project than trying to emulate someone else - in which case it probably would never be as good as the original anyway.
Are there any (personal)stories behind the lyrics? If not where do you get your inspiration from?
I could say - and truthfully - that itīs all extremely personal and dead serious to me. But I donīt naturally expect people to care. So my sources of inspiration are very personal, but I try to do something that also speaks in more general terms so that other people might get something out of it if they wish. Or maybe they will just appreciate the poetic value of it, without knowing the backstories. But my writing is based on what I experience and what I believe in. Thatīs why Nature is usually very prominent in my lyrics, because I worship Mother Nature, and sheīs an endless source of inspiration. And also because I find that the most important issues are connected with mankindīs relationship with Nature. Although, on the new album there are not really these "pagan manifestos" so much, itīs more based on specific issues of being human - the shadow sides of humanity, hence the title.
Nils Patrik Johansson did a terrific job on the album, but his primal band is Astral Doors. Is it then for example possible to do a tour?
I donīt think his being in Astral Doors is a problem. What is a problem is, that we simply donīt have the money to go on tour. But weīre working on getting a few more selected shows happening, itīs definitely something we wanna do very much.
Annika von Holdt made the beautiful artwork of the album. How did you get in contact with her?
I seem to remember that we were just searching the internet for something suitable. Yeah, she did some beautiful stuff, although the final cover didnīt turn out quite as radical as I would have liked, but thatīs no fault of hers, thatīs just recordlabel stuff. Anyway, it turned out OK, especially when you get the regular CD, where itīs sort of a fold-out picture on both sides of the booklet - very nice. It certainly suits the atmosphere of the album, I think.
Which influence did you have on the artwork?
Hehe...in theory we decide everything, but you know recordlabels have to sell the damn thing, so they always have opinions - which usually do not have so much to do with art... So, I seem to recall that weīve argued with the recordlabels over every single cover - I guess thatīs just part of the process.
Why are there so few bands in Denmark instead of Sweden, I know Sweden’s population is twice as much as Denmark but that is not the only explanation, what else?
Good question. My immediate reply would be that when you sit in a Swedish forest in the winter, a thousand kilometers from everything, and you canīt buy alcohol, you have a bloody good incitement to practice your instrument...hahaha!! In Denmark itīs more like "should we stay here and rehearse or should we go downtown and get pissed...?" No seriously, there are more to it, of course. In Sweden music education is taken very seriously, in schools and everything. And they have this strong folk music tradition as well - that goes for Norway and Finland as well, I believe. And I mean, theyīve actually had internationally huge acts, which must make it seem a bit more realistic trying to break through - I mean, Andersson and Ulvaeus are some of the greatest composers of our time and their shadow looms large over Swedish music. From my personal experience it just seems to me that Swedish musicians are pretty damn serious and professional, and that will pay off, naturally.
If we could travel into the future 40 or 50 years from now and I would ask you what have you done with your life, what are you hoping you can answer?
Then I would probably be dead. But hey, if a few people had a good time drinking to our tunes, or if some of the words made them reflect a litlle over something, then Iīm quite content. I donīt really have any ambitions of revolutionizing music. Iīd really just like to entertain people, but do it without being stupid - which I think is possible, if you only try.
Finally, I have some short personal questions
First bought LP: I think it was "Touch me" by Samantha Fox - corny, eh? But she had great hits (Hits I said, not...)
First gig: First concert I went to myself was Joe Satriani on his "Flying in a blue dream" tour. Today I actually live right next door to where that concerthall was back then...strange!
First music experience: Recording a "coverversion" of Danish rockheroes Gasolinī, when I was 2 and a half!!! Seriously, there was always music at home.
Favorite singer: Nils Patrik Johansson
Favorite guitar player: Yngwie Malmsteen
Favorite food: Roast lamb with potatoes in creamsauce and tzatiki.
Favorite drink: Talisker single malt whisky
Favorite country: Scotland
Favorite sport: Hmmm...womenīs fitness?? I donīt follow sports at all.
Best place to play a gig: Donīt know, Wacken probably.
Music full time job: You mean if music is my full time job? No, it isnīt.
Most important person in your life: My girlfriend/muse
Anything to add for our readers: Buy our new album, so we can make a lot of cash, so we can come and kick your ass on stage!! - please?
Thanks for the interview.
Thank you! Cheers! ERIK
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