Thiago Sarkis interviewing Finn Zierler – Whiplash - Brazil

1- I would like to start this interview going back to your Twilight times. Why did you decide to give it an end? It was a terrible surprise when I got the news, as I really enjoyed your two full-lenghts, “Eye For An Eye” (1994) and “The Edge” (1999)... (tell about what the other guys have been doing, your time with that band, those releases, etc)

Basically I wanted to take the music into a different direction. Twilight was sort of power metal and I wanted to do something else. You can hear the early indications of Beyond Twilight in tracks like “Sail Away” and “The Black Manifest”. These tracks are more dark, cinematic and have progressive elements. We did well with Twilight “Eye For An Eye” sold about 25.000 copies and I enjoy looking back on the early days. We had a great time. I still talk to some of the old members once in a while we are still friends.

2- I always wanted to ask you about one specific song from Twilight, “ImperfeKtion”, an amazing tune, and definitely very inspired by Savatage. Was this band a true influence to you? Which other bands influenced you in the first years of your career?

I remember journalists also referring to Savatage back then. Savatage was not one of my big inspirations though I haven’t listened to it that much. But surely “The Hall Of The Mountain King” was a classic back then – still is - and I have that album. And I like it a lot. Music in general inspired me but as for metal I was more into extreme or heavier styles of metal. I liked bands like Slayer and Metallica etc. It’s quite bizarre I think even up until today I have maybe 4-5 metal albums with keyboards. I don’t like keyboards in metal in general because I think mostly it takes away the edge and makes it soft. I like metal to be heavy, extreme and dark, atmospheric and progressive. I really do enjoy metal with keyboards of course when the instrument is used the right way.

3- Before getting to Beyond Twilight, I would like you to comment on your participation on Manticora’s “8 Deadly Sins”. How was that and what do you think of the result and this band from Denmark?

I think Manicora is coming across very well. They have earned a lot of recognition. They are friends of mine and that’s how I ended up joining them on 8 Deadly Sins. Normally I don’t do anything else besides Beyond Twilight. They play extremely fast and it was a real challenge because I had broken my right arm when I did the recordings for this album. It was crazy but it was a lot of fun.

4- Well, finally getting to the present... I’ve here in my hands this outstanding “Section X”, the second release by Beyond Twilight. When did you start composing the songs for this album and what can you tell us about the recording process?

Thank you very much :-) I started the writing sessions May 18. 2004. I wrote the structures of the album in 2 and half weeks. The recordings was ongoing until December 4 2004. It was recorded in 3 different studios and it is by far the largest production I’ve ever worked with. 500 tracks per song. The making of Section X was a nightmare I ended up in the hospital from exhaustion after finishing off the album. The mixing of the album was finished January 12 2005.

5- Which were your main inspirations to the lyrics and the instrumental? (facts, news, some story, book, concept, band, album? Give details on your inspirations, ideas, etc to “Section X”)

My biggest inspiration is my passion for music. I literally live and breathe for it. You can say so much with music that you can’t say with words. When I wrote TDHOF I travelled to the Sahara Dessert and to the Atlas Mountains to be completely isolated. This time I chose new places which I hoped would inspire me. First I rebuild the attic of my house into a complete dark room where I could write continuously undisturbed locked up in darkness for a week. Slowly the concept started to take shape. Some of the music I wrote inspired me to write lyrics and the other way around. I could see/feel that it became more and more dark and in places almost paranoia and skizofrenic so I decided to live it out. I travelled to London to live and sleep in the streets. Walking and sleeping in the streets at night was quite and experience – it doubled my adrenalin to anything I would have thought possible. I think much of the dark atmosphere and paranoia is reflected in the songs I wrote there. The last stage of the writings took place under water. I wrote under water in a cold lake at night time in Denmark. I was inspired from free divers who had told me that if you dive under water and stay there for about 30 minutes it’s like entering a new subconscious layer of your mind. I know it was a far out project but it gave me a lot - it influenced me to write “Portrait F in Dark Waters.” You can almost hear the water in the compositions and I’m really satisfied with it.

6- Once again you bring a material wrapped in dark atmospheres and lyrics. Did this become a trademark of Beyond Twilight? You get very in-depth on those aspects... how do you feel working in this way? Can you imagine yourself doing something like Helloween or Rhapsody?

No I can definitely not imagine myself doing something like Helloween or Rhapsody. First of all I respect what they are doing a lot but I wouldn’t like to do what is already done. There are so many copy-cats in metal and I think it is so boring. Secondly I think I’ve build my own trademarks by now some of which you’ve already mentioned and I think it is very important to stay true to what you are doing.

7- I’ve been to Scandinavia and found very receptive, nice and shining people... however we’ve seen many bands from Scandinavia bringing this darksome atmosFEAR on their records. Is this a result of the winter or what? (laughs)

Hahaha……….that’s funny :-) But actually it might have something to do with that you might have a good point here. If you look at the music culture in Scandinavia going several hundred years back and up until now you’ll find that there is a lot of melancholic atmospheres in the music composed. Winter effects the moods of people and thereby also the art and compositions coming out of this area. So even though this theory is funny it might actually be one of the keys to why.

8- When I read that Jorn Lande wasn’t going to be featured on the new album of Beyond Twilight, I got totally frightened. Not only for Lande’s talent, but also because, in my opinion, the best performance of his career is exactly on “The Devil’s Hall Of Fame” (2001). It’s very hard even to him to overcome what he did on that album, and I can imagine the difficulties to the others. Do you agree about those comments on Jorn Lande performance on that album? Did you get afraid of failing with another singer in any moment after the official announcement of Lande’s departure?

Personally I agree with you I think it is his best vocal performance in his career so far. What he is doing on TDHOF is far beyond anything he has done before or since. Without taking the least credit from Jorn I think quite a bit of it has to do with the compositions and the music as well. On top of that he might have been at the peak of his vocal career? I can’t tell you would have to ask him about that. No I was not afraid to fail with another singer. But of course finding a singer that could establish Jorn was no easy task. I went through over 280 tapes, cd’s auditions, having singers going in and out of studios across the world before I found the right vocalist. Section X is different to TDHOF and the vocals as well. I’m very pleased with Kelly, he is amazing – one of a kind. I can’t imagine any other vocalist singing on Section X.

9- You bring a new singer to the band with this new CD. How did you get in touch with Kelly Carpenter and what did call your attention in his vocals? (Introduce him to our readers... tell about the first contacts, some auditions maybe, the first time you saw he singing etc)

I stumbled across Kelly through my manager. He had earlier introduced me to a demo with a band called Outworld which I really liked (Kelly was singing on that). And only a couple of weeks before the vocal recordings was set to kick off it crossed my mind again and I asked my manager to send me the tape. I got in contact with Kelly who showed up to be a Beyond Twilight fan – so that part was easy haha. I was looking for a singer who had a wide range, most singers are high pitched or low pitched. There is not a whole lot of singers who have the whole range including mid range and I was looking for someone who could also act. There’s quite a bit of acting on Section X. I sent Kelly the songs of Section X and asked him to interpret the songs in his own way. He quickly did some takes on a harddisk recorder in his garage and sent it back. And his voice absolutely just blew us all away.

10- Carpenter surprised me mainly for his strong identity, not trying to copy or follow what Jorn Lande did. What is your opinion on his performance and the way he managed to work with the responsibilities of replacing a worldwide star like Jorn Lande?

Some of the vocal lines was already written but Kelly came up with vocal lines as well showing his vocal gifts in every way. Personally I think Kelly is the biggest talent I’ve heard in a decade. He is truly one of a kind. His performance on Section X is amazing, just amazing.

11- When Jorn Lande left Beyond Twilight there were a lot of rumours about huge altercations between you both. However, sometime I ago I talked to him and he told me it was only about a matter of business disagreements, and the different ways you and him would like to manage things for Beyond Twilight. I would like to hear your side... your feelings, what happened, and how do you see Jorn Lande after all this partnership with him and its end...

Well recently Jorn Lande stood out in public in an interview claming that he had written all of Section X. This of course was an outrageous lie and it created a lot of shit. We were actually preparing a lawsuit against Jorn because he did not reply explaining his statement. The magazine who brought the article finally got replies from Jorn who started to change statements and tried to blame the magazine who then proved that he was lying. We have taken a lot of shit from him during the years. Personally I have the deepest respect for him as a vocalist but when it comes to personal matters I’m sick of his circus. There is no room for big egoes in Beyond Twilight we are in it for the music and for the making of art not because of our egos. As for the past. Jorn has never managed a thing in Beyond Twilight – Jorn was invited into a band who had already been existing for years. He never seemed to realize that.

12- Just here, between friends (well, and the world reading)... don’t you think it’s just a waste of time having those amazing vocals of Jorn Lande in Masterplan? I mean, the band is great, but it isn’t even close to Beyond Twilight and Ark. Let’s shout a “GET REAL” to Jorn, eh? (laughs)

It would be wrong and low of me to comment on his choices. Jorn decides what he wants to do with his career not me :-)

13- Back to “Section X”... you took care of the production with Tommy Hansen (Pretty Maids, Wuthering Heights, Manticora) engineering and mixing it. What’s the importance of having also the production in your hands? Also, give some comments on this co-operation with Tommy Hansen.

To me personally the songs I write matters a lot therefore it also matters to me to be involved in the sound of what I’m creating. I’ve been working with Tommy Hansen as far back as 1993. He is really fantastic, his musical understanding goes beyond most people’s and he is very professional. This time Jacob Hansen also had an impact on the sound both as guitar player and producer. He is one of the most respected producers in metal nowadays and I think he has brought a lot to the production as well.

14- Can we say that Finn Zierler is like a man with no fixed front-man, like Arjen Lucassen, Nikolo Kotzev, Daniele Liverani, etc or do you have plans of working again with Carpenter and this same line-up?

Although I am the composer and the brain behind it all in Beyond Twilight I want everybody to know that Beyond Twilight is a band. We are still the same people as we were in 1996 but we have a new singer now. Kelly is a full time member and we are all thrilled that we have found the right line up.

15- What have you been doing since the release of the album? What can the fans wait from Beyond Twilight in the future? (tours? Promotion? Productions? Tell about your activities nowadays and the future of Beyond Twilight).

I’ve been doing a lot of promotion. Over 150 interviews in the last couple of months. The response have been overwhelming – we are all very thankful. We will definitely be going on the road but it won’t happen the next couple of months. A DVD with the track “Shadow Self” is on the way to be released. This week I’m starting the writings for the recordings which have been set for October. We are going to do an EP. A release date in January/February looks realistic.

Thanks for doing this interview it was great. Hope to be coming to Brazil to tour soon. Brazil is such an amazing country we always wanted to go there. And your national soccer team is no. 1 in the world!