Therion (Christofer Johnsson)
"Adulruna Rediviva And Beyond" is the title of the brand new triple DVD from Therion to be released in February, a product that enhances the esoteric charm of the Swedish band, as he tells us his frankly speaking leader Christofer Johnsson. Against expectations, the blond guitarist spares no detail and spicy opinions on everything that moves around their new release, a real treat for the eyes of the fans and not only.
Article by Luca Ciuti - Publish on: 18/02/14
Hi Chris, Just received today promo of the brand new 3-DVD pack…and finished to see the first one!
That from 2007, in Budapest, the special show!
Looks different from previous releases, it has some special themes… would you introduce it?
“Adulruna Rediviva” Tour was supposed to be out many many years ago, but there were some technical problems with it, so things just get pushed to the point that release it much later would heave been cool,  at least one or two years in delay. Then I thought “wait and maybe we’ll record something more for a bigger release”, and so we did. The “Adulruna Rediviva Tour” was The 20th year anniversary tour, it was the most theatrical thing we ever did, we worked on a lot of stage sceneries like the church tha you can see on stage… it’s a bit Alice Cooper inspired, maybe. Anyway, we decided not to progress in that direction, we had a lot of fun to do that but now we have a good balance. We decided to do the entire “Theli” album because it was the album we had a breakthrough with, many of the other songs were voted by fans with a poll on our website. They wanted to hear songs like “Adulruna Rediviva”, that we could never perform because there’s so much orchestration with the band. If we do, we need a keyboard player, we said. So we changed completely adding the keyboard player and doing something different. Obviously, when we do something special, we have to record the show.
Did it take a lot of time to produce the DVD?
There were a lot of technical problems, bad recordings essentially, it wasn’t an easy album to make, so we had to do few overdubs to repare it, because the sound was terrible. We normally don’t  do that overdubs, at the same time it just had be done in that way do it could really sound like original. That’s why a lot of bands re-record everything and pretend that is live. We have also recorded Progpower Festival in United States that we headlined in 2011, another show we had some editing, but at least we had something else to put on the DVD for powerful package with a lot of stuff. Japanese TV appearances, “011” short film inspired by the board game created from an Italian company… some of the making of the short film, it’s interesting.


You have filmed live shows so far. Have you ever considered to release a sort of “The Story Of Therion”?
We’ve been thinking about it but never happened; most of the years are gone, it would be strange start documenting now …our first DVD it had the chronology from the very beginning up to then.
Could you talk more widely about “011” project, which sees involved an Italian board game company?
It’s an Italian board game manufacture from Italy called Scribabs , Paolo Vallerga approached me after a show in Milano and talked me about the Therion board game. a crazy idea, we’re probablyinteresting idea, we started to write the concept of the game and had opinions about changing some stuff. 90% of the ideas came from them but there were some important changes that I wanted to do. He was very ambitious, he wanted to make a short film to promote it…the short movie was shot with the music of “Adulruna Rediviva”.
I saw it on YouTube and I think it’s amazing…
They put a lot of effort on it. In the beginning they felt a little suspicious, you know, a metal band on a board game, it can’t work, but then changed their mind, playing the game they said “wow, this is a very good game”. No matter if it’s a Therion game or not, it has become a very popular game, even in players that are not metalheads, that’s the pretty cool thing. 
It looks like your’re spreading your business, board game and the micro distribution project, and the mead made by yourself...
Yes, I make my own mead it’s my hobby! I’m a very big mead fan. There’s no mead that I can buy that I think it’s good enough.  There’s a lot of people making fantastic mead, but it’s not for stores, the thing is if you do it like the old Viking, preserving all the good stuff in the honey, it must be healthy. It’s just like wine, if you have one glass of red wine if you’re sixty years old, is good for you. I really want to do something local, honey is collected by bees where I live, and so the water, is something which is from my home, I gave it to some friends and they said “wow, this is the best mead I’ve ever drunk”, and different people said the same, no joke. So I thought it would be cool to make a little bit more and share it with people but not in big quantity, I wanted it to be as a super rarity.
What’s the state of progress about the new Rock Opera? Could you anticipate some themes about it? Lyrics…
therion_intervista_2014_03We’re still working on the music. We’ve made the storyline and the chapters, but we haven’t written the dialogues yet. We’ve written tons of music and we wanted to try the music mainly and the main concept to see the reaction on the concept, just to see if we were going on the right direction. Normally we never ask anybody about our music , if you like you buy it, great, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. But in this case, the live experience is the main thing. If i say JCS you don’t think about the album, you think about the live performance. Only few people have the studio recording, most people goes to see it live, could be our mothers for example, they don’t even know the music, but they’ve been to the cinema for sure.  Therefore if we want to go into the Musical scene we need to have a very strong concept, something that works outside of Therion fans base. We basically wanted to try some ideas.
Do you thing something went wrong with “Fleurs Du Mal”?
No… we received mixed reactions; we had to celebrate the 25 years anniversary and we had a lot of boring options, we could make a best of album, remaster some records, but it’s not a big deal, our record label wanted to put together some honest tracks. I wanted to have something really genuine in Therion mentality, and Therion mentality is doing something unexpected, something that people debate a lot. I wanted to do something really spectacular, something that could divide people. I wanted to show that a song it’s not necessarily different from another song, it’s just like cosmetics, in these songs I made cosmetically changes: I preserved the original feeling of the song as much as possible, on a language that a metal fan today can understand. Some people find it provoking, or ridiculous music, commercial pop music from France. At the same time I wanted to make the package of it more dark, more spectacular than Therion normally do.  A lot of people liked the originals and through our records discovered many cool bands.  Provoked interesting in France, for you these are strange old songs, but for people in France these are regular oldies; it did really well in France, but it divided widely those who liked it from those who hated it. The whole point was to make something that people could talk about. If you don’t have any money to promote things, no articles on the magazines, no videoclip, how can you make people aware of it?  The best promotion you can get is people to talk about it. People on internet is usually very quick to judge things, they’re usually emotional and exaggerate, and maybe some feedback made people more curious, and then people checked it out. 
You have worked in the years with artists like Messiah Marcolin and Mats Leven. Have you considered to get them in the band as permanent members? 
Mats Levèn is a great singer, but he’s a little bit too much rock n’roll, his duty was perfect at that time, but when we decided go back to a more operatic stuff with four lead singers, he would be less interested. Thomas Vikström is so much better he can be both operatic and rock singer, so it was logic to get him in the band. Messiah Marcolin is a great operatic voice, I would like to do something more with him but he’s a little bit … tricky to work with, for a guest appearance or something like he would be great, personally I like him a lot as a person, but to have someone in the band, recording album, and the long tours together, I don’t know…he’s at his best in Candlemass, that’s what he should do. Unfortunately they cannot get along; he’s the singer for Candlemass, that’s it for me.
What about Snowy Shaw?
He’s never been a permanent member, he was hired. We spoke about making him permanent, but somehow decided not to do it He needed to develop different things, he was in Therion from many years and he was fine, but he wanted to do his own thing, first he went in tour with Sabaton at stadium level support Iron Maiden, and he made very good cash. He wanted to do solo stuff, he didn’t wanted to be hired or a part of a bigger thing. He had a great opportunity to realize what he wanted to do. If he sells I’m very happy for him. If his solo stuff don’t go very well, he could go back, we didn’t close the doors, he went to Japan with us, he did the shows in Portugal, there’s no bad blood or anything, he’s still a great friend, great stage personality, very good ideas as songwriter. He’s a very protective person.
Do you think in the future you could test yourself in a solo project, different from Therion?
Actually the “Vovin” album was my solo album, because the whole band was gone after “Theli”. When we recorded “Vovin” I had just bass player and we never met before, while the studio drummer asked how the songs sounded, and I wrote the parts on a piece of paper. That’s my solo album. I could maybe do a completely different project, but I don’t know where I could find the time for it.
What can you remember about your first gig in Italy?
It must be 1996 the Amorphis Tour, it was Rimini, no different, Oleggio, near Venice…I remember…wait wait...
So many years…
No, I think was, Oleggio was later, it must be Milano or Torino…I remember we were coming from France, so Torino it would be the logic first one…probably I was too drunk...anyway, it was a very small club that I think it doesn’t exist anymore, I remember the ceiling was very low so you could almost touch it. Backstage catering was very poor…we didn’t have a very good impression of Italy on that tour and the upcoming tours...bands that experienced that gave us an advice to bring toilet paper from the toilettes in Germany because Italian ones didn’t have it in backstage...sometimes you had a hole in the floor so you could not move it…a lot of things have happened but today you have a lot of really good clubs...the club we played in Milano, and the place where we played in december… in Romagnano Sesia, was a very good club! You have a lot of very good places now, but back in the ‘90s things were different , toilets, terrible backstage catering, had progress with it.
I think you have a lot of funny stories to tell, maybe in the next DVD...
Maybe we’ll do an interesting thing like that, we’re still open!

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