More than one metal fan can think that Johan Edlund is a kind of “enfant terrible” in the death metal music scene; a musician with a reputation of being able to change the sound, the band members or even his own vocal registers with every new Tiamat´s album in the search of new musical achievements. However, the person who salutes me on the phone from Greece sounds relaxed, friendly and pretty talkative (for being Swedish…). Tiamat is releasing pretty soon their new studio album Amanethes and there is a lot of curiosity surrounding every Edlund´s new project. I talk to him from Finland during half an hour, and the feeling is that we could go on chatting for a whole night if we would be sitting in a bar with some booze in the middle.
How long have you lived in Greece, Johan?
I have lived for 3 years. My girlfriend is from here, and I like it pretty much. I live in Thessaloniki.
The hot topic surrounding Tiamat nowadays is the incoming release of your new studio album Amanethes. Can you tell us a bit more about the recording process?
It has been very relaxed, quite straightforward album. We are not so connected with the music scene nowadays or with the new bands, so we just try to make the music that we like, out of what others want us to do or what the record companies want us to do.
Usually Tiamat was a band that had no problem in releasing a new album every 2-3 years maximum, but it has been 5 years since the release of your last one: Prey (2003). Why such a long waiting?
Well, there were many things going on with the band. I moved several times, I was living in Germany and then I moved to Greece, and we had other family issues. As well, it seems that when we are not teenagers anymore, when we grow up, the time is passing by faster!
Do you have any favorite track from the new album or do you love all your new babies equally?
I do not really can pinpoint just one. After mixing it and finishing I listened to the whole album a lot of times, in different environments and music equipments, to check how it sounds. But for me, now it is kind of “old material” since the songs were made some time ago, even when it is not yet released. I am already thinking about new songs…
So it is kind of “when it is done, it is done, and better to look at the future”?
Yes, exactly. It is like when you pay taxes, for example. You pay every year different ones so you cannot keep looking back at what you paid in the past.
Uhhh… Taxes are a sticky topic here in Finland… hehehe
Yes, well of course creating songs is a much nicer activity than paying taxes!
You released in 2005 the excellent DVD The Church of Tiamat, which was recorded in Poland. Why the decision to do it just in that country?
Well, we always had a special relation with Poland. For example, it was the first country where Tiamat went to play outside Sweden. So it was kind of normal for us to continue the relation with the country.
I see that you used Greek language in the title of the song Katarraktis Apo Aima (literally translated as A Waterfall of Blood) Can you speak Greek?
No, only some few words. It is a very difficult language! Same than Finnish. And you, can you speak Finnish?
Well, I have lived here for 5 years, so more or less I can communicate, but it is very difficult too. I am far from speaking it perfectly. Do you speak Finnish? Because there is a big Finnish speaking population in Sweden, and many Swedish have Finnish ancestors.
No, but I have been in Finland many times. And I know that in Finland a lot of people speak Swedish
Yeah, they have a Swedish speaking minority and it is compulsory to study it at schools. I knew that during the recording of Prey you were working with it in Finnvox studios here in Finland
Yes, I spent 3 weeks there. I also visited a city called Oulu, but most of the time I was in Helsinki. It is a city that I like very much!
I have also heard that you are a great football fan, so I suppose it must be something special to live the atmosphere of football in Greece, where they are so passionate!
Yeah, actually I was last Saturday in a match. They really live it with passion! It is a bit crazy. This summer Sweden is playing against Greece, and I am used to display the Swedish flag on my balcony and shout a lot during the matches. But let´s see… I think my neighbors are going to hate me…
This time maybe you will have to keep a low profile there…
Yeah, well, fortunately maybe I will be in Sweden at the time of the match! hehehe
Many fans of the band, no matters in what way you innovate in the following albums, always compare every new Tiamat´s release to Wildhoney (1994), that has been kind of the most successful album for the group so far. Do you feel any kind of pressure with these comparisons?
No, not really. I mean, I am very happy that we did Wildhoney. I think that it is a great album, and I certainly know that has influenced many bands later. But we just do what we feel that it is ok to do. I do not have any problem feeling pressure.
You have your parallel project, a band called Lucyfire. Will there be anything coming up for 2008?
There were rumors about a second album being released soon…I worked a bit on it during 2007, but then we were busy with Tiamat´s projects. So I don´t know, we will have to see about it. It depends on the time.
"I would love to go to play to Finland on summer, if we would be invited!" Johan Edlund – Tiamat
The title of the first (and so far unique) Lucyfire´s album is This Dolllar Saved My Life at Whitehorse. Do you have any kind of item that you carry always with you to give you good luck?
Yes, actually I have my own silver dollar. After the release of the album, with the first money we earned from it, I went to this kind of shop where they sell coins and stamps and I got one. I always have it with me in my pocket since then.
And you have managed not to spend it in booze!
No, no! I am quite a superstitious person actually when it comes to these kinds of things…
And you have also collaborated in one album with Arjen Lucassen´s and his Ayreon projects. He has released a new one a few weeks ago, but you are not in this new one.
Yes, it was nice to collaborate with him. He wanted other members of Tiamat playing also in the project, but at the end we could not make it happen.
By the way, maybe many of your fans who are searching for Tiamat information can feel a bit surprised because of your official website is not currently working. What happened with it?
We have had some problems with the domain, but hopefully it will be running again pretty soon, with the same name that had before.
Do you have any kind of idea of how the touring season will be for summer?
We have only 3 gigs confirmed so far. We are not even sure yet what are the places where the album is going to be released, so once that it is in the market I think that it will be easy to plan where to go.
Do you have anything confirmed in Finland?
No, actually we have never been invited to summer festivals in Finland, and it is a pity because I have heard that they are pretty good. I actually would love to go there to play with Tiamat, if we would be invited!
Yes, actually there are many and with a great quality for such a relatively small country. We will try to spread the word because I am sure the audience here would love to have you coming. There is a wide musical culture in Finland. It would be nice to see you playing here this summer! So if any Finnish promoter is reading these lines, you already know! Tiamat has a new album and its leader, Johan Edlund, is more than willing to come to Finland, so this would be an excellent chance to see one of best kicking ass Swedish bands playing here after the snow melts!