Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. So, let’s get started:
Late 2006, early 2007 was a critical point in the band’s life, everybody pretty much left the band after a problematic tour in Mexico. How much pressure was on you to get a new lineup as fast as possible and to promote “Existentia”?
Well, the situation occured at the worst possible time seeing that the Existentia album was to be released shortly after and we also had a high profile headliner tour coming up with among others Gorefest and Madder Mortem. A lot of people suffered because of the previous members`decision to leave but the situation was nevertheless out of my hands and there was no other alternative but to cancel the tour, after all there was no band at the time. I felt more disappoitment than pressure to be honest, people involved understood that this was not my decision and remained very supportive towards me and my future plans.
Did you ever considered putting a stop to “Trail Of Tears” and follow a different path not related to music?
I never for one second considered leaving the music but of course in the midst of the situation it was unclear to say the least whether or not Trail of Tears would continue as a band. I came to the conclusion though that I have spent too much time, energy and money on this band only to see it disappear in such an unworthy fashion due to other peoples lack of motivation, and when I met Cathrine and talked things over it became clear that we would not allow ourselves to sit back and piss all over 10 years of hard work. We sat down and drew up a detailed plan on how to continue the band and with our own determination and strong support from the label we were able to execute this plan down to the last detail.
After two years the band releases “Bloodstained Endurance”, how would you describe the process behind recording this album compared to “Existentia”? Are you satisfied with how the new album turned out?
Both the song-writing process as well as the recording process were notably different from that of Existentia. As I mentioned, we had a detailed two year plan from early 2007 and it made the whole thing more focused and determined. We started out touring a lot, doing a lot of shows in Europe before heading over to the US for our first North American tour. We also did more festivals than we had ever done before. The song-writing started immidiately after returning from the US tour and the band was in great shape after doing more than 50 shows together in a short amount of time. We spent about six months writing the album before travelling to Soundsuite Studio in Marseille, France. The recordings took more or less six weeks and the great thing about recording in Marseille is that we were able to put all other aspects of our lives on hold for the entire recording process and concentrate only on making the best album possible. It really added to the creativity and made for a very focused recording. I belive that we have created the ultimate combination of old and new Trail of Tears and I think we have managed to craft something that really stands out and something to be proud of.
The new album sounds very mature compared to previous releases. What changed in the song writing process in order to achieve this? Are the new members influencing the current sound of the band?
We are talking about a true group effort when it comes to this album. In many ways it feels like one step back and two steps forward for me, meaning that we deliberatly wanted to go a little bit back to our roots and incorporate more of the early elements, like more atmosphere and melody. We have also gone completely away from using male clean vocals and instead focused on more female vocals as well as a new dimension of extreme vocals. This formula is similar to what we did on the two first albums, however, and that goes for the whole package, we have tried to take the whole formula a massive step further and having a singer like Cathrine in the band, who in my opinion belongs among the absolute best female singer in metal today, has allowed us to reach a new level of song-writing. Today we can do what we want, rather than what we are capable of and there`s a big difference.
Is “Bloodstained Endurance” a concept album? (And if it is can you please tell us more about the concept, if not please tell us more about the lyrics).
No, it`s not a concept album in the true meaning of the word but there lyrics are inspired by events and thoughts occuring at the time of writing them and so you will find re-occuring themes and subjects in the various songs even though they stand separetely and indipendant from each other. There is a lot of anger, rage and fury this time and it has resulted in a very dark album, however what I have tried to do with the lyrics is to show people that dark atmosphere, dark music and lyrics can be something overwhelming and uplifting, there is no need to drown everything in negativity. There is also a massive feeling of strenght and victory throughout the lyrics and anything more detailed I will leave up to others to interpret.
After having several band lineups and being through the ups and downs of life as a musician, how do you think all of these things have affected you as a person, and have made you grow as a musician?
It`s impossible to answer because I don`t know where the band would be had it not been for the changes during the years, I don`t know the alternative so that would be pure speculations. The only thing I can say is that everything that happens in someone`s life will have an effect on you and I can say that for me these last two years especially have made me into a stronger, more self-confident person.
Trail of tears has been evolving constantly but never taking radical steps in the band’s musical direction. Why do you think you have not experimented too much with the band’s sound, and instead you have been following a gradual progression while keeping the original style of the band always present?
Well, that is for me the whole point and how every band should think. For me it is very essential to remain true to the roots of the band and to keep the basis of the sound while at the same time avoiding to get caught in predictability and boredom. You don`t want to make the same album over and over again but at the same time you do have a responsability to the people who helped build up the band`s name and reputation and you don`t want to fuck them over by releasing something completely different. If you need to get other musical desires out of your system then there are other ways of doing that, either through side projects or other bands. And that is why I decided to continue Trail of Tears as a band, because I have a strong vision and meaning of how this band should sound and work. There are plenty of examples of other bands who never change members but you can`t recognise the band from album to album, while we have changed members but still sound like Trail of Tears. Over the years we have managed to create a sound that is very much our own and we have done that by not changing our sound from album to album, but rather expanded it and improved it.
What prompted the return of Cathrine Paulsen as the female vocalist?, why did she left in the first place?
Cathrine contacted me after the previous members` left and at the time we had not spoken for a couple of years. I was surprised but it was a very pleasant surprise as I had wanted to contact her for quite a while. When she left the band the first time I always felt that the situation could have been handled better, there was never any bad blood there but still it felt like an unfinished chapter and in retrospect, letting her leave the band was THE most ridiculous thing we could have done and in my opinion the biggest mistake in the history of the band. We talked about the past and I decided to go for it and asked her if she would be interested in co-operating with me again. It seemed as if this was something she had also wanted for a long time and so the decision to continue Trail of Tears was made.
Working with Travis Smith for cover art has become really popular among bands these days. How did you collaboration with Travis happened? Will you work with him again?
Travis Smith is simply a great artist and he did our second album Profoundemonium, the original cover that was unfortunately banned in all countries except for the Benelux countries. Still a great cover, we contacted him for the new album and fortunately he had the time to do it. We are absolutely stoked about the design, he captured my ideas perfectly and I would love to work with him in the future as well.
Is there a tour in the works in order to promote “Bloodstained Endurance”? Maybe touring the USA? Or even Mexico?
We will dedicate the remaining year to touring, starting with the summer festivals in Europe we have festivals booked in Estonia, Romania, Belgium and Holland, we have some club shows coming up and after the summer we will head out on a full European tour. We haven`t decided for which one but there are several offers and the only thing that is for sure is that it`s going to be a support tour for a bigger band. As for the US, we did a 30 show tour there in January/February 2008 and managed to reach also Canada, as well as Mexico in fact so the band has played there after what happened. We had a great time however we need to find an attractive tour in order to return, it became clear from a very early stage that even with five albums out we were not ready to headline in the US.
Is the name “Trail of Tears” related to the relocation movement of the Native Americans in the USA? Or does it come from a different idea?
Our previous guitarist came up with the name and it is taken from that, due to his interest in Native American history and culture though we were 16 at the time and for most of us it simply meant a good name.
We are running out of questions, so is there anything else you want to add for our readers?
Thanks to everyone who supported us out there, do yourselves a favor and pick up "Bloodstained Endurance" along with a couple of sixpacks, sit down and enjoy!
Also check out our brand new official website www.trailoftears.no and our re-vamped Myspace: www.myspace.com/trailoftearsmetal
Thanks for the interview and good luck with the new album.