Interview: Turisas Vocalist Mathias Nygård Talks New Album, Turisas2013
Finnish “battle metal” band Turisas have brought another serving of war with their new album, Turisas2013. Recorded in a remote house outside of Helsinki, the newest effort blends folk, symphonic, and power metal into a contemporary mix of which vocalist Mathias Nygard says, “If people approach it with sort of an open mind as what it is, I think it can be a very rewarding album.” Revolver caught up with the rock warrior just before the album’s release in the States to chat about the new album, pop-like sounds, and if fur is all the rage.
REVOLVER What did you set out to do differently for Turisas2013 than you have in the past?
MATHIAS NYGARD On this album, we took a different approach and wanted to make it kind of drier and more in-your-face than the albums we put out a few years back. I think that it’s the most varied album and up to date. There’s a lot of familiar Turisas to it for those who have followed the band for a long time and there’s a lot of new elements to the music.
Are some of those new elements an almost pop-like sound?
We have never considered ourselves to be an extreme-metal band or anything of that sort anyway. So I get it. It’s the fact that the more extreme vocals aren’t used as much like on our first album, which was more about the growling thing and less about clean singing. So I understand that there’s some poppy elements to it, or let’s say, a softer sound, but on the other hand, it’s got the most extreme stuff we’ve ever done on the same album. It’s definitely a demanding and challenging album especially in the way for our longtime fans because they’re sort of going to approach it with what we’ve done in the past.
Why put the year in the album title?
The song material is so varied that there wasn’t really any single track that could stand and represent the whole album as a whole. We also kind of wanted to avoid the extra weight that naming an album after a track—that title track. It’s funny because we worked in the past with a lot of historical concepts and on this album we kind of closed that chapter. We rented a house and lived there for six months and recorded the album. We were pretty much isolated from the rest of the world while working on it. It was very much writing and recording the songs in the spirit of 2012 and 2013. We were writing songs more about the here now with the lineup of today, not really thinking too much about what we’ve done in the past or where we want to go in the future. Just sort of being in the moment in a way and I think that has become the concept of the album.
Why did you work in that remote house instead of in the city or in a studio?
In the past, we always go into the studio and just track as fast as we can basically. It’s happened that on some of the previous records, that sort of first-take magic you managed to get on the demo is very hard to reproduce later in the studio for the 10th time or whatever. So this was very important to us—to be spontaneous. It becomes sort of this laboratory process rather than jam sessions. By no means are we jamming through this album because it still has a lot of complex arrangements. We didn’t want to polish everything until the very end but actually leave some edge and grit in the sound to make it more live and more like human beings and not like made on a computer.
What’s the concept behind the “Ten More Miles” video? Did you ever have a 9-to-5 job?
Not really, no. When I was in grade school, I worked all sorts of shitty jobs so I could afford to buy CDs. But the story in the video sort of differs from the lyrical content of what the song is about. It’s interesting because someone can have an idea that’s totally different than what I had in mind when writing it, so none of the versions are wrong. The idea for the video came more from the director. But in standing in all the gear—it was a rough two days. It rained but it was really cool that everyone was so enthusiastic. It was nice for me because I’m so used to producing the albums myself and writing music—so it was nice not having the responsibility of everything that goes on.
The band has a noticeable image. Do you think that’s important in metal?
What goes a little unnoticed is everyone has a look whether its ingrained in your face or not. Take a band like Children of Bodom, for instance. They don’t dress up in war paint and costumes as such, but they still have a costume in the way the band is presented. I think anything, whether it’s rock or metal or especially pop music, the appearance is important and it’s part of the whole package. All the classic bands have strong images. People always ask in interviews about costumes and it’s not really relevant because, when I’m talking to you, it’s me, not stage me. [Laughs] I’m not wearing red and black paint and fur!