Hi Morton! First of all I would like to compliment you on the last Sirenia album “An Elixir For Existence”. How have you been lately?
I'm fine but very busy actually. I just bought a house just outside Stavanger with my (Dutch – MB) girlfriend and besides that I have been very busy doing interviews to promote the new Sirenia album.
Besides my 90 out of a possible 100 points how have the reactions on AAFE been so far?
The reactions of the magazines as well as the people who bought the album have been very good. In the biggest Norwegian metal zine Scream Magazine we even had a cover story and they rated it as the album of the month. It is always good to get good feedback on your albums in which you have put a lot of effort. I am always interested in what people think of my material.
In between the releases of your debut album “At Sixes And Sevens” and “An Elixir For Existence” many things have happened. You went on tour and the band's line up changed and became more stable now I think.
First of all we now have a new female singer who is called Henriette Bordvik. When we recorded “At Sixes And Sevens” we hired a session singer. We have been searching here in Norway but we weren't able to find one. Kristian (Gunderson - MB) on guitars and vocals has been in the band since the beginning. Jonathan Perez on drums joined the band last your when our previous drummer left and he went on the European tour with us.
Well Jonathan Perez used to be a member of Trail Of Tears. Is he still in that band and aren't there going to be any problems when he is in 2 bands?
Yes he still is in Trail of Tears as well as in Sirenia. Probably there will be some problems and he will have to make a choice between the two bands but for the moment everything works out fine so far. Everybody is trying to make it work for now and into the future.
Over the years you have become well known in the Norwegian and international scene so I assume it wasn't hard for you to find the appropriate band members as well as guest musicians for the new album?
I have been in the music business for several years now and I have a lot of contacts and friends. It's always a challenge to find new people even for a good running band. But I think the line-up we now have for Sirenia is the best we can have and everybody is giving 100% for the band. We have a good chemistry and it's a good feeling which gives me a lot of energy to keep on working with music.
Can you make a decent living out of your music?
Well that's quite hard actually. I live in Norway which is the most expensive country in the world. Besides my music I have to take some jobs. I didn't follow a special education so I really take any job they offer me because when you have your own house it is hard to make a living out of your music only. When I was 18 years old and still lived with my parents it was much easier to fully concentrate on making making music in the cellar then it is now.
Musically seen I think AAFE is sort of an extension of ASAS which on it's turn was a much better follow-up on Tristania's “Widow's Weeds” then “Beyond The Veil” was. Can we call these album typical Morton Veland albums?
When I was in Tristania I was writing most of the material so it has kind of my touch to it. When I starting Sirenia I continued the way of writing music the way I was used to do. Every albums marks the music I was into at that time I wrote the album.
And in what way are the Sirenia songs being written? Is it always you who comes with the concepts?
I write all the material in my home studio and the other band members add their own vocal and melody lines to it.
You tend to experiment a little with some electronics for instance in the intro of “Euphoria”. Is it your intention to use more electronics in the future?
I don't know. It's always interesting to try out some new things. Maybe on the new album we will experiment with other stuff but it still needs to fit in the music make it definitely has no priority to make some changes on purpose.
Unfortunately my promo copy came without a booklet so can you please tell me something more about the lyrics and the concepts of the new album?
The main concepts of both the music and the lyrics are the darkers sides of life. The album titles handles on a woman who uses pills and alcohol as being her elixir of existence. When we started writing we didn't think of it as a concept album at first. It handles about the energy the darker sides of life can give you. It describes all sorts of emotions that come across with that. Also the lyrics on this album have become more direct than they used to be.
But then don't you think that the combination of the lyrics handling on the darker aspects of live in combination with the femele vocals and male grunts is a combination which is used very often these days which makes it hard for bands like Sirenia to be original these days?
We're not trying to be original or anything. Many people tend to forget we have about five different types of vocals packed in our music varying from clean male vocals to higher female vocals as well as black metal screams. It is very imported to keep the listener interested during the whole album so we try to keep our albums packed with new elements throughout the songs.
What or who do you consider being the elixir of your existence actually?
Well basicly making music actually as well as other things that are close to the heart like friends, family and culture, etc. Without those things I'd be very difficult for me to exist I guess.
Are you still in contact with your former band mates actually in Tristania?
I still talk to the drummer and with some of the other members but not very often. We are OK but nothing more or less.
What was the main reason you nearly immediately started a new band after leaving Tristania?
Music plays the biggest part in my life. Playing, writing and recording music is what I like to do best. I'm a very creative person so I needed to go on to put my creativity inside it and the only way was by forming a new band.
By making a successful restart in a new band I think we can we list you with among others Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Soulfly), Blaze Bailey (Iron Maiden/Blaze), Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple/Blackmore's Night). Have any of these these people inspired you in going your own way?
Well maybe Ozzy Osbourne did after he left Black Sabbath. But there was never the question I would quit making music so to go on was something that came very natural with it. Ans I really hope to continue playing music as long as possible.
You signed with Napalm Records with who you already were in your Tristania period. What made you decide to sign there again with Sirenia?
Well I still had a contract with them so I didn't have much of a choice but I was very satisfied with Napalm. But with finishing “An Elixir For Existence” I have no more obligations to them so from now on I can look after a different label maybe. I am open for everything and will look after the deal which is best for Sirenia.
I haven't heard from your Napalm Records label mates The Sins Of Thy Beloveth and Haggard for quite some time now. I'm really starting to get worried on them. Because you know these bands personally I wondered if you might have any news on them..
I have no idea regarding Haggard actually. I still talk a lot to the people in TSOTB and there are still things happening so expect something form them in the future. There is still hope for them haha..Maybe you should send them an e-mail or something. I would love to go on tour with them in the future because they are very great people.
Can you give me a short response to the following items:
Can be both a friend as well as an enemy.
The international (gothic) metal scene:
It's a good thing that bands such as Within Temptation and Evenescene hit the charts and get people aquainted with our music that normally don't listen to it. It opens doors for bands like Sirenia as well.
When I was to be sent to an abandoned island I would definitely take with me:
ehmm.. I'd bring lots of music...
But then you don't have a cd player to play it..
Damn, you are right. I'd probably bring a lot of friends and drink a lot of beer with them. Oh, I was allowed to bring only one thing? This is really hard.. Well then I'll just bring a case of beer. Haha..
Again another default question but what can we expect from Sirenia in the near future? Any touring plans maybe?
Now we are going to promote the new album and we are hoping to play a lot of concerts and maybe go on tour. And afterwards we go back to write new material. But nothing has been planned so far. (Just when I wrote out this interview Sirenia announced two shows in The Netherlands and Belgium mid August. - MB)
Any final thoughts?
A lot of greeting to the Lords of Metal readers and we hope to see you soon live on stage!
Many thanks and see you this Summer!