Right after I reviewed their newest album Turisas2013, Paul Gargano at Century Media Records mentioned that Mathias Nygård was doing interviews, and wanted to know if I was interested. Are you kidding?? I jumped at the chance! Turisas is such a unique-sounding band, and their records always put me in a great mood, like I could take on the world after listening. So I HAD to see what makes them tick and get some insights into how they write and record. Mathias checked in after rehearsal one night, and now I can share it with you guys. Join us, won’t you?
Amps: You produced the Varangian Way and Stand Up and Fight, and you handled production duties on this one. Is that pretty much gonna be how it is moving forward?
Mathias: There was never any kind of ideal where we were against using outside producers. It just kind of happened. We were gonna use a producer on this one, but I don’t really know anyone. I don’t know who’s produced what album and when, you know? And then we realized it would kind of be like a shot in the dark. With me being in charge of so many different things, it would be hard to turn the reins over to someone else, someone who would truly be able to pull greatness out of us. We’re still looking for that person.
Amps: I noticed a real evolution in your sound from album to album. Tell me about that.
Mathias: We’ve always been the kind of band that set out to never make the same album twice. We realized that even if an album did well, we still needed to experiment and look forward and try to create something different each time. And that’s been the key to our success so far. Taking chances on this record, we knew it would cause some controversy among our fans, but for us on a personal level, it would be wrong to just keep making the same thing over and over just to sell records.
“Who will be there when the skies turn grey? / – Turisas! You can count on us!”
Mathias: (starts laughing): Well, it’s good that you love it.
Amps: Four years in between Varangian and Stand Up, but this one came out in two. Was there a conscious decision to get it out faster, or no?
Mathias: I guess it was kind of both. We didn’t have any label pressure or anything like that. It was kind of a change in our working system. We were writing songs differently this time and we approached production differently to really get us out of our comfort zone and see what would come out of that. So we rented a house that we lived in for half a year, wrote the songs and recorded a lot of the material ourselves. It was really sort of inventive, being in a bubble while working on this album.
We used to analyze every little thing, every note, and it was like laboratory work, and you can sort of hear that on The Varangian Way. And there’s nothing wrong with that, a lot of work went into those albums, just like this one. But we were able to capture something more spontaneous this time around.
Amps: Watching the YouTube stuff, it really looks like such a great live show. I read somewhere you’ll be back to the states in fall. Is this true?
Mathias: I don’t know about fall, because we’re doing Europe first and North America will more likely be on the agenda in early 2014. Nothing’s been locked down yet, so we’ll see. We will play for sure, it’s just a matter of when. The U.S. is firmly in our touring cycle now.
Mathias: The upbeat vibe in the music is something that has always been there. Of course there are a few darker songs, but our music is more sort of inspirational than down and depressing. We got a lot of feedback on the previous album from people who told us that some of our lyrics helped them get through a difficult time. And these were some pretty rough stories and bad situations. To hear that is amazing. To get to do something you love and have it affect someone so deeply is really something. That’s kind of how “Ten More Miles” came about, as a song for our fans, to be motivational.
Amps: What do you listen to when you’re not working?
Mathias: I noticed that when we are very busy writing in the studio I don’t listen to any other music because it’s so tiring, 10 hour days or more. By then you want silence around you. When we finished mixing and mastering the album this summer I found myself listening to music again. Everyone in this band has very broad tastes, from classic metal to pop and jazz. Lately I’m into a lot of prog stuff.
Amps: What do you do outside of Turisas?
Mathias: Oh, I’m very busy with the band. But I love to travel. When you’re in a band, yes you travel, but sometimes you’re only in a place for a few hours, so you don’t get to enjoy a city. That’s why I love to travel outside of the group. I love to see the world. I work out and play some sports, too. I also like to see a lot of the art events going on in Helsinki. Sometimes that gives me inspiration when I least expect it.
Amps: Thanks so much for talking with me, Mathias. I know it’s late and you’re tired. Good luck with the tour.
Mathias: Thank you. Hopefully when we come to your town we can sit down for a face-to-face.
And with that, Mathias Nygård, the driving force behind Turisas was gone. No doubt he’s getting ready for the mother of all tours to plant the seeds of world domination. 2014 is gonna be one hell of a year for Turisas. Catch them in your city if you can!