» Olaf Thörsen - Vision Divine
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Vision Divine are currently promoting their critically acclaimed 3rd effort Stream of Consciousness, and when the opportunity arose to question guitarist and mainman Olof Thörsen on a few topics, we were not late to line up the questions in order to straighten out a few question marks about the current situation in the band.
Read on and find out more about the work and the ready result regarding the new album..........

Tommy: Could you please begin by telling us a little bit about the work on the new album, Stream of Consciousness? It has received good critics already by the European metal press, and it is an ambitious, well sculptured effort that works out very well. How did this story come to live? Was it clear already from the beginning that it would turn out to be a concept album, or was that something that grew on you along the way?

  • Olaf: Hi all. Stream of Consciousness is our 3rd album, and we spent almost a full year working to release our best album ever. As we'll surely have the chance to talk about, this was our 1st album after many changes in VD life (my departure from labyrinth, the many line-up changes we did in order to give this band a true identity etc…). So far as you said we see that almost all the reviews we're having are enthusiastic about this work, and of course we're really proud on how things are going so far! We didn't have the idea of making a concept album, really but the fact is that it came out almost as a single song, 60 minutes long, and then of course I had to write a single lyric, that's a little different from writing a concept 'cause I just had to start writing, knowing that I would have ended 14 tracks later, eheh! I would really say that the music, along the songwriting, brought me to understand that this would have been a strange, quite- complicated album to write lyrics for.

Tommy: In short, the album consists of 14 songs over 60 minutes and is all chapters of a flashback the main character of the story is experiencing. Is this purely a fictional story, or does it have some roots in a motion picture and/or a book, perhaps less known to the public? Is the music based on the emotions the lyrics create, or has the story been built around the music?

  • Olaf: Well, the lyrics take inspiration from arguments that I think they are quite common to anybody of us. I'm sure that you, as me and everybody else, at least once in you life stopped for a while wondering "why are we on this earth?" "What is the real meaning of life?" and so on… Starting from this of course I got the idea of proceeding with the story with the concept: "what would happen if someone could really discover the real secret of life? How would his life be after this?" Of course I do not pretend to have the Supreme Truth here in hands at all! Regarding relation between music and lyrics as I told you we started originally from music, but of course during the writing of lyrics we also decided to arrange something to fix better with the atmosphere of the words I was writing down. As I told you the whole process took us almost a full year, and this is one of the reasons, of course.

Tommy: What aspect of the new material are you especially happy with, you feel? What especially turned out just as great as you have hoped for? If you compare the vision you all had before the work on the album began, and now when you look at the ready result - what are your feelings towards what turned out of it?

  • Olaf: I'm completely satisfied with the final result, no doubt about it! Of course, having some more Euro to spend on the production maybe the album could have had a bigger sound, or maybe having another month I could have made lyrics or some arrangement even better, but this is not a logical way of thinking: there is a moment in which are DONE and ok, and of course you always have to relate to the moment you are living, otherwise an album would never be released, don't you think? So I can say that Stream of Consciousness is the perfect album compared to our expectations, the songs are exactly as we wanted and especially, the sound of the whole album gives a perfect idea of what Vision Divine are nowadays. The most important thing: the album came finally out exactly as we wanted it to be.

Tommy: Did the overall work with the album go as you had planned, or were there ever any major changes and/or obstacles along the way?

  • Olaf: We had many things to change, to rearrange or to fix. I think this is normal when you spend such a long time working to an album, and the most difficult thing in these cases is to find the right lucidity to say "stop" and realize that everything sounds good as you were planning before starting. You can imagine, 14 songs arranged to be melted together as if they were just a single song, plus a very interesting (at least to us) argument to write about in the lyrics… every new stuff ,music or lyrics, was suggesting something new to add or to change. Sometimes I've even been scared that there would have never been an end!

Tommy: In the credits of the songs we can in most cases read that the music was done by someone, the melody by another person and the lyrics by a third. New singer Luppi is also responsible for a good deal of the melodies. Is this a new way or working, or has composing always worked like this? What is the usual way a song takes form - someone brings forth a melody, which a riff and a verse are built around, and the lyrics are written for the ready result, or....completely different? Please enlighten us....

  • Olaf: Eheh, you are the first who noticed this, or at least who asked me about. The fact is that of course the process of the songwriting hasn't been as schematic as you might think by reading the credits. Of course such a complicate work requested everybody to give his best and we decided at the end to write on the booklet something that could help who's interested, in understanding a little more than usual. Of course there are many things we didn't write down 'cause we believe it's really ridiculous when you read in a book "arrangements done by…second verse by…3rd line of the song X written by…. But re-arranged by…" Eih, we are a band! We don't really care nor need to Show who did what in particular. We just care that people enjoy the final result, and the final result is written under VISION DIVINE and not a single name.

Tommy: In short terms, what were the main reasons for the recent changes in the line-up in Vision Divine? Was it all a matter of time and having to focus on only one thing as the bands grew bigger, or were there ever any bad blood between you remaining members and those that left?

  • Olaf: Well, everything's related to the fact that after I left Labyrinth I decided to focus on this band giving 100% to this. Of course in those times also drummer and keyboard player were from that band, so I asked them to please think a little bit about (no need to hurry) about the whole situation, try to understand my needs and my reason and slowly maybe take a final decision not to damage this band. I was not expecting they would have left the band in a hurry as they did! After all anyway I have to admit this has been a positive thing for the band. Now all the members are 100% dedicated to VD and surely there's no more chance for people to see VD just as a "project". Things with Fabio went much more different. He simply signed a new contract with a new management for Rhapsody, and immediately after this sign the new management came out presenting problems with the fact that he was also singing in VD but VD were not signed to the same management. I won't make this too long, so I will just tell you that signing to this management would have been crazy and deadly for this band, so we realized that it was time for us to change everything causing problems and start a new life. After all this I just can say I'm still a very good friend with Fabio and regarding the others I have no new from them since they left. Neither a call nor a reply to some email I wrote.

Tommy: What has the new members brought with them, and how have these changes effected the situation for Vision Divine? Can we expect any changes within the music in the future with regards to the changes? Are there already some ideas cooking that did not fit into the picture this time, but might have a spot next time?

  • Olaf: Definitely, the new members brought something new to our sound, of course. I would like to add that for those who cannot know the new members are all very well known here in the Italian movement, and I can say with no doubt of mistaking that they are really the best you could dream to have. Sometimes I feel like being in an "all star band" ahah! I'd like you to notice that even if the news of these line-up changes may seem to be quite recent, the truth is that Oleg and Matteo (Drummer and Keyboardist) joined the band more than a year ago, so we really worked together for the whole songwriting. I don't know how the future will be for us, but all the new guys already worked to this album a lot and the result you are listening to is already a product of this line-up. Of course with time we'll feel more comfortable and we'll all have more confidence, but I'm sure we can only improve.

Tommy: You have in the past been living in the shadows of Labÿrinth and Rhapsody for obvious reasons, with members from those bands. Do you expect that to change now when Fabio has left Vision Divine and you have left Labyrinth, and you have managed to get rid of the talk about you being a "project" instead of the band you in fact are?

  • Olaf: Absolutely Yes. I'm sure people will look at us now as a real band. I've been always unhappy with the fact that everybody was always comparing or relating us to other bands in which yes, we were also playing. The fact is that I always gave 200% to this band as Fabio also did… Why should it matter if some guy was also playing somewhere else? We are not the only persons on this Earth who did something like this, but surely for this we paid something more than anybody else. Somehow in some Countries we found really difficult to be taken seriously and I do not hide that sometimes it has been quite frustrating, if we consider that on the contrary at the same time in other Countries we were having good success…Why this difference? Who knows! Honestly I do not care anymore I just care that now VD are nothing but a real band ,and I am happy to see that in fact things are moving to this direction right now.

Tommy: On your first album you performed a cover of Europe (The Final Countdown), and that was perhaps a not so surprising choice as it is more or less a classic rock anthem. But with your second album you did a cover on AHA (Take On Me) and that felt not as a choice one could expect - what were the reasons behind those choices of cover tunes? Any more ideas for future coverage? Do you have a special live surprise for attenders of shows?

  • Olaf: Yes, it's true. We like to perform some cover and the curious is that this album is the very first one I realize without a cover. Of course this time it was impossible to fix one with the lyrics of the concept, so we had to abandon the idea. Regarding our previous 2 covers I have to say that they had a complete different meaning. The final Countdown was just something we realized for pure fun because that was the very 1st song Fabio ever sang when he was a little more than a teenager. We didn't even have any idea if it would have been included in the album, and that's why you don't hear many differences from the original. Take on me instead has been something calculated,' cause I love A-ha and at the same I know they are not a metal band, so it was interesting the idea of trying to arrange it to a metal song, and we knew since the first that it would have been included in the album and that it would have been something attracting the attention of the listeners. I don't know if in the future we'll play another cover or not. Honestly we did it for many albums and many years, maybe now it's time to focus on our music. About live generally we always played some cover ( I remember now Wasted Years from Irons, Point of View from Fates Warning,Damage Inc from Metallica, Gutter Ballet from Savatage ),but at the moment we have a new album to be played entirely in a row on stage plus songs from our previous 2 albums… It's getting a little difficult to find space for some cover.

Tommy: How is the climate in the metal scene for a band of average size nowadays, you feel? How is it today compared with, for example, 10-12 years ago? After a quick look around you in the scene - what is your spontaneous reaction/feeling?

  • Olaf: Ah, great question! I don't know. Of course things are much better in order of productions and chances for a band to be released, but it also seems to me that there are even too many bands releasing albums after albums, and I'm conscious that maybe VD could be one of these eheh. The only thing I can do as musician is not to look at the others and try to do my best. I'm sure that if I will be able to do my best, releasing good albums and playing good shows always, then if one day the space shouldn't be enough anymore for all these bands maybe a place could be left anyway for Vision Divine also.

Tommy: If you stare into the crystal ball, let's say 2-3 years from now, and with another album in the back - how do you realistically see the situation to be for Vision Divine? How would an ideal situation according to you look?

  • Olaf: In a realistic way I just can think that VD will have grown up at least a little bit. It would be nice if people could talk about us as a new interesting band that is capable of releasing good albums and to perform great shows. This is something we can do, and it's something we are able to deserve, also. After this I know it's just HOPE, so I won't say anything more. I just can hope to release the RIGHT album at the RIGHT MOMENT, often this is the biggest matter, much more important that having a good or a bad album to release.

Tommy: I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought for the future?

  • Olaf: Many thanks for this nice interview. I talked really openly and I hope people will understand this. The last thing I would like to add, if you let me, is about the tons of power metal bands coming out from Italy: It's not my intention to talk about anybody, but I just would like to specify that we are not one of these "new power metal bands all playing the same and copying others" I'd just like to remember that I really started this movement in 1995 here, and the difference now stays just in a band name…I just continue playing and composing music as I always did since my start, that's it. Just give a listen to our new album, you'll understand what I mean. Stay Heavy!

That was all I had for now, Olaf - the staff at metalcovenant.com wish you all the very best for the future, and we sincerely want to thank you for keeping the spirit of Metal alive!

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