Trail of Tears - interview with Ronny Thorsen
The Norwegian gothmetal act,Trail of Tears started up in 1994 under the name Natt. Earlier this year, they realased their latest, and unfortunately last album “Oscillation”. You can read what Ronny Thorsen had to say about that her
The band Trail of Tears was started in 1994 under the name of Natt. Can you tell me about the beginning, and why you choose to change name to Trail of Tears?
Well, we started playing music together under the name of Natt, which is the Norwegian word for night. I don`t really consider that to be the start of Trail of Tears but it was indeed the start of our musical journey you could say. The music back then was very different, much more basic and trash influenced, no keyboards and very straight forward. The reasons for the name change I guess you could say were many, first of all we started changing the sound quite a bit towards what was to become the Trail of Tears sound and we felt that this change required a new name to kind of mark the fact that it was a new start and a new sound. Also at that time we had started to gain some attention from abroad and this combined made us decide that we would be better off with an English name rather than a Norwegian one.
Why did you choose to call the band Trail of Tears? Can you tell me about the name?
We had a guitarist at the time who was very into the Native American history and culture and this name ended up on the table along with a few others. We were all kids back then and it sounded good to us, even though none of the members contemplated a lot about the meaning. Of course we were all familiar with the story of the Cherokee Indians and how they were forced away from their land but it did not hold a deeper meaning to us. It is interested today to see the reactions from actual Native Americans, some of them seem to hold grudges against us for using the name but there are also those who are glad that we put this whole thing to attention. For us it is not a statement of any kind, it was simply a name that we thought was fitting to the music we played.
You released the album “Oscillation” earlier this year. Can you tell me about it?
The album is a result of a long and hard process. We started the whole thing a long time ago and it has been a long and torturous journey to come to the final result. The actual song writing process went pretty smooth but we started experiencing problems in the studio, both technical ones as well as the fact that our female singer was in a very bad place at the time on a personal level. All of this resulted in various delays and set backs, something that added a lot of frustration for the band. In the end though, we managed to come out at the other side with a strong album that is well deserving a place in our discography. The album is diverse and perhaps the most melancholic effort to date. It has some of the more extreme material we have ever written but also some of the most mellow stuff we have recorded. Altogether I`m very satisfied that we managed to come up with the album having in mind the difficult circumstances.
What about the lyrics. Can you tell me about them? What is the album about?
Well, we are not talking about a concept album even though there are certain elements and themes that figure throughout the album, as I said it is a very melancholic and bleak album musically and this is also the case when it comes to the lyrics. There are strong elements of betrayal, loss and sorrow in the lyrics but in true tradition you will also find traces of hope and optimism throughout. I would really urge the listeners who are interested in the lyrical aspects to sit down and study the lyrics for themselves.
Why did you choose to call your album “Oscillation”?
Oscillation as a title reaches really wide and it can mean a myriad of different things. Duality, balance or contrasts are keywords and the idea was to come up with a word that nicely described the balance and contrasts of the musical and lyrical content. We base a lot of the music and words on these mentioned contrasts in order to create a balance or feeling of unity or wholeness and this is also reflected in the cover art with the ship that appears stranded, damaged and broken while the reflection in the water shows the ship in it`s glory days, shiny, powerful and beautiful.
How do you proceed when you make music? Are all the members involved all the time?
This can differ from each song, usually it starts with a combination of riffs or melodies that we put together before we start to “dress” the song with the necessary layers, meaning orchestrations, leads and eventually vocals. The skeletons of most of the songs were written by our bassist Endre this time, while the vocal parts and lyrics were written by myself and our female singer.
From where do you get inspiration when you make music?
Inspiration usually comes out of nowhere and sometimes you don`t even realise it. For me personally, I can be inspired by nearly anything and often it is small trivial things in your everyday life, like a facial expression or a episode that you encounter in you everyday doings. As for other music, it is natural that some of the things that you listen to or that you have grown up with will rub off in your writing but we never sit down and try to come up with something we like on purpose.
Can you tell me about the cover artwork?
The cover as well as photos and booklet were all made by Finnish artist Jan Yrlund and I have to say that he did a tremendous job with it. For me, this is by far the best artwork that we have ever had and I think Jan really outdid himself. As I mentioned earlier, we wanted something that reflected the mood and atmosphere of the album and he came up with this image to symbolise the contrasts in the music and lyrics. It has a dark, cold and eerie look to it and in that sense it goes perfectly with the content of the songs.
What about touring, are going to tour in Norway in the nearest future?
As most people have seen now, we are saying goodbye with this album and the chapter called Trail of Tears will be closed by the release of Oscillation. It is a pity that we won`t be able to tour in support of the album but the climate in the band simply doesn`t allow it anymore so we have to accept the fact that we have played our last show with the band.
Finally, some words for your Norwegian fans?
Thanks to everyone for your enduring support towards the band over the years, I will see you all soon with the launch of my new band in the near future!
Thank you very much for answering my questions, and good luck with your new album.