The Whipping Post presents...
Veni Domine Interview - Added 06/01/06
THE WHIPPING POST: After a huge amount of time between Spiritual Wasteland and
IIII: The Album of Labour, you guys have released 23:59 far quicker than any of your fans probably anticipated. How good does it feel to get this album released in a more reasonable amount of time?
TORBJ÷RN WEINESJ÷ - It feels great of course. I always had this pace in my body so this feels more natural to me than the other way around. Easy to build up frustration while waiting.
TWP: Looking back a little bit on IIII: The Album of Labour, how was that album received by your fans and do you think that most of them embraced the continued progression down the path that you guys started with Spiritual Wasteland?
TW: In a way I see Veni Domine fans as parted in two, one part likes the two first cd's while disliking Spiritual Wasteland and IIII a bit. The other part seems to like the more progressive touch on those. I see Spiritual Wasteland as a turning point and weíre swinging back from that end.
TWP: Do you think you lost a lot of your fan base because of the long gap between albums, or do you think that a big majority of your fans from the past stuck around and were patient in waiting for something new from Veni Domine?
TW: Difficult to say but my guess is that a lot left. Not the hardcore Veni Domine fan, but as media attention was close to zero for a very, very long time youíre disappearing to the masses. I mean, say we were in the dark hole for 5 years, itís longer than many bands lifetime. We did not release for seven, so in a way itís like launching a new band but still having a history to live up to. And next year weíve been around for 20 years. Weíve learned that itís difficult to please everyone. Which by the way, never was the band's intention anyway. We have strong integrity in what we do and what we want to doÖ.a bit stupid perhaps, but thatís the way it is.
TWP: Ok, letís move on to the new album, 23:59. Tell me a little bit about how the recording process went with this one.
TW: Iím fortunate to have my own studio. I have a bigger place in terms of space with my dear old friend Mats Hallstensson of House of Shakira and a mobile setup that usually is at home. On this cd we recorded the drums at Mono Content Group. Old key maniac Mattias Cederlund let us use their facilities, and it was great! We also cut some vocal tracks there. I wrote the songs and the lyrics for this recording and started fooling around with them, and like on a given signal I was ready to start it seriously. It usually happens like this. All of a sudden I was tweaking guitar sounds and you know, focusing on those things. I started to call the guys in the band scheduling the process. I put the real guitars first on a bed of demoed bass, guitars and loops and drum machine. I typically have the melodies semi-ready and the lyrics as well. Sometimes the form of the song changes during the process but mostly it stays in original shape. You got to be sensitive during the process, depending on what you aiming for, but to be open minded about your creativity. This is of course easier when more people are involved or having a producer and such. But on the latest Veni Domine cd's, I was in charge of producing. Although itís fun and creative, I sometimes miss the days when I could just focus on playing and writing. Iím one of those guys who get lost in the process. The last thing I think about when falling asleep and the first thought in the morning usually connects to the current or coming recording. Iím lucky to have an understanding family. This recording we cut the bass last as Gabriel was so busy. Some of the vocals were put on before drums. This is how life looks like in many ways. If you want things done you have to create an environment working for you not against you. And one of the good things with our obstacles in the past is that I/we learned to find creative solutions. The fact that I worked as a project leader for a computer company for a short time helped me structure things up. Being a producer is like being a project leader; you got to keep the timetable. The guys have to show up and deliver on a given time and the budget can not be slaughtered. Sometimes you have to yell a bit, sometimes you just shut up. I'm trying to learn the latter ;) I never saw myself as that person, but sometimes you have to dig in if you want things to move. Anyways, after the last take I sat down and started to mix the stuff down and mastering on that. As you have a family it's not an ideal situation to mix at home. I was thinking about writing a book called ď How to Mix an Album in a Million 15 Minute Parts.Ē ;) I canít complain really, but we always thought Veni Domine as being on a larger scale. But you have to roll with it and still see the small things as blessings as well. Thatís another question though and will take up a lot of space getting into.
TWP: Fredrickís vocals sound like they are doing really good. Has he had any further vocal problems lately?
TW: You know, Fredrik's vocal issues are not over yet. Itís getting more stable, but his voice will probably never be the same as the early cd's. Now I think Fredrik's voice is fantastic in whatever register heís using it in, and as a producer it was my task to find a working environment for his voice on the last two cd's. Itís not the easiest task as Fredrik used to be a vocal machine in many ways. We could record for hours and hours and he just keep hitting the high notes from heaven. Itís not like that anymore and we would probably have gone this direction anyhow. But most important is that Fredrik is doing ok. Itís not easy being the artist he is to adjust to something he never wanted in the first place. Still in his mind itís like heís thinking vocals like before but his voice is not doing the same, so that will still take some effort. But heís come along way. Iím surprised in a way that he did not give up because when it was the worst we would turn the lights off at the studio after just 10 minutes of trying. But Fredrik loves what heís doing and he will deliver no matter what.
TWP: Your relationship with Rivel Records was somewhat short-lived. Why the switch to MCM with this new album?
TW: We will always be grateful for the time on Rivel. Things ended up like this for different reasons. Before I even started to talk business with MCM I leveled with Rivel and it was ok with him. I like to do business that way. Rivel had a lot of things going on, and being the fairly small label Rivel is, there was not room for a release at the time we would have preferred. Now if Rivel really wanted, I mean badly wanted to release Veni Domine again, we would have stuck with Rivel as they mean serious business and you've got to stick with those in this business. But as things emerged we went with MCM, a fresh label on the market when it comes to record business, but theyíve been around for a long time as management and they know their way around. And I wanted to be part of their idea; they plan long term and I like that.
TWP: Most artists always say that they think that their latest album is their best. Do you feel that way about this release, and if so, what makes this album more special than your past releases (which are all fabulous).
TW: You know as times change, your memories alter a bit and so forth. I really enjoy our latest, but when Fall Babylon Fall came out it was fresh in another way. Same with Material Sanctuary. I think we matured with age and for some bands that works - for some it doesn't. I mean, it always works, but you will have to age and mature at the same pace as your fans to keep them. To break new ground today is tougher than ever. It was tough back then as well, but today is much worse. Iím proud of our work. Iím proud that we did not cave in totally when we were in the hole. It was a close call. Iím proud that I still am a Christian after all the mess and Iím proud that we as a band still keep evolving, even though we aimed for a larger scale and we tasted success. I guess you can say that weíre in this for the right reasons. For the ego itís not all fun playing the small joints when the aim was a different one, but we have to be humble and not arrogant about it. Now if God chooses us to be at this point then we better deliver no matter what the ego says. I know this is a constant battle for all the artists out there...and thinking about it...not even close to your original question...ha ha ha, there you go. I think the new album shows really well what Veni Domine stands for today. It might have sounded differently as we like a lot of different music, but we ended this album like this and weíre proud and pleased.
TWP: Do you have a particular song or moment on 23:59 that really sticks out to you as being your favorite?
TW: I was editing some parts of "Like I'm Crucified" and was so intrigued by the end result. Especially the bridges to all choruses, I thought they suited very well; not very heavy metal perhaps. Also when we layered the vocals for "Valley of the Visions," I fell back to the good old days of beautiful harmonies. Not totally high pitched like we should have done 10 years ago, but really relaxing...bringing harmony to the soul. Then I really like "Hyper Sober Nature," because itís a stretch, and I know hard rockers can be quite conservative and I can remember the guys in the band laughing hard when they heard it the first time...like...huuuu are we gonna do this one...but in Swedish of course. ;) Cred to the guys in the band for being open minded!! I think itís one of the strongest songs on the cd. I know I might be alone on that one.
TWP: You guys recently had a chance to play at The Doom Shall Rise Festival. How did that go, how did the fans respond to the new songs live, and do you guys have plans to play any other live shows in the near future?
TW: I will let you in on a little secret...I said once that Veni Domine is like a people without a land...meaning we donít fit in anywhere. We got the gig at DSR4 thanks to meister Frank!! Check his band Well of Souls out!!! We thought...finally we will be home, as all the proggies think we are too doomish and the symphies think we are too doomish or proggie. But you know what...the doomers think we are power metal!!!!! And Iím no big fan of power metalÖ..come on you guys!!!!
The show went great. Some technical errors, but 3 quarters of it felt solid and so pleasing after not doing a lot of live shows recently. But the doomers went sour thinking it was power metal. Well, I know you canít please Ďem all, but some...please come on...you got to love it to keep going. Ha ha ha, you know...big smile, smile and wave boys...
The new songs fell in good soil and we're very pleased by that fact. They worked really good live.
We might do a trip back to Germany this fall. No other plans so far.
TWP: Have you guys ever considered recording a live DVD or live CD for those fans in the U.S. or elsewhere around the globe that havenít had the chance to see you guys live?
TW: Yeah we've considered that, but as weíre in the beginning of the climb again we have to build up a bit before doing such a thing. [We need to build] a bigger fan base and so on. The cost of doing that is sky high and we would rather put something professional out than all the semi-pro stuff that is out there today. We would love getting out playing more live...also the U.S. of course. We have too small of a fan base for that at the present, but there are a lot of festivals so maybe...
TWP: If you had to narrow it down, what are one or two of your favorite moments since being a part of Veni Domine?
TW: Well...tough one my friend...of course our first Greenbelt appearance (UK) where we were signed the first time in 1990. We played in a tent that housed like 3 or 4 thousand and there was really not that many in there. I mean, we were unknown, but as we played the place was packed and people were flooding in and the humidity just rocketed up. My guitars detuned so badly but it was a great experience!! Whitecross headlined that evening.
One good moment as well was playing in Amsterdam. We got a fax the night before that the place was being burnt down by Molotov cocktails. We decided to play anyway as we were in the neighborhood playing in Utrecht not too far away. So...it smelled like death and then some. We had to sound check with open doors and the cops came and we had to close it up and the walls and ceiling were all black from the fire. Sometimes I wonder if it really happened or was a dream.
Also a lot of really good mails and letters from people getting saved or started all over with Christ. One actually thought the music saved his life as he was dying and a song played in his head and brought him before Christ and he survived. Strong memories. That stuff makes it worth the while, and I would do the trip over and over again if that would be the outcome.
TWP: What are your plans for the future of the band? Have you begun work on the next album, and if so, what can we expect? Any great ideas yet?
TW: As a matter of fact, we started the next session and all the songs are almost done. A lot has been recorded. Weíre working this year out with the cd if all goes as planned. We have a lot of great ideas - ha ha ha ha. Seriously this will be a bit different I think, but you will sure recognize it if youíre into Veni Domine. Too early for release date yet. Iíve been around too long for hoping too much, but if all goes as planned it will be out next year.
TWP: What do all of you do outside of the band? Iím sure most of you have families, jobs, hobbies, etc. Also, are any of you involved in any other musical endeavors outside of Veni Domine?
TW: Iím working as a broadcast producer for Eurosport Television. Spare time is family business. My kids are into sports, so a lot of taxi driving you know. Also I try to do sports, but the last year's spare time was music time. I also do some Jet Circus with my dear friend Ez Gomťr. We will see what happens with that. I put some guitars on some other bands stuff, and I do some mixing and producing. Hero is a band I will do live as well.
Thomas has his own company doing carpet fitting. Heís in on Jet Circus, Hero, and Saviour Machine as well.
Fredrik sells wallpaper and carpet related stuff, and does some artwork on the side.
Mats deliver papers and is a hockey goalie trainer for the team of his son.
Gabriel is an accountant located in Shanghai for now. I donít think heís got spare time. Last I checked he worked like 16 hours a day.
TWP: You guys have been around quite a while and have seen numerous bands come and go. What is one that band maybe you have played live with or had some association with that really just blows you guys away?
TW: Bands that made impression on me are the likes of Mortification, Whitecross, Extol, Candlemass, and XT. Of course we have the Swedish mob of bands that always deliver like Crimson Moonlight, Admonish, and Frosthardr from Norway. You know there are so many great bands around and I have such a short memory. :)
TWP: I remember buying your Fall Babylon Fall album when I was about 17 years old after hearing just one song on the radio. I was immediately hooked. Anyways, I listened to that album hundreds of times and itís still one of my favorite all-time releases. Looking back to 1992 and then fast-forwarding to today, what are some of the hard lessons learned that you never would have envisioned way back then?
TW: Wow, the thing I always tried to avoid was having the rock star attitude, and I think I've managed fairly well. But sometimes you get so annoyed by situations and sometimes by people that you say something stupid...and I really feel bad about those two or three times. Lesson: Always think twice before saying anything!!
Never burn bridges. The cost of that 7 years and a less glamorous situation for the band, it might have ended here anyways.
Always rely on God. Too many times I lost focus on the things that really mattered, but that is how life is and you can only do your best, I guess.
TWP: Who is one person outside of the band that has really impacted Veni Domine in a positive way that you are really thankful for and maybe couldnít have even made it this far without?
TW: Jens Forsberg is our own Swiss army knife. He's been around since the start and he did our first homepage back in 95-96, was our light engineer, photographer, layout, guitar tech, he built some of my guitars, built some of my stomp boxes...generally a good guy. Heís our silent member.
Thomas Liljeberg, our FOH engineer for years...never complaining, traveling far for peanut money or for free. A great guy who knows how to deliver the sound we want!
We have a few of those. A few that always helps with their ears when I hit the mixing stage.
TWP: You guysí sound has really evolved since the mid-90ís. There are still the trademark vocals, the heavy guitars, and sometimes-doomy pace, but your overall sound has really undergone some big changes. What would you attribute most of those changes to? Would it be just maturing and growing? Could it be the influences of certain bands you guys enjoy? Could it have been just the flip of a coin? :)
TW: The first three cd's are mixed by Ragne and StyrbjŲrn Wahlquist, so thereís of course a reason for the change and taste changes. When we started we were consider an extreme band, very heavy and so on. There weíre not many acts like that around. But today weíre soft even though weíre heavier than before, in my opinion. I always wanted to evolve as did the rest of the guys, but I think you can count on some things to stay the same. Veni Domine will always be a bit slower than the average band, and a bit heavier.
TWP: Torb, I want to thank you so much for talking a little time out to do this interview. I pray Godís blessing on your future. Do you have any final comments?
TW: I would like to thank our friends all over. We have a small but faithful following and weíre so grateful for that. I believe weíre in this together and we need each other to live this through. I hope for a good communication with you all, and hopefully we will be able to meet somehow, somewhere.
The pleasure was all mine!