Interview with Christopher Johnsson of Therion

Interview with Christopher of Therion

by Helias

Christofer Johnsson, leader and founding member of the Swedish Symphonic Metal Therion (he discharges this label!), has an absolutely clear musical vision that he has promoted and defended with much passion throughout his professional life, without fearing labels’ or fans’ support. He one of the fewest people in metal business who always do what he’ve got in mind apart from any contradictions and conflicts. Christofer will call me in a few minutes to give me a deep insight into the depths of Therion camp. The phone is ringing and…

christofer johnsson 1 Hello, Christofer! I am very happy for that phone ringing!!! Greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?

Actually, after the Rock Opera Tour I managed to get back home and I am sitting in my sofa and speaking to you right now!hehe! Congratulations for your latest album LES FLEURS DU MAL (As I don’t speak French, I don’t know exactly the pronunciation)! I don’t know any one artist or band that has attempted anything like that. So, Therion made something pioneer here.

Thank you! Hehe you nice French accent (e.n.: he make fun of my accent! hehe) Celebrating 25 year anniversary of Therion is the greatest cause and reason for LES FLEURS DU MAL. I don’t know if it kinda pioneer…It was what I had in mind and I would like to do. Simply as that!

therion 6 Let’s talk about the focal point of the latest tour which was the promotion of certain musical ideas that potentially form parts of the Rock Opera you worked on for a while, isn’t it?

Yes, that’s right. Obviously people were cold a little bit with the result as they seemed to waiting for something else I guess. But, there were lots of people who found the idea of the Rock Opera quite interesting. In the Rock Opera Tour you gonna play entire VOVIN album live due to its 15th anniversary, if I am not mistaken, right? You gonna do the same for the 20th Anniversary of THELI?

Yes will play it in its entirety but not in the Rock Opera Tour. At least not in the entire number of the live shows. But we will end up changing some things in the process anyway. As for the 20th Anniversary of THELI, we may do it and we may not. I don’t know exactly what I will gonna plan about that. We will see.

THERION 2 When doing a small research for some Therion album reviews, I was completely surprised to find out that Therion have been classed as one of the founders of symphonic metal genre with their album THELI. What are your thoughts on this label? You feel good about that?

Hm… I do say no! I have this staff in my head and wanted to put them on the record. I don’t know if we are founders or pioneers of ‘symphonic metal’. I don’t know even if there is symphonic metal. I would like to release a metal album with those symphonic and orchestra-type songs with the classical vocals. That’s all I know. The album sales were increased and other albums by other bands got released after that. Maybe it was a new wave of music. Therion celebrated their 25th anniversary. I was intrigued to know if you have reached the milestone and your own landmark. In other words, did you get to your own peak?

I am gonna tell you this: wisdom, ability and fun! Hehehe! I don’t know if we got to the peak but we always try to do our best. Surely, we do things we love and many mistakes as well, but I am very happy for what we have done to date.

therion band Is there anything that you would like to have changed in your career?

Hmmmm! Many many things! Hehe! Like I said before I am a guy who changes some things in the process anyway. I never say that this thing will not get changed. Probably I will change in the next few seconds. This doesn’t mean that I am not a stable person. I like and love to do the best for my band. I know Christofer and it’s totally sane in every sense! Now, let’s go back to LES FLEURS DU MAL album.

Yes, I got touched by the six poems of Baudelaire. That’s the initial idea and th ignition, the fuel behind this release. You can call it as a tribute to them. So, I wanted to write music for those poems and wondered how they could be sound if those poems were songs. That’s it! It’s a detective path of what I got in mind. But you have no support by the record label.

No we didn’t have. I don’t mind about that. Of course laws can cause many trouble to people.

Therion-Band-pic-2 What do you mean by that?

There were copyright issues that we have to deal with. That was a problem for us and the record label as well. The copyright issues are the main problem when making a cover album. As for the record label, I don’t know , maybe they did not like it. After that, are going to cover something else in the future?

Negative for now as it is not part of the coming project, but if we find it interesting we gonna do it. It’s not a problem for me even the previous ones (hehehe).

Therion-Band-pic-1024x724 Therion have been playing for the past 25 years. I’m sure you had many difficulties throughout this time… What makes you always keep pushing forward?

The biggest difficulty is the music itself. The breakthrough in USA was a big deal for Therion and me. I am a musician. That’s all I know and I want to do in my life. Music is passion and emotion. That’s the thing I am good at. Cristofer, do you have any intentions of making a death metal album like the early days in a symphonic way? Do you miss this musical genre a bit or your growls?

Absolutely not. The answer is no to all your questions hehehe! I don’t like it anymore. I was 18-19 years old when Therion release OF DARKNESS and BEYOND SANCTORUM. I was a fan of death metal then, but not anymore. I don’t miss a thing on death metal. I love my memories from the recording sessions of those albums and the flame and the blaze of our soul to record something extreme. That’s not my intention anymore. I grew up. I am 42 old and I want something else to do more than death metal. I don’t consider myself as a (death) metal fan or musician.

tHERION 4 Do you know any Greek heavy metal acts? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage? Septicflesh, Rotting Christ, Firewind, Suicidal Angels to name a few.

Yes, I know Necromantia and an all-female black metal band, but I cannot remember the name… I am sure you mean Astarte.

I am not sure, but you probably know better! Have you heard of the latest 2 albums by Septicflesh? The albums features a full orchestra and choir, with more than 80 musicians — adding a classical element to the songs. They are truly symphonic and they collaborated with Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague.

therion 5

As you mention it now, I can recall a friend of mine who told me about those guys and their albums. After we end up, I will check them out. Thanks! What do you think of today’s music industry in general?

I think the main fad nowadays is Streaming which has a big impact and Spotify which is very bad paid. The things have totally changed since I got started playing music.  Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?

CD’s are practical. I like vinyl. So, I am still romantic.  If you could pick only one musician to work with that you have not collaborated with to date, who would that be and why?

Uli Jon Roth, the only musician I really admire. After 25 years of creative success, do you feel at the most accomplished stage of your career yet? Did you get to the peak of your musical walk?

I think we are in a great music path. We sell albums, we play all over the world, we write the music we love. So, the omens are smiling to us! As I said, I am at the age of 42. I count another 20 years to come for Therion.

Therion-2014  Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

Thrash metal:the old stuff is good.

Greece: Chaos

Politics: Necessary evil.

Favorite TV series: No TV

Black Sabbath: Best band of the 70’s

Strip show: Disgusting

Cristofer, I was very glad for this interview and thanks for your time you spent with me. I wish you and the rest of Therion guys all the best!!!

I thank you very much! Have a nice day!


For more information vista