Guitarist Jens Peter Storm-Ringström – Thorium
Interview by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Michael H Andersen at Mighty Music for help for setting up the interview
Thanks to Mighty Music for the promo pictures of the band.
Just before summer 2018, legendary Danish death metal band Thorium returned after a 10 year hiatus and the band released their brand new studio album, BLASPHEMY AWAKES. The only original member left in the band is the singer MHA, however I hooked up with new guitarist Jens Peter Storm-Ringström in order to do make this interview happen. Since Jens hasn’t been in the band for long, it’s a short chat but I hope it’s going to shed some light on the whereabouts of Thorium.
Hi, Jens Peter nice to talk to you today, how are you? Ready to kick off the interview?
Hi Anders / Metal Rules! MHA/Thorium has been pretty busy since the release of BLASPHEMY AWAKES so he asked me to help him out on answering some of the interviews.
Except for the release show at The Rock, did the band do any live performances after the release of FERAL CREATION?
That’s before my time with the band, so it’s a little tricky for me to answer. The period for the release of FERAL CREATION is also the time where things started happening with The Kandidate, where Allan and KB were active members. I remember the trend for the Danish scene was more like the thrashier stuff at that time, like the thing Kandidate had up and running, so I guess it might have been a combination of the band members being busy with other bands, and the Death Metal genre turning into a kind of niche. So as a result the attractive live gigs for a band like Thorium in that era would be abroad, which takes some resources to put up and coordinate – and again I guess it might have been quite challenge for the band at that point.
Are you happy with the outcome of FERAL CREATION?
I remember when the album came out, it was something that caught my attention because of the quality of the songs and the overall production of the album. Maybe its because I am a victim of “the law Jante” but when I listen to listen to Danish bands/music/art, if it sounds Danish I often get bored and lose interest. To me, sounding Danish means a lack of dedication to the artistic content and originality – but I think Thorium has always stood out as a very dedicated band that really has made some death metal classics without sounding “Danish”. Also, I remember FERAL CREATION almost only got praise in reviews and I never heard anyone dislike that album. I heard that OCEANS OF BLASPHEMY has achieved cult status, I don´t know if this will happen to FERAL CREATION, but I think this is an album MHA can be very proud of.
Many people consider Thorium as a cult band today, what do you think of that?
I hope that I am right when I say that my perception of cult is a positive thing, ha ha. Well to me I think earning that honour of being cult is an expression of having been a part of the history of the scene and having survived the different trends, still being dedicated to what you love to play. Hopefully the reason why it becomes cult is when the music has a certain amount of an undefined quality that a minority community finds the pleasure of worshipping.
MHA said once that “Thorium is in my DNA” and something you see you will be doing for the rest of your life, is that still a valid feeling?
You can say the band were put to rest, but also as you quote: it is in the DNA – in the blood, and the album we just released is a solid proof that it is something that will never die inside of us. You know, this is what gets me through the mid-life crisis ☺
How did guitarists Meier and you end up in the band? Are you guys old friends? Was it easy to convince them to join forces with Thorium?
Kræn and I have known each other from way back – the Sacrificial Era – you might even call it the beginning of the Danish death metal scene – Kræn produced the debut demo tape of my first band (Stone Age). I have always admired Kræn’s skillful guitar playing, and his creative approach to composing riffs, which in my book makes him a true pioneer to the genre. So I always thought it would be very attractive to work with a guitarist like Kræn.
And as being a part of the scene almost since the beginning, MHA is a key person who you could not avoid knowing, but we first developed friendship in our mid-thirties doing some non-music related business together and found that we share the same mindset or could I say codex in terms of professionalism and being a reliable trustworthy person. I guess we just found good chemistry. At that time MHA introduced me to some sketch work for a new Thorium album which Kræn had made at an earlier point. I liked the stuff – and knowing MHA – his drive as an entrepreneur – as a guy who gets things happening – it was pretty easy to convince me to join forces with Thorium – and also Kræn you might call him Mr. Rock Steady himself – this was a very near optimal starting point for building a new line up.
When did drummer Karlsson team up with you?
At that point we started out writing more material and developing on the stuff Kræn already made – rehearsing on a regular basis as an old fashioned band with Niko as drummer. We did this for almost a year and though it was a very creative period, we at times found it difficult to match calendars – and ended up in this hybrid between a “real” band and writing/preparing individually in exile. Then Niko left – and MHA, in order to still get things happening, made the wise decision to take the full step into transforming the band to a more like session musician band with MHA in charge of progress. That gave the possibility to search for a drummer beyond the Danish realm – In terms of fulfilling one of MHA’s original intentions with Thorium: Writing Death metal between the old-school American and Swedish (Gothenburg) Death Metal, it made sense to start seeking in Sweden. It was Kræn who knew Perra and they have been friends since the nineties networking for the course of metal. Perra is the perfect match – both musically and in his approach on how to get this sound.
In the picture provided with the bio, there are four members and not five, why?
KB was part of the initial rehearsals with Niko when we decided to re-launch Thorium and started writing songs but then he got this VolBeat offer and it was not possible for him to play in both bands. Luckily he had the time to record the bass, but as we at that point knew he was not going to stay with the band it made no sense for KB to pose on the photo shoot. At that point we had not hooked up with Claus so that’s simply the reason why we are only four posers on the pictures. Claus is by the way also an old friend of the band. Him and MHA have a lot of history together from Næstved (Danish province where they grew up. Claus is playing with The Centipedes but originally he played in Cyanotic which toured a lot together with Dominus.
Do you see the current line up as a solid one?
The way we got around making the album both connecting musically and defining the workflow of working together, I think has been very successful. As I mentioned earlier we all share the same mindset about being reliable and professional so it is definitely a solid line up we have on this album.
Maniac (Official Music Video)
New album BLASPHEMY AWAKES
Why has it taken the band 10 years to follow up FERAL CREATION?
I guess MHA has been busy with other stuff.
Did you write many songs for BLASPHEMY AWAKES and if so did you use all of them? Were there any that didn’t made on to the final edition of the album?
Kræn did like half of the material and Rogga and Jonas are represented by two songs each. Only one of my songs survived – they were judged too groovy…Hah… I think what you hear on the album is maybe half of all the song ideas we had in the melting pot throughout the process of writing the album. I think the cool thing is that you can´t really tell who did which songs. It might be a result of that we took the necessary time to adapt the styles of every contributor and let us inspire of each other. So I am pretty satisfied with BLASPHEMY AWAKES; it is some solid real heavy cast iron brutal stuff.
The lyrics is open for interpretation. In my perception I would say The Lurker has passed 40+ and he turned out to be a Maniac – And through his sore eyes – but also experienced eyes – he sees the world and describes the depravity of mankind – through the history, the fiction, until today – how far we have come in either defeating or worshipping evil.
How come you chose to do a cover of the Demigod song “Dead Soul”?
Hah.. Demigod is one of MHA all time favorites. A funny story that goes with that song is, in the making of the album we had this shared folder on Dropbox where we uploaded demos of the songs we did. MHA uploaded “Dead soul” – “the original version”- and I was just listening to the song without knowing what it was for a week or so. It was first when MHA asked us what if we liked his suggestion for a cover song, then I realized that it was not one of our own demos. I guess it proved that it would be well featured on the album.
Who came up with the title BLASPHEMY AWAKES? Does the title have any special meaning to the band?
MHA came up with title – maybe there is a clue here also to find a way into the lyrics – The Awakening part might also be a reference to the comeback of the Thorium beast – but again as I said before – it is all open for interpretation – it is art! Haha….
With the arrival of new members in the band, do you think the music has gone through any changes?
Now that we are playing live and we really gets into the older songs I would say the setlist seems to be a pretty consistent mix of new and old classic Thorium songs – the DNA is the same. The major change is more in the structure/ arrangements. The riffs all share some kind of common aesthetics. The songs on this album is more like cut to the bone. Maybe a more matured Thorium, without the youthful urge to show how fast we can play and how many details and ideas we can come up with and squeeze into a song. when that is said I also really enjoy playing the old songs.
Roberto Toderico did the cover art work, was he given free hands and what do you think of his work?
Frankly I don’t know – but Roberto is a proven talent and when you hire him for the job – you know you won’t be disappointed.
You said that when you formed the band you wanted the music to be a blend of the Florida scene with bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide and the Swedish scene with Entombed and At The Gates. Do you think you managed that? Personally, I think the band’s music leans towards more the Swedish old school death metal scene, which I love.
Yeah you might be right that there is a little overhang to the Swedish side in this balance. But I think a track like “Reign of Osman” could have been on the COVENANT album by Morbid Angel.
Did you record any bonus material for the Asian market or as b-sides for the download singles?
No in the studio we focused on the songs we selected in advance, so we did not record any of the discarded songs. Maybe some of the demos could end up in the hands of some die hard fans some day when we have a solid proof that we have reached cult status ha ha…
The album has received some great reviews in the media, do you care about what media and critics have to say about your work?
The reactions from fans from the live shows is really positive and we also got some nice reviews – which that in some instances you can read between the lines that the reviewer has a rendezvous with the genre old school death metal. Off course I am very humble about any recognition we get – and therefor I am also very cautious to expect any thing and to speak on the behalf of the fans
What are the longest songs “Reign Of Osman” (4.16) and “Trust No One” (4.11) about?
I don´t recall that we intended the album to be fast or furious, but that the key word was “brutality” – Brutal without overdoing it so it gets ridiculous – is that possible?? Brutality can’t be ridiculous…. Like I said earlier we cut the songs the bone – Frankly we did not focus that much on the length we just made the songs to a point where it made sense for every individual song.
Could you explain a little closer what you means when you said BLASPHEMY AWAKEN is the bands tribute to death metal – your second home?
Its a MHA qoute – but I guess we all share that feeling, that we wish cherish what we love and keep it alive – in order to stay alive yourself.
In retrospect are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Penance (Official Music Video)
Production, mixing, label
How long did it take to record the album?
Jacob Gundel owns Gain Factory Studio which is located in Copenhagen. The recording of the album took about one week where we got together with Perra and recorded drums and guitars.
KB recorded the bass at his Studio – I don´t recall what he calls it.
We where all involved with providing Jacob with inputs for the mix, but we trusted him to do the overall mix alone – it is seldom beneficial to mix in plenum.
The preparation for the recording of the album was mainly individual rehearsal to the demos. Kræn and Perra did one rehearsal before i Sweden to get the feel right and do the final corrections the the arrangements.
How come it took so long for the album to be released when it was recorded and ready at the end of last year?
Isn’t that normal?
The band’s label is your own label Mighty Music, is it smart to host your own band? Isn’t it hard to be objective to make decision and so on?
As a band member I think it’s pretty smart. MHA knows the business and gets things happening. I guess MHA has also been witnessing a lot of bands in terms of what to and not to do, so I think it is very nice to have such a capacity within the band. No doubt the band benefits from this constellation. I don’t know if it´s a wise decision for Mighty Music……I don´t care´about that part ha ha
I know the albums are available to listen to at Spotify but is it possible to purchase Thorium on iTunes?
Past and present
Are you aware of the fact that there are a heavy metal band from Belgium called Thorium?
No are they better than us? – Well I think there are three bands called Dominus and a Girlie band in Russia called PitchBlack – Its the curse of the internet – before that we would never have known.
Are you going to shoot videos to any of the other songs on the album as well?
Terkel (Aggressive Artwork) who did the video is like Roberto very talented so we also gave the total artistic freedom to create two videos for “Maniac” and “Penance”. Besides some limited footage from the recording session at the studio it was up to Terkels to fill in the rest. We are very pleased with results – I do hope we can work with Terkel again.
Is shooting videos something the band likes to do?
Yes, it’s always fun. Of course we are on a limited budget – so it is really up to your creativity to come up with something that is worth viewing and at the same time within the budget.
The video’s got 1,600 hits until today, are you happy with that?
Yeah that is amazing – thanks to all off you metal heads checking us out hope to see you at our live shows.
According to the bands Facebook page you’re going to perform at Metal Magic Festival in Fredericia Denmark, are you excited?
Yes we are really looking forward to that show.
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy BLASPHEMY AWAKES?
Well, once again thanks for taking the time making the interview, I’d love to see the band live soon, I wish you all the best in the future.