This interview with Leif Edling appeared in issue #32
I talked to Messiah. I told him how godly his vocals were on the Nightfall album, and he made a face. This was just a conversation, not an interview. He said that he was told to relax the vibrato, but it was the vibrato that made him a god. Were you criticizing him? When he made that face to you, I am pretty sure I know what that was. He didn’t like his singing on Nightfall. He went to a vocal coach between Nightfall and Ancient Dreams, so he got taught how to breathe. That is why his vibrato is too much on Ancient Dreams, personally speaking, of course. I really like how he sang on Nightfall. It was very natural. On Ancient Dreams, he was very proud of his vibrato, and he got many compliments. A lot of people I meet think it was exaggerated. During the Tales of Creation album, we told him to relax the vibrato, but Messiah being Messiah – he told us to fuck off. During the Chapter VI album, we told him again, and he told everybody to fuck off again.
I am happy to hear the reason for that face. Yes. Now you can sleep (laughs).
There is a rumor that Messiah is extremely difficult to work with, and the relationship with the band has been nasty. I don’t really want to go into details. It’s just the way he is. It’s like a bad marriage. You have your good days with him, but there are times when there are going to be major outbursts. It’s like walking on thin ice. It’s not easy when a person refuses to discuss things in the band. That’s a big thing for me. It’s a band, and I think you should listen to our guitar player when he says something, or when I say something. That’s just normal decency. Even if you don’t like what people say, you should listen. Something good can even come out of our drummer’s mouth (laughs).
Is Candlemass, at this point, a band or a project? A band, of course. We looked for a replacement for Messiah because we wanted to go out an play.
Was the Leif Edling double CD your idea? No. I was asked by GMR of we could do something like that. People really wanted to hear the Nemesis tracks (ed – Candlemass songs in which Leif sang), and there are lots of Abstract Algebra freaks who knew that we had a song that wasn’t on the album.
There were moments in the past when you sang live. Messiah fucked up his voice in Baltimore. Maybe you went to that gig.
You play bass, but are you really a guitar player in your heart? No. I’m a one-trick pony. I play some guitar, but never in Candlemass.
Have the rights been returned to you, like for the Nightfall and Ancient Dreams albums? Oh yeah! That’s why we released the remasters with the bonus tracks. We tried to make the ultimate releases. I’m really proud of those.
Years ago, I asked Messiah if it were true that he fell through a stage while doom-dancing, and when you played in New York, he fell through the stage! When he doom-dances, sometimes he really tries to break the floor. Being a big guy, and he’s really strong, he did that famous thing in New York.
I heard that, in Stockholm, if there is a dark-skinned person in school, it is forbidden to sing the Swedish National Anthem because it is considered racist. Our immigrants, if you want to call them that – they think that we are stupid for not being more proud of being Swedish than we are. They think it is stupid that we cannot sing our national anthem with pride. I know that in some schools you cannot sing the national anthem, and that really pisses me off.
You shouldn’t be called a racist for having pride in your own culture. Absolutely not. I am proud of being Swedish.
This interview with Slymentra Hymen was in issue #16
Since thou art a goddess, shall I be on my knees while I ask thee questions? But of course. All inferior beings must be on their knees at all times, and that does include you.
My knees, although they are in pain, will be healed by the succor of they beauty. (Laughs) That is right.
Thou hast coined the phrase “Abandon all hope, ye who enter her.” That’s right. That’s what’s written over the gates of Hell. Dante wrote about me years ago.
All great works, intentionally mistranslated. Could it be that if the story were revealed to be about thy gates, that the meaning of the tale would be lost? (Laughs) That is correct.
Other life forms have evolved lures that captivate prey. Pheromones taking over the male body, forcing them to do things that they are unwilling to participate in.
Was thy body always of that form, or hast thou created such exquisite curves in order to trap men? That is very interesting. You are finally understanding my plot!
I would like to by thy first disciple. (Laughs) Oh really? How young are you?
I cannot reveal my age. Then you will have to go to the back of the line!
I have a youthful body, my goddess, but no one can tell the age from my face. Do you have little boy muscles near the groin?
I have often heard the adjective “little.” (Laughs) Well, it will be even littler around me because I will chop it off.
Dost thou not think that thy manner hurts the female humans of this planet? I think there are lots of problems on both parties.
Thou art not the first alien in GWAR. I was led to believe that thou wert the first human was absorbed into GWAR as a unit, not as a race. I’m not a human. I am from the planet Clitosphere (spelling?).
Forgive me for my lack of knowledge. That’s OK. My great mother was punished by her masters. They stole her first child and banished me to this insignificant planet. They were going to force me to sleep with the Scumdogs to create yet a more powerful warrior ever seen in the galaxy. I wouldn’t give in, thus the Scumdogs were forced to sleep with the apes, and thus your race was born.
Thou hast been quoted saying that we breed like roaches. That’s right. The poisons that they put into the food don’t even help. It takes fifty years to kill you off with cancer and things.
Why is thy form so close to human then. Forgive me, for no human has thy perfection. (Laughs) Well, you know… (laughs) Let’s see. How can I answer this one? I am not as glib as you, as glib as thee.
It is thy magnificence that moves my tongue. I am usually an obtuse man. How couldst thou reconcile the fact that beauty such as thine harbors an evil intellect? It is this planet that has made me this way. Before, when I lived on my planet, all I did was worship others as myself, and read literature, and study the great arts, but here, I’ve had to learn and understand the art of war.
Were there any masterpieces that have long since been robbed of any connection to thee? Oh yes, of course. All the great masters have painted me. Have you seen the painting Olympia, by Manet?
I have not. Well that’s me. Have you seen Nike, from the Greek era? That’s me. There have been great statues made of me when I take the form of the great snake goddess.
I have heard that thou has appeared in front of crowds as the snake goddess ans sang to very unusual rhythms. That’s right. It was very cool to pull that off in front of a GWAR audience, as moronic as they may be.
Yes, I have often felt that thy grace is lost on those who see thee only as a woman. Only as a tit or an ass. It depends on what level of consciousness they have. Some people you just cannot teach.
Anyone can be drunk on a bottle of wine, butt for someone to appreciate fine wine, all its components and textures, that is another man. That’s right.
Thy fans are also of this diversity. Few know of the subtlety of Slymenstra. You, my friend, have figured it out. you make me very happy.
Art thou merciful to such as I? I never thought that any man would truly understand me.
My intention is to make thee known to all in thy true form, and not as common wine. You will be my humble slave.
I will do all that you ask. (Laughs)
Thy voice is give a spotlight in the song “My Girly Ways.” Is it a privilege to sing an entire song thyself in GWAR? It was a ten year struggle, but finally I was finally able to make it happen. I wrote all the lyrics myself, and the melodies. The way that it worked was, they sent me a tape out here in Hollywood – because I’m a big star – I live out here. I basically just showed up in a studio and I did it.
The operatic parts have caused my ribcage to resonate to thy voice. Wert thou trained? I was trained vocally in the fifth and sixth and seventh grade, so that was the last vocal training I had. As all great women of my planet, we were cultured artistically. We went to many classes. We studied piano, voice, dance – all the great arts – drawing, painting. That’s what my parents were into, and it reflects now. I’ve been singing for years. I just love it. I usually sing in the shower, and people try to record what I am singing.
I certain there is another reason for them to sneak upon thee. (laughs) They love to see the water barreling down my fruitful breasts and down my buttocks. And they love to see me rub almond oil all over my body to make my skin supple.
I must beg thee to desist, or I will lost consciousness. (Laughs)
Hast thou ever experienced astral sex? Thou art a goddess, and the question is silly of me to ask. Astral projection is something that I practice daily. I love leaving my body.
How could someone abandon such a vessel? (Laughs) Well, when you come back to it, it’s no problem.
When thou first had left thy body, was it unplanned, or were you knowledgeable in the practice? It was unplanned. It was natural. It is natural. It is natural for all of us. Unfortunately, through eating junk food and watching Jerry Springer, we’ve ruined our minds and closed off certain parts of our brain.
Wouldst thou say that most males are inept at pleasuring women? Most are, but I believe there is hope, ladies. There are a few. I think they’re going extinct. You must help them. You must lead them. You must teach them.
There was a plot that was foiled. Leaving the earth. Yes. Again we fail. That is because Oderus Urungus is always in charge. He thinks he knows. He’s gonna make the plan. He’s the big general. (Sighs). How many times can we make the same mistake?
I have been told that they sales of albums were never eyebrow-raising, but the sale of merchandise on tour is phenomenal. Yes.
Thy voice is like the call of the sirens. I am compelled to jump into the sea and to die. Matador beach? It’s this cliffy beach with rocks sticking out where I go to get a little mermaid action.
That’s where I will go to crush my body upon those rocks, the way thy absence crushes my heart. I just love you.
Time grows short for us. I would rather leave wanting more of thee, than thee wanting nothing more of me. Come and see me at a show, and introduce yourself to me. I want to meet you.
You may not remember this, but many years ago I interviewed you for the first issue of this magazine. Back then it was just a fanzine that was photocopied and stapled in the corner. I will again ask you the very first question that I have ever asked you to see if your answer is different, and then we’ll get on to the serious interview. Are you ready? Yes.
If there were a warmth emanating from thy buttocks, what would it be? A fart.
Yes! That was the same answer, so now I know that you are an honest person. In the early days there were some cover songs that appeared on albums, like the Judas Priest cover. When I saw your show at BB King’s, one of the encores were Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral.” Did you ever record “Black Funeral” in the studio? We never recorded it.
There was an Orff cover on one of the albums. I was wondering if you were ever tempted to do something in the same vein from Strauss, like “Biem Shlafengehen” or the Commendatore finale song from “Don Giovanni.” Anybody can do classical covers, but the most interesting thing is to break new ground.
In America there are television commercials for a breakfast cereal simply called “Shredded Wheat.” On one side there’s frosting and on the other side there isn’t. In Therion, I personally prefer the opera over the prog side. That’s very gay. I caught you.
That’s so funny. You insulted me before I insulted you! Well I’m gay too. We can go to Denmark and get married. It’s legal there. (pause) But it’s interesting that people in metal actually prefer that side. I think that people like that we make the classical and the opera more accessible because they don’t really have, for lack of better words, the capacity to go deep into all of this musical information that some opera contains. If you listen to a metal album, or rock, or pop, or whatever – there’s a couple of riffs in each song, and it doesn’t really contain much musical information. You can pretty much judge the album by one listening if it’s a regular rock album. If it’s a metal album than you can judge by a few listenings. But even a very short song in opera contains so much more musical data than, let’s say, five or six metal albums. A lot of people don’t really have the energy, or whatever, to actually take the time it requires to penetrate the surface and go deep into this sort of music. So what we do is actually a shortcut that, because we have the rock structure with classical content as well. It’s a shortcut to opera and classical, which is very convenient for people into metal. Maybe they could like a few highlights. They might buy a CD with Ride of the Valkyrie or some highlight part from an Italian opera, but they wouldn’t sit and listen to opera for a few hours. I think that we’re filling a function for people who could be potentially really interested. So we can start stuff with this, and if they get really enthusiastic they could find a way to more sophisticated music.
You are the gateway to opera. A few people might take the next step.
Have you heard Elend? Yeah. A very long time ago somebody made me a cassette. They’re French, aren’t they?
French. Austrian. One of the members of Korovakill is in it. If you heard the right album, it’s a blue album (the re-release with bonus tracks is red). Instead of bringing operatic vocals and orchestral instruments into metal, they brought death metal vocals into opera. But these days they don’t have the death metal vocals anymore. That’s a brilliant idea. But that’s precisely what I didn’t like about it. (ed – the death metal vocals).
When I listen to opera, I prefer the very dark opera. It’s vary sad. I was always hoping that there would be that sort of opera presence in Therion, and I was wondering if there is any way for that to happen. I know that you are a live band and you like to create a certain mood for that. But could there be a song or two, not meant for live performance,that delves into the realms of sorrow? There might be. But the thing is, the way that we write songs is very spontaneous. I’m hopelessly trapped with whatever I write. If someone said to me, “I’ll give you five million bucks if you write a ballad. You have a weekend. Here’s a guitar.” I would write ballad, but it would be the most miserable piece of shit ballad you will ever hear in your life. That’s how it works. I cannot shit on command. I write what I write. It’s what I’m stuck with and what everyone else gets.
If there is a way for me to send you some music, hopefully on some level it will influence you. Actually there is a lot of sad opera that I like. (editor’s note – We discussed opera, which to you would seem like an inside conversation. Christof went on and on to praise a particular soprano opera singer). She is the best singer in the history of recorded music.
Well, by that reasoning, if she can turn shit into gold, and if you force yourself to write a sad opera song and it will be shit, then she should sing on it so that she turns your shit into gold. (laughs) By the way, have you seen this movie “Holy Mountain?” That describes the modern culture so well. You know the scene – everybody gets color on their butts and then they put it on paper – it’s mass-produced art.
A long time ago I did try to contact you to hopefully be able to send you some music, but the only Email address on the website is for the webmaster. There is some sort of explanation about that along the lines of, if any band member’s Email were to be known, you would get overwhelmed. That’s true. But it’s usually not a problem for people from the press to get it. If I gave my Email out then I would have to get a new one every month.
Were the Emails about penis enlargement? I wish it was. It’s more about boring questions like, “When will you come to my town?”
In Sweden, is penis size very important? No. They’re all
I had heard that Sweden has even more concern about penis size and that it has spread to veterinary science as well, with penis enlargement programs for dogs and cats. No. That’ completely wrong. That’s totally American.
I did notice that there’s a tremendous difference between the audience at a Therion show and a crowd that sees any other band, and that difference was the extreme level of respect. It was also your respect toward the fans. I was told that you did not want the usual barricade between the fans and the stage. And the end of the performance was the metal equivalent to a standing ovation. Is that a common reaction throughout the world? Yeah. We’re very spoiled. But I think that is related to people having bought the records and they had been waiting ever since. They never thought that we would come. For a lot of people, it was more than just a concert. It’s something more special. The same thing happens in Europe when we play countries we never had before. Same thing with Latin America. We get an explosive reaction. In many countries they have a really tough life, so when people go to a show, they switch off their daily problems for a while. It’s almost like a religion.
Your main opera singer – I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but the way she puts on make-up is sort of the mistake that a little girl makes when she puts on make-up for the first time in her life. Is that the look that she was going for? She’s the only one who’s a trained opera singer so I told her to make something very theatrical.
Oh, so that’s why she walks on stage like she’s a Gestapo officer patrolling the concentration camp. That is what is turning you on. (laughs) She has nothing to do with metal. She doesn’t listen to metal. She’s just doing her thing to our stuff.
There’s a blonde to the far right, if you have the same set-up every night – I was wondering if you could have her in the front instead. Well, that’s an idea.
She’s Swedish, right? She’s Finnish but she lives in Sweden. We’re going to sell tickets on the next tour to the back stage.
Can you let her know that I love her? Yes, I will do that.
Some people say that Sweden is very conservative and some people say that it is very liberal. Conservative? Are you fucking kidding? Our conservatives would be condemned as being too liberal. Ralph Nader would call our conservatives liberals.
I learned that when I ask someone about a country, it’s almost like asking someone in America what America is like. It’s not a true representation. If you ask a communist, of course he will say that we are conservative. But if ask someone who is somehow in the middle, politically, it is hilarious. We had a social democrat ruling this country in the second world war. It’s like a one-party state. But you have a one-party state too. You just have two names for it. The difference between democrats and republicans is that republicans piss in your face and they say. “Hey, we pissed in your face. We’re happy about that.” Democrats will piss in your face and if you ask them about they’ll say, “No, we never pissed in your face.”
I have not verified this, but I have heard that in France they have passed a law which protects their language. On television they cannot use non-French words, especially slang, and the term “Coca Cola” is one of the no-no words. In direct opposite thinking, America, because it is so sales-driven, has allowed the most niggery language to be on TV. People leave out verbs. It’s almost like hearing Tarzan talk. Poor grammar, nigger-slang, and simplified language. The American version of English is now completely destroyed. We learn Oxford English in school.
Is Sweden protecting its language? Protect the Swedish language? Are you kidding? That would be racist!
Yes, Snowy Shaw and I had a conversation about how the Swedes are pussies. Yeah, I read that. Those things you cannot say in Sweden. I showed that interview to a band and they thought that Snowy is joking. If you do that interview in a Swedish magazine then your career is over.
In America it’s very trendy to think of the French as pussies, but I look at them as heroes. The French deserve respect for standing up for their culture. I’m very conservative when it comes to things like culture. A lot of things are better these days, but I don’t understand why you have to ruin everything from the past. A lot of liberal ideas are very good, like equal rights for women. And in interracial marriage, it’s up to people what they want to do with their lives and if they want to have those kinds of kids. But there comes a point when you fulfill the rights of minorities and start to go in the other way.
We’re in the other end of the swing. In Sweden we completely crossed that line a long long time ago, and maybe that’s the reason why we went from being #1 to… (ed-I laugh so loudly that I cannot hear the rest of that sentence as I transcribe this)
“Lucid Dreaming” was an album that I had to buy because it was at that time that I found out that what I had experienced actually had a term, and that other people had similar dreams. Many years later a girl I know interviewed you and she said that you had out of body experiences. Is that true? That’s correct.
What came first with you, the lucid dreaming or the out of body experiences? The astral projection came first.
Was this something that you learned or something that happened accidentally when you were falling asleep? It happened accidentally. It has happened to many people who have had their first out of body experiences that they are in their room outside of their bodies. Actually, I didn’t even look at my body. I was looking through the window, and was drawn outside, out over the woods. And I had a very strange feeling that I can’t really explain these colors.
You are able to induce these now. Yeah.
Did you learn that on your own? I’ve been a member of the Order of the Dragon for some years now. They collect ideas and develop techniques.
When I found out that my lucid dreams had a name, I discovered a scientist, Stephen LaBerge, and he had developed techniques, and one night I actually had three lucid dreams in a row. It was crazy. But prior to having had experienced lucid dreams, I had thought that out of body experiences were a hoax. Very easy to think that if you are a rational person and if you never had that.
Right, but there are parallels between lucid dreams and out of body experiences. In fact, lucid dreams are the perfect launch pad to out of body experiences. That’s actually how I most often do it. I usually find a gate, like a mirror or window, and I project through that.
Lucid dreaming, to me, is a purely mental phenomenon because, although I am aware that I am dreaming within the dream and I control everything around me,it is still a dream. So is an out of body an actual phenomenon in which your awareness somehow extends beyond your body, or is it a mental state? When I thought about the matter, whether it is internal or external, it doesn’t really make a difference. So I haven’t really made up my mind because the experience remains the same.
In Sweden, do you have the Christmas carol “Tis the Season to Be Jolly?” Yeah, we do. But our main songs are about the yule, which has nothing to do with Christianity.
In the song I asked about, being that you are a musician, I was hoping that you could help educate Americans. They are probably the most ignorant people in the world, judging from the interviews I have done with people all over the world. Stupidity is our #1 export. Your big companies don’t want people to think. They want people to work for minimum wage and to pay taxes and to consume a lot. Here, we pay 33% in taxes but hospitals are free. If you are unemployed you get money that you can actually live on, and so on and so on.
Americans are not interested in the rest of the world, and for those that are interested, they look at the world thinking it’s the same as it is here. It’s really bad that your education system is that way because that makes people that much more unable to have opinions about international affairs. There are a lot of similarities with the Roman empire. You can see a lot of degeneration in empires that are falling, but it won’t be a few centuries. Here we are talking about only a few decades, maximum. You import a lot more than you export. And there’s a lot of loans. You consider yourself the richest country on the planet, which is correct on paper, but if all the international investment would be withdrawn from the United States…
Interesting. But if you look at America’s capital, it looks like a third world country. Washington D.C. But getting back to the “Tis the Season to be Jolly” the end of that song is “fa la la la la la la la la.” I would like you to tell me the notes of the major scale of C. I am happily uneducated musician.
Really? It’s C D E F G A B C. I’m very thickheaded to learn things unless I am interested. If I am interested, I learn very quickly. Notes and stuff like this is like learning Latin.
I will still ask you the question. The scale that I just told you, in other countries is DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO. Your B is called H in Germany.
Getting back to DO RE MI, when you sing the fa la la la la, it should actually be the notes F and A. But they’re not sung as F and A, and I would like to know if this is some sort of conspiracy. But you can write a song any way you like.
Certain things should not be intentionally misinterpreted. You wouldn’t have a guitar that is shaped like a swastika, right? Not on stage, but it would be fun to own one. I‘d like one like a banana, and one with a hammer and a sickle.
But you know what I mean. The swastika is a cool symbol and it meant something else prior to World War Two, and now if you see it you cannot remove the associations that define it. If you were playing India it would be very popular.
It’s really not easy to interview you. Well, you do not have an easy magazine.
What happened to that word “god” being in the pledge of allegiance? America is a theocracy! Do you, as a Swede, see America as being too religious? Yes. In Sweden, only 2% of the population consider themselves Christian.
You have heard of moslims who blow themselves up believing that they will be rewarded with virgins. Well first of all, if you’re in the afterlife, you can’t do anything with corporeal things. And even if you could, why would you have sex with virgins? They are not good in bed. It’s not just a moslim concept. Christians thought they would get rewarded if they died in the Crusade. I don’t know that much about Judaism. I think that they are a bit more hedonistic and think that you should get more out of life.
When you tour Israel, you should ask. I actually had an opportunity, but it wasn’t enough money to make it worth going there. We don’t want to compromise the things we want to bring. They have a similar thing to America – do you believe that we paid $1,000 a head? So we have to play a lot of shows to make it worth coming.
If you play in Israel, would you go on stage with a backpack that has a lit fuse on the bottom? That would be a pretty cool effect, but it wouldn’t be worth it.
Getting back to the moslim thing. I don’t think it’s really a good reward to be given virgins. Virgins are terrible lovers. It’s much better to be a rock star (instead of a suicide bomber) because it’s very easy. You don’t have to blow up yourself. Just learn how to play guitar.
So the more realistic way to fight terrorism is to support the rock bands that the terrorists form. But define “terrorism.” According to the term, the United States is a terrorist state. You bombed Iraq while there was no war declaration. If you don’t declare war and bomb the country, you’re a terrorist.
Don’t say “you” – I’m not an American. Ok, so you’re not responsible then.