Since their inception in 1994, Trail Of Tears have worked their way to becoming one of the leading forces of the pioneering Norwegian gothic doom metal scene. This year they have released their fourth full-length album "Free Fall Into Fear" which continues the slightly more aggressive focus of the previous release. Their new-found vocalist Kjetil Nordhus stepped in to talk about various subjects with our writer Andrej Van Berlo in this e-mail interview from April / May 2005.

After listening to your new album a few times I am very pleased with what I am hearing. Does the overall media and fans share the same opinion?
Yes, absolutely. We have never had such a great reception on any of our earlier albums, and of course we are nothing but delighted by that. We also expected it to be a bit more fuss after dropping the female vocals for this one, but I think most people have listened through that, appreciating the album for what it is.

Did you approach the recording for the new album differently then with the previous ones?
Not really. The band has always stressed making songs we like ourselves, and although the new album contains quite a different sound than earlier albums, I guess it doesn’t take too many seconds for people to recognize which band is playing. We approached the album like we use to, first making pre-producions of the songs and from then on work both individually and collectively on the different songs, giving them what we feel they need and stuff like that. We decided to go into an new studio for a fresh sound and got just what we wanted, more like the original musical idea behind the band.

‘Free Fall Into Fear’ sounds really heavy, at times there is even more black metal feeling to it then before. Do you believe this was a natural and obvious made choice?
It’s probably our heaviest album ever, although we have never been afraid of flirting with extreme, and black metal metal elements. The reason why it sound much heavier this time around, I guess, is the new wrapping, the sound and the structure of the songs. Again, this was something we were looking for already before going into the studio, and due to hard work both from ourselves and the producer, we got what we wanted.

Besides the fact that no more female vocals were used what other changes have affected the music of the band?
I think the new album is a much more self confident and mature album than any of our previous work. We have been doing this for some years now, we have a stronger sense of what we want, and we know more about how to reach the aims we set before entering the studio. Both as persons and as a collective we have changed during the years, and I think the willingness to experiment with different styles has always been there, but have never been as successful as on “Free Fall Into Fear”.

Of course the lack of female vocals is – for some – a quite drastic change, but for us it was a big point in not repeating ourselves, and when having made the preproductions on the songs, we agreed that there had to be more male vocals and less female. Keeping in the female vocals just for the sake of it would have worked against us, I think.

So all the changes mentioned has probably affected the music.

The contributions of you as a singer on previous records has finally resulted in being an official member of the band. Was your level of involvement even larger on the new songs than before?
Well – I didn’t contribute too much active input in the actual song-writing process, but the other guys knew I would be there for the recording of the album, and that might have influenced them a bit. Me and Ronny did the vocals together on most of the songs, a very demanding and exiting process, but my impact on the music was mostly in the studio.

Over the years Trail Of Tears have often been compaired with other Norwegian acts such as Tristania, Theatre Of Tragedy,… but I believe that with the previous album ‘A New Dimension Of Might’ and the new one ‘Free Fall Into Fear’ these statements can finally be called superficial or even false. Do you agree?
Well, I can see why people have labelled us together with the bands mentioned in the past, but it seems like we have been going in slightly different directions during the last couple of albums. I don’t think there will be too many people will compare our new music with the new Tristania-album (which by the way is brilliant!), but that’s not really something we are thinking too much about.

I have heard people still labeling us gothic metal on “Free Fall Into Fear”, and I guess the same would happen if we released a acoustic folk music album..hehe.

In the past you have often toured with your fellow label mates Tristania, The Sins of Thy Beloved and Sirenia. Who would you prefer to play with on your upcomming tour?
We were joking a bit about that on our previous tour with Tristania and Therion, and came up with the ideal tour being ourselves, Testament and Slayer. Now – that would be something!!

Is playing in Trail Of Tears still just a hobby or has it become a full-time occupation with even the possibility of financially living from it?
Well, most of the band-members have jobs at home when not on the road, you know, jobs that are easy to be away from for a month now and then. I, myself, have been working full time with Green Carnation and Trail of Tears for some months now with the hope that the hours will be payed within a year or two.

If the offer came along, though, for us to tour so much that it was impossible to obtain a regular job back home, I think noone would hesitate, and just jump on the first plane. This is what we love doing, and it is probably the ultimate aim for anyone being in a band.

After releasing 3 albums has the band done its obligations towards Napalm Records and are you still satisfied with what the label has done for you?
The first of those three albums (Profoundemonium) was only licensed to Napalm Records, so if you don’t know more than me on this matter, we have still one more album to go on Napalm Records.

The label has always been good in promoting their albums, and that goes for our albums as well. The rest, I will have to say, is between ourselves and the label. I think they would be most happy with that.

Is it difficult being in a band with 7 individuals when working in the studio and going on tour?
Not really. We have been friends since we were small children, and even though friends can have some hard times between them time and again, the thought about going somewhere with this gang just makes me smile. We have great fun together both in studio and on tour, and I hope it will stay that way for years. By the way, Frank (synth) isn’t longer with us live. We have replaced him with a computer. The only difference is that the computer doesn’t fart as much..hehe. No – we did miss Frank on the last tour, but the live shows, with no Frank and no Cathrine gave us another challenge, filling the stage with only six people instead of eight, which we had been earlier. But there were no complications, just more space on stage for the rest of us.

Last year you did an extensive European Tour. Which new places you visited will definitely be remembered?
Alot of them, actually. I was a bit more active when it came having strolls during the day this time than ever before, and I certainly loved some of the places we went to, Ljubliana, Vienna, Prague to mention some. There were also many concerts that I will remember, of different reasons, many of the ones in France with fantastic crowds, the ones in Holland and Belgium and in Budapest for the size of the crowds, and the last one, in Toulouse for all the great things that happened on stage.

In June 2003 you also did a few shows in Mexico. Was it the first time Trail Of Tears played outside Europe and how was it?
The Mexico tour was probably one of the highlights in Trail of Tears’ history. The reception over there, both by the ones doing the tour for us and the crowds were nothing but great. We got to play a lot of gig, and every night were memorable. It is still a big thing for the mexicans when European bands come to visit, because it’s not too often, and we certainly had a rock-star time over there.

Who are your favourite bands right now?
I must say Opeth, Faith No More and Anathema, which have been up there on my list for years. There are lots of others, in different genres, but those three are stayers, which have never disappointed me with any album.

Are there any final words that you want to mention to your fans?
Dig in there! And check out our new album. We’ll do our best to return with a rocking live-set near to wherever you’re from, because “the time has come”...

Thanks for answering these questions and see you on tour!
Thank you very much for your interest in the band! Interesting questions to answer, and I hope my answers were what you hoped for (or not), or ... you know what I mean!!

Links of interest:

Trail Of Tears