TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This e-mail interview with the band founder and composer Erik Ravn of the Danish progressive metal band Wuthering Heights was done by Vincent Eldefors in January 2004.
Hello, how are you doing?
All right, I guess. Iīm trying to relax a bit now, since we are finally
releasing the last part of our album trilogy. This is something Iīve
been working on for something like fifteen years now, so it actually
feels a bit weird.
You have now finished your third album "Far From The Madding Crowd",
are you happy with the final result? What has the feedback and reviews
been like so far?
Yes, Iīm extremely happy with it. We couldnīt have done it any better.
The album turned out exactly as it should, which is rare I guess. In
fact we finished ahead of schedule because everything went so well. Both
because of the nice time we had in the studio this time and because I
think the record is really strong, I actually listen to it quite a lot,
just for the pleasure of it - and thatīs really nice. As far as review
goes, we couldnīt ask for more. I mean, they were great on the previous
albums, but it seems people are going totally nuts over this one.
Thatīs cool. I mean if you start playing music to get rich and get laid,
itīs most likely that you will be disappointed. But when people tell you
that they like what you do, that it means something to them, thatīs
really warming. Getting emails from people and so one, that makes it all
worthwhile, you know. Thatīs the real reason for doing this - for the
fans. I mean, weīre minstrels, right? Weīre here to entertain. And when
people feel they are properly entertained, then you have succeeded.
You once again decided to work with Tommy Hansen at Jailhouse
Studios. Is that the best studio for the music of Wuthering Heights do you
think? Did you ever consider trying something new in another studio?
Someone else could maybe do it as well, I donīt know. But since we had
already worked with Tommy once, and knew that it worked, there was no
need to change that. But itīs definitely great working with him, because
he has so much experience - both in terms of production but also with
music in general. He has a great ability to understand what Iīm trying
to achieve and also to push the band beyond what they think theyīre able
to do. And all this without ever stressing anyone. It was really
relaxed and funny in the studio, and I think that really shows on the album -
it doesnīt sound forced, it sounds natural and organic.
How much money and time did you spend in the studio?
We donīt actually spend that much time in the recording studio, because
we do a lot of preproduction. I basically record the entire album in my
home studio, so everything is planned from the beginning and everybody
knows what to do. This is necessary if you are doing such a relatively
complex production on a small budget. We spend three weeks in Jailhouse
Studios this time, and that was all we needed, we couldnīt really do
anything more on the album. I īm not sure about the preproduction. I know
on the last album I spend almost a year. It was a bit shorter this
time, but I donīt know for sure. So itīs really quite silly how much time
you spend on making one hour of music...haha! About the money, I would
assume that a record like this will cost somewhere between 10.000 and
12.000 Euro. Itīs not all studio costs of course, but there are a lot of
other stuff that drains your wallet - transportation and what not.
"Far From The Madding Crowd" was a novel by Thomas Hardy which was
published in 1874, is this where you found the inspiration for the album
Yeah, though back then I actually just saw the title somewhere without
knowing exactly what the story was. It simply fitted extremely well
with the idea of the album. And indeed, it is a great book, so nothing to
be ashamed of there...hehe...and besides, since the band is also named
after a famous book, it is likely to cause a bit of confusion - and I
always aim to do that...hahaha!
It seems to me like you have mixed historical touches with fantasy
in your lyrics, was this intentional?
Hmm...maybe I wouldnīt exactly say "history" - my history perhaps. The
lyrics are basically based on my own life and experiences, my own
travel through life. So itīs definitely based on reality - if not "history".
But since this probably wouldnīt be very exciting, I tend to write in a
sort of fantastic or mythological style. Because I believe that lyrics
should also have a poetic value. Itīs not just storytelling, the words
should also be beautiful in their own right. And since I am actually
writing my own personal mythology this somewhat elevated style fits good.
This is of course also why some would call it fantasy. But if fantasy
implies that you simply invent something, then this is not fantasy. I
would never write something that didnīt mean anything to me personally
and that I couldnīt relate to. That would be cheating people.
You have made a good name for yourselves in the progressive metal
scene but not much is known about the early days of the band. Could you
tell us a little about the first years of existence when you went by the
names Minas Tirith and Vergelmir?
There isnīt that much to tell really, or at least itīs not that
interesting...hehe. I formed the first version of the band back in 1989 with
some mates from school. But living on the outskirts of Copenhagen in
little Denmark it was next to impossible to get anywhere with your stuff.
Just finding musicians was very hard, most of the time there was one
guy missing in the lineup. Anyway, since we didnīt really get any
exposure we just concentrated on refining our art, developing the style and
writing the strongest possible material. Also you have to remember that
already early in the nineties, heavy metal was declared dead, and you
just couldnīt get signed. So Iīve really just been sticking to my guns
hoping for times to get better. We did manage to release a couple of
demotapes - the demo "Tales From The Woods" in 1992 and an untitled
promotape in 1995 - and play a few gigs. But it was all very underground. I
mean itīs probably good that we were not discovered early on, since our
playing skills were somewhat short of brilliant...haha...On the other
hand, had people known that we actually played this kind of stuff so
early on they wouldnīt consider us a copy of Angra or Symphony X or
whoever. But hey, I guess thatīs only natural. No big deal.
Was this your first band experience?
Yes, Iīve never been in another band - Iīve played with other people
but that has been outside of the metal world, jazz and stuff - even
Now you have played with many leading Swedish and Danish power /
progressive metal musicians, is there anything left to accomplish? What
goals do you have today?
Thatīs true, I work with some amazing people. This is a very pleasant
experience of course as a musician. I mean, watching some of these guys
in action is just incredible. But no, Iīm not satisfied yet. I donīt
really know what the future will bring. Iīm definitely not the type who
wants to do the same thing twice. I mean, if you think you could do it
better next time, you didnīt try hard enough this time, did you? So
sounds may change, but Iīm always hunting the good song. You can never have
too many good songs. And I have some other weird plans as well,
exploring other fields of music. But nothing specific yet. Iīm not really too
keen on lifting the lid on my box of ideas...hehe.
What have been the best moments in your career as a musician so
I guess making this album, because there was really no downside to it.
There was a small hickup when our bass player pulled out two weeks
before we were to enter the studio, and I had to feverishly do all the bass
parts myself. But other than that it just went great from the word go.
Everyone played their asses off and there was such a great atmosphere
in the studio because we all felt we were working on something really
Are you happy with the work that Intromental and Locomotive Music
have done for you so far? What has this cooperation meant for Wuthering
Intromental have always done what they are here for, and that is
solving problems. When your record deal falls through, they get another one.
When your drummer quits they get a new and better one, and so on. Also
they give the whole thing a more professional edge. You get in touch
with people who maybe wouldnīt look your way, if you were not represented
by a "company", but was just a regular dude. So itīs a cooperation
really, and itīs lasted quite a number of years now, so I guess that shows
that it works. They take care of business, we take care of the
rockīnīroll :-) As far as Locomotive goes, itīs all very new, so time will
tell. However they seem very commited to supporting us, so it looks cool.
For metal fans in general Denmark has always been most famous for
producing Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. How would you describe the
Danish metal scene since those days and what is it like today?
Iīve never been a fan of King D. Or Mercyful Fate, so I donīt really
have much of an oppinion about that. And I guess I got into metal quite
late, so I donīt know much about the early scene. But since we havenīt
had any new big names for so many years metal is indeed very underground
in Denmark. There is absolutely no coverage in the media, there are not
many concerts. On the other hand, there are actually a lot of bands -
even good ones. So I think it could be better if it wasnīt all so
fucking MTV. Hopefully it will be. The main difference between the scene in
Denmark and that of our neighbouring countries is, that there really
isnīt a "scene". There are people who like metal, but they usually show up
at concerts in their regular clothes and short hair. You know, itīs not
that much of a lifestyle anymore.
What music do you listen to yourself? What was the latest album you
I listen to a lot of various stuff. Actually a lot of stuff that is not
metal. I like folk music. I like seventies rock, both the progressive
kind and the more pomp stuff, like Styx for example. I like the organic
sounds of that era. People were really stretching the limits of rock
music, but there was still a lot of rockīnīroll in it - you had to have
catchy songs and all that. Iīm not afraid to admit that I like the pop
qualities in music. Though that doesnīt mean that you should get away
with doing something stupid. I mean, when I listen to music I want to be
entertained and moved. But something thatīs artificial or stupid
doesnīt entertain me. If music is just something to be consumed, then itīs
not good enough. I think good music should be entertaining but without
being meaningless. Thatīs the qualities I look for, the genre is less
important. About albums - Iīm a bit of a record collector, so I rarely buy
one album at a time, you know I go to record fairs and so on, buying
mostly vinyl records. I guess the last "new" CD I bought was the latest
from Danish singer-songwriter-rockstar Kim Larsen, one of my biggest
heroes, by the way.
What plans do you have for Wuthering Heights in the nearest future?
Possibly we will be able to do some festival appearances, which will
take a lot of preparation - it will be quite difficult to get it all
together, I think. Other than that Iīm taking it kind of slow. A large
concept is finished, it will take some thinking to get on from that point.
Iīm working on some songs, but Iīm really taking my time. You canīt
rush these things, or at least you shouldnīt.
Any final words for our readers?
I hope you will take the chance and listen to the album, and I hope you
will like it, I think itīs a good hour of fun.
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