Interview With Liv Kristine and Alex From Leaves' Eyes
There is one thing you need to know about Leaves' Eyes- they are not just another ephemeral female fronted band on the horizon. Although this band is young in existence, its members have been prominent for more than a decade. For those unaware, Leaves' Eyes consists of the renowned Liv Kristine ( ex- Theatre Of Tragedy) and German machine Atrocity. Separately, they've left their marks in metal history. The quality of Liv Kristine is no secret to my European metal brethren. Atrocity have enjoyed a dedicated following throughout their career as frontrunners in the progressive death metal track. Mix these two together and you get a highly concentrated mixture of talent, experience and dedication.
On Dec 2, I traveled down to Philadelphia for my interview with the band. Vocalist Alex Krull answered the first half of my questions.
Daniela: How's the tour so far?
Alex: Amazing. It's a great package. Blind Guardian, Leaves' Eyes; we're great together and we're really happy to do this tour.
Daniela: How did you end up on this tour? Was it through the label or your personal connections with them?
Alex: We know them because we played with Atrocity and Blind Guardian on festivals and all that... They just told us that we were their first choice and if we would like to join them we'd make the deal so we could play together, and here we are.
Daniela: Your latest album, Vinland Saga, is a conceptual album that follows the journey of Norwegian sailors to the New World. Who came up with this concept?
Alex: The first Leaves Eyes album was also a conceptual album with a lot of influence by nature and the ocean and romance tales. So Liv was thinking that's a great idea because she knew that kind of stuff, how to make a concept combining a nice tale or story with nature and surroundings. So we were talking to each other on the phone and one and one came together.
Daniela: How do you, being German, feel singing about Norwegian folklore?
Alex: On the Vinland saga, it's funny, there was a German on board - Tyrkir. He was an actual guy and he gave the idea to call the country Vinland. Because in Germany he was a winemaker, and Vinland means land of wine.
Daniela: Was it Liv's idea to write some lyrics in Norwegian or did you encourage her?
Alex: Actually, to be honest I really feel ashamed that I'm not so familiar with this language. When we visit her family I understand when they're talking in Norwegian but I'm not really good with speaking it. Now when Liv is teaching our son Norwegian, it's going better and I find myself talking in Norwegian and it's "Uh! I just said something in Norwegian." But Liv’s really, really good in languages (FYI Liv is a fellow linguist) and she speaks German perfectly so ...
Daniela: Without an accent?
Alex: Well, she speaks with our accent from our area ( South-Western Germany). No, I don't think anybody here really hear the difference of her German and her Norwegian. People are more like "oh, you look Scandinavian but you speak German so well"
Daniela: How does the writing process go? Are there different people assigned different parts of the song, like Liv will do the lyrics and you guys do the music?
Alex: Yeah, it works like that sometimes. Let's say that 4 guys do the layout of the song we start with a lot of ideas. Tosso is doing stuff or me or Matze or whoever and as we come up with some cool riffs or I would say, themes, we think how to give a song a good drive, how does it feel playing it one way or the other, so it really comes together. And actually, often Liv gives some great ideas just with her voice. She has some cool stuff, like Amhran for example is just based on vocals. So I think it's a very good way to work the stuff up and, if you have in mind a band combining soundtrack-like classical music with female/ male contrast in the vocals- that's Leaves' Eyes.
Daniela: Is the band's name in any connection with Liv's name?
Alex: Sure (laughs). I mean, obviously we thought about it and we came up with the idea- why don't we find a pseudonym connected to the name of Liv. We thought it would be cool so we decided to try it. I was thinking about nature and all that, so the idea was coming up with leaves, living on the tree. Then Liv asked me "what do you like the best in me, as a girl?" And I said you have beautiful eyes, you know, like an ocean [smiles]. So I think really it's a cool name, it's really good.
Daniela: You sound so much in love, that's really pretty.
Alex: Yeah [ smiles]
Daniela: The new album is more complex than Lovelorn, more layered. Was that intentional or it just happened like that?
Alex: It was like a weird intention. We started it up and already the concept was more complex so I think the music was just following that. We're progressing as a band but we will never change the style. Actually we're already clear what we want to do with Leaves' Eyes. From the beginning we knew that ok we'd like to combine certain stuff and I think some of the so called folkish elements will have even stronger ground in the future.
As already mentioned in my report, I'm a passionate devotee of Theatre Of Tragedy of old. You would probably think I'm unnecessarily digging in the past but I couldn't miss the opportunity to seek answers to questions that have been hovering in my mind for years. Before I met Liv I was a bit jittery because I've had some varied experiences with female singers, ranging from pompous diva Tarja to fan friendly Cristina Scabbia. I was deeply amazed by how sweet, humble and honest Liv was and despite being pressed for time, she answered my questions candidly and thoroughly. Much appreciated.
Daniela: Were you a metalhead before you joined Theatre Of Tragedy?
Liv: Yes, I grew up with mainly Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, also some Pink Floyd. That was the first music I ever heard even before my mother singing lullabies. So I started singing before I was able to talk and metal was the music I was singing.
Daniela: So how did you join ToT?
Liv: I founded it together with the singer.
Liv: Yes, we are the founding fathers of Theatre of Tragedy.
Daniela: Who was composing your parts there?
Liv: Myself. And I composed also Raymond's parts.
Daniela: I always thought it was the other way around
Liv: No, no.
Daniela: Do you still keep in touch with them?
Liv: I talk to Raymond maybe twice a year, rest of the guys... I know Raymond feels bad about kicking me out.
Daniela: I thought he was the worst of them all.
Liv: Not really, it’s the drummer to be honest. He’s also the main person behind throwing me out of the band.
Daniela: Can I publish that?
Liv: Of course you can. That was bad luck, also mainly being kicked out of the band in that way- by a message on the homepage. I actually asked, I tried to phone them up, I called the manager to find out the reason for this kind of action and they said "well, it’s our opinion and you have to respect that, so blah-blah". But a couple of weeks before that, I was pregnant at that point, in my seventh month and we had a couple of concerts in Greece and I cancelled them because no flight company would take me, with the pressure and everything. So I cancelled the concerts by my own, by myself and I guess that wasn’t very popular and that’s the only reason I can think of. But well, ok, it is their problem now, it was bad luck- almost 10 years of hard work and touring... but sometimes bad luck leads to good luck. Now I have Leaves' Eyes which is so much better and the guys are fantastic.
Daniela: What’s happening with your solo project ( bearing her name- Liv Kristine).
Liv: It's still continuing...
Daniela: I only got Deus Ex Machina, is there anything after that?
Liv: Yeah, Enter My Religion, that’s my second album. My first album ( Deus Ex ) was like, not everything was written by myself; every song was written by somebody else. It doesn’t feel that authentic, personal. My second album is just with me, it’s more authentic, I feel so much more comfortable when I perform and much happier with it. And there is also a track on it which we recorded (live) here in Philadelphia.
Daniela: Do you know if ToT are singing the old songs with Nell’s vocals instead of yours or they just perform the new stuff?
Liv: As a surprise, I went to one of their concerts in Germany because I like their new singer as a person. I like, I must say the old magical Theatre and it's gone, but I like her as a person. She’s a mother too and she’s really sweet. But I went there as a surprise and yes they played some of the old songs but the magic’s gone really. But that's their problem now.
Daniela: Does Alex ever get jealous with you on stage, being a sex symbol and all?
Liv: Ask him
Alex: Ok. I didn’t know I was married to a sex symbol [ laughs]. I'm flattered. I’m just happy she’s such a good woman and wife
Daniela: I'm happy for you too
Liv: Thank you for your compliments.
Daniela: Thank you for your time. Any last words?
Alex: Yeah, like I said on stage today, we're very, very thankful for what's happening here in the States for Leaves' Eyes, there're a lot of new fans coming out now. It's really great, we're very thankful, we appreciate that
Many thanks go out to Liv, Alex and all the band members, their tour manager Bjorn and Nathan from Napalm Recs USA.
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