TWILIGHT FORCE‘s cinematic and exuberant power metal has proven divisive, proving too sparkly and ridiculous even for some diehard power metal fans while being irresistible for others. As they open for their countrymen SABATON on a huge UK tour (read our review here), we caught up with frontman Christian Eriksson to find out what the big deal is.
It’s been a few months since the release of Heroes of Mighty Magic. How’s the reception been?
Christian: It’s been massive, really great. We got 10/10s, and we also got 0/10s, which is what we’re all about because no one is gonna think “Yeah, they’re ok” and be indifferent about us. Mostly very good.
It’s a lot more cinematic than a lot of power metal records which with the film soundtrack vibe does give TWILIGHT FORCE quite a recognisable sound. Was that something you consciously aimed for?
Christian: To be honest we haven’t really thought about it that deeply. With the first album we just wanted to do power metal, and to take it to the limit. For the next album we wanted to explore a bit more. We call ourselves “adventure metal” because we want the listener to go on an adventure with us, so we tried different things, but we weren’t trying to specifically define a “sound” for ourselves.
With the new songs being that much more extravagant, has it been more difficult to translate them to the stage?
Christian: Some of the songs we don’t play live because we do need the orchestra and stuff like that. I think the ones we do play work though.
When you’re crafting the stories and concepts for your songs, is it just pure escapism?
Christian: Yeah, it just comes to us naturally. You can take something from real life and transform it into fantasy just using your imagination. It’s hard to put into words how it’s done but it just comes. We have fun.
Metal is often seen as something dark and evil, but your music and power metal in general is very magical and joyous. Why is metal actually the perfect vessel for that kind of expression?
Christian: I mean, what we do is inspired by classical music quite a bit, and classical music and metal are very similar in a lot of ways. Some sub-genres like black metal are obviously very dark, but metal in general doesn’t have to be. Even in cases where the music is dark, the message doesn’t have to be brutal. People think that metal is the hardest thing except for diamonds but really we’re all misfits.
Power metal has never been deemed “cool”. Do you think that power metal bands have to go above and beyond what would be expected of other bands in order to achieve success?
Christian: For us, we play our version of power metal because we would like to take it to the next level, and yeah it’s cheesy and it’s dorky. People who think about it too much like to put themselves above it but we just wanna have fun. Nowadays the world is upside down and it’s depressing. You turn on the TV and there’s bombings here and shootings there and the world seems like it’s collapsing. What we do is give people the opportunity to escape reality for just an hour or just a song, to take a deep breath and float away into a magical world. If people consider that lame, then tough. I meet a lot of people along the road and there’s children and grandfathers, there’s bankers and trashmen, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t exclude anyone and you can be yourself.
Do you think power metal will ever truly have its day in the sun?
Christian: Probably not as long as the music industry looks like it does. I’ve spoken to quite a few people who say they don’t generally like metal but they like us, which is weird to me. What is on the radio today, someone decided that they were going to play this, this and this and that is what is playing all the time, and people in general don’t often get the chance to be exposed to metal because the industry pushes it away. We’re not gonna have huge mainstream success and take over the world, we’re not going to be appearing on the red carpet next to Rihanna any time soon, but that is also a good thing because people who feel like they don’t belong in normal society can connect to metal and connect to bands like us, and have that be their own thing.
On this tour though with SABATON, a power metal band playing these size venues in the UK is amazing. Do you see them as examples that it can be done?
Christian: Of course. We’ve known SABATON forever, we grew up together. Me and the singer Joakim used to live together, me and the bass player Pär used to work together as cleaners wiping windows and stuff like that. Our keyboard player used to be a keyboard player with them, it’s quite incestuous. They’re amazing guys. Pär told me once that he was going to make SABATON the biggest band and I believed in him, and they’ve done an amazing job. He works 16 hours a day just on SABATON, that is his job. He finds things that need doing and he builds and builds this master plan. And people always told us that the UK was going to be very hard and then we played here and the response blew us away.
Does it frustrate you when people are turned off by your look and aesthetic and pre-judge?
Christian: Nope. Not at all. I don’t care anymore, I’ve lived with it my whole life. People walked by me on the street and laughed at me. At first when I wanted to sing I was told that I couldn’t, so I said “fuck you” to these people and tried to be the best singer in the world. I don’t think that I am the best singer in the world but I’m not going to give it up.
How would you like TWILIGHT FORCE to be perceived?
Christian: I want people to think of TWILIGHT FORCE and smile.
Do you ever do stuff together outside of music in constume? Go to parties, watch TV, anything like that.
Christian: Yeah totally, every Tuesday night I dress up and play Dungeons and Dragons! No, we as a band don’t. Our Elven guy does actually dress up sometimes though when he’s out in the woods to keep warm because it’s very hot under these things. Not so nice on stage but good for cold nights. If you don’t hang your stage clothes up at night, you’re gonna have an awful show the next day. We’re about to level up too with the costumes and the concept. Can’t say what yet, I want to see that it works first, but it’s gonna be cool.
Heroes of Mighty Magic is available now on Nuclear Blast Records.
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