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THERION are back with their new Wagner-esque twin release on Nuclear Blast. Including both huge musical installment and referring to topics given nowadays so much publicity (partially due to the success of Erich von Daeniken's books), "Lemuria" and "Sirius B" are more than enough to get Christofer Johnnson for a short good talking. Especially when we know what present is to be granted Russian fans this time…

This autumn THERION will make their first coming to Russia…

THERIONYes, we really thought about it. We know that we are popular in Russia. We are looking forward to it. I think it is particularly a good opportunity this time because the new album has some Russian influences. We have that Russian balalaikas and domras on the song 'Quetzalcoatl' and there are two lyrics related to the Russian thing, about Gurdjieff, the mystic, and Rasputin. And in the song about Rasputin there are some lyrics in Russian language. I must say that when it comes to opera I've intended to prefer German composers like Wagner but when it comes to classical composers without words I've intended to prefer the Russian ones, like Stravinsky, Mussorgsky, Rakhmaninov, Prokofiev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, of course. That's why I've started to admire Russian culture. I hope that the show in Moscow will be very successful, because if it would be successful we'd have a chance to return again with a big orchestra. We want to make a show with a really big symphonic orchestra, with a really big choir. And I think Russia would be the best place there is, because it's the country which to western opinion is quite affordable, not too expensive, but in the same time you have very good musicians. If you take other countries, like in South America, for instance, I don't think the orchestra there have a quality which is comparable to European (It's not a mistake, that I compare them to European because a half of Russia belongs to Europe). So if we would make a really successful show, pulling really a lot of people, we can manage to raise the money we need to make one more show maybe half a year later with full orchestra and choir. I guess it would be recorded professionally for our next DVD so it would be cool to do… If we would have few free minutes before our Moscow show I would like to visit Bolshoy Theater, the Kremlin and also places where action of Mikhail Bulgakov's 'Master and Margarita' has taken place. I like Bulgakov's literature a much. At first, 'Master and Margarita' but 'Diaboliada' and 'Fatal Eggs' also. I also like Soloviev's 'The Tale Of Antichrist', you know. But when you come with the band you haven't much free time so you just cannot be like a tourist asking 'Oh where is that place?'. Certainly, we often see the most common sites but when it comes to such special places I fear I would need to go there one day as a simple tourist. Anyway if there is any opportunity to see that places that would be incredible!..

'Lemuria' vs. 'Sirius B'…

LemuriaActually, it is not a twin album as the most consider. It is two different albums that will be released as a double album in next three months as a present to our fans. The recordings mostly were completed in November last year. They took ninth months up to that. Actually the recording period has been eleven months long but we made a two month vacation in the middle. 164 musicians and singers were involved in the production of the album, including producers and sound engineers there was 172 people. We've got much experience this time working with a full orchestra. Our first intent was to go to St. Petersburg to work there but then our management had some contacts in Prague (there is a very good orchestra too) so it turned out to be. And after all there was rehearsing with the band and doing interviews, over 145 interviews so far.

N. B. Haven't guys from the Guinness Book tried to contact you to fix all that documentary?..

Huh, I don't know if it's a record. Maybe it is, hehe… In fact, I don't care so much. If this record is worthy to be written, why not?..

THERIONEach of two albums includes traditionally eleven songs. Eleven is not a simple number for me. It's a number of Kliffoth, the dark side of Quaballah. Actually we had over 30 songs we wanted to put on the album that's material for three whole albums. But we didn't want to record them one by one - it would have taken too much time. We decided to lay down two albums now and save material for the third album. So, these albums are Number One and Two out of the Trilogy. How soon will the closer follow depends on how much we gonna tour this time. When we would stop touring and get a proper vacation to rest we will start the recording again. What to concept, the 'Sirius B' one is pretty complicated - Sirius B is a twin to Sirius A which is the ordinary star. When you look up to heaven and see Sirius you actually see Sirius A. And Sirius B orbits around Sirius A and these two stars shine together so you see the one star there where two are. And there is very interesting thing that a tribe in Africa, in country Mali, knew about this long before we knew about it in Europe. And according to their folk-tales there were people from this stellar system coming to them in the past and telling them about their starhome. I don't believe in UFO's and this type of things so I'd rather think that the shamans of this tribe long time in the past had some kind of spiritual or astral contact with those entities. I don't think it's much less controversial than the UFO theories, but it suits the world in my view much better. So this is what this title is referring to…


The recordings have cost us a bit over 100,000 euros. That's what we had from the record company. Also we spent a lot of money on the listening session. We were renting a castle in Germany this time. And there were some medieval entertainers and things like that. We even made our own beer, huh! We called it 'Sirius Beer' with the latter's front cover on a label. That was the royalty that Nuclear Blast paid completely but when we record an album we get them advance because everything that spent on the recording is coming from the record sales. Actually we ever used each penny given to us to make our record better. I think there is no enough money on a planet to limit the THERION's budget...

Dragon Rouge...

THERIONIt's an order society with an organization around it. It is opened primarily - more or less everybody can join it just need to make up vacation. I've joined them in January 1991. It was a very small group of people - 15 members or something - back then. We had common interests. I've been a part of building this up to a big organization. For me it's a kind of spiritual training. Besides that we publish our own material, we publish our own technique, so we hold lectures and seminars, we also have initiation courses… Meditation… It's more like a way of focusing. It's a way of taking control of your mind completely… Magical practice… We need words to communicate; we need to put names on different things to recognize them. Magical practice that's a way of learning how to use very effective tool to make things in accordance of your will… Martial arts… That's a physical version of it. We work also with their spiritual energies. They manifest in a physical way how to focus a mind and a body in accordance to each other to make things that would be physically impossible for untrained mind. I never practiced it myself but there are a lot of people in Dragon Rouge who do it…

Music & Spirituality…

That's something completely different. It's hard to say. There are many different types of music. What we get from punk bands, for example?.. They drink beer, they make noise… And on the other hand we have Richard Wagner who's been making the best music ever written on this planet. And there are myriads of things between these both! It could be anything from bullshit to gold... For me it's a link to spirituality, it's another way of expressing my visions from a higher plane into a physical world as a medium people listen to…

N.B. Alexander Skryabin, the Russian composer of early XX c., has been saying about his unaccomplished 'Mysteria' symphony, 'I discovered the secret of the universe'…

It has been like he interpreted that and I really respect that. I don't think he could say it in the universal way - maybe it was the most successful allegory to describe his highest perception musically…

When you are listening to the music it is like you are trying to find a radio station on your radio. If you can tune yourself in and find the same 'channel' as the composer sometimes you can say that his music is very beautiful. But sometimes you simply cannot find the same frequency as the composer because what you hear and what you like is not what the composer tried to say. It happens sometimes also to the THERION's music. People say what they think about a song, what they think is important in it and so on. I'm not saying that somebody's wrong but maybe these things were not at all the same things that our thinking was about. Music is very much about interpretation like every other piece of art. It's like someone makes an oil painting. After a hundred years somebody's watching this painting in the gallery, and even though the painter was very happy with it and said maybe that it was his best work and even though people who watch the painting say, 'Yes, it was his best work!', are they really see the same painting that the painter intended to do?.. These things we will never know because art and form and color - these all things are very open to interpretation. And it's actually one of the most interesting things about it - the creation of thoughts and emotions. But maybe it can be a little bit randomly, a little bit unexpected. Surely, if you have very simple stuff like a punk band it cannot be interpreted in so many ways. It's like making a drawing with a pen only. But if you make something that has a lot of dimensions into it - like few metal/rock bands do but almost every classical composer did - something you can also find in these really nice all renaissance oil paintings - symbols of the Romantic Age - then you really have something which is under the surface and some people don't see it, some people see it but all interpret it different ways…


If you had a time-machine…

Especially hard to say what I would do. Probably I would go to live 130 years back when Richard Wagner had been putting up his operas. To be able to hear his operas conducted by himself that would be really incredible. Or if not a time of Wagner, it would be the time of the First World War. I would try to stop it because I think that the biggest mistake of mankind is that two greatest culturally nations on this planet - Russia and Germany - are destroying each other. It is the biggest catastrophe we ever had on Earth. And of course without the First World War there wouldn't be the Second World War. Of course it all would be worthy only if I could bring there knowledge of today… And if I had a chance to bring one singer from the past to participate on the THERION's album, I would bring Gunda Layanovich. She's still alive but she's the best opera singer I ever heard. If there should be someone else it would be Jenny Lind, she was the Swedish soprano and was supposed to have the nicest voice any living person ever had heard. Or I would bring a great politician though I don't know what he would make on the album, hehe. Or I would bring Goethe or Schiller because they were writing very interesting lyrics. Or if I would make a concept album, Bulgakov of course - he would make a tale while I would make music. If seriously I doubt that any of these historical persons would have anything to deal with a rock band, hehe…

History Lessons…

If I start remembering the historical persons who made the today's world that what it is, only negative ones spring to mind. Of course, Stalin was one of them because he created a form of socialism in your country. Without this idea there wouldn't be world communism and the world wouldn't be divided before the fear of the Third World War. Stalin probably is the worst person I could imagine. Then there was Karl Marks who created communism, which is a very bad thing in my view. Russia has lost many of its cultural achievements during these years. And after all, there was the Roman Empire (I cannot mention somebody especially). Many people don't think of it but today the USA is based upon the old idea they had in the old Roman Kingdom. I mean that Roman warfare did things which made changes to the Empire, for good and for bad. I could say Julius Caesar but he was not responsible for that. He was just one out of many emperors…

The future…

Some time in the past I've been working on a book concerning THERION's history. But I haven't been writing so long because of the lack of time. Besides that, I really want these albums to become a part of the story. And about the show in Moscow I must say that it would be not just another gig for me. I'm really looking forward to it. And I think we would do a little special thing for Russian fans. Thank you for you've been listening to our music all these years…

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