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Interview: Seven Thorns
Seven ThornsOur Wolfgang W. interviews at the "Tag der Deutschen Einheit" the Danish power metal band Seven Thorns, who dedicate themselves completely this genre. Several members explained, why they were prowd of to be old fashoned because only playing power metal. In detail Lars Borup (drums), Gabriel Tuxen (guitar), Christian B. Strøjer (guitar), Asger W. Nielsen (keyboard), Nicolaj Marker (bass) and Mik Holm (songwriting) gave their statements.

 W.W., 03.10.2011

We asked...
 Hey guys – would you please introduce yourselves to the readers? Who is who in Seven Thorns?

Lars: Greetings everybody.
Gabriel: What's up metal heads?
Mik: Hey.
Nicolaj: Cheers!!
Christian: Hello
Asger: Great to meet you all

Lars: Seven Thorns is Gabriel and Christian on guitars, Asger on keyboard, Nicolaj plays bass, Erik sings, Lars (me) hits the drums and Mik... writes songs…

What’s the story behind the band? How did you form, just tell us your history, how it began, when it began, why it began – you know, the whole deal!

Lars: In a few words… when I heard Keeper part I for the first time back in 1987 it hit me in the head right away. I just wanted to play music like that, but it took almost 12 years before I eventually started looking for other people to a new band who should play music in the veins of Accept, U.D.O. and Helloween.
It should, however, take more than 5 years before I found some people who also wanted to play Power Metal ( Power Metal is perhaps the smallest Metal genre in Denmark – there is only Seven Thorns who plays genuine and pure Power Metal).
When Mik joined the band in 2003 I had found my musical "soul mate" (without the 'gay'). During 2004 we got the whole band in order. In 2005 we released the first single 'Artificial Night', but after that most of the "new" band members wanted to take the music in another direction, which led to the departure of Mik. Seven Thorns was put on hold – the "new" project/band changed name to "7thorns"… looking back it was absolutely stupid and the project ended in early 2007 after I had talked to Mik about starting Seven Thorns again and get back to playing REAL Power Metal. So that's what we did. Over the following 2 years we got a completely new line-up. Starting with the addition of Gabriel, who brought in Christian, who he knew, as they were using the same guitar teacher. About the same time as Christian joined the band Nicolaj responded to our ad regarding bass player. We immediately started preparing to go into the studio (Media Sound Studios) to record our first single "Forest Majesty". We had assistance on the keyboard by Mikkel Henderson (Fate). Our search for the right vocalist had paid off… we had found Erik 'EZ' Blomkvist (ex-Platitude). He agreed to record the vocal for the new single, but wasn't interested in being further involved in the band. We played our first gig later in 2009 with Mik doing the singing. And then started the preparations to record the whole album...
We recorded the album in 3 parts. First we had already recorded "Forest Majesty" and "Spread your Wings" for the single. Then we recorded 3 songs (I think it was "Fires and Storms", "Freedom Call" and "End of the Road") and after a few months more we took the last 4 songs. We did it this way because it was a new band with new members who didn't have the studio experience and we didn't want to put too much pressure on them, before they knew what it was all about. And I think the strategy worked. The next album will be recorded in "one take".

What are the “Seven Thorns” – is there a story behind the name of the band?

Lars: The band name is the result of a compromise. I wanted the band to be called ‘Seven’ and Dr. No, who I started the band with back in 1998, wanted to call it ‘Thorn’. Both names were taken, so we ended with the compromise.

How old are you? I mean, whilst listening to “Return To The Past” I got a huge flashback to the early-to-mid-90ies, when I was leaning towards the 20ies... Did you also grow up with that kind of music?

Lars: I am that old… + more, but I'm not the oldest in the band (mentally) – that's Nicolaj. He's the grown up.
Mik: He's the responsible person in the band… Gabriel, Asger and Christian are all in their early 20's.
Lars: I actually saw Helloween live before they (Gabriel, Asger and Christian) were born!! Even though they are young they listen to 80's and 90's metal…
Mik: Erik is in his late 20's and Nicolaj is in the mid 30's.

How come, you as a newcomer-band, play such an old-fashioned music style? At least it is that for many listeners...

Mik: Power Metal is not old fashioned! There's no reason to change a winning combination… we love power metal, it's in our hearts and that's what we want to play. I mean – heavy and thrash metal are even older, but there's still a lot of those bands around… Everyone wants Slayer to make 'Reign In Blood' again…
Lars: We have a great passion for true Power Metal. Today it seems that every new band have to invent a new genre in order to be taken seriously – why?? There is still so much good music waiting to be written in the "older" genres. And the music is not bad just because it's not new genre. It's METAL – we still listen to albums from the last 40 years – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple to NWOBHM to speed metal to early Thrash Metal to Power Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal and so on.

The new genres with "core" in the name are simply not worth spending time on.
Gabriel: Many reviewers points out that we're not bringing anything new to the genre – which we actually take as a very big compliment! It means that our album is pure Power Metal!

What are your influences? I know, that is a quite obvious question, but maybe there are some surprises to uncover, hehe...

Gabriel: I really like bands like At Vance and Heavenly, and also classical music.
Mik: Helloween and Gamma Ray, and also classical music.
Lars: I must say that I am influenced by bands in different genres like Accept, Testament, Helloween, King Diamond, Slayer… I grew up with NWOBHM and the whole metal period in the 80's and I am metal by heart and soul!

You origin from Denmark – what about the Danish Heavy Metal-scene? Is there one? On the first thought, only Illdisposed and D.A.D. pop to my mind... Well, of course the King, but he is more or less an American now... Royal Hunt are also a quite well-known band – and of course Volbeat, but they are not really Metal – although I really like their sound... So, what about the scene in your home area of Copenhagen?

Mik: There are many good bands in Denmark, but it will be an exaggeration to talk about a Danish metal scene. All the Danish bands that have the talent and ambitions are playing more outside of Denmark.
Lars: Denmark is simply too small a country to have an underground that matters. You have a couple of hours of metal on national radio – one of the digital channels (not FM) – a week, that's how seriously the Danish media is taking metal music… When they play "metal" on the "real" national radio it's Metallica, Guns'n'Roses or Iron Maiden. There are no programs that supports upcoming metal bands.
Gabriel: King Diamond, Royal Hunt, Pretty Maids… Illdisposed is not good, D.A.D. is pop/rock and Volbeat is not real metal.
Lars: I guess it says everything that there is 1 club/venue in Copenhagen that's dedicated to metal/hard rock.

Your music has a lot of classical influences, like arrangements, that could also be played by a baroque chamber-quartet... Do you consider classical music-structures as a big influence to your music?

Mik: Yes.
Gabriel: Yes.
Lars: Yes.
Christian: Yes.
Asger: Yes.
Nicolaj: Yes.

“Shuffle the iPod” – put your iPod on Shuffle-mode and comment on the first five songs to be played:

Gamma Ray – “Valley of the Kings”
Testament - “Low”
Anthrax – “Caught in a Mosh”
Sonata Arctica – “The Cage”
Helloween – “Eagle fly free”

Hammerfall – “Hearts on Fire”
Metallica – “The Unforgiven II”
Poison – “Unskinny Bob”
4 Non Blondes – “What's going on”
Nirvana – “Smells like shit…” Hey wait a minute… this is not my iPod!! CHRISTIAN!!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 7
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 2
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 4
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 1
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 10

Gabriel: Soundtrack to “Deep Throat”

You have been on tour with Circle II Circle in summer 2011 – how has the tour been, where did it take you and how where the responses? What about Zak Stevens – did you get a chance to get to know the former Savatage-singer? Has Savatage been a, well, big-hero-band for you?

Christian: The tour was a fantastic experience for all of us. We got to know all of the guys from CircleIICircle. I didn't know much about them or Savatage before we got the tour.
Lars: I got my first Savatage album in 1989. GUTTER BALLET. I think it's a great album, although they were never my #1 favorite band. I have seen them live before with Jon Oliva. I think the best Savatage albums are the ones with Zak…
Mik: They really treated us good on the tour, we had no problems with them. I recall that after the gig in Hamburg they had lined up Jägermeister for us when we came off stage…
Nicolaj: It would be great to tour with them again.

What are your coming-up tour-plans? Anything concrete so far?

Lars: For now it's the new album that counts + the headlining Bremer Metal Festival in> Asger: We might play some of the new songs in Bremen… you'll never know ;-)

With which band would you die to go on tour with – and why?

Lars: Lynyrd Skynyrd… (they were killed in a plane crash)
Mik: I would like to tour with Britney Spears… or
Gabriel: Doro is my kind of MILF…
Christian: Judas Priest – Rob Halford is my kind of MILF… hahaha
Asger: Hansi Hinterseer – that would really kill me.
Nicolaj: Seven Thorns… I really hope they still want to play with me…

What about the next record? Any songs ready yet? Will you continue the road of RETURN TO THE PAST?

Lars: We have started the initial "practice" recordings in our rehearsal studio for half of the songs for the next album.
Mik: The new songs are a continuing of 'Return to the Past'. The new album should reflect that the band has come a bit further and that we know each other better now.
Gabriel: It's not a new ' Return to the Past' but a step more in the direction we want to take the music now.

Your dream line-up, living or dead – who would be on this stage-of-your-dreams?

Lars: Not taking the music into consideration it would be something like: Ingo Schwichtenberg (RIP) – drums, Dio (RIP) – vocals, Wolf Hoffmann - guitar, Jens Johansson – keyboard, Roland Grapow – guitar, Steve Harris – Bass.

Mik: If I can't have the whole of Seven Thorns then it will be this: Michael Kiske – vocals, Ben Soto – backing vocals, Lars (Seven Thorns) or Dan Zimmermann – drums, Gabriel Tuxen (Seven Thorns) – guitar, Syu (Galneryus) – guitar, Taka (Galneryus) - bass, Richard Andersson – keyboard.

Gabriel: Daniel Heiman – vocals, Billy Sheehan – bass, Richard Anderson – keyboard, Mike Portnoy – drums, Paul Gilbert – guitar, Jason Becker – guitar.

Asger: David Readman - vocals, John Petrucci – guitar, Jens Johansson – keyboard, Stephan Forté (Adagio) – guitar, Lauri Porra – bass, Lars (Seven Thorns) – drums.
Nicolaj: Freddie Mercury (RIP) – vocals, Mark Knopfler – guitar, Francis "Rocco" Prestia – bass, Nuno Bettencourt – guitar, Richard Andersson – keyboard, Dan Zimmermann – drums.

Christian: ... is not present right now so here is what we know he really likes LOL: Barbra Streisand and Boy George – vocals, Elton John and Liberace – keyboard, Lady Gaga – guitar (it can only be better than what he's normally doing), Eminem – drums (again - it can only be better than what he's normally doing, but we're not sure), Village People – backing vocals...
We know that Christian also likes Metallica...

What are your goals with Seven Thorns
a) in your dreams?

Gabriel: A big world tour, headline big festivals, a big record deal.
Lars: Mik wants a "Mik – the action figure" equipped with a big dick… the last thing (the big dick) is unrealistic…
Mik: I don't have to dream about having a big dick!

b) realistically?

Mik: Make albums, European tours, festivals… I think we can have a lot of our goals come true.
Lars: I agree, we will reach a lot of our goals.

What is your favorite Power Metal record of all times – please give some reasons for your choice!

Mik: KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II from Helloween, that's where it really changes from speed metal to Power Metal.
Gabriel: Heavenly – VIRUS. Ben Soto is my secret lover.
Lars: I really like U.D.O.'s TIMEBOMB album. It has so much power, energy and ATTITUDE. It may not be defined as a Power Metal album – but it has all the elements that I love in Power Metal! (If you don't believe me go check it out ;-) )
Also albums like Helloween: KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I I and II, DARK RIDE. Gamma Ray: POWERPLANT, MAJESTIC, AWESOME FOURSOME. Heavenly - CARPE DIEM (the cover alone gives me a boner). Sonata Arctica: SILENCE, WINTERHEART'S GUILD. Primal Fear: SEVEN SEALS… ohh only one album??

Take a decision – and give reasons for it, please:
  • Michael Kiske or Kai Hansen?

  • Lars: Michael Kiske. He was the first real power metal vocalist
    Mik: Michael Kiske – he is GOD!!

  • Helloween or Gamma Ray?

  • Lars: Gamma Ray. I think they overall have made better songs – but it's a close call.
    Mik: Agree.

  • Copenhagen or Hamburg?

  • Lars: Hamburg! It is the power metal capital of the world, and Copenhagen is not even on the map!
    Mik: Totally agree.

  • Power Metal or Speed Metal?

  • Lars: Power Metal. It just has that extra edge…
    Mik: Power Metal – it's possible to use more classical influences that in speed metal.

  • Guitars or Keyboards?

  • Lars und Mik: Guitars – it is metal! Before we had Asger in the band all our songs were written so they could be performed live without keyboard.

    Association-game – say the first things that pop into your mind with the following terms:
  • Beck’s beer

  • Lars: A good German pilsner. It's not as good as Franziskaner, but it will get the job done :-D

  • Nightliner

  • Nicolaj: Can only be better than the mini-bus we used on the last tour
    Christian: Does that mean that we are not going to sleep in a big pile anymore??

  • Majestic Symphonic Power Speed Metal

  • Gabriel: Seven Thorns!!
    Christian: Seven Thorns
    Mik: Who??
    Lars: Dolly Parton?

  • Scandinavian Heavy Metal

  • Mik: Hammerfall
    Asger: Kiss? Geography has never been my strong side…
    Nicolaj: Pretty Maids
    Lars: Mercyful Fate
    Gabriel: Richard Anderson – everything he's in!
    Christian: Yngwie Malmsteen.

  • lonely summer night

  • Lars: Beers!!
    Mik: I'm never lonely
    Gabriel: Sounds gay…
    Christian: You should know…

    Finally – do we still need Helloween and Gamma Ray?

    Mik: Yes!
    Lars: Yes!
    Asger: Who??
    Nicolaj: Sure
    Gabriel: And they need us!
    Christian: Yes.

    Thanks, guys, for the interview – please be so kind to put each of your names before the answers, so I would know who’s said what! Hope to see you on tour soon! I will try to come to Bremen!! Take care, Wolfgang.

    All of us: Thanks a lot Wolfgang and all the readers. We hope to see you all on tour soon!!
    Remember: Metal Is Your Destiny!

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