|Interview by Burt Wolf with Erik Ravn, lyricist, composer & guitarist of WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
Interview done 4-8-2008.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS STARTED OUT IN THE EARLY 90'S, CAN YOU CATCH US UP TO DATE
WITH SOME OF THE BANDS HISTORY?
The first many years were spent trying to find the right people and trying to record some of the music. This was
not very easy back then, because Metal was very underground at the time. When we finally released our first
official album it was already 1999 and we had existed for ten years. Since then things have gone some what more
easily and we now have four albums on the market.
YOU STARTED OUT WITH THE NAMES MINAS TIRITH THEN VERGELMIR & FINALLY SETTLED
WITH WUTHERING HEIGHTS. WHY WERE THESE NAMES CHOSEN THEN FINALLY GOING WITH
THE ONE YOU HAVE NOW?
It was just the old story that no matter how weird your name is, there's always another band out there called the
same thing. And back then we didn't have internet so it wasn't as easy to find out which names were already
used. But anyway, back in the early days we were very into Tolkien and later on we also tried to incorporate the
Norse mythology and our rather Pagan beliefs into the music. That all sounds very old today, but back then
nobody else was really doing much of that. But as our music became more and more diverse I think it was good
that we settled for a name that doesn't mean too much. We can do pretty much anything we like and still be
called WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
YOUR MUSIC IS VERY VARIED SO I'M
SURE THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF
THINGS TO INFLUENCE YOU
MUSICALLY & IN LIFE IN GENERAL.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THESE
Progressive and Symphonic Rock of the
70's, Folk music and of course Heavy Metal.
But I think it probably has something to do
with the fact that I discovered Metal pretty
late. I was already very into music when I
started listening to Metal. So my roots are
not entirely in Metal, so I might not have the
done. But my main influences are the same
standard ways of doing things that other
Metal composers might have. It would
probably be easier for me if I did, so I
wouldn't be so musically confused all the
YOU COMBINE ELEMENTS OF SPEED, NEO CLASSICAL, FOLK, PROG ROCK & MORE TO
CREATE YOUR SOUND. HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE & SOUND?
It's hard to describe exactly what it is. I know we have our own sound, but I'm not quite sure how we do it.
There are some basic elements that are usually present, of course. It's basically melodic Heavy Metal - very song
oriented, not riff oriented really. This is because I write the lyrics before I write the music, I think. It's quite big
sounding or orchestral with a lot of harmony vocals and stuff, because as I said I love music of the 70's and are
very inspired by that. But then it has this more undefinable folky vibe to it, which I guess sets it apart from a lot
of other bands. We're not really a Folk Metal band, like the ones that are so popular right now - it's not this rough
Viking style. It's just the melodies often have this kind of Celtic like sadness. And it some how effects the whole
sound. Sometimes I think it sounds like we're playing outdoors or something.
YOU ARE THE ONLY ORIGINAL MEMBER OF THE BAND AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. WHY DO
YOU THINK YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH SO MANY BAND MEMBERS OR DO YOU LIKE TO
ALWAYS COLLABORATE WITH NEW MUSICIANS?
As I said, the 90's were difficult for Metal. It was not cool to play Metal, so there wasn't too many musicians
around. At a certain point I kind of gave up on the whole "band" thing - you know, playing with your friends,
writing stuff together, rehearsing every night. Since we made it into a more project type thing where I have the
final word on things, everything has worked much better and everybody is happier it seems.
IN 2003 YOU HOOKED UP WITH NILS PATRIK JOHANSSON TO BE YOUR NEW VOCALIST. HOW
DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER FOR HIM TO JOIN THE BAND?
He once sent a demo tape to our management, so when we started looking for a new singer we remembered that
tape. And once we got together and had him sing a few of my new songs, there were no questions he was the
man. He's just a really amazing singer. The funny thing is that our album was actually the first one he ever
recorded, though some of his other stuff got released first.
YOU GUYS SIGNED WITH LASER'S EDGE / SENSORY BACK IN 1998. HOW DID YOU GET
HOOKED UP WITH THEM? HOW HAS IT BEEN WORKING WITH THEM?
We had recorded a version of our first album back in 1997. But the record label we had at the time weren't
happy with it, so we sent a few copies around to see if someone else was interested. LASER'S EDGE liked it,
but they wanted us to re-record the whole thing. So that's basically what we did, and that ended up as the
version that's available. I think it has been a pretty good relationship. I don't really understand record labels too
well and we disagree on some issues from time to time, but I think they are as straight and fair as a record label
THE NEWEST ALBUM OF YOURS "THE SHADOW CABINET" CAME OUT OVER A YEAR AGO ON
SENSORY. HOW WELL HAS IT BEEN DOING? WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN LIKE TO IT?
The response was very good, especially in Japan it sold quite well. We're a very small band on a small record
label of course, so we don't sell very many albums, but it has been our biggest seller so far, I think. And the
reviews and reactions from our fans have been quite overwhelmingly positive. And actually, the reaction of the
fans is what I care most about. We rarely get reports on how many records we sell, and there's really no money
in it, so in the end the criteria for success is to deliver an album that you're proud of and that the fans like as well.
THIS ALBUM IS A SELF CONTAINED COLLECTION OF SONGS UNLIKE YOUR FIRST 3 ALBUMS
WHICH WERE PART OF A TRILOGY. WAS THIS MEANT TO BE SO YOU CAN GO IN A NEW
Well, I guess that whole trilogy thing was a bit over emphasized. There never was any huge concept, but the
songs were written around the same time and had some continuous elements. Anyway, I think the main
difference on the new album is simply that the songs are much newer, which gives it more of a fresh approach, I
think. And after all, it's not really any new direction, it's just a natural development.
WITH THIS NEW RELEASE YOU GUYS HAVE ALSO GONE WITH A BIT OF A DARKER EDGE
TOO. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THIS A LITTLE BIT?
The songs are definitely the most intensely personal I have written. It's always personal of course, but you could
say, that the previous albums were more about my thoughts of mankind in general, not necessarily me as a
person. . But yeah, the new one is quite dark. I've tried not to hold myself back, but write what I really feel like.
And since life generally sucks, it turns out like that...haha!!
YOU PLAY GUITARS, KEYBOARDS, MANDOLIN & DO BACKING VOCALS ON THIS ALBUM TOO.
ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT OR HAVE YOU HAD TRAINING? ARE THERE ANY OTHER
INSTRUMENTS YOU PLAY?
I played the bass on our previous album, so I do that a bit too. Yeah, I started training at Classical piano when I
was six or something and did that for quite a few years. I haven't had much guitar training, though. I've always
been more interested in doing my own weird things than learning to play properly...hehe. But generally, it's the
song writing that is my main interest which is also why I'm probably the worst musician in the band...haha!!
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE ALBUM COVER ARTWORK A BIT, IT'S MEANING & WHO DID IT?
It's made by the Danish artist Annika Von Holdt. It's an existing work that has been adapted to the album cover,
so it's not made with the album in mind, so to speak. But we liked it a lot, because it really fits the title of the
album. But again, we had some disputes with the record label. I wanted the cover to be more drastic, which
record labels never like. The idea is, that you don't see what's on the cover, but only the shadows of it. Anyway,
it was actually nominated for best cover at some Danish Metal award thing.
WHAT IS SOME OF THE LYRICAL CONTENT IN
YOUR SONGS & WHO WRITES THEM?
As mentioned earlier, I write all of the lyrics, and they
are very personal. I don't write imaginary stuff, I
write about my own experiences, feelings and
thoughts. This album is about the different dark forces
that governs the way we behave. The things that really
make us do what we do, although we might try to
deny it. But it's also about trying to accept some of
these things and maybe even turning them to your
advantage. Actually, the lyrics often have different
layers, or work on more than one level. Which is also
why they are sometimes misunderstood, I guess.
Some people think they are just fantasy stories. And
that is definitely never the case.
YOU WORKED WITH PRODUCER TOMMY HANSEN (HELLOWEEN, CIRCUS MAXIMUS, TNT)
AGAIN FOR THIS RELEASE. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE HIM ORIGINALLY & AGAIN?
Hehe...When we were kids we always talked about the day we would have a cool band and a record deal, and
then Tommy was gonna produce our record! We were very into HELLOWEEN, so he was our number one It's
as simple as that. He really makes the band sound great without changing it into some predefined "Hansen" sound.
Plus he's a really nice guy and I always have a great time when I'm working with him.
YOU USED 4 STUDIOS THROUGH OUT DENMARK & SWEDEN FOR THIS ALBUM, WHY?
Because it's possible to do that nowadays. We can do the different things in the studio situation that's most suited
for that specific thing. And also it lowers the costs, when you only use real expensive studios when it's necessary.
YOUR FIRST U.S. APPEARANCE WAS AT THE PROGPOWER V FESTIVAL IN ATLANTA GEORGIA
IN 2004 (WHICH IS ALSO THE BONUS DISC WITH YOUR NEW ALBUM). HOW WAS IT PLAYING
THE FESTIVAL & BEING IN THE U.S.? ANY DIFFERENCES FROM PLAYING IN EUROPE?
It was an amazing experience. We had no idea that anybody actually knew who we were. The reception from the
audience during and after the show was incredible. So we had a great time and we were really bonded together as
a band as well. Which is why, of course that we continued with the line up from that show, even though it was
only meant to be a temporary thing. We haven't played very many shows, so it's hard to compare things. But
generally people have really liked it and we've had a blast, so hopefully we'll be able to do more shows sometime
in the future, who knows?
YOU ARE CONFIRMED FOR THE PROG POWER SCANDINAVIA FEST IN COPENHAGEN
DENMARK LATER THIS YEAR. WHEN WILL IT BE & WHO ELSE WILL BE PLAYING?
It's October 31st and November 1st. And there will be some pretty cool bands like DEADSOUL TRIBE,
RAINTIME, PAIN OF SALVATION and PAGAN'S MIND.
ANY OTHER TOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF THIS YEAR?
No, not at the moment. Time and money doesn't really allow us to go on a proper tour. Maybe someday.
ARE THERE ANY NEW SONGS FINISHED OR IN THE WORKS, SINCE IT HAS BEEN OVER A
YEAR SINCE THE NEWEST RELEASE?
I've recently started demoing the new songs, but it's still very early in the process and I don't have any clear view
of how it's gonna sound yet. I guess it will be some time before we see a new album. It's not that I don't have
the ideas, but finding the time and energy can be a pretty daunting task. The music is not what puts food on the
table, you know.
ARE THERE ANY FUNNY OR INTERESTING BAND STORIES YOU COULD SHARE WITH US?
Someone started signing WUTHERING HEIGHTS CDs because apparently he was so wasted, that he thought
he was in the band. It was hilarious, so much in fact, that our manager almost died from laughing, which made it
even funnier. Actually, it was also a bit sad, though.
WHAT'S ONE THING YOU'D THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO FIND OUT ABOUT YOU?
People are always surprised to find out that I like Pop music, although most current Pop music is utter crap. I
don't know why. It seems people believe that Metal fans exclusively listen to Metal all the time. Yeah, I like
IRON MAIDEN and DURAN DURAN, so what?!!
WHO ARE SOME OF THE BANDS YOU HAVE CURRENTLY BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY?
It seems Finland is where my favorite bands come from at the moment. I like this New Wave of Folk and Viking
stuff. Though, it's a bit strange that it's so popular now, while we were actually doing stuff like that back when
we started and it didn't seem to go anywhere. Anyway, bands like KORPIKLAANI, TURISAS, FINNTROLL -
all that stuff. What I really like is that they have put some humour back into music. I mean, the 90's were sooo
serious, it was depressing. Now it's okay to be entertaining again. That's great. But I also listen to a lot of old
spacey stuff at the moment. A lot of the lost gems of danish Hippie-Rock is being re-released, so I'm on kind of a
retro trip at the moment...hehe. Generally I'm a bit more into the Rock side of things right now. It's not much
Power Metal that goes on the stereo these days.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT FROM WUTHERING HEIGHTS?
As I said, I'm not quit sure actually. I don't think we can make an album that is more epic and more Power Metal
than what we've already done. Like BLIND GUARDIAN or RHAPSODY who have tried to keep on pushing the
envelope, until every sound cancel each other out and you end up with music, where the result is actually less
than the sum of it's parts. I would like to try and avoid that mistake. But I don't really know exactly what to do
instead. We'll see, it will probably end up sounding just like WUTHERING HEIGHTS after all. It seems to end
that way no matter what I decide to do, so what do I know? hehe...
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW? WHAT WILL YOU DO NOW THAT IT'S
I was just adding some friends to our myspace site. It's cool to see how Metal is truly universal. There are Metal
fans in the weirdest places on earth. And when it's over, I think I'll listen to the new Markus Grosskopf CD I've
just got. It seems very interesting. Cool line up, I mean, Mr. Grosskopf, who's still one of the coolest bass
players around, plus the DESTRUCTION guy, Onkel Tom and "Uncle" Peavy...hehe - it must be one hell of a
party album. We'll see.
THANX A LOT FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER THIS INTERVIEW & GIVING US SOME
INSIGHT INTO YOUR AMAZING BAND. FEEL FREE TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO
Thank you! Please check out our website for news, merchandise and lots of other fun stuff. And have a nice
summer. I hope we'll have summer in Denmark this year - we didn't have any last year. I could use a could beer
in the sun for a change. Anyway, take care and keep Metal fun! - Erik Ravn