After many months of trying to talk with TSJUDER musicians, finally we had this chance to talk with NAG (Jan-Erik Romoren), who is the singer and bass player of this legendary Black Metal band from Norway, now it´s time to concentrate on the imminent Latin America Tour, with a powerful album “Helvegr” in hands.
M: How are you?
Jan-Erik: I’m good, thanks.
M: Where are you right now?
Jan-Erik: at home, in the middle of Norway.
M: This year, with a new album and a lot of touring just in progress, do you have time to take a rest?
Jan-Erik: no, not really, it’s a lot going on, even though we are not playing that many concerts, there’s always stuff, and also all of us have normal jobs and families.
M: What are your expectations about the imminent Latin American tour?
Jan-Erik: it’s extremely high, I think we have never done many tours, I think we’ve actually only done longer tours one in Europe in 2005 and then the last time was in 2017 in Latin America, and again we prioritized going to Latin America, so when we are able to do that tour in Latin America, of course, we say yes, so we are very excited about it.
M: About the new material, which is awesome, I think it´s a big growth between “Antiliv” and this “Helvegr”, make something really great.
Jan-Erik: thank you, I think so too, I think this album we were supposed to start recording this and then COVID and we had to change all the plans, fortunately, we have a great friend, his name is Paul and he’s a studio producer, so we started to do some test recordings with him and then we decided let’s just do the album with him since it wasn’t possible to go anywhere else, so then we got to spend whatever time we wanted, and both me and Draugluin, for the first time ever we understood the process more, I mean, we were much more Hands-On, tuning amplifiers, trying different sounds, so we had a bunch of different mixes and I think “Helvegr” is a much better representation of TSJUDER than any other album.
M: You say that you keep learning, from the last album you learned a lot about how to build or the process of a new album, it’s interesting.
Jan-Erik: actually, I think this is the first time we ever learned, because of course in the beginning, in the early 90s, we probably learned a lot because we did everything ourselves and then stop, you enter a studio and you kind of listen to what the studio guy says, like “we need to do this or we didn’t do that” and we don’t really understand what the different knobs do and you have limited time, maybe two weeks and you just have to accept whatever the studio guy is doing and of course, we have been part of the process telling like “okay we want more raw guitars so we want more bits or that” but this time we spent I think about one year just mixing trying stuff and really Paul educating me and Draugluin telling us like why do we do this and why do we do that, so we got a much better understanding and that made the results much better. I think for the next album we have a really good foundation to build up.
M: good that is very nice notice, because we can think about another great album.
Jan-Erik: Probably, I hope so haha.
M: With the same lineup? How about the drummer?
Jan-Erik: Okay, this long story, short we tried to you know after “Antiliv” (2015), we always need a little break before we start making new music, but I don’t remember when we started maybe 2017 or 16, and about 2018 we were like okay we need to make a new album now we need to make new song songs so on until we made much of the songs everyone together in the rehearsal room, so we and that that process was going smooth so we thought that okay let’s do the same once more, but this time it didn’t work at all, and we figured out that me and Draugluin we were thinking the same, we want the same, well think wanted to do something different, he want to play Kind let’s just put a different kind of music so after a while, we had to make the decision that it wasn’t possible to continue, so for “Helvegr”, Draugluin made almost all the music and we got Jon Rice on drums, and I think this works very well for us, it’s always been me and Draugluin in the band and we are very much like-minded we want the same musically, so we’re not stressing as of now as with Jon Rice on drums it’s perfect and also we have another friend of us called Ivan, he lives pretty close to me so he’s also playing a lot of the concerts in Europe with us, so but for Latin America it will be Jon and drums.
M: We really want you to see your live concert and hear how you sound with the new drummer and the new album.
Jan-Erik: now the problem with many of the songs on the new album is that they were made with many more guitars, so some of the songs are impossible to play with one guitar, it will just be strange, so when we made the set list, we had to really go through every song like “is it possible to play this one live?” and figure out what’s possible and what’s not.
M: When you play live. Do you use any sampler or some recordings?
Jan-Erik: no, I guess we will have some necro intro or something, haha, I mean it’s TSJUDER it’s supposed to be it: raw, and we have a nice surprise as well. I hope it will be well worth it.
M: We are in the Southern part of Argentina right now, which is Patagonia, and this going to be your first time here, so what are your expectations of this kind of Latin American tour because is there are many gigs to do?
Jan-Erik: yeah it’s I think we have 12 gigs and I think it will be very different gigs, the first one will be Mexico Metal Fest, which it’s a big festival and a big concert, and then we will go to places with smaller concerts, smaller venues and very different countries, for example if you compare Argentina to Brazil I think it’s very different and I think every concert will be unique.
M: What do you enjoy most: big festivals with many bands and all kinds of music or a smaller venue with just Black Metal Bands?
Jan-Erik: I think some of our best gigs have been in small venues with no security, no fences in front of the stage, just underground easy old school, primitive. Of course, I think it’s also cool to play the bigger stages but I think TSJUDER is better in the small stages, it’s much more intense and closer to the audience.
M: How do you manage this idea of True Black Metal?
Jan-Erik: we don´t, it’s natural, it’s just who we are, me and Draugluin, we have a vision for TSJUDER and that vision has been the same since 1993, so it’s just natural.
M: good and what is not true black metal what is the idea of not being a black metal?
Jan-Erik: I don’t care about it, I care what I do myself and if some other band plays some music I don’t like I just don’t listen to it and that’s it.
M: Which other bands do you like to hear, just black metal or any other kind of music?
Jan-Erik: I grew up with a different kind of metal me it’s the Brazilian scene has been very inspiring since I was very young and so bands like SEPULTURA, VULCANO, SARCOFAGO all those bands have a big place with me as well as the Thrash Metal scene with the KREATOR, DESTRUCTION, SODOM, EXODUS and of course METALLICA and SLAYER and those bands so that’s kind of my foundation and of course I listen to those bands and also I very much like Death Metal I like as brutal as possible, that’s basically the music I listen to, I listen to some other music as well but it’s like I might like one song or I might like one riff or a beat or something, but I think I’m pretty primitive, people say that you have to listen to all kind of music to make good music, yeah okay that’s not me, I like Metal.
M: Do you like also the new music of those old bands or do you like to hear classical albums?
Jan-Erik: one example is “Morbid Visions” and “Bestial Devastation” from SEPULTURA, they have probably been my top five, and when Cavalera re-recorded it I was very excited I thought it was really cool, but I was also a little bit bummed because I wanted to do it myself, haha, but I think Max and Igor they did it perfectly, so I if I should mention one album or two albums if you like it will be the re-recording “Morbid Visions” and “Bestial Devastation”. But to try to answer your question a little bit better, I think some of the bands I mentioned, I don’t listen to at all today, for example, METALLICA I’m sorry but it it’s just yeah it’s not for me, let’s just put it that way, some bands had maybe some crappy albums and then they came back better, but I’m pretty stuck with the old stuff I would say to be honest. Then again you have bands like MORK which I think is still going e and their latest album is also amazing. One of the few bands I think still keep going strong.
M: You need a reference or something like that.
Jan-Erik: Just someone to push me, if you tell me now like okay I have a band from Argentina you should listen to it and I would listen to it and if it’s really good I would listen to it but I would not search for new music, so I’m kind of stuck with what I have and if someone introduces me to something new and I’m open to listening and if I like it, I like it.
It was different before in the nineties, you were tape trading and every time you got a letter in the mail you were really excited like “It’s a new tape like what’s this band from Indonesia” Yeah like oh it’s really exciting or like “oh I got a tape with MYSTIFIER and wow ” but now, it’s changed I think it’s the internet just made it too accessible for me.
Let’s just put it this way like in the 90s if you got five CDs maybe two or three of them were really good, to find two or three CDs today you need to get 500 I think it’s too crappy music going around, it’s as you say it’s too easy to make music.
M: How is it now to work with a really good record label behind you?
Jan-Erik: Amazing, I think Season of Mist has been exceptionally good for TSJUDER and I would probably say especially on “Helvegr” we have been working with I would guess 10 or 15 people from Season of Mist doing different things and it’s just been amazing and we have known Michael for I don’t know 20 some years, and it’s mutual respect and so we have only positive things to say about Season of Mist.
M: Why must people see TSJUDER live?
Jan-Erik: well, it’s pure and it’s raw and it’s no fuss it’s just pure Black Metal straight forward.
M: We are waiting for you, we’re very excited to receive you here in Patagonia and we will see you very soon just one month and a half left.
Jan-Erik: yeah, it’s too soon, we need to start rehearsing to play correctly! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me it was my pleasure, and we are as I said we are very excited to come over and we’ll bring you some cold dark hell.