Therion’s Les Fleurs du Mal tour, 2012

Hi, all! Well, tour is already done (long gone are the days of bus and Therion, sigh.) However, I wanted to post at least a bit about it. In order to make it more palatable, I’ve condensed it down into a list of most memorable moments. Enjoy!

1) The concert in Toulouse at Le Bikini with an amazing crew working with us, as always. Le Bikini is a truly special venue, filled with people who do their jobs because they love music/art. It’s quite clear. Special acknowledgement to Lilian Gonin, a cuisinier with SPM-PROD for creating magic with veggies (and taking some great photos.) I didn’t know vegetarianism could taste so delicious.

2) Jumping into the pool at Le Bikini. Who cares if it was almost freezing?!? Oh, and table tennis with Thomas V. Fun, fun fun.

3) Hanging with the members of Antalgia, one of our support acts, and their manager/driver/jack of all trades guy: Nils. Both acts were really special (the other being Elyose from Paris, France,) but I got to practice my Spanish with the Antalgia folks. 🙂

4) Meeting people after the gig in Budapest. We performed in a venue quite far from the center of town, so many made a long pilgrimage home afterward. It was great to meet so many after the show, though. Many places would usher the crowd out directly after we performed (probably had something to do with us playing until only minutes before curfew most every time, haha!) Oh, and I loved getting a chance to see my friend Lasse. He just keeps getting more and more handsome, though a wee part of me misses his dreads.

5) The crowd in Glauchau. One of the quietest, but also one of the most attentive and responsive, albeit in a very calm manner. I really enjoyed this show and felt most at home (guess my German great-grandmother, who I unfortunately never got the chance to meet, might have something to do with it, haha!)

6) Meeting new friends, Kirill and Ludmilla, in Russia. They’re an amazing pair. I wish them every success in all their future endeavors.

7) Seeing my friend David again, and getting to work with him, in Lyon. He’s a terrific guy and does his job (no matter what it is) with aplomb.

8) The absolutely amazing crowd in Paris. God, I love that place. Can’t help it. There’s a magic in that city that seduces me anew every time. I wanna stay forever.

9) Christofer’s hilarious comments during the show in Rennes, France. Who knew he was so knowledgeable regarding potato farmers???

10) Doing an unplugged, acoustic version of our show in Thessaloniki, Greece. It was a good time and I once again had plenty of time to chat with people afterward. I’m lucky, because I really like many of the people who come out to see Therion. It’s a pleasure to have a long chat over a beer with one of them when time allows, which I did that evening. Oh, and I have to say I really love Greece as well. Regardless of whether things are going well or not, the people are warm and always engaging. Oh, and our usual promoter there is really a gem of a person. She gets the job done and has my respect.

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So, I’ve been thinking about this subject for months now. Having been a “poster child” of our public healthcare system at different points in my life, I feel I must speak or forever hold my peace regarding this.

Since Barack Obama proposed health care legislation, I’ve been watching with trepidation to see how it would stand up to attempts by many states to challenge the fledgeling law. So far, it has weathered the test of the US Supreme Court with very little change. I have very mixed feelings about this, as I suspect most US citizens do.

There is one thing that bothers me. It bothers me so much that I decided I had to write about it. It’s this: the system upon which we’re building has some very serious, deep flaws that must be rectified if the US healthcare system is ever going to be a functioning, useful tool. For one, we have the problem with Medicaid. And it’s a big problem. I was one of those kids who relied on Medicaid for most of my childhood. I’m grateful that we had it, since without it I would have been completely uninsured (or insured for an exorbitant cost.)

The problems with Medicaid are practical. First, when I was a child, I recall very clearly the many phone-calls my caregiver had to make in order to find even ONE doctor who would accept my insurance. And I don’t blame the doctors. They have to make a living, and having more than a small percentage of patients with Medicaid is a money losing venture (and an exercise in mountains of paperwork as well.) So, it was difficult to say the least, and this healthcare was not anywhere near the quality of care I think most Americans have come to expect.

Second, I don’t know if you all are aware of how limited this particular type of healthcare really is. For example, I have a family member who is in need of psychiatric help. This person has Medicaid and was told they were allowed only five visits with a therapist under Medicaid rules. FIVE visits?!? Are you kidding me??? It seems to me that anyone who actually needs to see a therapist shouldn’t be told from the beginning that their issues better be resolvable in less than five hours, which is what they basically said. This just ticks me off. Really.

I am glad that something has been done to at least address the ridiculous situation we have here in this country when it comes to healthcare. It’s just that the system upon which we’re building has some major flaws that need addressing. Otherwise, a whole hell of a lot of people will be getting a form of care that doesn’t even pretend to actually “care”.

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I’m in a contest! Whee!

Ok, friends. I wouldn’t normally do this, but go vote for me, haha! I’ve been included in a “Ranking of Female Voices” and am currently at or around number 24 (not too shabby, considering there are over 100 women included.) It’s in Spanish, but don’t let that deter you! All you need to do is visit the page and select ‘5 pto’ (this will give me five points,) and you’re done! I’d like to finish at least Magna Cum Laude.
In the immortal words of Bartles and James, “Thank you for your support.”

Las mejores y más conocidas vocalistas de los grupos de rock y metal de la actualidad musical.
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Random bits and baubles

So, the past few days have been interesting. I’ve been preparing little by little for Therion’s upcoming tour. We’ve picked out 95% of the setlist, with only a few songs left to decide. And here I was today, working at Macy’s in the Luggage department, thinking about all the stuff I need to do before May 21st rolls around (and it’s coming fast, believe me!)

I was thinking, “I need to get ready to move!” I’m moving in a couple weeks to a place closer to work (and in town.) It’s exciting to finally be getting my first place in Oregon. It certainly took me long enough. I walked over to look at our luggage offerings on the clearance counter (they had a sweet looking Swiss Army duffel that I was debating whether I should buy,) when up comes a guy with his mother, looking for a second bag to purchase for his return home (he was out visiting his folks, who live out this way.) Anyway, I showed him the sweet little duffel and, lo and behold, it’s basically exactly what he wanted. See?!? It really was an awesome bag. Anyway, I sold it to him… while we were talking, he found out I’m a musician and told me he’s also one. He seemed like a very interesting, thoughtful kind of person. Not the kind of guy you meet just any day at Macy’s. He gave me his website and I gave him mine (though I screwed up and forgot the hyphen, haha.) Turns out this guy is Dave Berg, quite the talented songwriter. And he lives in Nashville and has penned lots and lots of top-o-the-charts tunes for artists such as Jewel, Reba McEntire, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban to name a few. Oh, and he just came out with his own album. I’m not surprised to admit that his songs have a certain tinge of verity combined with simple beauty. But I’ve only scratched the surface. I have some listening to do.

In other news, I’m still obsessed musically with Leprous, the progressive rock band Therion toured with in Fall 2010. I would give my left anything to be in a band like theirs. Well, I suppose I am in a band kind of like that, but there’s something so utterly compelling and unapologetic about their most recent album, Bilateral. It’s over a year since I toured with them, and I still get revved when I listen to the album. It’s genius! Musical GENIUS! When are they going to take over the world? And, more importantly, when is Jimmy Kimmel going to realize they’re exactly the kind of band he needs to feature on his nightly talk show?!? Come on, Jimmy.

Guess that’s it for tonight. I just had to share my random musical thoughts from the past couple days.

Have a musically inspired evening/day, everyone!


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Back from Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Mexico

Hi, all! Well, I’m back in Sweden for a few weeks, before our final show this year in Wieze, Belgium at the Metal Female Voices Festival… Therion just returned yesterday evening from Mexico City after a week of shows there. The weekend previous, we did one show in Atlanta, Georga, for the ProgPower festival.

So, where to start? How about with the beginning? The show in Atlanta was amazing. We had a signing session in the early evening (aka, we spent at least an hour signing and taking pics,) with a line of people that stretched literally across the entire outside hallway. It was humbling to meet so many fellow Americans that like and support this type of music making. I met many kindred spirits there, and even met a fellow Oregonian! After the signing session, we got dressed and prepared for the show.

Christian Vidal had a small mishap earlier in the day and had ended up spending most of his afternoon/evening at Grady Memorial’s Emergency Room. I spent a few hours with him that afternoon, hanging out with him and making a few calls to his insurance, etc. I returned to the venue around 5pm and Christofer took over the job of keeping Christian company. Lucky for Christian, his fall ended up with only a small cut on his head that was easily treated. Of course, Grady is incredibly busy on a Saturday (they get many severe trauma cases,) so it took about ten hours for them to get around to treating him. Of course, that is good in one way: it means they really weren’t worried at all about his injury. The only problem was that we had a show that night, and if it hadn’t been for Christofer, they may not have made it back in time. Christian’s really one lucky Clouseau. Just when things were getting boring… he really knows how to make a trip exciting, haha!

After the show, we had a free day to roam, relax and recover from jet lag. I went with Linnéa Vikström, Tor Suhrke (of Leprous,) and Einar Solberg (also of Leprous, though they were playing in support of Ihsahn,) to Lenox Square, where Einar bought an Apple product and I bought an eyelash curler. We almost traded when he saw how amazing my eyelash curler was, but I decided not to trade. Nothing can replace a good eyelash curler!

Later that evening, I went out to dinner with Linnéa and Nalle to a restaurant called Strip in a faux-city area of Atlanta. We went there because it was within walking distance, actually. Lucky for me, I found my beloved Target store and stocked up on much needed items such as Clif energy bars, Brita waterbottle filters, and a few other random sundry items. The next morning, we headed for sunny Mexico!

The shows in Mexico went well, though I had more than one issue with the keyboards. Actually, I had weird issues in Atlanta as well, though those had more to do with me than the equipment. Anyhow, I’m not much looking forward to hearing all my small silly mistakes I made on the keyboard, ugh. But you’re not reading this blog to hear me complain about technical issues, right? You want to hear about how friggin’ awesome it was to meet the people and perform! And it was. I had a bonus good time in Distrito Federal because my dad and stepmom flew down for a week of vacation and caught our show on Tuesday at Circo Volador. They got to watch from the side and my dad filmed a good amount of the show (about 50 minutes, actually.)

The next day, Wednesday, I got to spend a few hours hanging out with them and meeting a couple friends along the way. We visited the Cathedral at Zocalo, then went over to the Palacio Nacional to see the murals by Diego Rivera. They were spectacular, to say the least. If you plan to visit Distrito Federal, you really should try to see the Palacio Nacional. It’s lovely. The grounds are well maintained and the murals were absolutely a highlight for me. Rivera was passionate about depicting the lives of those who lived in Mexico before it became a nationalized state. He spared no feelings in describing how difficult a transition this was for many of the native inhabitants and documented this for all to see in his murals. It really made me think about how it is that some people in the past (as well as currently) have little understanding and/or compassion for others, no matter how we may look on the outside. Inside, we are all the same, and deserve to be treated thus, no matter how we may differ in attitudes and outlook. It’s the fundamental need to respect each human life that is the key to any future of prosperity and peace, I think. But, then, I’m a populist/humanist, and I wish that we could all succeed in having fulfilling lives, rather than a select few.

The next four days were a whirlwind of flying, driving, doing shows, then getting at most four hours of sleep. By the end of the tour, all of us were pretty much exhausted. In fact, on the flight back to Sweden, I fell instantly asleep and didn’t even realize we’d left the ground until the flight attendants began walking around! Talk about tired. Of course, part of this was because we ended up having a party in Guadalajara, the night before we left for “home”. I went to bed relatively early compared to most… Linnéa and Snowy were the last to sleep; they went to bed around 4:30, I think. But it was of course such fun! We met many fans during those days and I received some absolutely lovely gifts from a few of them. Thanks to LLMSTIF supporters (Luu and Warui specifically) for the beautiful blue necklace (I’ll wear it on the MFVF show, I promise,) and to Lizeth Ramirez for the gorgeous red-stone necklace! And to the woman whose name I don’t recall just now who tried to give me her gorgeous necklace off her very own neck earlier in the day at Monterrey… I didn’t take it because it looked absolutely perfect on her, haha!

Guess that’s it for now. Let it suffice to say that we had a great time yet again and are all waiting impatiently for the next time we get to perform for such enthusiastic and energetic audiences. Ciao for now!

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Bloodstock – 13-August

So, Bloodstock came and went and I had a lovely time. The countryside was beautiful and peaceful, especially considering the recent trouble England had been experiencing with riots in a few cities, including the city in which we landed: Birmingham. Of course, the airport seemed to be rather “above the fray”, so to speak, so we didn’t see much evidence of anything untoward happening or having happened. However, I did notice that the crowd was a bit more subdued than I expected. Someone had told me that the audience at Bloodstock tended to be a bit more calm, a bit more polite and a bit more genuinely interested in the musical offerings of the festival. That makes perfect sense, having heard that bit of info. I also read an article about the festival (which I posted on Facebook) that talked a bit about its homegrown roots. It really was a bit more laid-back, yet at the same time the people running the various parts of the festival were highly professional. I was impressed with how well they had thought through the backstage setup… I was easily able to access all areas thanks to smart planning.

Therion’s set was a bit more mid-tempo than other festivals we’ve recently done. Some of us had a niggling worry that this mid-tempo set might leave people unsatisfied or, worse, disinterested, but I think it was a creative move to do something that truly set us apart from the typical metal/brutal lineup. Bloodstock draws a lot of people who are interested in the more hardcore and extreme side of metal… Anyhow, whether it worked or not, I personally enjoyed the set, so I guess it was successful for me! And Linnéa Vikström, our new singer, did a good job for a first try, I might add.

I tried to mix it up with my stage wear for this show. I’d rather wear something that both feels comfortable and looks good. Wearing loose-fitting black from head to toe isn’t exactly my thing in everyday life… I like to throw in plenty of color and actually HAVE legs that I don’t mind showing occasionally, haha! So, this time around, I went for a knee-length dress instead. My only fear was a strong breeze coming from offstage that might send my skirt straight up. It WAS a breezy day, but I was fortunate that said breeze stayed mostly away.

My one complaint about this show was that it was, well, daylight when we performed. Therion’s music seems to do better when we have the cover of night for performing. Or, maybe I just feel more comfortable in a dark, moody space. Either way, it is always a challenge to get immediately into the “mood” when the sun is shining and the breeze is blowing puffy clouds in the perfectly blue sky, haha! I found myself being distracted by the beautiful day rather than throwing myself right into the show… Ah, well. C’est la vie, oui? Guess next time we’re performing in festival during the day, I’ll just have to ignore it and do my JOB! 😉

Guess that’s enough for now. Hope you’re all enjoying the season change…

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Latest Update: Worst Cold EVER!

Hi, all. It’s been a bit over a week since my last post, and, let me tell you, I have been through it. I started feeling a bit poor in Bucharest, Romania, then proceeded to develop one heck of a head/chest cold by the time we had made it to Munich, Germany. What bad timing. I almost lost my voice, but there was always just enough that we could somehow keep doing shows, though I apologize to anyone who came to Prague, Budapest or Krakow and expected to hear a fabulous foursome. It really ended up being a threesome with a sometimes Soprano (yours truly.) What a huge drag.

Good news is that I’m definitely over the worst of it. And I’m finally coming alive again, though it has been a weird couple of days. We said goodbye to our support acts in Warsaw… I miss them so much. What a bunch of cool guys. Kisses to you all (if you happen to read this!) And an extra smooch to Jimmy, of Loch Vostok. You’re a good man with a warm heart, my dear “Viking”. 😉

So, where have we been since I last posted? Lots of places:

11/24 Pratteln, SW-Z7

11/25 Munich, GR-Backstage

11/26 Prague, CzR-DK Vitavska

11/27 Budapest, HG-Almassy Ter

11/28 Krakow, PD-Club Studio

11/29 Warsaw, PD-Stodola

11/30 Minsk, BR-Concert Hall Minsk

12/1   Riga, LV-Melna Piektdiena

It has been an interesting run, for sure. Therion visited Minsk, Belarus for the first time. It was a real challenge getting in and out of the country, but the fans were beyond excited that we came, which made two sleepless nights in a row a bit more bearable. Poland was magical, as always, and I had the chance to stay in the Mercure Grand Warsawa the night before I went to Minsk. Nicest hotel ever! In Budapest, I had a few free moments in which I could spend some time with my friend, Lasse, which was a bright spot in the midst of feeling less than stellar.

I’m sure I’ll come up with more to say soon… I really should get to posting this for the world to see!

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