Looks like Christmas came early this year boys. First, a kick-ass new single, and now an exclusive interview with the best review site on the planet? What will Zornheym do next, besides release a graphic novel to supplement their super-anticipated full release Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns? Apparently put out their own beer, tour, and work with their very own blacksmith. Pretty fuckin’ cool. Without further ado, our interview with Zornheym:
Let’s start off a little general. Out of all the fucked up places on earth, why the Zornheim Institute for the criminally insane?
Zorn: I have had the idea of a concept album about an asylum for a very long time. I have also dreamed about making a really epic album supported by an orchestra. When I decided to form my own band I made sure to bring all those ideas that’s been lurking in my head for years to life. When the writing process started I had the line “Where hatred dwells and darkness reigns” in my head and I kind of wrote it from their.
Adding to that, you mentioned in a review with metaltitans that the key on the album cover was inspired from inmate ZH000A27, tell me some more about the inmates in the Zornheim Institute.
Zorn: The key is the emblem of the asylum. The moto that the doctors and wardens are feeding the inmates is “Submission is key”, meaning as long as you do what we tell you to do, your stay here at Zornheim will be a lot more pleasant. The key itself wa
s designed by our graphic novel artist – Anu Bring and then the band’s blacksmith (every band have one of those, right?) forged it. The key appears on the cover art for the sing
le and symbolize the key to inmate ZH000A27’s cell. If you enlargen the cover you can actually see his number on the bloody pargament that’s behind the key.
The inmates are people who have been committed there for various reasons, some have even gone their by their own will. Inmate ZH000A27 got shipped off their by his family that forsake him. He was born of Noble blood but also with a deformity called Diprosopus, meaning that he was born with two faces. One in the back of his head that was just their dormant. The inmate claims that the face talking to him and kept him up during the nights. After getting denied by several doctors to get it surgically removed he totally looses it one night and cuts the face off by himself. Once the family found him, he is shipped off with his cello to Zornheim. Every inmate have their own story so the work to put this all together has been massive!
You guys recently signed with Non-Servium Records, an unholy alliance surely made in the depths and dark tunnels of Hell, what has it been like working with a smaller label?
Zorn: So far, very good I’d say. We are on a daily basis contact with Ricardo, the owner, which feels great. He is also blown away by our response that we are have gotten so far. So he is psyched, to say the least, to release the full length album later! We also work everything through together which feels great. I mean, when my former band, Devian, was signed to Century Media Records, our A&R told us that he has never seen such a killer street team networking on the label before, so we have some interesting stuff to bring to the table for Non Serviam Records as well, except a cool concept – haha!
There clearly is an intense focus on visual media to supplement this album, how do you feel this adds to the story you are trying to tell?
Zorn: The graphic novel will help the listener to fully understand the story of the inmates that this album is about. It gives them an extra perspective to explore the stories. To the songs that we will make a video to we will take it even a step further by making them more like short movies that’s telling the story deeper and exploring more of it. The booklet will also feature the patient’s journals transcribed by the head doctor of Zornheim, Dr. Bettelheim.
As a closet comic book geek, I think the idea of a mini graphic novella series behind your songs is pretty fuckin’ neat. Where did that idea come from and tell me you’re as excited for the end result as I am?
Zorn: I had been following the illustrator Anu Bring for quite some time on instagram. I loved her work and one day I just decided to contact her and tell her that I had this huge concept idea and that I somehow wanted to include her in it. She told me that she had always had this dream about making a graphic novel and that fitted with our concept quite well, since we need a way to explain the stories to the listener. I remember that King Diamond used a comic strip to explain the Conspiracy album, so I figured if we could make a strip to every song to explain that character’s life story, we would have something really damn cool in store for listeners! So to fully make you understand the huge work load of Zornheym this is what we need to complete a song. First write an awesome song, then orchestrate it with strings, choirs, brass and more instruments. Write the character’s background, write a doctor’s journal about the character, send the stuff to Anu, get a sketch from her and then write the comic script and dialogues for it. So there is quite a lot of work behind every song and you can really hear that too and I think that’s why our single “The Opposed” has made an impact on people.
What do you guys drink when you rock out and what would you recommend the average metal head drink while blasting “The Opposed”?
Zorn: Actually, a brewery is interested in making a Zornheym beer. We have already set a taste for it… So that one I would totally recommend, but since it’s not available on the market yet I would say anything that put you in a good mood. I would probably gulp down a swedish beer called Norrlands Guld or redbull and vodka.
Scucca: The average metalhead? I suggest drinking more water. Those lads are looking seriously dehydrated! But on a serious note, yeah as Zorn said we’re working with this brewery that has really interesting ideas for beers and they’ve got a great team throwing together a fantastic assortment of crazy flavours so I’m looking forward to getting the test batch finished. Otherwise personally, I’ll take a good single malt whiskey when I can. I suggest everyone else do the same.
Can I play bass for you?
Zorn: Sure, our manager will send you the details shortly! Pack your gear! 😉
Given the scope of your guys previous and ongoing works, where would you say Zornheym falls in this balance?
Zorn: I think I’m speaking for most of the guys now, Zornheym is by far the coolest thing we have ever been involved in. It’s something we wanna do that’s more than just a music. We wanna build a syndicate of creative people that make these stories come to life with their art. We have some many more cool things going on in the shadows, you will be totally blown away when we bring it out in the light bro!
Bendler, gnarly fucking vocals man. Tell me a bit about the transition from being a guitar player to full time vocalist.
Bendler: It has worked just fine doing both, but being a frontman has always been something that I have strived for.
It started a couple years ago when my brother asked me if i could pick up the skills to growl and to do some vocals with his band ENGULFING RAGE, and so I did.
And later on i got the question and opportunity to do a gig with SCAR SYMMETRY, and there was no way in hell that I was going to miss that one out!!!
And it was thru that YouTube clip with me guesting SCAR that Zorn contacted me for some test vocals on a little project of his , and what a project then, damn, it was definitely more than that ,and it was exactly what I wanted ,a dream coming true for me. Can’t really wait to release the album and take this out on the road!
What was it like recording with Wing Studios? Tell us a bit about recording with the diverse array of orchestral, choir, and other musicians for this album.
Zorn: Sverker Widgren, owner of Wing Studios is the man! We came there to get a sound for our music and he completely invented. We couldn’t be happier with choice of the studio. He fully understood the production and how to give the music the sound it needs. The choirs was actually recorded and conducted by Scucca in his Studio and in Facebreaker’s rehearsal space in Finspång. The strings were conducted and recorded by concertmaster Petter Möller of Dies Iona Ensambly in a swedish town called Vadstena. They actually recorded their parts in an old asylum there to really capture the insane vibe that’s going on there. I think that added an extra dimension to the album!
Zorn and Scucca, your tone is pretty awesome on “The Opposed”, tell me about your setup.
Zorn: Right now I’m using a Fernandes Revolver guitar, without the whammy. It’s dressed with the absolutely amazing Deathbucker pickups from Lace pickups. They make the guitar sound extra crispy, like the perfect blend of new and old. We used a 5150 Peavy Head for the main guitars and then added an Engl head for the second guitar. For the bass I used my old touring comrade, the ravelle bass from Fernandes guitars, equipped with man’o’war pickups from Lace. When it comes to picks I use 2.0 mm dunlops. For the clean guitars we used a Peder guitar.
Scucca: I’ve been using Ibanez for years since they got their claws in me during my teenage years. Managed to find one in particular that really caught my interest a few years ago called the AJD71T. I’ve fit it with some Lace Deathbuckers since they impressed me so much when I installed Zorn’s pickups. Amp wise it’s the same as what Zorn said and finally I use Dunlop Jazz III picks.
Aside from your own, what albums are you guys pumped to hear in the near future?
Zorn: Well, I read somewhere that Slash, Duff and Axl have been jamming a bit… would be pretty stoked to hear if that will come out as an album. Our friends in Diabolical will start working on a new album soon, pretty excited about that, their last albums have been really awesome, you should totally check them out! Netherbird’s new album “The Grander voyage” sounds promising! The latest single of that album “Pillars of the sky” I would be so daring to call it their best song so far!
If you could pick your tour-mates, who would you tour with?
Zorn: Friends of mine have told me that us and Carach Angren would be a cool package, I think I would second that. In general it would be cool to go out with a big band that could help us get introduced to a lot of people.
It’s a little early to talk about next steps after this album is out, but where do you see this project taking you guys?
Zorn: The plan now is to release the short movie/video to “The Opposed”. Release a second single and then the album and then hopefully another short movie. With only one single out we have been asked about different promoters to play in different countries, so there seem to be an interest out there in what we are doing. So once everything is done with the album I think we will need to retreat back to the rehearsal place and get in killer shape to bring this beast out to the stages around the globe!
That’s about it, feel free to add anything you guys want! Fuck yeah! Keep it heavy and send us the full album (and a tee shirt)!
Zorn: A big cheer to everyone that have checked us out already and read this interview! If you haven’t checked us out, I hope this interview teased you enough to check out our debut single “The Opposed” on Spotify, iTunes, youtube or whatever page you prefer. See you on the road!