Interview with Troy Norr aka Klaus Konig
Mit ihrem Debüt-Album (siehe hier) sollten THEM vielerorts für Begeisterung sorgen, denn die Band ist weit mehr als nur eine der unzähligen Kapellen aus den letzten Jahren, die King Diamond nachgeeifert haben.
Die Allstar-Band um Sänger Troy Norr "KK Fossor" (COLDSTEEL), Markus Ullrich (Gitarre, LANFEAR, A COSMIC TRAIL, SEPTAGON), Richard Seibel (Keyboards, LANFEAR, A COSMIC TRAIL), Mike LePond (Bass, SYMPHONY X, HEATHEN´S RAGE), Markus Johansson (Gitarre, 4ARM) und Kevin Talley (Drums, SUFFOCATION) hat nämlich ein allerfeinstes Konzeptalbum eingespielt, das nicht nur klassischen Power Metal bei seinen Zutaten vereint. Folglich haben wir uns Klaus Konig alias Troy Norr vorgeknöpft und ihm ein paar Fragen gestellt. Hier das Interview im englischen Originalwortlaut.
Hello Michael! It is great to hear from you again!
Yes, but to come straight to the point: In the aftermath of the last COLDSTEEL-Album you firstly told me about of your new band THEM. Now, three years after, the album is about to be released. Can you tell us, why it took you so long?
There were several reasons why this happened. 1st: The original members decided not to continue with me. 2nd: The album was initially going to be released without a label but after the first lyric video ´Forever Burns´ several labels contacted me and we settled with 'Empire Records'. 3rd: There was a delay with the manufacturing process due to the art work. During the past three years the ´Sweet Hollow´ album cover has been drawn by three different artists with the final and 3rd version being Vance Kelly (vancekelly.com). From early reports the response has been extremely positive so hopefully anyone waiting for the release of this album will not be too upset.
THEM started as a cover-band. Is it mainly Ulle´s merit, that you have your own songs now?
The band was originally called "THEM - The King Diamond Tribute" and at one point I decided that I wanted to write a concept album. The members that were in the Tribute band started to write with me but when they departed, they decided they did not want their music used as well. There wasn't much written at that time anyway. Ulle (Markus Ullrich) and I became friends about a year before at a dinner meeting in NY. He and LANFEAR had just performed the Progfest in Atlanta and was in NY visiting along with other friends and band mates. During the dinner I was showing Andi from 'Battlecry Records' (Andi was travelling with Ulle) all the concept ideas for THEM and Ulle watched and listened only. When he returned to Germany we became good friends. Ulle offered to team up with me once he learned that the original members had walked away from the project. It was a great match up and both Ulle and I worked well together on creating an interesting and captivating record. Aside from any guitar solos he did not play on the record, Ulle wrote all the music. All keys were written by Richie Seibel (LANFEAR). Richie added another atmospheric layer to the album that greatly improved what Ulle had already written.
How did you find your other band members?
Ulle suggested Richie. I was already friends with Mike Lepond. Mike had seen me perform in the King Diamond-Tribute and when I approached Mike to work with THEM he was very interested. I was introduced to Kevin Talley through a friend back in early 2013 and Kevin would listen to the progress of the album when he was in town preparing with SUFFOCATION for upcoming tours. After about 3/4 the way through the completion of the album, Kevin said he was interested in the project. Kevin introduced me to Markus Johansson since he did work with Markus in the band SYLENCER.
What can you tell us about the songwriting and the recordings?
The songwriting process for me was very different this time around. I have written and recorded many songs over the years (mainly with COLDSTEEL) but I had never written a concept album. This is my first. I am not sure if it was much different for Ulle since I had asked him to write songs with certain bpms and he did just that! The recording of the record was broken down to guitar and Ulle's solos in Germany, Keys in Germany, Markus Johansson's solos in Chicago, drums in Texas, bass and vocals in NY. The album was mixed and mastered in Colorado by Dave Otero (flatlineaudio.com)
How hard was it to find a proper label?
Not too difficult. Four labels contacted me within hours upon releasing the lyric video for ´Forever Burns´. After a few weeks we had decided to go with 'Empire Records' based in Belgium.
Did you ever think about a name change to emancipate the band from KING DIAMOND? Or is it something provocative for the masses?
I think to some potential fans our band name was already provocative and even angering some. I assure you there was never any intentions for disrespect to the great King Diamond. I am a huge fan myself! With this project, I pay homage to King as well as other favs of mine (Evil Dead and Tales from the Crypt). Everything is 100% original. I have read some comments stating we copied the logo from the band GHOST. There will always be some haters out there. As an example, GHOST was also criticized as well in the beginning. The closest comparison to King Diamond is some of my singing. However I do not always sing like King Diamond. I am a thrash metal-singer as well as being able to mimic many different voices. I used that ability to help sculp the ambiance of the record. If I sang like King Diamond on every song (like ATTIC, but I love those guys) then I would not even argue any comments. I use many voices even voices King doesn't use. There will always be one King and I am in no way looking to try to replace him or out do him. I am humble and just wanted to express myself in a "different" way musically. If you listen to the way I sing in COLDSTEEL and the way I sing in THEM a listener would not think it is the same singer. That is success for me, because I am not "Troy Norr" in THEM. I am portraying the role of Klaus Konig "KK" Fossor.
Do you consider your music as a pure tribute or is there something more in it?
Aside from paying homage to some of my favs, our music is NOT a tribute. Our record is a self contained, Three-Part Concept-Story. There is no happy ending here. ..
I know, but I hope your first Tour with HELLOWEEN was. Nicest and worst memories?
The tour with HELLOWEEN went great! The crowd's reaction was amazing wherever we performed. The band members themselves were very friendly. The best moment was when we were performing in Chicago. As soon as our set was over the entire crowd started to chant "THEM...THEM....THEM". That was a great moment for all of us. The worst moment was in Cleveland when HELLOWEEN's manager told us to stop using our cemetery facade. He stated "The guys (meaning the band members of HELLOWEEN) don't want that". We used it on that night and not again.
Are you planning further gigs already? In Europe maybe?
No further plans have been made for any more shows. We all decided to wait for the release of the album first. There is a possibility of THEM performing in Europe especially Germany as well as possibly returning to Canada. THEM is not a standard band. We employ theatrics into our stage show which requires a decent sized stage. We had difficulty performing at some venues on the HELLOWEEN-tour because we were only direct support. We are hoping to have adequate sized stages if we play out again. Coffins take up alot of room you know!
See you hopefully in Europe, Troy.
Take care Michael!
Von: Michael Haifl