LIV KRISTINE - A Return To The Theatre
November 3, 2014, 5 years ago
Although she rose to fame in the '90s as the female vocalist for pioneering doom goth act Theatre Of Tragedy, Liv Kristine is best known these days as the singer for Leaves' Eyes. During their ongoing 10+ year run she's also nurtured a solo career - launched in 1998 but pursued in earnest as of 2006 - that lives apart from her band's symphonic metal realm. Up to this point Liv's solo records have embraced rock and pop influences with hints of metal, causing a certain amount of confusion and/or disappointment amongst some of her fans. Her fifth album, Vervain, is going to polarize her followers yet again, as it finds Liv returning to the music that made her famous. Unashamed and excited, she makes no secret of the fact that Vervain was written in the spirit of Theatre Of Tragedy's glory days. A surprise for some given Liv was fired from ToT in 2003, but anyone who has been attended her live solo shows in recent years knows she still has love for the
Theatre Of Tragedy classics. Call Vervain her tribute to a unique and influential past."It was about a year ago that I decided this would be the right time to sit down and start composing again for another solo album," Liv begins. "Thorsten (Bauer/guitars) asked me what I had in mind and I told him that I really wanted to go back to the roots and let all my influences from the early days of Theatre Of Tragedy into the music. It feels like a loss for me that the band no longer exists and nobody is playing those songs live. That's what I had in mind with this album and I talked to Thorsten about it, and he just started composing the music. He did the whole album in half a year. Alex (Krull) produced the album, so it was all done here at home (Mastersound Studios). It just felt right to do it this way."
The Theatre Of Tragedy vibe on Vervain may not be readily apparent, but as the album plays out there are passages that echo the darkness and melancholy of the band's first three albums. The title track, for example, speaks loudly as a tip of the hat to Theater's biggest hit "Der Tanz der Schatten" from Velvet Darkness They Fear."The feeling I have now when listening to the album - because now I have some distance rom the production - is dammit, if Theatre Of Tragedy had released this album at a certain point in time it might have saved the whole thing," says Liv. "To me, Vervain is kind of the missing link somewhere in my career, and maybe in Theatre Of Tragedy's career. I also want to mention that I'm fine now with the whole history of what happened between me and the band, and this album kind of makes up for it."
Liv's back-to-the-roots focus may not come as a surprise, but the fact she's dedicated a whole album to her Theatre past does."Vervain is a kind of therapy, I suppose. It sums up everything and I only think of Theatre Of Tragedy in a positive way. It feels like a big relief for me to be where I am right now with this whole thing. I just got rid of the rucksack with all those bad stories in it, even though I still don't really know why I got fired from the band. I'm really looking forward to going out and playing this album live with some of the old Theatre Of Tragedy songs in the set. I still listen to Theatre Of Tragedy and I often think 'Wow, we had something really interesting going on there. It's a pity it doesn't exist anymore."
To her credit from a Theatre Of Tragedy fan's point of view, Liv and her Leaves' Eyes cohorts Thorsten Bauer and Alex Krull have captured the essence of what made ToT untouchable back in the day. Many bands have tried to mimic the band's sound - which spawned an entire genre of Beauty And The Beast-oriented goth bands - but none truly succeeded at the same level."Thank you so much for saying that. I don't want to let this go and I can't ignore or erase that part of me. Theatre Of Tragedy is one of the reasons I became who I am as an artist. Everything I've learned, the experiences I've gathered through all these years, I just want to say thank you. And this is what Vervain is all about."
Vervain is also the dead opposite of her previous solo album, Libertine. From the cover art's colour scheme to the pop stylings of the single "Paris Paris", Libertine screamed with positive energy. Take in the dirge and distortion on some of the Vervain tracks and you're bound to start wondering what's wrong in Liv's life that she's become so damn melancholy."(Laughs) This actually isn't a sign of me being in a depressive downward spiral or something. I think you're able to grasp the positive feel of things when you look at the other side of the story, of that coin or feeling. I realized after having written two or three lyrics - I had come to the song 'Vervain' - and I wondered what was actually going on. There is a kind of repetitive scheme in how I write my lyrics, and Alex pointed out that I was doing it again, which is me looking at both sides of things."
Liv invited End Of Green frontman Michelle Darkness and German metal queen Doro to record guest vocals for Vervain - on "Love Decay" and "Stronghold Of Angels" respectively - making for feelgood recording sessions even though the music is on the dark side."Michelle is amazing and kind of a part of our family," says Liv. "He's a very nice guy and has a great voice. We call him 'Keller' (translated: Basement) because his voice is so deep sometimes we can't tell what note he's singing (laughs). We had many cups of coffee, many long talks, and we hung out for two days doing the 'Love Decay' video. He's also very professional so he's great to work with. The same goes for Doro; that was one phone call and a couple days later. She's a role model for me, not only because of what she's done and what she's doing, but also because of the kind of person she is. She's one of the finest people I've ever met. I'm so glad she came and sang on 'Stronghold Of Angels'. We talked recently on the phone and she called the song a beautiful metal hymn. That's a huge compliment for me coming from her."
"I've always been very open-minded about art and about the people I'm working with," she adds. "I've got musical influences from Monserrat Caballé to Abba to Carcass and Black Sabbath, so I just let everything in and do what I feel is right at that point in time."
Which says a lot about Liv as an artist, being able to switch gears consistently and always having something to offer regardless of whether someone is into symphonic metal, pop, radio rock and (once again) doom goth music. She, along with Torsten and Alex, have enough talent between them to put out music echoes Libertine, but she's never been into playing it safe."You can go for the safe run and stay in one place, but I'm very lucky because I've got fans and friends out there who expect something new and different from me, and that's something I'm very thankful for. Many fans have been following me since the mid-'90s and they're still around. Next to my family, music and art are the most important things in my life. It's my fans and friends that make this possible. It could have stopped when I got sacked from Theatre Of Tragedy - it was supposed to stop then - but it didn't, so I do believe that nothing happens in vain."