Me and Marius found each other on Facebook on Monday evening and we started discussing his new gigantic project (which is coming out tomorrow, by the way!) which involves around 40 musicians and a lot of fantasy elements. We discussed logistics of such a big project, inspiration processes, future ideas and more! For people who love metal operas this will be a treat and you can find a song below, under the interview. Enjoy!
Alexandra: First of all, could you tell me a little bit about yourself, where did you grow up and your musical background?
Marius: I grew up on a little island called Bolsøya, 10 minutes outside of Molde, in Norway. Molde is very known for their jazz festival, but the genre never appealed to me. My father was a punk drummer in the early 80’s and my mother always blasted Metallica and Guns N Roses while cleaning the house when I was a child, so I have been exposed to Punk and Metal since the start. I started to sing at the age of 17 because no one in my early bands wanted to sing. Before that I had not heard my singing voice before. I NEVER sang in kindergarden and at school. So that was a weird experience!
And was your voice everything your band mates wanted to hear?
Haha, well they didn’t have anyone else to choose from, so they had to take what they got. We covered songs like Run To the Hills from Iron Maiden, Detroit Rock City, Black Diamond and God of Thunder by KISS etc. I also play guitar, which I still consider my main instrument.
When did you start learning guitar?
I saw Iron Maiden in 2003 during their “Give Me Ed ’til I’m Dead” tour. I really loved the movie “Braveheart” and when Iron Maiden played the song “The Clansman” and Eddie appeared on the backdrop as William Wallace, I was sold. I bought a Fender Stratocaster a couple of weeks later!
Awesome! I wanted to discuss about your new album, which is going to be released really really soon, how did you get the idea for this massive project?
In 2005 I wrote a song called “The Legend of Valley Doom”. It was 7 minutes long and I was very proud of it. I wanted to create my own universe inspired by Tolkien and Vikings. The song and the idea of this place, Valley Doom, stayed with me for 4 years without doing much about it because I was occupied with other band projects. I started a band called Nocturnal Illusion and I wrote 5 new songs for the universe + re-wrote the song “The Legend of Valley Doom”, which now was 9 minutes long. Then me and my girlfriend started a band called Darkest Sins and it became my main priority. I put Valley Doom on ice for 4 more years and started to work on it again in the second half of 2013, then I decided that I wanted to do something special about it and create a project with all my favourite musicians. I also have a member from Nocturnal Illusion doing a guest solo. I always loved Kristian Tjelle‘s guitar solo on the song “Free As the Wind”, and I had to have him do the song when I recorded this song for the album. And of course, my brother Peter Danielsen has been involved in the project since 2010. He was 15 years old back then.
Oh so is that why it took 10 years to get the whole thing done?
Yes. it has been an on-off project since 2005. I have always wanted to do something more with it, and a Metal Opera was the dream. But it didn’t fit in the bands I was playing in, so I decided to do it as a solo project when the time was right.
Unfortunately with this amount of musicians schedule will always be an issue! There have obviously been different similar projects out there such as Avantasia, or Epysode, so what makes yours unique in your opinion?
Tobias Sammet and Avantasia have been a huge inspiration and I went to Wacken with my girlfriend and my brother to see them last year. I would say that me being a totally random person and having this crazy line-up of over 40 great musicians on board, I think it caught many by surprise. Comparing the music to, for example, Avantasia, I think my album is more towards the cinematic/symphonic Rhapsody of Fire sound. I have a narrator which carries the story onwards, along with some insanely talented musicians, I also add folky stuff like bagpipes. And I also wanted something Norwegian added to the album, so I hired the talented Kai Somby to do some Sami joik and throat singing on the outro. A truly magical way to close the album I think.
I agree, I also found the outro quite enchanting! Speaking of all these amazing musicians that you’re working with, how did you get them to collaborate with you? What aspect of the project sold them and made them say yes?
The main reason was that they really liked the songs I had written with their voices in mind. But, they also believed in the project and thought I had done a great job so far. And when the line-up got bigger and better it was also easier to convince bigger artists that I was very serious and hard working with my music.
Who was the first one you managed to snatch?
Mark Boals was the first one. After I heard his amazing vocals on the song “Raise Your Shields” I understood that this album would turn out very good. I had heard the song “Raise Your Shields” on demos with my voice since 2006 in different versions, and hearing it with a voice like Mark Boals’, wow. I was blown away! I looked at the song in a whole different way and couldn’t believe I had written such a great song, haha.
It makes the difference in the world to have someone truly talented doesn’t it? I was also wondering because with so many people logistics are super complicated, was it tricky to put all the pieces together recording wise?
I had to be very systematic. The most complicated part was getting the lyrics as good as I wanted them to be and to develop different characters. I have had the whole story in my head for about 8 years, but it was hard getting it down on paper. When it comes to recording, I had to do a little each month. So, for every pay-check I got from working, a part of it went to recording. Working this way also gave me time to keep the logistics in order. I had this big board on my computer where I ticked off anything that was done. So I always knew what was left to record.
These are some good tips in case anyone wants to try such a project! Now I know it’s a bit early to talk about this, but are you considering doing a ‘Legend of Valley Doom part 2’?
Yes, there will be a Part 2 and a Part 3! All great movies are in trilogies, and me being a fan of Lord of the Rings… This one has to be a trilogy as well!
Oh, wonderful! Both of them in big or maybe even bigger productions?
Yes, Part 2 is going to be massive!
And number 3 is also considered a lucky number in fairytales! Are there any mistakes or lessons that you’ve learned from the first project that you will not repeat on the production and composition of part 2?
I will probably invest in some better recording equipment for Part 2. I am very happy with the guitar sound for Part 1, but it will be even better this time. I cant remember any huge mistakes during Part 1, luckily!
Thats good, considering the amount of years that went into it!
Yes. The real recordings started in August 2013, but I had been demoing on and off from 2005-2013
Did you maybe think about doing some gigs with the musicians present on this record? Like a big super amazing gig.
I have plans to bring the Metal Opera on the road, but not with 45 musicians on stage. The plan is to use my band Darkest Sins as the main band. We have 3 very good singers in that band, and add 1 or 2 guest vocalists to the line-up. I don’t know when it will happen, but I am hoping to get the dream realized in 2016!
And I’d love to see you guys play! I have one more question for you before wrapping it up: I’m thinking that with this big project, listeners will probably unveil a new side of you. But is there a guilty pleasure that you have that, especially after listening to this record, most people would not suspect?
Yes, I am a nerd. Swords, battlefields, wizards, it is all there! No dragons though. Yet?
That calls for introducing dragons in part 2!
There will at least be some hints that they are real and existing!
You will please plenty of children and nerds all over the world with that theory. Thank you so much for your time! The last words belong to you, if you have anything to say to our readers..
I hope everyone who thinks this sounds interesting will buy the real thing, CD or Vinyl! It will help financing an even bigger Part 2! Now I have to run to band rehearsals! All the best, Marius.