By Mike Coles on 1/12/98
Photos below:Live shot and most recent promo-shot taken from the Church of Tiamat web-site. I'm not really sure who to give credit to for this picture, killer shot though!!
The Outcast: Johan?
Johan: Yes, itís me.
The Outcast: This is Mike from The Outcast. So where exactly am I calling you at?
The Outcast: Ah, I see. So how are you?
The Outcast: Well, let us not waste any time. From album to album youíve changed styles so to speak. What made you decide to change so drastically from album to album?
Johan: We never decided to change anything at all; we just continued writing songs without looking back at what weíve done previously.
The Outcast: So youíre saying it was pretty natural?
The Outcast: Will you be touring the U.S. again with this new album?
Johan: I donít know if weíll get to, but actually, the last tour we did there was not too successful. It didnít mean anything at all to us.
The Outcast: Hmm...
Johan: I think if we should tour the states, I would like to start from the beginning and play small clubs supporting a band not to big, maybe supporting Monster Magnet or something.
The Outcast: Well, letís talk about your songs. What is the song "Teonancatl" about? Iím guessing itís Mexican?
Johan: Yes, it is. Itís a mushroom god. The Mexicans used to pray to this god after taking some mushrooms.
The Outcast: So do you experiment with mushrooms or any other substances?
Johan: I donít really like it, but I did a few years ago, so this is my tribute.
The Outcast: What is the song "Trillion Zillion Centipedes" about?
Johan: That song is connected to "Teonancatl". Itís the nightmare part of the trip.
The Outcast: Let us go back to your past lyrics. I hope you donít mind me getting personal, but Iím really into your lyrics. On your album "clouds", actually on a lot of your songs you seem to be talking about love and depression a lot. Would you say that you live a depressing life?
Johan: When I write an album I always have to put myself in, um...
The Outcast: A depressive state?
The Outcast: For example, on the song "Sleeping Beauty"; "This pain which is always haunting me, what I need Iíll never feel", are you talking about love?
Johan: Yeah, thatís the thing Iíve been expressing in so many songs.
The Outcast: I kind of figured that. Well, the reason I bring that up is because I relate to your lyrics a lot. I myself write about depression and love as well. You know, mainly the stuff when you are in love and the person you are in love with doesnít share the same feelings for you. Do you have a wife or a girlfriend that inspires you to write your lyrics?
Johan: I have a girlfriend. I write some songs for her.
The Outcast: Is that what a lot of the songs on "Clouds" are about or is that even the same girlfriend?
Johan: No, itís a new one.
The Outcast: A new girlfriend, but itís all the same cycle.
Johan: Yeah, it is.
The Outcast: Iím guessing youíre a moody person with a lot of mood swings?
Johan: Yeah, I actually I do. I think the problem is that everything is cool and then it all goes bad.
The Outcast: So what is your opinion on suicide?
Johan: I think if people want to do it, thatís fine. I think people are free to decide what they want to do with their lives. I donít think anyone has to live just to please other people.
The Outcast: Going back to "Clouds", what exactly is the song "The Scapegoat" about?
Johan: We were booked for a show in Sweden and the community stopped it because they were told we were using dead animals and stuff on stage (laughter). We were also supposed to have pig heads on poles.
The Outcast: You did have all that stuff!?
Johan: No, we did not, but thatís what was heard and they stopped the show. Thatís what got me to write the song. About people who spread rumors and them thinking they know you.
The Outcast: And they donít have a clue.
The Outcast: Yeah, where I lived, it was basically the same bullshit, people talking shit, saying that I was this big Mexican drug lord and a Satanist and what not. All these Christians talking shit without even knowing me, you know?
Johan: Thatís what Christian people usually do.
The Outcast: Yeah, well, besides molest little boys (both laughing). On the song "Leary Biscuits", you had female vocals; will you do that more in the future?
Johan: I donít know, I donít really like other people singing my words, even though there are so many better vocalists, I think since I wrote the words, I want to sing them myself.
The Outcast: I can see the point in that. So, is Johnny still in the band?
Johan: No, he is not.
The Outcast: So are the people in the present line-up session musicians or what?
Johan: I would say weíre pretty much a band now.
The Outcast: Really? Youíre all on the same thinking levels?
The Outcast: The cover is very interesting, what exactly does it symbolize? That is you on the cover, right?
Johan: Yes, a friend told me it looks like Iím on a mushroom trip looking at myself in the mirror.
The Outcast: I like that. Hey, while Iím thinking of this, on this cover youíre holding a flower and on the "Clouds" band photo youíre doing the same thing. Is there a dark-mysterious-philosophical-only-you-know-about-flowers-secret, or are you just a fag?
Johan: (Laughter) I really donít know, all the photographers always liked me to hold flowers (laughterís).
The Outcast: You know why, donít you, they are all "coming" on to you!
The Outcast: (In a gay voice) "He would look so pretty with a flower."
Johan: No, I really donít know why, itís always the same. It wasnít my idea on "Clouds" or on this one to hold the flower.
The Outcast: Well, enough on flowers. The name Tiamat is supposed to be a name for an ancient one. On your old logo you had inverted crosses on it and such. With your drastic change musically and with a different "image", wouldnít it have been better for you to change your name?
Johan: No, not at all. For me itís the name for the things that represents my thoughts. For me itís the name for the things that I want to express with the band. That was the case all along when I started the band. If people think this is not Tiamat anymore, they are completely wrong, because as long as I do what I want to do, it will be Tiamat.
The Outcast: So what does Tiamat mean to you?
Johan: My life.
The Outcast: So have your views/philosophies in life changed any since the birth of Tiamat?
Johan: Not much. If I go back and see what I wrote a few years ago, I feel that it is similar, Iím just better at doing it.
The Outcast: When you play live, I imagine you donít play any of the older material.
Johan: We do sometimes. We always play at least one song from "Clouds".
The Outcast: Anything prior?
Johan: It happens, but it rarely happens.
The Outcast: On the song "Kite", the intro. to "Phantasma", you have birds chirping and stuff. Is that something you like or something you will experiment more with in the future?
Johan: I like it myself. I have the idea to record these samples myself for the next record.
The Outcast: Nature samples?
Johan: Yeah, but record them myself and not take them from sound effect records.
The Outcast: So what have you been listening to lately? Do you still listen to metal?
Johan: Mostly electronic bands, The Chemical Brothers, stuff like that. I listen to some of the older stuff in metal, the classics.
The Outcast: So what are your live shows like?
Johan: We have a lot of projections creating psychedelic patterns. We have glowing body paint and with special lights we glow in the dark.
The Outcast: Ah, I see. Well Johan, it has been a pleasure talking with you. Good luck with Tiamat in the future and I hope all your dreams are accomplished, take care.
Johan: Thank you, you to.