AMERICA NOIR tour interviews, continued
Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes)
Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes) greeted me with a hug. She’s that kind of gal, I guess. And though she’s a veteran performer who admits she has a few more wrinkles now, she is still quite beautiful in person. And she was wearing a pretty badass Black Sabbath shirt during our interview!
Kristine is the former vocalist for Theatre of Tragedy, and she did indulge a few questions about that former band. But first, a few questions about Leaves’ Eyes, which is now in its eleventh year. She says even though Leaves’ Eyes has done a number of tours in the States, it’s taken far too long to come back:
“We’d probably be able to have done seven tours already if it had worked out as planned. Everything went alright with our visas and all the stuff you have to take care of with the officials to get into the US. Finally it was went all right!”
Liv mentions that she did a tour with Moonspell back in the 1990s. It was a touring package that blew my mind: Theatre of Tragedy, Moonspell, Rotting Christ, and Samael. I had to catch my breath! But that’s the past and this is now, and Leaves’ Eyes are a veteran band. And it’s a band she’s in with her husband. I was very curious as to how, as Mrs. Alexander Krull, that dynamic worked for a band that’s constantly on the road:
“When I bumped into Alex 20 years ago, I thought ‘Wow this guy is just huge! He has so much energy… he’s a perfectionist, he’s a workaholic, and he just takes care of everything. He could be the chancellor of Germany! He’ll never retire; he’s just amazing. I’m a quieter person, so we kind of complement each other, fulfill each other. Everything he’s not able to do I can do and the other way around. We’ve been married eleven years and I can still, to be honest, say I just love this guy. Even in a situation like this, being [in a tour bus with 15 guys and our kid] it’s fine! It works!”
But I had to ask about Theatre of Tragedy. I told her that Velvet Darkness They Fear is one of my favorite albums of that style, up there with Widow’s Weeds by Tristania. When I’m in the mood for that style, those two always pop up for me. I was less interested in the breakup, but more interested in the music they inspired with that early material:
“We didn’t know back then in the beginning in the mid-’90s what we had started, what we had founded. So when we started we got a deal just eight weeks after we recorded four demo tracks on a cassette. Alex was actually the man who signed Theatre of Tragedy to Massacre Records way back then; he’s the man who made us big. We just started selling records up there in Norway and had no clue what was going on.”
Liv Kristine says the fast success of Theatre of Tragedy and the money, paired with pressure from labels perhaps led to the split.
“Major labels, big deals, that was maybe too fast for a couple of the guys in my band. So when we released Musique and Assembly, sales weren’t that great and labels were complaining. If they came out now they’d [do great because] that’s in, that’s what’s in now. We were very much ahead of our time. Our audiences wanted us to do what we did on our first three albums. The labels wanted more pop music. So with all this pressure and the sales not going that well, I guess me being in Germany and the rest of the guys in Norway it created a sort of crisis. So they kicked me out. I was 2,000 kilometers away! And you have nothing to say then. I’m really sad they kicked me out of the band and I really never understood why they did it and the way they did it. But still Leaves’ Eyes came into existence because they kicked me out so I’m still here and we’re going strong, so nothing happens in vain.”
I was impressed by her honesty on that matter, but I knew I had to kick it back to Leaves’ Eyes and keep it positive. She had already mentioned that the female-fronted metal style is in vogue nowadays. I asked her if this has attracted more women to come out to metal shows:
“I see Lita Ford and Doro as forerunners, even though the music they did and still do is quite different. But great women on stage will attract a more female audience. We still have more males though – that’s kind of the game – but I enjoy it very much. But it’s nice to cross roads while travelling with Tarja [Turunen, formerly of Nightwish] or Anneke [van Giersbergen, formerly of The Gathering] and we can talk about ANYTHING other than the music business!”
I then asked Liv what she thought the biggest achievement thus far for Leaves’ Eyes and emphatically she said it was their headlining set at Wacken Open Air 2012 with a full Viking ship and twenty Vikings running around. It probably didn’t hurt that Iron Maiden played right after them! To that end, I had to ask what it’s like playing such huge shows and why bands still come to places like North America to only play for a few hundred a night:
“In the US the market is growing for this kind of music. I really appreciate that. It’s important to discover new markets. Europe is big when it comes to festivals, but club shows it’s not that attractive anymore. There is at least one show every day. And that’s a lot of money for the audience [to pick and choose]. In one city, like Vienna, you might have five shows on a Monday night – what do you do? What can you expect? People in Europe don’t really want to go out in the middle of the week. They’d rather go out on the weekends and save their money for the big festivals. I for one enjoy playing here. People are so grateful.”