For the Loveless Lonely Lives
CoC chats with Peter Poulsen and Thomas Jensen of Saturnus
by: Pedro Azevedo
Saturnus managed to make a significant impression within the doom metal scene with the quality melodic doom/death of their debut _Paradise Belongs to You_. However, for me it was its successor, the very broken-hearted MCD titled _For the Loveless Lonely Nights_, that most clearly proved there was something special about this band: the emotion was definitely there, both on the melodic doom/death tracks and on the acoustic ones, supported by well above average musical quality. The recently released full-length follow-up to that MCD, _Martyre_ [reviewed in this issue], is another worthy effort by the band, even though I have mixed feelings about a few of its songs. Still, Saturnus, who started out as a melodic death metal band and then played what seems to have been a rather life-changing gig with My Dying Bride, seem poised to maintain their place as one of today's melodic, dark-romantic doom metal's highest exponents. Having once played with a choir inside a church and having been nominated for the Danish equivalent to the Grammy awards in the past seemed to be further subjects for interesting conversation; so here is a brief e-mail chat with guitarist Peter Poulsen and vocalist Thomas Jensen.

CoC: You seem to have been somewhat influenced by My Dying Bride, with whom you played a gig in 1996. How influential was that to your progression as a band?

Peter Poulsen: In the beginning of Saturnus we played melodic death metal, but the gig with My Dying Bride in 1996 opened our eyes to something else that could express our music better. Maybe that's why we have those influences from My Dying Bride.

CoC: These days, however, the evolution of your musical style tends to remind me more of the kind of path followed by Anathema towards a lighter and more melodic form of doom metal; yet you certainly have not forsaken the death vox on _Martyre_. Most bands, however, would probably say death vox do not fit well with the kind of melodic, broken-hearted doom you play -- I disagree and feel the death vox do suit your music very well. Do you think they will continue to be a part of your music in the future?

Thomas Jensen: As the years pass you evolve from what you started from, and will on your way maybe end up in another place, different from where you started. Maybe the death vox will stay. Maybe they won't. It's all in what you feel at the moment.

CoC: Where do you think your sound might evolve to next, emotion-wise and also as far as becoming instrumentally softer or heavier again?

PP: We can't say, for the time being. But we're creating some new material, and it will take us further on the way to expressing ourselves in this particular moment in time. So it will still be Saturnus again, just new!

CoC: Speaking of Anathema, you have now included a new half-sung, half-growled vocal style, somewhat reminiscent of Darren White [formerly of Anathema and The Blood Divine] but sometimes maybe more "rocking", together with your death grunts and clean vox. Why did you decide to use this new vocal style in your music?

TJ: Because Darren White is my favourite singer!!

CoC: Can you tell us more about your 1997 concert in St. Stefan's Church with a female choir? That's quite an unusual event for a metal band...

PP: That is quite an unusual event for a metal band indeed, and it caused quite a stir in the Danish church. Klaus Olsen, a sound/picture artist, had been involved in an arrangement in the church the previous year, and the priestess, Anne Braad, said that she, for long Friday (you know, the day long ago when somebody was crucified to death), needed death and destruction!! Klaus answered her: "I know a band that I guess will be very interested!" And that's it.

CoC: Another thing which is rather unusual for metal bands is to get nominated for national music awards, yet you were nominated for Best Hard Rock Release of the Year for your _For the Loveless Lonely Nights_ MCD in something that is supposed to be like the Danish Grammy awards... How was it like? And, by the way... who won?

PP: It was great fun to be nominated for the Danish Grammy awards (free food and beer). It was the second time that the "best hard rock" category was included in the show. We didn't win the award, but we won the party... so fuck the prize! Superfuzz (at the time an unreleased, unknown band... I guess they stopped playing as well) won the award and we were very happy on their account... bull...

CoC: You had Flemming Rasmussen, of Metallica fame, as your producer for _Martyre_. What motivated that? Are you happy with his work?

PP: Mr. Flemming "Trainconductor" Rasmussen is a very gifted man who knows his ways in every kind of music; and we talked about the possibilities for havin' him doing the CD, contacted him and he was open and keen on doing the project with us. It's very nice when you can work with a man you have been talking and listening to all your childhood. We hope he's up for the next CD, which we are at this time working hard on!

CoC: What about the album itself, how much of a progression do you feel it was from your past releases? How satisfied are you with it?

PP: Of course there must be progression from one release to the next; you grow as a person and as a musician and you reflect about life as you grow with it. -We- are very satisfied with _Martyre_, it just couldn't be better!

CoC: Despite some changes, _Martyre_ carries on your darkly romantic doom metal style. Do you think you can write, play or even enjoy such broken-hearted, gloomy music even if you're feeling good and things are going well for you, or does it take some real feeling behind the music for you?

PP: As said before, we grow all the time and every particular moment in your lives brings sadness and happiness with it. We are very happy people on the outside, but yet we cannot deprive ourselves of the nothingness we grow in. The music and lyrics will stay sad with us.

CoC: What kinds of music does the band generally enjoy these days?

PP/TJ: We can only speak for ourselves. In comparison it will be something like "mainstream rock", metal in general, pop... whatever; we're not that fixated on style, names or production, just as long as the music talks to us!

CoC: Is there anything else you'd like to mention to end this interview?

PP/TJ: Stay heavy and keep smiling... Saturnus is coming to a town near you... and tell all your friends we're "nice" people...


(article submitted 12/8/2000)

5/18/2006 P Azevedo 8 Saturnus - Veronika Decides to Die
8/12/2000 P Azevedo 8 Saturnus - Martyre
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