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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Lost Horizon

Interviewed by Mike Korn
Interview with Lost Horizon from 2001
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Lost Horizon is a new name in the heavy metal world, but in looking at your history, I see the band was formerly known as Highlander. Why was there a transition from Highlander to Lost Horizon?
Actually, Lost Horizon is Highlander. We signed with Music For Nations as Highlander but we found out later that there was a German band with that name that had already released six albums. That made it hard for us to release our album under the name of Highlander, especially in Germany. We decided to change our name, which wasn't easy, and after weeks of discussions, we came up with Lost Horizon.
MSJ: So there's no real musical difference?
It's the exact same material as Highlander and the fact is, the very same material that was written for "Awakening the World " was written in the early '90's, around 1992.
MSJ: So you've got almost 10 years of history behind you.
We haven't been playing constantly for 10 years but we've been playing in the Gothenburg area for a long time. We played off and on from 1991 to about 1994. Then it went on ice till about 1998, when we were Highlander and it's gone right up to the present as Lost Horizon.
MSJ: In your early days, you had members who later went on to join Hammerfall.
Joacim Cans, the lead singer of Hammerfall, was one of the original members of Highlander. We've been changing members during the different eras of the band and during the most recent era of Highlander, Patrick Rafling (Hammerfall drummer) and Stefan Helmgrim (Hammerfall guitarist) and Joacim Cans were all in it, but then Wojtek (Lost Horizon guitarist, aka Transcendental Protagonist) and Martin (L.H. bassist, aka Cosmic Antagonist) went on tour with Luciferion, which is Wojtek's death metal band, which led to Highlander being put on ice. Joacim and the others went on to form Hammerfall. A couple of years later, when Wojtek, Martin and I decided to make a great metal album, we restarted Highlander with some new members.
MSJ: Your home town, Gothenburg, is the center of the melodic death metal movement, having produced bands like In Flames and At The Gates. Were you into that sound originally, did you get converted to the power metal style?
Actually, we don't look upon ourselves as a power metal band, due to the genre that's built itself around this definition, but we've always been playing this kind of music and we've tried to explore various musical fields. We've had musical education, especially Martin and I, and we've tried to play different styles to get better as musicians. But it's always true metal that we come back to, it's what we've always done since we started playing.
MSJ: Over in Europe, the melodic power metal scene has been pretty strong. Would you say that it's peaked?
I think so, since all the new bands that have come out sound exactly the same and they also write about exactly the same things...witches, dragons, warriors, swords, that sort of stuff. Stuff that doesn't have anything to do with reality, really. It sounds the same way it did ten years ago. I'm concerned if we don't develop this musical style further and make it interesting again, it will fade away.
MSJ: When I look at the cover of "Awakening the World", and see your publicity photos and stage names, it seems fantasy plays a strong part in your band. How would you differentiate your band from others such as Rhapsody, what's the guiding concept?
Of course, fantasy plays an important part in the Lost Horizon concept. The thing is, when we make music or write lyrics, we try to symbolize something that is real and easy to recognize. You can identify more with the music, with the feeling and emotion of the music. The cover is a big symbol for how we look at the world and it's fairly obvious when you look at it and read the lyrics, what Lost Horizon is about.
MSJ: The characters that you portray, do they each have their own story to tell?
No! These are not "characters" that we try to produce. These are just titles that we chose to use. Those are our spiritual titles to give another angle to who we are. It's also symbolic, it goes along with the artwork and pictures and the rest of the package.
MSJ: Did each of you come up with your own title and look?
Yeah. We tried to find the names that reflected our personalities. To look for exact meanings is pretty useless, I think.
MSJ: Your drumming on the album is awesomely fast. You could almost call it blast beat drumming. Who were some of your influences as a drummer?
When I started playing, we were listening to a lot of Iron Maiden, so have to say Nicko McBrain was one, but pretty soon I got bored with him. When I heard the Dream Theater album "Images and Words", I heard that Mike Portnoy's drumming was absolutely amazing. It showed me a whole new universe of how you can use the drum kit. Recently I discovered how much of a genius Terry Bozzio is. So I'm into extreme kinds of drumming and maybe you can hear this in my arrangements. You could say I'm Dream Theater damaged! I wanted my drumming to be very clean and very powerful.
MSJ: You had a pretty extensive thanks list on the album and one thing that was very unusual about it was that you mentioned a lot of rappers like Onyx and Snoop Doggy Dog. That's something out of the ordinary on an album like this
Well, in the thanks list, we try to give people a picture of who we are and what we appreciate. In my list, I tried to show the width of the different things I like. I've been listening to rap for quite some time now and I love the contrast it gives to metal. They are saying pretty much the same things I think metal should be saying. The music is totally different, of course, because it is sampling and digital producing. It's a music art that appeals to me. I feel there is great music in every genre. You shouldn't limit yourself to just one because you will lose a lot of feelings that you would have if you listened to that particular kind of music. , maybe.
MSJ: Getting back to the lyrical influence, are you a fan of fantasy and science fiction? What would be some of your favorite films and books?
Oooooh! Well, "Star Wars", of course, is one of the greatest. The most recent movie that had a real effect on me was "The Matrix" .I just went, "wow"! Another one that feels exactly the same as I do. There are so many!I can just sit here babbling. "Starship Troopers" was a great movie. There's a lot of irony in that movie.
MSJ: A lot of people didn't get that one.
I know!
MSJ: There's a lot of satire in Verhoeven's movies.
Yeah, all the time! I'm laughing the whole movie!
MSJ: Now looking at you guys, "Braveheart" is obviously an influence.
Yes. Great, great movie. Awesome.
MSJ: Lost Horizon's music has almost a soundtrack quality. Would you ever do a soundtrack for a film?
Of course, no doubt about it. That's one of our fantasies. More people than you have been asking us about that. If the movie is honorable and respectable, of course we will do it.
MSJ: How are the songs written for Lost Horizon? Are they done by committee? .
No. Wojtek is the one writing all the songs and lyrics. He comes up with the original structure of the song and then we arrange each instrument after the music so it fits. We do this with every instrument. It takes a long time, of course. We do it both in the rehearsal room and on the computer.
MSJ: You all get your input.
Exactly. When it comes to lyrics, he's the one putting the words to the music but it is constantly being discussed by all of us. He is really putting words to the whole band's thoughts. He has that great ability to make it right.
MSJ: What's the one philosophy that dominates everything Lost Horizon does?
The common thing on this album is that the listener should listen to his own inner voice and follow his heart and not do what other people expect him to do. To take control of your life and steer it in the right direction.
MSJ: What plans do you have on the live front?
Right now, we've got 2 festivals in early August that we are looking forward to, Wacken Open Air and Euro-rock. Then we go on a European tour during September with Iced Earth. We are very excited about going out with those guys.
MSJ: How about the States?
Not that we have heard but when we hear the call, we will come over there.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought?
Ooooh. It was "Explorer's Club", a band on Magna Carta Records. It features Terry Bozzio, Trent Gardner, James Labrie, John Petrucci.
MSJ: What was the last concert you saw just for yourself?
I think it was...Kiss, when they were on their "Psycho Circus" tour. It was a long time ago! I've been to a lot of concerts but not because I really wanted to.
MSJ: Any final words?
That's the hardest question so far! I've said so many things, I only feel stupid when I hear myself, but hopefully I'll see all of you over in America soon!
 
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