By Carl Begai
Purely by coincidence, this interview took place on October 2nd, 2012; two years to the day Liv Kristine’s former band Theatre Of Tragedy – she was fired in 2003 – played the final show of their career. It only dawned on me an hour or two before we met up on the Leaves’ Eyes / Firewind tour to discuss her new solo album, Libertine, and the irony wasn’t lost on her either, particularly since she’s found extra room in her heart for the Theatre over the last year-and-a-half. The focus was on Libertine, but it was interesting to learn that her Theatre Of Tragedy roots played a part in its creation.
For anyone that’s been following Liv’s career, it’s no secret or surprise that her solo albums are very different from what she does with Leaves’ Eyes. Libertine is no exception to this so-called rule.
“Most people know that this is my fourth solo album, and all four albums have been in the indie pop-rock vein somehow,” Liv begins. “The fans seem to accept that my solo albums are very different from each other and from Leaves’ Eyes. For me it’s been clear all the time that my solo stuff isn’t really for the diehard metal fans. It could be, but probably not. When Napalm Records released Libertine on the Napalm label and not on Black Rose, which is the sub-label that they promised they would release it on as well as the video for ‘Paris Paris’, the metal fans were the first ones to hear it. They said ‘We don’t need this.’ Of course they don’t; I understand that. So, there was an issue with the record company but that’s now been solved.”
In the end, however, the record company’s gaffe may have paid off. Any fallout from the metal community for getting slapped with a pop-oriented album released from the same realms as Alestorm, Grave Digger, Ahab and Battlelore has been minimal at best. Judging by widespread reactions, Libertine has become a guilty pleasure for the leather-and-loud set.
“To tell you the truth, I’ve never had reviews like the ones I’ve gotten for Libertine. They’ve been absolutely fantastic. I’ve had some very interesting interviews and interview partners for this album. I was very surprised by the reviews done by the metal press, and there have been reviews done by the pop, rock and indie press all over the world. The first interview I did for Libertine was with some metal press in Belfast and the guy told me he was never into my solo projects at all, and he did the review only because he was asked to, but he thought Libertine was a really good album.”
Basically, if you’re a real man you’ll admit to liking at least some of Libertine…
‘Paris Paris’ is sure to test anyone who has a preference for Liv’s heavier side with Leaves’ Eyes. Anyone that’s followed her career through the ups and downs of Theatre Of Tragedy – from doom-goth to pop-industrial – will find some striking references to the old days. In the case of these old ears and as strange as it may sound, ‘Paris Paris’ bears a similar vibe to Theatre’s single from 2000, ‘Image’.
“I’ll tell you why; I wrote the song for the Musique album,” Liv reveals. “Ray (Rohonyi / vocals) had an idea and we worked out something very simple for it, made it sort of like a synth pop song. I still had it in my mind and I thought it was too bad we never used it, and when I was putting Libertine together I saw it becoming a little bit more rock oriented than I had originally planned. When I played the song ‘Libertine’ in Nagold, which has a Theatre Of Tragedy touch (circa the Aegis album), just to see how the people would react and the people went crazy, so that’s the direction I decided to take for this album. So, because I had the song ‘Paris Paris’ left over, I decided to rework it with my garage band (laughs). I showed it to the guys and what you hear now is what we came up with.”
The Nagold show is a conversation piece in many of the interviews Liv has done since the December 2011 performance. A small, intimate club show in Germany, the setlist featured material from her first three solo albums, a couple Leaves’ Eyes and Theatre Of Tragedy tunes, capped off with a first ever live performance of the song ‘Libertine’. Liv looks back fondly on the night.
“It was a very special evening for me because half of the audience were Theatre Of Tragedy fans. There were some Leaves’ Eyes fans and some solo project fans, but for the Theatre fans it was like (deep sigh), ‘Finally! She’s keeping the spirit alive…’ (laughs). I felt that, too. Now, getting over the whole issue of being kicked out of the band, when I look back now I think it’s such a shame everything went down the drain. Theatre Of Tragedy was a great band and I’m very happy I was a part of it. The experience made me become the artist that I am.”
Liv’s solo career is low key in comparison to the Leaves’ Eyes push, but there are thoughts and plans of bringing Libertine to the people in the future if at all possible, with a few well-loved extras included along the way.
“We’ve got a Nagold show booked, and I would like to do a handful of shows before that,” she says. “I really want to go out there and play this album live, and do some Theatre Of Tragedy songs as well. I’m going to continue with that because I realized that I’m happy doing those songs, the audience is happy with it, and I’m so proud of what we achieved and experienced. I still listen to the old albums. If I perform Theatre material it will always be kept separate from Leaves’ Eyes, but with my solo project everything is allowed.”
Which begs the question: if the opportunity arose, would she be willing to re-record a couple of ToT songs, perhaps to be included on an album of all original material as bonus tracks. No pressure… but it never hurts to ask.
“Definitely. I’ve thought about that, and I think it might be cool to do one or two songs in memory of the band.”
Live photos by Carl Begai. All rights reserved.