Interview by Miriam Cadoni

I never ever thought in de annus horribilis 2020 something like this would happen. I’m referring to the fact that one of the legends of gothic metal music is back, in particular Norway’s legendary band Trail of Tears is back on track. In this exclusive interview, we got some time to catch up with singer and band leader Ronny Thorsen and to learn how to the project came out together, which the future expectations are and what it means to be back after so much time. Enjoy!

First of all, how are you Ronny and how these precarious days are treating you?

Thank you very much for having me. Right now, I think my daily life, in a lot of ways is the same as a lot of other people. I guess, we’re just waiting for the world to return to normality.

So, we can jump on a plane again, visit our friends, see concerts, visit festivals and have a sort of feeling of normality because it has been quite a while now. Hopefully, by the next summer or middle of the next year, we’ll be able to return again to the live stage and have some sense of normality.

It’s recent news that Trail of Tears is back in activity after a 7 years stop. So, let me ask you. What triggered this comeback and when you started planning for this?

Well, I think, this whole reunion has been in the making for well over a year, already. We first, started to talk about it in September of the last year. Of course, then COVID happened and everything got kind of postponed and put on the back for a while. But, we have been having meetings and conversations for over a year now and you know, I think it was just a longing for playing music together.

You have to remember that part of the line up we have now is made up by the original members which we split up back in 2006 and we have basically sat together and figure out the right time. Also with the last line up, we have split up like 7 years ago and that’s a long time, all of us have different projects on our respected parts and once again, it was the mutual longing for playing the music that we have been creating together.

In a lot of sense, this is our baby and we thought to ourselves “let’s at least investigate the possibility to get back together and play a few shows, feel each other out and see if we want to pursue it”. Like I said, we’ve been talking for well over an year now and we have grown a lot individually. Basically, we had a good feeling about it and we’ve decided to go on back on February. Even if with COVID we had to postponed it a little bit, we’ve finally to put all together and we have decided to make it official.

A couple of minutes ago, you have mentioned both the split up in 2006 and in 2013. Both events have to considered such as main milestones in the band. However, what I wanted to ask is how these situations impacted on the band throughout its history?

Well, I’ve been asking myself my question too. I think there’s no simple answer to that because it was really happened is just life. I mean, people grow apart and they have different priorities, someone starts getting a family and a more demanding job. Or for example, someone starts to get more responsibilities and so, your priorities change. Naturally, nobody wants to go through a break up whether is in a band or in a relationship, you just want everything to run smoothly but sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

It’s not necessary nobody’s fault, it’s just the way things work out. And now, we have put behind us 14 years, it’s a long time and some of those differences have been eliminated now which brought us to be more on the same page. Also, we aren’t all the original members and we are just 3 of them. Our bass player comes from the second main line up of Trail of Tears too.

In total, we are 4 band band members and we have built now this bridge between the old and the new. Naturally, the inclusion of Ailyn represents fresh blood to the band. She’s been working with Jonathan in Sirenia for few years and it’s one of those things that through the years a lot of water under the bridge disappears after a while and it rises up. Surely, we are more grown up now and we have our priorities more in line with each other, in the end it’s what made it possible. Obviously, if we were in the same place as we were years ago, it wouldn’t be possible to even have this conversation but now, I think we are able to continue to the band.

Considering again the peculiar band history, which are the strong qualities that makes this line up stable?

Personally speaking, it’s what I said before, we’re just more grown up. I mean, you have to remember that when we started out we where 14/15 years old. Basically, we’re a bunch of kids and we had really no idea of what we’re doing. We just wanted to play music and all of the sudden, things started to take off and we signed our first record deal before we were 18 years old. Practically, I went straight from high school to a tour bus and I stayed there for a lot of years.

So, it was never my plan and I just wanted to play with my friends and then, like I said, sometimes life gets in the way and people get girlfriends, maybe they have kids and then, your priorities change, you get more responsibilities. Due to this, you can’t continue to put your personal priorities first and you have to come to a compromise. Sometimes, the situation is related to solely some people and not everybody.

So, you have different priorities and that’s often what causes the tension. Now, we are all grown ups and we have same personal goals. For this reason, we would not be a band that’s gonna tour for half an year because we cannot do that anymore. We all have jobs, families and responsibilities and this is not our livelihood anymore. Now, this represent a break from our every day’s life, so to speak.

In the end, what was everybody was missing, we needed that kind of anchor in our lives that we can be our escape, in a way. Like I said, we’ve been talking for a long time and that was one of the most important things that we agreed on. We have agreed on our ambitions, on our priorities and because of that, it was once again possible to start up again. On the other hand, if we were still in the mindset as we were many years ago, this would be possible.

Photo by Frank Morten Møller

You mentioned already the involvement of the original members Jonathan Perez and Runar Hansen respectively on drums and guitars. Then we have Endre Moe, which was part of the second line up. But also, we have the new members Nicolay Johnsen and Ailyn. How the collaboration started with them and how they happened to be involved?

Well, as for Nico, he lives in the same town as us, in the South of Norway. So, we already knew him before, for example he plays in Zerosonic and Harm too. You know, the music scene here in Kristiansand is quite small so, everybody knows each other. And also, he has been a long-time fan of the band and he been playing together with Jonathan in a cover band. Actually, we got to know him through that. Instead, with Ailyn, she was working in Sirenia with Jonathan during the last few years. So, they are also good friends and like us, she lives here in Kristiansand.

The fact that we are all living in the same city makes it much easier because this time, we didn’t want to have all the members spread all over the country or all over the continent. Personally speaking, I have a personal experience with that and it makes really difficult to rehearse. Also, it can really get expensive to get together. In the end, it’s a combination of musical abilities and the convenience to get everybody at the same place.

Recently, Trail of Tears has signed a worldwide booking deal with the acclaimed agency Doomstar Bookings. What are the general expectations about this?

Actually, we signed with Doomstar before we even made the reunion official and it took so long in doing that because we wanted to be ready. We didn’t want to announce our comeback and then, start to looking for a partners. I think, for a band of our level, you know, we are relatively small band with a past and a reputation considering that we have released 7 albums. For a mid-size band like us, it’s important to have a strong partner that can helps us to get the band out on the live scene.

Due to the numerous amount of bands, there is a lot of competition, especially for festivals. Also, it was important to outsource that because I don’t have anymore the time or the energy to contact festivals or taking care of all the related logistics like I was doing in the past.

Mainly, our expectations are quite realistic and primarily, our aim at the moment is focus on festivals as well as territories in which we never played such as South America. It’s one of our big priorities for us. I don’t think, you’ll see a band going on a tour for 6 weeks in Europe anymore. We definitely passed that we rather like to do fewer dates but bigger events. The purpose for this deal is to achieve that.

Let’s say, the band will publish out new material and ideally you will plan just a 2 weeks tour and then focus on festivals, correct?

Yes, that’s the plan for now. I mean, we don’t want to exclude anything. We’ll evaluate every offer that comes our way but we’ll rather play the bigger festivals. We want that for few reasons: first of all, it’s easier and less time-consuming. Secondly, we get the chance to play for a lot of more people and reach out to a whole different target of audience that of when you play on your own. Of course, if we get an offer from a bigger band to play as an opening act, we will surely consider that.

At the end of the day, you spend from 5 to 6 weeks on a bus and you get to play for 200 or 300 people every night, and if we can play for much more people during a weekend, that’s much better. We simply jump on a plane and you play two big festivals, after you fly back I can simply go back at my normal work the following Monday.

As I mentioned before, the band is working on new material too, so what the fans should expect? Also are you planning to self-release this material or sign a record deal?

Well, we have started working on new music but it’s too early to say how’s going to be. There’s definitely a lot of music laying around, we have to kind to filter everything out and carve a new path for what we want to do. There will be new music for sure but our focus now is to dust off the old material, get the name out and go play live again.

That’s the biggest past that we have been missing because during the last few years and before the band broke up, we didn’t get to play as much we wanted. Actually, there are so many songs and albums that we really would like to play…

For example, there’s the second album “Profoundemonium” which is really good and quite valid still, so…

Sure. Actually, this year it marks its 20th year anniversary from its release and when we have announced the reunion, we also mentioned something about performing some albums in its entirety. When we get to play live again, for sure it will be cool to play some special and dedicated shows featuring exclusively “Profoundemonium” in its entirety.

Also, in 2022 it marks the 20th anniversary of “A New Dimension of Might” and soon, it will be time to celebrate the 15th anniversary of “Existentia”. Hopefully, we’ll manage to play few shows where we celebrate these albums.

So, Ronny, we’re at the end of the interview. Please be free to say hi to your fans and our readers. Thank you so much!

I really enjoyed the interview a lot and thank you for having us. We’re looking forward to meeting everyone as soon as possible when everything opens up. We missed you and we’re looking forward to see you all soon.