Created by Olaf Thorsen who once had a membership in Labyrinth, Vision Divine of Italy was soon to become a major player in the world power metal arena. Their latest masterwork is entitled 9 Degrees West of The Moon, and it shows a band at the very height of their creative prowess. Rhapsody Of Fire vocalist Fabio Lione has rejoined the band after an absence of a few years, contributing his highly impressive vocals to the proceedings. We recently contacted guitarist extraordinaire Olaf Thorsen to final out more about this exciting new time in the history of the mighty Vision Divine…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Vision Divine and how long the band has been together.
I’m Olaf, the guitar player and the founder of this band, which I formed in 1998. So far, we released 5 studio albums and a live DVD.
How does the new CD 9 Degrees West of The Moon compare to your previous recordings?
It’s always difficult to compare our CD’s, as we are used to change quite a lot in terms of sound and style. The last one, anyway, surely sounds a bit darker, and more progressive than the other ones.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title?
It’s not a concept the way you mean it, but anyway all the lyrics are connected by a main theme: the whole album is a dialogue between a father and the son he lost.
Where did you come up with the ideas for some of the lyrics this time around?
As usual, I take inspiration from my real life, but of course I try not to be too much autobiographic, as it wouldn’t make much sense to me.
Vision Divine reached an important status in terms of lyrics, which are not strictly connected to the typical metal arguments, and every time I write a new album, I really care a lot about finding the right subjects to talk about.
What made Fabio Lione decide to return to Vision Divine for this album and is he still working with Rhapsody Of Fire?
I don’t know much about Rhapsody, as we’re not used to talk about them. I only know that he decided to return to Vision Divine ’cause basically he never liked that he had to leave because of a contract clausal with his old management. Since that contract expired, he’s been more than happy to come back.
What happened to former vocalist Michele Luppi and do you still keep in touch?
I am not in touch with him anymore, and what happened is simple: I changed him ’cause he was not committed to the band, but only to his own personal career. I don’t like this, as I think and act as a band.
He’s a great singer, but we had too many problems during his stay because of our different ideas, and I think it’s been better for the both of us that we finally split, so that we are both free to do things they way we like.
What did Straovarius member Timo Tolkki contribute to the making of 9 Degrees West Of The Moon and what was it like working with him?
Timo has been the producer of the album, and of course he used his experience in order to help us achieving what we were looking for.
He’s not an easy guy, as you probably have guessed, but we already worked 3 times with him, and it’s not so bad as you might think.
What do you think of the current Labyrinth music and his work on various Labyrinth albums you’ve participated on?
Labyrinth has been and still is one of the best Italian bands which ever came out of Italy. I’m just proud of every single day I spent in that band, and regarding the last albums they released without me, I never lied about it: I don’t like their last albums, I think they are not bad as music itself, but it’s too far away from what Labyrinth are supposed to be, and what they are requested by the fans to be.
What do you think of the current state of the Italian metal scene?
Which scene? Do you think there is any scene in this Country? I only see bands fighting each other for any small place available.
We never changed, we never will. There is no scene, but only competition.
Beside this, it’s undoubtable that some band nowadays is not even to be called “Italian” if with this term we mean something smaller, as they are more than international.
Has Vision Divine ever played here in the States or do you plan to do so in the future?
We played there only once, at Prog Power Fest in Atlanta, and it’s been wonderful. We enjoyed it a lot, and I must admit I’ve been really surprised to see people appreciating us and knowing our songs so well. I truly hope there will be a chance for coming back, in a close future.
What could one expect from a live Vision Divine show?
FUN. This is what music is supposed to be. FUN is the main reason why I started playing this music, and this is what I am still looking for whenever I play.
We are in this business since quite a lot (10 years) now, and I can guarantee fun and a couple of good music, not forgetting to also give people a good show in its totality.
Are you involved with any other projects outside of Vision Divine?
No, I’ve never been involved in any other project, as I think that it’s not possible to give 100 to everybody. As I am composing for this band, I could have the time to do that for other bands at the same time. Of course I had Labyrinth in the past, but that was a completely different thing.
Is there any place in the world where you haven’t played that you would like to go?
Well, we played in Asia, South and North America, Europe. I guess we only miss Australia and Canada (excluding Africa, where I don’t think Metal is that much welcome), so maybe I’d like to play one show there, sooner or later, but still I’d like to come to the USA again.
Looking back, what made you guys cover Take On Me by A-HA on the Send Me An Angel album? Any new covers on the horizon?
Ahah, well, the answer is so simple: we covered that song because we just love it. It’s been funny, and a lot of people talked and still do, about it.
There will surely new covers, as we always do in our new albums, but I cannot know if it will be something in the same style of that song.
When you are not on the road, what are some of the CD’s you would enjoy listening to when relaxing at home?
When I am home, I listen to everything but metal, ’cause that’s the only moment in which I can do that! So I prefer Classical, or some old Jazz from the 30’s (that music made by those trios, in some foggy pub). Of course, I also like a lot to listen to the pop from the 80’s (like A-HA).
What’s up next for Vision Divine?
We’re leaving to South America for a new long tour, and in November, once back, we will start our shows in Europe, very probably together with Angra. I am waiting for the details, in these days.
Any messages for metal fans in the Los Angeles area?
Guys, you are lucky! I had the chance to be there this year in January for the NAMM event, and I just loved your town and its life! Enjoy it, I wish I could live there too!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
You’re more than welcome, ciao!! Olaf (Interview by Kenneth Morton)
Vision Divine on Myspace