QUICKIE OF THE WEEK: A short interview with Tomas ‚Zorn‘ Nilsson (Zornheym)

written by Marko Jakob | 23.12.2021 |

Pix666: Hello Tomas. Thanks for your time. How are you doing these days, are you alive and well? How are the other guys from Zornheym?

Zorn: Hello Pix666 and thank you for your interest in Zornheym! I’m doing very well here in Sweden. I just became a father for the second time, my youngest son is now 4 weeks old so there is a lot of focus on him and my oldest son at the moment. The other guys are also doing well, we stay in contact more or less every other day in our band chat.

Pix666: Please introduce your band to the readers in a few short sentences. How did you meet as a band and what kind of music do you make?

Zorn: I formed the band in the middle of 2014 when my first son was born. I was determined to form my dream band that would revolve around a concept and incorporating orchestral metal. I wrote the first half of “Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns” and started to look for companions for this new musical journey. First I found Scucca through a common friend. He turned out to be the right guy for the technical side of things and a great co-arranger when it comes to the orchestral parts and how to write things down in notation etc. After that I stumbled over a video clip of Bendler performing live with Scar Symmetry and was blown away by his stage presence and vocal skills. I knew straight away that I wanted him to be the frontman of Zornheym and when I presented the idea and the music to him and quickly accepted to join us! Lastly we found Steve Joakim. The debut album was recorded with a session drummer and when the first shows were booked Steve Joakim was recommended to us. He executed his duties behind the kit fantastically so we offered him to join the band as well which he gladly accepted.

Zornheym plays symphonic melodic death metal with heavy metal and black metal influences. The concept revolves around an asylum called Zornheim and all our albums will be about that asylum in one way or another. Our music and concept is the perfect blend of a great TV-series with a heavy and catchy soundtrack.

Pix666: You played in other bands for many years before you founded Zornheym. How much did these experiences help you in founding the new band?

Zorn: The more you play live the more you learn what works for a live situation. I think that is something that I have learned from the previous bands that I have played with. I have also learned a lot of valuable lessons on how NOT to do things. This is the first band in a very long time where I am band leader and the main composer. Maybe I should have started this journey earlier, who knows. I am very happy that I chose to do it and this is by far the most original band and fun band that I have ever played with.

Pix666: How do you create your songs and what are your lyrics about?

Zorn: I compose the music at home in my home studio. Usually the guitars come first and then I start building a light orchestral draft for the whole production. When I have some parts nailed down, with a clear verse, pre-chorus etc I send it over to Bendler so he can start trying out different vocal ideas. Then he sends some stuff back to me and I start tweaking the music a little bit so it fits better with the vocals. I also give him feedback on some stuff and tell him my ideas about the vocal melodies or patterns. After that we usually meet up and go through everything together and start adding some nonsense lyrics as placeholders. When we are done I tweak the music a bit more and then I go over to Scucca’s studio to work through the orchestral bits with him. Scucca and I start adding different sound designs and go through everything.

When we are happy he starts writing down the orchestral parts in notation and I start working with Steve Joakim with the drum arrangements. He listens through my rough ideas that I have programmed for the pre-production and then does his thing on it. After this I might tweak the guitar riffs a bit again to adjust it to the drums or maybe Steve had some input on some rhythmic patterns. After that wec replace the temporary lyrics with the correct lyrics. It’s usually already planned where in the overall story/concept the song is coming from so I write some narrative ideas about what will happen in the song’s story before the lyrics in a document for all the song details. When the words are done we might adjust the vocals one more time and then the song is ready to be recorded at Wing Studios!

Pix666: In addition to your first album “Where Hatred Dwells and Darkness Reigns”, a graphic novel has also been published. How did you come up with this idea? Do you make these comics yourself or did you hire an artist for this and what is the connection between the comics and the album?

Zorn: Since our concept is rather big and complex we felt early on that we should tell the story with more art forms than music and lyrics. I then remembered that King Diamond’s album “conspiracy” has a few comic frames in the booklet and felt that the comic format would be perfect for us to tell the stories from the asylum!

Our comic art is made by the very talented finish artist Anu Bring-Saari. She is right now working on the second issue. Me and Scucca are writing the text to the comic. The comic goes deeper into the stories that we tell in the songs so you can fully grasp the lyrics. 

Pix666: This year you released your second album – a real killer album – the fan reactions on YouTube and social media couldn’t be better. Do you look at these comments from the fans and do you generally look at all these crazy statistics?

Zorn: Thank you so much, man! It always makes us proud when we hear that someone is liking our new album! Yes I try to stay very active on social media. I always try to respond to each and every comment on youtube and the other platforms when I see them. I also try to follow some of the statistics, especially when we have released something new. There is always something you can learn from it, was the marketing plan good? Did people understand the music video etc. There’s always room for improvement.

Pix666: Social media and music streaming can be both a blessing and a curse for bands. From your point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this development for your band? How much do Zornheym use social media and where are you represented?

Zorn: The advantages are that we can reach people who follow us fairly well, especially our core audience, and have direct contact with them. The algorithms are however working really hard on destroying that, the beginning of myspace was the best era for that I guess. I do really like the direct contact with our fans or inmates of Zornheim, as we call them.

The disadvantages are that social media takes up a lot of time, time that could have been used on composing new songs or something else that would drive the music side of things forward. You need to create content very often, several times a week or most likely every day. I think we in general have grown better at creating content so it takes less time and we have split up on more members, even though it is me who runs the social media platforms.

Pix666: You will be releasing a limited edition of ‘The Zornheim Sleep Experiment’ as a music cassette in early 2022 – a really cool idea. But do you think people still have devices at home in which they can play music cassettes, or is something like that bought as a pure collector’s item nowadays?

Zorn: Haha I have no idea actually. I have seen posts of people who have walkmans where they are listening to cassette tapes. Graveless soul Records offered us to release the album on a professional cassette tape, and I have never released anything on that format, except for old demos in the late ‘90s. So I was thrilled when they offered us to do it. They are also walking an extra mile with the release and will add stickers and a cool poster with the release. Some people have messaged me about the release and wanted to pre-book several copies, so there seems to be a market for it. I’m just very happy that it is actually happening!

Pix666: Is there any other merch to buy in your store besides the album, maybe some cool clothes that people could wear on your next tour?

Zorn: Yeah, we have several t-shirt designs, a hoodie, patches, beanies – great now for when the winter is coming! We have sold out on the first graphic novel though, we might need to restock on that one!

Pix666: Let’s stay on the topic of touring and live concerts. Were you allowed to play a concert or tour for the album release and are there already plans for concerts in 2022?

Zorn: We were allowed to book shows, but we didn’t do it. It was around the time when my son was about to be born, so I had a lot of other things on my mind and I have been quite busy with doing interviews. We will however do some touring next year, both in Sweden and in Europe! We have done two shows the past two years, both in Denmark. So we are hungry for more and to be able to play these new bangers live!

Pix666: You have already played on the big stages with your previous bands – what are your dreams and wishes for Zornheym – where should your journey take you? 😊

Zorn: To return to all the big stages with Zornheym and to bring an incredible stage show and to perform with a small orchestra and maybe a bunch of actors and stuff that will bring the stage alive. Play at big festivals and cool theater venues and have a real spectacle around the band.

Pix666: As a musician, you surely spend most of your time creating music – but what else do you do in your free time when you want to distract yourself – are there any interesting hobbies you pursue?

Zorn: I spend a lot of time with my fiance and my two sons. I also like reading a lot or listening to books or podcasts. The topics are music, fantasy, horror or memoirs. I also like sports, running and taking walks out in the forests of Sweden.

From time to time I allow myself to get lost in a video game. I’m currently playing through Assassins Creed: Valhalla, which is an amazing game! One of the best that I have played in a long time. Just like with my music I love epic games with a solid story sprinkled with reality!

Pix666: By the way, Christmas is coming. Do you like Christmas and how do you celebrate it?

Zorn: I work as a teacher so I will get the holidays off, I will spend it with my family and our closest relatives. This is my youngest son’s first Christmas so that will be exciting. I’m also planning on working on some new songs, catching up with some friends and my vinyl collection, and of course playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla!

Pix666: Do you have any other news about Zornheym, that you would like to share with the fans?

Zorn: We have several tours in the pipeline that will be announced soon I think. The tours will happen in Scandinavia and Europe. I have slowly started working on the concept for the next album, even though my biggest focus is still to give interviews for the new album. The second graphic novel is slowly being painted. We will release it sometime next year. We might record another music video. I hope can do something about our idea to expand our concept into the world of board games because Scucca has been talking about that as well, that would be really cool. We have a folder called board games ideas.

Pix666: Thank you very much for the interesting answers – Good luck for the future and stay healthy!

Zorn: Thank you for your interest in Zornheym and thank you, the reader, who made it all the way down here. Now, go and enjoy our music and drop a comment about it on any of our social media platforms!



photos © by Zornheym