Leaves’ Eyes and Atrocity are an interesting pair of bands, as Leaves’ Eyes contain all four members of Atrocity with the addition of vocalist Liv Kristine, who is married to Atrocity lead singer Alex Krull. So, the current tour works like this: Atrocity take to the stage and play a set of their extensive death metal back catalogue, then a support act fills in the gap. Then, all of Atrocity return to the stage, with Kristine taking over lead vocal duties and performing as Leaves’ Eyes, playing their own particular brand of symphonic/folk metal. We caught up both Kristine and guitarist Thorsten Bauer at their recent show at The Institute in Birmingham as part of their UK tour in support of the new Leaves’ Eyes’ new record Symphonies of the Night and Atrocity’s album Okkult.
So, how is the tour going?
Liv Kristine: It’s going very well. We had such a warm welcome in Cardiff and played full houses in Nottingham and Manchester, which we’re very grateful for. The short distances means we get hotel rooms instead of living on the bus, which is a great comfort.
Thorsten Bauer: Touring the UK is a great experience. We last played Birmingham in 1994. I love the English humour and I’m always happy to be here, especially here in the birthplace of heavy metal!
And how have you been finding British audiences?
LK: British audiences… Start quiet [laughs]. Then, three or four songs in, the crowd comes alive. It can be hard to pull a crowd because there are so many shows and you have to be selective due to only having so much money, so we really appreciate our fans coming out.
So, Thorsten, you and the rest of the guys have to pull a double shift, playing with Atrocity and then Leaves’ Eyes. Is that not exhausting?
TB: No, I mean we’ve done two half-hour sets before, so it’s fine. It’s a lot harder in hot countries [laughs]. It’s two completely different sets so it’s more refreshing than being tired. The way we work is more like being an actor, interpreting each bit differently. It’s the opposite of being exhausted.
Within the group, is Leaves’ Eyes seen as an extension of Atrocity or a separate entity?
TB: They’re completely separate entities. Came from a different background and each band’s popularity varies between countries. It allows us to try new and different things. Leaves’ Eyes is more set in a style, whilst Atrocity has more variety.
Leaves’ Eyes clearly has a wide range of influences, which is quite unusual for a metal band.
LK: Yes, we are all very open-minded. We like everything from Lamb of God and Slayer to Kate Bush and Tori Amos. When we composed Symphonies, we just let in anything and went with the creative flow. Symphonies sums up all the good things about Leaves’ Eyes. It marks ten years of the band, and is a great start to another ten years.
Leaves’ Eyes lyrics are mainly in English, along with a few other languages. Is that down to wanting to appeal to as wide a market as possible?
LK: I feel it fits my music. I choose any language that inspires me, the music decides the language of the lyrics. I studied linguistics and love old and Shakespearean English. When writing for Symphonies I dug out lots of old books to get inspiration from.
It must be quite an interesting dynamic, writing and touring with your husband.
LK: It’s great! We make a damn good team, and we compliment each other. It works at home and it works on tour. The only negative side is neither of us can stay home and look after our son, but thankfully Alex’s mother has been amazing with that.
Symphonic metal can be difficult to recreate live due to it’s sheer scale, how do Leaves’ Eyes overcome that?
LK: Obviously we’d love an orchestra, but that’s not financially viable. To me, it’s really important to record only what you can recreate live. The live experience should be bigger and more intense than the album. This is the first tour I’ve had to practise for which has been a challenge, but you see the progress. It’s challenging but I love it.
What would you say was biggest musical achievement?
TR: There are so many, it’s hard, you know? We spent three months in Asia, meaning I celebrated my 40th birthday on the night train to St Petersburg. Maybe one highlight would be Wacken, where Leaves’ Eyes played directly before Iron Maiden. With Atrocity, I guess it is just having existed so long and never standing still.
LK: Well, in 2003 I was kicked out of Theatre of Tragedy [Kristine’s previous band]. But in that year we recorded Lovelorn, Leaves’ Eyes first record, which was great doing an album with friends and touring. And we [Krull and Kristine] became parents at the same time. And I also got free of my contracts so I could control my solo career. So, kind of all of that year.
What are you plans after your UK tour finishes?
LK: We’re showing America what they have been missing! Last time we went, we were meant to be supporting Kamalot, but they had to cancel and we had already flown out to Miami, so we had to put on a few shows to get our plane fare home. I’m really looking forward to them hearing the last two albums live.
TR: We’re doing 70,000 tons of metal while we’re out there, and then we’re back in Europe for summer festivals. We already have Italy, Germany and the Cheque Republic confirmed with more to come, so we’re really excited about that.
Once the interview ended it was time for the show. Atrocity were particularly tight, especially when considering how difficult it is to recreate death metal in a live venue, but the standout performance of the night was Leaves’ Eyes. Never has anyone appeared to have enjoyed a rainy January evening in Birmingham more that Kristine, with her enthusiasm rubbing off on the crowd (who, as she said, took a couple of songs to get going). The title track off the most recent album was a particular highlight, as was ‘My Destiny’ from Njord, released in 2009. After the latter was the longest bout of applause and cheering this reviewer has heard outside of an arena tour. The show most definitely attained Liv’s aim; the show was without doubt bigger and more intense than any of their records.