LORD DYING Interview: Erik Olson Looks Back on Mysterium Tremendum a Year On

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Lord Dying’s Mysterium Tremendum  was easily one of the best heavy music records of 2019. It made the top 2 of my list, and the top 10 of many others. It is also objectively the band’s most indelible and visceral work–a seminal album. The creative duo of Erik Olson (vocals/guitar) and Chris Evans (guitar) put themselves out there personally and creatively on this one, and they achieved a doom metal masterpiece. You can catch my review here.

After recently waking up with “Envy the End” in my head, I once again became enthralled with this record, and felt compelled to reach out to our friend Erik Olson to dig deeper into the record and see where he is at with it a year in hindsight. He was kind enough to indulge my curiosity.

Your newest album garnered great reviews. How did you feel about completing Mysterium Tremendum and what was the process?

We were really pleased with the finished product. It’s a record that meant a lot to us. We were meticulous over everything and knew exactly what we wanted from a production standpoint to the album art. It felt great to see our vision come to life.”

What was the most difficult part of putting together a concept piece? Was it emotional for you to write? Did you ever have second thoughts?
The most difficult part was just to make the story flow and have at least a rough timeline.  It was definitely emotional for me to write too, but that part of it isn’t difficult per se.  I’ve always been somewhat obsessed with dying and what lies beyond so that part came natural but dealing with the real life experiences was hard. We didn’t have second thoughts while writing it, we wanted it to be a tribute to Chris’ sister and her life.  What we didn’t anticipate was how much we would have to discuss her death every time we talked about the record, but that’s ok.  People tend to relate, especially if they are dealing with some grief of their own.”
For me, this album feels very different and personal. Did you feel that writing it? How did the evolution look and feel for you? 
Yeah, the album was definitely personal.  I tend to write lyrics describing a bigger picture or reality, but it usually has a double meaning that I keep for myself.  Hopefully, the listener finds something in it for themselves too.  The evolution of the album was a real pleasure.  It was a different technique in the writing process than we ever did before.  We are doing the same thing for the next album, but we have two new members that both bring something original to the table so I’m excited to see where its going. “
I can’t stop listening to this album once I’ve started. Do you find yourself doing the same after all this time? Is there anything you wish you could change? 
That was the objective, especially when we started piecing together the song order.  We wanted it to be something you don’t want to turn off but we also wanted it to be cyclical, so the last song would go right into the first song, and on and on.  I’m still really happy and wouldn’t want to change anything. “
Did you realize what you were creating as you were creating it? Did you know it was special? 

We wanted to create the best thing we could.  We wanted to be firing on all cylinders and have no boundaries.  It’s an approach we plan to use on all future releases.  Thank you for your support and understanding what we were trying to do.”

I had the album as number two on my top 10 albums of 2019, but I really struggled with not making it number one. It is an incredible album and a bit different than what Lord Dying usually does. What is the message you are hoping people get through it? I know you are a philosophical thinker, are you hoping people take the time to pick apart the lyrics? 

Well, I hope that people will take the journey we did putting it together and consider that we are all part of something bigger than we can imagine, as minuscule as we may be.  It’s also a record of hope.  The listener will definitely get more out of it picking apart the lyrics.” 

Who influences you as a musician?

I like a lot of different stuff. I really like songs that have a story to tell and leave an emotional impact. Sometimes that comes across with just an acoustic guitar or a piano. Neil Young is a constant inspiration. Then there’s also some heavier bands that do it and consistently blow me away like King Crimson and Pink Floyd.”

What is your favorite song to perform?

I really like performing ‘Severed Forever,’ its a long song and has all the elements I love about Mysterium Tremendous in one song.”

Do you have a favorite “on the road” story?

We’ve toured with a lot of incredible bands and had a lot of good times. One of my favorite times was when we were touring Europe with Red Fang for the first time. It was my 32nd birthday and while we were on stage John Sherman from Red Fang ran on stage with a bottle of Jim Beam and got the crowd to sing happy birthday to me. Then we pounded the whiskey. I don’t remember the rest (laughs).”

If you are a reader, what is your favorite book?

I love everything from Phillip K. Dick. Although we are basically living in one of his dystopian futures right now.”

One of my favorite books is “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, so much so, I refuse to watch the movie. Does living in these strange times worry you, or inspire you to write more? 
‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ is amazing!  I wish I could say that it has inspired me to write more, but unfortunately it hasn’t really.  There’s some stuff I’ve been working on but the social distancing has made it nearly impossible to meet up with Chris and we write pretty much everything together.  I expect us to have a lot of new stuff to work on once all this is over though.  

What would you change about the music industry?

I would want new bands to get a better shot at doing big tours. It’s really important for newer bands to get in front of as many people as possible but it’s extremely clicky with who decides if that happens.”

What do you think will happen with musicians during this quarantine and what can fans do to help musicians out during this difficult time?

Well I’m hoping we will see lots of amazing new music! If fans want to help keep musicians afloat they can go to Bandcamp or a band’s merchstore and buy merch directly from them. That’s really the best way.”

What is next for Lord Dying?

Hopefully we will get to do the rescheduled tour with Black Label Society and Obituary late August!”

Do you have any advice for up and coming musicians?

Work hard on your song writing. It’s more important that any of the other bullshit that comes along with being in a band.”

Do you have a message for the world you would like to share?

Stay home so we can all get our lives back to normal!”
Make sure you check out Lord Dying and Mysterium Tremendum. Go to their Bandcamp and Facebook pages and give them some financial love. We need music, more than anything right now, and we need to take care of our musicians. They always take care of us emotionally when we are in need.
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