Ofir Messer of Israel's Metalist magazine [recently conducted an interview with TIAMAT mainman Johan Edlund. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:Metalist: Speaking of the new album, it seems that you have put some minor Middle Eastern influences in it... was this because of your current living environment or is there another reason behind it? Johan Edlund: I think that since I moved here [to Greece], which is almost three years ago, it is very different. I mean, I grew up in Sweden and later on I moved to Germany for many years, but that wasn't a big difference there's no big difference between Stockholm and Hamburg, for example (apart from the language), but moving to Greece is more of a culture shock, in a positive way, because I really enjoy it and I still like it very much it is very inspiring. So now maybe more than ever the surrounding inspired me more and more. I think that in many years, this is the first time that I really thought about the culture, because in the past I always took it for granted. Growing up in Sweden, I didn't think much about the Swedish culture, it was always just a part of me, but here it's exiting somehow. Metalist: I know that your take on Christianity is not very fondling, but what do you think of other religions like Buddhism or Judaism? Do you consider all religious the same? Johan Edlund: Defiantly not the same, they are very different and also the attitude towards those religions is different from very strong fundamentalists to the kind of protestant Christians. In Sweden, they [protestant Christians] are almost atheists, they believe in god or in Jesus when they feel a need for it, they can decide when religion is good for them, and when its not they just don't care about it, while fundamentalists, whatever they are, if its Muslims or Christians, really live after it. I think the fundamentalist thing is quite interesting, because I grew up in Sweden where we didn't have much of that, but here in Greece, people take their religion much more seriously, and that is very interesting to see, when people really live after religion and not just say "I'm Christian, I'm protestant", they also willing to do some sacrifices for their religion and live after some rules. Metalist: It has been 15 years since TIAMAT has visited Israel... What do you remember of your stay and the concert you had? Johan Edlund: I remember it as a very good time. Back then, it was considered not so bad with terror attacks and so on in Tel Aviv, where we stayed. We also played another show outside, but basically we stayed in Tel Aviv which was quite safe, but a few weeks later there were some bomb attacks at the place where we had stayed, and we started to realize this country has a lot of problems. I think that we didn't really see much of these problems when we were there. We were quite impressed later that people who we met a lot of young people that were interested in music managed so good to live in that reality without fear, they tried to leave the fear behind them and just go on with life. Because they were young and they wanted to go out to clubs even if there was a threat, therefore I think we didn't really notice that there was a big risk all this time or a big conflict in the area. It was kind of cool to see that not even that could stop us from playing metal concerts and especially wouldn't stop the fans to see the shows. Metalist: Would you like to come back and perform or visit in Israel again or is it not that exotic now that you live in a similar place and also after you have been here already? Johan Edlund: I would really like to go back to Israel because we liked it a lot there. We have been close to go back there a few times. Unfortunately, we had one show that was more or less confirmed but on the same week that we wanted to close it, the Iraq war started, and I remember they stopped a lot of flights... In the previous Iraq war they had some missiles sent to Israel, so the guys in the band, especially with kids, said, "Let's wait, we can't go there. Let's see what's going to happen." Personally, I would go there any day of the week... A lot of people live there, so why shouldn't I be able to be there for two days? If we get a show offered anywhere in the world I would go there, I would even play in Baghdad if someone calls us and pay for the flights I will be on the plane, for sure. Metalist: Besides TIAMAT, over the past couple of years we have heard news regarding another LUCYFIRE album and also about a solo project of yours in Swedish... What is the situation with them now days? Johan Edlund: When we finally signed to Nuclear Blast, everything went pretty quick from there. As soon as we had them behind us, we could really start to make plans for TIAMAT so that changed all the other plans as well. This year I will be totally devoted and concentrated on TIAMAT. I really don't know when I plan to release my other project, I hope that it will happen later on, especially the LUCYFIRE album it will be done at some point. Read the entire interview at www.metalist.co.il.