“The tour with Battle Beast is pure fun” – interview with Saint Deamon

Author Benedetta Baldin - 17.2.2024

At their stop in Legend Club, Milan, we had the chance to sit down with the lead singer and guitarist of Saint Deamon, a power metal band from Norway / Sweden that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide. Check out what we talked about!

Hello Jan and Toya, how are you doing? 

Jan Thore Grefstad: We are doing very well, thank you.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Such a nice tour.

About a year ago you released “League of the Serpent”, you are touring with Battle Beast now. What are your plans for 2024?

Jan Thore Grefstad: So this is the thing. The Battle Beast Tour was kind of offered to us in late winter 2023. We were not sure we were going to get it. We were special guests to come and see the show with Hammerfall and Battle Beast in Sweden, Stockholm because we just signed up with our tour manager and it was quite new. So this is the first thing we do with our new manager which is great. This fantastic tour has lasted for four or five days now, and it has given us so much to tour with Battle Beast and Induction. Fantastic band and great guys throughout Europe. And so now we’re sitting, every single day our manager comes up with ideas; the best way is to team up with other bands and figure out which other bands could fit with us as good as Battle Beast has done. Battle Beast is now moving further into their tour in North America they have their own support act, in South America they have their own support act. So we kind of go with ’em all the way to Stockholm, which is the last one. And by that time, we probably have found the way further to keep going on the road. Also, we have to make another album to see if we can fit that in between the touring and all those things. But now we are out here, so we’re not done. We are going to keep going and we just have to find the right people to share the stage with. So I don’t really have any details but you’ll be the first to know.

We’ll be happy to spread the news! Can you share with us a funny moment that happened during the recording of “League of the Serpents”?

Jan Thore Grefstad: A funny moment. Mmh. 

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Was it when Nobby farted in this big old record player in the studio? We didn’t think it would work, but he just blew a fart in that big speaker.

Jan Thore Grefstad: I’ve never heard about this before. 

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Actually I have never laughed so much.

Jan Thore Grefstad: It was a very smooth recording. I thought you were going to say that you recorded it and it’s somewhere hidden in the album, but no. It’s hard to pick, ’cause with this gang of guys that we are playing around for so long, there’s always a funny moment. There’s always something happening. And there’s always one of us responsible for something. I think that you can go with that one. Nobby farted in the speaker, was it with reverb and everything?

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: No. It was that old speaker from the 30s or 40s with the big louder when you speak in a megaphone. Yeah, they had something like that in the studio.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Was it mine?

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: No. Nobby felt, “Now it’s on the way”. He just ran into the studio and took that down and farted.

Jan Thore Grefstad: But besides that, we had a few bumps along the road making records. I think “League of the Serpents” is one of those records that was actually quite chill, smoothly made without much funny shit happening or drama or anything. It was just a very fun album to record and easy.

Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Jan Thore Grefstad: Peace and quiet. Warmup. Talk a little bit about the day before, and go through what worked, and what didn’t work. There’s no seance or Ouija boards or yoga, we don’t really do that. We talk together about some things and some synchronized stage movements and things like that. So kind of a ritual. But for us, it’s more like a warm-up. 

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Maybe we should start a ritual.

Jan Thore Grefstad: We are simple people as, again, humor. It’s always humor, always something stupid. We try to make each other laugh. If you call that a ritual, it’s making ourselves happy and telling jokes since we’ve been together for 17, or 18 years, we’re never getting tired of the jokes. That can be a ritual. Absolutely. 

And then speaking again of live concerts, have you ever dealt with performance anxiety?

Jan Thore Grefstad: Yeah, of course. And you never know when it comes, sometimes, you go on stage like on this tour we’ve had so many people coming to see, of course, thanks to a lot to Battle Beast without a doubt. So you can see it in the T-shirts in the front. And see all these people that go to Battle Beast concerts, they are extremely looking forward to the concert. And they have checked out the bands before, some of them. But somehow the performance anxiety hasn’t really struck us yet on this tour. It’s just pure fun. But sometimes we play for a couple of hundred people and somehow I go on stage shaking and don’t know really why, it is something that you cannot really know when it’s coming. It does happen. Of course.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Yeah. And when it’s coming, I think you have to learn to deal with it. Just, yeah, because I’m sort of every time a little bit shaky, but I think it’s a part of the show. 

Jan Thore Grefstad: When people ask what our purpose is, and I can easily speak for everyone in the band, we want to make people happy, and if there’s some kind of voice in our heads that tells us that it’s going to be hard to make people happy, then, of course, the anxiety will come. I wouldn’t call it anxiety either. It’s like slight nervousness. That is hard to control. But usually after the first note and you hear the hi-hat starting and the lights come on and you see the faces, it goes away. 

I am a huge pancakes lover. What do you usually eat for breakfast? 

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Oatmeal porridge. That’s my thing. I think that’s a way to start, I feel a little bit healthy so I can have a beer at night.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Which is also made with barley and grows in nature. It’s just liquid. So you’re healthy even then.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: But on this tour, you are just happy with what you can get.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Everything moves at an insanely fast pace. My breakfast is usually simple. I love, of course, eggs and bacon. But very often it’s just a piece of bread with some cheese and ham, sometimes toasted, sometimes fresh. And sometimes the porridge does happen. Or toast with peanut butter and jelly. And even with butter under it, not that healthy. You only live for a certain time, so enjoy your food and then you can punish yourself by taking a run and eating a salad for dinner another day.

What kinds of questions don’t you like to answer? 

Jan Thore Grefstad: I know some people don’t like it when they change the musicians and things like that. They don’t like to talk about it. But of course, we don’t, we don’t say anything bad against any people or things like that, but we answer as good as we can on those questions.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Every band member is a part of the history, so, of course it’s, nice to talk about it. I saw an interview with Brian May and he said that in every interview he made, they always asked about Freddie Mercury.

Jan Thore Grefstad: If you Google, “Brian May talks about Freddie Mercury”. You will find a lot of interviews where he talks about Freddie Mercury. When you’re unlucky in a band member who was kind of the front figure of a band and he’s no longer here, people want to hear. “Maybe this time there is some details that no one has heard before.” But no, I don’t have any, I think I answer every single question people ask me and I do it with a smile. 

That is a very healthy attitude! What’s a kid movie that is scary to you or you don’t like?

Jan Thore Grefstad: When I was a kid or a little bit older, I was terrified of the Goonies. And to today, I haven’t seen it afterward. I’ve seen some clips here and there. It’s the Mama Fratelli. She was like a mafia or really angry bad gangster. But I was terrified of her and I always used to hide under the couch. When I saw that movie, I didn’t like it. It’s a good movie, but it scared the hell of me when I was a child. Some animated cartoons back in those days. There’s no kid movie I’m scared of today because that would be really silly. Tom and Jerry scared me ’cause they always hurt each other like when they throw this iron board through the stomach, it comes out of the back.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: The Muppet Show, in the intro when this puppy came out with the saxophone, Gonzo. Every time he came out, I was jumping behind the sofa.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Something that reminds me of the thing that really scared me was Pinocchio, when they turned them into donkeys. I don’t remember who, but it was like, “If you’re not behaving, we’re going to send you to that island and it will turn you into donkeys”. So that scared me. Also, Pinocchio I’ve seen later doesn’t scare me anymore. 

If you had to choose an artist or a musician, either dead or alive, and you had to spend the day with them and ask them all the questions you wanted, which one would it be?

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: For me, it would be Jimi Hendrix. No doubt. I couldn’t imagine someone I would more like to spend a day with.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Hard to choose ’cause I have so many, but if I would go really, really far back, it would be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One day with him before he got sick when he was on the top of his game. That would be really cool. Of course, Ronnie James Dio. Freddie Mercury. The list goes on.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: How about Elvis Presley

Jan Thore Grefstad: Oh, of course. Elvis Presley would be nice. I would also join you with Jimi Hendrix if you would allow me. Especially Freddie Mercury of course, because he’s one of my absolute main influences. With Ronnie James Dio, the thing is, there are not that many questions I could ask because I love him so much that I know almost everything about him. But I would love to spend the day with him, have a beer, eat some food and walk around in a nice town. Just hanging out.

Jan Thore Grefstad: I have to go with an actor, Jim Carrey. Or Jack Black. They are equal. Interesting to me. I find them really funny and it looks like they’re so full of energy always. I know if I start keep thinking it’s going to be more. Do you have anyone alive now?

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: It could be anyone, actually. Anyone. Steve Lukather. Eddie Van Halen. But he’s not with us anymore. Gary Moore.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Gary Moore. Oh, I would love that. Yeah, I think he would, he always looked like a really nice person.

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Joe Bonamassa. He is a really great rock and roll blues guitar player. He has several museums with only his guitars. I love vintage guitars, so I think that would be a really great day.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Maybe Greta Garbo, 

Andreas ”Toya” Bjurström: Yeah. Maybe Cleopatra or Liv Ullman.

Jan Thore Grefstad: Marilyn Monroe. And we’re already lucky enough to spend every day with Noora from Battle Beast. 

Thank you guys so much for taking the time to do this interview with me. Is there anything else you’d like to add to the readers of Chaoszine? 

Jan Thore Grefstad: You are right now interviewing us in one of the places where the band started out, one of our first concerts outside of Scandinavia was in this venue right here. The sad part about it is that the guy who booked us here, a fantastic funny guy called Andrea Bernini, he’s been a tour manager for a long time. He brought us to Italy a few times and this was where he brought his first time ever. He passed away. We would really love to have to come here and show him, what we have become since the first few gigs we did. Yeah. This gives me a tear in my eye thinking about it, that he is not here to see it because he passed away just a couple of years ago. When we got the new drummer we called him to introduce him. And it was just a few weeks after he passed away. So for us, for me, this means a lot to me, this gig here where you are interviewing us, and I think also for Toya and Nobby and Alfred, this is where it all started. And here we are.