Interview with Torbjorn Hirsch – author of the original LAKE OF TEARS’ logo


This year LAKE OF TEARS released new T-shirts and re-released the first studio Demo (which was originally recorded in 1993) on vinyl. 

On T-shirts and CDs we can also see the first logo of the band which was, besides Demo 1 '93, placed on covers of classic albums "Greater Art" and "Headstones".

But only few people know the author of the original LAKE OF TEARS' logo — Torbjorn Hirsch. We have contacted Torbjorn and talked a little about the story behind creation of the logos of LAKE OF TEARS and FORSAKEN GRIEF.

- Hi, as far as we know, you lived in Boras in the early 90’s. Tell me a little about the metal crowd of the city at that time… 

- Well, Boras is not a very big city, about 90.000 inhabitants, so I’m not sure you can call it a “scene” of just anything. To see bigger bands you have to go to Gothenburg. Personally I was introduced to heavy metal through my two years older brother – involuntary really, as everything he was playing on his stereo was heard in the whole house. So I listened to quite a lot of heavy metal but it wasn’t an active interest on my part. Most bands that would play in Boras at that time basically would have been garage bands, including LOT. There was a youth club in the city centre called Rockborgen (“Rock Castle”), a large Victorian villa where many local bands would practice and concerts were arranged. It had this wooden panelling inside and it was all painted black. I assume both FG and LOT would have practised there, but you will have to ask them. They would have gone to what’s comparable to senior high school at that time, “gymnasium” in swedish.

- Did you hear them play?

- Not that I remember. I went to a few concerts at Rockborgen, but I don’t recall the bands, it might be they played at any of those, I don’t know.

- So the first person you met was Johan. He already played Forsaken Grief or in Moribund?

- He is a friend of my brother and they used to hang around in my brother’s room listening to music. Now that you mention it I do recall Moribund, great band name…

- You drew a logo and a cover for Forsaken Grief… Tell me about it.

- Yes. I had forgotten about FG when you contacted me, but when I saw the cover I remembered. Johan O would ask if I wanted to do it, and they had some ideas about what they wanted it to look like. He showed the logos of a few bands whose look they liked and I did some quick sketches he would comment on. So I think I made a couple of more elaborate sketches in the following days and got feedback on those, until they would agree on the final version. About the cover I think they simply had an idea about zombies emerging from a lake. I drew the motif with a black marker and Tip-ex and they liked it, I don’t think there were alternate versions. I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the anniversary vinyl cover the other day.

- Why did they turn to you? Drawing was your hobby then?

- Johan and Tomas J were, and still are, friends of my brother, they may been in the same class of junior or senior highschool, at least they attended the same schools, as did I but they were one or two years older. They knew I was good at drawing, that’s why they asked. I played a lot of role-playing games at that time, e.g. the horror game “Kult”, to an extent inspired by the Hellraiser movies, its game world had an atmosphere I liked. I usually was the “game master”, the one who creates and describes the milieus and what’s happening to the characters, so that was my entry to fantasy and horror, rather than films, books or music. I think at least some of the band members of FG and LOT were into role-playing games as well, and I know Johan O collected horror films on VHS cassettes.

- In 1993, you made the LOT logo, tell us about that.

- Yes, it might have been -92. I think the process was pretty much the same as the FG logo. I don't know whether they had any particular inspiration this time though, Johan described verbally what they had in mind. This was pre-internet so I guess I must have found gothic letters in a book and improvised the "flourishes". I remember thinking it seemed unusual for what I thought to be the music genre, as the logos I had seen were more jagged, expressive or as it were aggressive, like the FG logo. The stone block letters in the background evidently have a heavy feel, while the gothic letters are elaborate and refined, as it were. But I’m not sure I had actually heard their music by then, when I listen to it now it makes sense. 

- You have mentioned Johan. Did you know Daniel or Mikael?

- I recognize Mikael’s face, I think he went to the same school as well. I’m not sure about Daniel, perhaps he did to, I don’t recall.

- You made a drawing for an LOT t-shirt. Tell me about it. Who asked and what was the background for the motif?

- That was Johan as well. He was at our house quite often, so I guess it was convenient. In that case they were inspired by an illustration in an RPG book, I don’t remember which or exactly what it looked like, it was a similar motif. I don’t know if they just thought it looked cool or perhaps there were some connection to a song.

- This year LOT first released T-shirts with the original logo of the group. Also this year for the first time re-released Demo on vinyl. Your work got a second life after many years. Comment please.

- I can only say it's great fun. I wasn't aware LOT made that much music and have been active for so long. I was pleasantly surprised to find out and certainly to see the old logo again.

- FG, LOT. Who else turned to you for help?

- I never did any band logos before or after, that I recall.

- Have you linked your life with art? I saw your work on A post-apocalyptic childhood I & II, they’re beautiful and scary.

- Oh you found that, thanks, well I haven’t uploaded anything in a long while, but for a time I did. Yes some of those pictures are a bit horror or fantasy themed.

- Art, is it a hobby or job for you?

- A hobby, though I have some use for it as I currently study architecture. Hobby-wise I mostly write rather than draw or paint these days, but if I had time I would do it more often. Professionally I used to work as a clinical psychologist, but following a rather severe burnout experience I eventually decided to re-educate rather than continue working as a psychologist.

- What kind of music do you like today?

- Well, genre-wise I always had an eclectic taste, it's certain qualities rather than genres or artists I'm looking for – the feelings and images the music elicits, particularly its ability to "transport" the listener and at the very best evoke something sublime or numenous. If I gave examples they would feel too arbitrary or I'd have to write a long rant about it… I would very much like to go back to Russia, and I surely will sooner or later, it's a fascinating country with an interesting history! Thanks a lot guys and congratulations on the website, you've made a great work!

- I know that in 1992 you were in Russia. How come and what do you remember from the trip?

- Well, me and a friend had attended an evening course in Russian for a year prior, and the trip was a language course at the University of Vladimir for a few weeks in the summer, combined with some sightseeing. It was an unusual but fun experience. We lived in a student corridor with some Russian students, and there were quite a lot of “Russkaya Vodka” tapped on soda bottles and “Sovietskaya” Champagne, it was very cheap in Swedish currency at that time. The Russian students were very friendly and likeable, my friend corresponded with a couple of them for quite a while afterwards. The corridor was run-down, the plumbing regularly got stuck and water was leaking through the bathroom ceiling, filling the lamp covers so we had to cut holes to empty them. Vladimir was a fascinating city. The suburbs hade these large Brutalist high-rises, while the Old Town was almost fairytale-like with wooden houses and a small church at the end of every street. Where we used to go for lunch near the University there was a modern but kind of cosy 60’s small-town feel, a bit like a Wes Anderson movie somehow… E.g. I remember the stars in the tramcar wire suspensions, I guess those had other connotations for Russians but from a purely aesthetic viewpoint it looked nice. Some of the 70’s-80’s Russian architecture of public buildings I still like a lot. And statues, mosaics etc. A care for the aesthetic aspects of public places seen in Sweden only in the 40’s and 50’s. From the sightseeing trips we made I particularly remember the 19:th century artist colony Abramtseva, certainly very cosy and fairytale-like, like the prints of Ivan Bilibin. Before I went home I bought some Bilibin books and a few records with Russian male choir music, Vladimir Vysotsky and a Russian Rockabilly band… And some peculiar bootleg vinyls with Lead Zeppelin and other bands…

- Why did you start studying Russian? Do you have any Russian connection?

- I don’t remember the particular circumstances, but the teacher in Boras was Russian and the mother of a girl in a swimming team I’d been in. Sadly, I’ve forgotten pretty much everything except maybe the alphabet… In a roundabout way I guess you could say I have kind of a Russian connection in that my faraway ancestors belonged to a low-rank noble family called “von Hirsch” in what is now Kaliningrad. There is actually a tiny castle still standing that belonged to the family in the 16:th-18:th century, now I think it’s something like a folk museum, or it used to be. Apparently it was utilised by the Red Army during WW2, and though the area was heavily bombed it survived the war. I’ve never been there, but I’d be fun to go some time. That had nothing to do with me learning Russian though. About LOT I knew from my brother they were popular in Russia. It has struck me there seems to be a certain cultural resonance between the Nordic countries and Russia that may be evident e.g. in heavy metal. Perhaps a moodiness or melancholy. The kind you get from long, dark winters, haha. Those grand Russian male choirs aren’t that far from music like that of LOT when you think about it. Also you can compare the fairytale illustrations of Bilibin with those of the Swede John Bauer or the Norwegian Theodor Kittelsen, they all have a similar dark and suggestive atmosphere.

- Many thanks for the replies!

- I would very much like to go back to Russia, and I surely will sooner or later, it's a fascinating country with an interesting history! Thanks a lot guys! It was fun, bye!

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One thought on “Interview with Torbjorn Hirsch – author of the original LAKE OF TEARS’ logo

  1. Welcome to Russia. I am from Vladimir and i am a big fan of LoT.

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