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Features Interviews Music

Interview with Adam Ciminello from The Carnival Kids

FREE! Magazine brings you an exclusive interview with multitalented American musician Adam Ciminello, who tells us about the imminent release of his band’s debut album, The Carnival Kids, and many other interesting opinions about the music business and the complexities of building up a new musical project. Enjoy it!

When I was reading about your musical talents, I was impressed by the wide array of instruments that you can play. Can you tell us a bit how you started in the music business and how was studying music in Boston?

Thanks so much for the kind words Antonio! It really means a lot to have people support my music and artistic vision. I first started to really take music seriously towards the end of my high schooling. I played in a couple of bands that toured around the area regionally and by the time I started college, I was hooked! Boston is a really great place to get your start in music. There are many places to play and lots of college students who love live music. I’m grateful for the experiences I had there and the many talented musicians I had the privilege of playing with and getting to know.

Adam Ciminello

Do you have your residence nowadays in Boston? How is the music scene there (my knowledge is pretty limited to knowing that is the home town of my beloved band Aerosmith).

Currently, I live in Poughkeepsie NY, about an hour north of NYC. I still play frequently in Boston as a solo artist and with other groups in the area. It’s a great city that’s constantly churning out fantastic new artists due to the many colleges and music schools located there.

I have seen you stated that the music in your debut album is very positive. Actually the name of the band and the art cover are already exhaling a positive feeling. So what can a new listener expect there, in the album that will be recently released on April 27th?

The music and overall message on this LP is very much intended to be positive. Some of the individual songs relate to darker themes but on the whole my aim was to make people feel good and describe relationships and events that everybody could relate to. I think listeners can expect from this LP to hear music that sounds familiar yet different enough to resonate.

Actually the country where I live nowadays, Finland, is also famous for the melancholic feeling in most of the music produced here. Why is it that seems trendy nowadays in music to be a depressive emo? Do you miss the kind of more happy-naïve compositions that people could listen in the clubs, for example in the 80s?

As both an artist and avid listener of music, existing on both sides of the equation, it’s difficult for me to really answer this question with any sort of objectivity. I don’t know why other artists make the art they choose to make because, frankly, I really don’t know why I make the art I choose to make! Composing is such an intimate process with yourself and it all happens so fluidly that it’s very difficult for me to specifically describe why I choose to write my music. Similarly, as a listener, I really don’t know definitively why we choose to listen to the music we enjoy. Duke Ellington once said “If it sounds good, it is good,” and I try my hardest to not allow any other thoughts dilute this concept when I am composing. If I enjoy it and feels genuine, then it probably is worth sharing. As a listener, if I enjoy it and feels genuine, its probably also worth sharing!

If I am not mistaken, you are the only current member-founder of the band (which is interesting cause maybe because of the name of the band in plural, everybody would be expecting a formation with more members). How is the feeling of putting an album together by yourself, do you like the freedom of creativity, or is it actually a more painful process in some ways to put everything together?

I am currently the only permanent member of The Carnival Kids. I do have a live a band that I perform with, and two of those members make up the rhythm section who recorded most of the LP with me, respectively. I can’t tell you how liberating it was to make this album largely by myself. I’ve been in collaborative bands since I was 14 and while that feeling – that of camaraderie, teamwork and equal partnership – is wonderful, being able to create/record in a scenario where I was in complete control was something I had always dreamed about. It’s been a pretty rewarding process watching this LP come to life and I feel I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way.

The Carnival Kids

I have seen also in some Youtube videos that you have company of quite some other musicians. Can you tell us a bit more about their collaboration, and it is expected that they would play with you live, or could the formation and the musicians playing with you change? Are there plans to go touring during 2013?

Yes, those members make up my live band and I couldn’t ask for a more talented group of musicians. I’ve been blessed throughout my life to share the stage with some amazing artists and when it came time to put together the live act, I immediately knew this group was perfectly outfitted to bring my songs to life. I’m very lucky to be working with them.

I have a good friend who is a great fan of Government Mule, so seeing that you have played with them, I could not less than ask about the experience of collaborating with such a legendary band.

I’ve only played one show with them, which admittedly was almost six years ago, and unfortunately I can’t say that I collaborated with them creatively (I wish!). But I can say that they are incredibly nice people, grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given, and extraordinarily talented musicians.

Although it seems that music is really the centre of your life, what other hobbies and passions do you have?

Outside of music, I am an avid chess player and a lifelong fan of the New York Knicks! Looking forward to hopefully watching them bring home their first championship in forty years later this spring!

Anything you want to add for our readers?

Thank you so much for your time and support of independent music! Hope to tour Finland soon! Also, here are our various social media sites for everybody to check out! Thanks again!

http://www.facebook.com/TheCarnivalKidsMusic
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheCarnivalKidsMusic
http://thecarnivalkids.bandcamp.com/
http://www.reverbnation.com/thecarnivalkidsmusic

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Features Interviews Music

Interview with Tom Brumpton, vocalist of Akarusa Yami

Today FREE! Magazine has the pleasure to offer you an exclusive interview with Tom Brumpton, vocalist of the British industrial metal band Akarusa Yami. Tom is a person who totally “breathes” metal music, combining his band with his career as publicist (among his clients are infamous names such us Iggy Pop or Maroon 5) and freelance journalist. He kindly answered our questions to enlight us with interesting info about the metal scene in his hometown, some curious anecdotes from the backstage and overall, what we can expect from his exciting project with his own band!

Hello Tom and thanks a lot beforehand for your answers. You were one of the founders of Akarusa Yami a couple of years ago in Nottinghamshire. How did the idea evolve to create this band?

Hey Antonio, not a problem. Thanks for having me. I was indeed, basically it came from a mutual frustration that myself and Tom Clarke (Guitars, co-founder) shared. We’d been in a lot of bands before that, for one reason or another, hadn’t done much. So we discussed working together and over time its morphed into Akarusa Yami.

Had you played in other bands before? Do you currently play in other projects?

I did, and the other guys all have and do but I don’t really have time for any other bands at the moment. I used to sing for a Pantera-esque band called Kallous a few years ago. Tom and our bassist Jake Bennett play together in a death metal band called Cacodaemonic, our drummer Adam Jones plays in a rock band called Scarlet’s Wake, our second guitarist Damian Lee produces bands and does some DJ work under the moniker Mean iDeal, and our Keyboard player Lee Dowling plays in a band called Krossfire. So all of us are usually pretty busy.

Akarusa Yami

You are also connected to the metal industry working in PR with many different bands. Does it help this to promote your band, or actually is it difficult to find free time to combine both activities?

It’s fairly straight-forward really, because I deal with a lot of metal bands so I’m already talking to the kind of people that Akarusa Yami would appeal to. So it’s not a big deal, and its never caused any trouble.

Probably not the first time somebody asks, but certainly the name of the band is peculiar. Where does it come from?

(Laughs) No. Tom came up with it and it translates to “Opposite of Darkness, Opposite of Light” which we read as Balance. We felt it described our overall sound very well.

How is the industrial metal music scene in Nottingham area and in UK in general?

It is pretty good, but I’d say the big scenes in the UK at the moment are probably indie music (Stuff like The Foals, etc) and Djent (Bands like TesseracT). And Dubstep, of course.

In your band´s FB site, it is mentioned the Finnish band Swallow the Sun as influence. Do you follow the metal music from Finland closely? Have you ever visited or played here before in Finland?

I’ve never visited it, no and I don’t believe any of the other guys have. We’re always open to new bands from across the world, and Finland has some amazing artists. Swallow The Sun are an awesome, very distinct band and I love their melancholic sound. I think its brilliant. If you held a gun to my head though, I’d say my favourite Finnish artist is probably HIM. I own every record and I think Ville is a great writer and singer.

For a person who would be a first time listener of your band, how would you describe in one sentence what they are about to hear?

We’ve described our sound so far as industrial music with elements of progressive and extreme metal. It’s served us well, as I think we appeal to a wide spectrum of metal fans.

So far the band is still unsigned, isn´t it? Have there been any conversations with major record labels for the future?

We’ve not approached any labels. We’re not against the idea, we’ve just not done it as of yet but we will be doing so very soon.

Akarusa Yami

Now you have almost ready your second EP “Trace Element Rebirth” that will be released on April. How do you compare it to the debut one “Ouroboros”?

I think it’s a massive leap forward for us; performance wise, compositionally, lyrically, production wise. It’s a bit of a re-invention. Ouroboros as a record was very much a band learning and finding its feet, and dealing with a large chunk of chaos at the same time. This record is more focused and substantially more refined.

The band has already been on stage in some big festival like Bloodstock. What are the plans for 2013? Anything big coming up?

We’re talking to a few management companies and whatnot, and we’re discussing festival options. Once we’ve got something confirmed we’ll make an announcement.

What is the craziest thing you have seeing in a gig´s backstage?

One time when I was 18 I went to a show at Rock City in Nottingham. The band playing was US Industrial outfit Society 1. The show was small but awesome, and afterwards me and a few friends got chatting with the band and we helped them with their gear. I went to check to see where our ride home was and when I came back all my friends were grinning ear to ear. Turns out while we were helping, the singer was back stage filming a porno. Three days later the girl he was making it with added me on myspace and we became friends. That was pretty crazy.

If you could choose a band or an artist to join Akarusa on stage, who would be?

That’s tough. Maybe Trent Reznor or Mike Patton. They’re so unique in their approach to music and such outstanding work horses that I think it’d be amazing to do something with them both! Outside that, for me I’d say Rammstein.

You breathe music as passion and work, but what other things you like doing in your free time?

(Laughs) Thanks. Honestly, I’m a work horse myself. Outside the band and running a PR company I’m a partner in a radio company in the US, I write for Zero Tolerance magazine in the UK and I act and write. I’m not good with time off.

Anything you want to add for the readers?

Thank you for the support and we look forward to coming to Finland in the future.

Check out Akarusa Yami´s Youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/AkarusaYamiOfficial

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Albums Features Misc Music

Competition!!! Get for FREE! one CD from the Finnish metal band 2 Wolves!!!

FREE! Magazine gives away 2 copies of the latest album from Finnish metal band 2 Wolves: “Men of Honour“.

Men of Honour

If you want to be one of the lucky winners, it is just as easy as sending the right answer to our editor antonio.diaz(at)freemagazine.fi, writing in the subject of the email “2 Wolves Competition”. Good luck and horns up!

The name of the band is “2 Wolves”. What was the biggest influence on Aleksi Susi when he was thinking how to name his group?

A. An old Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves
B. His last name (Susi means wolf in english)
C. He has own wolf that lives in his house
D. Continuous dreams of protective wolves

Categories
Features Music

Flow Festival 2012

Flow Festival is certainly a different festival from most of the other important ones held in Finland during summer season. While most of the others are focused on rock and heavy metal (Finnish and international), Flow festival bets for a more eclectic bandlist, where you can find a bit of everything, pop, indie, reggae, blues…

Besides that, its great location near the heart of Helsinki, in Suvilahti, makes it perfect for the masses of hipsters from Kallio an other areas of the capital storming into this former power plant complex. Assisting to the festival has become a kind of a tradition for the youth Finnish people of the capital, topping the assistance during this year 2012 in a total of 63.000 visitors during 4 days. Not bad eh?

Bjork

As any other festival, Flow has its good and bad sides. The array of activities displayed is truly great: apart from music you can just chill out in some terrace drinking champagne, play ping pong, check art exhibitions and movies, eat exotic food or have a good coffee with delicious cake, listen to some of the most famous DJs in Finland… At some point, I would say that half of the visitors do not really care much about listening to the bands performing there, but they just go for the good atmosphere, and why not to say, because it is full of good looking young people eager to party, to look and be looked at, and because more than one single guy or girl will get lucky at the end of the night after the alcohol beverages have made some effect on the blood pressure.

On the other hand, the festival is pretty expensive, 160 euro ticket for the whole 4 days and 110 euro if you just wanted to assist 2 days. Just buying a bottle of pepsi costs 4 euro plus 1 euro that will be paid back to you if you remember to return the empty plastic bottle. Food is not much cheap either, so it means that if you go for the 4 days of festival and drink and eat there, it will cost you probably the same than spending 1 week of fully paid holidays in some nice resort in Turkey or Greece. But no pain, no gain right? Of course people try to cheat the system trying to smuggle drinks inside, although security at the gates and inside the festival area is tight, sometimes actually can be even too annoying. But remember, this is Finland and rules prevail over the fun.

Rules make also the different areas and stages to be sorrounded by fences, like the typical areas where you can drink and where not, where you can smoke and where not… etc. So sometimes an easy task of moving from one stage to another ends up being quite a quest trying to find the path where you just find your way blocked by fences all the time.

The Black Keys

And what about the music? Well, honestly, also this year, the musical offer from my point of view was weak. Even if the festival has the tag of being “alternative”, if you are paying that amount of money mentioned before, you expect a few big international names thrown there. Some artists really made up with the expectations such as Black Keys, Feist or Lykke Li (who had cancelled her appearance at Flow the previous year) or Saint Etienne. But for example the main headliner Björk left most of the audience quite cold with her new live concept “Biophilia”.

So resuming, if you like a nice youthful trendy party atmosphere and you have the money to pay for it, Flow is for you. I personally would prefer that the organizers could throw some bigger names in next editions of the festival like Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Placebo… Because for what is offered musically compared to the prices, I consider it a bit overrated. All in all, the event is still a milestone for most of the young Helsinki people to put the cherry on top of the cake of the fun before winter arrives, so if you like the bands performing, great, and if not, just relax and go with the flow!

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Concerts Features Music

Roskilde: Scandinavian Festival in Hot Summer

Written by Elena Paraschiv

Summer is already here and festivals of every kind are rising like mushrooms after the rain. Once the first ray of the summer sun hits the ground, everyone taste the flavor of…holiday. And how to get the maximum in the best way possible for your holiday? Visiting as many festivals as you can, having tons of fun and enjoy your favourite bands performing live. And if you choose to go to a festival that takes place in Scandinavia or in one of the Baltic countries is even better, because there you can find one of the largest annual festivals in Europe.

Roskilde Festival is a festival that takes place soyh of Roskilde in Denmark. Created in 1971 by two high-school students, Morgens Sandfær and Jesper Switzer Møller and promoter Carl Fischer, represents Denmark`s first real music-oriented festival. It was originally for hippies, but nowadays this festival covers the Scandinavian youth and not only.

Is a festival that brings together people of different ages, different cultures o see playing live on stage the best musicians of the world. Until the mid `90s, Roskilde used to attract mostly Scandinavians, but in recent years this festival witnessed an increasing number of large Germans, Australians and British ready for fun.

Roskilde

During the years, at the festival bands and artists like The Kinks, Jeff Beck, Dr.Hook, U2, Robert Palmer, Metallica, Neil Young, Guns N` Roses, Nirvana, Radiohead, Black Sabbath, RHCP, David Bowie, Slayer and many, many other great musicians wrote the history of Roskilde Festival, performing in front of thousands of people. The festival covers a wide range of musical styles, from electronic to Norwegian black metal, so that everyone can have the chance to see their favourite artists performing live.

Roskilde Festival, 2011 edition, took place between June 30 and July 3, with warm-up and camping from June 26, presenting 180 acts from all over the world, including headliners such as Arctic Monkeys, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Kings of Leon, The Strokes and PJ Harvey. It was a 4 days celebration of youth, colorful, with many good artists, all sprinkled with plenty of alcohol.

This year’s edition of the festival is no exception to the rule. Roskilde Festival 2012, will present 200 acts performing on 8 stages ( Apollo, Pavilion, Pavilion Junior, Cosmopol, Odeon, Orange, Gloria and Arena) during 4 days of continous party. Headliners like “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, Bon Iver, The Roots, Jack White, Mew and Björk will heat the atmosphere , transforming the festival in an enormous party. The warm-up opens on June 30, and the day before the festival itself begin, a treasure hunt will be organized. It will test competitors creativity, dexterity and why not their dorkyness.

Roskilde Festival has many attractions besides good music and camping life. For the development and support of culture, the organizers have arranged different types of areas such as orange zone, urban zone, graffiti zone (where some of the world`s greatest graffiti artists will spread their paint in an artistic manner on the walls in the area), and may others. If you love to play games, at the festival you will have the opportunity to play Volley, Beachminton, PingPong, Boardgames, social gaming, Street Sports and others. The highlights of this year are Green Foosball (will take place in the Odeon Area), a 3 days football tournament only for girls ( men are allowed to cheer and to hydrate the girls after every football match), Crossbox, Bingo(old-school style in Game City) and the craziest game ever called The Big Game, where competitors can win tickets for next year’s festival. And because people have to eat too, they will have a wide range of delicious foods, snacks and drinks that will delight their taste buds : from Denmark to India and from Italy to China.

So, if you want an unforgettable experience that you will remember with pleasure throughout your life, take the train, plane, car or ferry and go to Roskilde! The party is going to start this Saturday!

Roskilde 2012

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with singer Lucie Niemelä

FREE! Magazine has a great interview with Lucie Niemelä, a Czech musician located in Finland who is about to release on the 16th of March her debul album Doses. Do not miss this interesting reading for all of you who want to discover new artists as well as for young artists aspiring to make their dreams come true!

Thanks for attending us Lucie! Could you explain us a bit when started to passion for music and how was the process to put together this debut album Doses?

I started composing when I was eleven and I played and sang every day but just for myself. I put over 150 of my songs into a drawer. Then I came to Finland and met amazing musicians. I even studied at a conservatory for one year but then I quit and didn’t write any songs for two years because I thought I was not good enough. I chose the easier way of getting an academic job.

Fortunately step by step I found the courage and started performing here and there again. Then in late 2010 it suddenly hit me: my music was good enough, I had a lot to say and I was meant to do this. I recorded a demo and sent it out to Finland and Germany and six months later I was in the studio! The result is now in my hands, on the internet, on the radio… So basically the journey to Doses happened once I arranged in my head who I really was.

doses

You are Czech with Finnish surname, and living in Finland now. Can you tell more about your history and how you ended up in Helsinki?

I was born in the Czech Republic and lived a calm life until I decided to learn Finnish when I was fifteen. That happened after I heard Janne Ahonen on tv say “hyvää huomenta”. I won a grant to go to a Finnish language course in Jyväskylä in 2001, that was my lucky year that changed everything. Since then I kept coming back to Finland, then I met a Finnish guy and fell in love… I moved to Jyväskylä in 2004, three years later to Helsinki.

What are the most difficult and easy things in your opinion for making it happen to release a first album? I suppose to see your ideas and hard work materialized in a CD is already fulfilling but were also things that could happen to be much harder than you thought beforehand?

For me the most difficult thing was to choose the right mic to record my voice  Of course there were lots of time and money management issues but I don’t think about them anymore. Everything worked out perfectly.

I have seen that in some other interview you said that the album is overall about emotions. Have you poured a lot of personal own experiences or real experiences based on people you knew in your album?

The 12 songs on Doses are all about people that I’ve known or about my own experiences. These songs were written over the period of 12 years and they contemplate fates of teenagers and young grown-ups as well as middle-aged and elderly people. I really wanted the album to be for everyone, regardless of age, and I feel I’ve achieved that.

How would you briefly resume the album to a person who has never heard any of your songs about what they can expect when pushing the play button on their CD player?

It’s a romantic and slightly melancholic album full of contrasts: heart-wrenching ballads (Miners) meet joyful rock songs (Doses) and then there are a few uplifting songs to balance it all (Seconds Fly Like Feathers). The main thread of the album is receiving and giving doses of different emotions. Some of the songs carry a harsh message but we managed to preserve the empathy and hope. The album sounds warm and soothing but at the same time awakes thoughts.

In Finland on the other hand, people try often to avoid showing too many emotions in public. How do you find this environment, for a person who considers emotions so important?

In first five years of living here in Finland it really tore me apart. The pressure of the environment to restrict myself, follow the rules, blend in with the crowd, the hypocritical shyness and avoiding praising myself in fear I would seem arrogant. Then I realized the pressure is all in my head. I don’t have to adapt to everything this culture has to offer. People will always be scared to lose their public face, that’s the same in the Czech Republic, in Germany…

I feel the Finnish society is changing, though. People are loosening up, opening up for doses of emotions. Nowadays it’s much more ok to start crying or laughing out loud in the public without having people around you feeling extremely uncomfortable. During my concerts I can see that people are hungry for emotions. Some people seem to be thankful that I dare put my heart on my palm, some seem to be scared and some look like they don’t know what to think of me because I take an emotion and sing it into their faces. That’s why I love singing live!

Your album will be released by a German label and will get distribution in different countries in Europe. Was it more difficult to reach the Finnish record companies for being a foreign artist here in Finland?

I don’t know if it’s because I’m foreign or because my songs are in English and the genre is not metal Songs in Finnish are more likely to succeed. Finland is full of talented musicians and it’s a small market so the competition is fierce. I don’t mind my album is released in Germany first but I’m hoping to get a good distributor in Finland as well.

Lucie

Apart from this being your first released album, you also collaborate with other projects and bands, right?

At the moment, I collaborate with Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha. I sang on their first record. Their second album is about to be released. I co-wrote a few songs and I’m featuring in one. The release party will be on 17th March in Gloria as the part of Balkan Fever. I will be singing a few songs with them in the Culture tram as well. I can’t wait, they’re great guys.

Are there other musicians or artists you feel inspiration from?

I don’t consciously draw inspiration from other artists but I’ve certainly been influenced at least by these: the Beatles, Queen, Sting, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Beady Belle, Torun Eriksen … just to name a few.

What do you do apart from your musical career? Are you also studying or working? Other hobbies and passions?

I graduated from University of Helsinki in late 2009, majoring in Finnish language and culture. I worked in CIMO for a year and now I’m pursuing my music career only. Music used to be my hobby and now that it’s become my job I don’t even have time for hobbies… I go swimming and jogging, I do yoga, I love reading and writing. My most important hobby, though, is philosophizing about life with my friends. Listening to each other and helping each other out, that’s the best way how to spend our free time.

What are your future plans for the rest of 2012? Anything you want to add for the readers?

My goal is to get as many concerts as I can. A tour in the Czech Republic is definitely coming up and a tour to Germany is planned for autumn. And for the readers: a big melodious dose of love!

Photos: Michaela Kei

Lucie Niemelä – Miners

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with Tarja Turunen

Tarja Turunen is undoubtedly one of the most popular Finnish singers worldwide. This current year 2011 has been very special for her, with the release of her second official solo album What Lies Beneath and a chain of great collaborations and perfomances in a heterogeneous array of festivals around the world, having the cherry on top of the cream with the appearance together with the Brazilian metal band Angra at Rock in Rio festival. We reached Tarja who kindly explained to us more about her brilliant past, her brilliant present and her exciting future as an artist!

-Hello Tarja and first of all, thanks for being so kind to answer the questions!

Hi! No problem at all. Pleasure.

-You have had a pretty hectic summer. What of your concerts and appearances is the one you will remember as the highlight of the season?

I just wrote few days ago in my official blog that this summer was the best summer in my career so far. I had the opportunity to perform in several different kinds of concerts and jump into many new challenges, which I always love to do. To choose the best out of these it’s hard, but I feel that the concert with Mr. Jose Cura in Savonlinna´s Opera Festival, Finland was the exceptional one. It required a lot of work and preparation, but it was such an honor to sing with Cura.

Tarja Turunen

-You are the first Finnish artist reaching gold record in Germany both with a band and with a solo album. What do you consider that are the biggest advantages of a solo career? And on the other hand, is there anything you miss from your period with Nightwish?

I would say that everything is different when it comes to having a solo career than in being a member in a steady, already known band. I had to find my own wings in the world of music in the beginning and it wasn’t easy, but I am so happy I went through all that. I definitely feel more comfortable right now than anytime before. The freedom I have got to choose the people to work with, to write and produce my own songs is unbelievable. There are neither boundaries nor frontiers that I need to fight with…. nor egos, because basically I am making decisions for myself! And no, I don’t miss anything particular from my band years.

-They usually say that for an artist, the second album is the most difficult one to put together if the first one was a success. Was that the case with What Lies Beneath? How would you compare it to My Winter Storm?

Not that is common, but my first record My Winter Storm was the hardest one for me for sure. After being in a band for 9 years and not having composed one single track before on my own, I went through a rollercoaster of feelings and challenges with the first record. I managed pretty well even though during the production happened things that made me constantly nervous. For example the fact how I needed to make all the new people around me, including the record label, producer and musicians, understand how I wanted my music to sound and who should play what and why. My Winter Storm was a huge learning process for me as an artist and also as a woman, since I faced several new challenges with it, but I loved all of it. In the end I can only say that I took a great step into unknown, meaning by this, to myself. I don’t have any regrets.

My second album What Lies Beneath sounds more secure and mature, so I cannot say I was having a hard time with it. Actually the whole process was such a fun time for me, since I even ended up producing it myself. I guess this tells a lot about my will to develop myself as a musician constantly.

“I don´t miss anything particular from my band years”

-You are really a versatile singer; you can both perform in an Opera festival like recently in Savonlinna or please a hardcore heavy metal crowd. Being the audiences so different, where do you feel more comfortable on stage? Do you prepare yourself mentally in any different way before going to the stage depending on the venue you perform?

As these styles are extremely different, also my preparation for them differs. I am definitely still more nervous in performing classical music, since I had not done it professionally before my career in rock started to bloom. Before a classical concert I do some breathing exercises and vocalize much more than before a rock show. I need to be sure that I can give my best from the start.

Also mentally my concentration is 100 % focused in thinking the technical parts of the program I am up to perform.It took me several years to learn how to use my classically trained voice for rock. I kept on taking lyrical singing lessons in the University and tried out different things before everything just clicked and I felt that I’ve found my way. Anyway, still today I keep on taking singing lessons privately because I feel it is vital for me. I feel very comfortable where I am today as an artist because I love singing rock and classical music. In rock I can have fun, do whatever I feel in the moment and just go with it. I love seeing the crowd excited about the performance and the people truly gives me a lot of energy.

-Being one of the most international famous Finnish artists, you spend a lot of time outside Finland. Because this publication is read by many foreigners, what is what you miss the most from your country when you are out, and what are your favorite places or activities to do when you are back in Suomi?

Finland is the country of incredible silence and the space of living. It is so easy to fall asleep in Finland! No sounds of traffic, or people, maybe you hear only mosquitoes in the summer time! When I return to Finland, I usually go to meet my family in Northern Karelia, because I miss them the most when I am away. That means a lot of laughing, cooking, sauna going and enjoining every minute giving to us. I also love to go out for a run in countryside of Finland, if the weather is suitable for it.

-If I am not mistaken, you are planning to release a CD/DVD at the end of this year from a live performance in a Christmas concert recorded in 2009. What can you tell us about this project? Is there any specific date of release set?

The CD/DVD is a live recording from one beautiful Christmas concert HARUS made in Sibelius hall Lahti, Finland in 2009. We haven’t done any overdubbing nor recorded anything again, so it is a real live performance. I wanted to give people the chance to listen and see what HARUS is all about. HARUS is the name of the line up of Finnish musicians including organist Kalevi Kiviniemi, guitarist Marzi Nyman, percussionist Markku Krohn and me. We have done concerts together since 2006, but having this first CD/DVD release opportunity now in hand, we wanted to give a name for the line up. HARUS is not based on only Christmas music performances, so you will hear us doing something else in the future too. Unfortunately, I have not been informed with the exact date of the release of the CD/DVD yet.

“I dream of sharing stage with Peter Gabriel”

-To put the cherry on top of the cream to the summer gigs, you are going to join Angra on stage in the huge Rock in Rio festival in Brazil. How this collaboration happened? Did Angra offer you to join them.. (Did you know them beforehand?)?

It is rather incredible to be able to stage Rock in Rio this year! I have known the members of Angra for quite many years already and even worked closely with their guitarist Kiko Loureiro on my first record. I was very happy to receive the invitation to take part in their show in Rio, so I immediately said yes! It’s going to be so much fun to perform together and to meet my beautiful Brazilian fans.

 

Tarja Turunen

-Can you tell us a bit more about how many songs you will sing with them together during Rock in Rio, and if you have previous experiences with Brazilian audience?

I am invited as a guest vocalist in Angra´s show, so I will be performing only few songs. I have been lucky to have several shows in Brazil before on my own. Not only rock shows, but also classical concerts. Brazil is a huge country and I have been able to see quite a lot of it through my visits. I also have important fan clubs in Brazil who are very actively supporting me.

-Is there any other artist of band you would really dream of joining on stage to perform together?

Peter Gabriel is my hero! I just adore him, that’s all. He has the voice, the charisma, the amazing career…all of us need to have dreams, right?

-After these busy months, will you take a break, or what are your future plans for the rest of the year?

Actually in the meantime I am practicing already for my first classical album recordings that are going to happen in the end of November in Finland. It is going to be an Ave Maria album. I will be singing along with organist Kalevi Kiviniemi whose idea this album originally was. It is a huge challenge for me, but I feel comfortable with the theme of the album. I have always loved to sing Ave Marias and now I feel that it is time for me to give my voice to few of them.

Right after the recordings I will have a long Christmas concert tour in Finland in December. When this tour is over, it’s time for the Christmas itself and that I will be spending with my family in Finland, hopefully with lots of snow!

-Anything you want to add for the readers?

I just want to say thank you for the amazing support you’ve been giving me through many years already. I really appreciate that. I hope that I can give a little bit of love back to you with my music.

With love, Tarja

Tarja Turunen & Angra. Rock in Rio 2011

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with Michael Gira – Swans

Musical resurrections are possible, and if you do not believe it, just ask Michael Gira. After 14 years having parked the cult rock band Swans, he announced months ago in Internet that the band was alive again and ready to tour, releasing a new album My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky on September 2010.

For ecstasy of old and new Scandinavian and Baltic fans, Swans will be visiting Finland playing at Klubi the 10th of May and Tavastia one day later, the 11th of May, jumping later to the other side of the Baltic Sea to play in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, the 12th of May, and FREE! Magazine had the chance to hold an exclusive interview via Skype with Michael.

I was a bit scared, having listened and watched previous interviews, of the sharp mood of Gira, but actually I must say that during most of the interview, he was in an excellent mood, only partially worsened when mentioning the damage that illegal music downloading is doing to his record label. All in all, Gira is a fascinating character that, as a true genius, just builds his own path, do things the way he wants and says things just as he feels them. Enjoy the interview!:

Thanks for attending us Michael! The first question is the same that I suppose many people around are wondering themselves. After 14 years of hiatus, why to resurrect Swans?

Well, it was a very selfish artistic decision. I had been working with this other group, Angels of Light, for all that time releasing records, and then I did not know how to proceed with that, I got all the blood out of that. Along the way, I had wanted to experience with more total sonic music again, you know, like loud volume and overtones. So I decided to start again Swans, and as soon as this happened, the flow of ideas started to come over again. I am an artist, so I have to be doing something new and challenging to myself or else I feel like I am dying, so it turned out that this band I had had for so many years was the way to move forward again. And that is what I did!

Swans

The writing process was quite long wasn´t it? You were working on these songs for 2-3 years.

Yes, I presumed that many would be Angels of Light´s songs. But when I started thinking how to orchestrate them and record them, it was not exciting to me. As soon as I thought of them for Swans, it was a different mindset, everything opened up and I wrote a couple of songs specifically for The Swans then after that. The record you could say that it is kind of a transition between Angels of Light and going back to The Swans. It has my entire story in it, but it also has new players I started to work with again, so it added a tremendous amount to the whole process.

And actually for gathering the money to record this new record, you had the idea to sell a 1.000 copies limited edition of the album I am Insane. Did you gather enough funding to work as you wanted, or did you face constrictions?

Once I got the money after the great fans bought this special project, I started recording and of course I was over budged and I had to collect money again, hehehe! As usual the money run out and the time run out and then the record is finished because of that! Hehehe I found it difficult to stop once I got involved with the recording process and the mixing and the overdubs. All the possibilities are always endless. If I have an appetite for sound, is hard for me to say that something is finished. I would work on it forever if I would have limitless money, probably!

So you never see that the “new child” is totally ready to be born…

Of course. The way I see records now is that they are just one more stage in the whole process. It starts when I pick up my acoustic guitar and I start to play thinking about chores and songs and imaging all the people playing and how it would sound, how to make it electric, and finally becomes a song or a template for a song and I send that to my friends, and they have ideas, and we get in the studio. We start working and it changes totally again, and becomes something on its own.

And even during going on tour, there is an evolution with the songs, right?

Yeah, everything is changing. It is constantly changing, and it should. Otherwise we would just be another stupid pop band, and that is not what we are. We have a lot of new material now. I think we are going to record this summer, in July, in Berlin, a new album. As the tour is going on, we are developing new materials.

I have to be doing something new and challenging, or else I would feel like I am dying!

And what would be the direction of these future albums for Swans?

The band has been around for a long time, and it has evolved quite a lot. It is going more in the sonic direction. Less word oriented. There are some songs with words, right now I just got a song that I think it is going to be orchestrated in this “country psychedelic” way. Gentle and quiet, but other songs we have been doing are very propulsive rhythmically and very long, they go over 20 minutes and more sonic oriented. I think the new record will have a lot of variation on it, sometimes pretty and quiet, and some other times more sonic.

How has your attitude evolve through the years? Are you still the same wild young boy? For example, you still have “punch on your face” lyrics and titles for songs like “You Fucking People Make me Sick”?

Well, I have never complained about the world around. For example, that is a complicated song. It was written when I was making a big sonic piece out of loops, a kind of collage, and I went on with my acoustic guitar, playing while distractedly looking at internet, at a music website, and I started writing imaging myself as a murderer or a rapist, just stalking and killing fashionable young people wearing corporate clothing. I am not saying it is me, I was only writing from that point of view. Then, when I was singing it, I realized that I sounded like my good friend Devendra Banhart. So I called him and he accepted to sing it, so all the thing made sense.

Swans

So you had a good relation with Banhart beforehand?

I produced Devendra´s first 2 albums, and released 3 or 4 of his records on my label Young God Records.

And how was the experience of having your daughter collaborating there too?

Oh well, you know, she is 4.5 years old, so she did not really know what she was saying! hehehe.

You are visiting Finland soon. Have you visited here before? What are your expectations when visiting here?

Yeah, I played solo actually years ago, in Helsinki and in Tampere. I enjoyed it. The Finnish people are problematic, as you know! hehehe. They are much removed, reticent, they do not like to talk, so being American, and it was funny. Actually in the last Swans tour, this band Panasonic was opening for us. I liked them a lot, but there would be these moments when as an American you talk, and they were just dead silence. A funny story is that when we first met, they were waiting for us in Amsterdam, in the tour bus. They had been there for a couple of days, and when I arrived I just asked “Hey guys, how are you doing? Are you having fun?” and they just said “What do you mean “fun”?” Hehehe. That is my impression of Finland! It can be 50 men sitting in a bar, and they do not talk, just looking down.

Michael, this tour actually is planned to last pretty long, right, around one year and a half?

We started the tour in September last year, and looks like it is going to go till October this year, and maybe some short things after that. So we will record some material in Berlin in July and then some more material in September again. And then I will have to be working on the new album, mixing it, adding overdubs and all that. And then later, in 2012, the new album will come up and it will be a kind of a 30 year anniversary album. We are working on new material as we tour, so we almost have the whole record. In the set we are playing now, there are 2 new songs, one about 15 minutes long and one about 30 minutes long, and there is a couple of instrumental things which I think they are really good and they will be in the record. Now I am working on a couple more of acoustic songs. It will be a long album with a lot of sonic variation. Very intense, much different than the one we just did, more focused on the sonic side.

Being The Swans also a band well known for giving the best at live performances, have you thought of releasing a live album?

Yeah, we are recording every show, so for sure we will do a live album.

swans

Many fans must be wonder also about your relation with the ex member Jarboed. Do you keep in touch with each other? Would there be any chance of a re-encounter with the band?

No. We keep in touch somehow, but you know, Jarboed was very important for the group, but the reason she was in the group is that she was my mate. It was not that I was looking for a keyboardist or someone to sing female vocals. It was that she was there and I started to think on ways of adding more dynamics and variations. Jarboed could sing, so we had this primitive keyboard, and she was playing these chunks of sounds, and then she started to sing. She added a lot, no question about that, but once the relation ended, there was no point for that anymore. These songs do not call for any female background vocals. This is a new thing and I am moving forward. Some people are not happy she is not in it, but fuck them! I do not care. This is my work!

How was in the past, being a couple and working together?

It was always an argument! hehehe She would not be in the mixing, she would be in the studio and she would do her parts, and then she will be gone and the record would go on after that. But we fought all the time! Ask anybody who was on tour with us, it was hell! I remember once we got upstate, I think somewhere in Sweden, and in the dressing room there were all these people from the press, from big publications because Swans was flying high at that time, and I was just telling about changing a part of a song when she walked into the dressing room, and she was went “You fucking bastard!” and picked up a big bottle of wine and threw it as hard as she could to me! It smashed all over the dressing room!

Romantic, eh!

Hehehe. All the journalists left, of course! That is how touring with us was. I do not want to go back to that. I mean, she is great, but it is like two pieces of sand paper rubbing against each other.

Some people are not happy that Jarboed is not in the band anymore, but fuck them!

For you, owning your own record company Young God Records, what is your view about piracy and illegal downloading nowadays?

Well, streaming is fine for me; I have no problem with that. It is like reviewing before buying. But downloading is a total different thing. Of course I have a problem with people stealing my music. I am a bit sick with the discussion. Many young people write in my Facebook page that it helps me, but it is the opposite, it damages me incredibly, in fact I don´t know if I can carry on with my record label because of it. I have brought great musicians to wider audiences; it takes great effort, time and money. And people the just fucking take it! So I am closing down the record label!

In the eighties people recorded cassettes and sent to each other, that is a total different story than now, when it is massive. When they say, “Oh I will buy it later”, yeah right… Maybe only one out of ten persons buys it later. Then people propose that I could tour more, but then, with all the artists touring more, the market is over flooded. There are only a couple of big artists who really make good money out of it. So I don´t know what is going to happen…

Well Michael. We can see you are going to be very busy for the rest of the year touring and working on the new album. Is there anything else that you want to add for the readers?

No, just looking forward to coming to Finland and seeing you all there!

Swans Myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/swansaredead

Review of Helsinki gig at Tavastia coming soon!!!

Categories
Albums Blogs Features FREE! Blog Music

Napoleon Skullfukk contest – Get autographed Cds for FREE!!!

FREE! Magazine and Dynamic Arts Records bring you the best of the land of heavy metal: Suomi Perkele Finland!!!

Now you have the chance to get 1 of the 3 copies autographed by the members of the band of the new album from Napolen SkullFukk: Swollen & Torture Metal.

Napolen Skullfukk

Just answer correctly the question below and send it by email to free@freemagazine.fi , writing in the subject field “Napolen Skullfukk contest”. Good luck metal heads!

Question: What is the name of the vocalist of Napolen Skullfukk?

A) Jonne Nikula
B) John Holmes
C) R. Kurimus
D) Pentti Suomalainen

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with Steafán Hanvey

Irish musician Steafán Hanvey feels in Finland like being at his second home. Nevertheless, during his bohemian life, he has spent a few years in the Scandinavian country making friends, playing gigs, and finding always new challenges. So when we sit with him minutes before his gig at Semifinal, he is just a relaxed easy going man transmitting the feeling that he enjoys what he is doing. As good Irish, he is holding a glass of whisky, and when more pints of beer join our table, it is about time to have a chat about his interesting life and musical career:

Thanks for your time Steafán! Basically, you were born being a musician. Your parents were also musicians, right?

Yes, my father was a banjo and guitar player and my mother is a singer and a plays also the bodhrán, the traditional Irish drum and stick, she taught me how to play that. My father interviewed a lot of famous musicians and took a lot of photographs of people visiting around; so it was normal to be around people who were involved in music.

And you happen to have been quite a nomad in your life, don´t you? You have lived in Seattle, then in 1995 moved to Helsinki… Why the decision to come here first time?

Yes, I have been some kind of a gypsy. I was in USA as exchange student, I chose Seattle because I was interested in the place, it was an opportunity to study American society; a good opportunity for me to be there so I studied at University.

Steafan Hanvey

And how did it happen to come to Finland?

I met a Finnish girl in 1993, actually she came to me like “hey, you are that Irish guy!”. I finished my degree and then came here. So I came to Finland to study and started to play in the bars and get to know people around in the Finnish-Irish community.

Sometimes, being Finland a small country, can be difficult to break through the right circles. Did you feel that at any point as a musician here?

I got you. The first year I was mainly singing in traditional bands, playing at the Irish pubs, parties, some art galleries and then I started writing my own stuff. I felt that if I stayed, I would have become a big fish in a small pond. I would have been known like that Irish guy singing in the bars in Finland. I am not saying that I would not have become a success, but I wanted to try in other places.

Many of our readers are interested in Finland as a possible destination to move in. What was your response when you arrived here?

I like Finland. When you make friends, you make true friends. I still keep some of the friends that I had when I first came here. I also hosted a radio show in Lahi radio. It was a kind of progression for me, it came naturally to do. I had a lot of things to do, but then I felt a bit stuck, and I needed to go and decide what music to play. But it has been a good journey, I had very interesting periods with very interesting people I had the chance to play with. I feel now that I am more ready to take my music in front of an audience than I have ever been, more mature.

And both nations, Ireland and Finland, have fame for their hardcore drinking habits…

Yeah, hehehe. Hard drinking here and in Ireland! I cannot keep up with it anymore, I used to do it for years, but now at my age, it is different. The same about smoking, I quit.

I feel now more ready to take my music in front of an audience than I have ever been

What can you tell us about your new incoming album, “Nuclear Family”? Are there differences with the previous one, “Free”?

It is an album that introduces more of a band, there is more upbeat. Overall, it is a more compact album. Maybe with the previous one, I felt like “let`s see what I can do and what I can´t”, because of course in the first album you want to show all the people what you can do. But with the second album, I just create the record I like. Much more relaxed. I learnt a lot from the first record, I worked with great people, but in this album I have got to work with Tore Johansson mixing the album (who worked with the Cardigans) or with Mandy Parnell mastering it (who has worked with Sigur Ros). It is great to have those people working on your music.

And you also have friends like Liam O’Maonlai collaborating on the piano and vocals, right?

Yes, Liam came to Paris! And also Bertrand Belin, who played lead guitar on one song.

You also have played in USA quite a lot…

Yes, I have played there a few times. And I have some gigs scheduled for March-April in Boston and maybe in Chicago too. Let´s see how long I can be there.

The presentation of your first album was also here at the same club, in Semifinal, some years ago. How do you feel coming back?

That day there was a terrible snow storm. Thanks god today we are luckier. That day some people got stuck in the buses, and had to walk to reach Semifinal! Let´s see how it goes today, I have no idea really! If I play during weekdays, people complain that I have to put it together at weekend. But if I play on Friday night at 11:30, they complain that it is too late! Hehehe

Anything you want to add for the readers?

I want to add that thanks to everybody and also special thanks to the musicians playing with me, great guys, Neff Irizarry on the guitar, Nicce Lindholm on the drums and Jukka Jylli on the bass.

Steafán Hanvey & The Honeymoon Junkies

Categories
Concerts Features Music

Review Tuska festival 2010

Text by Maila-Kaarina

The first day of the biggest metal festival of Finland came out and all those who attended had to be ready for something really big: 34 bands, 8 hours a day from 2-4 of July. Do you think it´s easy? Well, I say it´s not! Specially under a boiling sun and average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius which means a lot when talking about Finland and its very dry air. But I am not complaining, opposite! This is exactly the kind of tough days all metalheads would love to have.

But now let´s talk about rock because this is why I´m here for!

The 2 first bands of the day were Barren Earth on the Sue Stage and The Arson Project on the Inferno Stage, since I had to choose one and Barren Earth really caught my attention, I apologize to The Arson Project ´s folks but I could´t watch their performance.

BARREN EARTH – 13:45, Sue Stage

Barren Earth was my starting choice and they got on stage punctually at 13:45 giving me absolute no remorse for choosing them. Since the gates were opened at 13:00 and it was Friday, I really thought they would play for almost nobody. I was quite surprised to see the opposite, the entire venue wasn´t yet crowded but many people ran to see Barren Earth and every minute they seemed to get the attention of more and more people. It is a very good band playing progressive death metal with some folk influences (nothing exaggerated) and some psychedelic moments where the atmosphere of the songs may recall even Pink Floyd. Another very interesting thing about this Finnish band is that the line-up is formed by former members of very important bands such as bass player Oli-Pekka Laine (Amorphis) and guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö (Kreator), Janne Petillä (guitar) and Marko Tarvonen (drums), both coming from Moonsorrow, vocalist Mikko Kotamäki from Swallow the Sun and keyboard player Kasper Måterson, who also makes good clean vocals.

Mikko sings guttural and clean and has a very powerful voice, songs are full of punch gathering very heavy moments with melancholic and atmospheric keyboards. Barren Earth was able to really set me up and connect all the audience to the right mood of Tuska. Everybody who watched them surely enjoyed a very professional, well played and heavy concert. In my opinion, together with Insomnium (review coming soon), Barren Earth is one of the big promises of the Finnish metal to achieve worldwide recognition.

Check them out!

http://www.myspace.com/officialbarrenearth
http://barrenearth.com/

TESTAMENT – 14:30, Radio Rock Stage

At 14:23, almost 10 minutes before the scheduled time for the concert, the audience was already screaming TESTAMENT, TESTAMENT, excited waiting for the kings of thrash to set fire in Kaisaniemi park. And they did it! At 14:31 Paul Bostaph was the first to get on stage saluting the audience pointing the drumsticks to the air and getting loads of loud screaming. Then Eric Peterson, Greg Christian, Alex Skolnick and Chuck Billy came starting what I considered the best concert of the entire festival among the 20 concerts I saw at Tuska Open Air.

”More than Meets the Eye” from their most recent album The Formation of Damnation (2008) opened the concert followed by the classics ”The Preacher” and ”The New Order”, both from The New Order album (1988). Then it was time for ”The Persecuted Won´t Forget” also from The Formation of Damnation and another classic from the same 1988 album introduced by Chuck Billy: ”You guys have to show us that you have improved since the last time we were here, you have to show us that you Practice what you Preach!”, next song to be played. One curiosity is that in the band´s bio it´s written that The Formation of Damnation can be considered as The New Order´s young sibling but even sharped and heavier. Listening to this beginning of concert mixing songs of these two albums you can assure it, they complete each other perfectly.

Testament

Testament was able to make us forget the strong sun frying our backs and heads in front of the main stage showing a great performance full of presence and charisma coming from all members who didn´t stop moving any moment. Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy are responsible for Testament´s legacy since without them everything would have been over when Greg, Louie and Alex left the band years ago, and now, more than 20 years later, it´s great to see them together again with almost the original line-up – only the drummer Louie Clemente didn´t come back and with all my respect to Louie´s work, I am not crazy to complain since Paul Bostaph is JUST one of the best drummers of the world (and this is not only my personal opinion). Eric Peterson´s guitar is pure pressure and Alex Skolnick is just not able to play average, he´s always much more than anybody can expect with his different way of playing, particular guitar timbre and wonderful solos abusing of jazz scales without losing the essence of thrash metal. Greg Christian cannot be left behind in these comments since his fast fingers and great slap suit Paul´s double kick perfectly.

Some more songs? ”Over the Wall”, ”Henchmen Ride”, ”Disciples of the Watch”, ”Into the Pit”, offered by Chuck to ”the guy with the pink hat”, actually mentioned by Mr. Billy at least 3 times during the concert, almost becoming a Tuska Celebrity. D.N.R (Do not Resuscitate) and the last piece of this amazing concert, The Formation of Damnation bringing the biggest moshpit I´ve ever seen started by Chuck with words that for a moment made me a little scared (I forgot for some seconds that I am in Finland and here these things work because people usually understand the meaning of the word LIMIT).

Chuck divided the audience in two and said to the right side: ”I want these guys over here to kill those guys over there!” – pointing to the left side – ”And those guys over here to kill those guys over there!” – pointing to the right side. ”Wait!” everybody obeyed and at this moment I kept my camera, pen and notebook in my purse and was sure that I wouldn´t be able to escape from that moshpit even if I wanted, it was to late to run… Paul Bostaph started the drumming and Chuck said the words: ”NOW KILL, KILL, KILL, KILL”. The moshpit started and many, really many people got in it but to my surprise, nobody pushed those who wanted to stay out. My scared face changed to smiling in a blink and this was a very special moment bringing back some of the best memories of my life, and if I weren´t wearing high-hill boots I would have gotten in that moshpit with no lack of doubt forgetting that my teens were over many years ago…

Just to finish, I started my journalistic career in a Testament´s concert during the reunion tour in Brazil, in 2006. I´ve been a fan since 1989 and they never ever disappointed me.

Hail Gods of thrash!

http://www.testamentlegions.com/

INSOMNIUM – 15:30, Sue Stage

After Testament´s perfect concert I was so excited that I thought of having a break, drinking something and resting for 45 minutes in the press area just thinking about the best moments and maybe starting to write my review before Tarot´s concert. These are those moments when giving the wrong step and braking your face are so easy to happen…but it´s good that it didn´t this time. Photographer Jussi Ratilainen had already told me about Insomnium and made really curious about the guys so when I met him backstage we just headed for Sue Stage to check the boys out. Missing this concert would have been really something to regret. The band is very professional and surely deserves to be heard and known by every metal fan in the world. One more band to get into my hall of ”Finnish metal pride”.

The band was formed in 1997 and the lineup counts on Niilo Sevänen (vocals/bass), Ville Freeman (guitars), Ville Vänni (guitars) and Markus Hirvonen (drums). Insomnium music shows us the scent of the melodic Scandinavian death metal spiced with some old school doom metal influences and also some thrash metal, which for me is really a plus since most of the bands of this style nowadays spice their music only with Gothic and epic stuff not leaving space for something rawer. I feel a lot of difference when watching bands who are proud to be influenced by the old school styles and are able to still sound new and unique, there is more passion in the way they play and we can feel the music much deeper. It was a pity that their concert lasted only 45 minutes ´cause everybody was really into it and surely willing for more.

Niilo has a powerful voice and looks quite wild on stage with all his headbanging, actually the entire band has a great stage presence and made most of the audience headbang and scream. The guitars are played with a lot of punch and personality and we can feel the influences of Paradise Lost (Shades of God, Icon and Draconian Times, no new stuff), My Dying Bride, Dark Tranquility but also something of Metallica from the Black Album era, and I don´t know if I´m crazy or what, but something of Iron Maiden also came to my mind although there is nothing related to Maiden on their music.

So, after Insomnium´s concert I was really delighted and almost sure that the first day of Tuska Open Air would bring me the best sequence of concerts of all days, even though that was just the beginning.

http://www.myspace.com/insomniumband

TAROT – 16:15, Radio Rock Stage

Resting? Who said this word? I-M-P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E! Right after Insomnium I just headed for the main stage (Radio Rock) to watch my 4th show of the day, 6th of the festival – as mentioned, Sue Stage and Inferno Stage played simultaneously.

tarot

Precisely at 16:15 Tarot got on stage and I was really curious to see them alive. Hietala brothers´metal band (yes, Nightwish´s Marcu Hietala and his brother Zachary) I´d say is one of the most competent in Finland and maybe, among those that have already a good place in the mainstream, one of the best of the moment. Best of the moment sounds quite weird when the subject is Tarot, a band that has been around since the early 80´s having Marcu Hietala (voice/bass), Zachary Hietala (guitar) and Pecu Cinnari (drums) together since then and 6 albums released. But music business is never something fair and achieving a place in the sun is always hard. Although the band has never been unknown in Finland and had quite good moments in Japan (they have albums released only there), only now the doors of the world are really opened to this great band. Besides Marcu on vocals, Tarot counts on another lead singer, Tommi Salmela, who also plays the sampler. This vocal sharing makes the music even richer since Marcu´s and Tommi´s voices suit perfectly and both have a great vocal range.

Tommi has a very good singing style and his voice reminds me very different stuff and hard to put together such as Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy Osbourne (Bark at the Moon mainly) and some real rock n´roll stuff as Lynyrd Skynyrd. Difficult to understand? Well, you have to check it out…

Marcu Hietala is always that great guy everybody feels like having a beer with. As a big fan of his playing and singing – actually I prefer Nightwish a thousand times now because he sings more (oops, maybe I´ve just lost some readers but I´m not a big Tarja ”owl” Turunen ´s fan, sorry) – is very nice to watch him doing his thing as the leader of his band. He sings A LOT and his charisma in undeniable.

Tarot songs are definitely metal in the European, most precisely Scandinavian, way of doing it but the hard rock influences are very strong, specially if we think of bands like Deep Purple (Coverdale era), Journey and Survivor. But don´t think the band is old fashioned, NO WAY! Important to mention the presence of the keyboard player Janne Tolsa (that Korg CX3 is something I really envy), great musician. Tarot did a very special performance at Tuska Open Air, opening the concert with ”Sleep in the Dark”, followed by their biggest hit ”I Walk Forever” and a big surprise, a choir led by the crazy conductor Mika Ryhänen, who uses a whip instead of a baton. This choir got second place on the TV show ”Clash of the Choirs” in Finland, and Marcu was their leader in the competition. They were part of the concert for around 6 songs and made a big difference to the performance. ”Satan is Dead”, ”Crows Fly Black”, ”Tides”, ”Calling Down the Rain” – one of the best moments of the concert and I don´t know if it was coincidence or not, but exactly in this song the bouncers started to sprinkle water in the audience, exactly as if it were raining since it was very hot and sunny – ”Hell Knows”, ”Pyre of the Gods”, ”Rider of the Last Day” and ”Traitor” were the pearls of this very good set list and excellent show. Tarot rules!

http://www.myspace.com/tarot

PAIN – 17:45, Sue Stage

One more band in the row, the Swedish Industrial Metal band which is actually one more project of the talented workaholic musician and producer Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy), the man who never sleeps, and if he does, he is probably able to split himself in two. Peter is that kind of person who is always doing several things simultaneously and only at Tuska, we could see him on stage with Pain and Hypocrisy, his main project and excellent melodic death metal band.

One very interesting thing is that Pain sounds very different from all things we are used to seeing coming from Tägtgren. It isn´t so heavy as his usual projects more backed to death and black metal and grind core. Pain has even something of pop and is a band you can easily listen to on rock radios and sing along the songs, the music is not actually underground although it´s very deep with lyrics that you should pay attention and think about. Peter Tägtgren knows the formula and never gets lost, he chooses the path, builds the way and will not walk unnoticeable, one of the big names in which concerns to music in our era who will surely leave a very big mark in rock history. Pain sounds great and is not at all a cliche band.

They played on Sue Stage right after Tarot, at 17:15, and the tent was so crowded that I could barely watch the band (my height doesn´t help much in these situations) but of course I could listen and stayed there during the entire concert trying to get a piece of look. ”Supersonic Bitch” was the first song followed by Dancing With the Dead, one of my favorites, written by Peter after the experience of having his heartbeats stopped for a couple of minutes during the same name album production. ”Zombie Slam” came next and is also a very good song in which the atmosphere reminds me a mix o punk rock with Sisters of Mercy, full of very different vocal styles. Actually this is a big plus in which concerns to Pain´s songs. There is a vast range of vocal styles from Guttural to more melodic, more punk, more Gothic, none of the songs sound the same. ”Walking on Glass”, ”It´s Only Them”, ”End of the Line”, ”I´m Going In”, ”Monkey Business”, ”On and On”, ”Don´t Care”, and of course the encore, ´cause nobody wanted them to leave the stage: ”Same old Song”, one of the moment´s radio hit in Finland and most played video clips in the music TV channel, ”Shut Your Mouth”, and pity, the end…

Pain´s concert at Tuska Open Air really left me with that ”I want more taste” in my mouth and this is a guy I really have to meet and talk someday.

The entire band that played with Peter deserves all congrats, excellent musicians who made everybody have fun and get wasted in the music.

Check them out and feel the pain!

http://www.myspace.com/pain

DEVIN TOWNSEND – ZILTOID THE OMNISCIENT – 20:30, Radio Rock Stage

Last band of the day, one of the projects of the Canadian musician and music producer Devin Townsend, bringing a debut concert to Finland, performing songs of the conceptual album Ziltoid the Omniscient with the entire story on video during the show.

Devin Townsend

Devin got known in music world in 1993 when he toured and recorded the vocals on Steve Vai´s album Sex & Religion. With Ziltoid the Omniscient, he brings the audience an incredible show full of interaction and a very funny and intelligent story. Ziltoid is a 4th dimensional alien who has come to Earth to beam messages in the shape of videos and music. Ziltoid can bend time but to do it he requires the perfect fuel: the finest black coffee beans that can be found only in Planet Earth. It´s a great concert and this interaction audience/video/Devin is quite of an experience. It isn´t a concert for headbanging or screaming, it´s a performance to be watched and enjoyed. Townsend is a very charismatic guy and performs full of body expression and eye contact. His voice is powerful and he also has a great voice range doing several vocal styles without losing the tone even once.

To know more about Ziltoid the Omniscient you can check out his MySpace profile but really, watch the videos, they are great and funny. I recommend.

http://www.myspace.com/ziltoidtheomniscient

The second day of Tuska Open Air was also the hottest of the last 50 years in Finland. All day long the sun was shining and the temperature was over 30 degrees Celsius, so watching the concerts placed on Sue Stage and Inferno Stage was quite hard (Inferno stage mainly).

The first band of the day started at 13:45 at Sue Stage and it was the Finnish metal band Blake, inspired by the 70´s style riff tradition, showing some blues and progressive roots in spite of the modern and post 90´s style which can be much more felt here. I didn´t watch the concert but got quite curious after listening to very good comments coming from the audience, and although their style doesn´t catch me that much, they seem to have done a great concert. If you are interested in checking them out, the homepage address is http://blake.fi . I also missed the death metal band Sotajumala (http://www.sotajumala.com/) and Torure Killer (http://torturekiller.com/), this one I actually tried to watch but Inferno Stage was like a real hell on fire. The temperature under the tent was probably over 40 degrees Celsius and there was quite a lot of people, I just couldn´t handle it.

HYPOCRISY – Radio Rock Stage,15:50

Time to watch my first concert and really begin to enjoy one more true metal day with the Swedish death metal band HYPOCRISY, the main project of Peter Tägtgren, before mentioned on the day one review part II with the band PAIN (http://www.hardblast.com/resenha/tuskad2.asp).

Hypocrisy is formed by Peter on guitar and vocals, Mikael Hedlund on bass and Horgh on drums. Its master mind Tägtgren, who lived many years in Florida, was inspired by the best in the style: (bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Death and Obituary). Well, if you think of Hypocrisy also as being the main project of the man in charge for producing some of the best bands in the world in which concerns to death and black metal, such as CHILDREN OF BODOM, DIMMU BORGIR, THERION, CELTIC FROST, DARK FUNERAL, DESTRUCTION and IMMORTAL, you would probably agree that words mean nothing here. YOU HAVE TO WATCH AND LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND and I promise! Enjoy it!

Hypocrisy is at the moment the best death metal band in my opinion and they did an excellent concert at Tuska Open Air. My mistake here? Not to follow the set list as I should have. To be really honest I haven´t been a Hypocrisy fan for a long time, I got curious about them after reading Peter´s bio, which I was studying for an interview he was supposed to give me at Finnish metal expo in February of this year (which unfortunately didn´t happen due to technical problems before their concert FXXX!), but as far as I remember, Hypocrisy played some great stuff as “Pleasure of Molestation”, “Fire in the Sky”, “Let the knife do the talking”, a love song according to Peter´s words (NOT!), Warpath, Eraser, most of the songs of the album Catch 22 and Penetralia. It was a perfect start and a great concert.

Check more about Hypocrisy: http://www.hypocrisy.tv/

CROWBAR – 16:15, Sue Stage

Just THE BEST concert of the day and one of the top 5 in the entire Tuska Open Air for me. Showing what they were there for, frontman Kirk Windstein gave the order: “Hey Finland, I´m 45 and have been doing it for 25 years so, can you scream a little bit louder ´cause I can´t hear you very well?”

Crowbar

Of course everybody obeyed this metal veteran from New Orleans and his band formed by Steve Gibb, also on guitar, Pat Bruders, bass, and Tomy Bucklet, drums, a bunch of guys who know exactly what it means to play heavy and loud. They kick ass absolutely!

Crowbar is one of those bands I consider a big inequity for never being well known all over the world. They´ve been around for over 20 years, have 8 records released, one DVD and a long list of concerts all over the world. The only pity here is not to see them on mainstream charts.

Their music is a combination of heavy styles with a lot o thrash metal and hardcore influence and in this concert they dedicated songs to Peter Steele, Type o Negative vocalist who passed away at the beginning of this year, and of course, to our forever metal god Dio (R.I.P.). The concert lasted 45 minutes and all of us in the audience asked for and wanted more but unfortunately it wasn´t possible due to the festival tight schedule. It was impossible for me to follow the set list since I was really packed in the crowd and didn´t have how to take a note. Couldn´t find it on the net either, sorry…

Crowbar rules!!!

Check them out and promote their work!

http://www.myspace.com/crowbar
http://www.crowbarmusic.com/

Next concert, Devin Townsend Project, the only artist to perform in two days of Tuska but with different concerts, on the first day with Ziltoid the Omniscient (http://www.hardblast.com/resenha/tuskad2.asp ) and on the second day playing a varied set list of his career. The concert was ok but I don´t have much to add here.

SURVIVORS ZERO – 18:00, Sue Stage

Finnish modern death metal band Survivors Zero was my next choice and once more a good one. Although I´ve heard a lot about them, a quite popular band in the scene, I hadn´t heard them before and enjoyed quite much. Vocalist Tommi Virranta screams very well and the guitars of Sami Jämsen and Janni Luttinen are full of power. My highlight here, though, goes to the drummer Seppo Tarvainen who kicks that double kick in a way that I was paying attention more to him that anyone or anything else during the entire concert. Excellent! Bass player Tapio Wilska also did an excellent job and Survivors Zero deserves the attention given. One more Finnish band to kick ass in the world of metal.

Check them out:

http://www.myspace.com/survivorszero
http://survivorszero.com/

KAMELOT – 18:45, Radio Rock Stage

Ok, now it´s time to lose some readers and start to have some people hating me, of course among 12 headliners there would be one or two that I just CAN´T say good things about for several reasons…
I am not taking my personal taste in consideration here and this is really how I work whenever I write about a band: impartially, but dear reader, this one was not good, not at all, and I mean Kamelot.

Kamelot

I was deeply disappointed since Kamelot has an admirable work, very good line-up formed by top musicians and for many years in summer festivals has been a band I have only read good things about. I apologize here but however Roy Khan was extremely kind with the audience and sang very well, for me the concert was slow, with no punch, no emotion, and totally feelingless. Bad is not a fair word for a band counting besides Roy on Thomas Youngblood, lead guitar, Sean Tibbets, bass, Casey Grillo on drums and Oliver Palotai on the keyboards but that black heavy outfit under that 32 degrees Celsius sun cool the band´s feeling off. Nothing to say…

OVERKILL – 19:45, Sue Stage

Remorse, repent and sadness are the words that should permeate these next lines. I MISSED OVERKILL!!!! And if you already hate me for saying those words about Kamelot, now you should just torture me before killing. Overkill has been around since 1985, playing the real and truth thrash metal which I so deeply love. I had the opportunity of being 10 meters away from them, watching the concert in the front row and what happened? I just didn´t see them.

Overkill

After watching Kamelot my back started aching so bad that I had to sit for a while. End of story…please hit me!

And if by any chance you don´t know what I´m talking about, check them out!

http://www.myspace.com/overkill
http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

NEVERMORE – 20:45, Radio Rock Stage

Last band of the evening, another one I was really expecting: NEVERMORE.

Warrel Dane is one of my idols not only for his voice but for all work he´s done in the name of heavy metal since the 80´s with Sanctuary, then with Nevermore and his solo career, which I consider even better than the bands. Very good composer and lyricist, together with Jeff Loomis, a real guitar hero, Jim Sheppard on bass and Van Williams on drums he is the leader of this great band. Important to mention the presence of another guitarist, Attila Vörös, from Hungary, who is touring with the band this year.

Nevermore

But ok, I said before that I know how to be impartial and put my personal taste aside while writing a review, so here I am ensuring my words talking about this band I love: the concert was feelingless and quite disappointing. Most of the words I wrote about Kamelot would be suitable here and not even god nor the devil know how hard it is for me to say that.
No good…

Photos by Jussi Ratilainen

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Swallow The Sun – Interview with Juha Raivio and Matti Honkonen

Swallow The Sun is a Finnish melodic death/doom metal band formed in 2000 by guitarist Juha Raivio. So far they have released 4 albums, 2 singles, 3 music videos and 1 EP that contains a song with the lenght of 30min. Their last album New Moon came out in 2009 and they have spent the last year touring.

Swallow The Sun also played at Tuska Open Air 2010 – so I got a great oppurtunity to interview them. The interview is a bit short due to the fact that it was conducted before their show and they didn’t have very much time. The interview is with the band’s guitarist and music-writer Juha Raivio and the bassist Matti Honkonen.

Swallow the Sun

How have you been? How has been the summer for you?

JR: It’s been great. We’ve been doing few festivals so far and we’ve been playing Israel for the first time and we also played this big festival in France – Hellfest. That was fantastic. And Nummirock more up north in Finland. It’s been good and I have to say that after this Tuska gig we have a month long free time, no more gigs, and in fact I’m really happy about it.

MH: Yeah, a little break for us. Next month is going to be full of festivals and then a tour to US with Katatonia. So, it’s going to be a little break.

It’s great to have a month long break before the other long tour in the US.

JR: Yeah. When I was younger I was like – Oh yeah, it’s going to be a gig and now I’m more like – yeah, it’s not going to be a gig in one month. We love playing gigs and all the festivals but “New Moon” came about six months ago and we’ve been touring for almost 4 months now. So, it has been a lot of gigs. A little break is good and I’m happy that it’s the summer time.

How was the acceptance of the album New Moon? Are you happy with it?

JR: Yes.

MH: And it seems that the audience seems to like it. It’s all that matters.

JR: It’s definitely a bit different album, some new kind of things there. We always have little bit of new things with every album but still try to keep it sounding like Swallow The Sun. I’m really happy about the album and I’m happy how it sounds like. There are many good live songs.

Regarding the live songs – I’ve always thought about your last album Plague of Butterflies ; it’s basically a 30min. song. It must be pretty hard to play it live?

MH: Yeah, but we have done it here in Finland. But we don’t have that much time in festivals or if we are a support band in the US – we only have limited time. So we can’t play that live often. It’s a little bit of shame because we have done it in Finland and it works very well – one song that is 30min and then the show starts.

JR: But we usually play one part of this song. And I think we will play one part of this song even today but not the full song.

But at first when you started writing it, was it like a concept or a thought to write such a song or did it came naturally in writing process?

JR: It supposed to be a metal ballet. We got an offer to make music for a ballet and I was like yes, of course. They had used our music in their shows before also. I was like – this is a great idea. I can make this long story in this one song. It was ordered from us. But the ballet never happened, there were money issues at the end – surprise, surprise. But we got the music anyways.

I’ve always thought that your music would suit this kind of horror movie or something like it. What do you think about it? Would you want it to be a soundtrack to some movie?

JR: You know, somebody has been using our music in a horror movie or something like this. Many of our songs are set musically in a way that they’d suit on a movie. And actually the lyrics are also quite suitable. Many of our songs have this movie kind of vibe/feeling. At least for me.

New Moon

What about performing in Estonia?

MH: Of course we want to play in Estonia. We want to go everywhere we can. Well, almost everywhere. It’s not always up to us – it’s up to the organizers and everything connected with that.

Talking about Estonia. Do you know any Estonian metal bands?

MH: Not particualry…

Maybe for example Metsatöll – also under Spinefarm records?

MH: Yeah, I’ve seen them live. We played with them in one festival in Vana-Vigala (Hard Rock Lager – annual metal festival in Estonia). I think it was Metsatöll. But I know we played with them. But I didn’t know they were from Estonia.

Yeah, they were recently signed with Spinefarm.

MH: Yeah, I’ve heard the news.

I’m really happy that Estonian metal is finally breaking out to Europe also.

MH: Yeah, of course, that’s a very good thing.

A lot of bands and artists have released their autobiographies. Will there some day be a Swallow The Sun biography?

JR: Yeah, it’s gonna be and it’s going to be two pages long (laughs).

What kind of bands are you going to see in Tuska yourself?

JR: Satyricon is playing right after us so I’m gonna miss it. But Devin Townsend Ziltoid Project – I’m really waiting for that. What else – of course Megadeth.

Regarding Megadeth. Did you see maybe the Big Four concert? It was brodcasted over satellite to cinemas everywhere?

JR: Yeah, I heard about it. But we didn’t see it. But it would have been great to see it.

So, thank you for the interview. It was great talking to you.

JR and MH: No problem, thank you

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with Satyricon

Satyricon is a Norwegian black metal band that was formed in 1990. Mainly the band consists of two members – Satyr and Frost. Satyricon are in a way an exception in black metal- they never cared for trends, for the latest fashion in how one is supposed to present oneself and they always abhorred the tried and tested genre stereotypes. The result is a notable career, spanning eight albums that always put the music first, often as a surprise and challenge to the listener. Satyricon’s last album The Age Of Nero came out in 2008.

They also played at Tuska Open Air 2010 and I had a great opportunity to talk with Satyr. Here is what we talked about.

So to start off, how are you?

I’m in a good mood today. I had a really nice time yesterday. This is an off year for the band. It was our second show this year and we don’t have any more shows scheduled. We made a decision in August (2009) to take a touring brake for 2010. We did only two Helsinki shows – one in February in MetalExpo and the second here in Tuska. They were booked before we made a decision to take a break in 2010. So, it’s nice for us that even if we are on a tour-brake we can still do a couple of shows. And when you do a couple of shows it becomes all the more important that the shows you give are very good shows. Yesterday it was a very vigorous crowd, real fighting spirit. I will leave Helsinki feeling inspired.

Your last album was out in 2008 – The Age Of Nero. How do you feel about this album now? Are you happy with it – commercially and music-wise?

For me it’s most important that I’m happy with it musically. Everything else comes as a result of this hopefully. If you make a good record and you do good tours most of the time it will result in good record sales. That’s nice. This record for example was our best selling record in some countries and overall the sales have been very good. Especially taking into account the Internet downloading and everything. I’m very happy with it but then again the most important thing is that we are musically satisfied with The Age Of Nero. Its commercial success is a bonus for us.

You have only one video from this album – Black Crow On A Tombstone. Will there be other videos maybe?

We did some live footage of “The Wolfpack” because we wanted to do a video for that. But I wasn’t really satisfied with the footage. For me it was a logical song to do a video for and I wanted it to be a live video as I felt that Satyricon is a good live band and the exchange of energy between our listeners and the band has become a very important part of the spirit of Satyricon. So, I wanted to do a video where you can see that and feel that. But I wasn’t happy with the camera angles and the footage and it was just the band on the stage. And for me videos like that are boring. I wanted it to be like you where there. For me it’s – if you can’t make it right then don’t make it. But I was very happy with the Black Crow On A Tombstone video.

Satyricon

And regarding Black Crow On A Tombstone – I read in an interview where you said that you got the inspiration for the song when you were writing and saw a crow sitting on a tombstone watching you. Have you had any other such obvious inspirations?

Yeah, many. My Skin Is Cold is based on a dream. What’s interesting about that is that basically in the dream I was hearing the song and I had not yet written the song. It was interesting because I was hearing a Satyricon song that did not exist. And I could hear the melodies and I could hear my own voice singing words that I had not written. I remember waking up that night 4 or 5 in the morning, it was a crazy feeling. Thankfully I was awake enough to understand that it was very important to write down all the words that I could remember and then I fell asleep again and the same dream continued. So as soon as I woke up I called – this was in Tokyo in an hotel room – one of our crew and told them to bring the guitar to my hotel room. And I started to try to play the melodies that I had been dreaming. And this was basically the essence of the song My Skin Is Cold.

Interesting experience.

Yeah, I like to think that these experiences make good stories but the most important thing is if you can use them artistically. For example with the Black Crow On A Tombstone – that was the same thing. It was a very bizarre happening because it was this crow sitting on a tombstone and if I would move somewhere it would sit there and it would move his head, turn away and as soon as I looked at it, it would turn back at me. So wherever I looked or moved it was always sitting still and its look followed me everywhere. It was very much like – I’m watching you. It was a simple thing but still very powerful because it didn’t feel like a coincidence because it didn’t went on like few seconds, it was more like 10min. Then I wanted to tell my colleagues what had happened but then I thought I could use this story artistically instead of just telling it.

I wanted to ask about the music writing process. Is it like you said – you get inspiration from somewhere and start writing or do you go to a studio and think – I’m now going to write something.?

We don’t really write music in a studio situation. It’s different. Sometimes it’s a bizarre thing like “My Skin Is Cold” but with other songs sometimes I could experience something – for example when I wrote “To The Mountains” for “Now, Diabolical” I was up in the mountains and I had spent some hours getting to the mountain top and when you get up there you can see many other famous Norway’s mountains – you look in one direction it’s that mountain or the other directions it’s this mountain. It was very impressive. And after I went back I wanted to write about something that gave me that grand feeling I had on top of that mountain. That’s very hard. But seeing all this made me make other stuff also gigantic.

So I thought let’s try to make a song that has the gigantic feeling that I was seeing and how the mountains made me feel inside. But other times it’s very simple – you just sit and play guitar and you just mess around and all of a sudden you have a melody. Then you think that’s cool and you start working on that. And there’s nothing special about it. It’s just a very good melody. So, it can be very complex or it could be very simple.

I’d say that Satyricon is not a typical black metal band, it’s a bit different.

I think we feel ourselves that we are a band that has chosen a certain lonely path. It’s kind of like – instead of walking in already stomped path we make our own path and leave a trail. That’s been the philosophy of the band. I feel like as we have done that. It’s my impression that the majority of bands and the music community around the world can like us or not but I know we are a unique band. And I also hope that we are an important band.

Whenever I hear Satyricon I can right away say that it’s you playing. Sometimes with other black metal bands you get a bit confused but you have a such a unique sound that I can say definitely that it’s Satyricon.

Thank you. Well, I mean that should be every artist’s goal to create a distinctive and recognizable sound that has your fingerprint on it.

Satyricon

I read somewhere that your album Volcano got the Norwegian Grammy for best “Best Metal Album”. How important are such awards to you?

Not important at all. I mean, the show yesterday with the way crowd responded – that’s the real world. Awards are more like a thing where business partners; colleagues and friends are like “congratulations” and other blablabla. And maybe for the record company sometimes it could be like a good sales argument. Maybe in some records stores – if they don’t want to sell your records, they can say that its records have gotten many awards. And maybe it could make them change their mind. It can help a little bit but for me artistically I know what it is – it’s like 4-5 people in a committee that will decide. And I think that there have been several times where we should’ve won or there have been times when we even weren’t nominated. And other times where we have won award for like something I think is just ok. I think that for any band the real reality check of where you are at is really on stage. If you don’t have people coming to shows that’s bad – but it could happen to any band if the show is badly promoted. But if you have only few people at the show or aren’t getting a response from the crowd then you are doing something wrong. Overall we have good attendance and people respond to our music in a favorable way.

When we do signing sessions like today a lot of the time it’s just people shaking hands saying it was a good show but for every five people there is always someone that will tell me that you’re music means a lot to me personally and you can tell if there are people who are not that shy people, more open people they can talk about how (in what way) it means something more to them. And so it is for me also – some music is enjoyable music but at other times music can almost be like a medicine for the soul and the mind. And for other people who want to be creative music is like art, same as painting or writing. Music can be an inspiration to bring out the best inside of them. I’m very conscious of the fact that our music can have strong impact on people and it’s an honor and I also look about it as responsibility.

Regarding the audience do you prefer smaller more intimate places or bigger venues like this festival?

Like most bands I’d say it’s both. It’s very simple – if you have your own gig everything is prepared the way you want it and you have enough time to prepare for the show. You’re inside, you get the full lights show and everything and you get to be more accurate and pay more attention to detail because you don’t have to do things so fast. All the equipment is yours. But if you play festivals it’s more rentals, like here. In your own show you get very close to the crowd, you know that everyone is there because of you. Then again at festivals, I think Satyricon is a band that is good at playing in the big stages. Sometimes it can be seen when a band comes on to a big stage that they are uncomfortable there. But we are a band who loves playing big stages. It’s not something we are afraid of, it’s more like – bring it on.

It was seen yesterday at your show also. I saw that all the people were going along with the music and were very happy at the gig. And were very satisfied with the gig.

I like a powerful crowd reaction. If you have a good festival like yesterday it’s more massive then a club show. It’s more massive, everything is louder, more people and more hands in the air.

Regarding the live shows I wanted to ask about Estonia. I’m actually from Estonia, not from Finland. And I know that Satyricon played in Estonia in 2006. Do you remember anything about it?

Yeah, I remember it quite clearly. It was far out in the forest and there was a river running right past. My main memory of it was when we were on stage and it got dark I could see the fog coming up from the river. And it was very atmospheric. I remember seeing that on stage. Sometimes in festivals you have a much better view than the crowd because you are on stage, you are higher up and if it’s in nice scenery you can see some special things. I had similar experience one year later in 2007 in Norway when we were playing at a festival near a big lake with huge mountains in the background. The crowd was watching the stage, I was on the stage and it was a full moon and you couldn’t see the mountain but you could see the shadow of the mountain and the moon sending the light down to the lake up to where people were standing. So it was like a good place to play black metal.

So, will you be performing in Estonia again?

These things always come down to the demand. Even if a band wants to come and play in Argentina but if no agent in Argentina wants to book the band then there will not be a show. That’s basically the way it is. Whenever we have offers coming in we are serious with all of them and as far as Estonia goes – we’ve only been offered to play there once and we did it. And since that we never have had an offer. If there is another offer, we’ll do as we always do – we’ll consider it and if it makes sense then we will come. So it really depends on the people who organize the concert in Estonia.

What do you think about the fact that black metal bands have gotten more popular in recent years? For example Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir etc. Have the people changed or has the genre of black metal changed?

I think that black metal has evolved. Good bands are able to evolve musically and to progress, not change but progress and be subject to evolution. I think the most important thing is – I can speak on behalf of our band only – we say that if we keep doing what we do and we do it well and again and again then people at one point will learn to like what we do. It’s like if you do something well and people see it once they can like it but forget about it but if there are enough good bands, good records and shows then more and more people will start to recognize it. The underground genres – like death metal was for death meal people, black for black metal people etc. have evolved because everything has become more exposed. Maybe some people who would only listen to bands like AC/DC and Motörhead start getting into Slayer or Slipknot or whatever. And then maybe they start listening to Morbid Angel or Satyricon or something like that. They make the next step.

Thank you so much for the interview!

You’re welcome!

Categories
Features Interviews Music

Interview with Megadeth’s drummer Shawn Drover

Megadeth is an American heavy metal band formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson following Mustaine’s departure from Metallica. The band has released 12 studio albums, 3 live albums, 2 EPs, 26 singles, 32 music videos, 4 compilations and 1 box set. Megadeth along with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer form The Big Four – four bands that were trash metal pioneers. Megadeth’s last album Endgame was released in 2009.

Megadeth will be playing in Haapsalu Castle in Estonia the 16 of July, and surely it is going to be a hell of a show! So for all the metal fans in Estonia, do not miss that one! Our collaborator Kadri had the chance to interview their drummer Shawn Drover some days earlier, while they performed at Tuska festival in Helsinki, Finland, and here is how it went:

How are you?

I’m good, thank you. And you?

I’m good also.

To start off – I know you’re playing in Estonia on 16th of July. Since I’m from Estonia I wanted to ask – do you know anything about Estonia?

No, absolutely not. If you want me to be totally honest then no. I’m really excited about going there. I’ve never been to Russia; I’ve never been to Estonia. Actually several countries in Europe I’ve never been to. That’s why touring is also really great – you can experience new places, get to see different countries. I’m really excited about it.

Megadeth

That’s great because you are playing in a very beautiful place.

Really?

Yeah, it should be an awesome gig for you.

Plus it’s the last show. So, it’s going to be fun and I’m really excited about it.

I saw your concert that was broadcasted through satellite. The Big Four concert. How was that experience for you?

Did you see it in the movie theatre?

Yeah, it was an interesting experience.

I’m sure it was, I’ve would have wanted to see it too if I weren’t playing. But it was fun. We all had a lot of fun. Of course during our gig it started to rain as crazy but still it was fun and we had a good time. And of course the big thing we did at the end (performing Diamond Head “Am I Evil?”). That was a lot of fun. And I think the whole thing was a really good experience for me and for the band. We had a really great time.

That’s great. It was seen that even through the cinema you were all enjoying yourselves.

Yeah, you can’t fake that. You can see all these metal bands with smiles on their faces so it was truly great.

What about your last album “Endgame”? How happy are you with it – musically and commercial wise?

We’re very happy with it. In terms of success – the way things are with the Internet downloading and stealing music it can’t be compared to earlier time when records sold platinum – times have changed. That’s the way life is and how the music industry is right now. Bands don’t sell as much as they used do which sucks but its (the “Endgame” album”) very critically acclaimed record, many people really love it, our fans love it. As long as we have fans there actually isn’t anything to worry about. And we get new fans every time. We just keep doing our best and hoping for the best. And the sales have been down for everybody. But I still consider this album a success.

I read that you are working on a new album and it should be out in 2011. Is that right?

We’re talking about it. We have been in a tour mode at the moment but we have started to work on a couple of ideas. But just very few ideas only. During a sound check we recorded a few ideas but we’re going to finish this world tour and then come together and start working out these ideas. We hope it will be out next year but we’ll see how things will go.

You have received many awards. How important are these awards to you?

Well, I’ve never gotten a Grammy award (laughs). I’ve been in the band for six years (since 2004) and we were nominated with the song “Headcrusher” but we lost that to Judas Priest. It’s cool to be recognized by the industry, it’s nice to have been offered awards, to have been nominated. We appreciate it a lot. It’s like 25 years later and Megadeth still gets nominated. So, I think it’s a really good thing. We just try to make good music with every record. People still like us after 25 years so we have to do something right.

You have been to Megadeth since 2004 so you have played mostly to bigger audiences. But maybe you have also played to smaller audiences. Which is a better place to play – to more intimate and smaller places or big audiences like this festival?

I think they are both good for various reasons. When you play at a smaller place it’s fun because you can pretty much almost see everybody and it’s closer. But playing like this festival is fun too because you can see all your friends and other bands. You know the Cannibal Corpse guys are here and we’re very good friends with them. They are all fun for different reasons. The Big Four stuff with Metallica and Anthrax was a lot of fun too.

You said that you are in the band since 2004. How did you become a part of this band?

My brother was in the band first – Glen Drover. They called me up and asked if I wanted to be a part of the band. And of course I said yes. It happened pretty fast, Nick Menza was brought back to the band and for some reason it didn’t work out and so they turned to me. But Glen is not in the band anymore; he got tired of the touring and left the band. So then we got Chris, which is great.

I read also that you play the guitar. Maybe you wanted to be a guitarist in Megadeth?

No, no. Not this band (laughs). This band is way too hard for me. But I did write the song “Headcrusher” with Dave on the guitar. I’ve been playing guitar for years. But I’m not that good to be a Megadeth guitarist. So, I’ll stick to the drums.

Regarding the guitar – many Megadeth songs are featured on Guitar Hero. Have you played Guitar Hero yourself?

No. I suck at that stuff. I’m not good at those games. My son actually is really good at it. But I think it’s cool for kids to get into the music and also a new way of people getting in touch with our music. That’s a good thing if they go and buy the Guitar Hero and actually they are buying our music also. But I’m not good at that and I’ve never played any Megadeth stuff.

I once saw a clip where Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott tried playing his own song in Japan on Guitar Hero and failed.

Yeah, it’s different. It seems that the kids know how to do it but we fail so we let them do it (laughs)

Kadri and Shawn

Megadeth is famous for it’s political lyrics (some songs). But how do you feel about politics? Are you interested in politics?

No. Dave’s very intelligent in very different ways and he’s very educated with politics. He writes about many things he knows and politics is just one thing. He’s very educated, very smart and he writes good lyrics. Every time we have a song, the lyrics are very good. Politics is a cool heavy metal thing to write about. It’s good to write about many things not just one subject all the time.

Many artists and bands have released their official biographies. Megadeth doesn’t have an official biography. Could it happen one day?

There is the “Behind The Music” that is on VH1 in America but it went only until 2001. So much has happened after that so I think that at some point the whole story should also be told. We haven’t done that yet – this year has been very busy, we’ve been touring, then the Big Four thing and we also have a DVD coming out and also new record coming out so we haven’t had the time to think about it. At some point it would be nice to do an official video-biography from the beginning until this day. I hope we do that some day but right now we are quite busy. There are a lot of interesting things to talk about.

Did you have time to see some band here at Tuska?

No, we just flew in and pretty much just got here. We saw W.A.S.P for like 10 min. But overall we’ve been here like an hour. But after we are going to see Cannibal Corpse play a bit and afterwards we get on stage. Festivals are weird in a way – sometimes you have a lot of time but other times you have less time, like today we have 2 hours until the gig and we have to practice, do interviews and stuff. It sucks sometimes.

Isn’t it tiring sometimes? Like now we are also doing an interview.

Nah, it’s not. It’s part of what we do. It’s part of spreading the word, it’s part of our job. And I love doing it anyway. It’s better than being a construction worker. And it’s good for the band – fans see that we talk about our stuff openly. I think that interviews are always good because it helps to get the word out and contributes to people coming to our shows. It’s communication and it doesn’t bother me at all, I enjoy it.

I think that nowadays the live shows are important because your music gets more attention than only with the records (with all the Internet downloading and stuff).

Yeah. But the Internet is good for many things also. It’s good to get the word out. You can put this interview to Blabbermouth and the whole world can read it.

Thank you so much for the interview!

No problem. Thank you.

Pictures by Kadri Pärna taken at Tuska Festival.

Categories
Features Music

Be positive in Latvia!

The 16th and 17th of July will be celebrated in Salacgriva, a beautiful Latvian town just 10 kilometers from the Estonian border, a new edition of Positivus Festival, that was founded in the year 2007.

Its location in a 30 hectare park makes it perfect for visitors approaching from all over the Baltic States, and due to the cancellation of Rabarock festival in Estonia this summer, this is undoubtedly one of the most exciting festivals to visit during the current year in the Baltics. The musical offer is very attractive, cause you can both discover some of the hottest bands from the Baltic countries such as Triana Park or Goran Gora from Latvia, Happyendless from Lithuania or the eccentric Popidiot from Estonia at the same time than checking some big international names like Unkle and Stornoway from UK, Scissor Sisters from USA and putting the cherry on top of the cake Muse, possibly one of the most exciting bands in the world to see live nowadays, due to their spectacular performances on stage.

Muse

Positivus festival is nevertheless not only about the music, but about enjoying a good vibe in a paradisiacal location, a forest close to a beach. The forecasts announces very good weather for this week end, so between concert and concert, you can also just take a nap under the shadow of a tree or enjoy a refreshing bath when not making new friends with the other visitors. You can experiment how the inhabitants of the Baltic countries transform into much warmer and more friendly people when they have the chance to enjoy the sunlight and take from their wardrobes their bikinis and swimsuits! There are also movies, art exhibitions and other cultural events taking place around the festival area.

Positivus

If those were not good enough reasons, another reason to assist is the great price of the festival. Having access to both days including camping is only 45 euro, and 1 day ticket is 35 euro. Take into account that for example, watching recently Muse playing in Finland was double that price, not mentioning that here you will have dozens of more bands to enjoy in an amazing natural landscape. So be positive and visit Positivus festival! I will be there checking it out for first time, so hope to see you around!

For more information, visit:

www.positivusfestival.com

Related articles:

Muse – The Resistance album review: http://www.freemagazine.fi/muse-the-resistance/

Interview with Popidiot: http://www.freemagazine.fi/the-funniest-side-of-estonian-pop-interview-with-hendrik-of-popidiot/