H.O.G. is in the game

{mosimage}There is heavy metal at the other side of
the Baltic Sea! House of Games has many
bonds with Finland:
they have toured with The Rasmus, recorded with famous producer Hiili
Hiilesmaa
and are visiting Helsinki
to unload their music for 2 consecutive gigs.

Erik Meremaa,
the singer and main composer of the Estonian band, kindly attended the
questions of FREE! Magazine about their first steps, the new album
recently released and the incoming concerts that will include touring again
with WASP in United
Kingdom.

For some of our readers you can be quite
an unknown band. Can you explain a bit the origins and roots of the band?

The roots of HOG go back to the year 1993,
when young musicians hoped to make the band that enables them to satisfy the
hunger to make music. Of course we all wanted to make it right and in “very
special way”. Thinking now back to these years and to the skills we had at that
time – well, it makes me smile. Now we know how to analyze better the music we
did. But every brave start is positive, a developing experience.

Finland is living a golden era in rock and heavy metal bands with
international projection. Why in Estonia things are so different,
being geographically so near? Do you think that Estonian bands will begin to
break out in the international rock scene in the near future?

First of all there are 4 to 5 times more
inhabitants in Finland
as there are in Estonia
(we have only around 1, 4 million).

Secondly, Estonia regained independence on
1991 – up to that time we were occupied by Russians and the life was more (very
much) complicated. The borders were closed, there was an iron curtain hanging
over us. Now, as we have been only 16 years free and we live in very (!!)
liberal society, the situation is different.
Finland declared its independence in 1917 – so
there is a huge difference.

About the very
strong  metal and rock bands in Finland – well,
the soil seems to be very fertile for this genre. This suits them very well.
And when comparing them to the rest of the music scene around, Finland seems to
be the most powerful rock and metal empires in the world. I am sure that there
will be internationally very strong Estonian rock and metal bands. It is only
very hard to predict when it all will happen.

How would you define the musical style of your band?

In general it is possible to classify House
of Games
as melodic rock band, but we don’t like this classification, the
“framing” system. And we definitely don’t know what will look like and sound of
our next album. Music means us the movement of sound – without boundaries and
limits.

The lineup of the band changed last
spring, and you added a new bass player and a drummer. Why those changes?

Evidently sometimes somebody ‘s strength
will end and the everyday life generates some kind of void – that happened to
our ex-bass player and ex- drummer. It is very sad, as it all happened just
before the more positive and progressive changes we faced in our career (the
European release etc). We grew up and tight together creatively,
as we played music together for 7 last years.Yes, it is all sad, but that ´s life and
there is nothing we can do about it. For sure we remained friends.

How
was the experience of recording some songs in USA with Kevin (Caveman) Shirley?
How did you get in contact with him?

All these experiences are very tutorial and
instructive when you have possibility to work with the producer from such a
league as Kevin is from.

But in general it is very hard business to
find the producer – the “outsider”, who is able to adjust to the band and to
take and change etc ones “child” – as music is very delicate matter and the
concerned parties’ views can be very different. 
Sometimes band can ´t accept the changes the producer makes.

Fortunately that was not the case with us
and Kevin. The co-operation with Mr. Caveman 
 was positive and we hoped to
mould and form HOG songs with him some day in future.

We get acquainted with Kevin in classical
way – HOG wanted to work with him, Kevin listened to our songs, he liked them,
we agreed the timelines – he had just ended the album producing for John Petrucci
(Suspended Animation), the guitarist from Dream Theater and there
was the possible recording period for us before he went to UK to produce Iron
Maiden.

What the listeners can expect from your
recently released album, Rise and Shine?

I hope – we all do – that people get
positive load from our songs. They are ALL made from the deep of our hearts. It
is worth mentioning, that there are actually tracks from the period of 6-7
years time. There are plenty of different musical and creative movements.

As Spanish, I could not be less than curious
when I listened the song Spanish man, about Cortés, the conqueror. Is it
a trend you want to continue, similar to other bands like Iron Maiden, where
historical events have always a strong role in the songwriting?

Probably it is interesting for you to
observe the song like Spanish Man, as it speaks about Spaniards. I
really hope that we didn’t insult anybody’s feelings. Spanish Man is the
song that dates back some years ago and doesn’t have any contact and connection
with other songs. The message of this song is somehow important for me – as the
history itself. Thos particular track is one of a kind on our album Rise and
Shine.
This is no trend for us.

You seem to have quite many links with Finland. You
have recorded the album at Suomenlinna with the famous producer Hiili
Hiilesmaa. How this collaboration came out?

As you definitely know, Estonia and Finland are
very close to each other. Connections arise very easily and smoothly. And it is
the same story with Seawolf Studio. We have recorded there many times
and we are always very satisfied with the results and as well with the
atmosphere there. With Hiili Hiilesmaa we met years ago in Finland and we
spoke about the co-operation. But at that time nothing specific. Then later
when we started to record Rise and Shine, we wanted to see and hear his
hand on our songs.  Unfortunately he was
very busy (he is always) and booked with many projects ahead. Luckily he
contacted us later and he managed to make the arrangements in his working
schedule and it suited with our schedule ideally. We are very and very
satisfied with his work – and definitely we’ll work together in future.

 

And you have also shared tour with The
Rasmus
a couple of years ago. Was it a nice experience?

We all remember the tour as very pleasant
one. The guys and their team are all very friendly and pleasant people. As well
their manager, Seppo Vesterinen. We definitely look forward to meet with
them on the road again. 

Last year you toured with the legendary
band WASP, and it seems that they must be very happy with the experience, since
you are going to repeat tour with them in the following months during Crimson
Idol tour
. What are your feelings about it?

 It seems yes, that our co-operation was good and smooth. And now in October – November we tour
together on the stages of UK.
We wait for this trip, as UK
is very good place to go be around. Very pleasant country with warm people. We
hope that audience and we all will get positive emotions from that tour.

What can the Finnish audience expect for
your incoming gigs in Helsinki?

What we always wish they’ll get: good music
and good emotions.
 

23.10 – London Pub, Helsinki – 10pm
24.10 – Semifinal, Helsinki – 10pm

www.houseofgames.org