To begin with, how are you doing? Are you very busy with promoting and playing 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto'?
PP: We're doing fine, thank you. Not really, because Dynamic Arts records does all the promoting. We have done few gigs, gave interviews, that's pretty much all.
V: The album is finally out and the feelings are just great, thanks for asking. Doing these interviews after quite stressful and hectic time at studio feels more like a holiday than duty.
How have the reviews been so far? Are you personally happy with the record? Have you noticed that, during the period you have been recording albums, reviews have gotten better with each record that you released? If so, what does this say about Verjnuarmu?
PP: Reviews have been variable in general, but big magazines and newspaper critiques have been quite good. It seems that our latest album has been surprisingly different, in a good way, to people. There are elements that audience didn't expect and therefore the reviews are also better. Of course I'm happy with the record. We have developed as a band and as individual musicians.
V: I'm also satisfied with the outcome of the album. It's heavier than our debut 'Muanpiällinen Helevetti' and it also represents our live sound better. We also rehearsed more before getting into the studio and most of the final arrangements of the songs were done while rehearsing. Maybe that's why 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto' ended up sounding more like a band album than its predecessor. Of which we're very pleased with.
As a band, Verjnuarmu has been around since 2001. Could you please give us a short history of the band?
V: Verjnuarmu was formed by Musta Savo and Savon Surma in 2001. They made two demos together; 'Verjnuarmu' in 2001 and 'Verta, Voemoo Ja Viitakkeita' in 2002. In 2003 we recorded the 'Laalavat Jouset' demo with the current line-up and in 2005 Universal Music Finland signed us. In fall 2005 the 'Kurjuuvven Valssi' single was released followed by the series of 2006 releases; the debut album 'Muanpiällinen Helevetti', the promotional video of 'Laalavat Jouset' and the promotional single 'Itkuvirsj'. In 2008 we signed a deal with Dynamic Arts Records and released our second full-length called 'Ruatokansan uamunkoetto.'
What does the band name, Verjnuarmu, signify? What does it mean in English? Does it have a special underlying meaning?
PP: Verjnuarmu means Blood Scratch.
V: Well that's the direct translation and I have to admit that it loses a lot in translation. Blood Scratch sounds bit silly, don't you think? Verjnuarmu is in a matter of fact an ancient Savonian word of incantation that should be used very carefully. If it's recited three times at midnight in the light of full moon while facing a mirror, it will summon us from the depths of hell.
This has been asked, probably, a few times before, but what does savo metal exactly entail? Why did you choose to write and perform lyrics in that particular dialect?
PP: Savo metal is basically metal music with lyrics in savo dialect. Stories in songs are mostly based on local folklore, historic events and names. This dialect is part of every band member's everyday life. We speak it, think it, live it, it's something that comes from mother's milk. That's why we chose it. And of course no one had done that before.
V: Savo metal as a genre name is sort of a joke. Think of love metal, jet black metal, avant-garde metal and so on. Since people tend to categorize music just to make it easier to explain and label it with silly names we thought that we'll call our music savo metal so that at least we get to choose our category. At least it sounds better than dialect-infested-death-metal-with-folk-and-heavy-influences?
It is, of course, not uncommon that bands sing in their native tongue, so in that respect it can be argued that lyrics are not that important. What is your opinion on this, seeing the fact that you use a dialect? Would you say that metal, in most cases, is more about feeling?
PP: Lyrics are poetry; sometimes good, sometimes bad. We try to write our lyrics in way that they would be understandable. There is always some story in our lyrics, and in some cases the story is very familiar, especially to Finnish people. That's why we work very hard with the lyrics. Music is about feeling, and we try to write stories for the song. If a song is aggressive then the lyrics should be aggressive too.
V: I think meaning of lyrics is different to every listener despite of the music being metal or not. For Finns our lyrics are more important than to foreigners simply because Finns understand them. And for us the lyrical side of the band and use of our native dialect in music is something that we're proud of.
Related to this, could you elaborate some on the subject matter of the songs? What are they about? Is there a certain theme on 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto', or do all songs stand alone? What does the album title itself mean and what does it stand for?
PP: 'Ruatokansan Uamukoetto' means 'Dawn Of The Dead' or 'Dawn Of The Copse Folk.' It's not a theme album. But songs tell stories about restless dead. There are two ghost stories from Finnish folklore; 'Mustan Virran Silta' and 'Kuu Paestaa, Kuollu Ajjaa', a few more ghost stories based on old Finnish beliefs of the dead and a few songs about death in general. Okay, this might sound pretty gloomy, but there is also some sort of irony that is pretty typical to us.
V: All the songs stand alone as well as fit a loose theme of the wandering dead. 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto' is simply a fitting title to that theme and it also binds the songs together.
Some people claim that Verjnuarmu may be a gimmick band, on account of the savo metal designation, the use of dialect and perhaps the way you look on band pictures, which is somewhat removed from the standard black and white corpse paint, leather and studs (well, not really far removed, since you, too, 'dress up'). How would you respond to this, do you consider your image a gimmick, as obviously your music is meant seriously?
PP: Costumes look good on stage and corpse paints with costumes even better. We think that this is more like a theatrical thing. If someone thinks it's a gimmick that's OK. I don't give a damn. From the beginning it was clear that this band will use all the possible ways to look and sound good.
V: For us Verjnuarmu is the trinity that consists of musical, lyrical and visual sides of the band. Some people may not like the corpse paints, others may hate the dialect. We don't aim to please everyone, it's more like take it or leave it.
Finland is usually associated with black metal bands such as Baptism, Satanic Warmaster, Beherit and Clandestine Blaze, and not necessarily with death or dark metal. Where do you place yourself within the Finnish metal scene? Or do you have a broader perspective than that, not wanting to place Verjnuarmu within a certain Finnish frame?
V: In Finland Verjnuarmu is usually associated with all the metal bands that sing in Finnish, which for us is sometimes hard to understand because we don't musically have very much in common with them. It's more like we're continuing the same thing that older bands like Amorphis and 'Taneli Jarva'-era Sentenced used to do. You know, broadening the boundaries of death metal by adding influences from other genres.
Why does Verjnuarmu's music sound the way it does? There is a lot of mid tempo death/dark metal with great melodies and lead guitar or solos that does not really remind of Finnish metal and comparisons to other bands in general are not that obvious. What would you say are Verjnuarmu's influences, and how does your music come together?
V: Verjnuarmu sounds the way it does because our influences vary a lot. The thing I love the most is older Swedish and Finnish death metal bands like At the Gates, Edge of Sanity, Entombed, old Dark Tranquillity, Dissection, Dismember, Amorphis, Sentenced and so on. Also traditional Finnish folk music is a major influence with its quite cheerless melodies. When other band members bring along their influences (like traditional heavy metal which is common to us all) and we mix everything together the result is Verjnuarmu. Of course one thing that affects a lot is that we're not very technical players and we like keep things simple and interesting at the same time. The melodic aspect of music is also important to us. The songs need variation and contrast, so if the song is very heavy or fast we usually add a gloomy melody and slower parts to it just to make it more interesting. Usually it's us guitarists that come up with riffs, melodies and arrangements. Then it's usually Puijon Perkele that writes lyrics and vocal lines to the songs and we arrange and rehearse the final song as band. Of course this is just one way to it and we've tried other ways.
There are some Verjnuarmu music video's around on for example youtube and it has become more and more common for smaller bands to have videos out alongside the bigger bands that have been doing it for quite some time. How do videos fit in with the band's philosophy? Are videos and such an important device for reaching a particular audience for your music?
V: The videos are nice (and important) way to promote our music even to people that may not have the chance to hear us otherwise. But more important to us, the videos are way to express the visual side of the band. To sort of illustrate and deepen the lyrical side of Verjnuarmu.
This album should not be the last we hear of Verjnuarmu. What is in store for you guys? Are you planning on more albums with your current label, Dynamic Arts Records?
PP: There is always something in store. If it's up to us there will be third album someday. Everything has been good with DAR so I don't see any reason why this cooperation shouldn't go on.
V: There's been discussion about making a promotional video of 'Mustan Virran Silta.'. We'll see how that project will proceed.
Will you retain the same musical style that can be heard on 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto' and, to some extent, on your older records, or will you experiment some more? In what way is change (and improvement) important to you as a band? In other words, where are you planning on taking Verjnuarmu, what are your thoughts on that?
V: It's hard to tell what Verjnuarmu will sound in future. To me it feels like we're finding and evolving our own style album by album. Considering that, the next album will have the same elements as the previous two but also something new and improved. To put it in other words; we know the way that we're going to but we don't have a map to take us there so we're free to explore different sideways.
Have you already started writing and composing new material, or are you for now content with all the activity surrounding 'Ruatokansan Uamunkoetto'? Is there some sort of date set for a new release? If so, what will it be called?
PP: We have done 'something' .There are no dates or names to give so far, but it will be more finished than the others. We have made mistakes that we have learned from and now are prepared for that. Time will tell. It seems that many times the album will start to live its own life during the process and the outcome is something that was not planned.
V: As always there are some bits and pieces and some tasty riffs in our back pockets. But we haven't started really composing any new material. But when the time comes to do that we'll have a steady foundation to build on.
Lastly, when are you planning to stop and play in the Netherlands?
PP: Dark Lord knows, but won't tell. I have never been in Netherlands but I would love to visit there, especially in your coffee shops.
V: It might take a while for us get there, but hopefully someday we'll play in Netherlands for some savo-metal-loving Dutch motherfuckers.
Well, thank you for your time and all the best. Any last words are yours.
To all the readers: Take care and have a nice summer. And don't forget to find out what a metal band with lyrics in savo sounds like. Listen to Verjnuarmu at myspace.com/Verjnuarmu and www.verjnuarmu.net.