First of all, hails and congratulations on your new killer album, ‘VALD’. The album has been released now for a while. Are you satisfied with the reactions from the fans and the press, and are you still satisfied with how the record turned out?
Yes we are very satisfied and it seems so are majority of press and fans. Only in Germany we have been getting bad reviews, everywhere else very good ones. I think this album is very logical continuation of ‘Road To The Octagon’ album. I wouldn’t do anything differently.
I’m not sure if you feel the same way, but ’Road To The Octagon’ being your eleventh studio album and also your 20th anniversary album, was in my opinion a very important record in the band’s career. It was definitely a very strong and typical Impaled Nazarene black metal album. ‘Manifest’ was already a very strong release, but in my opinion with ‘Road To The Octagon’ you proved to that you could be even extremer, keep true to your own sound and yet come across highly contemporary. Your opinion please…
I agree totally that it was very important album for us but for a bit different reason than what you wrote. In my opinion we got side tracked way too much with Manifest, it was just too long and kinda mish mash mixture of styles that do not suit us well. When we started writing ‘Road To The Octagon’, we decided to return to what we do best, write fast and brutal nuclear metal. We cut out all the bullshit parts from the songs and made them to the point. We also returned to record in a small studio to make the sound more aggressive and stopped fucking around in the studio and worked fast. For me ‘Road To The Octagon’ is the most important album we have done after ‘Ugra-Karma’. Everything just clicked on it, the cover artwork, the sound, the music, the lyrics.
There is a period of four years between ‘VALD’ and its predecessor. Of course in the meantime we were treated on a DVD and an EP, but new material took four years in the making, which is the longest time between albums when we look at the band’s history. What were your plans concerning what you wanted to do after ‘Road To Octagon’?
When ‘Road To The Octagon’ came out it was typical play shows and do interviews shit. We never plan too much ahead. Basically we wanted to record the DVD and put it out in spring 2011. Unfortunately audio of our 20th anniversary show got fucked somehow. I think it was four or five songs that audio was broken. One of the songs was ‘Motorpenis’ and there was no way we were gonna release a DVD without that song on it. So we tried to fix the audio and it took us forever. At some point we had to face the ugly truth and give up. Then opportunity came to record a second show at Steelfest Open Air and this is when the whole plan changed. Two shows, one club, one open air, two different set lists, tons of different songs. Original plan was to have 20th anniversary club show plus bonus disk with all the crap on it. One of the reasons why we decided to drop the bonus stuff was that I could not find (and nor did my brother or Jarno or Mikko – who was session bassist in 1995 tour) a very important VHS tape from Absu/Sadistik Exekution/Impaled Nazarene tour. Three hours of stuff I thought I had but fuck no. So finally we got it out in autumn 2012. Then played some more shows in support of the DVD and suddenly it was 2013 and that was when we said we really have to start writing new music.
As I mentioned in my review, ‘VALD’ is one of your strongest releases to date and – not wanting to do the other records any short – for me personally even the strongest since ‘Suomi Finland Perkele’! During your career you have always remained recognizable and kept true to your sound, but at the same time never made the same record twice. In my opinion everything Impaled Nazarene has done in the past 24 year has been molted into one on ‘VALD’. Again, your opinion please…
Well, you said it so well that I don’t know what to say. ‘VALD’ most definitely has lots of dynamics, compared to for example ‘Road To The Octagon’, which was this blast-fest from start to finish. But it was not planned. We all write songs and we have different backgrounds and different favourite bands. Yet we somehow always manage to make songs that sound like Impaled Nazarene. We have had our share of line-up changes yet every new member we have ever had, they have always adapted our style very well which is great. And it of course helps that Reima (drums) has been in the band since 1995, Arc (bass) since 2000 and UG (guitar) was on/off session guitarist from 2000 as well till joining us full time in 2007. So four of us have been playing together long time.
Also production-wise ‘VALD’ in my opinion is one of your strongest efforts so far. The sound is deliciously full, heavy yet sharp, and contemporary, but at the same time the album sounds tastefully basic and old-school…
Yes, and we had basically nothing to do with it. We gave our soundman Max totally free hands to do what he wanted. We were not present when he mixed the album. He has been doing our live sound since 2007 and worked with us previously on ‘Road To The Octagon’ and ‘Die In Holland’, so we knew we can trust him 100% and that he will deliver killer end product. And this he did.
What ca you say about the lyrical part of the album? In how far did you want to do things different than what you’ve done already and how do you keep yourself inspired on that matter?
I must say I had serious writer’s block with the new album. As I said, I was so damn happy with ‘Road To The Octagon’ that I had no clue which direction to take the new one. I always need an album title first before I can think of anything. Then it just came out of blue, ‘VALD’. I was like “yes, that’s it” and started to work on the lyrics. Basically the album is about death. Not full concept album but every song deals about death in one way or another. Be it death of freedom of speech (‘Sananvapaus’) or virgin sacrifice (‘Vestal Virgins’), you get the idea. I work on the lyrics always the same way, listen to demos or rehearsal tapes as I still have good old tape deck and record our rehearsals with it, and then just start to fuck around with the ideas. And always on song titles first, then lyrics. I cannot write lyrics if I do not have a clear vision what the song is called. Inspiration is the same as in the very beginning, just basic hate against everything and everybody. I have said it dozens of times in interviews but here we go again: I just need to go to supermarket and my blood boils. Stupid people with their stupid kids. Drives me insane.
After doing this for almost 25 years, how do you tend to keep things interested for yourself and to keep yourself inspired in general and prevent yourself to fall into a routine? Except for the love for the music itself of course!
We all have normal day jobs, Monday to Friday crap. It has been like this since 2000 or so. The band is a very good outlet for all the “normal life” bullshit. We do not see each other that much, everybody has their own lives and things going on. We meet at rehearsals and of course when we have shows. These are things we fucking cherish totally, for us this is out of norm you know.
You’ve been in the business for many year and have seen bands, genres and trends come and go. Whar are the biggest differences in the scene nowadays compared to when you started raging with Impaled Nazarene? Except for the technology of course…
But the technology is the biggest difference because it has changed everything. You can be totally unrehearsed shit band yet you can make an album at your rehearsal place if you want to. Auto-tunes, copy/paste… back then when we started you rehearsed like hell, did demos, it was fucking D.I.Y. with fanzines and tape trading and all that. If you fucked up in the studio, you had to rewind the tape, search for the part where to re-record again and pray for Satan you nail it correctly. And music business itself has changed totally of course. You cannot believe the hours of conversations I have had with Osmose headcheese Herve about all this. Of course not everything that has changed is bad, for example most clubs nowadays are much more professional than in the past. You have no idea what kind of shitholes we have played or the dorks we have worked with. Back in 90s conditions were sometimes really horrible.
In continuance to the previous question, in how far has time had its influence on you as a musician and your view on the music compared to back when you started making music?
Interesting question, I have never really thought about this. I can only speak for myself but I reckon I am a better frontman than I was in for example 1994. Simply because I have more confidence, I know how to “handle” my throat so it won’t fuck up after the first 30 minutes. I am very aware of my limits as vocalist so I stick to what I do best. The older I have got the better my “growling” voice has become. But you should ask from somebody else and they will tell you how only ‘Ugra-Karma’ is the best and everything else is total shit. Anyway, as far as music itself goes, I belong to the group of people who stick to listening the albums I grew up with. There are really very few albums that have had any “wow” impact on me after 2000. This said, I still buy every motherfucking Slayer and Napalm Death album that comes out. Certain bands have left such a mark on my soul.
You have done a couple of shows so far in support of the album, but as for now you haven’t got many live dates planned. Is there a chance and are there plans to bring the band on the road in support of the new album?
No chance and no plans either. And this is just purely because we have those fucking day jobs. Some people have the idea we can live off from the music but this has never been so in our case. Another thing is that back in 2006 we did that miserable tour which in the end almost made us split up. I must stress we would love to tour but right now it is impossible. You have fucking mortgages and car loans and all the time everything costs more and more yet your salary stays the same due to recession. And to make this more clear, I am now talking of touring as in full tour, not festival or single club shows.
In continuance to the previous question, it is of course no secret that it’s getting harder and harder nowadays to get decent gigs and tours. How does that work for a long-running and established band like Impaled Nazarene, apart from when offered touring package?
Believe me, we get offered so much tours right now it is unbelievable. I guess one factor is that we have not played a full tour since 2006. But unfortunately we have to say no to all this. Thankfully we have established name enough so we can do festivals and single club shows. And when I say single club shows, I am not talking about Finland only. We have been playing a nice amount of single gigs around Europe. Basically we use public holidays and weekends for this. This Easter included, we have done and will do fourteen shows in five months including major festival like Hellfest. So we cannot complain at all. As you said, touring has become harder and I see more and more bands going to the same direction as we have been doing, play an x amount of gigs instead full tour. There are also more indoor festivals in autumn/winter time than never before. It´s clear that if you cannot afford to go to every show that comes to town, you choose festival.
So I guess the question now is, what’s next on the menu for Impaled Nazarene after the tour?
I have no idea. We have pretty much an empty calendar after August, so I guess we just have to wait and see. Hopefully score as many shows as possible.
Ah yes of course, 2015 will embark Impaled Nazarene’s silver anniversary! Are you planning on something special for this milestone, and if yes, can you already tell us a little bit about what we can expect?
To tell you the truth, I was so occupied mentally with ‘VALD’ that I was not even thinking of this until journalists started to ask about it in interviews. Business being what it is, all kinds of compilation or cover albums are out of question. We have already done live-cd and live-DVD. Some kind of history DVD does not interest me at all because how many times are you gonna watch that? So a very honest answer is I have no fucking idea how to celebrate this. If I win lottery then we will do a world tour, that’s for sure. Don’t hold your breath though.
Alright then, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. Unless of course there is anything left that you’d like to mention…
Drink vodka and be free!!! Thanks a lot.