Our Fresh Act of the Month is a Finnish one named Avra. Sung in Finnish with growls as well as clean vocals and a sound the band describes as “tundra rock”; they have the potential and talent to grow big. We took the chance to have a little e-mail-chat with bassist Vesa Wahlroos, whom you probably know better as “Kalmos” from Ajattara and song writer Teemu Happaniemi.
Please introduce yourself and your band members. Who is doing what in the band and who are you guys? Tell us a bit about yourself and the others.
Vesa: Ave! I´m Vesa Wahlroos, founder of a band called Avra, but most importantly, a bass player. My fellow musicians are: Jari Ypyä (drums), Juri Sallinen (vocals), Lari Sallinen (lead guitar), Mika Kettunen (guitar) and Aapo Romu (cello). We also have one member as a writer, Teemu Haapaniemi.
How and when was Avra founded?
Vesa: Avra has been in my heart for long time, but the first ever things that happened was between Jari Ypyä and me. He used to play with Ajattara as an additional musician. During those times we started to compose music together, mainly with acoustic guitar really wasted in the tour bus. Afterwards we did some demo recordings at Jari´s studio, hopefully never to be heard by anyone. Later, when I worked in Mexico, I read from a magazine that Ajattara does not exist anymore.
The article is in Finnish: http://www.iltasanomat.fi/musiikki/art-1288462733462.html)
There was still a video shoot booked for us and as a producer, I was pretty much fucked. Flights were booked for a director from Paris and so on. Anyhow, decisions had to be made and fast. So, I called to my friend Juri Sallinen and asked him to join Avra. He said yes and suggested that his brother Lari should join too. That was quite perfect, since both are long time friends and great musicians. With this line up, we did the music video that was supposed to be Ajattara´s video. Later on, Mika Kettunen and Aapo Romu sneaked in somehow and our group got its final form.
How did you choose the band name and what is the meaning of it?
Vesa: Aura is hometown for me and Teemu Haapaniemi. Teemu, together with Juri, is responsible for lyrics in our debut album, Polku. Aura is obviously many other things and one of them is the best band name ever. Especially since its written Avra in Latin.
You call your music tundra rock. Could you describe our readers, who haven´t heard your songs yet, what they can expect and what it is that makes Avra´s sound unique?
Vesa: Please go and listen. There is no better way to bring this to you readers. Easily done by these links:
Can you tell us something about the development process of your debut album “Polku”, which can be bought from your website www.avraband.com via bandcamp.com and at iTunes?
Vesa: This album is mainly recorded live. That decision came along with composing songs together at rehearsals. We also decided not to use click or any background synths or so. Not the easiest way, but honest. Basically, we recorded drums, bass and both guitars live in Aura within one session. After that, vocals, lead guitars and cello were done in different sessions. The video for “Valheiden Verkko” was done in our first session, so you can get the idea from that quite nicely.
The cover of “Polku” is a photo of a view from the moon onto Earth. Does this have a special meaning?
Vesa: We think people should look more at themselves from this point of view.
As your songs are Finnish, could you please tell us what they are about? Maybe you can walk us through your debut “Polku” shortly song by song?
Vesa: Well, this is very hard question, because we find that art in all its forms comes from your subconscious. So, after it´s finished and published it´s no longer necessary for the artist to understand it. It starts to live its own life and gets as many interpretations as there are users for it. Thus, it would seem a bit stupid also to try translating them. The main theme on the album according to Teemu, who has written most of the lyrics, is positivity and the fact that every end is always a new beginning for something else and hopefully better, but then again that´s only his interpretation. So anyone who wishes can take up the dictionary and find the most appealing translations for them self. Art is above artist, so let´s let the listener decide what these songs are about. Here is anyhow, not translated, but explained how Teemu hears them.
Teemu: The whole story on the album is about mankind´s last moments starting from very personal state ending somewhere in cosmos, yet leaving hope of a new and better beginning.
Teemu: Emptiness. First song is much about loneliness. How alone you are after all, even if surrounded by friends and family. The hollowness of present day society.
Teemu: Web of Lies. This song is much about seeing through the fragile structures that keep this world together and realizing they won´t hold.
Teemu: The Last State. This one is of how governments have failed in their tasks. Gap between people gets wider and unsustainable politics lead us towards destruction.
Teemu: The End. Well, that´s the end. In the middle of the album.
Teemu: Storm. That tells of the last man on earth welcoming the last storm that will finally wipe down all the earth and its habitants.
Teemu: Circus Primus. Instead of a grim reaper, there is a final show where you end up before moving from this world to the next.
Teemu: Path. It´s the path of mankind which has been walked. It also asks question about will all societies past and present everywhere end up doing the same mistakes again and again.
Kosmisen Kiirastulen Kadonnut Kieli
Teemu: The Lost Language of the Cosmic Purgatory. Finally there is a song about a new beginning. The purifying silence before new life finds its way, and hopefully better way, on some planet somewhere.
You did videos for the title-track “Polku” and for “Valheiden Verkko” . Can you tell us a bit about the “making of”?
Vesa: The Polku-video has mainly two parts. First is from our very first gig and second part is from Rock Cafe Tallinn. Some additional documentary footage from studio and touring. Happy to say that there is lots of talent in our group so we can deliver our art as video also. Editing is done by Mika Kettunen, camera operating by One Eye Media and Directing by Mika and me.
Valheiden Verkko is just two clips. One steady cam shot (Antti Hacklin) as we played it in studio. Other one is from live gig. Perfect video to show how we actually did this album.
Do you want to stay independent or are you looking for a label to be signed? And if so, what are you wishing for and expecting from it?
There are some upcoming concerts in Finland. Do you also plan to tour outside of Finland soon?
Vesa: Plan is to tour in Germany during next fall.
What are your plans for the near future?
Vesa: CD and Vinyl coming up during the time this interview is out!
Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
Vesa: Go to our bandcamp. Listen. Enjoy.
Thank you for the interview!
Vesa & Teemu: Thank you!