Those Finns from Kuopio have caught STALKER´s eyes many times (live and in “preserved” form), but naturally a journalist feels extremely thrilled when the praise for a favourite comes from a quite “official” source. A pleasant reason to chat about the band´s second longplayer “Against Each Other” with Janne (keys) and Toni (voc). And somehow it´s not only fighting, also the topics Disco, Karaoke, sperms and Spain popped up…
First of all, congratulations, guys – the second album reached the Top 10 of German Alternative Charts. How does that feel, was it a surprise?
Toni: It was a real surprise, because we have only visited once in Germany this far… so thumbs up for Brüno & Dance Macabre, I think they handled our promotion very nicely.
What are the reactions to the new CD so far (media, fans)? Is it what you expected, or did something also surprise you there?
Janne: Feedback from our fans has been really positive which is of course nice. Media´s reaction to the album has been interesting; for example the first review from Finnish media was really negative, then the second one was 9/10 points with a lot of praise. Same abroad; some seem to hate it and others love it. I´m actually really happy with that, it´s cool that it´s a split decision, heh. Some reviewers seem to hate the fact that we mix pop and dance elements to metal/industrial metal, I found it funny to follow those reactions and no, we aren´t sorry at all! One thing that surprised me was the really positive feedback for “Red Rivers”. We thought it would be the most “difficult” song on this album. Great that it has turned out being one of the people´s favourite tracks.
How come to choose Self Control as cover song – is there any special connection you have with it?
Janne: First of all we felt that it´s an old song that people have maybe forgotten. Many seem not to know what´s the name of that song and that Laura Branigan was the singer who released it, but everyone knows the song when they hear it. That makes it a perfect cover.
It also gives some nostalgic feeling to us when we hear it since it was a Disco hit in the 80´s.
In our last interview you mentioned several times that this band isn´t that well-known yet – so has the situation changed in the meantime, at least in Finland?
Toni: I don´t know exactly, I hope that people know us more better now, lets hope that we can see it also at our gigs.
Janne: I have noticed that people start to know us in our home town!
It seems you play live much more often now, and also abroad… How did you get on the tour with PAIN?
Toni: Special thanks to MC Raaka Pee.
How was it?
Toni: The tour was really awesome, really a nice time with PAIN dudes and also the gigs went pretty nicely.
What was the craziest live experience so far, what happened?
Toni: it´s still pending I think.. 🙂
Janne: I think it was Graveyard Party in Helsinki a couple of years ago. When we were playing, one guy got to the stage really wasted, dancing or something like that… he felt down from about one and half meter high and landed on his head. It was really ironic since the song we were playing at the moment was titled “The Bitter End” and the thing he tripped to was a coffin on the stage! He passed out for a second but luckily got up on his feet later. It was close being a really bitter end. (STALKER was there and reported, the ed.)
Are there more offers from abroad now, since you played in Berlin and in St.Petersburg already? Will you play at summer festivals (FIN, EU)?
Toni: Could be more, but there have been a couple of offers this far, from Portugal and from Russia. I think that there will be at least one festival gig here in Finland also.
Janne: We are also trying to organize a tour for a couple of weeks outside Finland. There´s nothing locked for sure yet, so we can not advertise it just yet.
Has the situation for the EBM scene in Finland changed a bit in general, since our last interview? Is it indeed “against the world”?
Toni: I have no opinion for this scene thing.
Janne: “Against the world” is not so much against the scene, heh… but yeah sometimes it feels that when trying to push our band forward, we confront so many difficulties that it´s like everything is against us.
The main factor is the money, because we don´t have big marketing budgets, it is difficult for us to get radio airplay, festival gigs, good showcase gigs, tours, articles to magazines…everything costs nowadays if you aren´t a big name, for example going on tour as a supporting act for a bigger band outside Finland can cost thousands, also if you want a big story to a magazine, you may need to buy an advert to that same release. But I must say that during these years we have also got a lot of support from friends, other bands and journalists, for example you, Klaudia. People who help us unselfishly, that is a great feeling. (Thanks, dude! The ed.)
There had been changes in the band, you have 2 new members (or let´s say, different members to the line-up from last time, 2009), can you tell us what happened – who are the new guys, and how is working with them?
Janne: Well, first of all we are all still friends with Antti (former guitarist) and Iiro (former bassist), so there was no big drama with these changes. Both of them had some lack of motivation and troubles finding enough time for the band. So it was really a no-brainer to start looking for new members. Both new guys are from Kuopio, which makes training easy for us.
Joonas Pulkkinen is the new guitarist and Jani Rissanen is the new bassist. They are both really enthusiastic, so they bring good vibes to the group. I think that the energy level in our band has boosted since the new members started and also the energy on stage is wilder than before. So we´re really happy about the result.
First one band member goes to Australia, now Toni is in Spain for studying until summer – is that a big problem for the band?
Toni: There is no problems, only solutions. 😛 It´s not a problem at all I think.
Janne: Yeah, it´s not really a problem. It´s true that it slows things down a bit, but that´s only temporary. We will do more live shows when Toni gets back to Finland in summer, and this hasn´t really affected the songwriting, since Toni has his mic with him in Spain. So it´s just the same way as we work also when he is in Helsinki.
Who went to Australia?
Janne: Actually that person wasn´t in BLD. He played in our first project which was more of just melodic metal. When he left to Australia, we formed a new project which started BLD.
I mentioned in the review that it seems you “simplified” the structure of your lyrics a bit, in comparison with the previous album Empire, I mean e.g. having a “catchier” chorus that sticks in your head immediately and makes shouting along easier for audiences (even when those might be errrr slightly intoxicated ;D) – is my impression correct?
Janne: Yes, that is true and it was intentional. We felt that it would be good if people feel a bit easier to relate to the lyrics and to understand them. There´s still room for listener´s own interpretation in many cases, but yes, lyrics should be bit clearer on this album. Nice that you noticed it!
Is there a concept, a central theme that connects the songs of the new album?
Janne: One concept is the constant competition/fight within people.
Can you tell the “background” of some of the new songs+lyrics, and a bit about the co-author? How come you are cooperating?
Janne: There are quite many different subjects, for example Red Rivers is like a working man´s anthem done in sarcastic way, Flies Over The Wreck is about morning after feelings etc. So subjects vary a lot. We don´t really want to explain them too precisely, since we trust that our listeners like to listen and think them through themselves. In “Closer To The Sun” we used mainly lyrics from Tomi Rutanen. He was doing some lyrics for us at the beginning of BLD´s history. That song is an old song which we now revisited and released on this album.
Apropos cooperation, how did you get those guest musicians to contribute to the album?
Janne: Anton and Casper are our contacts from Dominia-band. Toni knew them from times before BLD. We did some gigs with them last year and when we were playing in St. Petersburg we asked if they´d be interested visiting the album.
I found Tuire from Kuopio via my friend and Karoliina Kallio was a contact from Toni Hintikka who played bass to this new album and also the short BLD´s tour with PAIN.
Toni: I want to thank all the great people who made this all possible by helping us and joining into the production really intensively. Special thanks to Janne Tolsa, Toni Hintikka, Anton Rosa, Dmitry Rishko, Tuire Parviainen and Karoliina Kallio.
How was working with Janne Tolsa (Turmion Kätilöt, Tarot) who did the mixing?
Toni: Working with Janne Tolsa was an awesome experience. He is a guy who has great nerves and suitable skills to do this kind of things in a very professional way.
Which song is it you are most proud of on the new album?
Toni: After all I have to say Walls Inside Us, because it was maybe the hardest part of our work, and the result is very nice.
You released the album in the framework of your own company RAW – how does that work? What is the idea behind it? And does it mean you pretty much financed all the CD stuff (recordings etc) yourselves?
Janne: Yes, we financed it fully. So we hope that this album will sell! We just couldn´t get a recording deal that would suit us well, so we decided that we don´t want to wait anymore with this release. We already had the pressure to start a company, which could handle the money related issues with live gigs and merchandise etc. So it was now time to start doing this in a bit more professional way. The full name of our company is Raw Entertainment.
Is the band still “plan B” (= a hobby) for everybody, or would you take the risk to “go pro”, if you get the chance?
Toni: No questions when we´ll get the chance.
Janne: Yes, immediately.
I like the album cover – what´s the idea behind it, who made it?
Janne: It was done by Jukka Venäläinen. The idea came from us and it´s related to the title “Against Each Other”. It shows the first fight of human life; egg and sperm. We like the fact that the result looks cool and also a bit disgusting!
Can you describe a typical “day with BLD”, for example at rehearsals or live-gigs? There´s the studio-blog on your website already, so no need to describe that…
Janne: When we are training for a gig, it usually goes so that Toni comes to Kuopio by train, we go to meet him to the station and we get something to eat (by the way; our light engineer Taru is always laughing at us because of the fact that first of all our band members always want to know where we can eat and when and we also like to plan it a lot, haha… it´s always the same thing when gigging: “what will we eat there? Will there be enough food, how about breakfast?” In one interview Toni answered to the question “what can you tell about Kuopio” listing the whole menu of exotic foods you can eat here…heh)… Then to the training room, well, first to get some drinks…and training through the evening, maybe a short break and going to Sawo-bar close to our training room, maybe some karaoke and back to training, then at some point Völe yells “I´m too drunk, let´s stop this and hit the bar”. Something like that… actually it always goes just like that.
At one of your shows I saw people with T-shirts mentioning a BLD Fan Club Helsinki – but haven´t found anything official on the net – but they had those funny tonttu (cobold) hats – wanna have one of those, too, you have any contact / link?
Toni: Yes we have some contacts if you need.
You have a street team/fan club already to support you (e.g. getting gigs abroad)?
Toni: Yes, I think it´s our first official support team in Finland. 🙂
Janne: But nowhere else, if someone is interested to start one just contact us.
At the last gig I noticed you have some rather unusual merch items (shopping bag, business card case)… what is the craziest merch idea you had so far and that wasn´t realized (yet)?
Janne: I think it´s the BLD-bikini. Not yet implemented but maybe soon. I think we should make those BLD-Tonttu hats available also…
Upcoming gigs so far – 27.4. Bar Bäkkäri – Helsinki and 30.4. Henry´s Pub – Kuopio plus Suonenjok´Rok Festival mid-July. Are there any more in the planning process for this year? Maybe even a club tour (FIN, EU)?
Toni: There is some plans in the air for this year but they are not yet official, so better be quiet.
Janne: Yep, anyway we will do a lot more live gigs after the summer.
How about the new video (referring to a video-shoot at the end of last year) – what happened, when is the clip going to be released?
Toni: Really soon… but the release date is not set yet.
Your plans for 2012 in general?
Toni: Well, there is some goals, for example to reach a couple of new market areas like Japan, USA and China and get a lots of gigs abroad.
Janne: Also we have many new songs already, ready for recording. We want to release something much faster than what it took from our debut album to this new album. There are some great “hits” coming up in my opinion, so at least I am anxious to get them out soon, hehe.
“Famous last words?”
Janne: We had one basic motto when making Against Each Other and trying to decide between different solutions, beats for example: ”Discompi on parempi!” (= “the more Disco, the better”, the ed.)