The Finnish music scene is mostly known for its gothic pop or death metal bands but there has to be something in between, doesn´t it? After a long search STALKER found them rather accidentally, Sole Remedy is their name and they do progressive rock. Their second album Apoptosis reaped great reviews from almost everyone; even comparisons with Tool or Katatonia were drawn. Via email, singer, guitarist and songwriter Jukka Salovaara not only poured his heart out about the hardships of being a musician and a producer, he also explained the biological backgrounds to the album and cooked up plans for musical world domination.
Not long ago people everywhere celebrated Halloween. So my first question is, what (spooky) costume would be the best for every band member?
Jukka (that´s me!, vocalist-guitarist) would be the alley-bum from Mulholland Drive. Henry (drummer) would be the handsome “Hello ladies” guy from Old-Spice commercials with nothing but a towel on and jeans underneath it. Eetu (vocalist-keyboardist) would be Jessica Rabbit with Roger Rabbit´s head. Artturi (bassist) would be a sadistic Dalai-lama. Mikko (2nd guitarist) would be Marilyn Monroe with lots of lipstick, white wig and a 5 o´clock shadow. THAT´S SPOOKY!
But let´s talk more about your music. Your second album “Apoptosis” was released in September. As a biologist, I´m very interested to know how you came up with the album title?
Henry came up with the title years ago but we didn´t use it at that time. I brought it up later when we were putting together the whole album and started to write the storyline. Apoptosis was a suitable title for the album as both the biological and Greek meaning (=”dropping off” of petals or leaves from plants or trees) fit to the storyline. In this case, Apoptosis is a metaphor.
How does “cell suicide” relate to your album/music?
The whole process of Apoptosis relates to the story of the album. It´s about a person going through changes and trying to understand what is happening.
The first thing I thought when I started to play your album was Lena ”Satellite”. Any comments?
I had to Google this….okay….pretty girl and a unique voice. Umm…..Eurovision? Obviously, I´m quite confused, haha! So…you think we have a unique voice, catchy tunes and we are pretty? And that we would be suitable for Eurovision? Wow, that´s so METAL! ;D
[Actually I meant that the first seconds sound very similar to my ears but nevermind!]
Later it reminded me more of Ghost Brigade. In any case, it sounds very different from the music that usually comes from Finland…
Yeah, Ghost Brigade is a more appropriate relation then maybe Lena, hehe. GB have a great thing going on and I have both of their albums on my shelf. I still haven´t had the chance to see them live, though. It´s nice to hear that you consider Sole Remedy being out of the ordinary. It´s always hard to judge your own music, or categorize it, so we don´t really think about what people might think. I guess when music truly comes from the heart and soul people may appreciate and understand it better. I know it can be hard to digest this kind of progressive music for an “ordinary” metal/rock listener. But on the other hand, what is considered being ordinary or different these days?
How did you end up on the label Aftermath Music NORWAY?
We sent out a bunch of promos worldwide and got some answers from different labels. We didn´t immediately want to take a small deal with a big company where we probably would have been left on the bottom of “the pecking order”. Aftermath Music seemed to have a good thing going on so we jumped on board! They have that earthy quality we appreciate.
Playing this kind of music, is it harder to get a record deal in Finland? Ghost Brigade are on a US/French label, I think.
It´s hard to get a record deal everywhere! There´s so much bands nowadays and record sales have been down for quite some time because people seem to want their music to be free. They don´t fully understand the machinery and costs of making an album that has a good quality. Everything costs! The studio, the engineer, the producer, mixing, printing, mechanizing, promotion etc. not to mention the gear musicians use. Or maybe people do understand, but they just don´t give a fuck? That might sound a bit judgmental but I´m kind of bummed that cd-format might go down eventually and be completely replaced by digital format. I still buy CD´s and will continue to do it. I know there´s a lot of others who still buy music, and I´ve heard that LP sales have slowly raised in few years. But anyway back to the topic. It´s a big step for record companies to sign bands, which don´t already have a long and inclusive career. Even though we´ve been around for 12 years and Apoptosis is our second album, we are still a “new” band.
I read that you recorded, mixed and produced the whole album yourself. What´s behind that DIY attitude?
I had the chance to do it and I wanted to prove, mostly to myself, that I can do it! I had a vision of what we wanted and where we wanted to go with our music. Also, we didn´t have a record deal at the time or any specific deadlines so it felt right to do it by ourselves/myself.
It was also mentioned that it was a very stressful time for you…are you planning to do everything yourself for the next record, too?
It was…I was almost two months in studio working from 9am to 8pm. I just finished Crib45´s Metamorphosis and left straight away from the mastering to setup the drums with Henry to start recordings of Apoptosis. Of course, I was doing what I like to do. But no one really understands the stress there is when you´re making an album by yourself (=recording, mixing & producing, as well as playing the guitar and singing, among other things) unless, of course, you´ve experienced it yourself. I think we might record the next album ourselves, since me and Eetu are qualified for it. Also, Artturi has done some recording work, so we got that covered pretty well. I might produce it myself but an outside producer is an option also. I have a few producers in mind…
Can you tell us about the concept of the album?
It´s a story about a person going through changes and trying to figure out what´s going on. The story is fictional, although it was inspired by real events on several people´s lives. I don´t want to give too much away ´cause I like the listener to make own assumptions on story/lyrics.
The album was finished already in summer 2009 but released only now, was it hard to wait that long before people could finally hear your work?
Actually, time passes rather quickly. I think it was good to get a little time off, though we didn´t actually take a hiatus after the album was finished. It probably would have been a bad thing to have the album released right away because Toni (former bassist-singer) decided to leave the band in autumn 2009 because he felt he didn´t have time for the band. We might have been in “quite a pickle” if we had rushed things. Still things turned out fine! We got a bass player almost the next week after Toni had announced his departure. And we were very fortunate to have someone, like Artturi, who we already knew very well and knew that he is very talented! The only problem was that who was going to be the second singer..? We thought that it would be great to have keyboards added to our live-setup as well, so a vocalist-keyboardist would suit the job. A bunch of people came to audition for the job and at the very last minute Eetu called me and asked if the spot was still open. We decided to try it out, played a gig with him and it worked out great!
Is there something you now would want to change about the record?
No. It came out the way it was meant. I think it is a very bold record! It´s very raw, almost analogue, but still it´s big. There´s no Autotune on vocals, the drums are 98% authentic edit-wise, guitars were played with blood coming out of our fingers!…well, not really, but it was sometimes hard.
You often get compared to Tool, Opeth and Katatonia this must be an honour…or a curse?
I personally think it is a HUGE honour! Those three bands have made a huge impact on us and I´m sure it can be heard from our music. Though, our roots are beyond Opeth and Katatonia, and even Tool. We discovered those bands in 2003, 2004 and 2001, so a lot had already influenced us before that.
The band as such was already formed in 1998, how much did you and your music change during that time.
It has changed quite a lot, though the basic elements are still there. We started out as a band that got together once or twice a week just to jam, usually improvise our own stuff, and we still do that…though, not that often, but once a month maybe we just jam. The music in the beginning was very progressive and mostly instrumental. I think it was somewhere along 2002-2003 when we started shifting to more darker and heavier dimensions. Of course, the line-up changes last year changed us just a bit. But I think it went to a very good direction, as both Eetu and Artturi are such great guys and very talented, so it was kind of best of both worlds. All of us are also very good friends so we know each others personal life quite well. Mutual understanding and chemistry are the keywords for Sole Remedy.
When you look back, is there something you would have done differently if you had the chance?
We can´t change the past. It has made us what we are. Don´t dwell in the past, look in to the future and focus on the present.
Do you have any gigs planned outside of Finland?
Sure. Most of the things are still on the planning stage, though there are some things cooking for next year in Finland. Hopefully we´ll get to play different places in Europe next year, and maybe USA and Asia later on? Maybe a few summer festivals, a small warm-up tour with a band we admire and lots of club gigs, who knows? My dream would be a tour some day with Porcupine Tree, Anathema, Katatonia, Opeth, Devin Townsend Project/Band, Tool or Dream Theater. Or maybe all together on one tour? One EPIC tour! That would be HUGE! We would of course be first…and we´d get to play like one song, haha!
The press release accompanying “Apoptosis” reads “it´s time to show the world what they are made of”… so what are you made of?
Flesh & bone, honesty and lots of emotion!
Thanks a lot for your time and all the best for the future.
Thank you for this great interview!
Photos: Kimmo Sipilä