MyGrain: It´s OK to be gay

Tuska festival, day 2, press area – located right beside the main stages. Desperate times, desperate measures – should we use the Ladies´ room, which seemed the only sound-proof spot?? Well, two of us could without problem, actually, but what to do with the third person in our company – would his long hair be deceiving enough? Luckily another sort-of quiet place could be found for a quick chat with MyGrain, right after their Tuska show and before clearing the backstage area… The Finns proved to be a closely knit unit on and off stage as well – a “real family” so to say, when it comes to finishing each other´s sentences – and also teasing each other a bit. At least this is the impression that you get spending some time with Tommy (voc) and Eve (keys) …

Could you introduce the band members, as if it was a family- so who is mom, dad, grandpa, grandma (Tommy laughs), the angry teen, the pet …?
Eve: Our drummer DJ Locomotive must be the grand-dad, because he is the oldest (laughs)
Tommy: Maybe after that one comes Papa Yonas, the bass player – our “dad”.
Eve: I am probably the kid, because I am the youngest (laughs), but I am the mother as well…
Tommy: I am not sure who is the pet… is it – ME? (laughs)
Eve: Maybe Resistor is the dad, because he is second-oldest (laughs)

So how is the band dynamic working – for example the songwriting process: Is there one big dictator who does it all…
Tommy: No, no…
… or is it like a democracy?
Tommy: It is almost a democracy, the basic routine is that it´s 3 people who mainly bring the first ideas – the guitarists Resistor, Mr. Downhill and drummer DJ. But sometimes it varies also; that somebody else brings something to the rehearsals and we´re jamming around and make it into a song.
Eve: Those three guys are the ones that actually LIVE in our training room, we others are not there that very often, so… but usually I guess everybody of us brings a lot of ideas to our songs.
Tommy: For us it works well that way …
Eve: It´s a really slow and hard process to write songs like that (Tommy laughs) – you have like 6 cooks that bring riffs – and we just jam around… it´s really slow and hard, but it shows, actually – if you could say from the new album – it shows that although it´s slow…
Tommy: …it works…
Eve: … it really works…
Tommy: …it´s fun also, it´s fun to go to the rehearsals, to practice the songs, to make them…
Eve: That´s true!
Tommy: …but it´s not the easiest way (laughs)
Eve: (laughs) Definitely not!

Two things you mentioned here I wanted to ask anyway – one is “cooks” – according to your promo photos, humor must be a big part of the band – how is it expressed, and what is the least humorous metal genre, where it´s not allowed to be funny at all?
Must be Black Metal! (laughs) The humor shows in our music, for example the keyboard riffs, because they are pretty gay (everybody laughs)
Tommy: But that´s ok!
Eve: It´s ok – we´re not afraid to be gay – because gay means “happy” (everybody laughs even harder)
Tommy: We´re happy all the time
Eve: So it´s like, if you are afraid all the time, you are not allowed to do this, to do that because the genre is like this, and you´re not supposed to do things like this in that genre, then it gets really boring…
Tommy: …and it brings restrictions…
Eve: Yeah — I see us being a branch of melodic death metal, and there is a lot of dull bands in that genre (laughs) – they all play In Flames-style genre, and every band has to be the same – and it´s pretty boring

DJ Locomotive dr -Resistor git -Tommy voc -Eve keys- Mr.Downhill git -Yonas bass

How did you come up with the band name – is this also sort of humor, because your music shouldn´t give too many headaches?
Eve: For some maybe (laughs)
Tommy: Hopefully not (laughs) It´s a kind of double meaning word play, a word puzzle, “my grain” could mean something like “this is my thing” – or it might give a headache to someone
Eve: I am sure of that (laughs)
Tommy: and we will spread that disease (laughs)
Eve: … and I have heard lately that some people react like “what the fuck is wrong with those people, this is such a stupid name” – it does not matter. It´s easy to pronounce in English and in Finnish
Tommy: and it´s easy to remember, too…
Eve: … and I don´t give a fuck about the band name, it´s all about the music, not about the band´s name
Tommy: It´s also like an insider joke – you know, we don´t take things too seriously, actually.
Eve: Actually it was our former guitar player who came up with that band name…
Tommy: … who left the band after a few years…
Eve: … after the second album.

Another keyword you mentioned – the new album – are you satisfied with the response to it so far? 
Tommy: YEAH those were really amazing – we are really proud of the new album!

How would you describe the development in the band, the development of your music, and is the new album indeed “a new beginning” for you?
Eve: We started from the basics with the first album, with the second we weren´t that afraid to bring new elements to the music, and with the third one we received a new guitar player, he has brought a lot of his influences into the music, so I guess this is the biggest leap between the second and the third album. And I guess after Mr. Downhill came along we found our style, and that is what we want to develop from now on…
Tommy: … even further. Now we have the guitar soli as well, which wasn´t the case before. We are not sure in which direction we are going to develop, but – at least somewhere (laughs)

In my review of Myötätuulirock Festival I wrote that you could actually use your clean voice a bit more often, because in your case it sounds good – and not everybody can do that, but you can… so would that be some direction you would like to go?
Tommy: Hmmm – I don´t know, actually. I haven´t the slightest clue yet, because it always depends on the song that we are playing and rehearsing…
Eve: We´d had to draw a line, like “OK now we are going to make an album that has more clean vocals” – it´s about the song!
Tommy: It´s about the song, and we don´t think “now we gonna make this kind of song” – we just make the song and it sounds brilliant, and then I add the vocals – depending on what kind of feeling I get from the song – so that´s the basic thing
Eve: We don´t think about anything else than the song when we make music, nothing like “we have to sound like this or that” – we go rehearsals, jam around and try to make the songs as good as possible. We are not thinking about anything else…
Tommy: …there´s no plans or guidelines where to go, we just go somewhere – it just happens. It´s fun to say “by itself” – but it does.
Eve: It does – we really don´t have any plans. And I can honestly say that we make those songs only for ourselves. It´s pretty amazing that so many more people bought the new album – we have always done it that way, but this time we really wondered what people will be saying because the songs are so different from the previous album – but then it was “fuck it, we just want to do it like we want to do it”!

So who is the Science Fiction freak in the band?
Tommy: Science Fiction freak? I don´t know, some of us are – but I really am, I really like Science Fiction! (laughs)
Eve: I DON´T!! (Tommy laughs harder) I HATE Science Fiction movies, and I HATE Star Wars fans! I HATE — BLÄÄÄÄH!!
Tommy: So you have to HATE our lyrics as well! (laughter)
Eve: No, because they fit our style! (laughter)
Tommy: Yeah – it´s like, I veil the lyrics in Science Fiction style because I like it and it just fits the music, it has this futuristic sound so it goes smoothly. Basically the lyrics are about the basic everyday life, the life syndrome, just veiled in a SciFi way.

What is your favorite – is it Star Trek, Star Wars?
Eve: (shudders)…BLÄÄH! … (laughter)
Tommy: Errr – I like them both but they are not actually my favorites – I rather like those documents about (to Eve) SPACE –
Tommy: …and discovering the world…
Eve: THAT is the part I like – you said it well!
Tommy: Well, this is what interests me, and if I was to choose my occupation, again, I´d be astrologist – if my skills were enough… (laughs)
Eve: …the crazy scientist!
Tommy: The crazy scientist, YEAH! (laughs)

So what are your actual day jobs? As I assume you cannot really make a living with MyGrain…
Both: NOOO! (laughter)
Eve: I´m store manager in a game store..
Tommy: … and I work in a travel agency as a supervisor – customer service (laughs)

Something you both can answer, before I start with specific questions for Eve – your upcoming Europe-tour with Insomnium and Before The Dawn (see STALKER tourdates for details, the ed.) – how did that happen?
Eve: Well, it happened that…
Tommy: …we were thinking that …
Eve: …we have to get to Europe with this album, we just cannot postpone it any more and then we found this new agency, and they really quickly offered us a tour, and I guess with Insomnium and Before The Dawn it´s a perfect line up – all similar enough, but different enough, and we know all the guys, so it´s so nice…
Tommy: …it´s so nice to go on the first tour with guys you know already…
Eve: …and with two Finnish bands, so you are not the only Finnish band – and the other bands are talking weird languages … and it´s our first time in Europe!
Tommy: We have also the similar kind of fan base – not the same, but similar enough!
Eve: Similar enough!

Now some specific questions for Eve: Where I come from (Austria), Metal is still a pretty masculine thing, female (Metal) musicians are pretty rare – so can you remember any specific reactions in your environment when you announced that “I´m going to be a Metal musician” or “I like Metal”?
Eve: I guess it started pretty naturally – because I´ve played since I was 5, with piano and then I went to music school – then I quit, and the next natural step was to play in a band. Then I thought I have to learn to play guitar or something, because my roots are Grunge and Rock music, so began listening to Metal with 14 or something. It´s not like “I was 8 and listened to Judas Priest – and thought fuck that´s cool” (laughs) Nothing like that – first I listened to Punk and Rock and Grunge music – and those didn´t have any keyboards or piano (laughs) – so that wasn´t an option. But with 14 I found Metal music, I found Amorphis for example, and they have been a big influence on my keyboard playing –they have these cool “singing” keyboard leads and stuff. And it was pretty basic when I started to hang out with the guys of my first band, and they were like “we need a keyboard player”, and I wondered “I´ve never done that before – well I try!” And it was really fun! Then I had a second band, a third, a fourth – that´s how it went (laughs). I just went for it, and it was so – so – SO fun. And I am on the same road still! (laughs)

So you never had the experience like “you are not taken seriously as a musician” or something?
Eve: In the beginning, yes, when I was 16, 17 and Metal wasn´t this big thing in Finland yet, and then I was under-aged, and a girl, and pretty shy and didn´t know what to do. (laughs) Then I faced situations when we performed gigs with a band, and the gig promoter came and asked if I was someone´s girl friend (laughs)
Yes that´s another aspect – female musicians are often thought to be girlfriends or groupies
Eve: (laughs) I´ve pretended to be a groupie, though (laughs) It was a couple of years ago, and it was really FUN (laughter). But yes, in the beginning that was the deal, but that went over pretty quickly, and I received more trust, and I became more confidence in that matter. With this band and with my bands nowadays it has not been a problem – in like 10 years, but yes, in the beginning it was a problem.

The next question is actually something for you both – do you think that Metal (music) is still “rebellious”, is it really still offering something like an “alternative life style”?
Eve: I guess only if somebody is 12 years old and the parents are Catholic or something (laughs) In Finland and in a lot of other countries as well Metal has lost that completely … if an Opeth album – and I love Opeth – goes to be Nr 1 in Finland, so – well (laughs) You cannot be rebellious with saying “I am a Metalhead” …
Tommy: …no, not any more.

Well, I noticed that tattoos and piercings are so common and every-day (especially in Finland)
Eve: …yeah, it has nothing rebellious…
(to Tommy) … and I noticed that long hair is soooo “out” – but no, I mean, please keep it!!! (laughter)
Eve: He had short hair when we started! (laughter)

Well – I mean there seems to be this new “uniform” thing in Metal – like no hair at all, a beard, and lots of tattoos and piercings …
Eve: A way to be rebellious in Metal circles nowadays is listening to something completely else…
… and no tattoos at all…
Eve: …well, that´s too late (laughs)…
Yesterday I wore a white summer dress to Tuska…
Tommy: …or wearing a pink shirt, as a man…
YES! (laughter)
Eve: …you have to do something like that to be rebellious in these circles nowadays!

Last question – what was the most absurd thing that happened to you, as a band, on tour or something?
Tommy: I don´t know, so many absurd things had happened in our career, if you can say so – but one thing pops up in my mind, when we were at a gig in Turku, or was it Tampere? We were about to go on stage, and the way where we were supposed to go on stage – well, the door was locked, and the Intro was already playing…
Eve: It was in Tampere!
Tommy: …the Intro was on already, we should have been on stage, and we could not get through the door! (laughter) So we had to use some other way…
Eve: …we had to climb out and walk through the audience to the stage …
Tommy: …that was maybe a somewhat absurd thing, but it was fun afterwards… (laughs)
Eve: …straight from Spinal Tap…
Tommy: …a Spinal Tap moment, yeah!

OK thank you for your time!
Both: Thank you!

photos: Terhi Ylimäinen, Klaudia Weber

Klaudia Weber

Klaudia Weber

reckless and merciless dictator, so KNEEL! In other words, editor-in-chief, translator, website and ad admin, "Jane of all trades" - - - addicted to books (everything between Lord Of The Rings & quantum physics) and music, mainly Metal made in Finland. Furthermore, there's painting, drawing, movies, theater... so you can expect some variety on this website too.