- I would like to thank you very much Antti for agreeing to do this interview so your fans can get to know "Kalmah" better. Please say hello to Korean metal heads..
Kalmah says hello to all metal fans in Korea!
- Kalmah is still quite unknown in Korea. Would you tell me Kalmah's biography?
Well, Kalmah was founded already back in 1992. We worked as Ancestor in the beginning and changed the name in 1998. As Ancestor we produced 5 demos and couldn`t get the recording deal, so we wanted a fresh start and changed our name. We also took keyboard player in the band at the same time. The very first Kalmah -demo brought us the recording deal, so all in all the change was successful.
Our style hasn`t changed so much during the years. It has always been about trash and speed metal with melodies.
- What do you think of the current Finnish metal scene today?
In general Finnish metal scene is very healthy at the moment. Bands have started to reach success outside Finland and that has really had an affect to all metal bands here. I think that is why here is also lots of envious and bitter metal heads who just can`t understand others success. It really pisses me of!
- A lot of people complain about heavy metal bands using keyboards and even female vocalists in their music. What are your thoughts on that?
I understand that opinion because I too know a great deal of metal bands who don`t use keyboards and female vocals but I think those guys would have to open their minds a little bit. I personally like female vocals if they are used correctly, I mean, you can spice your music with them. Most metal bands who use only female vocals usually suck a lot.
Keyboards are part of metal music. They have been involved since the beginning of metal. It is really challenging to write songs if the keyboards are involved.
- Although you've been in the metal scene since1993 as Ancestor, Kalmah is regarded as a fresh band. Do you have the feeling that your reputation has suddenly soared these past few months? What is your outlook on your career in general?
In the beginning we were really ambitious metal heads. Nowadays we think things sensibly.
Basically, the only difference between Ancestor and Kalmah -times is that we get paid now of what we do. On the other hand our future seems to be bright ahead and our wishes finally have come true, so, the expectations have risen along with that. We have got great reviews and lots of new fans and of course it feels great! The piss has not reached our heads and it never will. We`d rather stay safely on the ground.
Our career in general has been full of slopes and disappointments. Our line-up has changed many times because of the lack of musicians. We come from rather a small place called Pudasjarvi. There is about 11000 people. However, the wounds of disappointments have healed well because nowadays we`re doing so fine.
- You signed with Spikefarm which is a pretty big and well-known label as regards extreme metal. How did this come about? Did they provide you with all the support that you expected?
We made a demo called "Svieri Obraza" in the end of 1999 and sent it to the labels all over Europe but they didn`t respond the way we wished, so, while we were thinking that what the hell we should do¡¦ Altti(bass & eternal tears of sorrow) then suggested that I should send a copy to Spikefarm. We recorded a couple of songs more at our training place and send those with the demo. After couple of weeks they contacted us and said that when we have enough material to go to a studio. It really felt great!
We have been very happy with Spikefarm and everything we expected have come true, so, we are very happy at the moment.
- Let's come to "Swamplord". What did you want to put into this album musically and lyrically?
Our goal was to make skilfully played record and a compact package, so that people really can hear what we can do. Of course we chose the best songs we had. Lyrically Pekka is the right man to answer this question because almost all lyrics are his handwriting. Anyway, the lyrics are important part of our music and they are especially important for my brother Pekka. Basically they are related to Pekka`s life in way or another.
- I heard that you were driven by your native landscape of "Pudasjarvi" and that Swamplord means not "Mother nature" but "Inner warrior". Would you explain about these in detail?
We wanted our album title to be something that would describe our path from the beginning to this moment and we came up with Swamplord. We have a very swampy landscape here in Pudasjarvi. Over 60 prosent of the surface area is swamp. It`s also related to our Ancestors who broke this new ground and we really respect them. The swamp is full of dangers and you`ll have to fight your way over, so it is the best way to describe our musical path. Sometimes we have been in swamp up to our necks and now we have struggled us back from the swamp.
- Are you totally satisfied with "Swamplord"? If you are, Can I expect that your next album will be similar to "Swamplord"?
Yes, we definitely are satisfied the album and the next one will be quite similar to it. Of course it will be somewhat different because we develop all the time as musicians and we have come up with some very good new ideas. We have already 4 new songs and I can say that they are really going to kick ass! If I describe the style it`s contradictory because they are maybe more technical but on the other hand we have more straight riffs involved.
- What do you think is original about Kalmah's sound?
It`s really hard to come up these days with really special and own sound because in metal almost everything is invented. Anyway, our music is based on technical guitar riffs and all the melodies come after that. So, we build everything on the rhythm guitar. Our originality is on the way we play. Maybe if we had broken through in the very beginning we would be really original because our style hasn`t change so much from those days.
- Some people consider "technical" as "progressive". What's your opinion about that? Do you think Kalmah is a progressive band?
Well, we have some progressive parts in our music but our music s far from progressive. I consider Dream Theater as progressive and you can imagine the difference.
- Three of your members are also playing in Eternal Tears of Sorrow. I think that it's probably quite difficult to manage Kalmah as a full time band. I would like to know if Kalmah is a project or not.
Kalmah is a real band. If we consider the past for example Petri Sankala is one of the original members. He joined etos not until 1999. Our line-up has changed a bit after our debut. Altti parted the band. Right now we are looking for a new basist and we have couple of candidates.
- I think your music is quite similar to Children of Bodom which is considered a typical Finnish death metal sound. What I want to say is that nowadays it seems the Finnish melodic death metal sound is totally different from the Swedish melodic death metal sound, for example Children of Bodom, Throne of Chaos and Kalmah etc. It seems for me that most of them are trying to focus on technique. Would you tell me what the Finnish melodic death metal sound is?
This is hard question but in my opinion the real Finnish death metal was invented by Amorphis and Sentenced. They broke the new ground for the bands who came up later, like Bodom and us. If we had got the recoding deal back in 1993 I think I had mentioned Kalmah.
The Finnish sound is based on the minor scales and the Finnish national music which is also very minor type. We have really cold, black and cold winter and I think that has a big influence on our music.
- I guess it must be excellent to play music with one of the family. When did you start to play music with your brother Pekka? Please tell me about it in detail.
I was too young to play with him in the very beginning. I was something like 12 years old in 1992. We played together at home watching TV and things like that but we didn`t write songs together until 1997. It took couple of years to find the mutual sound but it all was worth of it.
It hasn`t rosy way if you have a brother you know¡¦ We have had some arguments but they all have ended well so far.
- What kind of music do you usually listen to and what bands influenced you?
Nowadays I listen music hardly very seldom. I`m somehow bored with the metal scene of today and on the other hand I try to avoid possible influences.
The main influences are from the past. Bands like Megadeth, Paradise Lost, Pantera, Hypocrisy and Death have a certain place in my mind, especially Megadeth. I really enjoy Dave`s and Marty`s playing on Countdown to Extinction and Rust in Peace. I have also played classical guitar for couple of years and learned some other bands tablatures in the beginning but I left those about 5 years ago.
- Whenever I interview musicians, I like to ask about personal philosophy or religion because it's really interesting due to their strong minds. Would you tell me yours?
Well, I believe that everybody can believe in whatever they want¡¦ I respect the past, live in this very moment and look forward to the future.
- What is your vision of extreme metal scene not only in Finland but also around the world?
I`m not so familiar with extreme metal, first of all as an expression it`s a bit strange. If you mean metal in general I think the scene is feeling fine. Some metal bands have reached really great success and people are really paying their attention to metal also.
- I heard you are studying at the University of Oulu. And I also heard there are quite a few bands in your university. Is that true? If so, what bands are there and how are relations between them?
Yes, I`m studying Information Science. Oulu is very known metal place here in Finland and here are lots of metal bands but only few of them have really succeeded. I know a few people from University who play in a metal band. For example I know one guy from a band called Catamenia, one from Mary and one from Fury. Catamenia has recorded but the others are demo bands.
Relations¡¦ Well we know each other and talk about metal, drink together some times but I don`t play with them. Basically, it`s about having fun.
- What are your future plans such as touring, new recording etc?
Our next album will be recorded next Fall and it will be released in the beginning of 2002. There is no tours in the near future but we are looking forward the tours after next album. I think our net happening is a gig at Helsinki in the summer.
- Any final comments?
Well, visit our website at www.student.oulu.fi/~ankokko/kalmah and sign our guestbook. I hope you enjoy our music. Thank you for rhe interview.