I like meeting people who have a tale to tell. And I met a man full of stories being a bit unexpected to happen in our so quickly evolving world. It all has a tiny little bit, please, really only a tiny little bit of Snow White’s fairy tale – save perhaps the fact that old school Death Metal is hardly associated with Snow White’s fairy tale at all. Perhaps neither Svart records, nor Jukka Kolehmainen see themselves as Prince Charming kissing the resting beauty awake. And even more perhaps Abhorrence never wanted to be Snow White. But there is a parallel fitting the image: Both rested for an incredibly long time and then they came back to live. And so the story goes:
Back in the very late 1980s a band named Abhorrence was formed in the far North of Europe, the later capital of metal music: Helsinki. A bunch of teenagers established a band not caring much for traditional styles but the pure and raw sound of Death Metal coming directly from their heart and soul.
Jukka Kolehmainen (vocals), Tomi Koivusaari (guitar), Kalle Mattsson (guitar), Kimmo Heikkinen/Mikael Arnkil (drums) and Jussi Ahlroth (bass) had roughly one year, their band’s active period – not too much time to make it to a legend. But then again, somehow they did. Because if not how can you explain the band has never stopped been asked to return to stage, year by year. And several times, year by year. Roughly twenty years later they reappeared back on stage.
I was excited when I noticed that Abhorrence were added to the Nummirock line up for this summer. There aren’t many chances to see them live. And then Jukka replied on my interview request very quickly and even offered to meet me before the festival. So we met in a downtown office in Helsinki on a sunny day in May.
A friendly smiling man dressed in a somewhat 70s style showed me into the office. We sat on grey, cosy armchairs and even before starting the interview, we found ourselves engaged in a vivid conversation on music and media work. Indeed, making your hobby to your job can ruin it, we agreed before finally starting the interview.
The Teenager Friends Back On Stage Together
“Thank you for meeting me and that even so short notice.” He offers me a drink, which I accept but choose to take later.
“I dug a bit into history and I found that you’ve done in the last three/four years some festival gigs, maybe some other, too, with Abhorrence.” – “Yeah”
“What was it like to be back on stage with the old, mostly teenager friends?” –“Well”, he cuffs, “as far as outside the band, we see each other now and again, I mean. Me and Tomi, we celebrated our birthday the same day.”
“You’re still doing this?” I wonder. “Yes, whenever he is in Finland, ’cause nowadays he is always on tour. But, I don’t know, we’ve been doing this for something of thirty years. So it is really easy although some of the guys haven’t seen in like five years or something. And then, when we get together it is after ten minutes like, there is no time between seeing each other. So we get along really well. And it actually feels like I’m not 45”, he says starting to laugh, “You know what I mean?”
I can’t help laughing myself. ‘Oh yes, I know’, I think but he continues: “It feels more like you know being twenty-ish something and you know, like when we’re together?”
Laughing I agree: “I’m your age, so I really know what you mean.”
“Yahhh, well, from personal relationshipswise it’s really easy. But when you’re like to getting the band together there is always … You know were five people. Every one has a career; two guys are playing in several bands that tour. So the calendars are insane!” he says raising his voice to highlight the difficulty. “Like getting the time to train, practise, I mean, that’s the thing. Being together is easy. Everything just rolls off. I mean, like the new drummer, Waltteri (Väyrynen), he fits right in. Never mind, that he is like he could be anyone of our son. Agewise. It’s good, I mean. It’s really easy.”
“So it’s really like being like there was no break at all?”– “Yeah. It’s like seeing your friends after they had been … compare it with when we were kids: After the summer vacation, you get to see your friends again. That’s the feeling you get. Accept, there’s quite a lot more years.”
“Because back in the days, we would have to carry our own gear on stage and set it up and there was no sound guy.”
“There have been many changes over the time. I mean more than just growing a bit ‘wisdom’ between otherwise darker hair. So what’s different? If you are on stage, look at the audience, maybe the technique on stage? What is it that hits you first? What do you keep in mind of these changes?”
– “Oh … well the biggest change is possibly the stage size. Seriously. Because back in ‘89 and ‘90 we played only on youth centres or maybe the local school’s gym. And most of us were under age. We didn’t play a lot of bar shows. There weren’t a lot of bars taking metal bands, let alone Death Metal bands. So the biggest change is the stage size. Seriously, I mean like, when we went to play Tuska, we used like on third of the stage and didn’t know what to do with the rest.” he emphasizes by gesturing the tiny space they used compared to size of the space on offer.
“But if you forget that, I think it is the professionalism that hits first. ‘Cause there’re a lot of stage ants and people doing the work. Because back in the days, we would have to carry our own gear on stage and set it up and there was no sound guy. We just would crank our things up and see if it is ok? Hm. I guess, the workmanship, professionalism, I guess that’s the biggest change. I mean come on, we used to get drunk before the gig back in the days. Everybody was drunk. Like the guys working the stage, they were drunk. The people …”
“The audience was drunk!”
“Oh yeah! And the people selling the tickets were drunk, and it was yeah it was pretty ridiculous, but I guess that’s the biggest change. We get to the place where we wanna play and are going to play – things are set up as far as they can be. We just sort of tell the personnel what we want and they make it happen. That’s the biggest change.”
“Good service, then” I dig a little deeper.
“Yeah, I guess – outside looking in musicians are always complaining about locations and the personnel and so forth. But this was the first tour, I have ever been as a musician. We only had four gigs, but all of the places were, I don’t know, pro. Really pro. I don’t know. If you were missing something it would get sorted out. And, yeah. Pro!“, he concludes laughing. “That’s a big change!”
“It sounds, as if everything has got a bit more serious. Or is it still the passion-driven thing it was?” –“Ahm, I think it’s both. Because, right, at the bars and clubs they have the normal crew. So whatever comes in a place they have the crew to put everything together so the artist can perform.” He takes a moment to change the focus: “So, yeah. I guess that’s the main issue. These are commercial places! And back in the days we played in youth centres and they don’t have paid staff who do sound. The sound guy was always someone’s friend. And the friend had learned to use the board like last week. Or the night before. Something like that. That’s a main difference.”
Perhaps professionalism isn’t always better, I think: “But maybe the sound guy from among your friends of youth time was the one catching the spirit of what you wanted to transfer a little better than a pro?” – “Could be!” he agrees passionately. “I mean … spaces that are not made for music can be very forgiving. But then again, a good sound guy can make every space sound good. But I’ll have an opposite example from the past. Like in 1990 we played in Lepakko, which is all dismantled now. It was a sort of hang-out place for Helsinki’s punks and metal scene. Most gigs were there. We played there only once, no … “ he breaks and corrects “maybe twice, actually. I’m not sure. Anyway, when we played, there was this sound guy who was so pissed off. You could read it from his face that he was pissed off. He was here for the money, and he hated the guys on the stage because none of them knew music. He was a pro and he was being, you know …” searching for a term, he lifts his nose looking down disgusted just like that sound guy had.
“Nosy? Superior?” I suggest.
“Yeah, sort of you’re beneath me. So, I didn’t know the lingo. So I said, ‘Can I have some, you know, echo to my vocals?’ So instead of making it … like what’d you call, ah large space reversible or something like that. I forgot. He put me on actual echo. So all the way through the gig, I sounded like wooo woo wo wo”, his voice fading and with a caricaturing expression in his face.
I have to laugh.
“Yeah”, he says smiling cynically, “he knew, what he was doing. And he did on purpose. So he was so total a pro! So that’s, I remember, was annoying. Playing with the pros because they were assholes. And nowadays, they are the guys who also have bands, similar bands. Like I think some of the places, we played this year the sound guys were sort of voluntary staff. Like ‘I want to do this’. He has done work there and informed the owner I wanna do this for less money. Whatever …felt like that anyway. They were people who knew our staff and sort, they knew what to do – without me or anyone of having to tell them. Maybe semi pro, maybe that’s the sweet’s bud.”
“And we needed a good reason to sort of put it together again.”
“I read that there was a kind of meeting on your initiative with one from Svart to release the compilation? What was that the initiative spark to wake Abhorrence to live gigs from its Sleeping Beauty’s rest? Was it hard to get the others back into it?”
“Yes and no.”
“Was it your idea?”
“Sort of. It was something that we had talked with individual members of the band now and then. But we always came up with the same kind of question: Why? There’s no reason. And we needed a good reason to sort of put it together again. Because we knew, we had to put some serious time into it. Like the second guitarist, Kalle, I think, he sold his guitars. So he hadn’t played guitars like in 15 years. Well, hadn’t practised playing. He was playing now and then somewhere. He used to be the best – technically – guy. So he picked up a guitar, when we started talking of this. He bought a new guitar and started practising, and he ended up liking it actually so much, he got pretty good at it again pretty soon. So the major issue was we needed reason to get together and play.
I had been shopping around about releasing the compilation for ten years. Well, I had some interesting discussions with few smaller labels, but I guess I didn’t feel connected to the labels. They were sort of just some guy. And when Svart records, which was a label I already liked, because they put out so many really, really high-quality vinyl pressings. I am a huge fan of Referend Bizarre, the Finnish Doom Metal band. When they did the – I don’t know if it was re-issue – the double albums on vinyl, they were such a high quality!” He voices rises remarkably in joy: “I thought: ‘This is how it is supposed to be done.’ And then later those same guys asked us, if we’d like to put out the same stuff. And I was like cheering myself. ‘Wow! This is exactly what I thought would be cool.’ And so we started to put that together. I sort of had some – what’d you call it – prework done for the release, but nothing concrete. And when they came along, it was sort of they would call or email me and say ‘Now we need to do this and can you help us?’ They sort of put me in gear.” Jukka is in a mode of comfortably telling the story he loves: “And when I got excited, I sort of started talking to the guys, and when we had a release date or well sort of release year, we started talking about gigs. And the label agreed, ‘Yes, you should do it. It would be good for the sales of the album and people still wanna see you.’ The funny thing is, the second guitar, Kalle, he didn’t really follow any of our band’s forums or homepages, Facebook and nothing like that. So he had no idea people still talked about that (Abhorrence). He felt that the band we had in the 90s died in the 90s.” Jukka’s voice reveals his old friend’s mistaken assumption already. “And he was sort of almost scared at the beginning like ‘Why are we doing this? There’s nobody coming to the gigs!’ And then, we did the sort of secret gig before the festival gigs. We actually unadvertised the gig as ‘Bob Horrence’. You know secret gig…” He looks at me up with his forehead lowered, blinking and smiling “You know, secret gig.” I laugh nodding. “Quite a lot of people saw through that.” He continues a bit proudly even: “The bar we played in was almost full. And that’s the first time he sort of realized: ‘Oh hell! People actually know our band.’ That’s when he got something, and saw that there were people there. ‘Oh wow!’“
“Must have been overwhelming for him”, I conclude.
“Yeah, yeah. He was! He couldn’t believe it. Before he couldn’t believe it, you know, as he hadn’t seen it. But when he saw it, he couldn’t believe it still, like ‘Are these people for real?’ I think he said at one point, ‘It feels like this is joke. At one point people will start laughing. What are you guys doing?’ But yeah, it was a lot easier for me, because I had a really basic homepage for the band. I sort of had a Myspace thing and Facebook page, so I sort of knew there was interest. I mean through the years, we had like five requests to do gigs annually.”
“Wow. Ok.” I nod impressed.
“And that’s quite a lot for a band that’s been dead ten years.”
“It is”, I agree before he continues: “And they asked what it would take. And I said: ‘There’s nothing you can do. I’m sorry. Its not about money.’ There has to be passion. And there’s the point at least once a year especially after 2000 we were asked ‘Can I release the demo, the vinyl and the EP again or maybe both of them as an CD?’ So I started looking into it. Well, the rest is history. But yeah … I forgot the question!” he says smiling in a deeply happy way.
I smile back “It has been answered.” “Yeah?” he asks back laughing. And I have to laugh too, “definitely”, I reassure.
Jussi And Tomi Back On Stage Together In 2010
Aiming at another initiative-inspiring incident, I go on: “I watched some Youtube vids on this 2010-tour of Amorphis”
“… in which Jussi participated.”
“And it felt a bit like a spark”
“… initiating things? Like the fun of being together on stage again. Did it play a role in getting Abhorrence on stage again?”
“Yah … maybe to Jussi and Tomi. I’m not sure if Kalle was there.”
“I found no vid with him. But ….” I explain.
“He wasn’t on stage, but he might have been back stage. I think that was in Oulu or somewhere up north. And I think it might have been a sort of a kick-off thing for those two, Jussi and Tomi. And I was sort of hyped, too, to see the old band members playing that song. And I think there was talk of me going on stage and singing that version.” he thinks a moment …
“That would have been interesting.”
Jukka’s features brighten: “Yeah, but I think it was one of those bar talks. ‘Would you like … ‘ and sort of this.”
Immediately, I imagine the old friends sitting in a dim bar with a beer chatting passionately and smile on this image in my head. “But I don’t know, was it New Year’s Eve? Something? It might have been New Year’s gig. I think there was some reason, I could not be there. But I forgot. Yeah, that would have been interesting. Because I actually performed with Amorphis at least twice.”
I wasn’t aware of this “Oh, really. Cool.”
“But that was in ‘92 like just after the first album. Remember the first 7-inch? They put out a 7-inch which had “Vulgar Necrolatry”. And my vocals are on that. I was guest vocalist for the first EP. I guess Tomi wasn’t really comfortable with his vocals.”
I can’t help the words jumping out of my mouth: “It seems, he never is.”
Jukka agrees laughingly “Yeah, he never was actually, that’s true.”
“Like a year ago I spoke with him on this, and still then he wasn’t comfy with it. Although a couple of days later – because Tomi Joutsen became a little ill – he did some more vocals than actually planned. And he did great again!”
Now it’s Jukka laughing knowingly. “Yeah, I guess one of the reasons is that the vocalist is always the centre point …” thinking for the best wording … I suggest: “of attention?”
“Yeah!” he agrees emphasizing his words. “I guess that might have a reason. And I mean you know playing guitar and singing – you have to focus on both … But yeah, he never liked his own vocals.”
One reason why I particularly love attending festivals and concerts in Finland is that there seem to be no boundaries. You will find women in strict business outfits banging their souls out, little kids (with massive sound protection, of course) in the buggy next to their Metal Head and Punk parents while the surfer type comes over with a beer and Granny asks space for her bar stool in the up-front row (really, that happened next to me some years ago!).
Speaking with Jukka, I found him confirming my impression of Death Metal being on the rise again and attracting fans even in the class of under-age teenagers.
Inherited Thrash Wests Make It To The Front Row!
“Do you think there is a new generation of old school Death Metal fans?”
“Definitely! Yes! I don’t know about the rest of Europe or the world for that matter. But in Finland there’s a lot … You know the trash west, the jeans west with all the patches?” Of course, so I nod. “You see a lot of those and you see them on kids who couldn’t have the patches they have. Like they are the original patches from the ‘80s or something like that. So they really …. the wests look like they were inherited! And sometimes I feel like there are three generations of fans. Mine – they are on the back of the room, with their hands sponged and they’re smiling there but you know they’re there for a few beers and seeing the band from their youth. Then there is a sort of a 30 something. Some of them get into it and some of them are a bit reserved. And then there’s the kids’ generation. They’re barely 18 with the trash wests. These are the kids that are up front. They know the lyrics, which is insane”, he points out excited and I share his excitement on that: “Wow”. Then Jukka continues: “At one of the gigs this year, like the last gig, a guy came up to me and saying something like ‘I loved it. I loved it! But you forgot a lot of lyrics!’ And I was like: ‘Seriously???’” His face shows a bit of pride to have such passionate, though maybe a bit weird fans. I have to really laugh out loudly. “He was right”, he goes on, “but you know it was … yeah … there’s definitely, I am saying, maybe three. It’s interesting.” His thoughts seem to drift away for a short moment.
I pull him back: “It felt a bit like the old school Death Metal had nearly been extinguished but then has become hip again, like a fashion that returns again.”
“I think, fashion is a bit over or too much. But I know what you mean.” His enthusiasm is on again – well visible in his face’s features.
“It’s rising again.”
“Yeah. It’s sort of an underground thing, still. But it’s sort of lower mainstream undergrounding kind of thing. I think what happened to me in the 90s was all the Death Metal became really technical. It became really, for some reason, it became just about proofing how good you were with the guitar or instrument. So there was suddenly this Yngwie-Malmsteen type of ‘look at me doing these ridiculous things’. I mean, I love Opeth! But some of their songs are just too complex. So there’s sort of … there’s no feeling. There’s just amazing delivery and technical playing.” His voice lowers and carries a trace of disappointment.
“What we do, is basically Punk Death Metal”
But I feel reminded of an earlier development in the music scene: “That reminds me of like in the 70s when punk came up as contrast to the big progressive stuff and the disco stuff and all that was very present. Apparently there was a hunger for something simple but honest and straightforward. Something different. Demanding in another way.”
“Yeah.” His passion rises, “I call it ‘from the soul’ or ‘from the heart’. To me, if that’s lacking, I tend to not like the music. I tend to – let’s put it this way: The music doesn’t stick to me. So we as a band realized only like in the last few years that we actually play Punk. What we do, is basically Punk Death Metal. It’s a … we don’t do it well. I mean as in technical terms. But we play it like full out. We feel it! Let’s put it this way: When play live it’s actually to the bass player, Jussi, he is the one who shows it (most). I mean, he is constantly screaming on the stage! And I get distracted, and I get, you know, jumped, when he is like right next to me. He’s screaming and wuuahhhhh” putting his hands around the mouth to channel the scream which, lucky me, is only on low volume. “And that’s how it goes”, Jukka adds smilingly. “Nobody gives a fuck, if we miss a note or two as long as the punch, as the delivery is there. So that’s what I like in all kinds of music. And, like you said, speaking of 70s music that’s something … I am digging that crate sort of right now: All the way to soul music, Motown. The thing is, there’s so much heart and soul in the music that it’s easy to find gems all the time. As as contrast to the 90s Death-Metal scene especially the Melodic- and Technical Death-Metal scene. It was all about delivery and sort it seems like nothing else mattered. I lost the interest and for, … I don’t know, for 15 years, I don’t think, I bought a single Death Metal album. I haven’t even listened to any new ones. Maybe accidentally or you know … but when Vallenfyr, you know the band?”
“It’s Gregor Mackintosh, the Paradise Lost guy’s band, when the first album came out, that was the first time Death Metal sort of stuck …” he searches for words again.
“It caught you again?” I offer.
“Yeah. And I was thinking: ‘Wow!’ This is sort of old school! I call it plodding Death Metal because it’s not fast, occasionally it is, but it has like doomy beats and there’s a lot of emotion. So, yeah, after that I sort of started looking into again. I still think most of the new Death Metal … well let’s put it this way: old Death Metal bands doing new music still usually is a bit boring to me. But there’re new bands! I so sort of never got into the Black Metal that much. I wasn’t interested enough to put effort and time into that. But nowadays there’re a lot of bands that the cross the line between the old school Death Metal and Black Metal. So there are some of those bands, I find interesting. And I don’t know Extreme Metal is sort of going through a revival I think.”
“It seems like”, I agree, “yeah.”
“Yeah. I mean there’s the other end as far as Extreme Metal. I listen to a lot of Doom Metal like Funeral Doom Metal. … And all the way to basically the super slow stuff. That’s extreme in the other way, like the other end of the spectrum. And that, I still love.” His voice had lowered and been considerate for some time but started rising now again.”
“That’s emotionally very, very heavy stuff.”
“Yeah, yeah, it is!” He smiles.
“But I think it is very deep going.”
“Yeah!” He smiles more.
“Kind of like that stuff” I say, encouraging him stating more on this topic.
“I’ve always been a bit – I don’t know – sombre, ahm, a bit pessimistic in my view on the world. So that sort of music fits my persona very well. All that really, really slow and you know it’s-all-going-to-end-soon music. But that’s an out … for me as well.”
“Maybe, we’re a bit more considerate as a group”
I come with my next question: “Every group has some internal dynamics working. Has that changed over the years? Did the roles within the band change?”
“It’s still the same?”
“It’s still the same! Maybe, maybe, we’re a bit more considerate as a group. You know, back than it was like ‘Shut up, we know how this is!’ So everybody has some input. Back then it usually if two guys made a song together they would bring you the finalized thing. Well, it wasn’t like that. Hm, I forgot. But I think, the dynamics are more or less the same. Maybe a bit changed because Tomi is a professional musician and so. I know he would love to make new riffs and be part of making.“
That sounds promising, I think. Naturally the next question is: “So is there a plan for new releases from Abhorrence?”
“Not releases, but new songs, yes. Because after the first few gigs it makes no sense that we’re playing live and keep on playing the same old songs again and again and again. No, but you know, there’re just still so many people that haven’t seen us. Let me put it this way: there is no plan for new releases but there is more than a wish of doing new songs. So like I said it’s not a promise but there is interest. It’s all about timing and it might happen like this year, it might happen in three years time or it might not happen at all. But there is interest in making new songs within the band.”
“We love his sense of aesthetics”
All appears to be a revival meant to last for more than a few gigs with old songs: “So that is also the reason to get Waltteri in as a permanent member and not only a live or session musician?”
“Yeah! That and he is a really good match for the band. I mean, we love his sense of aesthetics and sense of style when it comes to drumming this sort of music. I mean, I guess it’s because he’s been playing with Paradise Lost and Vallenfryre. Both are old guys’ bands.” he laughs and continues. “They do things sort of …. maybe they come from the same place as we do. I mean Paradise Lost had their first album out before we even did the demo. But it’s the same style of Death Metal – it’s theirs. Not Vallenfyre. But Paradise Lost.” Jukka summarizes: “So we have the same sort of DNA in the music.”
I’d like to know a bit more about how Waltteri came into the band: “Was there some kind of fixed profile you were looking for?”
“For the drummer?”
“Yes, for the drummer?”
“Or did you just come across him and he did fit?”
“No, I think we were just looking for a good fit: as far as the person, as far as the drumming, as far as everything. So, no there wasn’t a real profile. Actually it was Tomi, who sort of … you know, he meets a lot of musicians on tour and off tour, as well. And whenever there are Finnish musicians in the same city, they tend to meet. And the Paradise Lost guys are old friends of Amorphis. I guess that it was some natural kind of progression because we weren’t actively looking for a drummer. We were – I don’t know ….hm, actually it’s a blurr like … after the first gigs and until the Tuska live album came out, it’s blurr. I don’t, think we would … of going to practise. But we never got it done. And suddenly we had a date for the live album to come out. The guy who is actually now our gig-booking manager works for Svart records, well Svart music actually, but anyway. I have no idea what I’m talking. It was …” It seems to me, the course of events was so overwhelming – apparently not only to Kalle Mattsson – that details lost their importance compared to the result of reviving the band of their youth time again. I remember similar passages from other interviews I read before meeting Jukka. So I put together what he just said before:
“So it was no real looking for a new drummer but still you found him as he was close by anyway?”
“Yeah! It’s an accidental, perfect match sort of thing.”
“That usually is the best.” I underline. And he agrees. “Yeah. Yeah.”
Touring vs Day Jobs
“I think most of the things I wanted to ask, we have already been answered. But, will there be an Abhorrence and Amorphis joint tour?”
Damn I think. “I mean that would be amazing!”
He is very determined on that. But I don’t give up too easy: “What a pity!”
“I am quite certain. Well, the main reason is, the guys in our band all have a day job. We can’t do one and half months I’m not coming to work kind of thing. We loose our jobs. I mean, I guess we could, but then again. No, we can’t. Jussi works for a major newspaper; I am a freelancer, I mean. If I don’t go to work I don’t get money.“
“Yes, of course.” His voice gives away that there might be a little hope left:
“I mean, one of gigs, why not? But and there has been also talk about maybe doing some gigs with Tomi Joutsen’s Death Metal band, ahm, what was the name? It’s not Cannibal Accident …” his voice fades into searching his memory for the name. We both do – and I am horrible with names – a couple of seconds …
“Corps Molester ….” Slowly, I remember.
“Yes, Corpse Molester Cult, exactly. We booked a tour with Demilich and when we were on tour we realized, that they were a nice match, too. No whole tour. But part of the tour. you know …”
“A couple of weekend gigs?”
“Yeah, but it was a tour.” he points out laughing out loudly.
I had not meant to talk it down, so I hurried to say “Yes, yes indeed. It’s the only possible thing with day jobs.”
“Exactly. Exactly, yeah. It would have been nice to get them on board but it hasn’t happened. Maybe someday. Actually I haven’t managed to see them live. I missed them like three times. I mean missed as in, I think I am gonna go there tonight but then a couple of hours before something comes up.”
“Yeah., I wanna see them. I have heard recording but like I said, Death Metal really doesn’t anything to me unless it’s live, as live works better.”
I couldn’t agree more. “Live is always better. It makes all the difference.”
“To me, yeah. Especially in music like this. I mean even the technical bands if they just decide to rip like fuck all play the best gig ever, maybe one or two beers too much then it might be something really good. I don’t know.”
Recommendations for Nummirock
“Speaking of Nummirock to the end, is there any band you like to see yourself, anything you’d recommend to see?”
“Well, the thing is, I don’t think we have time. Because the way it looks now it’s going to be an in-and-out-kind of thing. We go there, we play, maybe eat and grab the beers and jump back into the car. But hm …I’ll be right back. I get something…” He leaves for half a minute to return with a magazine overviewing all upcoming festivals and their line-ups or at least the highlights of the line-ups. “We just got this. … It’s all festivals. They have the who’s-playing list. The thing is, I tend not to look, who is playing. Because if I know before hand I’m not going to see anything, I’d just be pissed. Or I am gonna be disappointed. I tend not to look at all.” With some quick glances, he checks the pages of the magazine until he finds the Nummirock section: ”Somewhere here. Ah. There. There are a few”, he mumbles more thinking than speaking. “Swallow The Sun, I mean”, rising his voice in a bit of a ironically sounding joy: “Ajattara”, comes then sighing and smiling. I have an idea at what he might be pointing, so I have to smile, too. “Yeah”, he confirms. And “Yes”, I add nodding. “It’s been ah … hm … Let’s say worrisome to follow their career. Pasi is such an unpredictable guy.”
“I’m very curious to get my own impression of the members of Ajattara on stage.” I actually read a lot about the vocalist but I need my own impression. So I am more than curious for their gig!
“Yeah, I mean, the Raikku, the drummer, our old drummer plays in Ajattara nowadyas.”
Here, I should mention that Jukka had asked me to send him my questions prior to the actual interview. But there are questions that require a more spontaneous reply to be authentic. And so I had kept this one question to myself so far, knowing it was for the fun of it. “Well there is one last question …”
“… that I had not send, if that’s ok?”
“More a funny thing …”
“If you could be a superhero …” He laughs out loudly again before I can finish my question.
“… who would you be and why do you identify with this particular one?”
“Well, one existing or one I just made up?” he replies smiling widely, still.
“Well, whichever you choose.” I say happily.
“Well I used to read a lot of comics.” Obviously I found another topic he likes.
“Really” and I think ‘strike’!
“Yeah, I had a lot of Marvel and so … I’d put it like this: I’d love to be Grey Hulk: The evil one, the super intelligent, evil Hulk! But then again there was this guy called Thanos. Do you know him?”
I shake my head – I actually never was much of a comic reader.
“He was a galactic ah I don’t even know he’s sort of eater of worlds.”
“Ok”, I say – this much for the bit pessimistic attitude of his, I think.
“And I don’t know, it was a huge story arch and he had glove with, I guess, four gem stones. And when you put those gems together, he could do anything. So he basically destroyed worlds with this hand …” He laughs again and adds: “That would be pretty good.” Somehow this will not match with my impression of this appealing man who has laughed and smiled so much today.
By then, he had taken his smart phone and made his way to the Nummirock line up as posted online. He reads out: “Hm, Psychework, … well there’s a funny band in Nummirock called Bob Malmström. It’s sort of …”
“They were touring in Germany with Stam1na lately, I think” – so at least I had come across the name before. “So you know the band?”
“Actually not. Because in my place, Stam1na still were touring with Eläkeläiset.”
“Ah ok. They’re sort of a hardcore band, punk. But the whole set up is they’re sort of high upper mid-class persons. So their songs are about, we have so much money we can have everything. It’s pretty funny. Even in interviews they have the same attitude. You know like: ‘I don’t understand why everybody hasn’t a BMW. You just go to the shop and buy one.” Laughing he picks a new highlight: “Ahhh, Huora, really good punk band. New. They just came out with the first album. I mean the band’s name is the Finnish word for whore. And they have a female front vocalist. But they’re really good. One of the latest major music magazines has a story on them.”
“OK”, I say and sigh inside myself, as I still have no appropriate Finnish skills that would enable me to read the article.
“They’re really good. There is the guy who did the live-album art work (for us). His cover band is playing in Nummirock, too. It’s called Kill With Cover.”
And once more I am confronted with one of these fully unexpected connections well hidden in the incredible depth of neuronal-like network called Finnish music scene. “Ah, yeah, I read the name.”
“Yeah, the Manowar cover band.”
“That’s gonna be fun to see.”
He nods but has processed in the line up already: “Hm, Eläkeläiset, of course”
“Always fun”, I have to agree.
“Well, I haven’t seen them in ages”, Jukka says staring at the display of his smart phone but then suddenly looking up and smiling: “But, we actually took part in their latest album.”
“Really?” I wonder but then it hits me as Jukka gestures playing a triangle “The triangle thing. One of 184 bands!” And he moves on on the line-up list “From The Void – that’s the doom band, yeah. There’s always something to see. Huora, Eläkeläiset, Ajattara, that’s it“, he says laughing.
I take my sheet of paper with the questions and check quickly. Nothing left to ask. So: “Thank you very much for this very unique interview – very interesting and a lot of fun!”
“Thank you. Thank you! Likewise.”
He shows me out, and we’re still talking. Somewhat later while leaving the building, I wonder what happened to my definite plan to make this interview considerably shorter than the last one. Well. It didn’t work, anyway so it makes no sense to linger on that, and to be honest: I wouldn’t miss a single second of it. I am very much looking forward attending the gig, he missed mentioning: His own gig. Perhaps this reflects the typical understatement I find so often here in Finland. Abhorrence will be, of course, one of my personal Nummirock-highlights.
Abhorrence – die Punk Death-Metaller der ersten Stunde brauchten einen guten Grund noch einmal anzufangen
Abhorrence hat es eigentlich nur ein Jahr lang zwischen 1989 und 1990 gegeben. Die Gruppe löste sich gerade auf, als ein Plattenvertrag winkte. Der Song, dem das zu verdanken war, nahm einer von ihnen mit in seine nächste Band und die ergatterte dann den Vertrag: der steile Aufstieg von Amorphis begann.
Abhorrence, das waren neben Tomi Koivusaari (Gitarre, heute: Amorphis), Jukka Kolehmainen (Vocals), Kimmo Heikkinen/Mika Arnkil (Drums, heute: Impaled Nazarene), Jussi Ahlroth (Bass) und Kalle Mattsson Gitarre). Als Musiker aktiv blieben auf Dauer nur Mika und Tomi, während die anderen heute z. B. im Medienbereich arbeiten. Kalle hatte sogar alle Gitarren zwischenzeitlich verkauft, wie Jukka erzählte.
Als ich las, dass Abhorrence in Nummirock auftreten würden, versuchte ich umgehend, ein Interview zu bekommen, und diesen Auftritt würde ich mir auch nicht entgehen lassen. Jukka stimmte einem Interview sofort zu und das sogar noch eine ganze Weile vor dem Festival. So trafen wir uns in einem Büro im Zentrum von Helsinki, wo mich ein ausgesprochen freundlicher Mann in stimmigem Retro-70er Jahre Outfit begeistert lächelnd willkommen hieß. Als bald waren wir nicht nur in den Büro-Sesseln, sondern auch im Gespräch versunken. Ich war mit dem festen Vorsatz gekommen, es kürzer zu machen als beim vorherigen Mal. Und weil ich so grandios an diesem Vorsatz gescheitert bin, müsst ihr meine verehrten deutschsprachigen Leser nun mit einer gekürzten Version Vorlieb nehmen. Jukka ist aber auch mit voller Leidenschaft dabei und fern davon dem Stereotyp des finnischen Schweigers entsprechen zu wollen.
Zu erst wollte ich mal wissen, wie es so ist, mit den doch überwiegend Freunden aus Teenager-Zeiten wieder auf der Bühne zustehen. Jukka berichtete, dass man sich außerhalb der Band ja nie aus den Augen verloren hatte und die legendären Geburtstagsfeiern von ihm und Tomi Koivusaari, sofern es die Amorphis-Tour-Aktivitäten zulassen, auch weiterhin jedes Jahr stattfinden. Und selbst, diejenigen, die sich länger nicht gesehen hätten, wären nach 10 Minuten oder so wieder am gleichen Punkt wie zu Teenager-Zeiten. Die Beziehungen zwischen den Bandmitgliedern seien eben noch die alten und eigentlich fühle er sich ja nun auch so gar nicht wie Mitte 40, sondern wie irgendwas in den 20ern. Da eigentliche Problem sei es, einen Termin zu finden, an dem man proben könne. „Jeder hat seinen Job, zwei von uns spielen gleich in mehr als einer Band, von denen jede tourt. Die Terminkalender sind einfach Wahnsinn“, sagt er.
Arbeiten mit den Profis damals und heute
Natürlich hat es in den inzwischen über 25 Jahren, seit Abhorrence das erste Mal aktiv waren, sehr viele Veränderungen im Musikbereich gegeben. Ich möchte wissen, was ihm da am ehesten auffällt. Begeistert berichtet er von der immensen Größe der Bühne von Tuska, von der sie mal eben nur so etwa ein Drittel mit der Band genutzt hatten. Auf der anderen Seite erörtert Jukka dann eine ganze Weile, wie groß der Unterschied zwischen den Auftritten damals in kleinen Jugendzentren und Sporthallen gegenüber den heutigen Clubs und Festivals ist. Überall gibt es heute professionelle Helfer, Manager und Tontechniker, und als Band würde man seiner Meinung nach ziemlich hofiert werden. „Wir kommen an den Ort, an dem wir spielen werden, und es ist alles, soweit es eben schon geht, vorbereitet. Der Rest wird dann aufgebaut und wenn was fehlt, dann sind sofort Leute da, die das besorgen oder organisieren. Das ist die größte Veränderung“, sagt er. Natürlich schweifen wir auch noch einen Moment schmunzelnd in die Zeiten ab, in denen neben den jugendlichen Musikern, auch die Veranstalter, Zuschauer und eigentlich jeder Beteiligte ziemlich betrunken war. Dennoch lief alles. Ich frage ihn, ob der „Sound Guy“ von damals, der normalerweise im Freundeskreis rekrutiert und ohne große Vorlaufzeit ans Mischpult gestellt wurde, nicht vielleicht doch auch den Vorteil hatte, dass er mehr von dem Geist rüber bringen konnte und wollte, den die Band auszeichnete. Jukka erzählt darauf hin von einem Gig im Lepakko, einem berühmten Club damals, in dem es einen angestellten und ausgebildeten Tontechniker gab. Dieser war vor allem verbittert, weil er es mit Leuten zu tun hatte, die seiner Ansicht nach unter seiner Würde waren. Auch wenn der sicher genau wusste, was Jukka wollte, als er um etwas mehr Hall auf seinem Mikro bat, nahm er einen Versprecher zum Anlass ihm wörtlich viel Echo zu geben, so dass Jukka sich den gesamte Gig über mehrfach selbst hörte. Heute sei das ganz anders. Die Tontechniker hätten in der Regel selbst Bands, oft aus dem gleichen Genre und wüssten genau, wie man klingen will und setzten das auch genauso um.
Teenager in 80er Jahre-Kutten
Ich möchte als nächstes wissen, ob es eine neue Generation von „Old School Death Metal“ Fans gibt und Jukka bestätigt das leidenschaftlich. Er träfe immer mehr jugendliche Fans, die mit Kutten aus den 80er und 90ern unterwegs seien, ganz so, als handle es sich um Erbstücke. Er erklärt mir dann, dass er oft drei Generationen von Fans sieht. Die seiner eigenen Altersklasse, welche bei einem Bier die Musik aus der Jugend hören wollen; die in den 30ern, welche mal mehr und mal weniger in die Musik abtauchen und schließlich die vielleicht nicht mal Volljährigen mit den Kutten, welche direkt vor der Bühne alles geben. Mit einer nicht zu ignorierenden Portion Stolz berichtet er dann von einem dieser Fans: „Ein Teenager kam nach dem Konzert zu mir und sagte: ‚Ich liebe es. Ich liebe es. Aber hei, du hast echt viel Text vergessen!’ Ich schau ihn an, und sage ‚Ernsthaft?’ Ich meine, er hatte ja recht. Aber … echt interessant“, sagte er dann noch lachend und schüttelt dabei den Kopf.
Wir driften wieder ein wenig ab. Die Entwicklung, die viele Death Metal Bands in den 90ern genommen haben, sagt ihm musikalisch wenig zu. Für um die 15 Jahre habe er nicht mal mehr Death Metal gehört, weil ihm die Leidenschaft fehlte, er sich nicht mehr angesprochen fühlte. Es sei, für seinen Geschmack, viel zu sehr darum gegangen einfach nur noch zu zeigen, wie verdammt gut man mit seinem Instrument sei. Das Herzblut sei dabei auf der Strecke geblieben. Ihnen in der Band sei auch erst in den letzten Jahren bewusst geworden, dass sie ja eigentlich Punk spielten, Punk Death Metal. Es käme nicht darauf an, jede Note sauber zu treffen oder jede Silbe des Textes zu bringen. Es ginge eben darum, voll und ganz bei der Sache zu sein. Später habe er dann mit einem Album von Gregor MacKintosh (Paradise Lost) wieder Zugang zum Genre gefunden, vor allem weil er alte Ideale darin wieder verwirklicht fand und die ihn einnahmen.
Skepsis und Bob Horrence
Wir wechseln zur Frage, wie es Abhorrence wieder auf die Bühne verschlagen hat. Ich erinnere mich, dass Jukka an anderer Stelle erwähnt hatte, dass er zeitgleich mit Svart Records daran gearbeitet hatte, die alten Songs auf Vinyl wieder herauszubringen. Somit war dann auch ein Grund gefunden, die Band wieder zusammenzutrommeln und wieder live zu spielen: die Platte zu bewerben. Kalle schaffte sich – aller eigenen Skepsis zum Trotz – wieder eine Gitarre an und war erstaunlich schnell nicht nur wieder sehr gut im Spielen, sondern Feuer und Flamme. Die Skepsis jedoch blieb bei allen, wie ich zwischen den Zeilen heraus höre. Jedoch hatte Jukka über all die Zeit immer eine schlichte Homepage für die Band gehabt und Seiten in Facebook und Myspace. Dort waren jedes Jahr wieder einige Anfragen aufgelaufen, was es bräuchte, um Abhorrence wieder auf die Bühne zu holen. Scheinbar gab es also doch ein Publikum. Unter dem falschen Namen „Bob Horrence“ traten sie dann in einem Club in Helsinki auf. Und während allen voran Kalle noch immer fürchtete, dass sie sich bis auf die Knochen blamieren würden, sammelte sich dort ein beachtliches Publikum. Der Club muss ziemlich voll gewesen sein und das Publikum am Ende begeistert. Schmunzelnd frage ich, ob das für Kalle überwältigend war: „Ja, ja. Er konnte es nicht glauben. Auch nicht, als er es sah. Er fragte immer noch, ob das Publikum echt ist und was wir hier eigentlich tun würden?“ Ich frage dann, ob die gemeinsamen Auftritte im Rahmen der 2010er Jubiläumstour von Amorphis auch eine Rolle gespielt hatten. Und Jukka bestätigt, dass es vermutlich vor allem für Jussi und Tomi, die gemeinsam „Vulgar Necrolactry“ spielten, einiges ins Rollen gebracht haben dürfte. Auf eine gemeinsame Tour beider Bands dürfen wir dennoch nicht hoffen, auch wenn vielleicht ein paar gemeinsame Gigs am Wochenende denkbar wären. Mehr ist mit den normalen Jobs der nicht-Amorphis-Musiker schlicht nicht vereinbar.
Waltteri Väyrynen – der neue Drummer
So wechseln wir zur Banddynamik, die offenbar nach all den Jahren noch ziemlich die gleiche ist, sieht man davon ab, dass man mit Waltteri jetzt einen sehr jungen Schlagzeuger hat, der aber sehr gut in die Band passt. Eigentlich hatte man nach Raikku Tuomikanto, der jetzt bei Ajattara spielt, gar nicht wirklich nach einem Drummer gesucht. Aber da sich Tomi und Waltteri kannten, ergab es sich dann doch irgendwie. Und da man sowohl weitere Auftritte plant, als auch für die Zukunft neue Stücke nicht ausschließen möchte, wurde Waltteri auch als Bandmitglied aufgenommen. „Wir lieben seinen Sinn für Ästhetik, wenn es um seine Art zu spielen geht“, berichtet Jukka fasziniert. Klar, er könnte leicht der Sohn der anderen Bandmitglieder sein, aber er sei das ja auch von seinen anderen Bands kaum anders gewohnt und so füge er sich wunderbar in die Band ein. Und schon driften wir wieder ab und stimmen darin über ein, dass letztlich der Live-Auftritt einer Band den Unterschied macht. Nur dort kann man erleben, wie die Band wirklich ist, wie ihre Musik wirklich ist.
Jukkas Empfehlungen für Nummirock
Und so habe ich dann die perfekte Überleitung nach ein paar Empfehlungen für Nummirock zu fragen. Er blättert in einer Zeitschrift, die die Line Ups der wichtigsten Finnischen Rock- und Metal Festivals zusammengefasst hat. „Ajattara“, liest er vor. Dabei klingt seine Stimme ein wenig ironisch. Er grinst, als ich sage, dass ich sie unbedingt endlich live sehen will. „Ja. Pasi [Koskinen] ist schon immer etwas unvorhersehbar gewesen. Daher habe ich die Entwicklung der Band immer mit etwas Sorge beobachtet“, erklärt er, stimmt mir aber zu, dass man sie auf jeden Fall gesehen haben sollte. Er macht eine Pause, so dass ich denke, dass er mit seinen Empfehlungen schon durch ist. Und ich setzte zur letzten Frage. Ich komme nicht weit. Als das Stichwort ‚Superhelden’ fällt, lacht er schon und erklärt, dass er immer gerne und viel Comics gelesen habe. „Marvel und so. Ich sage es mal so: Ich wäre liebend gerne Grey Hulk, der Böse. Der super intelligente böse Hulk!“ erläutert er sehr amüsiert. Doch es kommt noch mehr. „Aber dann gab es da ja auch noch Thanos. Kennst du den?“ Ich bin nicht so tief in der Materie, muss ich gestehen. Also, nein. Er erklärt kurz den Charakter und wie dieser mit Hilfe eines mit Juwelen besetzten Handschuhs ganze Welten im Handstreich zerstören kann. „Das wäre ziemlich gut“, grinst er und tippt auf seinem Handy herum, wo er inzwischen eine Gesamtübersicht des Nummirock-Lineups gefunden hat. Lachend empfiehlt er Bob Malmström, die ihre eigene Idee von Punk leben. (Einige werden sie kennen, da sie kürzlich mit Stam1na in Deutschland tourten.) Eläkeläiset sei natürlich auch immer einen Besuch wert. Oh und dann gäbe es da diese recht junge Hardcore Punk Band, Huora, die gerade in einer der großen finnischen Musikzeitschriften mit einem umfangreichen Artikel vorgestellt werden. Dann empfiehlt er noch die Manowar-Cover Band „Kill With Cover“ bevor wir unsere derweil fast einstündige Unterhaltung beenden. Es hat uns beiden Spaß gemacht. Und im Gehen freue ich mich schon riesig auf einen Cappuccino, bei dem ich noch mal alles Revue passieren lassen kann, aber noch mehr den Auftritt von Abhorrence bei Nummirock.
Repost from obscuro.cz, minor edits, photos taken Nummirock 2017