Hello Olli, I hope things are going well for you and Amorphis. Congratulations on your new album “Halo”.
Thank you very much, we ‘re doing all right. Just like calm before the storm though. We are anticipating for the upcoming touring on April and start rehearsing the tracks from our new album.
Although you ‘ve been all the way through from Progressive/Death/Doom Metal to Melodic/Heavy Metal and Rock music paths, you still manage to maintain your unique and characteristic sound.
How easy or difficult is to create and hold on to this personal sound?
I think it all starts from songwriting as we have quite recognizable composers in the band, so you always can tell that this is an Amorphis song, even from the arrangements on the tracks. It derives from the riffs, the melodies and production as well from the quality of production. We ‘ve been doing this for more than 20 years already so we know how to compose, let along the chemistry within the band which is great both in mental and composing level.
What does the title of your new album stands for?
Well, “Halo” stands for the sun. Pekka (main lyricist) wanted the cover art as well to deal with life and death. So, the cover artist came up with the contrast of light and darkness, which is basically the moon and sun. It’s like the circle of life (when someone is born, another is dying) and a title of one of the album’s tracks. Easy and rememberable name for an album after all.
“On the Dark Waters” music video was recently out! Great work btw. Do we get there a glimpse of Finnish mythology? What’s the song and its video all about?
The lyrics are dealing with Pekka’s personal life, thoughts, feelings and ideas, but also with more diverse situations that anyone can relate with at the end of the day. This is great you know. Generally, of course, as you can tell, our lyrics are inspired also by Finnish culture, mythology and folklore because that’s our origins, what we ‘ve been taught at school. It’s part of our identity.
Tell us a bit more about “Halo”. What about the writing procedure this time?
We are writing separately, composing at home, not as a band anymore. It used to be like that (in person) during the 90s’ when we had more time and no families. We ‘ve spend all the time at the rehearsing studio. Nowadays things are different, we tour a lot, we ‘ve got families and some of as different projects. New technology also helped with that alternative approach of songwriting. Many albums are done mostly at home. After “Queen of Time” we started writing this way and it worked. The credits in composing can be split in “Halo” equally between Esa and Santeri. Tomi also wrote a song which is “My name is Night”, the last song of the album, that is probably my favorite one.
How it is to work with such a demanding producer (I’m referring to Jens Bogren)?
It was easier this time, I mean we didn’t meet that much in person [laughter]. Last time we had to go in Sweden and record our parts there. This time we stayed in Helsinki and recorded the whole album in a studio here. He’s really a great guy and he’s doing great job for Amorphis, he is really strict and demanding, he sets high standards you know. Well that changed my personal standards as well, it was challenging by all means.
Do you have any favorite songs from “Halo” and what makes them special for you?
I would say the opening track, “Northwards”, which gives you the great picture of the album in total. It also has great variety of riffing and melodies. I like also the “Moon”, the first single to be released, written by Santeri, that is really a catchy one, as it has as well some funky based parts. Last but not least as I’ve already mentioned is “My name is Night”.
We ’ve talked a bit about Covid, but would you like to tell us how is the current situation in your country, and how it affects the bands in general?
The situation is still kind of bad for the whole country. And I guess it’s everywhere quite the same. All tours are postponed, I’m not sure though about the States, I think live shows are currently permitted there. Things are getting better though cause we ‘ve got monetary support and we ‘ll see how it goes. We are able to do some gigs at least, but last year we did thirteen shows or so. Nevertheless, we did some club shows and participated to some fests, but still it’s been pretty bad. Well, still is common sense to understand that it’s a pandemic we ‘re talking about we have to be careful and patient.
Are there any plans for live performances or everything is once again postponed or on hold?
We ‘re starting the “Halo” tour in North America on April, it will last one month. Then we ‘re heading for some summer festivals in Finland and in Europe generally. We have also some plans for fall, some upcoming tours that I cannot reveal yet.
Any chance to see you guys in Greece?
That’s what I’m wishing for, ‘cause I haven’t been there since the 80s’ (especially to Crete).
Everything has been changing so fast in the past few years, especially in music. It would be really exciting to come over and play for you guys. I really hope that we will manage to do it with “Halo” album.
Would you give a piece of advice to all new bands out there, having Amorphis as turning point in their sound?
It’s really important to follow your instincts and play from the heart trying to be as original as possible. You should be determined in any way. Don’t give up and keep on doing what you love. That’s how we did it. We wanted to create something of our own, our unique musical style and the next key point was never giving up, because there will always be good times and hard times in music business. It’s like a roller coaster, not always easy and fun.
Having started around late 80’s-early 90’s, I’m wondering how different things were back then?
Do you think that metal community nowadays has changed significantly and in which ways?
It was different cause metal music itself changed significantly over times. At first, we ‘ve got traditional heavy metal, then there was speed/ thrash metal/ death metal. Nowadays though there is no longer as much innovation as there used to be until early 90s’. Well, 90s’ started out being a blast for new bands but turned out to be a complete nightmare because metal music started to fade. Many bands split up back then and others tried to change their style to please the media and the fanbase.
A 25-year-old reader of our webzine (Metal Invader) send us an email referring to you guys, telling us that Amorphis is “the first band added to the Metal Archives”. Is it true? I mean are you aware of it?
I ’ve never heard about it to be honest! Apart from the alphabetical order I cannot tell why and whether is true or not.
Any last thoughts or special message that you want to address to your fans in Greece?
Stay patient, Amorphis someday will perform live in Greece too. Keep reading Metal Invader and see you hopefully on tour! Stay healthy!
Thank so you so much for your time and this interview.
Thank you too Penny, take care!