Metal Invader does never hide its soft spot for the metal underground. One of the bands that thrilled us the year that passed was the Finn Pagan/blacksters Havukruunu and that was imprinted at the yearly editor’s pole. In order to have a complete aspect of this highly promising band, we contacted with the soul of the band, Stefan.
Hi Stefan! Ensinnäkin,esitelkää itsenne metalifaneille. (First of all, introduce yourselves to metal fans.)
We are Havukruunu from the finnish woodlands, and we play furious Heavy Metal with the sound of winter in our voices.
As I know, you were formed in between 2004 and 2005, but you Stefan were the only member of the band. The year 2013 was the point of your first release. Tell us about this period of 10 years.
We did release some demos, and an EP of sorts during that period, but I view them not relevant for Havukruunu. Much of this time I was just feeling incompetent as a musician and a sound engineer, so I chose not to release much of my work. Also in 2007 I recorded stuff with “Joonas” who did play guitar and bass at least on a few songs, and composed a few songs with me.
That is correct. I chose the name, as it was more representative of all monikers we ever had. I spent most of my life basically in the middle of the woods, so naturally that still influences everything I do. The Coniferous Crown is a sign of my kind, those who feel the seasons in their very bones, and hear the thoughts and woe of this earth.
You have already released two demos and during last year one EP, a single and of course your full length album “Havulinnaan”. Tell us about all these releases!
The demo, Metsänpeitto was recorded in spring of 2013, and it was basically Humö kicking the whole band active again. I was happy with creating music for myself, but he pushed the whole thing further. I think the songs are really great, and basically the sound is fairly good. Only critique from my side is that the whole thing feels unbalanced, and my performances were kind of sloppy. But, that aside, it has a nice outdoor feeling to it. Usvakuningas was recorded in the autumn of 2014, this time I performed everything myself. I guess the idea was to end the autumn that Metsänpeitto was. Rautaa ja Tulta naturally being the winter. Also, I performed the EP by myself, encouraged by the positive feedback that Usvakuningas got. I’m really proud of what the result was, although I had to cut it down from ten songs to six. But I’m now finishing those songs for a possible CD-release. Verta, tulta ja kuolemaa was recorded to give the newfound audience of Havukruunu a sign of appreciation. I intend to do this from time to time, if I have songs such as this that don’t fit the “bigger picture” of an album or an EP. After this, I started recording the debut album Havulinnaan. I also asked Humö for his participation, but due to our personal, busy circumstances he got to do vocals only on “Uni kuin Unho” and backing vocals for “Kuvastaja”. All of the releases have been recorded at the same location, with whatever recording equipment I got lying around. I’m pretty sure that the recording facilities will be the same for some time. Also about Humö’s participation, I’m pretty sure he will have more prominent roles from now on. So no one officially quit the band, just for the record.
Actually, it was 50 digipacks and 250 jewel cases, so the total pressing was 300 copies. You have been misinformed, it seems. The digipack edition is already sold out, and I’m not sure how much of the jewel cases there are left. I don’t really care about sales or fame. When all copies are sold, we will probably do another pressing.
Generally, your lyrical themes are about darkness, loneliness, sadness, winter, Finnish paganism. Would you like to say some more things about lyrics?
I’d really not discuss the content of the lyrics, as they will have multiple meanings to whomever reads them. But it’s not hard to figure out where the inspiration lies, I mean, I don’t just think to myself that writing about loneliness or sadness would do cool lyrics, right? That’s why I write the other things for, though they all tie together.
Are you thinking about English lyrics so as more and more guys understand what you want to say?
I am working on translations of the lyrics, in a way that they are not so much literal translations, as poetic translations, which convey the meaning of the lyrics properly to our non-finnish speaking audience. At this point I have not thought about writing in English, as I feel the edgy and raw timbre of my native language suits the music better. I’m not saying that we will not ever write in English, though.
Do not hold your breath on getting the translations anytime soon, though we have a lot of things to do.
What is your opinion about paganism? Anyone can say that (despite the fact that he/she knows Finnish or not) the atmosphere of “Havulinnaan” is full of pagan elements and characteristics.
The “Pagan” atmosphere is kind of coincidental. The inspirations lie in sources so primeval and mythical, that it is inevitable for the music to carry this atmosphere. And yet, it is deliberate; I tend to write music that way by my nature, and write lyrics in a kind of old-fashioned language, which probably helps with the association with heathen elements. The “Pagan” part is who we are, and how do we view our existence related to our surroundings.
Do you organize something specific for promoting not only your full length album but also your whole releasing activity (because your first ones aren’t in a CD/LP format)?
Nothing special… Facebook is handy in promotion, as much as it is handy in wasting your time on pure nonsense. I believe a big part of this, is the metal audience who swiftly share to likeminded people what they believe is worthy. I was, and still am overwhelmed by this, we couldn’t have reached this many people on our own.
The song “Leikio” was released via bandcamp in September. This song doesn’t exist at any of your previous releases. What is this song about? Are you going to include it in one of your future albums?
It’s a song, that we felt was not suitable to include in any album, but we chose to release it the same way as “Verta, tulta ja kuolemaa”. As a sign of appreciation to people who care about what we do. Maybe someday we will put out a compilation of these “singles” and unreleased songs that have the same fate of not fitting thematically on our albums.
Last April, you were signed in a German label (Naturmacht Productions). Finland is one of the specialists in this kind of music, so, why did you choose such a label and you don’t prefer one of your country;
The thing is that you don’t get to choose labels very often. Also, I have the impression that elsewhere in Europe people are more willing to take risks. We aren’t exactly black metal, we are not a folk metal band that will sell a lot of albums and tour with stupid costumes on (except badass armor) and play on fucking accordions and shit, we are not a traditional metal band that is willing to let anyone mold our “image” or output to a more profitable style (or print lame sparkly wolf t-shirts…) We would be a risk for more contemporary labels, and not enough black metal, or “evil” for black metal labels. What struck us with Naturmacht, was the fact that they were willing to accept us as we are, and to give us full artistic freedom and an option to do our thing with a low profile.
Havukruunu, mainly, is a studio band and till now there are no live performances. Is there any thought of addressing yourselves to this important chapter; Are you planning anything for the future;
Not really, for this to happen we need to find people with dedication to it. I have high standards of musical abilities for anyone to join us on live events, so it’s kind of hard to make it happen. Also, we both somewhat dislike playing live, due to the fact that it’s boring for a whole night, exciting for half an hour, or so, until it gets even more boring after the performance part. I am not against it in any way, though, but we will have to wait for the right circumstances and right people who we can work with.
For starters, you really should not compare yourself to anyone else. The best recipe for survival is to be honest, original and really good in what you do. I don’t really give a fuck about being famous, or renowned, I just need to do this, you know?
You are coming from Hausjärvi, which is a small municipality of almost 9000 people. What difficulties may a band face while living there (or in such an underpopulated area)?
The fact that I didn’t really have any friends interested in music was a difficulty. It forced me to do these things on my own and learn how to play drums and recording techniques. In a way, it wasn’t as much of a difficulty but a challenge that I needed to overcome. Difficulties depend greatly on your point of view. I could have just given up and started playing ice hockey or something, you know.
“Pagan/Viking Black Metal” is your genre. Do you believe that labels in metal must exist or are there just for marketing purposes?
Labeling music is necessary for the audience to find the artists they like, but for me personally labels and subgenres do not matter much. Kraftwerk sounds like Kraftwerk and Slayer plays Slayer. If you sit down and think like “I’m going to create some suicidal depressive blackened death rock like this and that band” it’s going to be unoriginal very quickly. What I set out to do in my teens, was to form a band with identity, only Havukruunu’s identity became to be pretty much my musical identity. But anyway, the goal is to sound like the artists that I like, and yet not sound like anyone else at all. I don’t mind the “Pagan Black Metal” label, it’s pretty much accurate, but if you would ask me to categorize Havukruunu, I’d say just Heavy Metal.
Do you know anything about the Greek metal scene;
I know Necromantia and Ravencult (I like what they do, not a huge fan though). I’m not good at these questions, as I am really picky when it comes to metal in general. “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well you deserve.”
Do you believe that Greek bands can compose black metal? Someone may support that there are no feelings, no emotions, no mentality to cope with this kind of music.
On the contrary, it’s has no relevance where are you from. If you feel it, you feel it. Of course your surroundings make it sound different from bands doing it in a different country, and I think it’s a great thing. The fact we have this huge spectrum of cultures all around the world to draw from just makes this thing stronger.
Viimeinen kysymys! Minkalaisena näette blackmetallin ja metallimusiikin yleensä tulevaisuuden? (One last question! How can you imagine the future of black metal and generally of metal music?)
I imagine metal to repeat itself in cycles. Every once in a while someone gets something new into it, but I see that it has come to its conclusion already, a long ago. I’d also imagine it for new bands to “make it” becoming harder and harder, until the old ones eventually fall, and then there’s more than enough bands to “take their place.” I don’t think about this much, though.
Ok Stefan, loppu! Kiitos! Voitte pudottaa esiripun!
Thank you for your interest in Havukruunu! All the best for METAL INVADER!