Interview with Jukka Kyrö and Ilkka “Ile” Järvenpää
6th April 2018
Interview by Hayduke X
I’ll admit it. I had never heard of National Napalm Syndicate until quite recently. More’s the shame really, as they have been around as far back as 1986. More to the point, they absolutely rip. Guitarist Jukka Kyrö and vocalist Ilkka “Ile” Järvenpää were kind enough to answer some questions for me via email. Give them a read below.
Your new album Time is the Fire is due out in May. What can we expect?
Jukka: A new fresh take on the thrash metal. We wanted to expand the concept a bit this time. We have keyboards adding some atmosphere and some progressive elements as well. The new lineup is amazing to work with. We can do stuff that we couldn’t do before.
Ile: An interesting metal album, which mixes elements of thrash, classic heavy metal, and prog rock.
Tell me about the creation process of the album (writing, recording, production). Are you guys happy with the end result?
Jukka: It was a long process this time. I think the first demos were made something like three years ago. We went through two drummers during the demoing. Finally we found Ville and could complete the tracks. The total number of songs was near 30, I believe. Then we started the editing and working on the arrangements, etc. We recorded 14 of those during the last year. We used the ZR-Studios this time. Our buddies from Zenith Reunion own the place.
Ile: If you want to know about the songwriting, all except for one track and Overkill-cover was written by Jukka and me. Jukka wrote the music, I wrote lyrics and melodies to his finished songs. Ken tästä käy was written by Niko and me. Ville wrote the Hanging gardens, which is a two minute musical piece. Ville and our producer Jeesus Jokikokko also had a big say on arranging the songs.
The first video you released for the album is for Bringer of Pain. The lyrics are a pretty harsh criticism of modern society. One line reads, “That day is getting nearer.” What day are you referring to?
Ile: Lyrics go “That day is getting nearer, all you can do is slither”. I mean that someways we are getting closer to a totalitarian state, where individuals are basically crushed.
The second video is for Kuolema, a track sung in your native Finnish. On your Facebook page, you introduce it with some strong words about the current Finnish government. Fill us in on the situation for those of us not in Finland.
Jukka: That was my idea. I wanted to say something about the situation. Finland is going down, unemployment is high, poor get poorer,nobody seem to care about old people anymore. Half of the Finnish politicians are borderline nazis and rest are just there for the paycheck. The prime minister is a religious asshole, a complete idiot. Probably one of the most hated politicians ever in Finland. A millionaire making money for his own companies and relatives. I hate them all equally. Finland is half dead. Kuolema means death. I’m only speaking for myself here. The others might have a different view on things. I am a pessimist and old enough to see when people get screwed big time.
Along with Kuolema, you also include Ken tästä käy saa kaiken toivon heittää in your native language. Why did you decide to include tracks in Finnish this time around?
Jukka: Some things just work better in Finnish. It’s our native tongue and it’s very expressive in certain subjects.
Ile: Working title for the album was Kuolema (death in Finnish). I asked guys what they would think if I wrote the lyrics in Finnish. If it sucks, I can write new lyrics in English. I didn’t want to use easy cliches while I wrote about dying. So I think writing in Finnish was a nice challenge to try, because for me writing in Finnish was actually more challenging than it is in English. I guess it turned out ok, because guys asked me to write lyrics to another in Finnish too (Ken tästä käy).
The final track on the album is a cover of Overkill’s Blood and Iron. What drew you to this track?
Jukka: It’s one of my favorite tracks from my youth. We were always huge Overkill fans since the Feel The Fire album. It just felt natural to do it. Besides Ilkka’s voice fit the Blitz vocals pretty well.
Ile: There is also a special guest on that one. Markus Makkonen from our buddies Sadistik Forest does the awesome death metal growls on that one.
The album cover is an amazing piece done by Juha Vuorma. How did that all come about? How does the cover represent the album?
Jukka: Juha is our original bass player and a magnificent artist. He has done almost all of our t-shirts and a few album covers as well. Even our logo is his design. We have the intro on the new album Pig Moon Rising. That pretty much paints the soundscape for the cover. If you look closely at the painting, you can see the abbey from our first album burning on the background. The artwork represents the whole concept of the album. Winter, anti-religion, a need for a change.
Twice the band has broken up, only to come back. What brought the band back each time?
Jukka: First time we broke up was because we were just kids and we had to move to different parts of Finland for whatever reasons, schools etc. The rehearsing and songwriting just became too difficult to do. Second time, we just started to get each other nerves and the lineup just didn’t work. We regrouped the second time because we wanted to play some festivals and wanted to try if we could write new music. Now we have some new guys in the band and everything is going smoothly, no alcohol problems or other classic bullshit.
How has the band evolved from doing covers to the complex, multifaceted thrash act you are now?
Jukka: When we started it was a necessity to play covers, but very soon we wrote our first own songs and got our first recording contract. Now with the new album we have in my opinion reached the high point so far with the music and all around craftsmanship. It took some lineup changes, but it was worth it in the end.
What touring plans do you have? Will we be able to catch you outside of Finland? Any festival appearances in the works?
Jukka: We are planning, we’ll have to see what kind of reception the album gets. Of course we will tour outside Finland, if the opportunity rises.
Ile: We want to play live as much as we can. Nothing is certain at this stage, but like Jukka said, playing outside of Finland is what we are aiming to do, so hopefully something comes out of that. So promoters feel free to book us!
What’s next for the band?
Jukka: Hopefully some touring and I think that we will start demoing new songs this autumn. I have a lot already written and I know Niko has some thrashers as well.
Ile: We also have an actual music video coming out to a song called Original Sin. It is almost ready and should come out before the release of the album.
What else should we know about National Napalm Syndicate?
Jukka: I believe that with the new album, we have outdone everything we’ve done before. Maybe we have written songs which reach out to other metal genres as well. So check the album.
Many thanks for your time, is there anything else you would like to add?
Jukka: Keep on buying music, support the underground.