Heart of Steel: Interviews


Interview with Marco "Jarkka" Jarvenpaa
Vocalist of Maple Cross

Interview by Arto Lehtinen

Maple Cross being one of the old crossover thrash bands from the frontline of the Finnish metal scene of the 80's have undergone a long way from the good old day till now. Despite a massive scale of gigs behind and recorded demos in a row, Maple Cross didn't manage to find a suitable label to co-operate, instead the pentad went on by financing the first full length albums from their own pockets. As usual unexpected things happened causing the split up of the band for years until the front man decided to resurrect the old band from the ashes with the new line-up. In the interview the whole history of Maple Cross has been covered with the vocalist of Maple Cross. When checking out the official site of Maple Cross, all the old demo tapes have been launched for the free downloading.. Enjoy…


Good day, what's up in the cold north? Is there damn cold here, freezing my ass to the ground! The iced earth indeed…hahah

Good day, or should I say, morning since itīs 3am. Nah, it ainīt cold, only -22C and I kinda like the cold weather unlike some old bastards who still has nightmares about a place called Kemi, heh heh or am I wrong? On the other hand Iīve been pretty busy with work lately and since itīs only me who takes care about running the steady ship of Maple Cross you can imagine I havenīt been spending too much time in nature. I still havenīt had time to ski or skate so, thereīs still something to look forward to this winter.

 

Maple Cross, having been around since the late 80s, have undergone some major changes, opportunities and even a break up. Now recently you've made a return to the limelight. However Maple Cross is basically an old band, could you shed some light on the historical background of the band as most of the readers may not be aware of the band's past and how everything started in the first place and so on…

13 witchesOrigins of Maple Cross go all the way back to 1985. The first line-up was: Marko Siekkinen (guitar), Ville Hyry (drums), Ilkka Heino (guitar), Mika Karppinen (bass) and Petri Puolitaival (vocals). At the time we were called Ace. In 1988 when the first demo, "Sacred To The Memory Of Ace", was recorded I was asked to step in and take the vocal duties since Petri didnīt feel like shouting. The name was changed to Maple Cross and we decided to release the demo even though it didnīt represent the style we were heading for. After all these years Iīm not sure we did the right thing, because we really donīt and never did regard it as Maple Cross release, but what is done is done. We started to write new material right there and then and the very same year we released our "second" demo "Thirteen Witches...But One Of Them". That one gave people the right idea what we were all about and thatīs why we were so eager to get it out of our systems. While recording that one we realized we werenīt a complete band yet and that we really needed to replace our bass player. It didnīt take us too long to replace Mika since Nico was ready to step in. The way we see it this is the original line-up: Marco(vocals), Ilkka(guitar), Marko(guitar), Nico(bass) and Ville(drums). With that line-up we recorded 5 demos: "Sacrificed Humanity", "The Fourth And Last", "5th for us", "Uncontrolled art" and the one I like to call the masterpiece and fittingly named "Cool Maggots". To me that was the pinnacle of our career back then. We also recorded our debut album called "The Eighth Day Of Creation" with that line-up in 1992, I think. Lots of great memories, but at the same time blank spots upstairs, heh heh... I just canīt remember everything and thereīs no need to since Iīm not in a retirement home yet.

 

The first Maple Cross demo was done in '88 under a different moniker when you weren't involved in the band as a main screamer. You jumped into the vocalist shoes for the second demo entitled "Thirteen Witches…And One Of Them" and continued for the second one titled "Sacrificed Humanity", but how did you get hooked up to become the MC vocalist ?

Well, Me, Ville, Ilkka and Marko were best friends at the time and we were always hanging out at someone's home listening to latest metal albums. We shared the same vision how we would like to write music and especially metal. I was in another band singing hard rock tunes and I can honestly say I didnīt enjoy that at all, it was a nightmare for me. Guys were stuck with a singer who, if I may say so, was a complete glam faggot and that is an understatement to be honest with you. So, you can imagine what we were talking about all the time. Eventually someone just suggested that we should join our forces and it just hit us, why the hell didnīt we think that before. There we were bitching about our bands and the answer was right in front of us, heh heh. Anyways, we decided to do it even before guys went to studio to record the "Sacred To The Memory Of Ace", but as you know we were young guys just starting out back then and they didnīt have the balls to tell Petri he is out. Itīs kinda funny since I was always hanging out their rehearsal place and when Petri wasnīt there I was singing those songs. I think if it wasnīt for our roadie Sami I might still be circling around Petri and looking for the right time to steal the mic from him, since it was he who broke the silence and told us to get on with it and tell him what weīve been planning all a long. To be honest, at the time I felt terrible and I didnīt say a word to Petri, but he took it like a man and just wished me luck. How things have changed...

 

 

Then came The Fourth And The Last demo being one of my personal fave demos from that era. In my opinion you managed to capture the real aggressive tempo mixed up with the weird sounding instruments involved. Did you basically have a more aggressive style on the fourth demo as sometimes it has funk elements and then you let hell break loose?!

As you can imagine our musical tastes evolved as the time went by. I, for example, started to listen to bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. at the age of "ZERO" I think. I canīt even remember when I picked up Heavy Metal, but my parents have told me that when I got my first Iron Maiden tape I spend all my waking hours listening to that so, that has got to be before I started the first grade, but as I said Iīm not sure. I was hungry for metal all the time, more brutal the better. So, I went from Iron Maiden to bands like Venom, SLAYER, Metallica etc. and at the time we recorded "The Fourth And The Last demo" I was heavily into Death Metal and bands like Obituary, Death, Possessed and bands like that influenced me and the rest of the gang more and more. Of course we still listened to those "old" heroes of ours and basically we just evolved together with our listening habits. I donīt want to forget Voi Vod since theyīve always been one of my fave bands and still are. So, we really didnīt think we should be more aggressive, it just happened naturally and thatīs the way itīs always been with this band, but you are right, we did create some weird stuff with that one and at the same time we let all hell break loose. I remember when we got out of the studio I was bit confused if we had created a winner or a loser. The studio session was a total hell for me since everything else took more and more time I was left with only few hours to do the vocals and as youīve probably noticed I had written some pretty fucked up and weird vocal melodies (if you can call those vocals melodic, heh...) and to get those vocals right really took all my energy. After few days I realized that we did good and I can still be proud of what we created back then.

 

 

You used to create such complicated song structures by including various instruments (for example saxophone) to give a little bit extra vibes. To be honest, using that saxophone wasn't a common instrument in the 80's / 90's metal genre as brutal and nihilistic death metal had a dominating grip on metal at that time.. So where the heck did you make up an idea about using the saxophone after all?

Huh, I canīt remember how it started, but we really liked the idea right from the start. I donīt care what anyone thinks, but I like the sound of a saxophone, I always have and I always will! We first had those funky parts or rock parts, what ever you want to call them and we just played around with ideas what to do with them and I think thatīs where it came from. I think we just wanted to rebel against the metal scene at the time since we thought it was getting too main stream and by that I mean all the thrash and death metal bands who were playing it safe. We just hated that mentality!! We didnīt buy into thinking you should sound like this or that and you canīt possibly do something because it wasnīt brutal or true, oh how I hated those two little words back then. Time does heal or at least Iīm healed in a sense that Iīm willing to use the word brutal again. It was great while it lasted, but we knew all along we would drop them one day.

 

Can it be said that the defunct Faith No More was one of your main influences in the song writing in one way or another as I for one find some similarities? Or do you basically disagree with those FNM influences pointed out by me? In general are you able to name potential bands which could have and influenced and driven you to write and compose the material?

"It was never about following a lead of a particular band and it still isnīt, but more like realizing you could create something that was ours..."

In a way youīre right, but you could also mention bands like Voi Vod, Mercyful Fate, Venom, Infernal Majesty and tons more. It was never about following a lead of a particular band and it still isnīt, but more like realizing you could create something that was ours and those bands were great examples for us and still are. Back in those days I was always looking for something original and when I found something that was totally new and out of this world the feeling was indescribable, there just ainīt enough words to describe how I felt. So, you can imagine how I felt when someone came and told me thatīs how they felt about Maple Cross. As a metal fan I can understand the feeling, but that someone would get that out of the music we wrote was something else and what can you really say in a situation like that? Thanks man! Aaarghh, that would be the stupidest thing to say and to be honest those few times that has happened Iīve been speechless and those who know me can tell you it doesnīt happen too often. Anyways, you could also ad bands like Metallica, Slayer, Iron Maiden etc. to the list of bands who have shown us the way how to write good music.

 

 

As stated above, utter nihilistic brutal death metal was popular, did you ever think of changing the funkish thrashy style more into the deadlier approach? You would have turned your voice down as well as the guitar sounds?! Did you just want to focus on playing and doing what Maple Cross' sound was all about, like having complex, funk influenced songs with the aggressive delivery?

We never really thought about it since there was no need to do that. We were confident about our music, we got on really well with bands from different genres and what would have been the point since we were doing what we really wanted to do. You have to remember that on our own way we were a damn aggressive band especially when playing live and to be honest we really didnīt have too many funky parts, we used them only here and there. We were more like all around metal band and we didnīt limit ourselves into one metal style and if you dig deep enough you can hear we also had some punk and HC elements in our music and Iīm talking about real Punk and HC not this crap you hear nowadays wherever you turn. US punk bands are nowadays more like boy bands. I know there are real punk and HC bands in that beautiful and wonderful country called USA, but to be honest I couldnīt give a flying fuck.

 

 

Within the late 80's and especially the early 90's the band achieved a solid reputation for being a vital and energetic live band. MC could be testified in a number of metal events around Finland sharing the stage with black, death, speed, punk or whatever bands, obviously you had such good and reliable channels and contacts to gig organizations and to convince them to book gigs for you?

True, but we were also very active ourselves. We were always trying to put tours together even if it meant a 3 gig mini-tour. Actually we did one of those and it couldnīt have been booked any worse since we first played in Oulu, then the very next day we played in Turku and the third day we played in Ranua, which is even further up north than Oulu, needles to say after that experience we never let our drummer Ville book any of the shows for us. Even though that was insane it shows how eager we were to play live back then. We also received requests to play shows all the time and it got to the point where we could actually choose which ones we did. It was great and playing live is what makes the band tight as a unit both on and off the stage. We also got to meet great people and I still have few friends from those days, you know what I mean. We played everywhere in Finland and Iīm sure we played in most cities and if we didnīt play in some of them there was no point going there, heh heh.

 

 

As far as I am able to recall, the strongest area was definitely northern Finland territories  whereas the southern area was a little bit well by using the well known hockey term "in the offside"....how did the Southern crowd differ from the Northern one and where did you mostly receive more fanatical response?

True again! You are a smart man, Arto. You soft southern wankers werenīt really ready for something like Maple Cross, just kidding, heh heh. Thatīs obvious since we are from north and we played all over northern Finland all the time. People just got to see us more frequently and Maple Cross was really a house hold name in metal scene up here. Back then metal bands lived from the gigs, so to speak, and there wasnīt the internet to make promotion so easy. The more we played down south the more letters we received and more gig offers arrived at our doorsteps. It was always great to come down south since we never knew what to expect. There was always this feeling like going in to a battle and I can assure you we werenīt gonna take any prisoners. Those were the days my friend, heh heh.

 

 

In 1991 Maple Cross went thru a three gig mini tour with the anticipated Norwegian Black Metal combo Darkthrone. How did you fit in with them as they were widely known for their utter despise toward the thrash/speed metal crowd because of the stage diving and other related side things didn't belong to their way of thinking of how a metal gig should be?!

All I knew about them before those couple of gigs was the great Soulside Journey album. During the first soundcheck we realized what was coming musically and before the first gig those corpse paints appeared so, it was pretty obvious they were in the middle of the transition period. We got on really well and especially Fenriz was a great guy. They went everywhere with the corpse paints on and it was pretty funny to watch how people reacted when we went to a gas station to buy beer. Priceless!! Great memories indeed, but the one thing Iīll probably remember ītill the day I die is Fenriz standing in the middle of the audience nodding his head and watching us play, that was just out of this world, because he was the only one in the audience who had a corpse paint on, heh heh. So, if you were looking for stories how we fought etc. look somewhere else because there was no hatred between the two camps and I remember how Fenriz told me he was looking forward to playing those gigs with us and that he liked the music we were doing. So, there you have it, thrash and black metal bands do get along just fine if there ever was a doubt.

 

Soulside Journey represented technical death metal produced and carried out in the Sunlight Studio. Obviously you had a certain vision of them in advance, but did you somehow get surprised at finding out their radical changed look venturing more to the grim looking black metal style when the Norwegians landed at Finland?

You could say so, but since I donīt really care how people look or what they do I didnīt think about it too much. Thatīs what they wanted to do so all power to them and the radical change wasnīt bad really. They went from great band to even greater so, Iīm not complaining.

 

 

Were there ever any discussions with Darkthrone about arranging gigs for you and other Finnish thrashers Prestige in Norway, or were times so changed dramatically that you were kinda "out" in the promised land of Black Metal?

Not that I remember of, but probably because gig exchange was pretty usual back then. If I remember right, Prestige went to Norway one time. Örkki was the man with all the contacts back then and we have a lot to thank him for. He arranged quite many gigs for us and Prestige, but we also helped them over here in the north.

 

 

But was it basically an eccentric situation to play in front of more black metal devoted freaks back then?

We never really thought about it, but now that you mentioned it we might have been freaks of nature for some of them. Every time we just went out there to play the best gig we could and to give the best possible Maple Cross show wherever we played and to be honest we always received a great reception wherever we went.

 

 

The Danish thrashers Invocator were a more logical kindred spirit band to play gigs with you, criss crossing Finland as well as Denmark. How all the contacts were created to the Invocator guys, how did you get along with them on both the tours, in Finland and Denmark ?!

It was great touring with Invocator and we were damn excited to get the opportunity to play in Denmark, it was a big thing for us to play abroad. It was a great trip in every way, we got to play few gigs, beer was free and when itīs free a Finn never says no!! We were wasted after every show and we got to do this tour with our friends Prestige so, needles to say this oneīs been carved in the deepest dephts in my brain and will stay there forever. Thanks to Örkki and Invocator for putting the tour together. It was a great touring with Prestige and Invocator because everyone got along really well. I actually met Per Jensen (now with The Haunted) in Tuska last summer, but I canīt remember what we talked about because at that point I was hardly able to stand and soon after that meeting I passed out.

 

 

You had negotiations with a few record labels having expressed their interest in dealing with Maple Cross, but apparently the whole thing fell apart or then you got ripped off by them as you went on your own after all?!

Shit happens and Iīm sure we werenīt the only ones who had to deal with these scum. That whole thing made me very skeptical and in a way Iīm still the same. I donīt believe anything before I see it written down or I see it really happen. Anyways, it got to a point where I just didnīt believe anything that labels told us and we kinda felt we didnīt want to deal with them anymore. At first we thought we would just keep on recording demos and thatīs it, but we felt the material we had was just too good not to be recorded on album so, we just went and did it on our own. In a way it was a blessing in disguise, so to speak and nowadays when ever thereīs contractual talks or money involved Iīm very careful what I sign. Some might say that Iīm paranoid, but I canīt help it. Once I get to know the person who Iīm dealing with better and feel like I can trust them itīs totally different story and Iīm pretty flexible about everything. I just hate it when people try to take advantage of me, but somehow I donīt think Iīm the only one who feels that way.

 

 

The first full length output called The Eighth Day Of Creation was entire self financed album. How did you come up the idea in the first place to carry out the self financed album? Where did you get all the needed cash to carry out the album plans and how how many copies were printed originally and how did you promote it ?

After all the shit that happened we just thought, fuck it weīll do it anyway. We did take some time to think about all our options and we basically went back to drawing board to make the plans how to do it. It was good for us because we kinda forgot all that shit that happened and suddenly we were very positive about everything concerning Maple Cross. It was like we found new power to do things and looking back I think that whole experience made us even better musicians. Anyways, when we finally decided weīd do it on our own we made a budget and noticed we were short about $2000. We had saved most of the money we made from gigs that year so we just thought weīd book few more shows to get the money we were missing, but obviously our budget wasnīt enough and we had to put some of our own money into the project as well. I canīt remember how many copies we originally printed, but Iīd say it had to be at least a thousand, but was it 2000 or 3000 donīt ask me, I just canīt remember. Promotion was a big problem since we had used all our money in to recording and printing the album so, we just took the safe way and send it out to every single zine we knew and printed tons of flyers and sent them all over the world. Well, we couldnīt blame a record company for not promoting our album, heh heh, we just had to be happy with the way things were back then. It was our choise to do it on our own so, we had to live with the situation as it was.

 

The output basically consisted of the previously released material mainly taken from the first four tapes, but was your purpose only to avoid taking any risk by not including new tracks, rather focusing on renewing the demo tracks with the better production grip and in general a way more aggressive and polished quality?!

Man, six of those tracks were previously released and four were brand new ones. Anyways, we were really happy about our material and we didnīt want to forget what we had done before and we felt some of the demo songs deserved to be included on the album since they were too good to be forgotten. So, we just picked six of the best from those demos and wrote four new ones and voila we had enough material for the album. It was never about avoiding taking a risk or something like that and in the end I think we did one hell of a job! Those songs are even better than they were on demos and Iīm not talking about sound or anything like that, they were just better executed. We also have to remember that people who bought the album didnīt necessarily own all our demos (thereīs not many freaks around like you and me who collect everything we can get in our hands) and this way they got the best tracks from them in better quality.

 

 

Was it worth of every risk and penny to put out the album on your own? I mean by that, were expectations toward the album reached as planned or did the whole process of doing the self financed album leave some bitter thoughts in mind even after 10 years?!

Thereīs two sides for every coin. When I held the finished article in my hand all my expectations were filled. I was happy about every single thing about the album and even today I can stand behind it 100%, thatīs for sure. You knew there was going to be a but, didnīt you? So, here goes... But, we could have and in fact should have waited a little longer to release it and make some money first to promote it more. I guess we were just too confident about the release itself that we thought it would sell more than it did. You live and learn and if I had a chance to do it again that would be the only thing I would do differently.

 

 

Although the album had been circling around for a while, but no suitable label found as you continued unleashing the demo tapes, one by one ?!

Thatīs true, but we werenīt gonna sign for who ever just wanted us. When we released Cool Maggots we send it to only few selected labels and thatīs it. For example, we wanted to sign with Bad Vugum, a label from our home town, but they didnīt want to put out full length, just an EP and that didnīt suit to us. So, that was that then and there was couple of other situations similar to that one so, we just ignored those offers. Back then our problem might have been that we really knew what we wanted to do and we werenīt ready to give in, not even a little bit. Nowadays Iīm better negotiator or at least Iīd like to think so, heh heh. I know when to back off and when to push forward with my ideas etc.

 

 

Since 1988 till 1994 Maple Cross recorded all in all seven demo tapes and that's a helluva lot indeed. But how do you view all these demos now afterwards, which of them is kinda closer and the most important to your soul and heart?!

All of them have a special place in my heart, but three of them are more important than the others. Thirteen Witches…But One Of Them started our long journey, The Fourth And Last was kinda end of an era for us and with that one we found our style which is evident on The Eighth Day Of Creation album as well, but the most important is the Cool Maggots demo. I think we nailed it on that one. It was the most powerful and complete work we ever recorded back then. I still listen to that one a lot.

 

 

In the mid of the 90's the things got out of hand due to the obvious inflamed chemistry within the band; the bass player Nico (was) dismissed the band and was replaced by another guy, but obviously the spirit among the remaining guys wasn't the best anymore because other members were willing to pursue other interests. Did this finally result in the immense break up of the band?!

Itīs obvious when a band works as intensively as we did thereīs going to be some trouble. In our case things just started to go wrong slowly but you could sense things would only get worse. In the end it was four of us against Nico and it got to a point where we almost threw punches. So, we decided enough is enough. I donīt know what happened exactly, but Nico who Iīve known all my life, even before he joined Maple Cross, just wasnīt the same guy he was before and he would argue everything we talked about. Nothing was good enough for him. So, we had a long talk with four of us and decided it was time to move on. We told him he wasnīt in the band anymore and he said some pretty strong words to us so, we just turned and walked away, because the situation was so bad it might have lead to something even worse. Jamppe from Crematory stepped in and we continued for sometime, but we knew something wasnīt right. We had lost the spark you need as a band to write great music and none of us gave 100% anymore. So, 1996 I think, we just decided we needed to take a break. We never really talked about breaking up or anything like that, but we just didnīt return to our rehearsal place anymore. If one of us had called the rest of the guys together within a year we would still be playing with that same line up or at least most of that last line up would be together, but it wasnīt to be. Anyways, today me and Nico are once again great friends and heīs the one from the old line up I talk to most. His dismissal from the band saved our friendship so, something good came up from that ugly dismissal.

 

 

All of you basically vanished leaving no trace to be tracked down, apart from Nico Karppinen who teamed up with the former Impaled Nazarene skinman and formed Legenda, but were you kinda tired and disillusioned by the scene and in general the whole metal genre as you decided to pull out to focus on other things ?!

Yeah, I once again picked up the ice hockey and I wanted to see how far I could take it. I had been away for few seasons in my prime so, it was a big challenge for me. After the season 1999/2000 I had to retire due to my injury, but I had no regrets since I had played in Sweden and in Finland and made a living playing a sport I love. For four years I didnīt do anything else, but played hockey. That was absolutely a dream come true for me. Iīm sure rest of the guys have no regrets either. They went out and did what they wanted to do and never had a chance before, thatīs what really matters in life. Talking about the scene, I really grew to hate what I saw happening around me. I didnīt want to have anything to do with it so, I just turned my back on everything. I still bought CDs and went to see gigs etc. But, I didnīt really keep in touch with anyone and it was only some occasional meetings in gigs with people from the past, like when you, me and Luxi met on the Slayer gig in Nummirock 1998 I think. I still hate a lot of things happening in metal world, but Iīm older and may be even wiser today so, all I really care about is what I do and what we do as a band. I love metal, but itīs not the end of the world if things change. I always have my old albums so, if there is nothing but shitty music released in the future I can always ignore them and listen to those great ones. Iīm not saying there ainīt good bands out there today, that would be stupid, because thereīs lots of great releases, but itīs been a steady decline from the good old days.

 

 

The band was on hiatus a couple of years until you decided to resurrect the old band from the beyond, but all the old previous members were unable to commit to the band responsibilities, but finally the line up was molded together by members of Embrace, the whole thing appeared to lay the needed parts to one certain place?!

I owe them a lot for helping me get things rolling again. For those guys to step in was the most logical thing to do since they knew everything about Maple Cross and grew up listening to our stuff. We never really talked about how long it would last and Iīm thankful they lasted as long as they did. Thereīs a certain limit you can give to two bands at the same time and those guys gave everything they had in them. We released a great album and played great gigs together so, I couldnīt have asked more from them. They brought the melody, I created the aggression and since that was what we were looking for it was a great match.

 

 

Did the former members express their own opinions as to the second coming of Maple Cross ? Did you ever try to lure some of them back to the band ?

Yes, they did. When I decide it was time to write music again I called them first to see if they were up for it. I knew Nico wouldnīt be part of it since he lives in Helsinki and heīs pretty busy with work and he plays in Bloodride. Marko, Ilkka and Ville all said the same thing, It would be great, but donīt have enough time and good luck. Thatīs it basically, short conversation with each of them and bang, it was time for step two. Thatīs where the guys from Embraze step in. Old members have been very supportive and I canīt really thank them enough. They come and see us play live whenever possible and they do have our album Next Chapter and they said itīs just what Maple Cross should be and if we had continued with the old line up this is what it would sound like. I think it was Ilkka who said that itīs almost scary how much it sounds like the old line up and he could imagine heīd be playing those guitar parts. So, I think we have honoured the past and made it into our own sound.

 

The second coming was set off with the new material and new demos and of course entire new website as well. Did you ever ponder how the second coming of Maple Cross would appeal to the new metal generation that would approve of the band and of course the old metal followers?

"To me thereīs only two kinds of music, good and shit. If I like something I hear I might buy the album and even visit the website to learn more about the band, but if I donīt like it I just leave it to that. I donīt spend my time on some message board whining like a bitch how bad this and that is. Whatīs the point?" 

To be honest, I donīt really give a fuck. People tend to analyze music too much. To me thereīs only two kinds of music, good and shit. If I like something I hear I might buy the album and even visit the website to learn more about the band, but if I donīt like it I just leave it to that. I donīt spend my time on some message board whining like a bitch how bad this and that is. Whatīs the point? Everyone's entitled to write music they want to so, who am I to criticize them for doing something they like. It makes me laugh how people still have the energy to bitch about Metallica. If you donīt like it donīt touch it, thatīs what I did all those years ago. Having said that, sometimes I too let it get to me and I say something in a heat of a moment and later I just think, oh fuck, am I really that stupid. The point Iīm trying to make is, everyone's entitled to have an opinion about music, but I share my opinions with people I know and respect and not on message boards where the only outcome is war of words and I donīt have time for that and more to the point my opinions ainīt better than someone who might think quite the opposite about album I love or hate. Thereīs lot of people out there who hate what we do, but at the same time there are people out there who can appreciate what weīre trying to accomplish with our sound and lyrics and thatīs all ok with me.

 

 

I have personally wondered your lack of interest to do the old Maple Cross stuff, of course it is obvious you are more willing to do the current stuff, but has it crossed your mind to re-work them for gigs and even for upcoming releases!?

We wanted to concentrate on writing new material first, then we wanted to add couple of cover songs to our set and after that attack those old fuckers but, thatīs not happened yet. At the moment we are thinking about a few possible songs from the past, but weīll just have to wait and see because everything takes time and thereīs only 24 hours a day. On the top of everything weīre about to start writing new material and getting ready to tour again. We will play some of those songs in the future or at least I hope so, heh heh...

 

 

When comparing the brand new material from 2000 to the older stuff, I for one find them more straight forward played as all the complicated angles have been straightened and these extra colourful instruments like the saxophone have been dumped.. Do you view doing more straight forward processed material is more suitable to the current concept, not continuing in the same vein as over 10 years ago?

On Cool Maggots we were heading for this direction and we had already dropped everything extra from those songs. We were already pretty straight forward on that one, but this time around we just took it little further and I think weīll keep it simple also in the future. Of course weīll try to make it interesting for us to play, but all I really care about is if it sounds good or not. Iīm not saying weīre not gonna do this or that because I donīt really know how our new songs will turn out in the end and we have no particular way of writing. We have kept the more aggressive side of Maple Cross and ditched the weird elements and thatīs the way I wanna keep it.

 

 

Well you didn't hesitate the time that much instead you released another full length album called The Next Chapter, including once again songs taken from demos released during the second coming period..Hmmm.. Tell a little bit details about the album….

11 songs and around 35 minutes of the Maple Cross metal. I suppose I should praise the album here , but I wonīt, all Iīm willing to say is Iīm really proud what we achieved musically and lyrically on Next Chapter.

 

 

Is promoting the album easier or harder nowadays compared for example to the early 90's even though you have nowadays websites and better and more reliable(?) distributors ??

Internet is the greatest promotional tool ever, no doubt about it. What better way to promote us than through our own website and spamming the internet with links to our site, heh heh. Internet is the cheapest and best way to promote a band. On the other hand thereīs more competition and if your release is shit nobodyīs going to buy it, no matter how much you promote it. Distributors play a huge role too and we are lucky to work with people who want to do a good job selling Next Chapter. We are making more contacts every day and building a network where itīs quite comfortable to work with people we can trust. It takes a lot of time, but we are getting things organized and with our next release everything will be a lot easier.

 

The newer material has been actively been promoted and launched on different types of comp. Cds for example on the Metal-Rules.Com comp cd. On which basis do you choice all the requests and suggestions asked by labels / people putting out these comp.cd and what made you have one track off from the demo for the Metal-Rules.Com hahaha ?!

Thereīs a few things to consider, but couple of things are more important than the others. Weīre not gonna pay a lot of money to be included on comp. CD, but if there is a fee and we still think itīs worth it because of all the possible publicity etc. weīll do it and that was the case with Metal-Rules.com CD. I immediately thought it would be great comp. CD to be part of and I think I was right. Thereīs too many shitty comp. CDs out there and itīs unbelievable how many requests we get. Iīve already stopped answering most of them, because you can smell the scam in most cases. I mean what good it does to put out a comp. CD and it only gets distributed to bands that are on the CD or like in some cases you donīt even get any copies of the CD to yourself even though you already paid to be included, youīd have to buy the CD like everyone else. Before we started to record Next Chapter we decided to put our songs in various comp. CDs so, I really dug deep to find out what everyone had to offer and realized thereīs lots of shit going on in metal today and some fuckers have smelled the easy money. They take advantage of metal bands, because thereīs so many bands out there who want to have their music on CD. I mean, thereīs nothing wrong making money, but the deal should be fair, dont you think so? After Next Chapter was released we knew we wouldnīt do too many comp. CDs, just the ones that gave us the best possible deal and publicity.

 

 

You recently announced the first second coming line up was laid off and instead hired a couple of Thyrane guys, are they permanent or session hired guys to help you out with … Apparently you gotta shed some light on the current situation of the band ?!?

We had a pretty hectic year 2003 and I think it made us realize there was no way in hell we could continue with this line up. We sat down to talk about it and agreed that Sami and Late should concentrate on Embraze. Ollari had already left the band because heīs not cut out to do this. Heīs a great guy, but he just doesnīt like to travel and while the rest of the band worked really hard to get things done he couldnīt care less and just basically told us to do the work, heīd just play the bass. So, we let him go right after our last gig in July. About Late and Sami, guys gave 100% to Maple Cross and their other band Embraze suffered a lot because of that. We knew from the beginning things wouldn't last and there would come a time when guys would step out, but it still was kinda hard, because we really had a great chemistry among four of us. The funny thing is that Late is still trying to do everything he can to promote the band and he calls me all the time to find out whatīs going on and if there is something he could do. Thatīs the kinda guy he is. Anyways, now we are in a situation where we can actually co-operate with Embraze and tour together with them and that was impossible a few months ago. Another thing Iīm excited about is the new line up. Iīve known Avather (guitar/Thyrane) and J. Henttunen (guitar/Sethery) for a long time and when I asked them if they wanted to join Maple Cross they told me they would be honoured to do that. Akiīs old pall Sami steped in to play bass so, we have a bunch of friends making music who would spend time together anyways and to me that is important. That was the case in the 80s and 90s as well as with the Next Chapter line up. Iīve always been lucky to write music with my close friends and Iīd like to keep it that way. Avather, Sami and J. Henttunen are definitely full time members. This is not some sort of playground where I make the calls and if that is not good enough you are out!!! Of course itīs me who has to stear the ship and basically do everything for Maple Cross at the moment, but Iīm sure when we get the ball rolling properly guys will take more responsibility and give 100% to the cause!!! At the moment theyīve been busy rehearsing our live set so, itīs only natural I take care of other things.

 

 

To be honest, do you somehow long for those good old days when people crawled to gigs, bands used to stay together, people and various ug magazines showed their strong support toward bands?

Yes I do, but those days will never come back, thatīs for sure! It was great while it lasted and I have great memories from those days. The whole scene was very active and supportive contrary to what itīs like today. Nowadays people are very jealous if someone makes it or even get to play few big gigs and record an album etc. and back then it was totally different. I still remember when A.R.G. signed a record deal we went out drinking with the guys from Mengele and celebrated like we or Mengele had signed a deal and the funny thing is we had no idea where the A.R.G. guys were, heh heh, but thatīs how it was back then, we against the rest of the music world!!!! Another thing Iīve noticed is that underground is like a curse word to some while to me it represents independency, uniqueness and quality. After all these years I still think that only 1-2% of great bands make it big, because people are stupid and stupid people donīt listen to great music!!! It really is as simple as that or would you please explain all these power metal bands to me? Thatīs the only metal genre I really hate!!!

 

 

Well both the eras of the band from the last few decades has been covered thru quite rapidly in this interview, but how do you sum up the whole two time Maple Cross era after all ?!

Itīs been one helluva great time!! Iīve met great people over the years and made some great friends. I wouldnīt change a thing, because weīve always done exactly what weīve wanted to do. I think weīve written great music and always given everything we could and never took the easy way. We still have a lot to give to metal community and weīll keep on roaming untill the day we realize we are finished, heh heh...

 

 

Oulu is damn well known for being the heavy metal town all around the world well at least everyone from grandmothers to newborn kids dig metal there and bands have and still hail from there for example Sentenced, Impaled Nazarene, Faff-Bey, Riff Raff, Mengele, Belial, Embrace and hundreds of others… Is the cold long wintery period one of reasons why Northern people are into metal..hahaha ?

To be honest with you I have no idea why is that, but I remember growing up and all the older guys I knew listened to metal and thatīs how I got into metal when I was six years old. I canīt remember it myself, but as I told you earlier my parents told me that when I got my first Iron Maiden tape I didnīt do anything else but listened to that one fucking tape in my room. The first thing I did when I got home from school, I locked myself in my room and just blasted Iron Maiden out of my speakers and didnīt show up untill dinner time. I do still remember the feeling I had back then and it always come back when I listen to first two Iron Maiden albums. This kinda dark and evil feeling that really made me feel free from all the shit going on. Metal has always been a big thing over here and may be it is the climate as you say or may be the fact that northern people are smarter than the soft southern wankers, got you, heh heh...

 

 

All right Jarkka, I hereby thank you for your time and interest to answer this interview, but as usual the last words are yours…

Thank you for your support and interest youīve shown for Maple Cross!!! I think Iīve said everything necessary in my answers so, all I wanna add is Metal Rules!!!(.com) heh heh…


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