Heart of Steel: Interviews



Necromancer's Juha Mattila
Interview by Luxi

In the late ´80s / early ´90s, the Finnish metal scene really started blooming and growing strongly. This was a few years later than everywhere else in every other corner of world, but it was coming together anyway. Back in those ´glorious´ days there were many very skilled, somewhat young, very ambitious metal bands full of passion and burning with a drive for playing ´Metal´, as Tarot, A.R.G. (also known for its longer name Ancient Rotten Graveguards), Mengele, National Napalm Syndicate (or just N.N.S.), Sacred Crucifix, Stone, Airdash, Prestige, Oppression, Protected Illusion, The Hirvi, etc. etc. made a relatively effective and indelible impact on a great bunch of metal fans all around the world… Yet more successful and better times for the Finnish metal bands were yet to come.

For me personally, the Finnish Speed/Thrash merchants Necromancer were without a bloody doubt the one that made the strongest impact on me. This was probably a result of them sounding nearest to my all time favorite band, Slayer. The band undeniably had a very strong Slayer influence in their sound since they started. Such songs from them as an undying evergreen classic number "Malicious Death", "Cross of Hate", "Enforced to Kill", "Violence Show" and so on, just screamed their huge Slayer worship and the band literally made a fuckload of metalheads crazy at their gigs by filling up the encores with some Slayer cover songs including the godly "Black Magic" and "Hell Awaits" as very good examples.

But nothing lasts forever. Necromancer went into hiding under a different moniker in the early half of ´91 due to a lame label interest (amongst other things that can be read from the interview…) and the guys took a whole different musical approach and continued jamming and making music together under a couple of other bands, but none of them were close to Necromancer´s relentless aggression and heaviness musically.

It´s 2003… and who could have ever believed in their wildest dreams that they are here amongst us again. The idea of getting the band together again - after being buried in its silent and dusty tomb, started taking shape back in late 2002 - and this is where my curiosity toward them burst into flames again.

Dear ladies and gentlemen… an exclusive interview of Juha Mattila of Necromancer for Metal-Rules.com only!!! Read it and learn more about this ´hidden gem´ of the past Finnish underground metal scene. I guarantee the whole interview will surely be very much of your undivided attention…


First of all, I guess it doesn´t matter even if it´s only me who has always rated the Finnish high-quality Speed / Thrash grenades Necromancer as the most innovative and simply the best metal band coming out from Finland… ever!! Just no matter how hard I would scream my lungs out for you, trying to prove your superiority and excellence to the masses, most of them apparently wouldn't believe me ´coz apparently they haven´t heard of you ever before. So, to straighten some facts for the readers of Metal-Rules.com, you guys existed in the late half of the ´80s / the beginning of the ´90s; now keeping in our minds that we have went through a change of generation once or twice already, I bet none of these fellows who have sworn into the name of metal, have gotten any idea who you were, and what you did do and so on. So, in order to give people some sort of an insight about the band, would you kindly enlighten all of us about the whole lifespan of ´the Necromancers´, how and when you got started and split up in the first place - then coming back right up to this day, telling us where you got this brand-new spark again to dig the ol´ corpse out of its rotten grave and re-animate it once again? Lights on… the stage has been prepared for you Juha now…

Thanks, Luxi... So, it all started in early 1986. Me and Max have been playing together since 1984, Ana and Niko (RIP) were doing the same in their own direction. We were quite young then and got to know each other in high school. We had very similar thoughts and ambitions, and were all bitten by a band called Slayer with their debut album SHOW NO MERCY which was introduced to us back in 1984. We had also been inspired by Metallica and all the legendary Heavy Metal acts such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio, Black Sabbath, etc.

In August 1986 Necromancer was finally formed. The original line-up was: Niko - bass/vocals, Ana - guitars, Juha - guitars and Max - drums. We immediately started to write our own songs, and after a few months our first real "hit", "Malicious Death", was born. That song directed us to the first demo release in 1987. (We changed our name to Necrotomic for a brief time, but returned back to Necromancer again after a while). We were really surprised how much people liked our first demo, PROLICIDE, even though we were not at all skilled players during that time, and that you can hear of it. However, we wrote new songs, played local gigs and rehearsed up to 20 hours every week and did the hard work for it.

We had our disputes and I was kicked out of the band in 1987, but rejoined just after 6 months in Feb/March of 1988. When I was away with my own project, the guys threw their first big success gig at "Lepakko Metal Massacre I" in Helsinki and recorded the second demo in late 1987 with re-release of "Malicious Death" followed by super-speed songs "Rapid Fire" and "Head Hunter". Niko left the band in early 1988 and Calm joined us as a new bassist. We then continued writing new material and released our third demo in October 1988 with songs like "Violence show" and "Days of Fury". The final line up was: Ana - guitars/vocals, Calm - bass, Juha - lead guitars and Max - drums.

The metal scene was rising in Finland. Stone had released their successful debut album, followed by bands like Airdash and Prestige. We were selling demos, doing more gigs and gained more attention via interviews on local radio stations in Finland and indie magazines in Finland, Norway, Poland, Germany, Italy and even Brazil. Things were going pretty well, demos received good reviews, but there still was no record deal in sight, despite of some negotiations taking place. We got private financing and went to the studio in December 1989 and released the 12" single DOWNFALL/LIQUID SKY in early 1990. The single sold out in local record shops, but nothing happened with record companies. We began turning to different direction in music, and late 1990/early 1991 Necromancer had been buried after 5 years of metal.

We continued with a progressive-influenced Heavy Metal/Hard Rock and the band was renamed X-RED. We recorded the "Firedance"-demo in the fall of 1991 and played some gigs in the Southern Finland. Ana left the band in 1992 and was replaced by Lehtinen in vocals. Calm took over rhythm guitar and Mikko joined as new bass player. A new demo release was called "River" in 1993 and it introduced more a dark, grunge-ish approach to the sound. Following year brought gigs and supports, mainly within the Helsinki region. In 1994 X-RED came to its end, resulting the departure of Lehtinen and Calm.

Me, Max and Mikko continued playing and formed a new band Starfish in February 1995 and Mauro took over vocals. Mikko left the band in 2000. The band had an inactive period for nearly 2 years. In 2002 Jarkko joined us as a new bass player. Starfish has been active until this day and is still going strong with a progressive Rock style music. Starfish has played gigs, released 3 demos and appeared on one compilation-CD during the past 7 years. New studio dates are scheduled for spring 2003. Striving for perfection here too...

This fall, after nearly 12 years, Necromancer has gathered to bring back life to the long time buried but still undead...The rejoining event was most satisfactory and the good old tunes emerged from the collective spine, very alive and headbanging, spiced by elapsed time and gained experience. This is the reunion of the '88 final line-up with Ana on vocals/rhythm guitar, Calm on bass, Juha on lead guitar and Max on drums. We are quite thrilled about all this and yes, we can confirm the rumors that we are planning a reunion concert in the future...the hunger for blood is still there!!!

What then lead us to reunion? It all started when Ana was contacted from many directions: Gas Lipstick from HIM made inquiries whether we could rejoin for Tuska festival, the Finnish band Forca Macabra covered "Malicious Death" on their album, one die-hard fan from Germany who wants to make vinyl releases of our demos for the local neo-thrashers, and of course, there is Luxi with his awesome Necromancer rarities & a collection-CD, always flagging for Necromancer... after 15 years...the hardest Necromancer fan ever! ! !

 

Well, (-eh!?)… first off, I´m very flattered about this comparison for being ´the hardest´ Necromancer fan ever; I guess you honestly made me blush a bit as I´m not used to that kind of compliment at all. But thank you anyway…

However, let´s keep on talking about this re-union thing just a bit more, shall we? Let´s face some facts first - You guys have been away from ´the scene´ for more than 10 years which, as far as I can see, means there may be only a fistful of people out there who actually still has your name in their minds at least as some sort of a ´flashback´. There´s obviously a huge bunch of young metalheads out there who haven´t the slightest idea about the existence of your fine band. So, two things come to my mind: 

1.) How to convince record labels that it may well be a worthwhile effort to get you signed up, release an album (or albums!) with you and grow your profile as a band in terms of a marketing value and all that. 

2.) How to convince new generations of metalheads that if they are ever going to run into some record store, your album could be right on the very top of their ´shopping lists´ instead of some recently established and doing well (metal) bands?

As you surely can at least somehow relate to my suspicious questions above at some level, being away from ´the picture´ for that long time without making any albums in the past, surely have had some kind of effect on all those people behind some certain record labels that without a doubt always consider and think things out very carefully if they are about to sign a totally unknown band - even if a great reputation for a band could have been built up in the past and they could have been a relatively known band back in the day. Any ideas or thoughts about the matters I just presented you here…?

Well, let's keep you all on your toes about this... It is still too early to give you any celebrating comments about any of those subjects right now, because this whole thing is still very new for all of us, so let's see what happens. About convincing someone: Guys like us that have been playing different kinds of music for about 17 years cannot be that bad in terms of making or performing music, technically, or in terms of experience, perspective and character. This could sound a little bit arrogant to someone, but I'll take the chance.

 

 

Why do you honestly think Necromancer never landed to any record deal with any label in the past? I guess it just cannot only be explained about a ´bad timing´ or ´in a wrong place in a wrong time´ kind of thing, can it?

Well, I think there are mainly two reasons for that. I am talking about what happened during a time period between 1987- 1990. Speed / Thrash Metal had just been introduced to a wider audience in Finland by a growing popularity of genre lead byl Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax, etc.

The Finnish Speed / Thrash outfit Stone was very successful with their debut album and opened doors for others as well. Most Finnish record companies back then had only the old and outdated managers publishing Finnish ´hitpop / tango / basic rock / funnyjokeschlager - hahaha´ - artists performing traditional Finnish music in Finnish and only for the Finnish people, so they had absolutely no idea what to do with this strange and new genre, apart from finding out some way for ripping off some easy money.

We faced the demented comments at record companies such as Finnlevy when they called us for a meeting in '88/'89: "Guys, we are looking for a Finnish metal band selling debut album equally to the new Metallica release (that was ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, -ha-ha!!). Once or twice we were offered a small record deal, but the album was supposed to be recorded in an 8-track demo studio, so we declined for we did not want to release an album with a bad recording quality. Wrong thinking or not, for others to decide.

We always strived for perfection, there was only one way of doing things. Every single note and punch was carefully thought of, nothing was done "humorously", or anything such, that was often typical for some Finnish bands of that time, who were making fun of themselves just like apologizing the people for being there...Other principle was and has always been that we never write songs about political criticism or such. That is something for others to do. We always had a story, good or evil, a scene of imagination or other. I'd rather write 100 songs only about beer and women than even one "kill the politics" - type of hypocritical and immature crap. With us the music always overrides lyrics. In our opinion music is meant for entertainment and experiences, not for whining. Sorry.

The market was quickly filled with the few bands that managed to get the deal. By 1990 the record companies told us that this new genre had already gone out of trend (!) and new artists would not be signed anymore for the current ones were quitting the business too (!!). Well, look at the genre now... thanks to the hard work of some bands, independent record companies with open-minded professionals, and people like Luxi... he did lots of good work for us back then, and still keeps up the spirit!

This was not the only reason. The other thing I think was that we never pursued the deal with 100%. We did not want to make it at any possible cost. We had certain idealism, that was probably not always too realistic, and maybe we should have had more effort on marketing ourselves, who knows... We were always better musicians than marketing men. Anyway, things went as they did. A bit sad is that I still think we had lots of pretty good material for release and were quite experienced and disciplined players in the late 80's... still are... (gag).

 

 

You indeed had lots of killer material for a full-length release. So that makes me ask from you - why didn´t you release a Necromancer album of your own?! I know it could have cost a small fortune, but I bet it was a rather tempting idea for you at some point in the later part of your career and surely crossed your mind more than once or twice, didn´t it? Namely you eventually self-financed that 12" EP from your own pockets as probably one of your last things to become recognized a bit more amongst the metal community, so it made me very curious that with a fair amount of more money, a full-length album could well have been possible for you guys if you would have given your very last serious shot for that thing, at least in theory. How is it Juha?

Yes, we did think of self-financing an album back in those days, but really, the 12" EP was all we could do with the money available. Again, it was, and still is, a matter of principle. Yes, we could have had the money to record and publish one full-length album, but we decided to make two songs with the best quality possible instead of an album with poor recording and printing quality. I know that some bands actually released albums using the same amount of money we had for the 12", but listen and look at the difference there is… Honestly, I think you cannot find an artist who still can sound good and convincing if the recording quality is shitty. And I don't like Bob Dylan if it comes to that (ha-ha!!). I don't mean you should have a million dollars for production, but a decent level of quality anyway.

Just think of what the best of our demo quality songs could sound like when recorded in a real studio with some true effort given. This is something for the record companies to think of, it's not my job. Again, don't take me as arrogant, but I think this is reality. And what comes to printing and publishing: good quality and pre-planned album covers and leaflets mean the essential extra that belongs to anyone who buy albums.

 

 

Along with such Finnish metal bands as Stone, Airdash, Oppression, A.R.G., National Napalm Syndicate, Sacred Crucifix, Mengele and a few other bands, you were definitely on the top of the Finnish metal scene back in the day, making your own unique - without denying or hiding it a bit, a relatively strong ´slayeresque´ Speed / Thrash Metal and winning a great number of Necromancer -fans from all around Finland behind you. Can you still remember some of the highlights out of those days and even share some of them with the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Highlights…hmm…there are too many to mention. We had a great time with the band and our friends and playing gigs & aftermath :) with other bands such as ones you mentioned above, not to forget bands like Dethrone and Prestige whom with we shared the stage more than once during those days.

Most memorable things were associated with some of our best gigs such as the legendary full-booked "Metal Massacre II" at the late Lepakko in Helsinki back in 1988. The atmosphere was loaded with excitement as we climbed to the stage... the audience roared, shouted and welcomed us so loud I felt almost pushed back by the wall of noise... a little nervousness... and then we hit the first chords and the crowd went mad... moshing, stage diving, headbanging... it was unbelievable!!! We had similar great gigs in Turku at the old Aura - brewery (thanx Laura), in Tampere, one other good session at Lepakko supporting Candlemass back in 1989 (stole their Slayer backstage passes, - haha!), just to name a few. Those were really good times.

Our rehearsing room was legendary, a 20m2 room within an old wool factory area, with always 20 people in drinking beer and the room temperature was always over 20°C even if the outside weather was -20°C! Great parties, great friends! Lots of Spinal Tap-type episodes...

Worst gig ever was sometime in 1989 in Lieto, near Turku. We were invited to a festival and went there on short notice without knowing much of the nature of the happening... It was 75 punk bands and us... their instruments broke down after two songs and almost had to kick the shit out of the organizer to get our expenses paid... oh shit. Punk festivals were of the worst kind, definitively! Once we played in a place where the top floor of the building had collapsed down, the "stage" was built in the middle of all rubble, it was -10 °C inside and we had to play with pullovers on for it was so damn cold, and at "backstage" there were some nice´ punky´ ladies playing with real test rats :( - and planning demonstrations against the Finnish parliament...

We also have always enjoyed the time at studios recording demos, and the exclusive release of the 12" "Downfall/Liquid Sky" single. It was always exciting, bringing out something new and getting the feedback and reviews. The scene was new, fresh and unexplored, and had that unique feeling, that I think can never be reached again... But, this happens always when you look back to the past. Anyway, it has now been more than 15 years since we released our first demo anyway!!! We were also much younger of course, and we are not too old now either... One of the greatest parties to mention took place in Oulu back in summer of 1987, remember? :)

How could I possibly forget all that excitement we had there - with all that crazy headbanging, insane yet heavy drinking sessions, bullshitting, just having fun, etc., but definitely on the very top of all that, witnessing the relentless Bay Area thrashers Death Angel live and meeting the guys after their gig full of a pure excellence for the first time, really crowned the whole evening!!

Ah…(!), those truly were ´the times…´

 

 

Did Death Angel work out as any sort of an influence or inspiration for Necromancer in the past ´coz I believe their absolutely classic debut album titled "The Ultra Violence" wasn´t totally ignored in the Necromancer camp either? And could you also mention what other particular albums made your hearts burn toward more of those relentless and brutal things in metal music in general - if there were any at that time for you that you could openly confess as great inspirations for your band?

Yes, Death Angel did have an influence on us. Young guys giving a real killer and convincing touch to the genre with their debut output THE ULTRA VIOLENCE. FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK was an album I did not understand very well, but "Act III" I liked again. There were some definitive highlight albums that stroke us deeply and deadly... and here are a few more absolute best metal albums that I know:

Slayer - SHOW NO MERCY: This is black magic. The first Thrash album I ever bought in 1984.

Slayer - HELL AWAITS: Well, you know it. Not the best quality production, but hell, it was scary...

Slayer - REIGN IN BLOOD: Best Thrash Metal album ever!! Do I need say more?

Metallica -MASTER OF PUPPETS, RIDE THE LIGHTNING and ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL: Riding to perfection in the songs, sounds and talent. They were very very sharp those days, we definitively liked that. They were always able to put in some great melodies too, which was not a common approach for metalheads.

Megadeth - PEACE SELLS...: Mr. Mustaine and friends really kicked ass with that. I liked the band´s line-up best on that album. I saw them live on "So Far… So Good" tour in '88, but it didn't sound so good anymore. The tightness was a bit lost afterwards. I like the SO FAR… album - it is great, although the production is quite bad. Well, this could be a rare example for an album that is good even if the sounds aren't.

Exodus - BONDED BY BLOOD and PLEASURES OF THE FLESH: Both legendary albums of the genre. Kick ass metal for true bangers. They also have talent & sharpness.

Then I could also mention Testament, Destruction and Anthrax with their mid-end 80's releases.

 

 

How was the Finnish metal scene since you started and eventually ceased to exist from your own point of view? What were some of your favorite bands from Finland at that time and could you say they even had some impact on your playing style back then?

I guess you find my point of view from the previous answers... Yes, things got very different even when we compare 1986 with 1991. And after that the 90's was not easy for bands, I think. Fortunately during past two or three years, the respect for bands, instrumental skills, musicianship and real live performances have restored their respect after an era of dull ´Xerox´ artists considered just industrial products with a short life span and pre-calculated efficiency figures. I am a bit strict with these opinions, but I reserve my right to say so... It is not about being all over original, but about philosophy and attitude, y´know.

What comes to being influenced by other Finnish bands: Sure, we got some kicks out of some bands and even managed to kick some of their asses, but I still would consider this influence quite marginal. I think each band still had their own visions and stood out as themselves. The greatest impact in the genre came from Slayer and Metallica, this is true. Also, we have always been influenced by artists and bands other than ´metal´ itself or Heavy Rock such as Progressive Rock, 60's and 70's, Pop, Rock, Indie, Rap, Industrial, whatever really depending on every individual´s personal tastes.

 

 

Well, actually your interest toward other genres than metal can be heard through the evolution of the Necromancer´s own sound. When you started out, one can quite easily say that you guys were ´Finnish answer to Slayer´. Later on, you adapted more influences into your sound - and most of these influences came from outside of Metal music; probably Rush being one of those most influential and inspirational bands for you backing those days. Did you ever feel like you should have stayed with your very ´roots´ - giving an extra kick or two toward more of that ´slayeresque´ sound and even starting to rip them off shamelessly ´coz Slayer was really making a huge impact on the scene globally by the release of their SOUTH OF HEAVEN album in 1988-89 - and they indeed we the only band that had their own, very distinctive and highly original sound back in the day? I wonder if people had bothered too much if there would have been ´Slayer junior´ coming from far up North, Hyvinkaa, Finland…

Well, I like being influenced by Rush... and still do. If we were to release an album, it probably would mainly consist of the songs written in the 80's and early 90's, so it would actually sound like the 80's kick ass metal, I think (wow, did I say that!). What comes to the terms of making metal songs, the 80's way is the only way I know... If I write other stuff, that's another thing. This answer is given, if you ask me.

 

 

Staying in the topic of Slayer for a little longer, what are your all time favorite Slayer songs then? Could you give us some well-grounded reasons why you feel so strongly about those songs then indeed?

"Evil Has no Boundaries" - The very first Slayer song I ever heard... not remarkable in musical sense, but the nostalgia is there.

"Black Magic" - Really needs no introduction for anyone I think??!

"Hell Awaits" - I love long and great album/song intros (such as "Black Magic" as well) and this is hell, evil and bombastic... the song gives you the shivers although the production quality of this is not good.

"Angel of Death", "Postmortem/Raining Blood" - The hardest & tightest composed and played metal songs ever!! The message of the song has never been an important thing to me with any artist really, but when it fits, it really fits there. I am not into satanistic mystique at all, but the songs are simply great!!! Everything is so tight, logical, the guitar riffs and all intermediate dual guitar theme parts are true masterpieces. Dave Lombardo is an excellent drummer and had his brightest moments with this album. Araya´s vocal style pleases me the most also here.

"South of Heaven" - This falls into the same category with "Hell Awaits" and "Black Magic" what comes to the intro - magnificent!!! Their trade marked dual guitar elements and riffs are there again, strong and powerful. After this album their style and approach has changed so much that any of their album after these four albums has unfortunately not addressed me in any way since.

 

 

Necromancer have come back and are obviously full of excitement and a sparkling hunger for possibly playing some gigs again. Also, may I say, finally and hopefully, able to record your first ever full-length album. Some of us have desperately been waiting for years and years for this! Now when this opportunity will be given to you, could you already pull out of the hat what songs that debut Necromancer album would contain for sure? Do you believe you could be able to maintain the same energetic and aggressive vibe that you had back in the day when your sound was at its roughest and most brutal shape - and most similar to early Slayer -stuff?

If and when we do gigs, we will still kick serious ass. What comes to album style considerations, you have my answer already. Again, let's just keep you guys on your toes...

 

 

When we will hopefully witness Necromancer live again, could you imagine a set list of what songs your comeback gig may contain? Why do you think this or that certain Necromancer song will find its place amongst ´must-play´ live songs? Now just go ahead now Juha and give your best shot for this…

Well, I guess you would hear a selection of our best songs that had the biggest effect on fans and us as well. Such as "Violence Show", which has been more than once the gig opener...Deadly couple "Downfall" and "Liquid Sky" have always created a certain atmosphere on stage. What would reflect better the early days' attitude and through the wall´ -mentality of the band than the somewhat ´legendary´ "Malicious Death". Just to name a few. I am not going to tell about all of our plans, still keeping you on your toes, guys... (*smiling with a deadly grin in the face*)

 

 

Have you guys ever discussed about making new Necromancer songs thus far, let´s say, possibly as a little ´extra thing´ for your comeback gig just to tease all your die-hard followers a bit more and give them a good enough reason to believe that if you will come back ´full force with your Marshalls thundering out loud at the highest volumes´, your fans won´t have be disappointed by any means at all; on the contrary, they can count on you as they ever did in the past?

There have been some thoughts in the air about making a brand new Necromancer song. Tempting idea indeed... Also we have thought of repossessing one or two of the very last ever made Necromancer songs that never reached the public´s ear except the people witnessing our very final gigs back in 1990/1991.

And those songs are…?

I don't think these songs ever got into their final forms due to followed break up of the band, so I don't recall any official names for them. Some name was probably given for gig purposes but I don't remember those names anymore, only the music. The fact that the songs need some finalizing work to do, makes the whole idea tempting.

 

 

Realistically, how much do you count on the future with your forth-coming efforts with Necromancer´s ´new coming´? If we can talk about so-called ´new coming´ in the very 1st place? I mean, if you were offered a record deal, a chance to start gigging again around the country (which may be impossible due to all of you daily jobs…) and talking basically all the resources would be there for you, how many of you would be fully ready for sacrificing some of that ´spare´ time each of you have nowadays for all this - possibly giving up something else?

Now, again I would too much speculate the future if I gave any direct answers to this. I just cannot. Surely we all have daily jobs, duties and families but who knows how far a good feeling would really go? I cannot tell anything more, it depends on how things start going with this. All of us more or less have rehearsed, been in studio and played gigs all these years in different bands after Necromancer split up. This tells maybe something of our attitude of never really giving up on anything, does it? Yes, I think so…

 

 

Would you say anyway that having a chance to record all of you ´classic evergreen Thrash cuts´ for an album, could be to each of you a ´dream-come-true´?

Yes, I surely would like that. I don't think any of us would disagree. If things were to go that far, we all would surely give our 100+% for that effort to be worthy of it and for all of our forever fans like Luxi...

 

 

Let´s touch the future a little bit closer and predict where you guys may  find yourselves in a situation when you would have no more than two or three days before entering a studio to record your 1st ever debut full-length album. Can you already say what studio would be the most ideal studio for you in order to get the right sound, atmosphere, etc. to be captured for a Necromancer debut? Who would be at the producer´s helm for this? I know, this is all too early speculation yet, but you can always play this lil´, harmless game with me, can´t you…?!

Yes, it is very clear, and I know perfectly well who would take the helm, and these two gentlemen I would trust fully to do the utmost greatest work for it. To be honest, I wouldn't want to go elsewhere at all. The place and atmosphere is great, we know these guys well and have visited the place before in studio sessions previously. I am not going to tell you any names, but as I told you, it would be clear...a game well played?

If you had had a chance to record your debut first-born, full-length ´Thrash -baby´ in the beginning of the ´90s, how do you honestly believe it possibly would have differed from the one (both content and sound-wise) that you probably and hopefully may well record during this new millennium? It´s again all plain speculating, but I still demand you politely to answer to this question, he-he!!

This is very hard to answer (but you always ask the questions, ha!), because we were beginning to pull in a different direction in music back then. I guess the main sound and themes would have been more in the style of "Downfall/Liquid Sky" than the older songs but definitively some of them would probably still have been on that imaginary double-platinum selling album (hah-hah-ha-ha!!!)....

 

 

Talking ´bout ´favorites´ a bit -  I was just wondering what are your own personal all-time Necromancer ´fave´ songs and why? What makes them so ´special´ for you then - explain in order to ´kill the cat´ for the readers of Metal-Rules.com. …?

Well, history-wise "Malicious Death" was the first real "Necromancer -style" song we wrote, so there are some good memories of the ol' times... (*coughing*). I still am quite proud of what we did with the DOWNFALL / LIQUID SKY EP. We gave a great effort to that in terms of writing, rehearsing, studio work and production. I believe you can sense the true joy of playing music in between all the aggressive and kick-ass feeling of these songs. I stand for everything we have made; the evolution of the band is there.

 

 

Since you started out under the Necromancer -moniker in early -´86, your musical influences and inspirations, as you said, pretty much came from the Bay Area -area with bands like Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, Death Angel and so forth. It´s been a long while since those days, so can you honestly say that once that enormous sea of flames that was burning bright and hot inside each of you (as I assume), can still be re-flamed and re-awaken the same way when your asses were burning for real metal the most devoted and wildest way? As you know and are aware of the simplest things, times have been changed, you have got older, your main interests in music in general may have changed during all these years, etc., so to go back to the very roots of your real start, not necessarily is always the easiest thing to do if you know what I mean by all this…?

To have a wide range of musical taste is an advantage. Where else could you bring any new ideas to genre from? Not really from other metal bands... If you ask me, it is not at all difficult to put in the same aggression when playing our songs again. Yes, we are older, but being more than 30 years old does not mean retirement in metal scene, or does it? (This is not athletics anyway... ha-ha!!). We really don't have to go to the very roots, the attitude is always there, it is in the spinal (... tap). We are not embarrassed about anything we have done in the past. Otherwise we would never have thought of reunion in the first place.

 

 

Heavy Metal with its countless sub-genres is going really strongly in the world nowadays and especially here in Finland - let the national album and single charts be more than a good proof for all that. What´s your own personal take on the Finnish metal scene these days? Have you been able to follow it the way you probably did in the late ´80s (or in the beginning of the ´90s) and what do you overall think of some Finnish metal bands getting successful and gaining great sales all around the world? Bands like Amorphis, Sentenced, Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Impaled Nazarene, Waltari, Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and many others have been flagging colors of blue & white rather damn successfully around the globe and that´s fuckin´ cool in my opinion. However, I´d like to see Necromancer amongst that pile of bands as well…

Yes, it is great that Finnish metal bands have kept the genre growing and have gained success that was far beyond imagination when we were in the 80's and early 90's. I think the situation was experienced like "grunge killed the Heavy Metal", and the whole genre was lost and aimless for a couple of years. We went the "wrong way", doing the very ´out-of-current-fashion´ progressive-influenced Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. We never stood a chance in the market with that in 1991-1993, but I don't care. I think we did some good songs there also.

With all these slacky ´neo-college-three-chord-fun-booze-punk-bands´ and the ´slow-fuzzy-depressed-suicidal-loser-whining-department´ (oh save me from them!) emerging, the art of musicianship and vision were depreciated and a band playing tightly and skillfully together was not required anymore. Many of the great bands suffered a lot from that. As long as you looked shitty, behaved badly, used drugs, wore ´generation-X-fashion´ clothes and made a lot of noise on stage, it was cool...??? This is something I never understood. It is just like the "common" belief that the only good song is a "hit" song with maximum length of 3-minutes, certain pre-planned structure and lots of chorus repetition. Well, be my guest and participate in the Eurovision song contest then…I'll rather never do an album than give away my principles.

I guess the situation in the early 90's could have been perhaps quite similar to the late 70's when progressive bands suffered greatly from the rising of punk rock and hardcore. Many people say the roots of metal are in punk rock but I strongly disagree. To me the real roots are in the 70's progressive rock and heavy rock genres. I personally have never appreciated Punk Rock or Hardcore at all (sorry), because I always looked for talent, vision and some sort of perfectionism in music. We have never been such virtuosos in technique compared to the musicians of Children of Bodom, Stratovarius and others, but we have always strived for our own perfection in music. I don't find any talent or atmosphere in playing out-of-tune-three chords with bad sounds and protesting against society. Sorry about that.

Let's say that we had recorded an album in 1987. Cool, but that would have been a huge mistake, because we were not ready for that then. We certainly would have sounded very bad and unskilled as a band. In 1990 there could have been a lot more potential, that you can hear of the DOWNFALL/LIQUID SKY EP. Nowadays we could give even more insight to the music, because we have gained 12 years more experience, even if we never actually have made an album yet. We have spent lots of time in rehearsing rooms, on stage and in studios anyway during that time.

I most definitively appreciate bands like Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius and others that are very talented and high-technique virtuoso musicians and have made their way through these tougher times and have evolved and become real professionals and highly talented musicians. Giving the genre back the image that was lost for a while. What I like about them, is that all of them have certain rules, principles and idealism. Giving out their best quality to the public. In your work you just have to do the best you can. Why leave it half-way? To know that you have given all you've got, that counts.

However, I think someone being a high-tech player is not an absolute value itself, you need those principles and insights as well. The balance between those things always puts you in your place. That's just how it goes.

 

 

How would you say you´ve been developing yourself as a musician through the years when you have been involved with other bands as well? You have been playing different kinds of music for many years, so that must have given you lots of different insights? Insight that you can use within your own musical exploration through the world of music. To live, learn, breath, shit, etc. music you need to have an inborn attitude and some talent stuck somewhere inside you in order to become a great musician - and well… I guess you at least partly subscribe this as well, don´t you (… -eh!)?

The 12 years passed have brought lots of experience and deeper insight to things in life in general and that is reflecting to music as well. The perspective in music has broadened a lot since those days but also the limits of that sector have become more distinct. Aging, probably??? :) Since we have continuously been involved with musical activities, a development in technique and sound is obvious of course. Moving closer and towards a more personal and recognizable sound, style and methods has hopefully been a result of all this time. My merit or value as a musician, I cannot say since we have never made any public releases to be reviewed of. Anyway, one cannot review himself. We all are self-taught players and stand at this point now.

 

 

Now it´s 12th of January, so would you update us a bit and tell how many times you have managed to rehearse with Necromancer thus far? Have you guys made any new ´war plans´ concerning your reunion?

We have gathered a few times and made some overall and basic plans, but nothing more really yet to give you any news about. It is going slow but strong...

 

 

Are you all still in the very same great and high spirits since you jammed together for the very 1st time after many years and believing firmly and devotedly in the reunited Necromancer? Or have you faced any setbacks since the reunion?

Sure we are!!! No setbacks have been faced.

 

 

What interests me personally a lot - well, for some obvious reasons, I guess, how has label interest been toward Necromancer thus far? Has Necromancer´s name been still staying on some people's lips through the years so that they could still remember how you guys sounded like in the late ´80s/early ´90s?

We have not been active in that sector yet... we need more time for ourselves to get things together and well practiced. First things first!!!

 

 

As far as playing a reunion show is still concerned, I guess and wish my both toes & fingers tightly crossed that will happen some day, but I was wondering whether there are gonna be more reunion shows from you than just that one coming up?

I'll give you just rumors to quench your thirst with... might be... all actions still in total secrecy :) Maybe we'll let you know... :)

 

 

Well, if there´s something else you would like to add to this nice and very much in-depth chat concerning Necromancer or something else, then feel free to do so ´coz I have run out of all the questions and wanna thank you for all those hours you may have sacrificed for my curiosity-filled questions about the band and so on. Thank you Juha and I hope it was all worth it…

On behalf of all of us I would like to add a special thanx to you, Luxi, for a great interview!!!! These moments have brought back lots of great memories and facts as well. The time spent in this has been most enjoyable and we are very honored to have been interviewed by the greatest metal magazine on the net!!!

 

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