Heart of Steel: Interviews

Searing Meadow

Interview by Luxi Lahtinen

Searing Meadow is one of those new Finnish outfits on the map worth checking out as they have made a relatively huge impact on me lately. Their amazingly melodic, heavy and absolutely catchy Death Metal that quite strongly reminds me of Amorphis´ TALES -era stuff, was irresistible enough to awake my curiosity about them, so what would have been a better way to get them known a bit better than make an interview with the band and inquire about all those essential things that I wanted to know about them in the very first place. The band is currently in the studio to record their debut album titled CORRODING FROM INSIDE for a once defunct, but already raised from the dead Finnish metal label RISING REALM RECORDS which is supposed to come out as soon this summer.


Searing Meadow started out as a more aggressive and brutal Death Metal in 1999, but eventually you started to add more melodic elements into the band´s sound which obviously was something you wanted to develop this band musically in the first place. So that makes me ask, what happened inside the band why you decided to take this more melodic direction for Searing Meadow? Do you just wanna call it ´a natural progression´ after all? 

Yep, it's true that in the beginning most of our material was quite brutal and aggressive, but eventually more and more melodic elements crept into our songs. We noticed that the songs with melodic parts sounded much better than the brutal stuff, so we determinately began to develop our music into that direction.

 Ville P.: I compose most of my material with an acoustic guitar at home, so it's quite natural that I write more melodic riffs. Trying to play chainsaw riffs with an acoustic guitar really just doesn't cut it. 



Your latest demo release, ENDURING ENCHANTMENT landed you a deal with the Finnish label RISING REALM RECORDS. Do you believe that RISING REALM RECORDS was absolutely the very best alternative around for a band like Searing Meadow to release your stuff or was this more of a question just to get signed to any possible label that may offer at least a decent record deal for you and pay all the studio costs, etc.?

 We actually had negotiated with a foreign record company about a deal, but eventually we ended up with RRR. We feel that RRR is the best choice for us because they have great contacts within the industry and it's a Finnish label. The latter is very important, for it makes communication easier and co-operation more flexible. Also, RRR is a small label compared to the industry giants, so they can spare more time and effort for their bands.



I bet you also have some expectations toward the owner of RISING REALM RECORDS, Tomi Tekkala, as far as promotion and stuff for your band in general are all concerned. So what are they to be a bit more accurate with this question?

 We expect that RRR would handle the promotion well, especially here in Finland but not forgetting the rest of the world. At the moment we're a beginning band in the scene so it's very important that as many listeners as possible would be aware of us. After all, it's hard to sell any records and do gigs if the general public remains ignorant of our release. Above all, we hope that co-operation with Mr. Tekkala would be very fruitful and communication between the band and the label would be easy and relaxed. So far we've been very pleased with Mr. Tekkala´s contribution. 



I know that this has been said to you a number of times before in very different occasions, but to my ears, you have this strong vibe in your sound that reminds me heavily of Amorphis´ TALES -era. By spitting that shamelessly out (again!), I guess really doesn't leave you any possibility, but to admit those ´amo´ -influences in your stuff, right (he!)? 

Yeah…Guilty as charged. While the 'amo'- influences are clearly audible in our music, they're not intentional. They just are mysteriously present in our songs. One could speculate that it has something to do with the fact that most of us like Amoprhis, but we feel that it's not all to it. 

Ville P.: I've never been a fan of Amorphis, but I'll have to admit that the TALES -album contains a couple of great songs. 


What about your newer stuff then? Are people still going to recognize some familiar Amorphis -influences out of your songs?

Personally it wouldn't harm me a bit (more like the opposite!) if those TALES -era vibes were haunting behind your new stuff, too... ;) It's hard to say, because as musicians we are in a way deaf to our own compositions. It takes someone outside the band to notice those subtle vibes. We haven't changed our musical course while making our new songs, so you can definitely expect those haunting vibes being present again. There will also be a couple of slower, calmer songs in the forthcoming album which could be compared to songs in AM UNIVERSUM, if such a comparison to Amorphis is necessary. On a side note, a couple of our new songs were (and still are) known within the band as TUONELA and TALES while under composition. Everyone can make their own conclusions from that…



When you are actually composing a new song for the band, do you always try to keep in your mind that this next song is going to be better than the last song that you composed? I mean, are you always driving at some sort of perfection when being in the middle of a song composing process for the band? I bet you are at least a bit of perfectionist with your doings for this band? 

We've got many songs which differ from each other so it's difficult to compare a slow ´doom´ish´ song with a fast-paced folk-influenced tune. We try to make songs that stand out on their independent merits, as opposed to the songs competing with each other which is not our intention. Our perfectionism is more evident in our song arrangements and meticulous production. Also all band-related stuff is done determinately and with care.  



How does each of you guys in the band contribute to the band´s song writing process anyway? Do you have these certain roles inside the band with who does what? Also, I was just wondering are some of you guys in Searing Meadow in some sort of statistic roles who basically don´t contribute the band´s song writing that much or hardly at all? 

Actually no-one plays a statistic role in SEARING MEADOW. While Mika and Ville P. are responsible for most of the compositional work, we all contribute to the arrangements. Antti and Ville K. are given quite free hands with drum and bass lines, respectively. Everyone's got a say concerning the material, and are also expected to voice their opinions. 

Antti H. - With all due respect for Mika and Ville P., sometimes it's quite infuriating when they think they can teach me how to play drums…While I accept suggestions and implement good ones, sometimes it feels like they're trying to show their fathers how to fuck. 



How important do you see lyrics for the band? Do you think that without well-written lyrics it's hard to make a song completely stand out from your own personal point of view? What are some of the best lyrics you have written to this band so far and what makes them so pleasing you anyway? 

Ville P.: I feel that lyrics are important in a song; they contribute to the song as whole. Bad lyrics can ruin a good song and vice versa, although even excellent lyrics can't save a terrible song. Perhaps my personal favorite would be "Three Names for Denial". Those lyrics describe my own ideology of individualism quite well; oppose all existing society-force-fed values and always use your own judgment. Actually I deal with the same issues in almost all of my lyrics. There are no boundaries in life. The only ones are in your head. Hedonism is not wrong! 



I'm giving you now 3 short excerpts from some lyrics and you should try to analyze them for us next whether you consider them overall either as good or bad lyrics from your point of view. Got it? 

Ok, here we go then... please analyze them a little bit: Excerpt no. 1. : "This dark desolate wasteland, a desert of ashes and dust... Cold winds freezing my blood to ice, shadows embrace me (like) razors cutting my skin..." 

Ville P.: Sounds like Norwegian weather forecast metal… Anybody can go outdoors and describe what winter scenery looks and feels like. To put my words discreetly: total bullshit which requires no writing skills at all. 


Excerpt no. 2. : "You better have an easy living to show them, so waste your time peace and love... You better run if the evil is near you, he shows no mercy don´t show no fear..." 

Ville P.: Reminds me of traditional Heavy Metal, could be Iron Maiden or some such band. It's difficult to get a grasp of this text without the whole context. Quite ok, but the last lines approach comedy. I find it a bit amusing. 


And finally, excerpt no. 3. : "Metal shores and seas of bronze, magic spirit heart of doom... electric rain and rotting flesh chiming bells of solid bone..." 

Ville P.: Hmm… ´war metal´, Sodom perhaps? Quite traditional thrash/speed metal lyrics, they fit that kind of aggressive music well. Although I'm not a big warmonger, when you hoarsely scream "rotting flesh", it's gotta sound fucking good. 


There are surely an unnumbered amount of metal listening people on earth that have never gotten a chance to hear Searing Meadow, having no idea of your music at all and who even might be interested in checking you guys out some day. So how would you describe your sound to them just to give them something to expect from you musically? 

Very melodic metal driven by guitar riffs, low growling vocals, catchy choruses, atmospheric background synth layers, paced with double bass grooves. All this is then mixed with serene moments comprising of acoustic guitar. Definitely no female vocals or fuckawful jingle-bell synth solos. 



You have obviously started recording for your forth-coming debut album titled CORRODING FROM INSIDE at Musamuusa Studios. What have you already recorded for your forth-coming album and how has the whole recording process been turning out for the bad thus far? Have you faced any troubles during the time you have been at the studio? 

Actually, not a single note has been recorded yet. The material is still under a strict pre-production process, supervised by our producer Kari Nieminen. He's been kicking our butts in the studio for the last three months, making us approach our material from a whole different angle and squeezing all our talent out of us. So Kari has been a great help, and occasionally a merciless overseer (in a positive way), for us. The actual recordings will begin in April, so we haven't faced any problems yet. One of the main purposes of this pre-production is to minimize all possible problems usually appearing in the actual recording sessions. We expect that the recording sessions will be quick and painless, like a bullet to the head…



What kind of expectations do you have about your debut album as wholeness as far as its songs are concerned? And how do you believe it will be received amongst metal fans around the world? 

My guess is that all those people who simply loved Amorphis´ TALES -album, cannot undoubtedly resist CORRODING FROM INSIDE... Our aim is to make the songs groove and to achieve good overall sound on the album, essentially making our debut album as good as is possible for us. We sincerely believe that our album will be well received around the world, 'cause it will rock like hell! Comparisons to Amo's TALES…-album will be inevitable. We think that people will realize that our music has a lot of variation and that we sound like SEARING MEADOW. In the end, that will surely separate us from TALES -era Amorphis. 


When will your debut album be released and in which countries it will be released? 

As it is, the release date for CORRODING FROM INSIDE is still open. We're currently concentrating ourselves for the forthcoming studio recordings and we leave the release date, promotion and all such decisions to Rising Realm Records. At the moment, it seems that the release date is due sometime in summer. 



Japanese metal fans always seem to get their own bonus tracks. Is that going to happen with the release of the Searing Meadow debut, too? Do you have a song to offer for a possibly Japanese import release? 

At the moment, we haven't thought a lot about Japan or any other particular country. If there'd be demand for a special release in the future, we're more than happy to conjure something special for those sexy Japanese girls, heh. 



You have already done a couple of gigs here in Finland. How has your audience liked your stage performance and music? What has been your best gig experience thus far and where did it happen? 

Yeah, we've done a couple of gigs per year, mostly in our hometown Turku. Judging from the crowd's reactions, people have liked our performance. There haven't been any huge mosh-pits, people have concentrated more on listening to our music. So far, the best gig has been with Insomnium and Rapture, in November 2003. The overall atmosphere that evening was great, thanks to a large crowd and those two brilliant bands which played with us. 



Talking about doing gigs a bit more, how important is playing gigs as a promotional tool for the band in order to get known? When are you going to play your next gig (-s) and do you think that once your album has been released, you even might do a bit more extensive tour to support the release of it? 

Our next gig will be possible after our recording sessions are finished. We haven't planned our future gigs or a possible tour yet. In the summer we'll try to make as many gigs as possible, not in the least because gigs are one important factor in promoting our debut album. Of course, media coverage is the main promotional factor. 



Are you guys able to go abroad for doing gigs as well? Or do your personal studies (or daily works) restrict that thing a bit these days? 

Doing gigs abroad would be a great thing, but at the moment we're all students and our studies take a large amount of our personal time. There'd be no problem to do a gig or two for eg. in Sweden but extensive touring abroad is at the moment really hard. In summertime things are a bit easier to arrange, so some kind of a mini-tour would be possible. Let's see what happens in the future… 



Is there any special country for you in this world that you would like to go some day with the band and play for all those people out there? 

Japan would be an interesting place to play in. It is generally known that Japanese metal fans are quite fanatic, and many Finnish bands have gained considerable success there. In principle if there's demand, we're willing to satisfy it regardless of country. 



Do you consider Searing Meadow more as a live band or a studio band? 

Without a doubt it's a completely different situation to go onstage and play live for people than sit in a studio and play something for a tape without getting any response back from anyone... Currently we're mainly a studio band. Our songs include multiple guitar tracks and atmospheric synths so recapturing them live would require a third guitarist and possibly a synth player. Thus we've re-arranged our songs for live performance. Our goal while playing live is not to play our songs note to note as they are on the album, but to play them more aggressively and more straightforward. Still some of the songs (especially the slow ones) are very difficult to carry out adequately, mainly because of the different atmosphere in live situations. 



How much has the internet helped Searing Meadow get your name out? Would you say that without the internet your band would be hardly known? 

Hardly anyone would know of us abroad without the Internet, that's for sure. Here in Finland, word of mouth has been an important way for us to gain more audience for our music, even more important than the Internet. 



Your 1st two demos (SLOWLY CREEPING IN and ONCE ADORED that are) seem to be very hard to get nowadays as you don't sell them any longer. So that makes me wonder whether you might make them available as MP3s some day through your own website? I believe you are still receiving requests for those from many interested parties almost on daily basis? 

Not on a daily basis, but requests still come every now and then. Those demos used to be available on our website www.searingmeadow.com in MP3 format but we took them away because they're just not up to date anymore. Not that we're ashamed of the sound quality, heavens no…We might put those first two demos back on the net someday, as a curiosity for the fans. By the way, two songs from ONCE ADORED will be on CORRODING FROM INSIDE. 



What albums have specifically had the hugest and deepest impact on you from the end of the ´80s to the beginning of this new millennium? And did they make you realize something specific about yourself and what kind of things you tried to be musically as far as some of these albums were concerned? 

Mika I.: Amorphis - TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES. It just struck me really hard. Back then when it came out, it was the best record I'd ever heard. Tomi Koivusaari's growling has also been a great influence in my own vocals. 

Antti H.: Iron Maiden - SEVENTH SON OF THE SEVENTH SON. It was the greatest influence for me when I was younger in the early 90's, along with Metallica's RIDE THE LIGHTNING and MASTER OF PUPPETS. I began to play drums because I wanted to play like Lars Ulrich. Later in the 90´s TALES FROM THE THOUSAND LAKES and ELEGY from Amorphis were big defining factors for me. 

Ville P.: Mötley Crüe - SHOUT AT THE DEVIL. Pentagram on the black cover and a cool title... fucking amazing! I was about eleven when I first heard it and back then that record seemed so satanic and dark, and it made me to explore my inner darkness, heh. Slayer - REIGN IN BLOOD. That kind of rage and hatred I had never heard before. This album is one of my all time favorites and it still makes me mosh like hell. The lyrics are something unbelievable and they have been a really big influence for me, "Monarch to the kingdom of death..."! Although every Slayer album is a true masterpiece and they are all sacred to me. Entombed - LEFT HAND PATH. One of the first real Death Metal albums I've listened to. It kind of blew a young boys' head off. After this album I really started to understand the beauty of growling. 



Could you say if there is one Death Metal album for you that represents the epitome of Death Metal with all those essential musical ingredients and values in it that make it a 100% Death Metal album? What could be the best nominee in your opinion to conquer that particular throne out of thousands and thousands of Death Metal albums that has been released since the early 90´s up to this very day…? 

Mika I. & Ville P.: Entombed - LEFT HAND PATH. One of the best Death Metal albums ever made. In our opinion this album created the Scandinavian Death Metal scene. It contains brutal and kind of rockin' riffs, raw lyrics and great songs.



 What could be three realistic´ wishes that you would hope to achieve with Searing Meadow within the next couple of years or so?

- World tour with Slayer as a supporting act 

- Searing Meadow action figures 

- Make it to the cover of Playgirl magazine I



Guess that's it for now. Thanks a lot guys for taking your time with my questions and let's hope CORRODING FROM INSIDE will reach as many ears as possible once it has been put out. If you have any last words for the readers of Metal-Rules.com, then here's your opportunity to spit them out... ;) 

Don't ever eat yellow snow!!!

Searing Meadow: searingmeadow.com

Rising Realm Records: risingrealm.com