Markus Vanhala of Omnium Gatherum
Interview By Anders Sandvall
Pictures provided by Sound Pollution
Thanks to Niklas “Hobbe” Andersson at Sound Pollution for help with the interview.
The Finnish act Omnium Gatherum have recently released their second album YEARS IN WASTE on Nuclear Blast. I took the opportunity to ask guitarist Markus Vanhala a few questions about the album and about the band.
Would you like to tell us a bit about the band?
Our second album “Years In Waste” was just released by Nuclear Blast, before that we were signed to English Rage Of Achilles label which quitted their business just same time when we were in studio recording “Years..” album that they should?ve released still. But, Nuclear Blast helped us out and signed us right after they?ve heard this album and that we are seeking a new label to work with. The history of OG begun from the cellar in the year 1996 and after that we made few demos and our last demo “Wastrel” lead to recording deal with ROA in 2001. Then we released MCD and album through Rage Of Achilles and that was about it. The music style of the band could be described with words like death and heavy metal, melodic, a bit progressive and atmospheric. Our sound is built by combining lots of different metal styles and elements together still under the flag of death and thrash metal..
Where in Finland do you guys live?
Our rehearsal place and the headquarter called “HellHole” is located in Karhula, near Kotka city in South-eastern Finland. Half of the band lives there and others live in the neighbouring town and Antti lives nowadays in Helsinki.
Before the release of the album you did an MCD called “STEAL THE LIGHT” how did that go?
Yeah, “Steal the light” MCD was the official debut release of the band in 2002 but we have also released one full-length album called “Spirits and August Light” before this new effort, “Years In Waste”. “Steal” and “Spirits” have now been re-released also on one disc through Nuclear Blast. “Steal” presented OG in our raw form when the style of the band was more of that basic Scandinavian melodic death metal in the veins of our influences Flames, CoB, At The Gates.. “Spirits” album presented more mature and individual songwriting and presentation and the sound is much more raw and brutally angry.
How did media greet it?
Steal the Light and Spirits and August Light got huge amounts of praising and positive feedback upon them which surprised us a lot. There were some album of the month titles etc and even all the biggest magazines rated the albums with high points. The articles said that we are something like a new wave of European metal or third coming of death metal…
Why the name Omnium Gatherum? Does it mean anything special to you?
In the beginning it was just some name as we needed urgently a name to the cover of our first demo and this was about the first that our former keyboardist invented. At that time I hated that name but nowadays I have learned to like it and I think it describes very well the band and music itself. It can be translated to peculiar mixture, miscellaneous collection, gathering of the freaks, it means in one way same as M?tley Cr?e. That?s true that the name is quite difficult and strange but at least it?s individual, even though there are also other band called Omnium Gatherum in the other side of the globe in Australia.
Have you done many live shows yet? If so how did that go?
Of course we have done live shows so far about seven years or something. The main point for me playing in this band is to be able to play live `cause that?s the best part of the thing! OG is in it?s best in live situation and you can expect lots of flowing energy, aggression, moshing and adrenaline on OG gigs, and of course, also tight playing!
How long did it taken to write and record “YEARS IN WASTE”?
-M. It took about one year to write the music and fin(n)ish the album. “Spirits..” album recording sessions took place in autumn 2002 and after that we played live much and took a little break before started to write new stuff. Antti writes his lyrics all the time and I guess that there are some parts, at least some song titles from as far as mid-nineties. Recordings sessions of this album were in June-July 2004, hot summer influenced northern metal…
Who writes the music and lyrics?
Me and Harri write the music, the whole band arranges the stuff and Antti writes the lyrics and made his vocal parts.
What are the lyrics about? Have you brought up any special subject or matter in the lyrics?
They are journey to wastelands of youth, where you have some depressions on your path etc.. There are lots of different themes, jokes, metaphors and so on. They are telling that you can spend your time in many ways, like living in a garbage can. I really don?t know much about them as our vocalist makes all the lyrics and I don?t know so much about their meanings. At least I know that they are very individual and lyrical stuff as Antti calls himself also a poet and he writes a lot. They are not usual heavy stuff; fantasy, suicide, satan, corpses? There are also about ten years old song titles from Antti`s past like Gravesilence and Misanthropic.. Nostalgia!
In which studio did you record the album?
At Sonic Pump studio in Helsinki, Finland with Nino Laurenne again. We have made both our albums and MCD there, as things and chemistry seem to work out well.
Who has produced it?
This time we had also external producer Teemu Aalto in the studio kicking our asses to play better takes and polishing the output. We made a demo of this album in local Woodbine Garden studio in Kotka with Teemu before the real studio sessions and things worked so greatly that we wanted him on board also to the Sonic Pump sessions. He gave a lot of different views and aspects to the stuffs sound landscape as he ain?t only a metal head.
Are you satisfied with the album or do you feel you should have done anything different if you look back on it now?
-M. Mainly yeah very satisfied, and that?s the first time after doing an album as we all have a big self-criticism syndroma, sometimes too big indeed. Of course there?s always some minor things what to change but that?s not the point. It?s the best effort we were able to do this time, next time it should be even better of course! Otherwise we can quit.
Who has did the cover of the album?
Olli Lappalainen, the former singer of OG. He has made all our covers since the very first demo tape. His art give individuality and continuity to our album lay-outs.
Are you satisfied with the cover?
Yeah, as always to Olli`s artistic work. The art describes goodly what?s going on in the lyrical side, thinking about the wasted time passed by.
Have you read any reviews in the media on the album, what does the media think of it?
I haven?t seen many reviews yet but so far they?ve been very positive, at least biggest Finnish magazines have liked it a lot and give high ratings to the album. Some maybe will claim that this is more different kind of stuff (even it?s not so much) than Spirits and August Light but what the hell, who cares!
Why have you titled the album “YEARS IN WASTE”?
It was Antti`s title and I guess it?s something about the “theme” of some lyrics that you can spend your days and years and youth in many ways also wrongly, throwing them away or so on..
How does the co-operation with your label go?
So far so good! Resources are hundred times bigger than on the last label and that can be seen of course.
Now that the album is out do you have any plans on going out on tour?
We have a lot plans or hopes to go abroad on tour in OG camp, hopefully our label have also those thoughts. Nothing confirmed yet but it would be really important to go touring after this release to support the album and spread the name.
Are there any plans on when the next album is going to be released?
Not really, new album just came out and also the re-release of the “Spirits/Steal” came out now so we don?t have any hurry at the moment. Though, the writing for the new stuff has already begun and we have few song skeletons ready. Wild guess to schedule thing would be release the album in spring 2006, maybe…maybe.
2004 is soon coming to an end, what are the plans for the band in ?05?
The main goal is that hopefully we could get now our asses to tour bus and make a wide supporting tour abroad to some bigger band. Of course also write again a better third album!
Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of metal-rules.com?
Cheers Metal-Rules, check out www.omniumgatherum.org! ?Ja ei muuta ku h?l?kynk?l?kyn ja kullia suoleen!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thanks to you Anders!
Read the review for “Years of Waste” here.