Interview and live pics by Luxi Lahtinen
Let´s make a bold statement for starters: The legendary Finnish metallers, Demigod, have returned back to us – with a storm that has been named somewhat fittingly to LET CHAOS PREVAIL. It´s been 5 years since Demigod´s 2nd album, SHADOW MECHANICS, so obviously many of us have a good enough reason to sincerely believe Demigod had called its quits, but luckily those suspicious doubts don´t hold any water.
Since the days of SHADOW MECHANICS, lots of murky water has been flowing under the bridge, and many things have been happened in the Demigod -camp, too. Line-up changes aren´t the only changes Demigod has gone through over these past years, but the band has also traveled a long way from those Death Metal paths they used to have in the past, especially on their highly acclaimed debut album, SLUMBER OF SULLEN EYES. Nonetheless, Demigod´s new album LET CHAOS PREVAIL introduces the band in a new light that can hardly be considered any worse compared to their past, glorious old days. The musical steps they have taken on LET CHAOS PREVAIL, are somewhat drastic, but not for any worse direction if that was one of our biggest fears.
LET CHAOS PREVAIL has now been released – and the members of Demigod are eager to reveal more about it as well as some of their other plans regarding the coming months. Now let´s enter Demigod…
It´s been ´a while´ since Demigod have made some noise. In fact, as the hard fact is, your 2nd album – and a sort of ´comeback´ album, SHADOW MECHANICS, was released nearly 5 years ago on the Finnish Spikefarm Records, and since those days, you pretty much vanished from the face of the earth as many people, kind of mistakenly, seemed to think for an obvious reason. Anyway, could you tell some of those times after SHADOW was released, what actually happened in the Demigod -camp?
Sami: Right after the release of SHADOW album we had to recover from line-up changes, but luckily that problem was solved in couple of months as Drummer Tuomo Latvala joined the band and Tuomas Ala-Nissilä continued with the band as a full time vocalist. Now we have played with this particular line-up for 5 years, which is actually the longest lasting line-up in the bands history! Then there were few gigs here and there in Finland and that’s about it, nothing that spectacular happened…
LET CHAOS PREVAIL
Within those past 5 years, Demigod have been preparing songs for your 3rd full-length album, titled LET CHAOS PREVAIL, which is supposed to come out within the next couple of weeks or so. Would you tell anyway what were the primary reasons why it took such a long time to get these songs together for this new Demigod record – and do you think this long song writing process has affected the outcome of the songs somehow, making them sound probably a bit different some way if L.C.P. would have been released like 1-2 years ago instead?
Sami: Even we wouldn’t have believed it ourselves, that it’s going to take 5 years to get the next album out. In fact I remember we used to joke about it back then, that making the next album will take “only” five years. Oh, well, here we are five years later…
The songs for the LET CHAOS PREVAIL were ready in the beginning of 2005. After that the there has been only slight changes on the arrangements, so I think the songs would’ve sounded quite same if they were recorded back then.
So, why we had to wait two more years then? Reason 1: We are lazy bastards – and reason 2: Break-up with Spikefarm and other record-deal issues.
Tero: Especially the vocals on LET CHAOS PREVAIL got improved a great deal within the last 2 years. All the songs were ready as they can be when the recordings started. So this 5 five year period wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at all in that perspective. We however are trying to kick our asses to get the next album done in more reasonable time.
You recorded 10 new Demigod songs for LET CHAOS PREVAIL. Can you still remember what was the first song you got finished for it, and what about the last song?
Sami: If we are talking about the writing process, the first track we got together, was track titled “Self-caged”. And the last one was “Dark Turns Black”. At the studio, the first completely finished and mixed song was “Baptized In Enmity” and last and maybe toughest one was “God Said Suffer”. We had only two days for mixing and that was very nerve-breaking experience! I think we managed it quite well though…
Was it easy to nail down the final song running order for this album, or did you have to make some compromises within the band for not finding clear song candidates to start – and to end the album?
Jussi: It took some thinking to get the running order done. We had some ideas of which songs could start and end the album and which songs would go to the middle parts nicely, however there came all kinds of thoughts about certain songs and how they could not be next to each other and all that.
Tero: We burned several CDs that contained different order suggestions and then compared them together. This final order just kind of clicked in place and there it was.
When I listened to the songs off LET CHAOS PREVAIL, I couldn´t avoid comparing your songs to one certain already defunct Canadian metal band´s songs. Obviously you also pretty much subscribe that Canadian Obliveon has been a huge influence on Demigod over the past 10 years or so – especially the band´s absolutely brilliant NEMESIS album – hasn´t it?
Jussi: Yes it has! That album really has influenced my song writing a great deal! Although I hope it’s not too obvious… You know, I’ve always thought that taking influences from something or someone should be done carefully and with respect so you wouldn’t end up being a sad copy of your favorite band.
Tero: It’s become more of a thing that when someone asks for our influences we automatically say few bands and Obliveon happens to be one of them. Obliveon has a very original style of music and I think that was the thing that impressed us in the first place. The way of doing aggressive and yet somewhat melodic music for us is due to listening a lot of Obliveon in the past. I’m pretty certain none of us really listen to Obliveon that often today.
Was it intentional for the songs for LET CHAOS PREVAIL, to bring certain Demigod melody lines and other familiar Demigod elements into your songs that have kind of always been there in the sound of the band – even since from the days of SLUMBER OF SULLEN EYES so that your music could do some justice to the name of the band, Demigod…and so that people could still connect the music to the band´s name somewhat easily. Do you pretty much agree what was said in those aforementioned lines?
Jussi: Yes I do. We’re trying to take this band forward without forgetting where we came from and I think this time we managed to do that better than with SHADOW MECHANICS.
Sami: I agree with Jussi on this one, but I also think those elements come to our music quite naturally.
Did you feel any pressure when you started writing songs for this opus how to live up all the expectations that Demigod fans from over the world could have toward your new stuff?
Sami: We believe that people expect from us nothing but quality stuff. However, the biggest pressure still comes from what we expect from ourselves. So if we think the material is strong enough, it should be strong enough for the listeners as well.
Tero: Heh, I must admit that our fans are probably quite confused what to expect from us. LET CHAOS PREVAIL will be much more easily approachable than our previous album, I’m sure of that. That is because the band became much more unified after our previous album (our present line-up is the longest lasting in Demigod´s history so far) and musically we found our style, which was a little bit off the course earlier. In other words the band works like a clock now so we don’t have much concerns how the fans might react on the new stuff.
HOLY TRINITY OF DEMIGOD
What was your so-called ´holy trinity´ when you started composing the songs for LET CHAOS PREVAIL? I mean, when you compose new material for a band, there´s always some things in your mind that you kind of want to pay more attention to and be careful with, regarding song structures in order to make your songs really to stand out the way they should from your point of view. So, in other words, what are those 3 things that you think are vitally important to get as an essential part of a Demigod song?
Sami: A structure that keeps the song sounding interesting from the start to the end, catchy, yet original riffs and lots of balls!!
Tero: Apart from the size of our genital areas one of the key elements that we especially focused on was the vocals. One other thing that we had our nuts grinding was the lyrics.
Listening to your vocal performance on LET CHAOS PREVAIL, and comparing it to your vocal performance that you had on SHADOW MECHANICS, it sounds like you have really paid more attention to your vocal techniques and improved them drastically from the days you laid your vocals down to the SHADOW album. I don´t say you sounded bad on that album by any means, but your vocal parts sound definitely more powerful and overall more professional on Demigod´s latest work, LET CHAOS PREVAIL. Was this all a result of hard vocal training sessions, or could you say all this improvement has naturally come to your vocalism when achieving more experience over the years as the vocalist of the band?
Tuomas: First of all, it was a pleasant surprise, when the guys asked me to sing on their album (SHADOW MECHANICS). I´ve been a huge Demigod fan since the day one and I knew all the guys before, so that way it was pretty easy to get in the ring. I had been singing more or less in my previous bands Adramelech and Mythem, but at that time I went straight into the studio without any rehearsals. So it was a trial to me personally and to my singing voice as well. With LET CHAOS PREVAIL it was a lot easier. Our present line-up became permanent soon after the release of SHADOW MECHANICS and that, of course, brought some peace of mind into the band too. We had long sessions, before we entered the Fantom Studio, at our rehearsal place, where we arranged the vocal parts of these new songs. Our method is quite simple. Jussi and Sami have done some demos beforehand and then we go to our rehearsal room with those demos and fresh lyrics. Then we put the tape running and I start to sing and try to improvise the lyrics to fit in the atmosphere of that particular song. Sometimes Sami, Jussi, or even Tero, have some ideas or wishes concerning the vocal arrangements too. Before the actual studio dates I used to practice those songs on my own. I knew we had not too much time to spend in the studio, because we were without a record deal at the time etc., so my vocal parts should be recorded as quickly as possible. That´s why we arranged my parts and the whole songs beforehand, so that it would be easier to work in the studio. I also tried to keep up my good physical condition. All in all, it took two days in the studio to record all the vocal parts to this album. And to my ears it all turned out pretty well.
Writing lyrics is also an important part of the whole song writing process, kind of like giving the final decoration for a cake with lots of cream and strawberries. Is writing lyrics on someone´s shoulders in the band, or can each of you contribute Demigod´s lyrics as much as each of you are capable of doing so to some certain degree? How would you determinate well-written lyrics by a few words, by the way?
Tero: It’s become my burden to decorate our chocolate cake, mostly that is. The reason why it became my department of profession might be that I’ve always liked writing texts and surely, especially Jussi and Sami has a lot of topics in their mind that would be worth writing about, but mostly guys don’t have time put them on paper. So they throw the idea to me and I start whipping the cream. Well-written lyrics in my opinion go together with the music rhythmically, easy to read and has interesting contents.
What about each of your personal fave cuts off this new album of yours? I guess each of you have already got some distance to it so that you could possibly have a sort of opinion about those songs that have hit each of your ears better than some other songs for one reason or the other?
Jussi: For me the best songs at the moment are “Let Chaos Prevail” and “Dark Turns Black”.
Sami: Right now my favorite is “End Of Evolution”. The song has certain elements that I really like… For instance tempo changes and weird rhythms…
Tero: “Let Chaos Prevail” has my favorite riffs, nice rhythm changes and it just kicks my arse the best.
Tuomas: “Baptized in Enmity” and the title track.
NO TURNING BACK
What do you have to say to all of those Demigod fans that still expect you to compose similar stuff to the days of SLUMBER OF SULLEN EYES, just as some sort of a friendly ´wake-up call´ for them?
Jussi: It’s just not going to happen… You know, it’s been like 15 years since S.O.S.E. and we think it would be stupid to try to do the same thing still.
Tero: The band has to evolve. So, I hope that even the most hardcore SLUMBER -freaks would check the new album with open mind.
Tuomas: For me LET CHAOS PREVAIL is an album, which takes one or two steps back musical-wise in our career, in a good way, I mean.
The cover of LET CHAOS PREVAIL looks kinda unusual yet even relatively simple in some sense. It certainly doesn´t look like ´your-ordinary´ metal album cover by any means at all, so could you kindly explain it a bit better to the curious readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Sami: We ended up using ´fractals´ on the cover, just because there’s a lot of chaos going on in those pictures…
Tero: All the art you can see on the covers are made from fractal lines, which are mathematical figures that explain how chaos improves. Normally these fractals look quite stupid, but fortunately some people started making art out of them.
You told me already that Demigod was offered many different alternatives for the album cover artwork by some certain artists both from Finland and outside of Finland, so what kind of process it was actually to pick up the ´right´ artwork for the final cover of this album?
Tero: Once we had the idea of using fractal figures we started go through internet pages which contain this particular form of art. Jani Rämö, who also did the layout for the covers, found the artist and art. Jani e-mailed to the artist (Russa Lynn Waldren) and asked if her artwork could be used as an album cover. Her reply was positive and she even gave us freedom to use more of her art if wanted.
RELEASING ALBUM ON YOUR OWN
You had a long search going on for the right label to release this album, but eventually you ended up with kind of a compromise solution regarding this issue. You decided to release LET CHAOS PREVAIL as self-financed for the Scandinavian markets – and for covering the rest of the world, you licensed this album to the Spanish Xtreem Music that´s going to take care of the remaining ground on the earth. Could you enlighten us a bit more why you actually ended up choosing this kind of solution in the first place?
Jussi: Well, as you know, we ended-up paying all the recording costs by ourselves which led to a situation where we had to really think carefully about what kind of a deal we would want. You know, is there any way we can get our money back, what kind of distribution we can get and so on… And sure enough, things weren’t really moving to the right direction and at the same time some great people started to show up with the idea of putting the CD out with our own resources. We started to look up all the information we needed in order to be able to make the decision one way or another and it all seemed like we could actually make it real. After the decision to release LET CHAOS PREVAIL by ourselves was made, things really started to fall into place and we ended-up getting Xtreem Music in our back-pocket… So, back to the reasons why, we were talked into it, it all was kind of accidental, we’re ´slightly´ stupid and so on… But mostly I think we did it because it’s just another great experience for this band and at the moment I’m really proud that we had the balls to do it.
As you have said, this solution was the result of consideration of several options. As far as I know, also California-based Old School Metal Records was seriously interested in releasing your 3rd album, but this time their offer kind of didn´t fulfill all those expectations you were looking for the release terms of this album. But OSM Records, however, was a very serious candidate to the very last chalk lines to get this chance for releasing Demigod´s new album, correct?
Jussi: Yes, we talked with OSM and this time unfortunately it wasn’t the right time. It would’ve been cool though to have a North American label!
You have also started promoting LET CHAOS PREVAIL to some radio stations and magazines, even if all this promotion for your new album has just begun. Anyway, I gotta assume you have already received some feedback about your new record, so how people have taken it?
Tero: Quite good actually. We didn’t have much idea how the album would be taken so all the reviews about it has been totally positive so far, which of course is very relieving for us.
Since Dave from Xtreem Music will be responsible for getting this album promoted properly for the rest of the world except for the Scandinavian countries, have you set any specific goals with him that LET CHAOS PREVAILS should be advertised in a number of some certain publications, like UK Metal Hammer, German Metal Hammer, Legacy, Rock Hard, Terrorizer, Metal Maniacs and so other major publications so that more potential buyers could be reached as larger scales as possible?
Tero: Naah, nobody wants to teach their daddy how to perform sexual intercourse. I’m sure Dave does the job without us interfering his business.
Tuomas: I guess every magazine you mentioned have reached a promotional copy of LET CHAOS PREVAIL, so it is up to them if they´ll write a review of our album, or even better, if they want to do an interview with us. To me personally, it would be awesome if the major Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, especially their supplement entitled Nyt, would write a review of our album. They seem to pick up interesting new albums (also from outside the metal scene) in their reviews every week.
What kind of personal expectations does each of you have about LET CHAOS PREVAIL, being it sales-wise or some other way?
Sami: The most important thing for me for me has already happened: the album is out and the material is something I’m really proud of.
Tero: Same here man. I’m expecting nothing less than platinum-sales worldwide.
DEAL WITH SPIKEFARM RECORDS
What exactly happened between Demigod and Spikefarm Records that released SHADOW MECHANICS, Demigod´s 2nd album in 2002? Was the label manager of Spikefarm Records, Sami Tenetz, unhappy with the sales for it why he didn´t want to continue the contract with Demigod? Or did you rather feel they didn´t do enough for the band so that you could have had a chance to take your next step in your career to really get Demigod´s name carved to the mind of a new generation of metalheads?
Sami: They were probably not happy at all about the sales of SHADOW MECHANICS nor they were happy that there was so much time spent preparing the next album. Then there was some disagreement about which type of vocals we should use on the album, and we of course didn’t want to change anything concerning our music.
We thought that they didn’t believe in us anymore and it seemed that they wanted to get rid of us one way or the other, so it was better for both to part ways…
Tuomas: On the other hand we were not satisfied with their promotional contribution, so everybody should be happy now. If you look at their band catalogue nowadays, you might find out that there has been a big rearrangement inside that label. Demigod is not the only band that has parted the ways with Spike/Spinefarm Records over the past few years.
Have you any regret afterwards to sign with them back in the day, by the way?
Sami: No, we got what we wanted. A chance to record the album the way we wanted it. And enough studio-time to get the job done properly.
Tero: Well, thanks to them Demigod still exists.
Tuomas: We are still grateful to them, because they offered the deal at the time, when no-one believed in our music. They also gave us the opportunity to perform at Scandinavia´s biggest outdoor metal festival, Tuska, which was a big turning point in Demigod´s history. Without that gig the band wouldn’t exist anymore, I guess.
You are also about to start doing gigs more actively now when the new album is on its way. How important do you find gigging anyway for Demigod as far as its promotional aspect is concerned?
Tuomas: Gigging in general is very important for all of us. Although Demigod is formed in 1990, we´re still quite unknown band in the Finnish metal scene. Every gig is a good chance to introduce the band to new audience and to promote the latest album. It is also important because our songs are not played that much in these Finnish metal shows in radio. We usually pay a lot of attention into our setlist. Now that we’ve done three albums the setlist contains a good mixture of old and new Demigod. The gigs are kind of special events for us, I mean, our setlist changes a bit all the time.
If you got a chance to do a tour with 2 or 3 bands, what bands would be the most ideal touring mates for Demigod you´d like to do this tour with?
Jussi: That’s easy, Infernäl Mäjesty and Obliveon… And after we’ve played our set, give me some time to buy a beer and join the audience before the other bands play, that’s all I ask.
How do you think Demigod will fit into today´s metal scene, now when such genres of metal as Power Metal, Black Metal and Death Metal seem all to be the biggest trends amongst the metal loving community? Do you honestly believe there´s still enough people out there that can understand and show their appreciation toward a band like Demigod these days? As some sort of a reference point, it´s the fact to say Demigod is its own kind here in Finland, and no other band can come even close to sound like Demigod.
Tuomas: In my opinion Demigod is quite unique band, but that has also been our aim I guess.
Jussi: Well, I really don’t know if we’ll ever fit into the metal scene or not… and I’m not sure if I really care that much about fitting in? I mean, sure it would be great if the new CD would sell like a motherfucker but then again we like the CD and that’s what is important! For me it’s also important to sound original even with the risk of not fitting in… and at the moment it seems that we’re doing our own thing quite strongly and it’s only appreciated in Turku…
EX-MEMBERS OF DEMIGOD
I guess some people are somewhat curious to hear what the three original ex-Demigod members, Esa Lindén, Seppo Taatila and Mika Haapasalo, have been up to since the left the band? Please kill these people´s curiosity by giving an update about those fellows´ current lifes if you have some worth telling details to be shared with us?
Sami: They’re all doing well! Nowadays they are quite focused on their families and work careers. Mika is the only one who makes a living out of music. He runs his studio in Helsinki and plays in Finnish rock band called Happoradio.
Tuomas: Mika is a very professional musician and he helped us a lot, especially me, at the time we were recording the Shadow -album. He also recorded all the drum tracks to LET CHAOS PREVAIL -album, so he is still around.
If Borat from Kazakhstan was invited to do guest vocals for one of your songs, what song would you make him sing and why that particular song?
Tuomas: I´d like to hear him screaming… Oh sorry, singing! I mean… NOT… DEAD… ENOUGH!!!
Jussi: I honestly think I’d rather fucking die than let him sing any of our songs.
I think that was it, so thank you guys for your time for doing this and let´s hope with LET CHAOS PREVAIL Demigod will take the next big step on your successful road toward better times so that we don´t have to wait for your next album for another 5 or 10 years… ;o) Thanks again & c-ya!
Jussi: No worries, it’ll only take 2 and a half years to make the next CD? Thanks for the interview you big fat kurapuntti!!!