Interview with POISONBLACK guitarist Janne Markus and bassist Antti Remes
Interview by Niko Karppinen
Live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
Sometimes things happen in fast and unexpected ways. I wasn’t ready for an interview with Poisonblack at all, but suddenly in the middle of their touring, I had a chance to talk with guitarist Janne Markus and bassist Antti Remes. We had a somewhat hectic interview session, so we talked… talked about… Just wait! I need to take my pills in the right order. DONE! So yeah, just go on and read some more about this relentless and rockin´ Finnish bunch so that you know what’s going on in the Poisonblack-camp these days.
GETTING OVER WITH ADHD – AND MOVING ON
Your previous album, A DEAD HEAVY DAY, was released in the fall of 2008. Have you already started working on new material for your next release?
Janne: Oh yes. We have a framework done for a new record and we’ve recorded some of the songs already. It looks like we are about to enter studio in August to record the new Poisonblack album.
As far as I know you been playing some of the new songs live already?
Antti: Yes, that’s true. We have played one particular new song in festivals and responses have been good overall.
The predecessor of your latest album LUST STAINED DESPAIR sounded a bit like gothic-rock, and in my opinion there also were some similarities with Ville Laihiala’s old band Sentenced. A DEAD HEAVY DAY was more like heavy rock’n’roll oriented album. Was this direction something what you originally desired for the band?
Janne: I don’t see it that way. At the time we were working on the A DEAD HEAVY DAY material, it just started to sound more like ´metallic´ rock’n’roll. We just let it be and left the material to live its own life and songs started to take its own form slowly changing. I really think that this album sounds one hell a lot of better than anything we’ve done before, perhaps mainly because we did not recorded over that much. Whole album’s been done in traditional way with rock’n’roll-style… hah!
So ADHD turned out to be heavier and rockier album, kind of naturally I mean?
Janne: Exactly. We didn’t want to think about it too much.
Antti: Yeah, it was more like a natural movement for us. I think that right now there are influences from the bands we used to listen as kids and it sounds like where we’re from… From northern Finland.
How do you usually compose songs for this band? Was there any difference between LUST STAINED DESPAIR and A DEAD HEAVY DAY when it comes to this?
Janne: Ville’s usually doing all the lyrics and most of the songs. I did 4 songs in the album so there are no major changes with this. All band members do have permission to create songs and together we’re choosing best riffs which we are about work on. At the moment it’s me and Ville who are responsible all of the material and it looks like this is the way we’re going to work with the next album as well.
What are the biggest changes between these two albums when comparing them to each others?
Janne: Well, ADHD is basically the very first release of the band with this line-up. Every member of the band sacrificed his own blood of heart for this record ‘till the last second of the album. Though I think it’s a better album overall.
Antti: In my opinion ADHD is sounding more like Poisonblack than its predecessor. The songs of LUST STAINED DESPAIR were couple of years old before we got them released.
The present line-up has been together since 2006 which means that the material of LUST STAINED DESPAIR was already written before band took its form?
Antti: That’s true. We had to record the whole thing all over again. Janne and Ville composed three new songs on the album.
Janne: This album was almost finished in the 2004 but it sounded a bit strange. At the time Ville was really busy; had to participate in the Sentenced burials and perform the "Funeral Album" tour. So we decided to give him time to get Sentenced finished properly without any pressure from our side. After his duties we finished the whole record and made 3 new songs for the album and mixed it once again.
What can we expect from the new Poisonblack album? Are we about to hear a totally different Poisonblack than ever before?
Janne: Certainly we’re not doing any jazz that’s for sure! I believe that we’re continuing with the same lines like with ADHD. Rocking without prejudices apart from staggered patterns added with some metal influences. Of course not to forget about the northern melodies and melancholy. These two elements should be present there too.
So there’s some certain northern dimension in these new Poisonblack songs?
Antti: Definitely! Old dogs can’t learn new things…
POISONBLACK ON TOUR
Poisonblack’s been touring abroad quite a bit after release of A DEAD HEAVY DAY. How’s the response been?
Antti: It’s been great actually. It’s good to see that there are new fans that had gotten to know band through A DEAD HEAVY DAY.
Do you have personal favorite countries where you like to tour?
Antti: Personally I like Italy. We’ve always been warmly welcomed and gigs been great there!
Have you got any influences from the bands you’ve been touring with?
Janne: Well, not really. The longest tours we’ve had with Lacuna Coil and with Dark Tranquillity – both bands are totally different kind of music than Poisonblack so I don’t think so. Similarities if there are any of them are purely accidental, let me say it this way.
What about your own influences? Can you hear your own favorite bands through the music of Poisonblack?
Antti: I think you can hear them from our songs. We’re not afraid of influences at all and definitely we’re not trying to create something extraordinary with our music.
Janne: Naturally there are lots of influences but I don’t want to copy anybody and I guess it’s pretty hard to avoid similarities especially when most of the riffs and songs are already done by the other bands before.
THE FUTURE OF POISONBLACK
I might say it was somewhat surprising that Ville Laihiala took solo guitar duties in Poisonblack whilst he´s well known as a vocalist due to his days in Sentenced?
Janne: Ville is actually a guitarist in the first place not a singer. I think he can handle his position really well and solos are not a problem at all. When looking other bands I could mention Children of Bodom and Opeth as an example.
At Sauna Open Air Metal festival this year, we had possibility to experience something new here in Finland: Meet’n Greet happening (well, that thing has been arranged quite a few times f.ex. at Tuska festival already, so… Luxi adds politely). What kind of feelings did you have about this? Should festivals book these kinds of happenings more in Finland in your opinion?
Janne: I see it as a good opportunity for fans to see and meet their favorite bands. It’s good place to chat and ask questions. Though at SOA we got some alcohol too, this made us very happy! Greetings for the SOA organizers about this!
Antti: We’ve been in the same kind of meetings before and it’s good to see people there. It certainly would be a great addition at the Finnish festivals in the future.
What kind of plans does Poisonblack have for the near future?
Antti: New album and as much gigs as possible!
Janne: Yeah, new album out in the start of the year 2010, gigs and lots of good music hopefully.
Ok, I think it’s about the time to end this interview. Have you guys got something else to add to this chat?
Janne: Well, what the hell should I say? I guess I should say something nice and smart to be ´mediasexual???´ I’m sorry but nothing comes to mind! Buy our records and go to gigs to see Poisonblack playing live! Thanks!
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