Doom metal is the name of the game now as Lord Vicar, led by the former Reverend Bizarre man Kimi Kärki, has been unleashing the epicus doomicus metallicus since 2007. Even though the line-up consists of members living all around the planet, the four piece has managed to get two albums and, three split releases out by now. The latest opus titled SIGN OF OSIRIS is a fine slab of catchy and spellbinding doom metal. Therefore having an interview with Kimi Karki for Metal-Rules.Com is nothing, but obvious.
Hey what’s up in the camp of Lord Vicar, what have you been doing recently?
We haven’t played together after May 2012, so it’s been a quiet period. We have been writing new music, the songs for the third Lord Vicar full length album are nearly finished. We will not hurry with it, though, we want to play these songs live during the Springtime, and hit the studio by August 2013. Taking it really slow works well for us.
SIGN OF OSIRIS
The latest opus of Lord Vicar called SIGN OF OSIRIS came out in 2011, what kind of process was to create the SIGN OF OSIRIS album compared to the previous ones?
Well, there was only one Lord Vicar album before that, FEAR NO PAIN (The Church Within Records, 2008), and some odd vinyl releases. Compared to that we were able to play the basic tracks live in studio, even if we mostly overdubbed bass and guitars. This resulted to a more solid, better flowing album. And I tend to think the songwriting was better as well, even when there are good tunes in the first effort as well. If I think back to Reverend Bizarre times, working with Lord Vicar is very much easier, as there is less stress and more cameradie. The world is what you make it to be, and I try to live in balance. Of course, sometimes that means going over the edge, but I do try to replace hostility with something more constructive.
In general, are you pleased with the results achieved on the album or do you now feel that some things and parts could have been carried out in a different way?
I am very happy with the album. Of course there are always details you might want try and do differently, be it some sloppy playing in some part, or a
matter of arrangement, but this time there are no big regrets, really. I am particularly pleased with how Chritus sang on this album, there is both strength and vulnerability there, great honesty throughout.
Do you think writing and composing has become more complicated and demanding after these years as you are getting older and after playing in several bands before?
If you mean whether the process of songwriting has gotten more difficult, then no, not really. Perhaps some of the ‘innocence’ of the first compositions has gone, but at the same time I feel totally confident with the new riffs that come to me. I know they are as they should be, and I still trust my intuition. The moment when I lose that, and start to think what other people might want to hear, then it’s time to look into the mirror, and look hard.
One thing that grows is the ambition with the arrangements, we just want to outdo ourselves when it comes to the musical performance. We want to become better players. This does not mean that I for one would be going to Steve Vai direction, hah, but just more solid and more confident player. I have grown as a musician from the Reverend Bizarre years, and hope to continue in that path. In general I prefer minimalism over a flood of notes.
How much other guys in Lord Vicar were involved in the writing process of songs on SIGN OF OSIRIS?
Quite a lot, in the sense that Gareth wrote ‘Child Witness’ and Jussi wrote ‘The Answer’. Chritus did the lyrics for the latter with Jussi, and had a total say on vocal arrangements – he has a great talent for finding the right melody and rhythm with words. Everyone certainly contributes to the general arrangement work. We all want to be pleased with our music, and are quite strict about what works and what doesn’t. Luckily our musical tastes are rather similar, when it comes to our brand of hard rock and heavy metal.
What kind of topics influence you to pick up the guitar to create riffs and hymn? Does the music usually come first before the lyrics ?
The song titles are the first thing for me. They might come from dreams, nature, products of popular culture, anything really. All that matters is a good story behind a song title. The riffs come after that, then a vocal melody, and, as the last thing, the lyrics.
When penning the lyrics for Lord Vicar, is there any specified topics and events influencing you to write about as a musician? Does everyday reality bring something eccentric feeling to write about?
I hear and see ‘songs’ everywhere. With this I mean that any event or detail can launch a process of songwriting. But for Lord Vicar there is certainly a certain kind of feeling I am after, and that has the most to do with the nocturnal sides of our culture. The subject matters remain the same: Human relations, insanity, war, horror, religions… Love and hate.
GETTING TOGETHER FOR REHEARSING
Do you usually gather together to rehearse and check out new material and riffs created within the band?
Eventually. We first send demos with basic arrangements and lyrics, so that when we do get together we are well prepared.
How do you coordinate and run all the basic arrangements for rehearsals and recording sessions as members of Lord Vicar live in Finland, Sweden and England? Do you after all need to gather together that much to check out the new material?
We indeed live far and apart from each other, and that means our chances of jamming are really limited. Gareth has actually emigrated to Switzerland, and works in Kuwait, so that makes things even more challenging than before. We usually rehearse before the tours in the first city, wherever that is at the time, and for the recording sessions we prepare in a rehearsal room just before the sessions. All this means that everyone has a lot of homework to do before we meet. Usually we are rather rusty first, but after the first 30 minutes we find the chemistry and our magic starts to happen. When that happens it’s one of the greatest things I know!
Whenever having some new song or riff created, do you share it with other guys via email to have their opinions about riffs or songs or do the other guys bring the ideas of their own on the table after all ?
Everyone can contribute, but usually, by the time something is introduced to the rest of the band, something is in a relatively finished state… basic structures, riffs and even lyrics.
ORNE AND OTHERS
Besides Lord Vicar you run the other band names Orne, what’s up with it at the moment ?
Right now I see Orne as a studio project that is in a long hiatus. The first album, THE CONJURATION BY THE FIRE, will soon be re-released by Svart Records as a DLP, with our first demo as a bonus. The second, THE TREE OF LIFE, is still available from Black Widow Records. I also play guitar in E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, which is an instrumental ambient band with a lot of delayed guitar layers, memotron, and analog synthesizers, a bit like a mix of Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Klaus Schulze and early Kraftwerk. The first album KOMETENBAHN will be out via Svart Records in late March. I am also working on a solo acoustic effort, which will be called THE BONE FROM MY BONE. Despite it being a solo effort, there will be some nice collaborations with some very talented people.
To avoid confusion with Lord Vicar, how does Orne differ from Lord Vicar ?
Orne is progressive rock, with a touch of heavier guitars and a lot of mellow and folky parts.
Even though you are busy and occupied by other responsibilities of life, how much are you able to put effort and energy into the band activate in general ?
It depends how busy I am with my work at the cultural history department, and the family life. I use the rest of my time for music. I don’t sleep that much.
You reached the ultimate status in the doom genre with Reverend Bizarre, but the band was laid to rest years ago, but are you approached or requested to resurrect the old band back to the limelight ?
Yes. But the answer is no. Reverend Bizarre is still a going concern because of the re-released vinyls, and we have some plans for DVD stuff and such. Let’s see when these plans actualize.
Do you however keep the eyes open and the contact to the former members of Reverend Bizarre ?
We still see each other and are in friendly terms. We last collaborated in Orne.
As it was mentioned earlier the SIGN OF OSIRIS album came out in 2011, I assume you may have started doing something for the follow-up to SIGN OF OSIRIS – well have you checked out some new ideas for new songs?
The next album, GATES OF FLESH, is mostly written already. As mentioned in the beginning, we will hit the studio by August 2013.
I can’t help asking if the new material will follow the doomed path as before or will you try to explore new territories and ideas in terms of the music approach?
The music is really hard rock as usual, but I guess we continue our adventures as an organic unit, perhaps trying to capture a bit more raw sound this time, closer to our live power.
Could you unveil something about new songs titles and what are they about?
I have ‘Birth of Wine’, ‘The Green Man’, ‘Accidents’, ‘A Woman out of Snow’, and ‘Leper, Leper’ written. Gareth has ‘Breaking the Circle’, though I am still waiting for the lyrics, and Jussi is working on a song, with the working title ‘The Stalker’. There is a loose conceptual feel about it, related to our carnal experiences, from sexual passion to the weaknesses of mind and body, and eventually to the will to leave this world behind.
Will you stay on The Church Within records for the next album or have other labels pointed out their interest toward Lord Vicar and offered loads of euros in the wake of the success of doom and stoner metal at the moment ?
We are continuing our adventure with Oli Richling/The Church Within. His deal with us is generous, much more so than what I earlier experienced with Spikefarm/Universal Music for example… and he is a good man. That kind of trust is of bigger value to me than some bullshit promises. I have seen how things work in major labels, and it is really rare for it to work out in the long run. Especially now when the so-called music industry is having difficult times and trying to restructure.
RISE OF DOOM?
Even though Lord Vicar is more into the doom metal genre, but however it seems the whole doom metal scene has undergone the flourishing renaissance era. How do you see the current flourishing occult rock boom as well as the flourishing doom metal ? Above all are you kind of surprised to see how the whole occult rock became some kind of trend?
I see a lot of it is relatively boring and unimaginative, and there are new bands jumping into the wagon all the time, trying to dress like folks did in the 1970s. This ‘occult rock’ is a bit of a comic book thing, the knowledge of the occult arts being relatively limited in most cases, and even when it comes to music, with only a few exceptional bands… Just like it was with the stoner rock in the 1990s. Trends will come and go, real music stays… I still don’t see doom metal itself as a trend, or if it was something like that briefly, most of the ‘hipsters’ now indeed listen to ‘occult rock’ and rave about the newest female fronted blend of folk and doom. Jex Thoth is still cool of course, and some others, but give me a break… And yet, some really cool bands do get more exposure as well, and I am especially glad some of the classic bands receive a new kind of seemingly long-lasting attention now. That’s pure justice!
Have you pondered why the whole doom metal is all of a sudden having such a massive enjoyment and following at the moment when bands having the more cult following in the past headline festivals and play at big outdoor festivals?
A lot of them hipster folks still try to find unexplored territories, and doom metal has been found out at some point. But it’s not just that. Maybe a lot of people actually do appreciate good music when they hear it, and get to know more about it, and the tradition. There are quite many bands that could be very big if they were marketed like mainstream bands. And some bands succeed through the authenticity they have through their endless years on the road. I certainly want to see Vitus and Pentagram having proper slots in big festivals. And they have now.
Will Lord Vicar rise to the big league or will you rather remain on the underground level ?
I have no idea, and that is not what moves me anyway. I just want to make my music without compromises, and if people find the results enjoyable, that’s a great thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to sell more albums and get bigger tours, but that has to happen because of us doing what we love to do, not because we tap into some fucking trend or try to sell more albums by changing our sound to suit some imaginative general taste. Chris especially has been doing this for a long time, and when I fell in love with this music it was virtually unknown and dying. In that sense this current situation is certainly great. I write and play the kind of music I love, and it is always great to meet people who have gotten something out of it. I do give a lot of time and heartblood to the altar of music that resonates within me, and meeting people like the man in Cologne who had spent a really long time in hospital and found strength to cope from listening to us… I will never forget such moments.
All right Sir Kimi Kärki I thank you for the interview and wish all the best, but the last words are yours to conclude …
Cheers for the interview, Arto, took me a bit longer than usual to get back, but there was a much needed Yuletide break in the middle. I will conclude with a few true lines, from ‘Accidents’:
‘Have no fear’ I said to you
But is there fear in my heart?
Fear of being cast aside
Fear of being loved
Fear of being able to
Show my deepest feelings
Fear of being there for you
When I am feeling cruel