Interview with Ville Friman of Insomnium
A founding member of Finnish melodic death metal band Insomnium, Ville Friman, reminisces about and shares some of his insights and inspiration from more than 15 years of metal musicianship and the melodic death metal journey with his band…
Metal-Rules.com: Hello Ville! This is Hellias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules.com, I am very happy and glad for this interview and greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?
Ville: Hello, and the pleasure is all mine. I’m doing alright. Bit tired after a long day at work and pissed off because they cancelled my train, which I was supposed to take home haha. But it’s all good. I took home later and just sat at the station and enjoyed the great spring weather.
Metal-Rules.com: To start off, let’s take a look at the new Insomnium record, ‘Shadows Of The Dying Sun’. Can you tell us the new things on this record in comparison with the previous ones?
Ville: Well, I think it’s a natural continuing for our previous effort, ‘One for Sorrow’. It’s probably a bit more diverse and maybe even a tad more progressive. There’s some new elements there as well, but we did not aim to reinvent the wheel or anything. Just concentrated on what we do and try do it better than last time.
Metal-Rules.com: Your vocals are quite brutal yet, at the same time, far more comprehensible than those of most “throat-orientated” singers nowadays. Is there a specific technique that you are using which brings such impressive results?
Ville: I only do the clean vocals, but I know that Niilo does rehearse his voice a bit before the studio so he does not lose his voice immediately as we’re normally working for long days. I think Niilo uses lots of force to bring up the sound. So he does not only use his throat but more of the lungs and muscles.
Metal-Rules.com: You are based in Finland and play Scandinavian extreme metal—melodic death metal, like Dark Tranquillity, Amorphis and many others. What’s the thing that sets Insomnium apart from the others and makes you a unique band?
Ville: I guess it’s our blend of melancholy and sorrow that most of the Scandinavian melodic death metal bands do not have. It’s really hard to have an honest opinion yourself as you are so close to your own music. But I do think we are somewhat unique in what we do musically.
Metal-Rules.com: What does the band name mean for you? Who is responsible for the name?
Ville: I think Niilo came up with many name suggestions and this was something that caught my eye immediately. It’s a Latin word and means insomnia. For me it’s a source of creativity and also a big part of me and who I am.
Metal-Rules.com: When writing, are you primarily concerned with song structure? Riffs? Overall feel?
Ville: At first I think it’s more about overall feel and this can start from a riff or melody or from whatever. In the beginning, you have some kind of a sketch of a song and then you start to fine tune it and make it better in every aspect. Also, when you’re writing the album, you start to think about the entity after awhile and think what kind of songs we should write next to make it work as a whole. To add a bit more diversity and so on. But at the same time, we did not plan too much this time. Just went with the flow and focused on making all songs as good as possible.
Metal-Rules.com: How is Insomnium received in Finland? I’m just asking as Finland and Scandinavia are places where melodic death metal thrived when the genre first came about.
Ville: I’d like to think we’re quite known in Finland. We normally get even a bit airplay in radio and usually land on the top five on national album charts. We’ve also played quite a lot in Finland during the past years, so it has definitely helped a lot.
Metal-Rules.com: Insomnium’s music has a very specific sound. After all of these years, do you find it challenging to innovate within that rather strict definition of what your music is? Are you ever going to run out of riffs?
Ville: Thank you. I think I won’t be running out of riffs anytime soon. But naturally you have to work for your songs every time and be critical towards yourself. I still listen to lots of music every day and get inspired by things, all kinds of art in general. There is not boundaries for human creativity really.
Metal-Rules.com: What are your main influences as a musician?
Ville: I guess it’s all music I listen to and like. And there’s numerous bands out there. But yeah, music of the other people and playing the guitar itself. You can always find some new aspects when playing and composing music.
Metal-Rules.com: Could you tell me some info about your music gear?
Ville: I have three main guitars: Amfisound custom Les Paul, Mayones Regius custom seven-stringed guitar and Caparison Angelus M3B. I’m currently endorsed by Caparison. Then various pedals: tube screamer, delays, reverb. Line6 and Eventide stuff mostly. For an amp, I’ve used Peavey 6506+. For a couple of years. We’re now going for AXE fx 2 to just get everything more simple, constant and compact for festivals and tours.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you think of today’s music industry in general? Do you believe that illegal downloading harms album sales or do you think that the real fans will buy the new CD or vinyl regardless?
Ville: It’s a tough world. Illegal downloading is one reason. Also, there’s more competition as everybody wants to play in the band. Also, music needs to compete with video games and all other entertainment media. So, it’s a smaller piece for everyone. But I still believe that people will buy your album if it’s good music. There’s always room for good bands that have something to say and something worth listening to. There is quite a lot crap out there these days to be honest.
Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick only one musician to work with that you did not collaborate with in the past, who would that be and why?
Ville: I’d like to do something with Mikael Akerfeld from Opeth, if I could choose. Or with Dan Swano from Edge of Sanity. I love both bands!
Metal-Rules.com:Thank you for your time and this interview. I wish you and the rest of Insomnium all the best!!!
Ville: Thank you very much for the interview and take care man!