Lead singer/guitarist Oskari Koivisto – Thyrien
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for getting this interview done.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing the promo pics
Thyrien origins from the land of the thousand lakes -Finland and is a brand new battle/folk metal act that currently released their debut album titled HYMNS OF THE MORTALS – SONGS FROM THE NORTH. Me and lead singer/guitarist Oskari Koivisto hooked up and had a talk about the bands history, the debut album and the guests appearances on it and what the band is up to next. If you’re into folk metal with death metal influences then check out the music of Thyrien.
Hi Oskari, how you’re doing today? Ready to kick off the interview?
Hi Anders, I am always ready for interviews! Right now I’m doing fine because I just got a mini-holiday from work and we have a gig to come this weekend.
I thought we should turn back the clock and start from the beginning. The band was formed back in 2005 but who’s the founder and according to my info has the band gone through some line-up changes. Which members are original ones?
The band was founded by me and Jere. Soon after the beginning we asked few of our friends to come and play with us, but we figured out pretty soon that things weren’t progressing as we wanted. That changed when Valtteri and Sakari joined to strengthen the ranks. So maybe we can think that all four of us are the true original members. Later on the only changing member has been the synth player. The present state is that our former synth player Oskar decided to step aside from the full-time member status and continues now as a session member.
Where does the band name come from? Does it have any special meaning to the band?
Thyrien doesn’t mean anything, it just sounded cool. There has never been any working names at the early days so it kind a represents the continuation to us as well.
Was it given from the start the Thyrien was going to play folk-metal music?
Yes it was. The folk ideology/style was even more present at that time. Later on we adapted more elements to the music and received more varieties to our output.
What did media think of the bands’ first EP THE FROZEN NORTH?
There was and still are very few reviews from that piece. We never made an actual release out of it, we just uploaded it in the music site Mikseri for free. I think it was back then an average rated EP, or so we like to believe. More importantly we gained some fans via it and we learned some studio working which helped us when we recorded the full-length album.
Is it correct that you recorded the EP without any financial support from a label?
That is true, but it wasn’t that expensive. And back then we didn’t even have a label so we were kind a forced to to do it on our own.
The band comes from Finland and the town Kerava, where in Finland is the town located and comes all of the members from Kerava?
The town is some 30 kilometers north of our capitol Helsinki. It has been our home for our whole childhood and our training place is still located there. Nowadays we all live in a different cities scattered around the country so sometimes it is behind some major planning to get all of us in a same place at the same time. And for that reason we practice very rarely if we don’t have gigs coming.
Have you done any touring outside Finland yet? If so when and where?
No we haven’t. We’ve only been in the St.Petersburg, Russia once but it would be nice to tour the globe someday.
I’ve read that you have played together with bands like Turmion Kätilöt and Amoral. Were you out on tour with them or was it one time shows?
They were one time shows. We were with the Turmion Kätilöt twice, once in Nosturi, Helsinki and once in a two-day metal festival in Kerava. With Amoral we were also in a mini-festival that was held in Kerava.
Have you got a big fanbase in Finland?
Not very big but very devoted. But I believe the fanbase grows as we start our touring.
What about the rest of Europe?
I believe the answer is almost the same as in the previous question. Hopefully this interview will open few more eyes 😉
Do the members have any artists or bands in common that they are inspired by?
There are lots of them since we have known each other for many years and if some of us find a new cool band it naturally spreads around. But few to be nominated: Amon Amarth, Wintersun, Behemoth, Naglfar, Ensiferum, Insomnium etc.
The bio say “For many years the band suffered from a real bad luck with paper work, line-up changes, lack of time and so on” could you tell us what that means? It sounds like you have had some really hard times in the past.
Well we had those synth player problems for which I already told about. A week before our studio sessions our former synth player decided to quit the band so it left very few options. There are that much orchestrations and such in the music that forgetting them wasn’t an option. So it left us a week to learn how to play keyboards but against all odds we recorded them by ‘learning-by-playing’’ style.
Then we had a real mess with the permissions to record the cover version of Tinasormus and it took almost two years to get them. And we all had our jobs, studies and Finnish military to master so that added another bump in the road. But luckily all those are now behind us and we have a brighter future ahead.
Debut album HYMNS OF THE MORTALS – SONGS FROM THE NORTH
Is it correct that the band started to work on the debut album back in 2008? Why took it so long to get the album released?
As mentioned before there were some obstacles in the path. Most of the time was wasted to that cover permission. Then we waited our magnificent cover-art photos which were all made by hand. After we got almost everything done we started to search for the label. At last the Massacre records signed us but as you might think it also takes time to put all together and produce a physical version of the album.
What are the lyrics about and who in the band writes the lyrics?
Jere writes almost everything. The lyrics tell about the harshness of the nature and about the mankind trying to struggle against it. There are also indications towards the Nordic folklore and stories about conquering yourself.
From the titles of the songs I understand that the lyrics are about Nordic mythology is that correct?
Not everything but as mentioned before there are some parts in those songs that represent the influence of the folklore and mythology in our writing.
Have you used any of the material from the EP on the album or are all of the songs mainly written for the album?
Actually all four actual songs from the EP are also included at the album, heavily updated though. They acted as a good spine for all the rest and it felt natural to continue their story.
How come you named the album HYMNS OF THE MORTALS – SONGS FROM THE NORTH except from the obvious fact that you are northmen :)?
We tried not to lean just in the folk music when we composed those songs so it kind a split the album in two different musical styles. Hymns of the Mortals represent the darker and heavier side of the album and Songs from the North represent the folkier and catchier side.
Who has done the cover art-work and do you think it reflects the essence of your music?
Kris Verwimp made everything. Every picture is attached to a one particular song and the cover photo links everything together. We gave him only few guidelines about the elements we wanted to each picture but he had pretty free hands to express himself. And he did an extremely fine job.
Did you put out a teaser online before the album was out?
We had few songs in the Myspace but we never made an actual teaser.
THYRIEN When The Horizon Burns Pre-Listening
Emmi Silvennoinen from Ensiferum makes a guest appearance on keyboard. How did she end up on your album? Which songs is she playing on?
We knew her before and our producer played in a same band with her. It was our producer Olli Mattila who invented that idea and Emmi wasn’t hard to convince in. If I remember correctly she is playing for at least at the My Victory, My Defeat and Forest is my Throne. Then there are some minor parts in the rest of the songs where her playing can be heard.
I have folk-metal as a description on your music, how would you like to describe what kind of music Thyrien plays?
I think it would be something like folkish death-metal with black metal influences We’ve tried to mix so much in our music that an actual categorizing would be hard.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the songs?
Right now we haven’t even thought of it. Maybe in the future if we have time to write a catchy story to it.
Your album got some great review in metal-rules.com. It got 4,5 out of 5 congratulations to that how does it feel to get so great respond?
Thank you for your honest opinion, it is highly appreciated. The overall response has been even better than we thought and it pleases us. And we have gained lots of new fans after the release and that is one reason why we do this.
Have you read reviews of the album in media? What does the critics think about it?
All of them. The welcoming has been very warm and as I said we’ve had pretty good reviews so far. There are always those who don’t like folk metal that much but the overall response has been promising.
Do you and the band care about what media and critics say about your work?
Yes and no. We do this to ourselves and to our fans but on the other hand the critic might be also a fan of similar type of music. It is the most honest opinion when the critic writes with his/her own name below it and it tells us what we are doing wrong and right.
I was wondering a little about the last song on the album called “Tinasormus” which is a cover of the Janne Hurme song. Who is Janne Hurme? Is he well known in Finland?
He is famous Finnish schlager-singer and former metalhead. We thought that we can transform the catchy schlager-song to a brutal but funny metal song and I think we managed to do that pretty well.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album? Do you feel that you should have done anything in a different way?
Yes we are. Of course there always points out some parts which should have been done better if we’ve had more time etc. but the album is a child of its time and nowadays we are better and more experienced musicians. Next goal for us is to make a second album which nails down the first one.
The band inked a deal with Massacre Records last year. How come you chose to sign with MR?
They offered us a good deal so it wasn’t hard to take it.
Was the album recorded and ready to be released when you signed with MR?
Almost, all we had to do were some minor changes to the booklet adjustments, fonts etc. and final mastering of the album.
Were there any other labels that showed interest for the band?
Business secrets 😉 There were some but Massacre was the fastest and with the best deal to offer.
Do you see any problems in the fact that the label is based in Germany and the band in Finland?
Not at all, in fact I think we both benefit from it because we get more international coverage via Massacre and they get it as well. And we are living the internet time so it’s natural to work via e-mail and other medias and we all know how to speak English.
Are you happy with the work the label have put into the band and the album so far?
Yes we are, we have received lots of interview requests and the album has spread more widely than we had managed to spread by ourselves.
Studio, production and mixing
The album was recorded in D-Studio in Finland. Where is the studio located and how come you wanted to record the disc there?
The studio is located at the outskirts of Helsinki. It is well known place in Finland especially amongst the metal bands so it felt natural to choose it. The booking times and schedule was also very flexible to us so it made our working even easier.
Olli Mattila and Jarno Hänninen recorded and mixed the disc, did they also produce it?
Olli was also the producer. Jarno acted as a main mixer.
Were any of the members part of the mixing process?
I was sitting in the studio through the whole sessions with Olli. Other members were there too when they had time. (fe. Valtteri was conducting his military service and was available only at weekends)
When did the recordings began?
I believe it was late spring. It was so long ago so it’s hard to remember
Aki Rintamäki mastered the album, where did he do that?
At his homestudio I believe, we weren’t physically present in that process.
How long were you in the studio recording?
I think it took some 2-3 three months. We had pretty scattered schedule during that time and we did most of the work at weekends.
Now and then
How come the band doesn’t have a website?
We are working on it. The main problem has been to find a devoted webmaster.
Is the band active on Facebook and the other various social forums?
We have profiles in Facebook, Myspace and Reverbnation.
It was quite hard to find any info about Thyrien, are you a mysterious band :)?
We haven’t been making a lot of noise about our whereabouts in past the years, but we are not trying to be a mysterious and hidden. Things are about to change in future.
Oskar Ketola is added as keyboardplayer, is he a solid member or a session musician?
He is a session musician by his own will. He was our last full-time member playing the keyboards.
I’ve read that the band has been performing in Finland this past month. How has that been?
We had two gigs already and they were promising. Next gig will be held at this weekend at Kouvola, Finland with Kivimetsän Druidi and Volucrine
Are there any plans on touring in Scandinavia or the rest of Europe anytime soon?
We have no plans for it but we are open for the suggestions. It would be nice to see our foreign fans and throw a serious gig to them.
Do you have any festival shows scheduled for the summer?
Not at this point.
How would you like to describe a live show with Thyrien like?
Energetic, sweaty and enjoyable. We give our everything at the stage every single show.
Are there any interest for the band in America or Asia?
Of course, I’ve found that there are big venues with huge crowds. It would be a dream come true if we someday manage to get there.
Are you currently working with material to the next album?
Yes we are. We already have few songs that we are playing at live shows and lots of material that needs some minor adjusting. I have high hopes for the next album.
What separates Thyrien’s music from Ensiferum or Wintersun for example? What does Thyrien have that the other bands in the same genre lacks?
We try to adapt many genres in one and to make music that looks like us. Ensiferum and Wintersun have always been one of our influences so their touch might be heard in our music too.
Do you have any theory on why battle/folk metal is so huge in Finland?
Maybe it comes from our mothers’ milk or geographical position I don’t know. The scene just grows all the time and lots of promising bands arise. Vikings came also from the Nordic area so maybe it left its own touch to the folklore and tales.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered the music of Thyrien yet?
Give it a change and surprise! If you have any interest towards folk or melodic metal we might be your new men.
Why should people buy HYMNS OF THE MORTALS – SONGS FROM THE NORTH?
It’s a damn good album and it doesn’t leave you cold. Catchy riffs, groovy folk melodies and aggressive output will guarantee an eargasm for you!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Read the magazine, support the bands by buying the albums. Remember to celebrate a good festival summer as well and don’t dry yourself too badly with mead!
Well, that was all I had for this time. Thanks a lot for taking the time making the interview. I wish you and the band all the best in the future and I hope to see you live on stage soon.
Thank you for the interview, my pleasure! I wish a good future for the whole METAL RULES staff. See you at gigs!