Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview with Marco Aro, vocalist of The Haunted

By Arto Lehtinen and Luxi Lahtinen

AFW… F--K!!! Like aggressiveness wouldn’t know any boundaries… - well, to be honest with all of you, ´NO!´ if we are talking ´bout relentless Swedish Thrash torpedoes, THE HAUNTED here. Blessed be us Finns as we got yet another chance to witness the unchained live energy of these furious masters of a neck-wrenching Thrash Metal within a relatively short period of time in December 14th; they just literally thrashed most of us down in May 2001 already and obviously wanted to finish their job a half year later here, he! he!!

Just before show time, we were trying to share a moment with the band´s riffmaster Jensen, but since he was occupied by some other “unexpected(!)” things at that time, Marko Aro came to us and suggested politely like a real gentleman whether he could be interviewed instead of Jensen – fine by us. How on earth could we have turned his proposal down as the MAN´s roots were Finnish and we naturally had the same language in common already?

All three of us sat comfortably around a table, let the tape recorder roll and kept Marko busy for some time with our curiosity filled series of questions…



"Made me do it in the
gung ho pit - USA tour"

How was this latest US tour compared to the previous one along with Cannibal Corpse, Lamb Of God?!?

Yeah there was a little bit less people on gigs this time. But several cities where we visited last time and now went there on this tour once again, there were a few familiar faces and a little bit more new crowd as well.



What is this Martyr AD anyway?!

It is a very popular hardcore/metal band and they are from Minneapolis.

An entire unknown name...

Yeah I think, but they are in The States and works there the best.



So you played in the same places like last time?!?

Yeah many. This one was a little bit longer tour than with Cannibal Corpse.

Yeah 30 dates...

Yeah always got fucked up...



Jensen handled both Witchery and The Haunted on the tour, so how was he able to thrash two hours for both the bands every night?!?

We took a lot of stress away from him, cos every band has basically a leader that he wouldn't be left in the middle of everything that he could only concentrate on the gig. It could be said he is a leader in Witchery and he is also involved in our band, The Haunted, and that could cause some kinds of struggles, so it was better to put him aside that he wouldn't get into the middle and everything wouldn't go through him. It went damn well, cos he was able to take everything easy and didn't need to think about the business side, just playing the guitar.



As far as I know Dreams Of Damnation was also a part of some gigs, right?!?

Yeah it was in Los Angeles, Trubadur. They came to say hi to us in Santana, which is a little bit outside of Los Angeles and they are good friends of ours and we told them that Martyr AD won't play tomorrow, why you don't take their slot. They came there a day after that to Los Angeles and did that gig. It was really funny.



What were the highlights of the tour from your point of view that you will remember now?!?

Hmm.. One gig or some gig which was better than any other ones, it was definitely in Minneapolis. There was a fucken lot of people and there was also one thing that I have never ever seen before.


And what was that ?!

There was Gung-ho, you know, these karate people in the pit, kicking like maniacs, doing all kinds of karate things, jumping up and kicking...

On the gig ?!?

Yeah yeah, just karate kicks. Yeah it was really crazy. Then we were in Temp Arizona which was a small place, there were crazy indians. I lost a tooth there (showing his front teeth)...Laughter... It was a great gig indeed !!!



And that forehead went there too ?!?

Well it is healed quite well by now. It was a huge red spot. I hit the microphone to the forehead all the time...Laughter...



So what kind of places did you play, were there any big ones or... ?!?

Yeah there was bigger places app 1500. Most of them were app 500 or something like that. Let's say now if you calculate the average so it was something 200 for every gig.



Did you notice when touring once again that the local crowd would be better into your stuff`?!?

For the first time when we toured with Testament no-body knew any shit about us...

So had they heard your album back then ?!?

Some people had, but let's say perhaps ten guys for every gig knew about us and then we went there with Cannibal it had increased to 100 for every gig and all of a sudden there were a lot more.



"Witchery vs. The Haunted"

Which is more popular in The States Witchery or The Haunted?!?

It is still The Haunted.



And in Europe?!?

In Europe it can be Witchery, but I don't know cos it is so different music it can't be compared.

But does Witchery appeal more to the black metal crowd whereas The Haunted appeals more to hard core and attitude audience?!?

In The States?


Let's say in The States they are so crazy that they don't realize anything there. For example some guy came to our show with the corpse paint on. What was he doing there ?!? Whereas here in Europe it is more divided, you know black metal crowd goes to black metal gigs, it can be noticed more easily whereas in The States it isn't so, they are there because of the music. Let's see what will happen cos Witchery will go to the tour with Bolt Thrower in the beginning of the year. That could help them a lot. I think Witchery can be a very big band after a couple of years, because their music is a little bit easier to listen than ours. They don't have so fast tracks and it is much easier to adopt it..

"Guitarist slot still open?!?"

You had Marcus from The Crown on the US tour, how did he fit to the band?!?

It took two days from him to learn the stuff and then he was able to do the whole shit. He is a very smart guitarist.


Is he here tonight too ?!?

Yeah sure.

What is Sharlee D Angelo doing here?!?

He is selling T-shirts here..



Yeah started wondering why... Damn didn't bring any Mercyful Fate cds to get his autographs.

Hehehhh...He has been all the time during the whole tour selling T-shirts, he is a good guy.



But you are still seeking a new replacement for the second guitarist job ?!?

Yeah we are still seeking. Well the new album of Marcus' The Crown will be coming out within the month and he will be busy with it. I don't dig that stealing a guitarist from another band..



Even though how good he would be ?!?

Yeah he is a good pal and gets along with us very well. It would be a pity to pull him out of his main band where he has grown up. Who knows what happens in the future, maybe he will stay with us or then not, who knows.



"The Haunted Slayerize"

When touring there in The States once again, the local crowd has started knowing your material better so do they now have specific certain fave tracks that they always scream them on gigs for example Hollow Ground, Revelation, Hate Song?!

Always, always and then they scream "Blinded By Fear"...


... Still the At The Gates stuff ?!?!?!

Yeah, when we now have only one member left from At The Gates, so we don't have any kind of feeling to do it anymore..



Have you however done any At The Gates stuff as an encore in The States ?!?

Yeah we did it on the last night in Toronto which was a kinda joke night, cos it was the last gig of the tour and it was kinda special.



Hmm... Didn't you do the Slayer cover some time, at least I heard you did it in Athens ?!?

Yeah once in Athens. We had "The Reaper" from Witchery and two ATG tracks and then Raining The Blood, It was a headliner gig and we didn't have the material enough, so had to play all kinds of extra stuff...Laughter...



What kind of relationship do you have with Slayer, I mean by that Slayer visited here a couple of months ago on "Tattoo The Planet" and we met them at the hotel and Tom Araya had the Haunted shirt on ?!?

It is funny as they are our fans, it is quite a weird thought indeed, cos you have looked up to them since you have started listening to metal and all of a sudden they are your fans. Quite a strange feeling. If we are in the same city when being on the tour we definitely meet each other and drink a few beers. Actually Jensen is a pretty good pal with Kerry King. Sometimes they call each other.



Are there any possibilities that The Haunted would set off for the tour along with Slayer, I guess there was some discussion anyway ?!?

Yeah it was. When Jensen met Kerry King in Stockholm and I was sick I couldn't go. Of course he had said (drunk) "Yeah of course you come to The States with us". But our and their staff had talked, but I don't know if they asked for too much money or something cos it never came true.



But it isn't out of question ?!?

No no.. Whenever we always meet them they are like "We gotta get on the tour with you".



Hasn't Kerry King said that The Haunted is the only band which he allows to cover Slayer ?!?

Yeah he said that in Los Angeles "You are the only one band in the world which I allow to cover Slayer".



That would be quite an intensive package for the audience that you would play app one hour and then...

Actually we have once warmed Slayer. It was in Switzerland.



Wasn't some local band supposed to play there in Switzerland ?!?

Yeah. It was Slayer's lightman who was the tour manager for Testament too and therefore we met him. He walked by our bus and we were there with Entombed and they were supposed to warm Slayer. Anyway he walked by and wondered "what the fuck are you doing here ?" and we were "Well we are gonna have a gig tomorrow and now sitting here drinking the beer", he was "Does Kerry know you are here ?!?", "Well don't think so". Then he called Kerry to the hotel and three hours later he had kicked the local band out and changed their own set for about 30 minutes that we managed to get to play.



Does it feel somehow great that all those thrash stars Sadus, Testament, Dark Angel, Exodus, Kreator what you used to dig and adore back in the 80's have become your fans and praise The Haunted all the time ?!?

Yeah indeed. When we were just in San Francisco, all of a sudden our tour bus was totally packed by the Testament and Sadus guys and we had a huge party there. And Chuck Billy has short hair cos he got the chemotherapy because of the cancer. And he was ok again. I guess he got something to his lungs and they don't know if he is able to sing anymore.

That would be a really bad thing

But they try to sort out something that he would get to do gigs.




You recently got a live album out I guess, recorded in Japan ?!?

I guess it has been postponed until the beginning of the year and that's Earache once again. But I think it is a very smart idea, cos if it is released in December all these big companies would eat the album alive. It is smart to put it out in January.



What made you record the album in Tokyo, as several other bands have also recorded their own live albums there too?!?

It went this way. In Flames were there recording their own live and we asked if they could record ours too, cos they already had all the equipment there ready. Then we forgot that they had recorded it. Then we thought of getting rid of Earache and we had one only album to make for them. We tried this live album in order to get rid of that company, but they weren't that much thrilled. We however decided to put the live out and mixed it. But we have to do one album for them... heh heh... But all in all we have done 150 gigs for this album, Made Me Do It, after this Scandinavian tour and that's quite a lot.



Last time you said The Haunted is a more live band than any studio band, all these aggressive elements what you have come up better ?!?

Even though we have done so many gigs, there are a lot of places where we haven't visited yet. That's why we thought of putting the live album out that they can listen until they have a chance to see us on the stage. You can never forget all these people who put you to where you are now today. Besides the live album has the Japanese bonus track which we decided to let it be out.

And it is ?!?

"Eclipse", it is a little bit different Haunted song. A little bit slower and it has some rock'n'roll feelings. It can be heard it is us.

Don't say Hellacopters ?!?

NO NO NO, we don't have the piano....”Laughter a lot” !!!!!!!!



Will this track possibly be on the next Haunted album ?!

No, I don't think so cos it is now on the Japanese release. That live comes out in the same package with Made Me Do It so it is a double album. But they will sell it for one cd price.



Have you already written any stuff yet ?!?

Actually we were writing the new material but then this USA tour came and we couldn't skip that tour, so we put the new stuff on hiatus for a while. After finishing this tour we will be taking a two week break and then we will start working on them. All in all five items and I have lyrics for a couple of tracks, it is quite near. Made Me Do It was written in three months.



That's quite a quick time to do an album ?!

But when everyone in the band is so goddamn creative. When you say when an album is going to be done then it is done. Most of guys try to write an album one year, cos it can't be pushed - you know. Of course it has to be pushed cos it however goes over. If you are such a creative dude then there is never a push, just sit down and write - that's it.  When someone says "Yeah this one was written when we were on the tour", that's total bullshit. There is no time to write anything. There is no piece of creativity, you just sit in the bus - thinking this is fucking boring, more boring. I had a cd-r featuring one new track on it, sent to me, I tried to write the text, it just didn't work out at all. When I sit at home and put into the computer and then it is another thing.. That is probably some kind of rock'n'roll myth "On the road"...And bullshit... Phhh...



"Conquering Scandinavia"

Where else have you played on this Scandinavian tour, Sweden and three gigs here in Finland...

And two gigs in Denmark and nothing in Norway cos we visited there last time when Finland had to be dropped out cos I lost my voice. There was some blood boils in my throat. I was coughing blood all the time when singing.

Yak! That doesn't sound very healthy.

Now my voice just vanishes when I have screamed too long, but it doesn't hurt at all.



The Swedish TV showed a live gig of The Haunted and Nasum some time ago in a music show called MusikByrån, so what did that bring to you, anything ?! As you know The Swedish TV can be watched here in Finland too..

There I had already lost my voice..heh... When we visited here last time several people had seen it. That TV thing helped us a lot. When we visited Denmark, people came to us saying "We saw you on "Musikbyrån". The Scandinavian tour helped us a lot then and then this Grammy award too.



Actually this MusikByrån shows quite a lot of metal stuff, they showed Slayer, a part of Priest's British Steel.

They have now noticed in Sweden the music is one of their biggest exports. Towns usually pay rehearsal rooms you get a small list which you mark how many rehearsals you have had and the town pays a certain amount of money for the band.



What do you think of the current flourishing Swedish power metal, does it appeal to you ?!?

Well I don't know, it is just this "cross over" thing which ain't my thing. Ok Soilwork is a great band, but they plaguarize a goddamn lot. Their new album is almost reminds me of the In Flames album.

And Arch Enemy is quite popular, especially in Japan.

Oh my, they are so big there in Japan.



A few weeks ago we interviewed Edguy and they said the whole heavy metal has gone down there in Japan because of the economic slump, have you faced that kind of thing ?!?

Hopefully we will manage to get back to Japan soon. But no we haven't faced that kind of thing at all. Every time when we have visited there places have been packed.



"Shit on a Stick ! "

What about your former band FaceDown I still remember all those big articles in Metal Hammer 2-3 pages somewhere in 95...

In 95 "MindField" came out. I hadn't shaven my face.. A real gynecologic picture...Yeah we once talked about doing some kind of reunion gig, but there is one damn guitarist who is such a fucking cry baby. He is really pissed off now when Peter, who went to Entombed, and me to Haunted, he is pissed off cos they would haven taken his stardom. He would never ever get on the same stage with us.



FaceDown was about to do a breakthrough, it was quite near...

It was so that we had pretty crap luck with these record companies. We were on Roadrunner firstly and then on Nuclear Blast. We sold more albums ever than any other debut band on Roadrunner in England. Sold more than Machine Head, Sepultura and so on. However they threw us out. And then Nuclear Blast paid a fucking lot of money that they got us to sign the contract with them and we made an album. They at Nuclear Blast started complaining about the awful sound on the album. We went to Sunlight and Thomas Skogberg, you know. There was a shitty feeling in those songs on the album and we wanted to have the shitty sounds, just exactly this Sunlight's sounds which is a little bit dirty. Then "Production Suxx", it came back. During two months they tried us to get to re-record it again, then we said "Okay we’re gonna re-record it", then it came "You only have fine 10.000 Deutsche marks to pay for it".. Fuck you, you pay it !!!!!!



Pretty weird policy by the company

After all they paid it and when we wanted to get to tour. We got a personal loan from him that we got on the tour. We had to pay it back in London. It was...

But think now, we sold over 6000 albums in England, but guess how many albums the NB chief, Markus Stainer, let to England.. Only 800 !!!! There wasn't any kind of sense.   But if you were Mika Hakkinen's manager who would have bought both a driver and a car and you know he is such a great winner. It cost so damn much, but let's put the car in the garage. That is pretty much the same feeling.


That was a really good comparison ...*Laughter*...

You spoke a little bit earlier about this Facedown reunion, but in general what do you think about these reunions, for example this upcoming tour of the German thrashers, Sodom, Destruction and Kreator ?!?

UUUHHH... The Destruction guys are really good friends of ours. Well I don't know, I think they take too much time from younger bands which should get more recognition in my opinion. Think about Helloween -"Ohh we are forty years old, but we are still as angry as before”. C’mon now !!!


But you warmed Destruction in Chile?!?

Yeah we really did a gig with them in Chile. Yeah it was a real tough feeling to play with them. But I don't like this reunion thing. Just like us after 15 years from now, we would get back together to do something....heh.. It doesn't feel any original in my opinion.

All right Marco, thanks for the interview !

Yeah thanks guys!

Other The Haunted Stuff In Metal-Rules.com

The Haunted
: Interview with Jensen and Marko (July 2001)
The Haunted - An interview with Per And Anders! (October, 2000)
Witchery / The Haunted: (April '99)



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