Interview With Swallow The Sun
Band Photo: Swallow The Sun (?)
Very few bands in recent years start off with a debut album which gains so much attention and media acclamation. Swallow The Sun are yet another marvellous Doom/ Death act from Finland and their first album, "The Morning Never Came", is an amalgam of mesmerizing sounds in the finest tradition of the meisters in the genre ( My Dying Bride, Katatonia).
As much as I wish to have seen them live and done this interview face to face, alas I had to resort to the electronic medium. Nonetheless, guitarist Juha and keyboardist Aleksi took the time to answer my questions about their forthcoming album, new video and... ballet.
Gothique: How did you guys start playing together? Who came up with the band’s name?
Juha: I had few songs that didn’t fit my other band’s style, so I asked our drummer to try them out with me. Those songs sounded so good that we started to get more people to join the band.
Aleksi: Mikko joined to do the vocals later, and as we played in the same band at the time he asked me and Matti to join the band, and that’s how the line-up was completed. We came up with the band’s name together when we were doing some heavy drinking in a local rock bar, and were lucky enough to remember it by the morning.
Gothique: Your first album “The Morning Never Came” received rave reviews in the media. Were you expecting that kind of response?
Juha: Well, we knew that we made really good album but I didn’t expect to have such a huge success with it. This is still underground music, so it’s hard to believe how many people have founded us.
Aleksi: Yeah, we were really surprised about the response it received.
Gothique: Did the high expectations for your second album have any effect on the process of creating the new material? Do you feel any pressure to live up to a particular standard after this stellar start?
Juha: Bands have to face the truth that they are always being compared to their first album for the rest of their lives. As long as people do music out from their hearts there should not be any problems with other people’s expectations.
Aleksi: The second album was harder to do in all aspects than the first one, in my opinion. I don’t think it was the pressure from people’s expectations, though, but from the fact that we personally wouldn’t have liked to do an album that wasn’t better or as good as the first album. Luckily, we succeeded in that, and the new album turned out to be great.
Gothique: You’ve just recorded your second album which is due out in September. What can we expect from the new release?
Juha: It’s slower and more melodic than the first one. There are little bit more clean vocals in it, but it’s heavier than The Morning Never Came. It’s full of gloom, beauty and despair and I love it already!
Aleksi: I think hat the arrangements are more thought out, it’s deeper and there’s more things to find on this album. There’re more little things that stand out when you listen to the album repeatedly, more nuances.
Gothique: The single “Forgive Her” is to be released in Finland in April. Can we expect a U.S. release date?
Juha: It depends from The Olympic Recordings, but I think it will be only released in Finland.
Aleksi: It’s planned to be released only in Finland, but let’s see how things go.
Gothique: As long as I’m asking you about the new album, can you tell our readers what sources you draw upon to inspire you when writing the music?
Juha: I have to put my pain somewhere and this band is the perfect channel for it. Nature affects me a lot, too.
Gothique: Do you have to be in a dark and melancholic mood to create your music? Does your art reflect who you are?
Juha: We are not gloomy people or kill goats etc., but when I write music for this band the ghosts of losses really haunt me. Writing this music feels very purifying at the end, still.
Aleksi: For me it seems that I come up with more melancholic stuff when I’m happy and vice versa. Strange.
Gothique: It’s obvious one of your influences is My Dying Bride. I’m a huge fan myself. Aaron [ Stainthorpe] has long maintained that he uses his real emotions both in his writing and his performances. Do you share his approach?
Juha: Yes, as I told there are real emotions behind this all. My Dying Bride is one of the biggest reasons to put up this band and write this music. We owe them so much, so thank you guys once again.
Aleksi: I didn’t listen to My Dying Bride a lot before I joined the band, I was more into Katatonia, Opeth and such bands, but their newest album struck me totally. I respect them a lot, as they have a long career and have achieved a lot without compromising their music.
Gothique: I understand that a New York– based dance troupe is using your song “Hold This Woe” in their current performance. Do you know why they chose your band or that song specifically?
Juha: I was really surprised even myself that how they came up to use our song, but seems that in the ballet there are some Swallow The Sun fans! The song they used, “Hold this woe”, has very classical elements in it. The song has calm parts and then these really heavy parts so maybe it’s just a good track to dance ballet, strange but great! Thanks to the Ballet Deviare again!
Aleksi: Yes, that song has lot’s of variations in its mood, and it has a very dramatic chorus, so it’s suitable for such performances.
Gothique: Have you already begun work on the video for “Descending Winters”? Who are you working with and what can we expect from it visually? Where and when will we get to see it?
Juha: I just finished editing the playing parts of the video with the guy who’ll also do the visual effects for the whole thing. The main idea is to play in a huge snowstorm among the woods, so it’s not so original but it should look awesome. I think that the video will be on our website after the new album comes out.
Aleksi: It’s going to be a very metal video, lot’s of headbanging.
Gothique: Any plans for a U.S. tour in the foreseeable future?
Juha: Well, if the album sells enough maybe someone arranges us to play there. It would be so great to play in U.S.
Aleksi: We sure hope that we’d be able to play there. That would be awesome.
Gothique: Any last words to your fans?
Juha: Hope to see you all soon.
Aleksi: Thanks to everyone for their support and interest! Hope to play there soon.
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