Interview With Thales
A couple of months ago, I was approached on Myspace by a Finnish 5-piece named Thales to check their music out. As a fan of most melodic metal, especially from Finland, I gave them a listen and found an incredible band that absolutely kicks ass. Anyone who likes technical, early-Dark Tranquillity-influenced Scandinavian metal should definitely check them out at their Myspace page or the official website.
Anyhow, I did an e-mail interview with the band. Guitarist Lasse Kristiansen, drummer Juuso Backman and bassist Juha Tretjakov took the time to answer the questions. Here is how it went:
darkstar: What does the name "Thales" mean?
Lasse: When we were trying to come up with a name for the band we were looking for two things: simplicity so it would be easily rememberable, and neutrality so that the style of our music wouldn't be guessable right away. First we looked up a list of stars' and constellations' names but we couldn't find anything that we would've liked (such as "Arcturus"), so we turned our attention a bit closer to home: the Moon and its craters. And there it was: Thales, a small crater on the Moon with a nice name, so we decided to adopt it, since we couldn't find any bands nor widely known companies with the same name.
Not much later we found out that Thales was a Greek philosopher, one of The Seven Sages of Greece, and that he is considered the father or science by many.
darkstar: Can you tell us a bit about the origin and history of the band? How long have you been playing music together for?
Lasse: I (Lasse) and Jani have played guitar together ever since we got our first guitars back in '93 as we lived in the same building. Juuso got his first guitar around the same time, but he lived in another town back then and had his own garage/cellar band there, so in essence the basis of the band was laid down by Jani and me. The three of us are childhood friends and we all wanted to put something together, so when Juuso moved closer to us we decided it was time to give starting a band a try. The only problem was that we had three guitarists and nothing else. Juuso had some experience on drums from school, so we agreed that he try to pick up the sticks, and Jani and I keep playing the guitar, and hence Thales was found in spring 2001. After that we started looking for a bassist whom we found rather quickly via a musicians' wanted-board on the net, and for a vocalist; a process which took about two years, hehe. We recorded our first demo with the full (current) line-up in a rather cheap studio in 2003.
darkstar: Who or what inspired you to pick up an instrument and start making music?
Lasse: I've always been interested of guitars. Back in '93 some of the bands I liked inspired me to take the first step.
Juha: Highschool was the first time I really started playing. My friends had a band and were looking for a bassist, so I bought myself a bass and joined them.
Juuso: I went through comprehensive school in a music class, so I've been dealing with music ever since I was nine, but for me the inspiration to pick up the guitar came probably from my peers in 8th grade or so. Moving to Helsinki and striking up the band with Lasse and Jani made me pick up on drumming again, of which I'm very happy since drumming is the best thing one can do with his pants on.
darkstar: Can you play any instruments other than the one you play in the band?
Juha (bass): Singing and guitar are both ok.
Lasse (guitar): I can only play guitar at the moment, but I guess I could learn to play bass if I would give it a shot.
Juuso (drums): I can also play the guitar, and I guess I could play the piano if I refreshed my memory.
darkstar: Did you take lessons for any instruments?
Lasse: Never, I think Juha is the only one of us who has taken some musical lessons for guitar, and he playes bass in Thales.
Juha: Yup, at the moment I'm taking guitar lessons. Back then, no.
Juuso: I've had lessons for a range of instruments since I was in a music class. I also took classical piano lessons when I was eight or nine, but I hated the teacher, so the lessons weren't of much use, hehe.
darkstar: Who or what are your influences?
Lasse: There are too many to mention, and each of us have our own infuences which gives us a pretty good mix.
Juha: It's weird, cause I don't have any bassists that would have influenced me, but to mention two of my all-time favourites: Niklas Sundin [Dark Tranquillity] and Paul Masvidal [ex-Cynic, ex-Death].
Juuso: Anders Nordin (of the old, original Opeth line-up) is probably the one who has influenced me the most on the rudimental level. I've picked up lots of small things from my favourite bands' drummers over the years, but I must mention Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree as one of my current favourites.
darkstar: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard your music before?
Lasse: We've always described it as "Progressive Melodic Death Metal", or something along those lines. Some say it's fitting, but we're not so sure about the "progressive" and "death".
darkstar: What is the song "Ad Mortis Infinitum" about?
Juuso: Buddhism (karma and reincarnation), basically.
darkstar: As the birthplace of many metal bands like Stratovarius, Apocalyptica and Finntroll, Helsinki seems to be, not only the political capital, but also the metal capital of Finland. What is the metal scene in Helsinki really like?
Lasse: None of us are active enough to say much about the scene in Helsinki. I suppose it's healthy since bands keep coming back.
darkstar: Do you all have other jobs? If so, what do you do?
Lasse: Yes, some work in shitty jobs and some study for a degree to get a slightly less shitty job. =)
darkstar: What are your plans for Thales' future?
Lasse: To get signed, get albums done, do gigs and see the world. So simple, yet beyond our reach.
darkstar: What can we expect from your new material?
Lasse: You can except it to be fuller, darker and tighter than it used to be, and a bit more aggressive. We also changed our guitar tuning to standard D, which gives us way more punch compared to E.
darkstar: How would you say the band's music has evolved since you first formed?
Lasse: It's hard to say "how", but it has. Perhaps it's not as "fragmented" as it used to be, and the gist of the song is clearer to the listener.
darkstar: Are any of you the main songwriter or do you all take part in writing songs?
Lasse: I (Lasse) and Jani have done most of the songs so far, but we don't have a rule as to who can or can't do songs. We all try to participate in the song making process, so in actuality everybody in Thales makes the songs.
darkstar: What's your favourite Thales song?
Lasse: I have a few favorites: "Eerie Presence", "Make-Believe Logic" and "Torn" plus few new songs you haven't yet heard.
Juha: Gee, I always mix up the names and the songs.
Juuso: Oh damn, it's nigh impossible to say. If I had to choose one, it'd be one of the new ones that no one's heard yet and which don't have lyrics or even names yet. Of the released ones, "Ad Mortis Infinitum".
darkstar: What's your favourite album by another band?
Lasse: Dark Tranquillity - The Gallery, Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, My Dying Bride - Like Gods of the Sun, Opeth - Morningrise, Dawn: Slaughtersun (Crown of the triarch), Dissection - Storm of the Light's Bane
Juha: Currently it's "Vantage" by Fall of the Leafe.
Juuso: "Lightbulb Sun" and "In Absentia" by Porcupine Tree, and Dimmu Borgir - PEM.
darkstar: How useful do you think Myspace is for helping bands like you guys in getting started?
Lasse: We don't know how useful it has in actuality been, but at least it has brought us to more people's attention, and that's good for promotion.
darkstar: If you could tour with any band, past or present, who would it be?
Lasse: My Dying Bride or Dimmu Borgir
Jusso: It doesn't matter, everythings's good.
darkstar: Where can people purchase your albums?
Lasse: Hardly anywhere at the moment, since all the demos/promos we had have been sold out. When we record a new demo or an album, or make some more copies of the old demos, people can contact us directly to buy their copy, unless some label signs us and releases our album, which would naturally mean that our albums would actually be sold in a REAL store... but that's another dream.
darkstar: Any last comments for the readers of MetalUnderground.com?
Lasse: IF you are still reading this, we are terribly sorry for having wasted your valuable time. Thank you for all the support! \m/
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