Anyone who’s paid attention to any of my reviews for two seconds will know that I worship this band. In fact, I ordered multiple copies of “Hope” just so I could get the underwear that came with the pre-order. Pretty gay, right? Still, it’s always fun to make your favorite band uncomfortable by filling their heads with images of you wearing their logo near your junk.
Welcome to your interview with Global Domination. It’s pretty much the only good site on the internet. By the way, I should warn you that I’m a Swallow the Sun fanboy. What’s it like being relatively early into your career and already have folks like myself live and die by your music?
Thanks! I’ll check the site out, but if it doesn’t have porn it’s not going to keep my interest. But to the question: It’s pretty fucking incredible. When recording our first and only demo early in 2003 we certainly weren’t expecting such exposure we’ve gotten.
Whenever I introduce Swallow the Sun to a friend and they don’t immediately declare you guys the greatest band in existence, I give them a verbal lashing, often insulting their mother and/or size of their penis. Would you consider this an advisable tactic for all of your fans to adhere to?
Sure, and a kick or two on the nuts won’t hurt either. Or, to be specific, it won’t hurt you.
How come you’re much better than any other bands in the doom/death scene? You guys are even releasing better material than My Dying Bride these days! Additionally, are there any other bands in this style that kick almost as much ass as you?
Well, first of all: thank you. But I really don’t know what we do differently. I guess it might be the fact that we are not trying to do doom/death -metal, at least not anymore. We just know what we want to sound like and then combine all our musical influences to the mess that’s known as Swallow the Sun. You might want to check out this Finnish band called Hanging Garden.
Hope takes an overall more fast paced approach compared to “The morning never came” and “Ghosts of loss”. Why is that? I mean, it sure isn’t thrash or anything, but for a doom band that isn’t Disembowelment it’s kinda upbeat. Also, doesn’t Disembowelment completely kick ass? One of the fucken greats!
Because it is a party album for girls. Or we have realized that we want to make even more contrast for the albums, as Too Cold for Tears isn’t the slowest song we’ve done, but it sounds quite damn slow on the album because of the faster songs around it. And I have to admit that I haven’t listened to Disembowelment at all.
I know every song on “Hope” kicks ass. However, which song from the new album do you feel best represents the band and the sound you’re going for? Which song do you really wish had just not made the final cut?
I guess it’d had to be Hope or Doomed to Walk the Earth. Those both songs have all the elements we are made of. There’s nothing that I wish that wouldn’t have been on the album, but there’s some parts I would’ve like to mix a bit better, but we kinda ran out of studio time.
When will “Hope” be released on vinyl? Will it be available in the states? I’ll pay to have it imported if I have to, but I’ll need a free poster or 2. Also, do you guys prefer vinyl to cd?
It will be released on vinyl at some point – can’t remember when – and it’s going to be released by this company I know they are going to put really much effort into it. So I’m really looking forward for that. I don’t know about the US release, so you’ll probably have to spend all your money on imports. I like vinyls, but as I don’t have decent player for them I prefer CD’s. Vinyl is certainly better format artwork-wise.
You published lyrics for “Ghosts of loss” and “Hope”, but never for “The morning never came”. Are they a secret, or do you just think it’s funny to see the lyrics that people come up with on your forum? When are you going to reveal the actual lyrics?
Not releasing the lyrics was Juha’s decision. I guess he felt that they weren’t up to the music or something, although personally I think we could as well release them. But it’s up to Juha. And I have to admit that yes, seeing people come up with them is quite fun to watch.
How do “Swallow” and “Don’t fall asleep” go together? Seeing as we don’t have fucken lyrics for “Swallow”...
They have the similar B-movie atmosphere and soundtrackish quality to them. Not to mention the similar musical themes on both of them. They have always been thought as a pair.
Why did you put “Swallow” and “Don’t fall asleep” on “The morning never came” and “Hope” respectively while skipping “Ghosts of Loss”? Will there be a 3rd part?
I think we did try to put Don’t Fall Asleep on Ghosts of Loss already, but we couldn’t get it finished. It’s probably the song we’ve been working on for the longest time. The third part is up to Juha again, but I guess he doesn’t have any plans on that.
As a Finnish person, how depressed would you say you are on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being like Richard Simmons excited and 10 being dead?
1, my life fucking rocks at the moment. I guess that most of my depression is channeled to our music.
I’m a collector of anything Swallow the Sun related. I’ve got 3 copies (all different versions) of “The Morning Never Came”, 5 copies of “Ghosts of loss”, 3 copies of “Hope”, and some other random shit. Regardless, I still can’t figure out why you included Swallow the Sun underwear with the pre-order of “Hope”.
Because we wanted to see girls with our g-strings on them, and they wouldn’t buy them otherwise. Record Shop X that handled the pre-orders of the album always wants something extra to go with the pre-orders, so we went for the underwear. I don’t actually know who got the idea in the first place.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining there. I can now look extra sexy while wearing them. Would you like to see a picture of me wearing them? Fair warning: I’m a guy, not a sexy lady. And I didn’t get the g-string either. Can you send me a g-string? I’ll get you pics of that as well…
Oh, I think we’ll pass, the sexiness might be a bit too overwhelming. Thanks for the offer, though! I think we can get you the g-string if you promise not to send us pictures of that. We have enough of those.
Why did you do two covers of Candlemass’s “Solitude”? Both were good (the one that’s a bonus track on “The morning never came” was better), but doing 2 versions of the same cover seems like overkill.
We really didn’t want to, but the US record label wanted a version where Mikko sang all the vocals. So, states got the version with Mikko and rest of the world the other one.
“The morning never came” is hands down the greatest debut album of any band ever. I don’t have any questions here. Just saying that it fucken rules.
Well, thank you again!
How’s Spinefarm treating you guys? Was the move simply to get more exposure or was Firebox screwing you guys over?
The move was simply to get more exposure outside Finland. Firebox was an excellent label and their promotion in Finland was good, but their resources for sales and promotion outside Finland are limited, unfortunately. The co-operation with Spinefarm has started well, they are very supportive.
I don’t think I can get my nose any further up your ass, so here’s a few more critical (nitpicky) questions. First off, the intro to “The empty skies” is pretty damned similar to “Forgive her”. What’s up?
Oh, I haven’t noticed that. Totally a coincidence, because that wasn’t the song I was thinking of when composing that – I tried to rip off a totally different song.
What’s with Finnish bands putting out a few good albums and then just taking a nose dive into Suckville? I mean, you’ve got Nightwish, Stratovarius (though that’s arguable that they were ever good), Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica… what is it about Finland?
Here I just can’t agree – Nightwish just got listenable with their latest album as Tarja quit howling like she’s being eaten alive. I really hated the vocals on their first albums, and they didn’t even sound like metal that much, but Once is a very good album. The same goes with Children of Bodom, I didn’t care about their first albums (although I’ve always enjoyed seeing them play live), but their latest albums sounded a lot more interesting. But I’m not going to say anything about Stratovarius or Sonata Arctica. But I guess it’s not just the Finnish bands: you hear about every other band that “their first demos were awesome, then they went crap” and shit like that.
How many more good albums do you plan on releasing before changing your sound drastically and becoming shitty?
A few, but fear not – we are going to compensate the shitty music with make-up, PVC clothes and naked women.
The cover art for “Hope” is somewhat boring, especially since “The morning never came” and “Ghosts of loss” had such amazing cover art. What exactly were you guys trying to accomplish?
Going to a different direction with the artwork seemed necessary when we were planning the album. We had some other ideas, but we actually ran out of time when doing the artwork, so it’s a bit of a compromise. We wanted a bit more stylish, Kubrick’s “Shining” -kinda atmosphere there.
So what is behind the door?
Hope? No hope?
The video for “Descending winters” was awesome. Good stuff! However, the video for “Don’t fall asleep” was a bit strange to say the least. Was that a band concept of director concept? Who was the director anyhow, and what in God’s holy hell is supposed to be happening?
Heh, the video was made by this Finnish company, and they did all the concept planning and scripting. It’s kinda hard to interpret, as the plot doesn’t come out exactly as it was planned to, but hey – we can always say that it’s artistic and people who don’t get it are merely ignorant fools that have no respect for arts!
Oh fucken… I just looked at the Firebox website and there is yet another re-release of both “The morning never came” and “Ghosts of loss”. How many of these are there going to be? I’m going broke here guys!
That was Firebox’s call to make those. I haven’t even seen my copies of them yet.
There was also the performance that the Ballet Deviare put on which included some Swallow the Sun music. I was able to find a clip on YouTube of “Hold this Woe” and it’s amazing how well the music flows with the ballet. What were your thoughts when that idea came up? Did it turn out as you expected?
I think Ballet Deviare contacted us and asked if they can use our music on their performance. We thought that why not, it’s probably going to be cool, and said ok. We’ve been in contact with them ever since, I think it’s cool that people want to try something new and different.
I’ve only been able to find that 30 second clip. Will there be any more of that performance released?
I think they recorded the whole performance, but something went wrong with the recording and they couldn’t use it. But I’m not sure about this, I haven’t seen the whole recording myself.
How long was the portion of the ballet where your music was used? Are there any plans to continue working with Ballet Deviere in the future? Maybe something specifically written for them like Arsis did?
They did only the song Hold This Woe. I think Juha has been in contact with them, so if there is any plans I really don’t know about them that much.
I seem to have to ask this every goddamn interview. When are you guys going to have merch available through American distro’s? It’s like 75 bucks for a goddamn sweatshirt!
I hope that this will be attended to in the future. These are not exactly the kind of things we can affect to as a band, it’s so much up to the label and our label in states.
Lyrically, “Fragile” is one of the greatest songs in the Swallow the Sun catalogue. Was there a specific thing that inspired these lyrics, such as a movie or book? Which song is lyrically your favorite, and why? Where do the band’s lyrical ideas generally come from?
Well, thank you. Most of the lyrics on the first two albums are stories about dead women and apocalyptic visions to fit the music with personal references being quite vague on them. I did have a certain inspiration on Fragile, but I’m not going to talk about that, sorry. I think that on Hope the lyrics have changed a bit to a more personal standpoint, although I can’t speak for Mikko or Juha, that’s just the impression I’ve gotten from their lyrics.
Seriously… where can I get a copy of “Out of the gloomy light” demo? I’m not even kidding, I need this to die happily. I’ve been searching for one for years now.
Sorry, but you can’t. There’s probably only about 4 physical copies of the demo that were all sent to labels, so we don’t have them either. The demo was freely available for download on the Internet, and I think you can get a copy by using some file sharing programs.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer these questions, and applaud you for making it through the interview. And a big thank you for kicking more ass than just about any band out there right now. Please, feel free to say anything you want here. Oh, and your favorite quote from Shakespeare, if you will.
Thanks for the interview! The questions were – dare I say – more interesting than usual. “I’m not an alcoholic – I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings”. Can’t remember if that was from Hamlet or Macbeth.
Shit, I need a 30th question. Yeah… it’s been 30. Is 30 questions too many for an interview?
No, don’t think so. At least most of these were comprehensible, which I can’t say for some interviews.