– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with PAIN CONFESSOR?
Tuomas (guitar): Hi, it’s a pleasure! We are currently getting ready for the release of Incarcerated and the following release party and 10th anniversary gig we are doing October 27th at Suisto club in our hometown Hämeenlinna. We’ll be playing the whole new album and have Vesa “Wesleyer” Säkkinen (guitar) and Mikko “Tinde” Laihanen (drums) come back for a few oldies so it will be a night to remember for our friends. Everything is finally fine with Pain Confessor and things sure look better than a few years back.
– Have been 5 years since your previous «Purgatory of the Second Sun» until this new «Incarcerated», which is something really unusual for you. Why have you take this time? What have you been up to during these years? Will we have to wait another 5 years until your next opus?
Tuomas: First and the main reason would be our departure from our previous label. Things started to go bad after the second album and it was inevitable that Purgatory would be our last album with them. Everything from there on was a pretty steep downhill because most of the band was suffering from total lack of motivation. We had our families and jobs take more time, kids were born and the band had lost some of its luster. Then we began to have difficulties with the lineup. We came very close to just letting it go. Probably Make’s persistence stood vanguard for keeping things alive. He spearheaded the band’s revival and pretty directly told that everyone can fuck off if things didn’t pick up. And he was totally right. We had no choice but to either go fuck ourselves or take things into a new, fresh direction and heal the lineup. And that’s what we did. The problems in the industry didn’t help so hunting for a good contract turned out to be very tiresome. It took five years and some lineup changes to get us back on track. If we have anything to say about it, the next album will not take five years. We don’t have that much time left in us.
Jaska(guitar): It was probably a good thing in the end that we took the time to figure out the best working methods with this new lineup. And of course it took some time to get to know each other as well, so we accomplished that as well. This works in our advantage with the next album for sure.
– And due to this, how are you feeling about the release of this new record? What are your expectations on it?
Tuomas: Exactly due to this we are damn proud of the new album. Also, I have learned not to have any expectations but feel this thing has everything going for it if people care to give it a chance. Personally I’m 100% sure this is our new debut as a new, reborn band and it is by far our strongest album.
Jaska: High hopes! So far people seem to have liked what they’re hearing. And since the album is different to the earlier material, we might be witnessing some fresh growth in our fan base. Fingers crossed, there is excitement in the air.
– You are hailing from Finland but I have always thought your Melodic Death Metal has inspirations of the Swedish scene but, what have been the most influential bands for PAIN CONFESSOR?
Tuomas: Swedish scene not so much really. Coming from Finland I would list Sentenced as THE most important influence for myself and thus for a grand portion of our music. As a personal precious experience I had the chance of meeting Miika Tenkula, whom I consider one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters ever, just before he passed away and got to tell him how huge an influence and inspiration he has been to me and us. Amorphis, most directly the older stuff (Karelian Isthmus, Tales from the Thousand Lakes) has been a big influence as well. And even bands like Cradle of Filth, Vader, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, Satyricon… Then there is the usual list of bands that any metal musician born in the 70’s would list: Slayer, Metallica, Testament, Death, Anthrax, Morbid Angel, Obituary… From Sweden Hypocrisy, At The Gates, Edge of Sanity and Amon Amarth are great. But we don’t deal with influences, they just have molded us into what we are. We can’t deny In Flames or Soilwork their accomplishments and their influence to melodic death metal as is but I refuse to give any one band the spiritual copyright to certain elements in music. We use in our music what we find interesting and what we enjoy playing and listening to. And I am that much old school that I would give our melodic edge more credit to older bands like Iron Maiden and Wasp, for example. It is not evident perhaps but that’s the truth.
Jaska: I think we can add Sepultura and Megadeth to the list as well. My personal background is from a bit lighter shade of gray, more melodic or even progressive stuff… And then the old school genre which is conservative but still kind of works everytime. You can draw influences from the most peculiar types of music. All in all, the six of us probably have a bit different taste of music, even if everyone likes their cup of tea heavy and dark. This all adds up to a good mixture of things.
– I think this «Incarcerated» stands out from the rest of your albums as one of your most diverse records so far, with a strong identity as well. Could you say this is the opus that reflects the best the band’s perosnality?
Tuomas: You could and you should. This is the direction me, Make, Pasi and Mikko Kivistö and Mikko Laihanen were aiming for when we were joining our forces to form Pain Confessor. The general direction went a little too far to the thrash deparment to my liking but I won’t discredit our old material. There is plenty of great shit in our back catalogue and everything was done with 100% conviction but this time we came around with exactly the stuff our hearts were bleeding for. Once we got around to writing stuff and arranging the songs with Jaska and Aki in our band everyone grinned like “Fuck yeah! THIS is Pain Confessor!” So I will say it out loud. “Incarcerated” is what Pain Confessor is and was always supposed to be about.
– I also think all the songs are perfectly calibrated, showing a more mature songwriting. Has the fact of having taken your time with this effort has something to do or is it just experience what makes you evolve?
Tuomas: Both, really. There was enough shit happening that it got our blood boiling, there was enough time to fight, give up and stand up again, rethink and reinvent ourselves, build upon our strengths and get back into the ring for round 4. We knew what we did NOT want to do. We knew what we really wanted to do. And we had 2 new guys in the band that had all the needed technical and musical knowledge and desire to finalize every minute detail, every little thing as we wanted. And we recorded the album more live than ever before. This is what it will mostly sound like live.
Jaska: The new songs definitely took a bit of time to get them sound like they are, not least because we wanted to try out almost every idea. Most of the time the original idea worked best, but we found nice seasoning to the stew, and every second spent was it’s money’s worth. Painstaking, yes. But the first gig proved that arrangement wise we struck gold, no need to meddle with anything now, we just play the songs as they were recorded and they work like a charm.
– Due to this I would like to know if the songwriting process has changed over the years.
Tuomas: Yes and no. It will change though. We had an evolutionary process going on while doing this album. I had written a lot of songs that we had been toying around with for a future record, Mikko brought in a million ideas as well. That is our old style of writing, one brings the core (or sometimes a fully realized song) and together we will arrange it into its final form. This time we had some of the songs, Blood Eagle, Oceans of Sickness for example jammed together based on various ideas from everyone in the band. I am sure this is how it will progress from now on as Aki and Jaska are both very eager to bring forth their ideas and creative input and the whole process was much more fun and challenging for everyone.
Jaska: Speaking from a freshman point of view, it was nice to have many ideas drip through the sieve and put into good use. Aki has had a lot of input too, so the newcomer boot camp was all in all a good experience, haha. To name a few songs, I recall Grief being a song that came to being through a couple of jamming sessions, containing ideas from both Mikko and myself. Inward was kind of a self appointed task for me to try and write a song that would fit Pain Confessor and meet the high standards. A lot changed from the first demo, but everything lead to the end result being pretty fucking solid.
– Anyway, what could you say are the main differences between «Incarcerated» and your previous releases?
Tuomas: We finally reached a new spectrum of melodic parts and aggressive parts. Also we got the sounds we were looking for, we got all the rhythmic variations and vocal variations we had been going for all along. I think the main difference is the challenge. We challenged ourselves and each other on a completely new level and thus created our best album yet. We even challenge the listener so I guess you could call everyone somewhat challenged now? Haha!
– Leaving the musical side of the album aside; what do some of the lyris on this piece deal with?
Tuomas: I feel we won’t be leaving the musical side because lyrics to me are an integral part of the song, defining a lot of the mood. Personally I devour good lyrics when listening to albums I like. So I will always demand we do our best with lyrics. “Incarcerated” has an underlying theme of self-deprivation, self-seclusion and incarceration, becoming a pariah, making of choices and the results of those choices. We are strongly pro-life within those lyrics and are viewing the world from the perspectives of the victim, the villain, the outsider, the father. Recent years have introduced the curse of media upon the world, where we learn each and every day more and more of truly gruesome fates and acts with little light shed on our weary minds. We hate injustice and we are against a lot of the norms in society but we are pro life and want to perhaps make a point or two about the present day world we live in.
– And what did you want to express with the cover?
Tuomas: It all pertains to the themes of the album, it’s all about the ruins of well being, an insane mind, a shattered illusion of happy family. The guy in there is everyone. We are building invisible walls around us and sitting in our rooms talking to other virtual “friends” by typing in some fucking Facebook. We are casting ourselves out from the society willingly. The covers portray all this, being alone in our own prison we built ourselves. We will be shooting a video going even deeper into this territory.
Jaska: I think the cape looks pretty cool too?
Tuomas: Fuck yaaah!
– For this album you’ve got two new members, Jaakko Kunnas and Aki Kuusinen. What happened with your long-time drummer Mikko and how did you find both Jaakko and Aki? What have they brought to the band?
Tuomas: Mikko had much going on in his life and didn’t carry the same flame he used to so motivation became a burden instead of a forward motion. We parted ways in very good terms and remain good friends. Personally it was a big deal to me because Mikko is a very good guy and I always saw eye to eye with him. He was a huge part of Pain Confessor and his legacy will remain with us. It will be great to get to play with him once again come October! Aki came along some 2 years ago when we had set our minds to making a new album and the serious writing began. We knew him already from bands like The Zombi, Yearning, Scaur and very importantly SinKing which was a later incarnation of Jane Doe 69 in which I had played as well. I think Mikko had asked Aki for a little try out session and we had Vitriol under works which requires some attention from the drummer. He cleared it like nothing and we asked him if he would like to perhaps play with us some more. “Yeah, why not. I don’t have much better things to do…”, he calmly said. That’s Aki for you! Jaska was hiding too closely in plain sight for us. We had our live sound engineer and a very awesome guitarist Tommi Kurki play with us for roughly 1.5 years and we wrote and demoed Red on White, Tarnished Halo and Hope with him on board. Sadly, Tommi got a great job as the main sound guy at Suisto club near us which took up his evenings and he decided to make room for a new guitarist with more time available. We then had a public guitarist application process going and Samuli Federley came in that way. He had just missed one point of the application where we stressed out that we need someone with time to rehearse and not too much other commitments. He didn’t have that much time and he did have too much other commitments for us to proceed so again we were searching for a replacement. We of course knew Jaska and knew he was a very talented guitarist but for some reason we never really asked him before. Probably it was due to the fact that he was a leader type in his own band Helion and it seemed improbable that he would be interested, at all really. Good thing Mikko, I think it was Mikko like it always is, asked him to come check out what we were cooking at our HQ. Jaska came in, told us immediately that he’s an asshole and knows it. I just told him he would fit right in! And he did.
– This has been your first CD with Spinefarm after working with Megamania. Has working with a big label worked as a benefit for you so far or does it also has cons as not being their main focus?
Tuomas: Too early to tell, I guess. But honestly, things weren’t exactly all roses and sunshine at Megamania in the later days so that wasn’t a good home for us at that point. Up until now I think there have been only benefits and things have progressed as expected. We have to keep in mind we had a 5 year hiatus and are practically a new band right now so we will have to work to try and become a main focus for them.
– All this about «Incarcerated» being said: how could you describe your new opus in just 3 words?
Tuomas: Check it out!
Jaska: Heavy As(s) Shit.
– You are hailing from Finland, a country that has always had a strong and healthy Metal scene but, how has it changed since you were formed?
Tuomas: So much that a guy like me doesn’t know most of the bands around these days. There is a plethora of bands and this is almost suffocating. But all the power to the kids who are willing to go through with it!
Jaska: Just heard a rumor that there is a metal band in existence toward every 5 people in population. That’s…. well, plenty. I can barely remember the names of the bands I’ve played in. Or am still playing, for that matter.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
Tuomas: Get a new booking agent online and start doing gigs. We need to get back on the road!
Jaska: And we want to get on the road. After living half-life in the rehearsal place and studio and not being out there for the fans, there couldn’t be a better feeling than hitting the stage with all knobs pointed toward 11!
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Tuomas: Thank you for this interview and well thought out questions! It was a pleasure. Support music, support art. Without audiovisual stimulation the world will lose all its colors. Also support Anvil! That is persistence! And care for kids, they have yet to learn to be dicks so make a positive change and help them grow into good guys!
Jaska: Let music in our world live long and prosper. Thank you, and hopefully we’ll bee seeing you on gigs as soon as possible!