– Hello and, first off, thanks for your time. Now that you will really soon release your fifth album , what are you currently up to?
Jukka: Hello. Yes the fifth album is finally done an ready to be released. I am really excited because I think it is our best album to date. Currently we are planning tours and gigs etc. for the spring and summer 2011. Of course we are doing a lot of promotion for the album as well. Just basic stuff that comes when you release a new album.
Markus: Hola! Before the actual album release there’s always a big pile of building the album release and everything surrounding it and now it’s also x-mas time so it’s a busyness allover in life before the holidays starts. It’s a storm before the calm!
– To start let’s make a history of the band for all those people whom don’t know too much about your: when and why was the band formed, etc.
Markus: OmG was formed already 15 years ago, in 1996, from early teenagers’ urge to create our own part to the saga called northern melodic death metal that we really loved back then in the form of Dark Tranquillity, Edge Of Sanity, Opeth, In Flames etc.It wasn’t until after few demos that we got very active outside the Finnish very underground and gained a record deal in 2001 and our first official release «Steal The Light» mcd saw the darkness of the day in late 2002, which were followed by the praised debut album «Spirits and August Light» in 2003. So far we’ve totally done 5 albums and one mcd, and the 5th full-length entitled «New World Shadows» will be out in February and we’ve been touring in Europe with bands like Dark Tranquillity, Nile, Swallow The Sun, Caliban etc.
– What does «Omnium Gatherum» mean? And what does it mean nowadays in your life?
Markus: «Omnium Gatherum» is latin and roughly translated it means same like Mötley Crüe – freak circus, or strange kind of gathering, peculiar mixture etc. In my everyday life it means lots an’ lots of work for the band and also somekind of «escape-from-reality» as that’s what art should be for the artist in my opinion. It’s a channel where you can immortalize your everyday feelings and emotions and you can jump to that boat to avoid boring normal life. Especially when the touring starts, that’s where and when the reality disappears, haha!
– And, how could you describe your sound to all of them? Though I think this is a hard one since you bring plenty of different influences and mix diverse Metal genres.
Markus: As our band alias says, it’s a peculiar mixture! It’s a good thing to hear that our music is little bit hard one to categorize as we’re trying to make versatile metal with the framing that sounds always us. We have this our own thing goin’ on that’s called «epic adult oriented melodeath», so it’s like sophisticated melodic death metal with lots of spices from progressive rock and AOR, and even from pop music to black metal. The overall atmospheric feeling is the main point in our stuff and we want to paint some big emotions with our metal in aggressive way. It’s a mix between Dark Tranquillity and Opeth meets Rush and Marillion!
– That makes me wonder what are your main influences?
Markus: Oops, i already told some influences on the previous one… So, our influences come lot from scandinavian melodic death metal bands like Edge Of Sanity, Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, Amorphis but we’ve been also influenced a lot different kinds of music from 70’s progrock monsters like Rush and Yes to AOR of Marillion & Journey to hard rock in the vein of Deep Purple & Van Halen, Iron Maiden to Massive Attack to Emperor to Death to Megadeth and so on, the list could be go on forever as i’m really a music freak. Good music can be found everywhere and you should not limit yourselves to one strict genre, as it’s always good as long as there’s honest feelings and innovation in the music!
– I think you have always played that interesting mix of sounds and atmospheres though it seems you’re constantly evolving. How has the OMNIUM GATHERUM’s evolution been since your previous «The Redshift»?
Markus: These previous two albums have seen the overall direction towards more melodic approach with some progressive music spices an’ hooks aiming at emotionally loaden atmosphere so it’s going even further with the «New World Shadows». Last summer the whole band went into the woods to one cabin on an island to rehearse and arrange the album ready and catch some atmosphere from the surrounding nature and i think it really helped to create that landscape for the album. Cabin fever! Shining! This time also I had «the pleasure and the curse» to compose the whole album now all by myself for the first time on OG album so it drove me to thought more about the whole big picture since from the beginning to write this album, so in my opinion this new album is really the best album entirety that we’ve done yet! And yeah, our thing is to evolve constantly with our music to keep things interesting for ourselves and to listeners, as i think our fans are surely in a way «music-lovers» as we are too because the Omnium Gatherum stuff haven’t always been the easiest one to catch in first listens. You gotta really listen to the albums carefully to catch all the hooks and then albums are growing with the more listening times as the secrets are opening, and that’s the way i like the music! OG isn’t any background music or elevator music, so you gotta give yourself to it and then it rewards surely.
– And, could you consider your music (in any way; composing it, playing it, listening to it…) as a challenge?
Markus: Of course, music is always a challenge for the artist himself as you gotta beat your previous works and achievements always to keep things interesting. As for the listeners i guess i already answered to that on the last question.. As a musician it’s also a challenge to deliver a good live show filled with well played music covered with aggressive and energetic live show.
– «New World Shadows» will be out next February, but I guess you have already read/heard some response. How has it been so far?
Markus: Well, the album promotion campaign have just started so i haven’t seen any actual reviews yet, but everything seems to be moving to really good direction at the moment and media and business partners have been very enthusiastic about the album so good things are happening. And the toughest critics, my closest friends & my girlfriend, have been really into the album this time and also claiming it to be the best OG work so far. So I gotta believe that, haha!
– What does the album title signify? Does this record mean, somehow, a new world to you?
Jukka: NWS was an easy choice for the album title. It sums up the lyrics perfectly. NWS signifies several things. first of all it has meaning both in individual and wider scale of existence. For every «new world» there are «shadows» to be reckon with. And don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with good vs. evil or other that kind of bullshit. There is no dualism in «New world shadows». It is merely a constant flux of variating motives and action. It is a new world for us in a sense that it is a whole new album.
– Tell us please a bit the production process for the album… I read it has been produced by Teemu Aalto, whom you have been working for some years now. Do you see yourself working with any other productor in the future?
Jukka: Yes once again we
made the album with our trusted mate Teemu Aalto. It is a pleasure to work with him because he really is a professional and because our past together. It is easy to work with Teemu. He has this nice way of knowing when to push a musician to a certain direction and when not to. He also has a lot of great ideas during the process and is not afraid to say them out loud. About the future, I don’t know yet if we’re going to work with other producers. It is really hard to say because at the moment we are pleased with Teemu’s work and I see no point thinking about wether or not we’re going to work with other people in the future.
Markus: Yep, there’s no need to work with anyone at this point as things are working well and Teemu is a really good friend of mine too. It makes things nicer and easier to work with your mates!
– «New World Shadows» has, once more, been mixed by Dan Swanö. How’s working with him like?
Markus: He is the man with golden ears and perfect musical taste having a really down-to-earth attitude even he is a living legend in the metal field. This was the second time we worked with Dan so everything went really easily and even better than the first time as Dan seems to like a lot from our stuff, as he said we have the same kind of musical biology that he has – death metal and melodic progrock! We did also «a feature-trade» with Dan; I played some leads to his Odyssey album and he did some clean vocals to our album. I’ve been a fan of his work since i was 13 years old, so of course this was fuuucking amazing to have him on our record. That’s something i wouldn’t believed to happen back in the 90’s!
– If I’m not wrong, Olli Lappalainen has done all your previous covers; has it done it again this time?
Jukka: No you are not wrong. Olli has done all the artwork for OG in the past. And he did the artwork for NWS as well. Olli is so talented and professional guy and we would be fools to let him go so I think he will be doing ‘the artwork for OG in the future too. We are really blessed to have that kind of guy in our reserves.
– During these years of career you have experienced several line-up changes, even did it a short time ago. For example, Harri Pikka left the band this same year; has this affected in any way to the OMNIUM GATHERUM’s sound?
Markus: Of course this is one of the main factors with the new album «little difference» as with Harri we had that Melodies vs. The Grit thing around because of the interaction between our musical tastes. Harri was more into un-melodic stonersludge thing and as i’m more into melodic stuff, that’s the reason what drives the notes and chords here on the new album. Even «New World Shadows» is still heavy as a really heavy thing, but i like my OmG metal more with melodic-edge. I took his departure also as a big motivator for me to have my own path here now without compromising with him stylewisely… Of course it’s always sad to have line-up changes but so far it’s been always change for the better.
– When you did the statement of this quitting the reasons behind his decision weren’t clear yet; do you now know the exact reasons made him quit?
Jukka: Well according to Harri the reasons were quite traditional. He said that other things in life played a bigger role so it was natural for him that he parted ways with OG. There was no bad blood between us and we are still good friends.
– You haven’t got any replacement for him, but are you looking (or will you look) for another second guitar player?
Jukka: There is no official statement yet as to a new guitarist but we have a couple of good candidates at the moment so the process is active and you will see a new guitarist in OG in the future for sure. To make OG ound excellent live I think it needs two guitarists.
– This new release is also your first one featuring Toni Mäki; what has he brought new to the band?
Jukka: Yes this is the first appearance for Mr. Mäki in OG. Toni is an excellent bassist and he has brought a nice refreshing add to the whole OG atmosphere. He also is a hellowa guy and he fit to the crew quite nicely. Toni is not afraid to say his opinion when it comes to musical differences, but he also does not push his opinions so the dialogue is sensible.
Markus: Toni is a bad-ass dude so it have motivated and boosted things in the band a lot!
– This is, as well, your first album via Lifeforce Records. You haven been with different labels until now: Nuclear Blast, Candlelight, etc. What made you move?
Markus: Well, there’s no business like show business and music business is really in a bad state at the moment so it makes things difficult for band vs. label juxtapositioning… During these hard times of music business labels should push their releases in every way, from grass-roots level to touring and at least really have faith for the bands that they are releasing and not just try on if the release could go with it’s own without doing much for it…. When thing’s are not working it makes pressure for both parties which leads to non-good co-operation.
– Are you happy now with the work done with Lifeforce? Do you think this will be a steadier cooperation?
Markus: So far so good and we really hope to have a long and steady an’ successful co-operation with these Germans! The Lifeforcers showed us some pure interest and they let us punsters do our epic-sophisticated-proggy-noncommercial-adultrock-melodeathmetal without limitations and have proved to be the real music lovers, and that’s the way it should be in this business field! They liked what they heard & they liked what they seemed on stage with OG, so it was a honest start for co-operation and the communication is working well. The truth is what matters.
– And finally, what are your plans to promote the album? Ay chance of seeing you guys in Spain?
Markus: Last time in Peninsula Iberica touring with Caliban was awesome, but that was already 3 years ago so it would be time to come back for sure! There should be lots of touring after the release, so hopefully Spain will be also added to the touring schedule. Buy lots of our cd’s and give us big rates in magazines, that’s when the spanish promoters starts to awake and call for our agents, haha! We’ll be starting the touring from our homecountry Finland and it seems after that we’ll be touring Europe with Rotting Christ but i don’t know the actual routing yet…
– That’s all, thank you once more for taking the time. If you want to add any last words to our readers, take the last lines.
Jukka: Thank you all. No go running to the store and get the new OG-album!!!
Markus: Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy lots of sangria with all ya Spanish fans soon! Muchas gracias senorita!