Henri "Kaamos" Koivula (vocals) conducted by Eddie Risdal in 2010
THROES OF DAWN may be a name many have heard before, but fewer might be familiar with their music. This Finnish five piece have been around since 1994 and have just released their fifth album "The Great Fleet Of Echoes". It seems to have got a close to ecstatic recievement from the press, and that is very well deserved. Their first few albums were pretty much melodic techincal extreme/black metal, but around a decade ago they slowed down a bit and the music headed more towards dark metal. After a heavy change in the line-up after their third album "Binding The Spirit", things haven't happened fast in the THROES OF DAWN camp. "The Great Fleet Of Echoes" is only their second album since the millennium. Vocalist Henri "Kaamos" Koivula explained a bit about everything, and most of all shared his thoughts upon the new album.
Hi there, congratulations with the new album! I guess you all must be very proud of it, how has the reception been so far?
Thank you, Eddie! Yes we are very proud and happy about this album. It took a lot of time, but it sure feels good now when the job is done. We have had a very good response both from the music media and our fans too. Sure, we have had positive responses before as well, but this is something different. It is almost overwhelming. But at the same time, there have been some quite awful reviews as well, mainly from magazines that are more black or thrash metal oriented. We knew that this album will divide people, because it´s quite far from traditional metal sound.
It's been six years since "Quicksilver Clouds", a lot of other bands have both come and gone in that period, why did it take so long to come up with "The Great Fleet Of Echoes"? The album has been recorded in a two year period so I suppose you haven't booked a studio all that time, rather recorded much on your own, or what?
Yes, it took almost too much time. We had to think things through before we started to record the album. Probably we just didn´t want to make a similar album as the previous ”Quicksilver Clouds” was, but instead we wanted to take things further and try out our musical boundaries. At first we did a number of test recordings and tried different things out. And although we still had the deal with Avantgardemusic, we were looking for a new label. We sent some of these test recordings to some labels with no success. So, we just decided to record the album with our own money. We hired the sound technician to do the recordings. We also hired a small studio from Timo Kotipelto from the outskirts of Helsinki. The recordings were not so straight forward, we would do recordings every now and then and continue when we had the chance. I remember that the longest break was almost six months in the recordings. Nevertheless, the whole process was really tough. There was so much uncertainty and confusion about things, but it all got easier when we finally signed a deal with Firebox records, so we got the much needed confirmation that someone is actually going to release the album.
Your lyrics are not a joyful reading, this seems to be the standard for the majority of the Finnish bands I know about. Is it a personal way for you and maybe other lyricists to in a way "write away the misery", or is it simply that Finns are in general a gloomy people (Maybe something in your drinking water, ehm sorry... vodka)? To me most of you all appear to either heavily consider suicide or have a macabre sense of humour...
There ´s nothing wrong with the Finnish water (or vodka), but I could blame the climate and the long winter season. He he, I don´t think we are mentally far apart from the Norwegian bands. I mean there are some very dark bands coming from your country as well.
Throes Of Dawn has always been about the dark aspects of life; loss, depression, the fears and pains of existence. I don´t consider myself as a very dark person, (oh well, maybe a bit darker than average person) but it doesn´t affect my life too much at least. As a writer you must have the ability to look through your life and see and sense things around you. So, all these things spring from real life, although I tend to write the lyrics so that they are not so straight forward, adding some other themes and motives here and there.
There is close to no musical traces of the THROES OF DAWN we know from "Pakkasherra" and "Dreams Of The Black Earth", you make it really hard for yourself to keep your old fans, or what? You loose some and gain some?
Well, some people say that there is actually quite much similar things, but I guess it´s in the mind of the listener. We have always had quite soft and atmospheric sound, although our music has been more in the black/death/doom vein. I can say that this is the album that we have wanted to make for a long time already, but we have never before had the guts and talent to go this far. We have improved in songwriting and singing along these years, and I´m looking forward to see what the future holds for us. It seems that our fans our following us, no matter how soft we go, ha haa!
"The Great Fleet Of Echoes" has moments where I hear influences from several different bands, I can mention Pink Floyd, Tiamat, Anathema, Novembers Doom, Unholy and Norwegian band Magenta. Do you agree in any of these?
Well, I can agree almost all, except Novembers Doom, and Magenta. I´ve never really istened to these bands. But there are some other Norwegian bands I could mention. In The Woods..., Manes, and the underrated, but magnificient Beyond Dawn, which was truly unique band. With this album we have reached some spot where people like to do comparisons to other bands, and it has been really interesting to hear what kind of influences people hear in our music. Some magazine even compared us to Mark Knopfler and Massive Attack. It´s thrilling!
There is not one boring moment on "The Great Fleet Of Echoes" as I see it. Was it a hard task putting the songs together or did it come easily to you? Did you discard a lot of ideas and songs on the way?
We did leave some songs away, at very early stage. You can hear quite soon if the song has any potential or not. But there were not so many, maybe four or five songs that we discarded. In the songwriting stage, we did a lot of test recordings and I have to say that it was really good for the final outcome, because we got to test a lot of things before we started the actual album recordings. So, it was of course very time consuming, but very important factor. Probably we are going to do some test recordings in the future as well.
We recorded 12 songs, but we released only 10 of them on the CD, the rest of the songs; ”Empathy in C Minor” and ”The Crown of Flowers” will be released later as bonus songs in a limited double, gatefold LP format. We are quite excited about this, as this is going to be our first ever vinyl release. There´s also a special 24 bit mastering on this LP so, the sound quality should be perfect.
The cover art and booklet for the new album is really tasteful if you ask me. Are you very conscious on this, that a good appearance may get more people to buy the real deal instead of downloading it for free on some torrents site on the internet?
Cover artwork is important part of the album, and we always want to have our hands on this process as well. We are somewhat demanding and perfectionists to some degree. The artwork for this album was made by a long-time fan of the band, Timo Honkanen. He also made the covers for the previous album, and we liked he´s work very much. So we asked if he would be interested in doing the artwork for the new album. We had a meeting and we talked what we would like to see in the artwork, and we also gave him some pictures that we have taken with Jani. After that, Timo made some pictures with different schemes, and we would pick the ones that would end up into the covers. I think that the artwork looks very nice, and I have to say that Timo made really impressive job here. And I do hope that people would realise that the artwork is strongly connected with the music, so you can´t get the whole picture by just downloading the album from some torrent site.
If I should try to label the music found on TGFOE I might use words as minimalistic progressive dark rock/metal. It's a bit contradictionary, but can you accept and understand this tag?
Yes, it makes perfect sense to me. The album is very diverse and there are contradictions and strong contrasts. Some magazines have said that the album is atmospheric and light on sound but at the same time it´s excruciatingly dense and heavy with emotion. One of the biggest music magazines in Finland, that has never before reviewed our album gave a praising review and in the closing sentence the editor said that the there is something very dark but at the same time soothing in this music.
You've been in the business for a long time. In retrospect, what do you feel is the biggest differences that have happened to the metal scene from, let's say 1995 and up to now?
Many things have changed since then. Metal has become a major business here in Finland. It´s a bit annoying to see how the underground culture has transformed into something that is widely accepted and embraced by every media. There are some internationally big metal groups coming from Finland and they have started to take the place from the traditional Pop-music. Metal in today´s Finland is popular music. But I´m sure these things will change over time, all these trends go in waves.
Since we started in 1994, we have seen some good years of record sales, but now as we know, the record sales have almost completely collapsed. In the past, it was normal for the metal band to sell 5000-10 000 albums. Now it´s considered to be a good result if your album sells 2000 copies. Hopefully there´s a solution for all this in the future before we see all the record companies go bankrupt. There are also many other things that have changed, like internet, which has helped bands to promote their music more easily. Long gone are the days of tape trades.
I'd really like to see you on a Norwegian stage soon, any plans of heavy touring in 2010?
Well, yes we are planning to do some extensive live shows, and we would like to come to Norway as well. We have some contacts there and hopefully we can arrange something. We have now put more focus on the live performances, we have bought some light effects, smoke machines etc. But most importantly we now have a live keyboard player, who has brought a lot of positive things into our live sound.
Finally I have to thank you for spending time on answering these questions, anything we've forgot to ask and that you want to mention?
Thank you Eddie for this interview! And for the readers I would like say that, please check out our latest album ”The Great Fleet of Echoes”, you might actually like it.
Sure everybody will like "The Great Fleet Of Echoes"! Thanks for your good answers Henri and good luck with the album and tour plans.