Even if you don’t know their music, FROSTTIDE should at least ring a bell if you’re into folk metal. Known for their frosty Finnish soundscapes, this trio is on the rise after the re-release of “Decedents“ last year and a Japanese tour. We caught up with Felipe Muñoz and Juho Patinen after their recent show at On the Rocks to see what’s going on with them these days.
First of all, how the heck are you guys?
Felipe: We’re excited that the band is somehow back in motion. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a few shows here in Finland. The last time was in 2017 with ENSIFERUM in Tampere, and that was pretty much it. So it’s really nice to know that more shows are coming and we know that we can get back into the live shape we want to be in.
Was this the first show of, hopefully, many to come?
Felipe: We have a show tomorrow in Lahti and Dark River Festival in August.
Juho: And next week’s festival on Saturday in Berlin.
Felipe: We’re playing the same night as EVERGREY and DARK TRANQUILLITY.
Juho: BLOODRED HOURGLASS.
Felipe: And BLIND CHANNEL will be there also.
Felipe: I’ve seen pictures and some video trailers.
Juho: Not live.
Felipe: I haven’t really heard their music. I should really check them out.
They’re either a heavy boy band, or a heavy metal band that’s kind of poppy [laughter].
Felipe: It was interesting, because I saw their video and they were all in white clothes. I was like, “Wow, that’s brave.” It’s like the BACKSTREET BOYS‘ cover of “Millenium.” All with the white clothes.
Juho: That’s going to be our next theme. With the frost.
Apart from the live shows, then, what’s been in the works with you guys recently?
Felipe: The EP we released, “Decedents,” it was released twice last year, so we are now entering the realm where it’s one year old and it’s just one EP with four full songs. So promoters are not really interested in a band who has released an EP. But we’ve been working on the third album as well. So we still have options and we’re hoping to play more shows in support of the EP now that it has been released with a label. Also, if we don’t get any gigs – at least I’m feeling in the mood, I don’t know about these guys – we could go back to the studio.
How far along is the third album then?
Juho: It’s pretty much written and we’ve already recorded something for it. It’s still in the stage where we cannot really say when it’s going to come out.
Felipe: Yeah, most of the instruments are recorded. We haven’t gotten to the keyboards/symphonic elements stage yet, but when we set out to record the EP, we didn’t want to take any songs from the third album. It was completely written from zero. Then we got to know more about how to record, both playing-wise and technically, so as Juho said, the album is written, but even though there are parts recorded, we are probably going to record everything again. To give it a better sound, a better touch. Our drummer [Joonas Nislin] has improved a lot as well, so I’m pretty sure he wants to do new stuff with the drums.
Juho: We started doing the album in 2017 and we got to the point where we realized that it’s going to be a pretty huge project to do, and with all of our personal lives and such, we just didn’t have the time to make it. Then we had the chance to go to Japan on tour, and we wanted to put something out but the album would have [taken too long], so we decided to go with an EP with fewer songs and make it really good. I think it all went pretty well, because it gave us the record deal with Out of Line.
Felipe: I think the vision that we have for the third album is that we try all the time to expand our sound. That vision… to be released as an independent band probably wouldn’t have been the best decision. Fortunately the EP caught the attention of Out of Line and they wanted to sign us and we agreed to release this EP, and by doing so, all the tools the label provides us, it shows us that this opens up so many possibilities now for the third record to be something even better.
Juho: It was definitely the right decision to make the EP.
Felipe: [laughs] It was funny, because you suggested it, and I was pretty much against it.
Juho: We got something out for the fans. The album would’ve taken so long. Now with the resources and opportunity the label gives us, we’ll get the album out. The promotion and everything will be better.
Can we expect anything vastly different from the third album, or will it be a similar formula?
Juho: I don’t really know yet because the songs usually change a lot during the arrangement process. I only have the vision right now, but it’s good that it’s not just one person’s vision.
But there won’t be any drastic changes or anything all-new or experimental?
Juho: Well, of course there’s always something new because we always develop, but you always try to sound like “FROSTTIDE.” We’re not going into pop or anything like that though [laughs]. At least one or two songs will go back to the original sound, but then we like to explore new things as well.
You guys remastered “Decedents,” which was after you were signed to Out of Line?
Felipe: Yes. The head of our label said that he was listening to Spotify and there was a playlist of new songs that had been released, and our EP was maybe a bit more than a month old. We had just come back from Japan, and he said that he heard the first track, “Tranquility” – the first actual track – and said that he really liked it and liked the approach that we had, that it wasn’t centered around one idea but we had different elements. He said he really liked the sound and arrangement and music, but unfortunately the mix doesn’t live up to the potential. He asked if we’d like to release the third album, and it was too soon and we were too tired from recording the EP and being on tour.
So since the EP had only been out a few months and many people had missed it, we decided to take the first step together by re-releasing the EP. We didn’t want it to be the same package as the original release, but technically, despite the hectic work that we did with the first release of the EP and the hectic schedules, we still were pretty happy with the final result. What we achieved in that timeframe was really good. But then with the label we didn’t want to release the same thing, there was no point, so we thought that we could remix and remaster it and then add the instrumental tracks. The label was like, ding-ding, yes, let’s do that. That made me really happy too, that you can hear the songs shine to their full potential.
Juho, how do you like being on vocals now?
Juho: It seems pretty natural. I’m not bothered by it. I never planned to become the vocalist but it was the only natural choice because I had already sang on a few songs earlier. The guys kind of said to me that I could sing, so I did.
Were you acquainted with singing and playing guitar at the same time before, or did you have to learn to do it?
Juho: I always have to learn to do it. Some of the parts are quite easy, if you have a similar rhythm with the guitar and vocals. But when you have all the rhythms mixed up, you really have to sit down and slow it down, master it in your mind, how the rhythms go and where should I sing something and do the picking. It’s sometimes a pain in the ass [laughs]. You just really need to get it into your spine to do it. And I’m the kind of guy who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, so I really need to practice it. But somehow it comes quite naturally when we’re on stage.
So tell me about your live shows now. First of all, who were the guests on stage with you tonight?
Felipe: The young man, Matti Meri-Huhti, from Tampere.
Juho: Felipe found him. He did a pretty great job for his first gig tonight.
Felipe: These aren’t easy songs, and playing in Helsinki at On the Rocks for the first time ever… even on a Wednesday, it’s puts some pressure on. Even I was nervous. But he did an excellent job. We are very happy. He’s a very talented, motivated guy.
FROSTTIDE is officially still just the three of you guys?
Juho: Officially, yes. The live bassist is Taneli Jämsä and he’s been playing with us for quite a while. He was with us in Japan.
Felipe: Taneli is a really good friend of mine also from Tampere. He plays in RED MOON ARCHITECT as well, and AEONIAN SORROW.
Speaking of touring then, how was Japan?
Felipe: Jet-lagged! [laughter]
Juho: It was a fun trip.
Felipe: It was everything that I personally ever imagined and more. It was beautiful.
Did you watch any Japanese television?
Felipe: I did, at some point, but I was so caught up being a 12-year-old otaku geek [laughter]. The boys were drinking and having fun and I was reliving my youth. When I lived in Chile (I’m from Chile), one of the first live albums I heard was SONATA ARCTICA‘s “Live in Tokyo” and the first videos I started watching were from the CHILDREN OF BODOM “Tokyo Warhearts.” The audience and everything was so crazy. I was not disappointed at all. They were a really, really respectful audience.
Juho: It’s awesome to play there. I didn’t get to see much of the country, but the audience was great.
Felipe: You saw the beers [laughter]. They treated us with a lot of love and respect. I wish that the tour hadn’t been so short. We had the third show in Tokyo, when we were getting into shape. The first show in Osaka, we were completely out of it, jet-lagged and exhausted, and in Nagoya we were getting better, and then in Tokyo we couldn’t wait to get on stage.
Did you get to try out an onsen [bath house]?
Felipe: I did. Juho didn’t, because of the tattoos.
Really? They let me in with tattoos… but I searched for a tattoo-friendly place beforehand.
Felipe: Lucky! Joonas was insisting that we had to go to a specific one. It was fucking expensive but it was cool. But we hope to go back again. The promoter was happy and asked us to stay in touch when we have new material.
Well, it’s really nice to hear that you guys are getting back out there and bringing in the crowds again. We – as a media – are glad to see you guys making a proper comeback. Any final words for the readers?
Juho: Spring is coming! You can take off your long-johns now.
Felipe: Thank you for your support over the years and with our latest EP. We hope to see you at the upcoming shows!
Interview by Bear Wiseman & Simo K.