The Finnish theatrical metal band Lost In Grey was founded in 2013. Inspired by symphonic and folk metal, literature and the world itself, Lost in Grey creates multifaceted music and brings elements of drama to the songs as well as live performances. The band will be releasing their 2nd album “The Waste Land” in January 2019 via Reaper Entertainment Europe.
We had the chance to talk to Anne Lill and Harri Koskela about “The Waste Land”. Watch the video interview here, or read the complete text below.
Hi guys! Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. Could you first give a brief history of Lost In Grey for our readers who haven’t heard about the band yet?
Anne: Lost In Grey is a theatrical metal band that we started in 2013. Our debut album “The Grey Realms” was published in 2017 and our sophomore album “The Waste Land” will be out January 11th, 2019.
Congratulations on the new album. What would you say is the main difference with “The Grey Realms”?
Harri: First of all, the whole procedure of making it was a lot shorter.
Anne: The composing.
Harri: Yes, composing, but also the recording process. I think all-in-all the pieces of the album are better in place.
Anne: They are perhaps more coherent. One song has one main theme, while as the first album was not that consistent. It was made during a longer period, during many years and we were kind of still searching for both our sound and story. Now we already know what we are about, so that made the process a lot faster.
Harri: Yeah and it made the composing a lot easier too. You know the different kinds of elements you can play with.
Anne: Yeah, for example, the theatrical metal aspect comes with us singing as characters. There are three main characters, Lillian, Odessa, and Patrick. They each have their own personalities and histories and so on. That was one of the things we were still developing for “The Grey Realms”. We already knew what character has what kind of style and so on when we were making the second album.
I read that it’s a concept album, like you just said, that it dives into similar themes as the debut album, can you elaborate a bit about what the story is about?
Anne: One way of looking at this album, is that we kind of travel backwards in time. So, before the first album. In the first song of “The Grey Realms,” there is one line where the narrator is asking Lillian: “What did you see? What did you know? What made you retreat, abandon it all?”. This album sort of answers these questions. So, it’s about what Lillian saw and thought or then it can be seen as discussions that are going on in the present time, just as if the characters would be sitting around a bonfire and would be talking about how they think and feel. Perhaps that’s the reason there is a lot of anger and sadness because Lillian wanted to escape from bad things. I think there are also elements of hope though, so it’s not only gloomy.
You guys play the characters in the album. How is it when you perform live? Do you feel as if you are acting out a role?
Harri: Yes, at least for me it feels like that. That is also why it’s theatrical metal. But it’s also fun.
Anne: I don’t know, maybe for some, it’s a bit melodramatic, but for us, it’s fun to go 110% and be as jumpy and wild as we can.
Harri: Yeah, flamboyant like Rocky Horror Picture show goes metal or something.
Are there resemblances in the characters you’re playing with your own person?
Anne: I guess as many actors might pick something from their own way of being or just observe other people on the street and pick some parts from them.
Harri: There are certain lines or opinions that might not be our personal opinions, but the character’s opinions.
Interesting! Now, let’s go a bit back to the whole process of making the album. Who wrote the songs?
Anne: Harri usually is the one who is composing the songs, and I write the lyrics and kind of plan what the story is about. For example, with the first album, there were just these instrumental demos that Harri played to me. I got a vibe from them and then I started to write. This album, I already had some kind of ideas of how the story should develop, and what elements I wanted to bring into it. Some songs I already had the text for in advance and Harri would compose the music to them, but also the other way around. There was a composition ready and I try to put my ideas around it.
And how did the recording process go?
Harri: It was really fast and smooth. We started with the drum recordings in mid-March. The whole thing was mixed and mastered by July. So, it was a short period of time. I record most of the parts, because I’m an engineer, and it was something kind of new for me. It was so hectic and fast. I think overall it was an interesting process sort to say, but really fun.
You also have some collaborations on the album?
Anne: It’s always fun to work with creative people. For instance, in the schoolyard, you can either have this one small group playing with each other, but instead isn’t it more fun to play with other people? That’s the main reason why we wanted to have other people on our album as well. The collaboration with Nele from Elvellon was because our label suggested the collaboration. I love her voice, so I was excited to put some new elements in the songs. So yeah, it’s all about the fun of involving awesome people!
Is that something you want to elaborate in the future, introducing more characters to the albums?
Harri: Let’s see. You never know, we tend to think one or two albums ahead and it’s definitely something we would want to look into. On the other hand, if you want to have 15 different people in one song, then you have to plan it as well.
The song that Nele sings on is called “Expectations”. I was wondering if you can talk a little bit more about the story behind some specific songs, perhaps the singles?
Anne: “The Waste Land” is the first single and title track. It sets the atmosphere of the album. It’s about not being able to express one’s thoughts and emotions, or not being heard, being ignored. Then, the second single “Far Beyond and Further” is about exploration and exploitation. The third single “Expectations”, so the one Nele is on, is about being labeled and sort of categorized, when you are forced into a role, and people having expectations of you so that you are not able to be yourself. The question the song asks is why we can’t be ourselves.
You write the lyrics for the album, Anne. What is your main inspiration?
Anne: The world, obviously. Also, I like to spice things up with elements from literature. On this album, I’ve taken some pieces from a poem, “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot. Not that I would use it as a direct reference, but you know, they do have the same name, it’s fun to add some spice of it here and there.
Is the poem about the same themes you are exploring with this album?
Anne: I would have to read a few more analyses of the poem first to be sure. What I know from the poem is that when I read it that there were also different voices speaking, and it wasn’t always highlighted when the person speaking switches. The multiple voices are at least something similar in both.
Anne: Rocks and sand.
There’s also one Finnish song on the album, is that something you plan to do more?
Harri: If it’s up to Anne, we would never have a Finnish song on the album again. (laughs)
Anne: When I heard the instrumental version, the chorus kind of shouted to me that it should be in Finnish. When I wrote it, I was wondering what to do with the verses, and suddenly the whole song was in Finnish. I had tried to translate it in English, but I haven’t succeeded yet. It was kind of something that happened in the moment. It wasn’t planned. I don’t plan on writing anything anymore in Finnish.
Harri: But yeah, it could happen on the next album… (laughs)
Anne: Well, it’s a creative process, you never know.
Harri: Yeah, I think that was the most fun thing about working on this album. We just went with the flow and feeling and being in the moment, like for instance with that song, oh it’s gonna be in Finnish? Let’s do it!
So, are there a lot of spontaneous things that happened during this album?
Harri: Yeah, not a lot, but a couple of moments. You have to do spontaneous things when you work in a short time period. But it also makes the whole process more fun.
Are there any other spontaneous moments you remember?
Anne: Harri and Emily were already recording the chorus for “Far Beyond and Further”, meanwhile I was sitting outside the studio struggling with the verses. I was trying to write them at the spot, and then I would suddenly come up with this idea, and I would run to the studio with the next lines. That was also at times spontaneous. (laughs)
Harri: The song “Prelude For Emptiness”, is all about improvisation. Of course, there were some actual parts already written, but all the vocal lines and the guitars we made up in the heat of the moment.
Talking about vocal lines, since you have three main vocalists, how is it to share those duties. Who writes those melodies?
Anne: Usually I have some sort of an idea of what the melody should be like, especially the rhythm of the words, but then, of course, each vocalist searches for his or her own way of doing and arranging it.
Harri: In a lot of songs I already have some rough ideas for vocal melodies, which they usually say no to. (laughs)
How about music videos? Do you have others planned?
Anne: Yes, each single comes with some sort of a video.
Can you talk a bit about shooting the music video for “The Waste Land”?
Harri: It was warm. (laughs)
Anne: It was warm and nice, so it was actually quite comfortable for once to shoot. On the last album the music video for “Dark Skies” I was shooting for about a year. I was going to a swamp tens of times trying to capture that morning fog and then there are a couple of shots where I lay in an ice-cold river, it was September, so it was really freezing cold. Now it was just warm and comfortable I have to say.
Harri: Yeah, like a band picnic!
Does art play a very important role in your band?
Anne: I think so, it all started from Harri having this idea of a three-song EP which I was supposed to plan the visuals for, so the photography and cinematography. Instead, I got all these other ideas, and suddenly we had a band. (laughs) So, the visual side has kind of been there all along.
Harri: It’s been there from the very beginning, and it’s part of the whole deal.
Anne: Maybe it’s my background as a photographer, but I also get this visual landscape from emotions. I portray them in that way. It comes naturally to me.
Is it you that also does the videos and handles the more creative side?
Anne: Yes, most of it. Luckily our guitarist is graphically talented, so he does our logo art and the cover art, and layouts and so on.
Well, that sums up my question about the cover art (laughs)…
Anne: Yes, he did that! Miika Haavisto, we love you!
Talking about the cover art, it might be more his cup of tea, but can you explain how it’s connected to “The Waste Land”?
Anne: When we were recording the album, we were often discussing ideas and themes. I think that’s basically where Miika took ideas from when he started working on the cover art. It’s kind of his version of “The Waste Land”.
Harri: Yes, I think that’s the way to put, it’s his visual representation of “The Waste Land”.
You’re quite lucky to have everything in-house!
Anne: Well, it’s also time-consuming, but it’s interesting. For me, it’s awesome to be able to express myself in so many ways through singing and writing and images. I’m really thankful for that as well.
Do you guys have any plans for after the release?
Harri: We’re going to have a release show in our hometown Hyvinkää, on the 11th of January in Crafters Bar, be there! Lots of good beer and maybe some well-played music too (laughs).
Anne: It’s going to be a really special show, we’re going to play through the album!
Harri: But yeah, at least we’re trying to do maybe another big show, and we are planning on a tour.
Talking about shows. You guys have so many elements in your music, how difficult is it to get the sound right live?
Harri: We have backing tracks for some things like orchestrations, but the main things are of course played live, cause it would be cheating if not (laughs). Of course, when you have a lot of elements it makes it more difficult, so you have to rehearse a lot (laughs), but it’s fun. Since we have our own studio, which is also our rehearsal place, it makes the whole process of the album and rehearsing easier so it’s not that difficult to arrange.
That’s maybe why you also have such a fast process!
Harri: Yeah I think so too because it helps you financially and you can do basically longer days without stressing about an invoice or something like that.
When you think about the future, what are your goals for the next couple of years?
Harri: A third album, maybe a few shows (laughs), I would like to do a lot more touring, especially in Europe. In two years we’re at least going to record the new album, and then plan some more shows (laughs).
That sounds great! We’re totally ready for that. Do you have any last thoughts for our readers?
Anne: I sometimes feel that entertainment is sort of like fast food and nowadays disposable. You use it once and throw it away. I hope that we could be able to make music that would last longer. Music which you would maybe have to chew on a little bit longer, but then you would also enjoy it for a lot longer. Each time you listen to the album, that you would be able to find some new elements there. That’s what I hope we are able to do.