EVERFROST is a symphonic power metal band from Finland, who are about to release their sophomore album “Winterider”. The band takes influences from tons of other Finnish bands such as NIGHTWISH, old SONATA ARCTICA, CHILDREN OF BODOM, and TURMION KÄTILÖT, but even more so they have a signature sound that is typical to the band.
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do different kinds of interviews as part of the magazine, so when EVERFROST wanted to do a special edition interview in the amusement park Linnanmäki, it was an immediate yes.
I meet with EVERFROST around noon at the gates of the amusement park. All cloaked in their anime-styled costumes, the guys look excited to get into the rides. While the plan was to initially wait for guitarist Markus Laito, we start our conversation.
While keyboardist Benji Connelly explains how the band started out, one question pops into my head immediately… The young songwriter moved all the way from Adelaide, Australia to Keminmaa in Finland. The contrast couldn’t be more extreme, I ask how this reflects on the music, and Benji points out that the extreme cold and the fact that it’s desolate definitely inspires him and the music. He finds it quite easy to write songs in Keminmaa. The rest of the band, however, are based in Helsinki. So even though Benji writes the songs in Keminmaa, the band operates mainly in the capital of Finland, while Benji travels back and forth to rehearse with the band.
This immediately makes me wonder how the band usually comes to writing songs together. Vocalist Mikael Salo explains that everyone puts their own identity in the music, but Benji writes the songs. Salo takes the piano melodies and harmonies, plus the lyrics Benji writes and builds the vocal arrangements around them. Benji refers to it as building the EVERFROST garden, which Mikael Salo comments on that they all maintain the garden together. Drummer Jope Salminen adds that they find it very important to get a consistent live show together and watch a lot of different live shows from other bands together for inspiration. This is clear in their stage outfits, the band has a very uniform look, that is also inspired by the music they’re making.
Guitarist Markus Laito arrives, and after catching up a bit, and a little break including a lollipop and a burger, the guys are ready to talk about the new album “Winterider”, their most ambitious album to date. The band explains that releasing their first album made them realize that some things had to change, the band took the whole production to a higher level, as Benji Connelly grew as a mixing engineer. They worked together on fine-tuning the story that Benji wrote in his high school years. With the second album, the band decided to make the story less cryptic, but still, leave some room open for interpretation.
Connelly gives a synopsis of the story and explains that the story, in general, is about five friends who are trying to survive, and cope with an endless winter that is destroying their town. It’s about joy in life, even though it’s a sad story, it’s about living while you can despite the world not being sunshine and rainbows every day and making the best of life while you’re alive.
They never had any reference for combining things like comics and manga with metal music, so there was a learning curve. One of the biggest things Benji Connelly has learned through creating “Winterider” is that less is more. Vocalist Mikael Salo explains that this kind of a minimalistic approach is already used in “Winterider”. There are sections in the music where there are no polyrhythms or interlacing parts, but more of an emphasis on focused ideas and hard-hitting riffs. It all depends on what happens in the story, the music follows the storyline.
Their biggest challenge was perhaps the production, and the 15-minute epic “Whisper in a Frozen Tale”, which also broke down Connelly‘s computer. Throughout the whole process, the band talked and discussed things through, which resulted in their most ambitious song yet. The band doesn’t see them doing a track like this any time soon again.
While asking about the song “Above The Treeline” which is featuring WINTERSUN‘s guitarist Asim Searah, the band explains that it was important for them to keep his own identity in the guitar solo, this is why Searah recorded the solo by himself, with his own tone and settings. The solo sits differently in the mix, just to make it stand out. Searah recorded some harmony layers and got a lot of freedom in general. The whole point of having a featured artist is for them to add their own personal dimension to the track.
When asking about what EVERFROST sounds like, the guys state that it’s hard to compare them with any other band. Of course, old SONATA ARCTICA is a great inspiration to them along with pop influences such as MIKA, QUEEN and MICHAEL JACKSON, however, there are plenty of other influences like Japanese music among which clear references are anime soundtracks and vocaloid. One thing that has been a red line within their music, is the use of wintry elements such as sleigh, church and tubular bells, horns, and strings which give the songs an overall Christmassy feel to them.
The band unanimously votes that “Brandy and Antifreeze” is probably their favorite track on the album, it could have been any song, but this song represents EVERFROST as a band the best. A really uplifting tune, that’s really energetic, but at the same time, the playing is very tight. The band urges to listen to the track.
When wrapping up the interview, I ask the band if there’s anything that they want to share with the readers. They mention jokingly that they will go heavy drinking, after all this work, especially as three of their songs “Brandy and Antifreeze”, “Cold Night Remedy”, and “Die Young” handle about the topic, definitely songs to look forward to!
Interview with messier — “There’s only three of us, so we have to make it count and get the sound as big as we can.”