Finnish alternative metal act FROZEN FACTORY recently released their sophomore release, “Of Pearls and Perils.” We chatted with lead vocalist Stephen Baker about the release of the new album. Read the complete interview below…
Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You recently released your album “Of Pearls and Perils” – how has the release been for you?
Yeah, that’s correct! “Of Pearls & Perils” has been available for you to listen to since September, and we’re glad to say that everyone’s given us very positive feedback about it! We’d been working on the album since mid-2020, so we were all very familiar with the songs – like old friends – by the time they were released. Inside the band, “Of Pearls & Perils” has generated the feeling that we’re in a great creative synergy. We see the record as a moment in our story and a milestone in our growth – which we’re delighted with – yet the biggest satisfaction comes from knowing there’s much more to come from FROZEN FACTORY.
We were not familiar yet with FROZEN FACTORY before listening to this album. What can you tell readers about your history? How did FROZEN FACTORY come to be?
After a last-minute 2018 studio session in Lahti, three promising songs, and a false start with a singer and guitarist who didn’t want to continue, FROZEN FACTORY got its real kick-off in mid-2019 from a well-crafted-tea drinking session in Helsinki. Following a few messages on muusikoiden.net, I met with our founder and bassist, Tomi, to discuss a future with FROZEN FACTORY and to sample the finest brews available in urban Finland. The next days were filled with demo making and “this rocks” faces – and now you have more than thirty FROZEN FACTORY song releases to choose from!
This was your sophomore album, so what have you learnt during the songwriting process for your debut record that you used for “Of Pearls and Perils?”
During the making of our 2020 debut album, “Planted Feet,” we got to know each other and figured out how each one of us works. When I joined the band, most of the music for that album was written and the lyrics were partially there for a few songs. Despite the record having moved so far already, I was able to contribute almost all the lyrics and most of the vocal melodies for it. We realized early on that Tomi and I are a formidable songwriting duo and we considered “Planted Feet” to be a 50/50 split for writing credits. We’ve worked that way with everything since, including “Of Pearls & Perils.”
Only one other band member remains from the “Planted Feet” era, and that’s Mici! That album really showed what a kick-ass lead guitarist he is, so it really gave me faith that we have a quality lead player for future records – and one less thing to worry about!
I understood that you wrote part of this album before starting on the EP. Why did you end up releasing the EP before this record?
What do you do when you’re playing an RPG and you wander into a boss battle that you’re not ready for yet? You go get some more experience points, level up your weapons, and put a few more Gil in your pocket! That’s what happened to us. We wandered into battle with “Of Pearls & Perils” and then realized it might kick our butts, so we pitched up in the nearest town and powered ourselves up by creating more new music.
We changed our plan about a million times, but eventually decided we absolutely wanted to make a suspiciously long 8-track EP – “The First Liquidation EP” – from these newer songs. After that, we went back to beat the big boss “Of Pearls & Perils” and we feel like it was a good move! So, if you have an idea you want to do well, make sure to check your experience points and inventory first!
You cite that you are influenced by bands like PINK FLOYD, IRON MAIDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS, and DEPECHE MODE – all bands that sound really different, yet they are all somehow part of your sound. How difficult is it, during songwriting, to match pieces together that sound so different, yet very consistent at the same time?
Tomi describes the sounds of our influences as being “part of our DNA.” I agree with this 100% because we never implant those sounds into our songs, they’re a natural part of FROZEN FACTORY’s musical creation. Having said that, the different sounds are there and, in my opinion, you need a skilled producer to make everything work together in the final mix. Someone who can take contrasting ideas or unfamiliar combinations and make them feel part of one sound world. Luckily, we have Tomi for that, and it’s a huge benefit that he’s a writer and band member too because he’s fully inside our vision.
To anyone that wants to create a complex sound, I’d say you should develop the sound engineering and production skills inside your band because that gives you the time and resources to complete your vision – in the way you want it done!
The intro of this album (particularly the ominous voice-over) makes me feel like this is some sort of a concept or theme album, is that a correct assumption and if so, what is the concept?
Our previous release, “The First Liquidation EP,” ended with a kind of poem about selfish greed leading us to lose everything we have. It finishes by encouraging us to share and protect what we have together, and then you hear a diving sound, taking you into the sea. “Of Pearls & Perils” the album, continues from there by starting out with an underwater radio message – the voice you referred to in the question – and it translates as, “only a fool would never change their mind.”
“Of Pearls & Perils” is not a traditional concept album, because the stories in each song are not fully connected, meaning that they don’t make a bigger story when put together. It is, however, a deeply themed album and there are many connections to be found in it. You’ll find the same thing with our debut, “Planted Feet,” as well – and it joins to the beginning of “The First Liquidation EP,” so the three records all join. We really love continuity and details!
The cover art of the album is really beautiful, so what can you tell me about the artwork and how it related to the themes of the record?
Thank you, it was created by me, so I’m really happy to hear you like it! The main focus of the artwork is a ghostly lady who stands at the front of a wrecked ship that she seems to have been pulled out of the water. To me, she represents hope and I’ll explain why.
A few key songs on the album highlight the fact that male leadership has taken this world in a very dangerous direction, with capitalism and inequality causing havoc. Three songs, namely “Murder in the Depths,” “Of Pearls & Perils,” and “Deceit Upon the Decks” all feature female characters who are innocent – frankly oppressed – passengers on this ride to oblivion. The song “Of Pearls & Perils” likens this disastrous journey to the fate of the Titanic, which was the ship that “could never be sunk” – of course, we all know how that story ended. At the beginning of the song, a man steals a lady’s true love with the gift of a necklace, before insisting that she stay on the sinking ship with him.
Our cover art lady is throwing away the materialistic jewelry gifted to her by the man who failed her and pulling the boat back on course. I’ll leave you to decide if she’s a ghost wandering the earth or if she really made a new start for humanity.
One of my favorite songs on the record is the catchy “Equalise Power.” What can you tell me about that song either lyrically or musically? Any interesting stories?
This song is squarely aimed at racists who weaponize the police to intimidate or harm people of color. In the song, I’m expressing my views and saying that I think it’s totally wrong to call the police over minor incidents, baseless suspicions, or pure spite, when you know it will likely have major consequences for the other person or persons.
The story of Christian Cooper is a prime example. A black man who was bird watching in New York in 2020 just before the famous George Floyd incident, Christian was harassed by a white dog walker who called the police and faked her distress to ensure they’d act forcefully when they arrived – the whole act was caught on camera.
A song that is perhaps the complete opposite is “Loud, Lazy, Late.” What can you tell me about this track?
“Loud, Lazy, Late” is about a few of the shittiest leaders we’ve had on the world stage recently. There’s plenty to choose from, you know the kind! Compulsive liars who have far too much air time. Guys who have highly important jobs but refuse to do their homework and get the basics right. Decision makers who only make the right decision after they’ve made a string of disastrous ones “unintentionally.” Haven’t we all had enough of these low-quality leaders? Let’s get people who care about helping us all out.
The atmospheric “Deceit Upon the Decks” serves as the closing track of the record. When did you realize you had to use this track to end the record?
Tomi had a real moment of inspiration with that song. He had a vision about how the album should end, turned to his keyboard, and improvised it on the spot. What he played in that moment is the take that made it to the final album. Amazing really!
So far we’ve started and ended all of our three records with short intro and outro tracks – let’s see if we continue in the future!
What are your upcoming plans? Are you planning to do shows in the future around Finland?
We’re crazy about making new music, so you can count on us working on more material – it’s just a matter of time, and we usually don’t need much to get things rolling!
Of course, we want to take “Of Pearls & Perils” out on the road. Unfortunately, we’re still fighting the issue of being unknown, so many places don’t have a clue who we are yet! That makes it a little difficult to piece together a tour, but you – yes you reading this – can help by contacting venues, radio stations, festivals, friends – whoever – and telling them about us! Book us and we’ll come!
Any last thoughts you want to share with our readers and your fans?
We’d like to share a very sincere thank you! And we hope you’ll come say hi at a show, or even wave if you see us shopping in Alepa [a Finnish corner store], anywhere! We’re pleased to have you with us on this journey.
Written by Laureline Tilkin