KHROMA are about to release their third album in 2020 and have just returned to their homeland of Helsinki, Finland after a long and successful European tour with JINJER, THE AGONIST and SPACE OF VARIATIONS. We had the chance to sit down with the band’s responsive and zealous guitarist, Mikko Merilinna at the Barba Negra Music Club in Hungary to discuss the present and to find out what’s next for these four electro-metal maniacs.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this interview! To start off, could you please introduce the band to us? Who are you, what kind of music do you play and when did you start playing together?
We are KHROMA from Helsinki, Finland. The band was formed in 2010, so next year is going to be our 10th anniversary. We call ourselves electronic alternative/groove metal. Electronic means we have a lot of samples, we have a strong electronic core and we add metal elements on top of that.
Speaking of electronic bands, when I listen to your music I hear the influence of bands like GRENDEL, PSYCLON NINE and BLACK SUN EMPIRE. Who do you think your influences are? Who are your idols?
We have a lot of them since we come from different musical backgrounds. Our singer is very fond of electro in general, BLACK SUN EMPIRE for example, so it comes from there obviously. Other electronic artists like NOISIA all sort of influenced us in a way, but also the contemporary metal scene, like FEAR FACTORY, SEPULTURA, and actually the ‘90s metal scene in general because we are the ‘90s kids, you know. Yes, so that’s it. When we formed the band we’ve decided that everyone can bring their own influences and their own points of interest to the table.
Is there a big fan base for this kind of music in Finland? What is the scene like for this type of music there?
Well, there isn’t really. There are only a handful of bands doing something similar to what we do. We have played with other industrial bands – even though we don’t identify ourselves with industrial music – and we’ve played a lot of shows with thrash and death metal bands. We fit into many formulas, but generally, this kind of music doesn’t really exist that much in Finland.
What kind of bands do you prefer playing with? Metal bands or does your style goes better with industrial music-themed shows?
Everything goes for us. We go wherever we get invited to play. We’ve done a couple of industrial festivals and now we’re doing this tour which is mostly death metal, nu-metal, and metalcore. I think everything fits for us.
You’ve mentioned that next year you’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the band. Are you planning to do anything special to for it?
Well, we will release our third album, so definitely, when the album is going to be released, there will be a release show which will also be our 10th-year anniversary show. So yes, this is taking place. I don’t know when, but it’s definitely going to happen. And then, besides that, of course, we’re going to tour as much with the new album as possible.
So, what can you tell me about this new album?
We have a new single out, “Kill The Friction”, which we have played on this tour as well. Another video will be released pretty soon after the tour, hopefully in February. The album is done, we’re putting the final touches and then we’ll just release it.
Is there anything else you have made public about the album, like the title, for instance?
Nope! There’s no title yet.
What direction did you take on the third album? Is it similar to the last one, or are you taking a different approach with the new songs?
Definitely. I mean, it’s origins are similar of course, we’re the same guys doing it, but to me, it’s certainly more Hi-Fi, certainly more open. The last album was really dark and electronic, so this might be slightly more metallic and melodic. But it’s definitely still the same band and same sound.
So the songwriting process was the same as well?
Yes, it’s all teamwork when it comes to working on new music. Riku writes most of the lyrics, but usually, it goes like this: everybody brings their own ideas to the table and we make something out of it together.
You’ve changed record labels quite recently, Inverse Records released everything until the last single, which came out with Biotech Records. What was the reason for this change?
It’s sort of our own label that we’ve released this latest single with. But what comes next is really still open, so I don’t have an answer to that yet.
If you’d expand your music in the future by doing any collaborations or invite guests, who would they be?
We have a song on the new album, on which I tried to impersonate SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s Serj Tankian‘s voice as a sample since it would have been a great fit. We ended up not using the sample, but having Serj featured on the song would have been a dream on this album, and it will continue to be a dream in the future, haha!
For now… maybe it will happen one day!
Yes, let’s see what happens! (laughs)
You play a special kind of music that goes well with involving lots of light effects for an extraordinary stage presence. Are you doing these kinds of show elements often, or are you planning to make something like this a more regular feature of your shows?
We have these LED screens every now and then, usually on our own shows. Not now obviously, because this is not our tour, we’re a support band here, but yeah, wherever it’s possible we try to add light elements, video elements to make it more sort of an electronic experience.
You’ve had quite many international tours already…
Yepp, this is actually our 11th tour now!
And what has changed over the years, comparing the first one to this tour?
This tour is the biggest and longest we’ve done so far, with the biggest audiences. In 2016 we did the “Stasis” album release tour which was also pretty long, it took over a month. But we’ve also played at smaller clubs with local bands, and we’ve also played a handful of shows with an Ecuadorian death metal band, that was a great experience! So… it does evolve naturally. We’re now on the biggest stages and hope to take everything that we’ve been able to do so far to the next level with the new album next year.
How has the feedback been so far?
It’s great! Every night is super, every night has been rad! We have four great bands, a great crew, everything has been really nice.
Are there any plans forming concerning a headlining tour?
Next year’s plan now is to release the album, and we’ll see what happens, let’s see what kind of touring opportunities we will get and how many of our own shows we can possibly play, right now everything is open. Hopefully, we can do some festival shows as well during next summer.
What is your favorite venue where you have played so far?
On this tour? There have been so many I almost can’t remember! (laughs) Maybe… There was a special one at Luxembourg. We’ve never been there and it was such a huge concert hall.
What is your favorite one in Finland?
It’s got to be Nosturi in Helsinki, Finland, which is sadly going to be torn down at the end of 2019. The venue has 11 days to go and then it’s over. But I have to say it’s my absolute favorite, we played there numerous times, I personally played there like 15 times, and all that’s gonna be just a memory, the place is gone now.
Is there anything else you might want to add? Any message to the fans?
I think everything got covered! Stay tuned for the new album and for the second video which is going to be out… pretty soon!
Thank you again for taking the time for this interview!
Riku Rinta-Seppälä – vocals, electronics
Mikko Merilinna – guitars, keyboards
Maarik Leppä – bass
Antti Honka – drums
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.”