Interview with Kuolemanlaakso – “We are the slaves. We are not the kings.”

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We had the chance to have a talk with Laakso (Markus Laakso, guitars, lyrics, compositions) and Tiera (Toni Ronkainen, drums) from KUOLEMANLAAKSO, about their forthcoming album, “Kuusumu,” which will be released by Svart Records on March 4th, 2022.

First of all, I want to thank both of you for your time. How’s life going?

Toni: Fine, I’m ok! Busy at work as always…

Markus: Yeah, same here. I’m so super stressed out and super, super busy with KUOLEMANLAAKSO stuff and other things in life. Like bunch of other albums and books and some other work. So other than that, everything’s going great. But yeah, to be honest, I’m quite tired at the moment. Stressed out.

Toni: A lot of work with this setlist.

Markus: Yeah, that’s true. We’re at our rehearsal place right now and we’re supposed to rehearse songs for the new set. We’re gonna play a bunch of songs from the new album, so that requires a lot of rehearsing and then dealing with these backing tracks. It requires a bunch of electronic equipment, like computers and PA systems and stuff like that, so that’s what the two of us, the “Kuopio guys” have been doing. The rest of the guys haven’t been to the rehearsal place at all.

Toni: We are the idiots of the band with these electrical things [laughs].

Markus: We don’t know anything.

Toni: So it’s been a struggle to get that thing to work.

Markus: Yeah, Petteri (guitars) actually has a degree in studio engineering or something like that, and he’s very good with all this gear. We don’t know anything. We just try to learn the songs and play.

Kuusumu” is your third album, after almost a decade. How does it feel like to be back in the business after such a long time?

Markus: It was really nice to actually write new songs after such a long break. At first I found it a little bit stressful, as the break had been like, years and years and years, and everybody has been asking “Hey, when are you going to release some new material? And when are you going to do shows?” so there was a little bit of pressure, just to get started on stuff. But then I got some art grants, some money from the government to make some doom music, so thank you, Finland!

This is a nice country, indeed!

Markus: I actually got like three different kinds of art grants. So that was how and why I had time and resources to really concentrate on making the album. And as usual, I made the demos and compositions at home, and it was pretty much like working in an office: I woke up at 7 o’clock or 8 o’clock or something, and then just went downstairs to the studio and switched on my computer and just started writing music. And after a while, it became easy and pleasurable. But at first, it was not that at all, it was actually quite hard to even play guitar properly, because I hadn’t, you know, picked up the instrument in such a long time. But yeah, what about you? (turning to Toni)

Toni: What was the question? [laughs]

Originally, the question was, how does it feel like to be back in the business after such a long time, but the following question is about the songwriting process. In this case, because I noticed that the album is quite out of your comfort zone, but your trademark sound is still there, clearly visible, so to speak… I was also wondering if there were any changes in the songwriting process and in the creative process?

Toni: Well, producing this album wasn’t like it was for our first two albums. It was so different compared to those, but when we started to play here in our rehearsal place, then I felt I’ve been missing this stuff, and when we played our old songs, then it reminded me how it was. But it was a really different style when we did these pre-productions for “Kuusumu.” Actually, we didn’t rehearse at all together, because we did just demos. Was it like that?

Markus: Yeah, I wrote the songs at home and then I sent Toni the demos that I had recorded with drums that I did with the computer and then without drums, so he had two different files of each song. Then he came to the rehearsal place by himself and just played on top of my demos and came up with different drum beats and drum fills. Then when he felt that he was ready, he came to my place. I have an electronic drum kit in my home studio, so he played and we actually worked on the drum arrangements together.

Toni: Yeah, it was that way, it was a really different style, compared to our previous works.

Markus: I obviously recorded Toni‘s demo drums in my home studio with the electronic drum kit. And I think that was the best thing that we’ve ever done with the drums, because Toni actually knew what he was going to play in the studio.

Toni: I think we had almost every song already finished before we started to record, you know what I mean? The album was ready this time, before we started recording.

Markus: Like, for example, on “Tulijoutsen,” I only had a few riffs to “Me Vaellamme Yössä,” which is our biggest hit, so to speak, and I just came up with some riffs for it while we were recording, and then I just wrote the lyrics in the studio. I did that too, a little bit, with with this album, on a couple of tracks, but all-in-all, it was way more pre-written than the previous records. For example, on “Uljas Uusi Maailma,” we didn’t have shit for “Aurinko.”

Toni: We had the intro riff but nothing else, and it was completed in studio. It’s actually really hard to start to record the drums because they’re always the first instrument, and then you have to know something. But compared to those two albums, I don’t think we changed basically anything on the songs in the studio, this time.

Markus: Some small details. On the other ones, we actually wrote a shitload of stuff while recording other songs.

So this was the main difference this time: when you entered the studio, almost everything was ready.

Markus: Yeah, but not all the lyrics and not all the vocal arrangements, because I didn’t have lyrics ready. Almost all of the beats and fills and melodies and harmonies, I had done them in my home studio, but I didn’t do that much bass because Usva is such an incredible bassist… I think I did record the bass for every song on my demos, or at least most of the songs, but I knew that he would have changed them anyway, so I just played what the guitar played pretty much. The bass arrangements were done in the studio by Tuomo. Meaning Usva [laughs]

Toni: Actually we had one rehearsal session with Markus and Petteri, but it doesn’t count [laughs]

Markus: The other guys didn’t have the time.

It’s been 8 years since your latest album came out. Has “Kuusumu” been written during these 8 years? Or was it more like the last 3 years kind of stuff?

Markus: Well, “Surusta Meri Suolainen” is the only old song on the album. I think I had the main intro melody during the recording of “Tulijoutsen” already done, and I think the earliest demos of the whole song I have are from 2015. But I wrote all the other stuff during probably the summer and early autumn of 2020, in 2 or 3 months. I do have tons of stuff in my archives and I had planned that I will listen through them and pick the best ones, to know that I will make proper songs of the best melodies and riffs and ideas that I had recorded on my phone earlier, but then I checked out probably like four or five of them. And I was like, oh, man, there’s like 200 of these files. So that’s what I did. I still have them. There are tons of cool ideas, but just didn’t feel like going through them and listening to them. And I was feeling creative. So I didn’t need to look at the old stuff.

Well, do you already have something for the next album, maybe?

Markus: Yeah, well, if I went through all that stuff, I would have like, I don’t know… [laughs]

Kuusumu” tells about a climatic disaster that occurred in the 6th century, and its consequences on humankind. How did you come up with such an interesting topic? And how did the other band members react?

Toni: I thought it was a cool idea.

Markus: Literally. VERY COOL. [laughter] As you probably know, I wrote a book about folk metal (“Folk Metal Big 5”). I am a fan of far history, the medieval times, and times even before that, and history as a whole, and I got very interested in the Viking age for some reason, thanks to those folk metal fuckers, sorry, those folk metal guys. [laughs] I was watching this Viking documentary, and there was this professor telling about the times before the Viking Age took over, and he was telling about this climate event that started in 535, and I was like “What the hell? This is super interesting and very cool, and cold.” So I started researching the topic and I found a bunch of university studies, and tried to get my hands on everything that I could about that period. There’s not that much written material from the people who lived in that age. They don’t have that much written history. For example, in Finland, written history starts in the 1300s or something.

That was actually the following question: as far as we know, there are very few historical records of how that global cooling has had an impact on Finland. Have you been trying to figure it out by using your imagination while working on the lyrics, or was it more from a general perspective?

Markus: Both. I found a really cool book by David Keys called “Catastrophe.” He had gathered a bunch of stuff that he had found from the old records, and there is some very, very nice, detailed sort of poetic stories from Rome, or the Byzantine Empire of that time, and then there’s some written stuff from China and the UK, and places like that, that were sort of civilized in the way that they have figured out how to write and preserve their records. So it was the most rewarding thing for me to find those writings from that specific era by guys and historians from that age. And then, for example, if we’re talking about Finland, in that David Keys book, there’s actually material about studies that have been done in Finnish Lapland, and then I found some more recent studies that the Finnish guys have done in Lapland: during the mid 530s there was a period of almost 10 years, or 5 to 10 years that the trees didn’t grow at all. And those scientist guys up in Lapland have found some trees from beneath the water that are from that age, and they could scientifically prove that at that time, the trees didn’t grow at all, which also meant that the event was global and it affected Finland, obviously, too. But that meant that there was a 10-year-long winter and the crops didn’t grow at all, the cattle didn’t survive, and the horses died. All the beasts were super hungry and there was cannibalism, and almost total darkness for like a year and a half. The sun lost its ability to shine: it looked basically like the moon that is trying to shine from behind the clouds. That’s actually where the name of the album comes from, because the sun looked like the moon: it shone like a bluish color that was like barely visible. So, “Kuusumu” means “moon fog,” but it’s not about the moon, it’s about the sun. It was so dark that the people couldn’t even see their own shadows, because the sun was so weak. So basically, the people thought that they had angered the gods for some reason and that the darkness and the coldness were eternal. So it’s kind of hard to find a topic that is more doom than that. [laughs] It was a no-brainer for me, and after I thought of this theme for the album, it was very easy for me to write the material. Writing lyrics is never pleasurable or easy, but at least I knew what the songs were about, which affected the music that I wrote, too. Actually, I gotta add one thing to that. There was the Justinian plague in 541, an event that inspired the lyrics of “Surusta Meri Suolainen,” so basically those things happened a millennium and a half ago, but we’re still dealing with climate issues at the moment, which is a horrible thing. It’s the other way round: the Celsius is pointing up and not down this time. There’s also a pandemic going on, so it’s not that different, and it’s basically a good reminder of the tininess of mankind compared to the grandness of nature. We are the slaves. We are not the kings.

Victor Santura is your long-time producer, and as you stated when your first album came out, without “Eparistera Daimones” by TRIPTYKON, your band would not exist. Would you say that again, nowadays?

Markus: I wouldn’t have probably started to make music for KUOLEMANLAAKSO, I would have probably done something else. So I guess that’s accurate still. And there are still some TRIPTYKON influences in our music, but I think it’s KUOLEMANLAAKSO, it’s not TRIPTYKON.

Your very first album, “Uljas Uusi Maailma,” will turn 10 years old in late November this year. What are your feelings about it?

Toni: It’s almost actually 10 years ago, when we were recording that album in Germany.

Markus: Yeah, I remember it was my son’s second birthday when we were recording the album in Victor’s studio, and we recorded “Kuun Lapset” on that day. I was so drunk that night. But anyway, yeah, that’s 10 years ago, almost to the day, that we were recording the album. I don’t know. It feels that we’re super old, outdated, and gray. Old guys trying to be young. [laughter]

Does it still represent Kuolemanlaakso as a band?

Toni: There’s a lot of differences, comparing to our new material. So yeah, it’s hard to say. I would say some songs are relevant nowadays, and they’re fun to play live, but there are some songs that come with that time, 10 years ago… I couldn’t say that we could play those songs live at the moment.

Markus: We’ve evolved quite a bit from those days and I don’t listen to my old KUOLEMANLAAKSO albums regularly. When I do listen to some songs, I find them to be so over-the-top simple on the first round. But I like the songs. I think all of the songs are cool, but they could be way better arranged. There are parts that could have been taken out or squeezed tighter, and there are parts that basically nothing’s going on. But I don’t know, maybe that’s a good thing on that album. On this latest album, the arrangements are super well thought out. On that one, it was basically me putting riffs after another. I think we have evolved as music makers and songwriters and song arrangers, and we know what we’re doing. We have an identity, like a musical identity. “Uljas Uusi Maailma” was, in my personal opinion, an experiment. It’s an experiment in drop-C tuning, which I hadn’t tried out before. I had this dogma for the album. I intentionally wanted to write riffs and melodies that are heavy and evil and melancholic, and that was my goal in making that because basically I wrote that album by myself. I had a bunch of material ready when I even asked anybody to join, so it was like an experiment. During that time, I was in another band called CHAOSWEAVER. We were signed to Napalm Records, which is quite a big label, and the music that we were making was super grandiose: it had like a ton of orchestration layers and very complex riffs and stuff like that. I wanted to try to go the exact opposite way and make as simple and as… rootsy and feet-on-the-ground metal music that I could. So I had a plan of what I wanted to make, and that’s what came out.

Toni: Now I remember: personally, I didn’t have a thought on what was going to be our goal with that first album, because we didn’t have a singer at the moment. At the time, 10 years ago, I used to play much faster material with my other bands. I had two bands at the time, CULT OF ENDTIME and BACKSTABBING BASTARDS, and this was a new step for me as a drummer and musician, because it was so much slower and a different style compared to my previous works.

Markus: Yeah, you had to, you know, concentrate on each hit because it is so slow.

Toni: But I think the second album came quite quickly after the first release, so I feel like we have found our own style with this new album.

Although being influenced by other bands, I do believe that you managed to build a strong trademark sound since the very beginning. Do you think it sometimes risks limiting the evolution of a band?

Markus: In general, yeah. But in in our band, I don’t think so.

Toni: Yeah, in the new album we have a couple of songs or at least some part of the songs that we were thinking “this can’t be in a KUOLEMANLAAKSO album,” but then we thought that if it comes like that, we have to do it like that. And no, I don’t think we are “imprisoned” in our trademark sound.

Markus: Yeah, I think we do have a trademark sound, but it’s really wide. On this new album, there’s a bunch of different styles of music, it’s not death-doom at all, from start to finish. I think that’s one of our trademarks: to have one weird song. On “Uljas Uusi Maailma” it was the witch drum song (“Roihusydän”), and on the second one, we had “Glastonburyn Lehto” which is sort of like, acoustic schlager type of song. On this one, we don’t have a super strange song, but for example, on “Surun Sinfonia” it was a risk to do the vocals like that, on the verses, that spoken part. We’re not afraid to experiment and actually avant-garde is something that I feel connected to, which means that we could basically try out anything and see if it fits. There are songs that I have written that I instantly know, these are not for KUOLEMANLAAKSO at all, so I am aware that not everything goes with this concept, but the songs that we have recorded I can still stand behind them, and they are still our trademark sound songs, even though they don’t have a huge guitar wall of sound to them. Like, for example, that “Glastonburyn Lehto,” it sounds like KUOLEMANLAAKSO, but without those distorted guitars that are our thing, so to speak.

Toni: We have our own personalities when it comes to our instruments, so… I think it always sounds like KUOLEMANLAAKSO, as long as it’s made by the five of us.

Markus: It’s a very important part of the equation.

The keyboards on “Kuusumu” were co-arranged and produced by Aleksi Munter, one of the best keyboardists in the Finnish metal scene. How did you get him involved in the album?

Markus: Well, Aleksi has been a good friend of mine forever. He actually played keyboards at my wedding, like 13½years ago, and we had been friends years before that. And since I have done all the keyboard parts by myself, at my home studio on every album, I decided that I really wanted to take the next step forward, on this album, on many levels, and one of the levels being that I wanted to have somebody to make the keyboard arrangements with. Since Aleksi Munter is probably the best guy in the world, it was a no-brainer to ask him. He instantly said that yes, of course, this will be a fun project to work on. I sent him the songs and he was really excited about them. At the moment he lives in San Francisco, so I had made the keyboard arrangements to basically all of the songs and then sent them to him. I just gave him direction to where he should head with them. Some some of the songs have quite a bit of my original keyboard arrangements, or similar keyboard arrangements, but he basically wrote a bunch of keyboard stuff on many of the tracks. He just blows my mind: that guy’s insanely talented, and he’s so nice and such a cool guy to work with, and he’s so direct and honest. He tells it like it is, if something sucks, he will tell it brutally. But at the same time, when I originally asked him to participate, he said “yeah, this will be really cool. And I know that you will do some of the keyboard arrangements before sending me those demos,” and he said that he finds me as… not as a visionary, but as a guy that has good ideas for the keyboards, and I found that to be one of the greatest compliments coming from that guy, who I admire really as a keyboardist and a musical arranger. So it was basically just then bouncing files back and forth. He pretty much changed all of the keyboard sounds that I have to better ones, because he has a quite expensive collection of different sounds and he does know how to use them. So the keyboards on this album are by far the best that we have done. And if we make more albums, I hope that the cooperation will continue. And also, Victor told us that, and Aleksi, too. He had basically mixed all the keyboards by himself before he sent the files to Victor, and he said that this was the easiest task because they were basically already 100% as they should be. So it was very nice. It was like a reunion with the guys, including Victor, plus a reunion with a good friend of mine, who I hadn’t been in contact with that much during these years. It was like hanging out with good friends. Plus Lotta Ruutiainen, too.

I was about to ask: besides her being an extremely skilled singer, I mean, is there a specific reason why you chose to involve her as a female guest on Kuusumu?

Markus: I only recruited the best people on the planet [laughter]. Well, I originally got to know Lotta when she was 16 years old. She sang in a band that I was in. We had this traditional doom metal band that played music, sort of CANDLEMASS and BLACK SABBATH style. We were in that band for a few months, but we have done a bunch of projects together. She sang on one of my solo album shows, and she actually modeled for that album sleeve. She’s very beautiful and super easygoing, and mellow and very, very professional. One of the reasons why I wanted to work with her is that it’s so easy to work with her. She’s out of this world talented! Nobody has a voice like that. And also with her files, they were 100% ready to go on the album. Victor didn’t have to do anything to them, basically: just add a little bit of reverb and that’s it. No corrections at all. No editing. Everything was 100%. Lotta wrote the melodies for “Katkeruuden Malja” and then she recorded her parts during a lunch break, in her studio apartment. They turned out insanely great, in my opinion.

Speaking of singers: Mikko Kotamäki, I think we all agree that his ability to…

Markus: Drink? [laughter]

Oh well, can’t argue with that! [laughter] I was about to say his ability to channel and perform deep emotions from somebody else’s lyrics in an effective way is impressive.
How much does his style affect the final results, in KUOLEMANLAAKSO’s music?

Markus: Quite a bit. Usually I record a demo of the song, including vocals, and my vocal abilities are very limited. I can’t do deep growls like Mikko does, so basically my demos have screaming parts that sound more like black metal shrieks than death metal grunts. But yeah, that guy is quite talented when it comes to growling and black metal style screaming, and clean vocals. So I think it’s easy for him, because he has a very good musical and lyrical memory, and melodic understanding, and a good sense of rhythm. For example, if we take the song “Kuohuista Tulisten Koskien,” the number 4-track on the new album, that was one of those songs that I didn’t have the lyrics for. I wrote the lyrics to that song on the night before the last day of recording, and I finished the lyrics in the morning at about 11 o’clock. And then, when I finished the lyrics, all the other guys have woken up. I told Victor “yeah, now the lyrics are done. And I have an idea of how the vocal should go.” At that time, I didn’t feel like screaming my lungs out, so I just basically talked the lyrics in the rhythm that I have thought that Mikko could growl them, and I recorded the demo on one take. Mikko listened to it once and he said “okay, let’s do verse number one. Can I hear it again?” then he listened to it the second time, and he just nailed it. 100% perfect. And that’s the take on the album. Then second part, same thing. He did the whole song that he just heard an idea of how the vocal rhythm could go, so it took him probably like 20 minutes, including vocal doubling. I don’t know how the result could be better. It makes a huge difference. Like Toni said, we all bring our best to the table, we all have our different styles of playing and singing, and Mikko’s part is obviously very important. If you take out the drums for example, if some sucky guy played the drums, the song should sound awful. Tuomo’s ability to come up with super cool melodic bass licks and a melodic style of bass playing is quite rare. So basically if you take out one major ingredient from the KUOLEMANLAAKSO recipe, it will most definitely change to something else. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but it definitely will change.

Toni: Markus and Petteri have a really different style when it comes to play a guitar, so that’s where our sound comes from.

Okay this leads to the following question: Markus, you are the main composer in the band.

Markus: I’m the main POSER [laughter]

Oh, I saw that coming! [laughter] I was about to ask, how do the other members give their contribution, but you pretty much already answered…

Markus: Well, this time the songs were ready. When it comes to songwriting and basic arrangement of the songs, it didn’t change that much. But as for the drum and bass parts, and some of the vocal stuff, I just got to raise my hat to those guys. And Aleksi has had a great part in the arrangement of the keyboards. He did a lot for this album and worked very hard.

Toni, I have a question for you now: the drum parts on the new album sounds generally more complex, mature, and thoughtful, compared to the older stuff. Did you change something in your approach towards playing drums?

Toni: Yeah, because of Corona I had the time to rehearse a lot more because I didn’t have to go to work for a couple of months, 2 years ago, then I had this good motivation to start to practice seriously drums again, and I had a lot of arrangements in my mind to play into the album. The songs were more complex comparing to the previous ones.

The lyrics are usually written in old Finnish poetic language. An accurate translation into English is always available in the booklets of your albums. Is there a particular reason why you do such a demanding thing?

Markus: I’m so stupid that I take all the work to myself. And then I’m stressed out and tired and have to walk with a cane soon. But yeah, it’s my stupidity. [laughter]

Why do you do that?

Markus: I don’t know, just to serve you, guys… [laughter]

That was supposed to be a serious question, but I do appreciate your straightforwardness [laughter]. Do you do that because, being an old version of the language, even Finnsh native speakers could have some troubles in understanding what the songs are about?

Markus: It’s really super demanding to write those lyrics in Finnish, and then being a dumbass, I take that task as a double, so then I try to come up with the English version of those lyrics. And to be honest, it’s something that is basically required of me by the record label, or at least they wish that, because for example “Kuusumu” will be released worldwide and distributed by Sony, a large record company, and a bunch of our albums are sold abroad. So that’s something that I also wanted to have for the foreign fans, as we get so many questions. Still, even though I write the lyrics or the translations to the booklets and lyric sheets of our albums, we still get quite a lot of messages from fans from abroad like, “what do these lyrics mean? And could you please translate these?” and that’s one of the reasons why I do that. Buy the album, you get the English translations, too. It’s something extra and probably you’re gonna get those translations online too, but personally I am a physical album sort of a fellow, so I find it interesting as a listener and fan of music if there’s a translation. For example, on the WARDRUNA albums there’s a bunch of stuff in old Norwegian, and so it’s basically close to what I do, even though the topics are different. But yeah, I’m a dumbass. I take all the work to myself and then I’ll die probably next year, exhausted… [laughter]

Thank you for that, I truly appreciate it. It makes a big difference. But do you think that being born and raised in Finland makes somewhat easier for the people to understand KUOLEMANLAAKSO as a whole, on a deeper level?

Markus: Born and raised in Compton! [laughter] Well, I think one of the reasons why our band is interesting to foreign listeners is the romanticism and the exotic view of Finland and the Finnish forests and nature and lakes, which are basically the same things that interest me and this band and this country. So I don’t know if it’s easier or harder to understand, but I think that that view comes across as it’s meant to come across. It’s the romanticism of Finnish nature and old language and things of the past and history. As for me, I love reading historic things because it helps me understand the current state of the world and why everything is as it is. But I’m not trying to be a teacher or a professor or a messiah telling somebody, “please listen to me and do what I say.” That’s not at all what I tried to do. I just tried to make art, basically, and talk about topics that are important for me or that I find interesting.

Going back to the new album, what’s your favorite/most important tune, and why?

Toni: I think it’s “Kuohuista Tulisten Koskien,” but it’s really hard to say. At the moment, I think it’s “Pedon Vaisto,” the tune that we have been playing in our rehearsal place. It is the best song at the moment.

It has a very, very nice black metal part, indeed…

Markus: Yeah. The songs are faster and there are so many drum hits, more double bass jumps, which made it more time-consuming for Victor to edit everything. And that’s one of the reasons why the recording of this album took a week more than we had planned. But as for the favorite song or favorite parts, I would definitely mention the intro of the album: that’s something I’m very proud of. It definitely sucks the listener into the concept of the album quite well. And then “Surun Sinfonia” is kind of cool. That’s very basic KUOLEMANLAAKSO stuff, but then there are things that we have never done before, like have all the verses be spoken, and then a super, super heavy C-part with such guttural growls… it’s sort of like funeral doom -style growling. And then the best part on the album is that Irish violin melody that comes.

Toni: Yeah, I think as well, that’s one of my favorite parts of the whole album.

Markus: Those are important songs. And I think actually “Katkeruuden Malja” is also something that we’ve never done before. A pop song, but very melancholic. And it’s super simple. That’s actually something that I’ve always wanted to write, something like that: super simple, but very catchy, and it kind of has a folkish melody to it, especially the chorus, not in a folk metal way, but in an old way, an old Finnish way, a Kalevala way.

Toni: But as you can hear from the three singles we have released so far, each of those songs are really different comparing to others, so it’s really hard to say which one is the best song in the album. There are a lot of different styles of material on the album.

Markus: I think every song on this album is fucking great. We have been figuring out the live set for the forthcoming shows, and it’s really hard not to play all the songs on the album, it’s kind of hard to drop out stuff because there’s so many good songs on “Kuusumu,” and we have been playing basically the same songs at all shows for such a long time, so it’s really cool to get fresh tunes in the set. I’m looking forward to it once we actually learn how to play them: they’re much more demanding than the previous songs.

Any plans for the near future you want to share?

Markus: We are going to play a couple of shows in Finland. We were supposed to go on a European tour but it got postponed because of COVID, and that is a bummer. I really, really wanted us to play abroad with this album and I don’t know if it will happen or not. We had everything: all the finances and all the logistics and even the tour poster done, and then it just got postponed, but we can’t make the new dates because of a collision with a tour with SWALLOW THE SUN. After this year, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. No plans. No future. [laughter]

Is there anything else you want to share with Tuonela readers?

Markus: I would like to share my piece of bubblegum with you. I’m sorry, I have been sleeping very badly. [laughter] I don’t know, listen to good music and go see shows, and buy albums. Not specifically ours, but in general. This world needs it. And you need it, you Tuonela fuckers… I mean, Tuonela readers. [laughter]

Thank you again for your time. I hope to see you soon on stage.

Markus: Thank you!

Interview by Licia Mapelli